Reality in all it’s forms

Gadget Guru is a short weekly radio show on World Radio Switzerland that I do with Tony Johnston.

Here’s the show from March 31st, 2015:

Here’s the usual set of links & videos from the show:

Virtual Reality

A Rollercoaster Simulator on the Oculus Rift

There’s an open source system for VR gaming

Augmented Reality

Google glass – not dead yet.



Mixed Reality

Microsoft Hololens

and you can even try for yourself with the iPad Ikea catalogue

Digital Cinema and a Film Festival

Gadget Guru is a short weekly radio show on World Radio Switzerland that I do with Tony Johnston.

Here’s the show from March 17th, 2015:

Here’s the usual set of links & videos from the show:

Digital Cinema

Festival du Film Vert

The DCP – or Digital Cinema Package is the format that cinemas play – it’s a lot better than DVD and even blu-ray! Count on a 2k (like HD) movie taking between 75-160 Gigabytes and a 4k (like ultra-HD) movie taking up to 600 GB.

Professional kit for making DCPs is expensive, but fortunately for festivals like mine there’s great open source software for making DCPs for your local cinema!

Open DCP

DCP-O-Matic – this one is brilliant as you can cluster together computers to reduce encode time. With this software I went from 3 days to 7 hours to make a DCP.

The film festival starts today, hope to see you there. If not, see you next week on WRS!


Gadget Guru is a short weekly radio show on World Radio Switzerland that I do with Tony Johnston.

Here’s the show from January 27th, 2015:

Here’s the usual set of links & videos from the show:

Our list of Pangloss Labs events so you won’t miss our next robot workshop

The Open Source (hardware and software) Thymio robot from EPFL and it’s programming environment

The NAO robot

and the much more serious and large ATLAS robot from Boston Dynamics:

And one of my favourite French open source robot projects, InMoov:

Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Have a good week, and remember that according to the original Terminator movie humanity should have been destroyed by now, so we are definitely not in that future.

Building Open Source Hardware

Building Open Source Hardware is a very very practical reference guide on the nuts and bolts of going from a maker project to a growing business.  Alicia has brought together a great description of the state of the art.

She doesn’t have all the answers yet – no-one does. But this book is the start of an enormous change in the way we make things. Turning the open source hardware movement into a radical open source decentralised manufacturing system.


Pangloss Labs – Open Innovation for Grand Geneve

Pangloss Labs is a centre of expertise in open source hardware, software and most importantly ideas and techniques.  Currently both a French association and a Swiss association, run by entrepreneurs, we hold experimental (hardware, software and social entrepreneurship) labs, and prototype innovation activities across various sectors.

For more information check out our web site.

Ecological-FabLab in the Geneva region

Dream, Build, Repair, Learn, Share

My main project right now is the creation of an ecologicalfablablogo Fablab here in the Geneva region.

“Fab Labs give people the tools they need to create technology and make (almost) anything”

Professor Neil Gershenfeld – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Eco-Innovation is at the cutting edge of the third industrial revolution.  When you combine innovations in energy production with the open source hardware movement you create very low cost & high value technologies.

We are building a creative space to stimulate local innovation.  We dare to dream big, start small and grow fast. This has become Pangloss Labs. If you’re interested in joining us, take a look at our web site

Post Tenebras Lab – the Geneva Hackerspace

A diverse group of geeks, engineers and hackers got together back in 2009 by asking the question online “is there a kind of makerspace in Geneva?”. Eventually we found each others emails archived online and decided to meet up. After several sessions in Les Brasseurs it was decided to form an association to try to create a physical space in Geneva for such a space. The Post Tenebras Lab association was born. Like many in Geneva it took us a LONG time to find a space, but PTL opened it’s doors in May 2012, and has held open evenings every Tuesday ever since. You’ll find more details at the web site, but everyone is welcome – just be aware that Post Tenebras Lab is a DO-OPOLY. i.e. if you want something done you have to do it 🙂

And no, a hackerspace is not where the bad guys meet to drain your bank account, it’s where the good guys meet up to make stuff, or hack it into shape – whether this be electronic, physical, mobile app or anything. Just come along on a Tuesday to find out for yourself.

More thoughts on Google ChromeOS

After reflection, I think we geeks should get fully behind Google OS. Not for us, of course, but for everyone else.  All those people that need our help just to keep a Windows-based computer running could benefit from a much simpler computing experience.  More to the point, our time would be dramatically saved if all the non-geeks used a cloud-based, automatically backup up, never-lose data, no viruses, no complexity, always connected device.

So it’s down to us.  If we can pour the passion that we usually reserve for OS arguments into comvincing non-geeks why everything *they* need can be done online, and that old-fashioned computers were always rubbish at games anyway, maybe, just maybe, we can see our way forward to a windows-free world, where we save so much time NOT fixing our friends and relations computers, that we actually have time to work on cool technologies at home.

After all, we geeks can still use our computers when they are not online.  Can you?


The IOMEGA Clik!/PocketZip PC Card Drive under Linux

Clik! Disk

What is the PC Card PocketZip Drive?Â

It’s a 40M removable media drive in the shape of a PCMCIA type II
card. For more information check out
IOMEGA’s web site, even
though they say it isn’t supported under Linux. Note to readers from
iomega: you are perfectly welcome to contact me. It has recently been renamed
to PocketZip, and the price dropped to $99.


