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April 2013
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Iiii'm back!

I'm starting something new with this post; perhaps it will continue for some time. Since I signed up for twitter, I've been posting far less on IJ. I consider this a problem, and on the bus this morning I came up with a solution that I like. I'm going to use each of my twitter posts as a heading for a paragraph or two in an entry.

Laser Mate sucks impressively. Thank goodness for IDA Pro Free.

My friend Matt Westervelt is opening a store. It's going to be the sort of place where you can hang out, renting tools and making cool things. One of the tools he has is a Red Sail Laser Engraver from China. To use it, you have to run this janky program (named Laser Mate) that takes one obscure file format and converts it into another obscure file format so that the laser can etch your design on things.

This is sort of a pain, so I'm trying to make a program of my own that does the same thing but far less awkwardly. That's the secondary goal, however; what we really need is a system to bill for etching and cutting. I'm more or less done with a program that accepts a vector graphics file, and outputs what Laser Mate wants to see. It also outputs a description of how long the cuts and engraves in the final product will be. We're billing by the linear centimeter.

I stayed up until like 3am trying to read the compiled software. It's not incredibly difficult, but reverse-engineering is a very thoughtful, detailed task. Proper tools are essential, and IDA Pro is worlds above everything else I have available to me.

Hopefully Red Sail is less pissy about sharing driver source code than American companies. I don't see what the problem is anyway...

For some reason, hardware companies are very guarded about releasing source code for the software that you need to use to run the hardware. It drives me nuts, and I can't figure out why they don't want to release it. If I were a hardware maker, I would want people to be able to use my hardware however they want to. If I inadvertantly build in really neat uses for my hardware, wouldn't the extra sales to hobbyists be worth the trouble of sending out some more files? Defining a narrow API and not letting people go outside of it totally derails that sort of opportunity.

Because reverse-engineering is slow and tedious, I emailed Red Sail asking for their source code. Hopefully they don't mind sharing.

Ambulance broken down on northbound 23rd Ave at E Union St.

There was an ambulance broken down next to the bus on my commute to work today. They lit flares and put them in the roadway; there's not much more else to say.

Does anyone know @kuzushi or @kaips1? Who are they?

Two random people started following me on Twitter. I have a fairly strict policy for approving followers, that is, I have to know them outside of Twitter. Well, it doesn't sound that strict when I say it so. I keep my feed closed because I publish my physical location using Foursquare. I just don't like random people knowing, is all.

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