Updates on my Education

I am a life-long learner and I believe I will keep learn new things till I die. Some of the things, I have had in mind to learn are C++, Html, Css, Javascript etc. I started html yesterday by skimming through a book on html. I won’t go deep into it, at least not now. I just want to be able to decipher what html means and I feel like I accomplished that objective. The other thing I have had in mind is C++, I have actually started learning C++ but I have faced an obstacle that keeps coming up  – using the language to solve programming problems. Python is my default and I hardly have the strength to grapple with language issues in addition to solving the programming problems. I just like to read, to practise? not so much. It is an old habit that I have.

On the book front, I have reduced my target for the Goodreads reading challenge from 50 to 30 after realizing that reading everything isn’t the key. The key is read stuff and have time to ponder on them and make it count. I am at 26 books  and it is July. It is liberating because I won’t feel under pressure to reading anything new. What is important is to go back to my old notes and ruminate on old stuff I have learnt. Give it time to simmer. Meditate. Focus on Quality not quantity.

I also rediscovered Encylopedia Britannica . I got the app though I am beginning to feel the physical books are better. I liked to flip through the pages and discover new things serendipitously. That is part of Nicholas Carr’s argument in the Shallows.

 

Book Review : The Shallows: How the Internet is changing our brains

This is an interesting and very relevant book. It talks about how our use of the internet is changing our brains.
It starts with the argument that our brains aren’t fixed. They change over time depending on how we use them or don’t.
With our use of Internet we are honing the skills that are needed to interact with this medium and losing some other skills. The critical point is that there are tradeoffs. Technological gains aren’t all positive.
The authors contrast this new medium with other changes – like when we started writing or the introduction of radio, the printing press and notes how much more encompassing the Internet is.
The problem with the internet is that, promotes a perfunctory interaction with information. There is a lot of width and not enough depth. There is information overload and we are adapting. We are getting used to skimming and losing our ability for deep thought.
The key takeaway is technological progress can have unintended consequences. We need to consider if all the changes that are happening are desireable.
As for, me, I am taking steps like deleting apps and turning off notifications to gain some sanity. I want to get back what I have lost – the ability to concentrate. I am always looking for distractions. I strongly recommend.

Foray into Cybersecurity

So my friend got me to try out for the Global Cyberlympics. I was on his team of six and we got started. I had to learn from scratch.

Cybersecuriy has a couple of domains – Cryptography, Steganography, Web exploitation, Reverse Engineering etc.

My main focus was Cryptography and later on, reverse engineering. Breaking ciphers can be exciting and finding hidden messages, super cool.

We didn’t qualify but at least I can say this is one more thing, I know a little about.

Book Review : Ego is the Enemy

I am a huge fan of Ryan Holiday and as a true fan, I just had to read his latest book. It was awesome. It talks about Ego.

The ego we see most commonly goes a more casual definition: an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition. That’s the definition this book will use. It’s that petulant child inside every person, the one that chooses getting his or her way over anything or anyone else. The need to be better than, more than, recognized for, far past any reasonable utility – that’s ego. It’s the sense of superiority and certainty that exceeds the bounds of confidence and talent.

The book is divided into three parts. Aspire, Success and Failure.

“To whatever you aspire, Ego is the enemy” . The first part has to do with Talk, talk, talk. This part hit home for me. I am guilty. There is a need to be silent and just do. Talking saps energy. Become a student – this means subdue your ego and seek to improve. “Don’t be passionate” – I struggled a bit with this one because I still believe passion is important but I actually saw the wisdom in this quote. “The critical work that you want to do will require your deliberation and consideration. Not passion. Not naivete”. “Restrain yourself”. “Work, Work, Work”.

“To whatever success you have achieved, Ego is the enemy”. “Do you know how you can tell when someone is truly humble? I believe there’s one simple test: because they consistently observe and listen, the humble improve. They don’t assume, ‘ I know the way'”. ” Don’t tell yourself a story” – Don’t start rounding the edges and forming a mythology around yourself. “Narrative is when you look back at an improbable or unlikely path to your success and say: I knew it all along. Instead of: I hoped”

“To whatever failure and challenges you will face, Ego is the enemy” – “Maintain your own standards” – “It’s a harder road at first but one that ultimately makes us less selfish and self-absorbed. A person who judges himself based on his own standards doesn’t crave the spotlight the same way as someone that lets applause dictate success. A person who can think long term doesn’t pity herself during short-tern setbacks.”

