Stillwater Embedded Engineering

Hardware, Software, Firmware, and Everything

Whitespace in PHP files

PHP, JavaScript,  and HTML each have their own idiosyncrasies, but they all lack what I would consider useful features of a more strictly typed language like C or C++.   After years of using C and C++ for micro-controllers and applications, I don’t recall problems with whitespace.  Recently, I’ve been working on the client side of an application for Android phones.

Use wget to debug remote XML feeds using XmlPullParser

I was working on an Android app, jata which depends on getting data from a web based server which uses XML  I tried using an Android Document object  org.w3c.dom.Document and it worked well, but I switched to using an XmlPullParserfor performance reasons

Recursively Clear Directory with PHP

I was working on a PHP program that reads  zipped files, extracts wanted files, stores the contents in a MySql database, and finally cleans up the contents of a local tmp directory.  I develop and debug the program on a local LAMP server, then upload and test it on a public web server.  I thought it was all finished, when I noticed that the public server printed out some PHP warnings that it was trying to unlink a directory, rather than a file.

Freelancer dot com – It’s all about (their) money

Freelancer dot com is more interested in getting your dollars than it is in connecting employers with contractors.
Updated 12/20/2013

Grey One – DIY Computer

Aluminum chassis box with 5V and 12V power supply, and a Z80 CPU board

Aluminum chassis box with 5V and 12V power supply, and a Z80 CPU board

My first home computer was a TRS-80 Model 1 and it evolved into this S-100 system with NorthStar Z80 CPU board, floppy and hard disk controllers, and serial and printer ports.

After buying that new PC, make the recovery discs!

And why is SATA AHCI such a bear?

So you bought a new PC and it didn’t come with any media to re-install the operating system in case of a crash, or if you want to install a bigger disk or switch the disk to a new Solid State one.  I doubt the manufacturers save any significant money by not putting an OS install disk in the box.  Maybe they just don’t want to make it too easy for people to put unlicensed software on too many machines.

jata development

jata development issues

Issues of general interest that do not reveal the secret sauce recipe of jata.


jata – an Android transit app

The Predictions view is the main goal of jata. Getting you there is explained below.


Jata is an Android application that displays arrival times for buses and trains.  It currently works with agencies that use the Clever Devices BusTime system.  Specifically:

  • CTA – Chicago Transit Authority
  • CCCTA – Central Contra Costa County
  • PSTA – Pinellas Suncoast Transit Transit Authority
  • WRTA – Worcester Regional Transit Authority

Version 1.2.2 makes it easier to select routes by adding a route description on the routes screen.

More BusTime agencies can be added; read more below.

Re-use those PS/2 keyboards and mouses!

Those five dollar keyboards at second hand stores like Savers and GoodWill were tempting me.  Something had mangled the N key on the USB keyboard that came with the  HP Pavilion that I’m using for a work horse desktop machine.   I needed a new keyboard

PC Stress Testing

Got a PC that overheats and shuts down?  Did you go out and spend $8.00 on a can of air from Radio Shack or Best Buy and blow out what you could see, and did it help?  Sometimes you need to dig deeper.

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