New Posts over at Engineer…

April 28th, 2014

Browse on over to Engineer and check out the recent activity…

Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP…
Click here to read how Microsoft has finally retired support for Windows XP.

Who cares if Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP…
Click here to read how you can make Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 look a lot like Windows XP anyway.

Look out for Killer Asteroids…
Click here to learn about the latest analysis regarding the frequency of Asteroid strikes on Earth.

New posts on Engineer LLC

March 25th, 2014

Recent updates on the Engineer LLC Blog…

Moore’s Law and Data Storage…
Click here to read about Moore’s Law and Data Storage.

A Video Game for Cancer Research Analysis?…
Read about a new Video Game for Cancer Research Analysis!

Check out these recent posts on my Engineer LLC Blog…

October 3rd, 2013

Aluminum Wiring Fire Hazard…
http://www.engineerllc.org/blogs/engineer/?p=384

Screen Sharing on MAC OS X…
http://www.engineerllc.org/blogs/engineer/?p=374

Save on Web Hosting with a free discount code from Dreamhost!

August 3rd, 2013

Where is Vernon’s Excellent Blog? It’s on a server at Dreamhost. Where did It come from? I made it from scratch of course, but how? Well to start with you need a Web Hosting Provider. If you are really cheap you can even get an account for free but you will have to agree to let them post annoying ads all over your site for that. BAH! Ads? We don’t need any stinking ads! Use Dreamhost like I do. Check them out. They are seriously AWESOME! The cost is low, the reliability is unbeatable, they are Green, Socially responsible and a little bit irreverent. My websites have been with Dreamhost for 8 years (ever since I started publishing public web content). This blog you are reading right now is hosted on Dreamhost. But wait, there’s more! Use the promo code FREE3MONTHS and you will get an additional discount of 3 months when signing up for a year or 6 months when you sign up for two years. Create a new account with Dreamhost and remember to use the free discount code FREE3MONTHS.

What’s new for 2012?

January 24th, 2012

To start off 2012 Vernon’s Excellent Blog remains ad free, PPC free, and for the time being an outpost of free speech with an Electronic and Software Engineering bent. In anticipation of the new Year and with a Prosperous 2011 drawing to a close, I began the process of forming a new Business Venture “Engineer LLC“. With a portion of my earnings from Contract work, I have formed a new LLC organization to serve as a foundation for the several business ventures that I have been incubating or planning over the course of 2011.

    • Vernon Johnson Engineering Services has been consulting with private Inventors in 2011 to assist in bringing new inventions to life!
    • Spidersource Unlimited is my vision for a provider of Consumer and Technical Software in the mobile marketplace. It has yet to be officially launched as of this writing.
    • dc-johnson.com was created in January of 2008 in response to an inquiry by a Ferrari restorer and as a tribute to my Father’s invention of aftermarket emission control devices for the Automotive “Grey Market” of the United States in the early 1980s. The site serves as a source of information for owners of these now antique Automobiles. Occasionally, a request comes in for assistance to this site which will now be a division of Engineer LLC.

There may be other ventures in the future that will emerge as projects or ventures of Engineer LLC.

The new web presence for Engineer LLC is hosted by Dreamhost. I have been using them for 7 years (ever since I started publishing public web content). This blog you are reading right now is hosted on Dreamhost. If you are considering opening a new web Hosting account, I strongly recommend Dreamhost. Should you choose to use thier services, use the promo code NEWUSER2012 and you will get an additional discount when you create a new account with Dreamhost. Full Disclosure: I do receive a small referral fee for referring new customers.

Vernon Johnson

January 24, 2012

Malware never sleeps

January 6th, 2012

Malware and Trojans and Viruses, oh my!

Oh geez, again? This crap is really annoying.

So I just launched a new web presence for Engineer LLC (my new encompassing venture for business). I set up a WordPress blog on the site. So I was checking out the “official” themes on the “official” WordPress website a bit later and I saw one that looked interesting. Curious to see more I selected the hyperlink for the theme Author…

!!! AHHHRGH !!! Malware Attack !!! AHHHRG !!!

Malware

Luckily, Microsoft Security Essentials trapped it right away. However, it had apparently left the tentacles. Next day… OK the computer starts fine, but wait there’s more! Now my browsers (all of them) keep getting the home page hijacked to some Spanish language Movie website? Gimme a break!

