moore’s law and stuff

Just ordered a very cool oscilloscope by SainSmart to work on the Raspberry Pi/NeoPixels project. My last clunky, large oscilloscope from eight years ago easily weighed in over 20 pounds to heft it around and cost over $400 (minus shipping of course). The older one took up an entire workbench in footprint. The new one weighes about 80 grams without its battery, fits in your pocket and costs less than half that price.

Moore’s Law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

Keep in mind that Moore wrote this guesstimate in a paper back in 1965, long before the globalization effect of electronics took the market by storm.


If he envisioned things like this back in the sixties then he was cleverer than myself. Although I grew up on The Jetsons and just knew that we’d be flying our cars to work by the year 2000, this miniturization craze wasn’t something that I would have dreamed up. There’s was a certain limit to how tiny things could be due to the size of our own hands being a constraining factor. Someone still had to assemble it, right?

Tiny is the New Black

Speaking of which, I recently had to buy the tiniest screwdriver at Frye’s to remove the tiniest screws I’d ever thought possible in a commercial product. These are called Pentalobe screws from penta (“five”) and lobe (“times harder to find than a grain of sand if you drop it into your carpet”). Seriously, don’t drop these screws.


Imagine real life for a moment and things aren’t zoomed in for your convenience.

Whatever you do, shy away from the laser-etched metal kits of Star Wars figures that require that father from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” fame to get his kids to put them together for you. This project will make you angry at yourself for being unable to do something that humans can’t do:  build tiny things with our big hands.


What would it take to work at an Apple factory these days? There’s little chance that these are put together by humans, I’m guessing.


What sucks is trying to work on an iPhone these days, especially if you have to replace a component. I keep buying tinier pointy tools to assist in the removal of and replacement of these type of modules.

I try to develop good working skills which help to prevent the loss of tiny things. Some of these are so small that the slightest breath could send them across your workbench. My current trick is to use tape on my workbench so that tiny things will stick to it.

And of course, someone had to build the wearable ring computer which probably wants to be used in digital signing or two-factor security, I’d guess. Or if you work for the Mafia, maybe you just sign someone’s face with this. It looks like it would hurt, tbh.


And then there’s the contact lens monitor since we don’t have enough eye fatigue yet by the end of an average business day.


If you thought that nanobots were a thing of science fiction, guess again. These are robo-scallops which are designed to move around inside your body. Because as we all know, scallops are so good at healthcare. Anyway, since they’re powered by an external magnetic field, they don’t require batteries. That’s a good thing since I don’t have an AAAAAAA batteries lying around.


It’s almost as if that finger is looking at me with tiny, tiny eyes. Now I’m creeped out.

jpeg 2000 and you

If you’re slightly (okay, seriously) cynical like me then when you read about an interesting new virus you probably silently wonder if it was created by one of the anti-virus software companies. So here we are, staring at yet another new graphical file format that’s emerging: JPEG 2000. Perhaps the only people who love receiving a .jp2 file as an email attachment are the friendly folks at Adobe who make money selling you software subscriptions for PhotoShop. The rest of us are stuck wondering how we can convert these into something useful.

JPEG 2000

Born out of the relative beaurocratic boredom of 2000, the Joint Photographic Experts Group wasn’t otherwise gainfully employed and—working with the Global Version-Ratcheting Consortium perhaps—decided that the Internet and email was working too well indeed and needed a sharp correction in order to put the balance of the marketing universe right again. And so they introduced new standardized filename extensions like .jp2 and .jpx as well as mime types image/jp2 and image/jpx for your webserver.

Imaginary Interview With the Joint Photographic Experts Group

Q:  So, um… why don’t you guys just suggest we use the PNG standard since it’s already well-supported and just trash JPG since it’s so lossy?

A:  Ah, very good question indeed. That would have been an excellent solution of course if only the letters ‘P’, ‘N’ and ‘G’ somehow fit into our group’s name. And it doesn’t. So we had to mimic what PNG does, come up with some new file format and break the Internet.

Q:  That’s kind of… stupid.

A:  Yes, but we are the experts. See? It’s in our group’s name so you have to do what we say.

Q:  You don’t, like, accept bribes from big software companies like Adobe, do you?

A:  Every day. A Joint-Photographer’s gotta eat, right?



Fortunately, I’ve put together a handy/information support matrix for the JPEG 2000 file format for your convenience.