Iomega seem to have made a small change in their recent clik
which requires a small modification to the driver. If your new clik
drive is not recognised, even though the ide-floppy driver is running you need
to make the following change:

Find the line that says:

if strcmp(drive->id->model, "IOMEGA Clik! 40 CZ ATAPI") == 0)

and change it to

if strncmp(drive->id->model, "IOMEGA Clik", 11) == 0)

This should fix the problem.

Clik! and iPaq.
ipaq with clik!

Ross Reedstrom sent me this cool picture of his PocketZip drive working
in his Compaq iPaq running Linux. Apparently he did have to make a hardware
modification to the sleeve, but the driver “just worked”. However, unlike
laptops, the power supply of the iPaq does notice the drain of the clik!

Since kernel 2.2.18 I have been the official ide-floppy maintainer and
clik support has been included. If the procedures on this page work for you,
please send me an email. If they
don’t work, REALLY send me an email.

I have created a site at sourceforge for
bug reports etc. Feel free to drop things in there or just email me directly.

So how do I make it work under Linux?

First of all, you need to be running with
kernel version 2.2.14 or later. Even
this isn’t enough for the drive to just work as there are some functions (like
eject lock) that simply didn’t fit into a drive only 5mm thick. Then
follow the steps below:

Choose the version of ide-floppy to match your kernel.

ide-floppy.c for
ide-floppy.c for
ide-floppy.c for
patch for
ide-floppy.c for
patch for
included in official 2.2.18 onwardsnone needed
ide-floppy.c for
2.4.0-8 onwards
included in official 2.4.9none needed

Download the ide-floppy.c file (if you take the patch you can work it
out) and copy it to your /usr/src/linux/drivers/block directory.
login as
Recompile the kernel including the


option to enable IDE Floppy devices to run as a module. Doing it
as a module saves the memory when you don’t hves the memory when you don’t have
the card inserted.

To make life easier and to make it possible to exchange files with PCs
running other OS’s make sure you have VFAT support enabled in the kernel

Use your favourite kernel recompilation method.

To compile the driver type

make modules ; make modules_install

If neccessary, reboot

Make sure the PCMCIA card services package is running.


Go to a virtual console screen (i.e. not X, you can leave X running)

Insert the Clik! PC Card, with a disk inside it.
You should see
something like…

ide1 at 0x180-0x187, 0x386 on irq 15 hdc: hdc4
hdc: hdc4

This is great! Now you just need to make a mount point and mount
the disk. Notice that just like ZIP disks, IOMEGA use partion 4 (nobody
knows why this is so). To make a mount point type

mkdir /mnt/clik

or whatever you prefer as your mount point. Now you can
mount the disk by typing

mount -t vfat /dev/hdc4 /mnt/clik

You should now be able to list the contents of the disk with

ls -l /mnt/clik

Copying files etc should now all work too.

You should probably put the following line in /etc/fstab

/dev/hdc4 /mnt/clik
vfat noauto, user 0 0

If you are using KDE you can download a
mount/unmount icon to put on your
desktop. I have been sent a couple of icon files for
and an XPM. Thanks to Josh Jones and Giuseppe Castagna
for those.

Inserting/Removing Disks

Just like floppy disks there is no hardware protection against removing
a disk without unmounting it. IF YOU DO THIS YOU WILL PROBABLY LOSE
DATA. Always

umount /mnt/clik

before removing a disk. Another way to handle DOS/Win disks is to use
the mtools package (type man mtools to find out more)

Caveats, Disclaimers, things to be aware of

ts, Disclaimers,
things to be aware of

The patches to the driver are free software, covered by the GPL.
Use of this software may well void your warranty with IOMEGA. Certainly I
make no claims about the perfomance of this software other than that it works
for me. Use at your own risk.

Having said that I will be happy to accept
comments from users of this

APM support

Everything seems to work fine. As of 2.2.17b you no longer need to leave
the disk in the drive

Battery life

I did not notice any real change in battery life by having the drive
inserted, even with a disk mounted. The power saving circuitry in the
drive seems to work fine.

FIXED from 2.2.17b Booting, Returning from
hibernation or standby with the drive in but no disk gives a problem for
now. The way to fix it is to do a cardctl eject n where n is
the PCMCIA slot your card is in, insert a disk, then do a cardctl insert n
to have the system recognise the disk. The same thing happens when you
insert the card without a disk inside.

Toshiba Libretto 100/110 CT

The drive only works in slot 0, the bottom PCMCIA slot. I guess this is
something to do with the Cardbus stuff in slot 1.

Things to do

  • Get IOMEGA to start claiming Linux support – a “Cool – it works with
    Linux” sticker would be nice.


I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. This would
not have been possible without the excellent (and readable) code from Andre
Hedrick (the Linux IDE Guy) and Gadi Oxman (the former Linux IDE Floppy
guy). Thanks also go to Grant Stockly, a FreeBSD guy who got the parallel port version
of the Clik! working under *BSD and gave me the confidence to buy my drive, and
Avi Freedman and Jeff Clement who were brave enough to test Alpha version
drivers from a guy they’d never met.

Thanks also to all the people who
emailed me saying that it worked for them.

Good Luck!

Paul Bristow