Cyrozap's Tech Projects

Computers. Circuits. Code.

Pelican is Wonderful

As I mentioned in my last post, Pelican is the tool I now use to generate all the static HTML files that make up this site. Pelican allows me to write posts using either Markdown or reStructuredText and can utilize a large variety of plugins written in Python. There are a number of blogging platform similar to Pelican like Octopress and Jekyll (upon which Octopress is based), but Pelican was the most fully-featured platform that is also written in a language I'm very comfortable with.

The Blog is Back!

After over a year of silence, I'm blogging again! A lot has happened in the time I've been away, the most notable of which is probably the new look of the website. As you can see, I've abandoned my self-hosted WordPress blog in favor of a static blog hosted on Rackspace's Cloud Files. I did this for a number of reasons:

bladeRF: a USB 3.0 Software Defined Radio

I just backed this project! Why? Because for $400, I get one of the most flexible and inexpensive SDR's on the market. Not only do I get that, I also get in-depth documentation and guides on how to use it. I've been wanting a nice SDR for some time now, ever since I saw the OpenBTS demo using the Ettus Research USRP1. Unfortunately, the USRP1 is, to me, too limited to justify the price. Additionally, there is a very steep learning curve if you're a beginner like me. I'm still interested in cell phone networks, though, and with the pending release of the bladeRF, I will finally have a chance to play around with the technology.

Notice a Speed Increase?

Well, I've finally done it—I've purchased a VPS and now I'm hosting this blog on it! I'm still using CloudFlare for caching, spam-filtering, and DDoS protection, but now I'm running the blog on a network that is about two orders of magnitude faster than my home upload speed of 180 KB/s. It is VERY nice and the transition went much smoother than I expected!

CloudFlare is Awesome!

I've been trying out CloudFlare to try to speed up the site a bit and so far, it's working great! It's also handy because I can use it to bypass 1and1's 5 subdomain limit because I'm using CloudFlare's servers.

Unfortunately, this means I've had to reconfigure a bunch of stuff. I've already noticed that some things are breaking (https stuff) and I'm trying my best to fix them, but sometimes it's difficult to pinpoint the source of the problem.

Totally not a "tech project" post.

For this blog post, I'm going to analyze Apple's success because I'm totally qualified to do that. Also, if you're an Apple hater, you might not like reading this.

I noticed something interesting I regarding the differences between Apple advertisements and advertisements from other smartphone and tablet manufacturers. Let's see if you can spot the differences, too:

My Enhancement Request to Apple (and Verizon, AT&T, et al.)

I just sent this Enhancement Request to Apple. I've reproduced it below:

Unlocked Verizon iPhone 4S To Work On U.S. GSM Carriers

This may be more of a problem with Verizon, but I really would love it if an unlocked Verizon iPhone 4S could be permitted to work on any GSM carrier in the world—including the United States. Currently, it only works on Verizon in the U.S. and GSM carriers internationally, but not AT&T, T-Mobile U.S., nor any other U.S. regional GSM carriers. I was going to buy an iPhone 4S, thinking that this was the dawn of the age of easy migration between wireless carriers, but upon learning about this crippling of the iPhone's enormous hardware potential, I have resolved to not purchase one. I also find it absurd that Verizon will not let an Apple-unlocked iPhone 4S be permitted on its network. This stifles innovation and reeks of monopolistic practices. If iPhone owners got fed up with AT&T's lack of expansive 3G coverage, they could switch to Verizon. If they got tired of Verizon's slow 3G data speeds, they could easily switch to AT&T or T-Mobile. If consumers were allowed to freely flow between carriers, the superior carrier would have more subscribers by nature and not by force. I'd prefer it if companies would bring about this change by themselves instead of legislation forcing the change. Either way, it must happen eventually. Apple has the power to protest these anti-competitive habits by allowing the activation of U.S. SIM cards in unlocked Verizon iPhone 4S's. I don't know if this request will actually do anything, but it makes me feel better to know that someone will see this and might even stop a moment to think, "What if..."

Go to to send your own Enhancement Request.

No more ads! Yay! Sorta...

Well, ads don't seem to be making me any money. Because of this, I figured that I might as well get rid of them.

In place of ads, I now have Flattr buttons! Yay!

Like a post? Flatter it! There are now Flattr buttons at the end of every post. I'm sure you won't mind.

Possible Downtime

The server may be down for a week due to Hurricane Irene. Just letting you know in advance. If only I had my own fusion reactor...