Application Support for JPEG 2000
Adobe Photoshop Yes
Adobe Lightroom No
Apple iPhoto No
Apple Preview No
Autodesk AutoCAD No
BAE Systems CoMPASS No
Blender No
Phase One Capture One No
Chasys Draw IES No
CineAsset No
CompuPic Pro No
Corel Photo-Paint No
Daminion No
darktable No
DBGallery No
digiKam No
ECognition No
Microsoft Edge No
evince No
FastStone Image Viewer No
FastStone MaxView No
FotoGrafix 2.0 No
FotoSketcher 2.70 No
GIMP 2.8 No
Google Chrome No
GraphicConverter No
Gwenview No
ImageMagick No
Internet Explorer No
IrfanView No
KolourPaint No
Mathematica No
Matlab No
Mozilla Firefox No
Opera No
Paint Shop Pro No
PhotoFiltre 7.1 No
PhotoLine No
Pixel image editor No
Safari No
SilverFast No
Windows Explorer No
XnView No
Ziproxy No

iphone without itunes

You know how Apple can be sometimes; they feel the need to control everything. So for a Windows-based computer, they want to force you to install the entire iTunes collection of software just so that you can get to your files on your iPhone. As an I.T. person, to me that’s just way too much software to be adding to someone’s computer setup.

Why not?

You might just ask “why not?”  Why not just install iTunes? One of the subtle changes that iTunes makes in terraforming your Microsoft computer for its own needs is to install a variety of software to make things more Apple-friendly.

For example, in an Apple-based network the Bonjour service allows lookups for printers normally but allows for almost any device to broadcast its existence on your network. The downside to adding a different printer lookup service is that you might have a number of printers already which broadcast via Bonjour and can now be seen by your computer this way.  And yet, you might not have a working Microsoft driver installed to make all this happy. The printer when added simply doesn’t work and yet it seems to work for everyone else on the network who didn’t install iTunes. Rule of thumb for success: don’t arbitrarily add services and things unless you exactly know the ramifications for doing so.

Rule of thumb for success: don’t arbitrarily add services and things unless you exactly know the ramifications for doing so.

The problem

If you simply plug in your iPhone into a Windows 7—based workstation you’ll see it download and install a default driver. Unfortunately, the Internal Storage section of this device won’t show anything in it.


The fix

Unbelievably, the fix is much easier than I’d imagined. Immediately upon tethering the iPhone the very first time to the Windows computer the iPhone will buzz twice (telling you not that it’s now charging but it’s trying to tell you that it’s displaying a notification).  The message is crucial to your success but Apple in its infinite wisdom doesn’t decide to wake the phone up for you.  You need to manually wake it up first to see it:


Select the Allow option here and suddenly Explorer will now present you with a DCIM folder, below this a 100APPLE folder which contains your images.


Why is this considered a smartphone?

That’s a good question to ask. Why would Apple decide to block access to the phone on a Windows computer by burying its head in the sand when an important access message is being hidden behind a sleep state? I suppose they could suggest that if the phone is sleeping then the rightful owner may not be in control of it and that nobody should have access as a result.

But why not simply bubble that information up to Explorer with a dialog box so that the user will know the status? It just silently doesn’t see anything at all for the device.

If you read the many support threads on the Apple site nobody ever mentions such an easy solution. The reason of course is that Apple wants you to install all of their software on your Windows-based computer, too. The biggest reason is that the iTunes application is a shopping cart and you’re a consumer to them.

does that make me a pi baker?

I discovered an awesome tool for cloning micro-SD cards like those used in the Raspberry Pi 3 computers for the project I’m working on.  It’s called ApplePi-Baker and it’s doing a fantastic job of speeding up that process.  Too bad it doesn’t work on operating systems other than OS X.

I’m guessing that it’s using the underlying/poorly-documented drive devices on the Apple like /dev/rdisk1 rather than /dev/disk1 (subtle, I know), but it’s blazingly fast by comparison and it seems to work.  And when I say “work” I mean:  you don’t have to go research all the many ways of using the dd command, for example.

Note that you’ll want a few available gigabytes on the destination drive you’re backing up to.  But the program has several compression options.  For example, backing up a 16GB image to a ZIP file only needed about 3.5GB when finished so it’s good when your space is limited.

It’s a little scary at first since it boldly asks for your Admin password as it gets started, as combined with the fact that it isn’t digitally-signed with an authorized Apple Developer key.  That said, you should be able to trust it since it does what it says it does and nothing else.  Note that after you download it, you can’t immediately run it.  You’ll need to open Finder, go to Downloads and then Ctrl-click it and choose Open the first time, then click the Open button.  Having done this once, you may then drag it to your Applications folder and then run it normally after that.