Server upgraded is now running [Squeeze]( (or [Debian]( 6.0 as it’s more formally known).

I’m not a full-time admin, so I greatly appreciated the [Debian upgrade guide]( – it reminds you of all the stuff you have known in the past, but have “swapped-out”, and what tasks to do in what order. In particular, the kernel changes from Debian 5 to 6 were significant enough that a potentially unbootable system may have resulted.

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Stopping Laserjet 5 jams

Thanks to a kit of [new rollers]( from [Daytona plc]( and detailed service manual from HP for my Laserjet 5M, it’s now printing without jams again!

Should last another 100k pages now I hope

(Note to self for next time – replace the upper feed roller before the lower one as the sprockets will be easier to engage with the drive belt that way around.)

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Aerial (or antenna!) wiring

We’ve been having a bunch of building work done, and today we finally moved the TV back downstairs to the new room! Built the new TV bench, hauled all the kit downstairs, plugged in…

“No signal” said the TV.

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Interview on EEWeb

Well, [I’m “featured engineer”]( on [EEWeb]( today. I never expected to ever have my name featured on the same page as such luminaries as [Bob Pease](, [Jeri Ellsworth](, [Howard Johnson]( or [Limor Fried](, to name but 4 of the “engineering household names” on that list!

FPGAs and ARMs – a summary

[Today, I compared the new combined ARM and FPGA devices](/node/77) from [Xilinx]( and [Altera]( This post summarises that rather long post!


Well, there’s two wacky new series of devices.

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FPGAs considered ARM-full

[Xilinx]( and [Altera]( have [both]( [announced]( FPGAs with hard [ARM]( processors on them. Xilinx have even got a new product famliy name (Zynq) for them.

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Me: One, Tiny pieces of plastic: Nil

For want of a better place to log how to get at the dishwasher pump *next* time it gets stuck with a tiny piece of plastic blocking the impeller, I’m sticking it here.

In case it helps anyone else it’s a Bosch Classixx (no idea what model no, bought about 2004 IIRC). Here are the steps:

EEWeb electronic design site

I recently became aware of the [EEWeb]( electronic design site (as one of their reps emailed me to see if I’d like my site to appear on their front page… we’ll see if my server can handle that soon!)

It’s sponsored by [Digikey](http://digikeycom/), much like [RS](’s [DesignSpark]( and [Farnell](’s [element14](

There’s an awful lot of content and I’ve barely scratched through a tiny bit of it – worth a trawl!

libv has a home

Some of my “useful bits” of library code have lived in `libv.vhd` for a while – I’ve split it off and licensed it with a CC0 license (which means the author disclaims copyright and offers no warranty). It’s [on github]( and I’ll add contributions from anyone who has any!

Either individual functions to add to libv.vhd or great big wodges of useful code (like Jim Lewis’ [randomized testing libraries]( maybe….)

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Should VHDL be extended to allow the use of Unicode

I’m contributing to the [VASG]( group which is working on coming up with what the next revision of VHDL should be able to do.

On today’s conference call, the idea was mooted that VHDL could allow the use of Unicode identifiers (ie entity, signal, variable names etc.).

All of today’s participants were (as far as I recall) native English speakers without much call for accented characters, much less characters from entirely different writing systems. So I’m putting a call out to see if there’s any interest from the wider community in pushing forwards a requirement for VHDL compilers to support Unicode.

Feel free to [mail me](, comment below or [@mention me in a tweet]( with your thoughts – I’ll summarise the results here in a few weeks

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