Category Archives: Hardware

ARM netbook prototypes

ARM presented a couple of interesting netbook designs based off of their chips at Mobile World Congress 2009. I think it’s funny how the eeePC had to take the first step and with an x86 CPU none the less before anyone else dared to follow. Someone could have built a netbook based off a MIPS or an ARM two years ago that delivered impressive battery life but the vendors were so hung up on that it had to be capable of running Windows that they didn’t dare go there. Shame on them!

The road less travelled: CPU architectures

Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach by John L. Hennessy & David Pattersson
Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach by John L. Hennessy & David Pattersson

For quite a while I’ve wanted to know more about the inner workings of CPUs in order to better understand why certain things are the way they are, endianess for instance. I posed the question on what book to get on the subject over at Stack Overflow and one of the recommendations was “Computer Architecture: A Quantative Approach” which arrived today.

The book is rather heavy and the kind of book where you’d like to have a professor condence the important parts for you but it contains the important sections that I was looking for such as pipelining and caches.

Update:

Machine Language for Beginners by Richard Mansfield
Machine Language for Beginners by Richard Mansfield

I forgot to mention that I also ordered a copy of “Machine Language for Beginners” which is an introduction to assembly programming on the 6502. This is a classic book and it’s available online for free (linked through the cover image above).

The book is bound by a steel spiral like the one you find in standard writing pads and I’m quite afraid to damage it considering the paper is somewhat aged so chances are I will leave my copy be and read the online version instead.

Third stop: The Temple, Projects and Machine

Yet another load of books arrived on Friday last week.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

A philosophical book on the concepts of quality. This books is very highly regarded in the software industry so I decided I better read it. It is about a motorcycle journey made by the author, his son and two friends during which he contemplates on various philosophical topics.

I’ve read through a few chapters so far and I must say that it is beautifully written and if you are like me you will probably want to get a motorcycle after reading this.

The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks
The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks

Another book seen as a must read by software developers. It covers topics on managing software projects and is organized as a series of essays based on the authors real-life experience from working at IBM on the System/360 and later OS/360 projects.

If you are in the software industry you have most likely heard about this book before.

Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers by John Alderman et. al.
Core Memory: A Visual Survey of Vintage Computers by John Alderman et. al.

Core Memory is a beautiful coffee table book which presents the reader with beautiful photographs of various vintage computers along with brief summaries. It covers such machines as ENIAC, the Apollo guidance computer and the all too famous Commodore 64.

So far I have only flicked through a couple of pages but the photographs are beautiful and high res. If you share my passion for vintage computers this book is a must.

Mazda 626 and Mx-6 Ford Probe Automotive Repair Manual by Jay Storer et. al.
Mazda 626 and Mx-6 Ford Probe Automotive Repair Manual by Jay Storer et. al.

It’s your run of the mill Haynes manual so it should need little introduction. I have a tugging sound somewhere in the steering system of my Mazda 626  so I decided to get the manual in order to make my life easier when fixing it.

Marching on, the Evil Genius paves the way

Electronic Circuits for the Evil Genius by Dave Cutcher
Electronic Circuits for the Evil Genius by Dave Cutcher

The next book from my Amazon binge arrived on Monday this week. It’s Electronic Circuits for the Evil Genius by Dave Cutcher and like Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks which I’ve mentioned earlier it contains a number of electronics projects. Unlike Hardware Hacking Projects this book does a much better job of describing how each circuit works and the purpose of individual components, it’s still on a very basic level but should be good for absolute beginners.

Come join the book parade

Last week I decided to actually start buying the books on my Amazon wish list. A friend of mine tipped me to try buying used books since they are generally much cheaper and usually in very good condition. What I realized was that many of the retailers on Amazon Marketplace actually carry books that are new and they can still be half-off or cheaper compared to Amazon’s price. Thanks to this it was suddenly much more realistic that I would eventually own all of the books on my list and that inspired my spending spree.

The first two books arrived today.

How Would You Move Mount Fuji? by William Poundstone
How Would You Move Mount Fuji? by William Poundstone

How Would You Move Mount Fuji? is about the practice of asking puzzle questions during job interviews in order to select the truly creative applicants applied by large software companies such as Microsoft. I’ve seen this book recommended on several occations and it has been on my wish list for a long time.

So far I haven’t been subjected to this personally but I really like the idea of asking a tricky question in order to see how an applicant thinks. As I understand it from reading the introduction a lot of people will give up instantly given an impossible question.

Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks by Scott Fullam
Hardware Hacking Projects for Geeks by Scott Fullam

Since I work as a software developer for embedded systems I’ve been wanting to brush up on my electronics skills in order to better understand what is going on under the hood. Recently I stumbled on a thread on Stack Overflow asking about good books for programmers who want to get into electronics and this was one of the books recommended.

So far I’ve only skimmed through the book but my first impression is that it is a lot simpler than I had hoped. The book consists of a number of projects such as “How to Hack a Furby” and “How to Build a Home Arcade Machine“. It goes through each project step by step but doesn’t really explain any of the decisions made. The book is probably more suitable to someone younger who has little to no experience with electronics.