PDA

View Full Version : Ancient lappy for scouting


evulish
11-05-2002, 04:25 PM
So I had this neat idea and wasn't totally sure where to post it...but I guess it falls under this category. I believe my team has gained a few old laptops (486, 16mb ram). We have been needing a simpler way to do scouting and these laptops came to mind. My idea was to put a webserver on it, a small window manager (for linux...of course), along with a mySQL database. The only problem is that I'm not sure if that old machine can handle all that. I've never run any sort of database software nor ever even thought about programming for one. Anyone know what kind of machine I would want to do that?

(All you people with your fancy new Vaio laptops just for display purposes...sheesh...Until this year, our robot programming has been done on a computer using a proc made my IBM and it's oler than me))

My basic plan was to create a web interface like a search engine then be able to type in or select what I want to limit. IE: check a box that says Tether and box that says 2 goals then search and print all the results. Much easier than flipping through every page in a notebook and trying to find pictures on 40 different digital cameras.

Trashed20
11-05-2002, 06:22 PM
well, just throwing data into a mysql db is very simple and doesn't load the system at all. If you wanted to do complex queries and sorting, that could lag a little. I can't find minimum requirements for mySQL on their site but it shoudl be pretty low. If you were going to install apache w/ php i don't think its very hard on the processor. I run an apache server on my 400 mhz celeron with 256 ram, and it runs fine, which could be the extra ram. my only advice is to try it out and see what happens. also, an online version of this that all teams could access would be wonderfull. the only problem would be to get everyone to update their team info. do you think first would send out an email informing all of the teams of a site like this?

rbayer
11-05-2002, 09:52 PM
Honestly, you'd be better off with a commercial database program. From what you've described, even the old ClarisWorks 4.0 (anybody remember that?). Are you trying to do this in a distributed manner, such that multiple people with multiple laptops could all be accessing and updating the same database? If so, I'd recomend dumping MySQL and the webserver on some "server" in your pit area and just having regular browsers on the laptop.

AJ Quick
11-05-2002, 10:09 PM
mySQL and other database programs may be too intense memory wise with only 16mb. What specifically are you planning on doing? It may be fine with simple querys, and manipulation, but if you want something that keeps updating itself every few seconds with new data, it may not be able to keep up.

evulish
11-05-2002, 10:23 PM
I don't think it will be anything to complex... Basically, whenever someone from the team wants to find something out about a team or stuff about robots...they'd go to a website on that computer and search for something like 'robots with tether 2 goal grabbers and balls' then it would query the mySQL server


mysql> SELECT * FROM robots WHERE tether = "T" AND goals = "2" AND balls = "T";


Then just reply with the results of the find.

I happen to like the idea of bringing a a desktop or something to act as the server...but I'd be wanting wireless access and I kinda doubt that the laptop will accept 802.11b cards :)

I shall be looking into the lappy specs and see if I can't up the memory to at LEAST 32mb (which I figure would do the job....) Do laptops need special memory? I've never worked with them before...

evulish
11-05-2002, 10:24 PM
Anyone willing to donate a laptop to a good cause? :D

MacZealot
11-05-2002, 10:48 PM
nope, but between now and february I'm hoping on getting an ibook, sorting out all of the usb problems, and etc, so that when all is ready I'll have the best programming box around :D

rbayer
11-05-2002, 11:36 PM
evulish,
if you're only accessing the data off one machine, MySQL/PHP is overkill. ALL decent stand-alone database programs will let you do the type of search you are talking about and display the results in any form you like.

As for special RAM, you need special small-outline RAM. With the age you are talking about, though, I honestly don't know what the specifics would be.

Ashley Weed
11-06-2002, 06:55 AM
Originally posted by evulish
Basically, whenever someone from the team wants to find something out about a team or stuff about robots...

.. basically me ;).....


........ give evulish ideas.... help him find out the craziness of the unknown AGED laptop!!!!!

/ma wants sanity!

evulish
11-06-2002, 02:39 PM
Originally posted by rbayer
evulish,
if you're only accessing the data off one machine, MySQL/PHP is overkill. ALL decent stand-alone database programs will let you do the type of search you are talking about and display the results in any form you like.

As for special RAM, you need special small-outline RAM. With the age you are talking about, though, I honestly don't know what the specifics would be.