There are lot more lessons in this book. I like that it is short and to the point. I will definitely re-read and I recommend to everyone.

Sim 800

//Rough Draft but I am posting anyway. Need to add pics and links 🙂

So I have been experimenting with the SIM800 module. I got the coreboard from Aliexpress for $5 and what I got was this…<insert pic>

My first attempt to power it from the arduino VCC to 5v and GND to GND failed. I was surprised. The module had spoilt? Google to the rescue. It turns out, I was to blame. I didn’t read the datasheet. The VCC require is 3.6v to 4.4v with 4v being recommended. I connected it to 5V. Yikes! Got to say thumbs up to the engineers that my module didn’t immediately emit the magic smoke. It also turns out, that I didnt consider the current the module requires to startup. There is no way the arduino pins can supply such amount of current.

What’s the Solution?

The solution is actually pretty simple. First, I got a hint somewhere that I could take advantage of a diode to reduce the voltage. That’s superb actually since diodes typically have a forward voltage of 0.7v. With two diodes, I can drop the 5v supply to 3.6v. Cool. For the supply, I made use of a 5v 2A supply. (just another phone charger,with the micro-USB end cut off and connected to a breadboard).

<insert pic of circuilt here and perhaps circuit diagram too>

The Arduino side of things.

Upload this on the arduino

#include <SoftwareSerial.h>

SoftwareSerial SIM800(8,7);

void setup() {

// put your setup code here, to run once:

Serial.begin(9600);

while(!Serial);

SIM800.begin(9600);

delay(1000);

Serial.println(“Setup Complete”);

}

void loop() {

// put your main code here, to run repeatedly:

if(SIM800.available()){

Serial.write(serialSIM800.read());

}

if (Serial.available()){

SIM800.write(Serial.read());

}

}

Connections

Connect the D8 of the arduino to the SIM800 TX pin and the D7 of the arduino to the SIM800 RX pin. Make sure to connect the ground of both modules to each other – they should share a common ground.

Connect the VCC of the sim to the 5v supply but with 2 diodes in series. Connect the ground to the power supplies ground. Your module should come on.

Make sure the arduino is connected and the code above has been uploaded successfully. Open your serial monitor. After a short while, you should see “Setup Complete”, to test that your setup works, type AT and press send. You should get ok as a response. You are good to go. You can now experiment with other AT commands.

Updates

It still doesn’t work with a sim. It can’t see the two sims I have put in it. I can’t make calls. Perhaps I need a special kind of sim. Sigh.

References.

I adapted code from http://www.ayomaonline.com/programming/quickstart-sim800-sim800l-with-arduino/

Pro Mini vs. Nano vs. Uno

I recently acquired new hardware components among them are some arduino nanos and pro minis. I got them because I wanted to investigate their use as low-cost alternatives to the uno. The uno is about $25 dollars , and you could get clones for as low as $15 but the nano cost about $2. $2 !!

So what’s the same? 

First, they all (or have a version ) run on a 5v. They share the same microcontroller core- the Atmega328 .They have the same number of analog input pins. Some of the digital pins can do PWM. And A4 and A5 can be used for I2C .

What’s different?

One difference is that the uno has max 20mA per digital I/O pin. The Nano and the Pro mini have max 40mA per digital I/O pin.The pro-mini doesnt have an on-board 3.3v regulator. Asides from that, there are hardly any differences between the boards.

So why the price disparity?

Well, the Uno is bigger and has components that enable it connect to a power jack. I would say if you are cost-conscious and don’t need any specialized functionality, go for the pro-mini or the nano. There are smaller, cost less and are just as cool!

References.

https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardUno

https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardNano

https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardProMini

 

June Review: It’s July already!

June was.. I dunno. It just passed. By all my usual measures of progress, I didn’t make a lot of progress. I can’t recall reading any book or coding or doing some project. It just passed by. I guess I lost a bit of steam. I was tired. I was paralyzed by fear, unreasonable fear that lead to procrastination. It feels like I haven’t got my life in as much order as I thought. All of this might just be post-Nysc blues. I still have a bit of reflection to do. There are issues to be resolved

What do I hope for/what am I doing in July?

I need to be more positive. Get my morning routines. Finish the work on Afrimakers, meet new people. Finish my applications. Participate in the Cyberlympics. Be done with U.I. Read some books. Do some projects. Tinker. Drive. Kiss a girl. Have fun.