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  1. Hardware development begins here

    March 5, 2014 by Sunit Nandi

    The first mid-semester exams are over. Things seemed to have settled down. At college, everything is just as any other day, with boring lectures and uneventful moments.

    What really kept me motivated was constant experiments and new ideas. That’s pretty much what keeps me active even at the worst times.

    I learnt a little bit of the Cisco router’s command line and am manage the network interfaces with it, by just random fiddling around when I got bored.

    Then Manjaro Linux 0.8.9 was released with a huge number of bug-fixes and improved hardware support. To add to the great news was that Manjaro now officially supports KDE and 0.8.9 release has an official KDE variant. So, just because I was bored, I installed KDE desktop and the K Display Manager and got rid of XFCE, LXDM and the optional GNOME components. And guess what? KDE actually runs better than what I had expected. The system-wide proxy settings are automatically pulled from the environment variables (set with /etc/profile.d/ script). Also, it would be worth mentioning that the BlueZ 5 bluetooth stack works flawlessly with BlueDevil in KDE. Back then, in XFCE, BlueMan had stopped detecting my laptop’s bluetooth adapter after I upgraded to BlueZ 5 from BlueZ 4. Rest of the features work fine, and I’m very satisfied.

    I got myself an Arduino Mega 2560 R3 microcontroller board so that I can build circuits and DIY (do it yourself) electronics. At present, I’m learning the Arduino code.


    Arduino Mega 2560 R3

    I also ordered‘s Beaglebone Black as I am very curious about single-board PCs.


    Beaglebone Black A6A

    Right now I’m looking for a HDMI-to-DVI/VGA adapter so that I can hook up my old display to it and a externally powered USB hub to attach peripherals to the board. Hoping to get cracking and experimenting in a week or so.

    My workstation, a customised HP Z420, is going to arrive soon. So I have one more reason to be excited.

    Coming to blogging and WordPress, I have noticed an interesting finding. If you are a user of the WordPress HTTPS plugin, uninstall it as soon as possible. This plugin has a poorly written page filter than significantly degrades page loading performance and causes regular timeouts in the admin panel. For a month I was unable to figure out why the admin panel was working poorly on, until I disabled the plugin. Also, its interesting to note that trying to secure the admin panel with HTTPS and serving the site over plain HTTP can be a real pain. I’m not saying it has problems serving pages. What I am trying to say is that, if you are securely connected to the admin panel and are making a new post, any new image or media attached to the post will load from the secure site even when the site is served insecurely. This is an undesired behaviour. In my opinion, WordPress should integrate HTTPS options properly into the GUI so that we do not have to depend on tweaks and third-party plugins to secure the admin panel while serving the site as it is. For now, I stopped using HTTPS, until I find a proper fix.

    Right now, I’m writing my General Proficiency report for college.

    Also, Pyrokinesis, Assam Engineering College’s annual fest is on, and I might be attending it when I’m free.

    So its finally time for me to lift my hands off the keyboard. I’ll be writing again soon. Take care and have fun!

    Till then, enjoy this sandwich. 😉



  2. Starting off with the new year

    February 9, 2014 by Sunit Nandi

    I think many of you may have been wondering where I’ve been for such a long time and why I haven’t written anything. There’s a reason for that which I’ll explain later. But before that, let me tell you what I was up to.

    After the new year celebrations back in my hometown, we returned to Guwahati on 8th of January. Due to the temperature difference between Digha and Guwahati, I caught cold, cough and breathing difficulties. Assam is a few degrees colder than West Bengal, and that’s obviously a no-brainer. I spent a whole week in bed, unable to move or talk properly. As if that wasn’t enough, my digestive system decided to revolt, making me unable to eat anything. There were several visits to the doctor and another week of no activity.

    After the whole illness drama got over, I was too weak to go to college, so I spent my time at home perfecting my coding skills and watching movies. During this time, I got myself a MicroTik RouterBoard RB-751, because I had this sudden urge to study routers and networks. I flashed a couple of firmwares, tested various routing options and attacks in simulation. But then, I felt I wasn’t doing anything practical. So, I tried to do what I wanted to do in the last 3 years: build my own home streaming network. It was successful in the end, and felt like a dream come true. I documented the steps and made a video out of it for TechnoFAQ TV.

    20140123_183148 20140123_195523

    Here is the video:

    In the meanwhile I ordered myself a Cisco Linksys X3500 ADSL2+ home gateway from eBay to replace my ageing DLink DSL-G604T. It was shipped but the courier (Blue Dart) decided to “cache” my shipment and delayed the delivery.

    I began going to college, but classes were a hit or miss. Some were held and some weren’t, but being among classmates again felt wonderful.

    In the beginning of February, my X3500 shipment arrived. I unboxed it and set it up, replacing the DLink and RouterBoard with a single device. It didn’t seem anything special at all, but the performance was epic. My DSL speeds were greater than 9000 Kbps, whereas the DLink would average at around 7000 Kbps. The X3500, being a dual-band N access point, performed better than both the DLink and RouterBoard combined. Now I get pretty good WiFi signal in my bedroom, the garden and toilets (heehee!) too.

    20140130_152645 20140130_152700 20140130_152727IMG_20140130_223651

    One day later, Alcheringa 2014 at IIT Guwahati began. I enjoyed the Saturday and Sunday to the fullest with my friends. I won’t be describing the events here as they are widely popular and published in the newspapers.

    This was followed by Saraswati Puja. I spent the whole day at college with friends, hopping from hostel to hostel. Out of compulsion, I had to have the bhog (feast) 4 times at 4 different hostels. After the whole day, I was tired of eating.

    20140204_141724 20140204_141533 20140204_141549

    And the award for the best looking lady goes to:


    Okay, that’s enough, I guess. 😛

    After that classes begin at full steam and labs start.

    I also managed to set up OpenVPN despite being behind a proxy and firewall and was able to route some of my home traffic via Japan just for testing. My Android devices which could not play live streams like ShoutCast before could do now. So its music, music everywhere.


    Also I installed Mac on a non-Apple machine, a.k.a Hackintosh. So far, its pretty good, but the graphics drivers are not properly loaded and the video performance is poor.


    Now, I’ll come to the point where I’ll tell you why I haven’t written anything in a long while. Well, for some reason, the WordPress admin panels on all my hosted blogs were timing out for some reason or the other. After a whole day of troubleshooting alongwith the webhost’s staff yielded nothing in particular about misconfiguration or heavy resource usage, I made the plunge by requesting them to backup, delete, recreate and restore my userspace. We all thought that would not make any difference, but on the contrary WordPress was running stably again and I am now able to blog.

    Before I left for my hometown in December, I made sure static content on my site be delivered from Amazon S3 and CloudFront. After 2 months of testing their service, I realised it was not worth it. CloudFlare serves static content faster than CloudFront, atleast in India. So I rolled back and deleted my S3 buckets.

    SOVIC is an NGO that is based in my college. This NGO runs several child welfare schemes. They requested me to build a website for them, which is now live at

    So, this is what life has been till now.

    I’m waiting for my upcoming new camcorder and a workstation so that I can make awesome videos.

    Till then, take care. I’ll be writing again soon.