What are some other database programs? I have never looked into any of this stuff and I don't know what's good, bad, or indifferent...

As for you weedie...nothing will ever make you sane :)

AJ Quick
11-06-2002, 03:10 PM
Has anyone ever approached a big computer company, or retail store for some free laptops for some of their travel members? I think it would be cool to see if they are interested.

evulish
11-06-2002, 10:44 PM
Okay. I got the laptop tonight. It's an IBM Thinkpad 701C with a 80486 75mhz proc and 20mb ram. It's a pretty decent laptop. I got it with a docking station (mouse, kb, video, parallel, serial...) and an external floppy drive. There's no battery yet but I'm not exactly wanting to walk around with it. It's pretty cool...it has a butterfly keyboard.

Right now, I'm working on getting the hard drive backed up which seems to be a bit of a problem. I have no way of transfering files other than via floppy disk. 211mb of data by way of floptical is not fun. I'm scouring friends' computer parts in hopes of finding a parallel zip drive. I JUST WANT WIN95 GONE(&#$

After that, I should be able to install Slack 7.0. I read it doesn't play well with new kernels (and what would the advantage be of installing the newest stuff? Yeah...USB support is really an issue) Once I get linux installed, I'll be installing database software, Apache, and Netscape. It's gonna be sweet. Gotta do a bit of programming for it, though. I'll also have to learn someone how to maintain it :) (AFAIK..I'm the only linux user on my team...but I'm in the process of converting)

I should be getting a memory upgrade soon. 64mb ram *drool*

rbayer
11-06-2002, 11:53 PM
Umm.... how exactly do you plan on fitting Slack 7 along with Apache, MySQL and X Windows on 211MB?

As for moving the data, just take out the hard-drive and plug it in to a desktop, assuming it is ATA and not some old, proprietary stuff.

Matt Krass
11-07-2002, 02:29 PM
Hmm, with that littel bit of space, slack 7.0 is overkill. As a personal linux user, I spent many hours jamming things on my alppy, up until it's unfitful end. I recommend zipslack, it is small compact and easy to tweak to run of ext2 or 3 or something else like reiserfs. You can pick out the little bits you don't need, get apache on there and some other stuff. X is out of the question though, plus with zipslack it is almost impossible I found, dependencies and such. So get zipslack and tweak it. I ran apache on it but haven't tried my sql, also, it ran off a 105mb ext2 parttion and 32 mb swap partion
how much more would the mysql need?


Matt Krass

evulish
11-07-2002, 02:40 PM
Well, I really do need X on there. I won't be running a window manager, just netscape. (I doubt the scouting people would much care for command line).

And...the hard drive is a 700mb hard drive. Only 211 of it is used.

Also, laptop hard drives are a bit different than normal hard drives. It won't fit into a PC without a special adapter. I really don't feel like putting money into a worthless laptop :)

Matt Krass
11-07-2002, 02:46 PM
Oh, with 700mb just load up regular slack, from expert install trim it down and just have networking, don't use their X unless you want headaches, it never wokred for me but maybe you will have better luck, and then just setup apache and mysql. Try to keep a lot of free space. Never know when you temporarily need an extra 300mb for source project, db backup whatever. Plus, it is easier, it just is. Hope that helps, and I'm glad Ican ifnd other linux users. Talk to you later,


Matt

P.s. If anyone is interested my winamp3 meta string thing doesn't seem to work, it never shows what song I am playing....any help is appreciated.

evulish
11-07-2002, 02:52 PM
Can slack be easily installed from floppies? (and _only_ floppies? :)) Actually...I may be getting my hands on a parallel port Zip drive (not to install Zipslack with...just to move data...and hopefully slackware :P)

Matt Krass
11-07-2002, 02:56 PM
hmm, not sure no access at all to cd. Lets see, I have an idea but it needs some refining so I'll get back to you. You seem to be anxious about this, such fast replies. Maybe you could get me on aim: ace32456

Matt Krass
11-07-2002, 03:08 PM
Ok I checked into it. Slack can be installed via floppies, it is just a matter of breakinbg it up properly. Check out google groups and run a search on slackware floppy install, depending on what need depends on what you copy, you hsouldn't need it all HTH


Matt

P.s. I am almost always on aim at Ace32456 so contact me if you wish :-)

Jack
11-10-2002, 06:27 PM
I understand that you don't like micro$soft, but sometimes their products are useful for a little small stuff. Unless you plan to make this a MAJOR thing, you could use ms Access. I use it for our teams scounting. It's a database with nice forms, and reports that format data for printing/ easy viewing. It uses VBA which is good for small, quick programming. I understand that if you want to do this networked on many computers then they each have to run Access, and they are old, so i'm not sure of the reqs. that access has. Yes, you could do it in html w/ a mysql db, but that might me a lot of work. Personally, get a win binary for apache and a mysql db. I don't think that it has really any system reqs.

