G-Cube GUA-54A USB hub disassembly

This hub uses the most popular USB 2.0 hub IC, the GL850G. I’m not sure whether the manufacturer used ultrasonic welding or glue, but this hub cannot be disassembled without significantly damaging the case and I pretty much hate such solutions. USB hubs pose a perfect example of how much additional value an ODM can provide on top of an OEM.

bias-lightingClick to see the album

Open Hardware stores

I try to collect all Open Hardware stores that I know but you’re encouraged to let me know about others in the comments.

Making a helping hand that actually helps

I’ve seen some helping hands offered by various shops and I’m not impressed at all. Their price is usually dirt cheap and I can say from experience that you get what you pay for. The only viable solution is to build a kickass helping hand for yourself. Fortunately, Instructables has some really great tutorials:

I’ve been trying to get the parts for a while but it’s very challenging to source the hoses. If I won’t be able to get them from Hungary then I’ll order them from a foreign country.

Open Hardware Revolution

I’m very passionate about open hardware. I’m into FOSS software for a long time since about 2000 when I completely switched to Linux, but I’ve only recently became conscious that it’s possible to create hardware by individuals or small groups.

Hardware is not that fascinating to me in itself. Sure, lots of big companies create well-designed and quality hardware, Apple being one of the most well known amongst them, but I’ll never buy their products because these devices are locked and not designed to be exploited to reach their full potential. Putting OpenWrt into my ASUS WL500GPV2 is the best example I can think of how one can make his/her device a thousand times more powerful and customizable by replacing the stock firmware. Unfortunately, it’s necessary to buy closed hardware in most cases because there are not many open alternatives but this situation can change in the future and whenever I can I choose open hardware.

In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New Bits is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the open hardware revolution. Atoms Are Not Bits; Wired Is Not A Business Magazine has lots of though provoking arguments and Are atoms the new bits? discusses the mentioned issues even further.  I don’t really think that open hardware will ever take over the world and will replace closed hardware. The big manufacturers fiercely protect their intellectual property and most consumers couldn’t care less whether they can hack a given piece of hardware because they just wanna use the damn thing (with all its shortcomings, being unaware of its full potential).

Hackers are a different breed. There are a several hundred open source projects out there, the most relevant ones being present on Harkopen, Open Innovation Projects and Open Manufacturing. Reprap is the flagship project of the revolution and rightly so because it’s very rare for the open hardware community to create something this complex and well working, even if the quality of the created models lags way behind the commercial alternatives. I think open hardware is not so widespread because 1) most of the projects are technical minded and aren’t practical for the average Joe, 2) most creators are only interested in implementing, not distributing the projects, 3) these teams don’t have any marketing / business experience and 4) the economies of scale are against us (until we conquer the world).

I definitely have to work on 3) but the Ultimate Keyboard is gonna be ready in the not too distant future. I don’t mind learning non-technical stuff to make it happen.

Installing cx_Oracle on Ubuntu Karmic Koala, 64 bit

I’m using Oracle 10g, but you’re free to download any other versions that you want.

wget http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/cx-oracle/cx_Oracle-5.0.2-10g-py26-1.x86_64.rpm?download
# We should use alien but it didn’t work for me.
rpm2cpio cx_Oracle-5.0.2-10g-py26-1.x86_64.rpm | cpio -id
sudo cp usr/lib64/python2.6/site-packages/cx_Oracle.so /usr/lib/python2.6
# Go to the Oracle Instant Client download page and accept their fucking license, then download Instant Client Package – Basic for version 10.2.0.3, that is instantclient-basic-linux-x86-64-10.2.0.3-20070103.zip
unzip instantclient-basic-linux-x86-64-10.2.0.3-20070103.zip
sudo cp instantclient_10_2/{libclntsh.so.10.1,libnnz10.so} /usr/local/lib
sudo ldconfig

Installing such proprietary shit like Oracle (related software) is a bad experience too many times.

Lock your laptop and turn off display with the touch of a keystroke in Ubuntu Karmic

I think this feature will soon be standard in Ubuntu as many users requested it. It’s absolutely mandatory for me because every time I leave my laptop I carry out this action, even at home. Yeah, call me paranoid…

I’ve written a simple script to deal with the issue:

#!/bin/bash
gnome-screensaver-command -l
sleep 3
xset -display :0.0 dpms force off

You’re encouraged to bind it to any key combo. It should work perfectly out of the box but a gnome-power-manager related bug enables the display some seconds or minutes later randomly, so we have to

killall gnome-power-manager

and it should be pretty fine. For those who can’t afford to live without gnome-power-manager an alternative (and in my opinion suboptimal) workaround exists.