Archive for the ‘xkcd’ Category

XKCD GPS “Cyborg navigation” ported to Roadnav

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

So as you probably know, I am a fan of the webcomic XKCD. Back in May, Randall posted a comic and a blag article about his idea of a dead reckoning type navigation system, which every couple of seconds it speaks the distance and the direction to your destination. I’ve been hanging out with the excellent people at #geohashing, and one of them suggested that I look at the “cyborg script” for use on my carputer. Well I thought, why not port it to C++ and stick it in Roadnav?

So I went ahead and did the implementation in my semi-experimental wx3 branch of Roadnav, and it worked out pretty well! Its not present in any downloads on the Roadnav site yet . You can find it labeled as the “wxWidgets 3 Development Line (alpha)” at the Roadnav download page. Some nice things about using it inside roadnav:

  • You can enter the destination in a street address or raw coordinates
  • It marks the destination on the map that it shows
  • Cross platform support (Windows, Linux, OSX)

Now, there are a number of usability issues present with this implementation of the Cyborg navigation. For one, you can’t mute it (inside the program at least). For two, you can’t actually turn it off yet.

If you want to play with it, you can download the source code via SVN for Roadnav and libroadnav in the wx3 branch. Alternatively, you can download a snapshot from the Roadnav downloads page. If you’re just looking for a C++ version of the cyborg script, you can see it at this link.

Mind you, that whole branch is mostly alpha at the moment, but revision 1715 should work without any significant problems. Hopefully a stable release will be out by the end of summer (no guarantees here though). If you find bugs or have issues with that particular branch, drop me a line!

Despite being (in my opinion) the best open source GPS navigation app out there, I will admit that there are a number of large performance and usability issues with Roadnav. However, I’m hoping that we (though, at the moment its only me doing active development) can optimize it and rework its code base to perform just as well as any commercial GPS apps out there (if you’re wanting to do some development, join the roadnav-devel mailing list or contact me, I have a number of ideas that aren’t in the TODO list yet).

Original XKCD blag post:

MBR Love Note Responses

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

I have to say, I didn’t quite expect the wide variety of responses to my “MBR Love Note“. And… it was on the front page of Digg and BoingBoing, among other places. Which, has driven a ton of random traffic to the site. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

I’m not going to bother posting the Digg comments, a lot of them were so far off base and yet wildly amusing.

Cory Dotorow classified it as a “Scary MBR-nuking program.. “.. I don’t know if I would go that far, thats a bit of an exaggeration.

Brandon said “it was a [real, non-script kiddie] hack”.. thanks. πŸ™‚
Gameboy genius filmed installation and booting of the love note and put it on YouTube… you can see it at his blog.

CustomPC wrote that “an expert assembly code programmer writes an app to make your computer greet you with a note when you switch it on”. Expert, eh? Really, its not all that hard…

As an aside, it really is quite trivial to uninstall the program. Look at the comments section for a hint if you really don’t have any idea. Though, you probably shouldn’t install it if you don’t have an idea. I don’t feel like dealing with thousands of people screwing their computer up. It probably (most likely) won’t destroy your computer by any stretch of the imagination..

My roommate Jon provided the text, which I believe he did get from ThinkGeek.

Oh, and yes, I did know the answers to the quiz when I made it. The only one I wasn’t 100% sure about on #3, but I was right when I looked it up. And the quiz is mostly for fun, but anyone who has messed with MBR’s and such should be able to get them right. And I would say a great deal of people *should* be able to get #1 right.

Inspired by XKCD: MBR Love Note

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

I am a huge fan of the webcomic, XKCD, which is a very geeky and amusing comic for those of you who haven’t read it. On Friday, the following comic was posted:

And this of course reminded me of when I first started programming — I started with assembly language in 2000 with an 80286 I got out of the trash. I quickly became interested in low-level system programming, and created a number of MBR-based programs and other random programs in assembly. I haven’t programmed in assembly in a couple years, but this was pretty simple once I started going. πŸ™‚

In any case, the comic has inspired me to write a Windows-based program that can write a “love note” to the MBR and display it when the computer starts. And of course, just for fun it shows the “Missing operating system” message as well. Shown is a screenshot:

Roses are red… missing operating system.



Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Me and my roommate Jon are huge fans of the webcomic XKCD, so a few nights ago we randomly created a really crappy pseudo-XKCD style comic of our own. See for yourself.