(Update 01/07/2012) The annoyance took a bit of work to get rid of, but now it’s gone. While the anti malware stuff caught and killed the threats immediately, it left behind 2 executables in the temporary and program data folders, set to run on startup and lurk until a browser was run. Then the registry was overwritten with the offending url over and over again. Narrowing it down was a hassle. Shut down all the browser add-ons, nope. Run msconfig and deselect all suspected interlopers and possibly compromised legit apps. OK that stopped it. reactivate the browser add-ons one by one, nothing there. Delete the startup items that are not recognizable and enable the suspected legit apps. Restart again and it’s still OK. OK then it was one or more of those unrecognizable .exe files. Stinky malware…

PIC32 SPI to MCP4922 or “Why I get the BIG Bucks”

December 16th, 2011

I just completed an exercise in bringing up a MCP4922 DAC on the PIC32 SPI. I didn’t find any examples specifically using the PIC32 and MCP4922 or even any examples of the MCP4922 in use in a 3.3v circuit. Therefore I thought a post might help the next fool that comes along and tries it…

1. The PIC32 Peripheral Library Help file is not much for detail, I found a need to dig into the SPIxCON register table in the PIC32 datasheet just to get definitions for the Input Parameter Mnemonics.

2. The CLK and SDO lines both need to be pulled up with at least 10K (I ended up using 4.7K). Further design refinements included pull ups on CS and LDAC with 10K to ensure sufficient loading on the PIC32 outputs, .01uf bypass caps on the outputs to filter the switching noise out and closer coupling of the MCP4922 P/S bypass caps to 4mm or less from the Vdd pin as recommended in the datasheet.

3. When halting just after a TX everything worked OK but it got unstable when I let it run free at an update rate of 10HZ or even slower. After much troubleshooting (including assuming that I had damaged the DAC chip) it became apparent that the instability was due to data/clock sync errors. I found that it requires the CKE transition to be inverted (CKE = 1, SPI_OPEN_CKE_REV) to shift data out before the clock to run stable. Indeed, now it runs smooth and clean at a 1MHz SPI clock rate. YAY!

Here’s the SetDAC Function (Written in C32 v2.01)

SetDAC_PIC32_MCP4922.txt

And now it works!

Clock and Data Waveforms @ 1MHz

Clock and Data Waveforms @ 1MHz

Happy Coding…

How to get a seriously AWESOME Website

November 7th, 2011

Want a seriously AWESOME web presence like mine? Where did I get it? I made it from scratch of course, but how? Well to start with you need a Web Hosting Provider. If you are really cheap you can even get an account for free but you will have to agree to let them post annoying ads all over your site for that. BAH! Ads? We don’t need any stinking ads! Use Dreamhost like I do. Check them out. They are seriously AWESOME! The cost is low, the reliability is unbeatable, they are Green, Socially responsible and a little bit irreverent. I have been using them for 7 years (ever since I started publishing public web content). This blog you are reading right now is hosted on Dreamhost. But wait, there’s more! Use the promo code NEWUSER2012 and you will get an additional discount when you create a new account with Dreamhost.

Legacy Applications getting harder to support

July 26th, 2011

Is it just me or is there a disconnect between what OS and Software vendors sometimes do to alienate their customers.

Example: I have a client who uses a certain major vendor’s application in his business that only runs on Windows XP. Hey this is 2011! They have been promising to have a pending update to Vista then 7 compatibility for nearly 4 years now, but still nothing. The laptop in use to run this app is getting old. You can’t get a new one with XP of course, and the choices for hardware that will even run it are rapidly drying up. After a bunch of research I recommended an XPS L702x from Dell, since by all indications a full compliment of drivers for XP were available for this hardware. OOPS! Well for everything but the NVidia Display adapter, but even with all of the right drivers XP runs like a DOG! ARGGH.

Adventures in IT (User assistance puzzles)

December 28th, 2010

Part of my work is helping a number of computer users with their “IT Issues”. Most times the request will include the user’s interpretation of what is wrong (“I can’t see the files on the server, I know they are not gone because other people can see them”; for example). In one such recent incident involving a mid to high level user (skill wise), a review revealed that the files (on a Windows server) were actually visible in the Finder window in the user’s MAC, but failed to appear in the user’s “Open File” dialog box in Excel 2011. Bizarre! A check of the file permissions showed that the file that was the intended target had been changed and that user had been “disincluded” somehow. After that was fixed, the files now showed up in the Excel dialog, but attempting to open them caused an error message to appear (something like “the file is no longer at the location specified”). What! Tinker a bit more with Excel 2011 then. Closed it (all the way). Restart Excel and try again. Same error message. But then a new one. Excel crashed. Now all it does is crash when trying to open an existing .xls (older version) file. OK then, check for updates. Doh! “This update is recommended to improve stability blah blah blah”. Things are not always what they seem.