Content from 2014-02

posted on 2014-02-24 02:55:00
Tonight, Sarah and I went with some friends to the local makerspace, KwartzLab, in Kitchener. It was a 'bring your own project' night, though only a few people were there while we were.

There was a pretty impressive array of machinery represented, although, from what I've read of makerspaces, it was probably pretty run of the mill. 3D printer, laser cutter, …. the usual.

One thing that we saw that I've never heard of before was a knitting machine. It was a long line of hooks that the knitted piece hang on. You slide a piece back and forth across and it somehow automatically knits! Apparently, they're also programmable, which is nice. Unfortunately, though, it seems most are programmed with punch cards and the woman operating it claimed that they predated modern computers!

Hopefully, we'll manage to make it back for their Tuesday night open house to work on something. It was nice being around a bunch of people working on projects.
Mining on Linux
posted on 2014-02-02 21:48:41
This weekend, I decided to look into crypto currencies again.  Three years ago, I poked around bitcoin and managed to find a site that would give you 1/1000th of a bitcoin for free, just to get people to use the currency.  Now, there are lots of new currencies online and who knows which will become as popular as Bitcoin, although I expect some of them will make it.  I, personally, like the vibe of Dogecoin, which has a level of seriousness I find appropriate for currencies anyway.

I set about trying to mine some on Fedora 20.  I am the sort of Linux user who tolerates very little non-free code on the machine and graphics-related topics especially give me pause.  It seemed worthwhile to me to figure out how to get a miner running on the open-source drivers, then.  I was happy to find that Tom Stellard, a mesa developer, posted on his blog about getting mining working with the open radeon drivers.

The trick, it turns out, was getting a new enough version of mesa, clang, and LLVM to get things working.  I ended up having to install fedora-release-rawhide and then running
sudo yum install mesa mesa-libOpenCL clang llvm --enablerepo=rawhide

to get the appropriate bits.

Now I'm chugging away at ~160Mhashes/s, which seems to be pretty slow by modern standards, but within a factor of 2 of what other people report for my card.  Not bad for new code.

If you find this useful, feel free to throw some of your shiny, new crypto-currency at me!  Maybe then I'll be able to get hardware I can actually play this strange lottery with!

BTC: 1QKPMpRNEbpwhzzP33HpiNSEfEgDdTYvd3

DOGE: D5A9ngH7mb3roJgpAGUjUPdAcbV3svvkvH

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