Alcaic Research and technology, not iambic verse.


Happy 2010

2010 - "My god!" "It's full of stars!". May this year be full of stars for you !

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I like the concept of "hyperlocal applications" as described in the NYT article on the iPhone. However, I'd call them softwhere. This would contrast with hardwhere which is of course what reality is all about.

And in the same trends, let's not forget about slidewhere, which is what travel agencies use to lure you to your next holiday destination; or paperwhere, when you use iPhoto to print out your holiday trofees.

And I really cannot resist to talk about freewhere which will often be essentially shovelwhere (with adwhere or spywhere on top, if you're lucky)

Ain't location based augmented reality great?

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Debugging as root in XCode

I could not find a good solution to debug a task that needed raw socket access in XCode on the net - this is my solution: change the gdb to run as root. On my system, all it took was:

chmod u+s /Developer/usr/libexec/gdb/gdb-i386-apple-darwin


Ctrl and Apple/Command keys in VirtualBox

The fact that Windows XP (as a guest OS) uses CTRL and Mac OSX (as a host OS) uses Apple/Command as a modifier key was causing me pain - the mental context switch is just not that easy. Bring in Sharpkeys -> Use it to remap your Apple/Command to CTRL.


Woohoo speed increase.

Just to mention that a combination of Snow Leopard ( and Virtualbox 3.0.6 ( seems like a match made in heaven: my guest OS (Windows XP) appears much zippier. I have no idea why this would be the case (but I surmise that some RT interrupt handling has improved).


FPGA design from scratch

FPGA design from scratch. Part 1 « New Horizons - FPGA design - SystemC - Wild Skating - Mac - Linux.

This seems to be a very good starting point, indeed.

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Virtualbox and the Xilinx USB Platform cable

Recently, I have been playing around with the ML-505 platform from Xilinx. One thing that kept biting me (a Mac user) is how the USB platform cable did not seem to work inside the Windows and Linux virtual machines (since Xilinx does not support Mac OS X).

If you google for the problem, you'll find many similar problems, and many that suggest plugging and re-plugging your device. Since this worked, I looked a bit closer at the problem and now have a solution that does not require this (for a Windows guest, at least).

The problem is that the USB cable changes its identity (its PRODUCT ID, more properly), from 0x000f to 0x0008 after its firmware has been loaded, causing the connection to the virtual machine to drop. The solution is to put in two capture filters, one with each ID.

Hope this helps someone. I'll keep you posted on the Linux case - but you might want to look at

Update: I can confirm that Linux works as well, but I did have to do the plug/replug routine that has be documented elesewhere (i.e. unplug from one USB port and plug into the other). Nonetheless, happy camper. Update to update: well, the routine is no longer necessary - it seem to work directly if the cable is plugged in at guest boot time.

Update 2: The virutalization of my windows guest is horrible compare to the one for linux. The speed difference is amazing.

Update 3: This is what I use before I start xps_sdk: source /opt/Xilinx/11.1/; export LD_PRELOAD=~/XL_USB/usb-driver/; export XIL_IMPACT_USE_LIBUSB=0

Update 4: In response to Ryan's comment (see below), here is my full setup - note the addition of specific vendor and product match strings.


Shows the USB filters configured.

Shows the USB filters configured.

Filter for unconfigured device (no firmware):

Filter for unconfigured device.

Filter for unconfigured device.

Filter post-configuration:

Filter after firmware upload.

Filter after firmware upload.


No pictures?

Why have my pictures disappeared?

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Yummy 2

Culinary writeup trial, you could call it. As stated in the tweet at that time, the menu for Valentine was (add good friends):
  • Scallops with Salmon and Saffran
  • Leg of Lamb
  • Lemon Pie.
Starting with champagne and hibiscus flowers. Ending with Connemara. And you know what: I'll give away the ending: it was great. Satisfied? (so were we) So: on to the courses.

Setting the scene

One import aspect of any culinary evening is attention to detail. Don't skimp on details, they are the coathangers that will make your evening memorable. All evenings with great friends are great, don't settle for it. In this case, a nice themed wine seemed appropriate. miamor is a Malbec grape based wine from the Mendoza region in Argentina, and as often the case for such wines, very highly vinified. Open it up, let it breath and sparkle up front. And make sure your main dish is a match.

Last things first

Another import aspect is the dessert. While icecream will do for most occasions (and have some in the house always - you never know when some experiment will fail), nothing says "I love you" like homemade pie. Italian lemon pie in this case. You will want his made as fresh as possible, so start as late as possible while still allowing it sufficient (say, 4 hours) time to cool. The recipe came from "Il Cucchiaio d'Argento", the Italian Fanny Farmer, if you want. Forget about hotshot kitchen rods publishing X books on their view of the authentic kitchen - just get this one single book and save a ton.

Dead simple to make, the torta al limone consists of a baked shell of pasta frolla ("buttercrust"), filled with eggs (3-4) beaten with sugar (200g), with the rind of two lemons and the juice of half one added. Top with beaten eggwhites (3) mixed with powdered sugar (100g). 30 minutes in the oven and you're done. Don't forget to coat the crust with some beaten eggwhite to seal it before filling.

Loving the tender meat

6. on Twitpic10. on Twitpic

Leg of lamb is mostly an exercise in patience. It really does not matter if you prefer it with garlic slivers inserted close to the bone (yes!), or peppered and thymed (yes!) or rubbed vigorously with rosemary (yes!), the important thing is to take your time when cooking it. Put your oven at a balmy 170 Celsius, allow for up to two hours for a full leg (no hot air fans, please), and have a timer that reminds you every 15 minutes to take the juices and baste it. Towards the end of the cooking time (last 10 minutes), that's when you go for the crustiness.

(To be continued)

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We're going to have a great Valentine - first time with a couple of best friends. Dinner will consist of this - and I just realized that I'll try and document the preparation and result. Eyes on this space.

Update 20090309: still in draft - time again much too short.

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