ChrisA
11-11-2002, 01:15 AM
WASH with SOAP

?!

evulish
11-11-2002, 07:25 PM
Originally posted by Jack
I understand that you don't like micro$soft, but sometimes their products are useful for a little small stuff. Unless you plan to make this a MAJOR thing, you could use ms Access. I use it for our teams scounting. It's a database with nice forms, and reports that format data for printing/ easy viewing. It uses VBA which is good for small, quick programming. I understand that if you want to do this networked on many computers then they each have to run Access, and they are old, so i'm not sure of the reqs. that access has. Yes, you could do it in html w/ a mysql db, but that might me a lot of work. Personally, get a win binary for apache and a mysql db. I don't think that it has really any system reqs.

Well...I'm not doing it to make it easy on myself :) I like challenging myself...especially when it's free to do. I suppose I could run Windows on it with IIS and Access along with Visual Basic but I seem to lack the hundreds of dollars needed to buy the software. (I also forgot to mention that I totally hate Microsoft's business ethics...icky stuff) And why would I want to use a Windows Apache and Mysql when it runs natively in linux (and most likely much faster)? I don't mind work at all especially when it has a use...I have until March to complete this...that should be more than enough time to get me mostly in tune with mysql and possibly show some newbies how to use/manage it. (My alterior motive is also to show the team that stuff can be done _without_ Windows...if the world was made of Windows, we wouldn't be standing here :))

And...uhh...ChrisA...I'm confused?

Matt Krass
11-11-2002, 09:05 PM
Hmm, I have an idea. Maybe if you could get a copy of an old pcAnywhere or similar software, then you can connect the lappy to a pc via parallel or serial cable and send the slack files over. Then use a boot disk and run local install. It's either that or spend hours moving the needed files by floppy., even a cheesy qbasic program could send the files, slowly but simple. I think it would be possible for me write the program if you don't know qbasic well enough or at all. Contact me via PM or AIM

Matt

Trashed20
11-11-2002, 09:44 PM
yeah, if you need any help with the php/mysql end im adiquate (not that great but im working on it) and would like something to work on.

AJ Quick
11-11-2002, 09:47 PM
I'm awesome when it comes to PHP, and mySQL. But you probably can just install phpMYadmin, and use that for everything you need.

evulish
11-11-2002, 10:34 PM
I thought about doing a SLIP/PLIP connection but now I'm thinking it'll be simpler (and cheaper) to use a zip drive. Crossed over parallel cables are freaking expensive! I'd tear mine apart but I don't quite understand which wires are which :P I'll probably end up eBaying a zip drive.

As for the database stuff...I know nothing about PHP. I've looked at some of the code but never even started to learn it. I'm madly in love with Perl :) I think I'll be writing most of the code in that (then once that is working...possibly writing it in C/C++...it'd be nice to learn those languages) And what exactly is phpMyAdmin? I've heard a lot of people talk about that? Is it a frontend? I don't really want to use a frontend...I'm doing this purely as a learning experience for me and want to do as much dirtywork as possible. (No weedie, I'm _not_ doing this for your sanity...for your sanity is long gone :D) As for the mySQL help, some help will most likely be needed...if I get stumped enough, I may set up some SSH accounts on this box and maybe let a few people in to help me. I scanned over the docs that came with mysql and it looks like stuff I can handle...I think I'll have a good idea once I get the DBI API down. *shrug*

Thanks for offering all your help...I may need it in a few months.

ChrisA
11-11-2002, 11:28 PM
Well i was sort of hoping maybe some of you already knew about WASH with SOAP. I guess I'll explain what it is.

WASH = Wildstang Application for Scouting with Handhelds
SOAP = Sigmacat Opponent Analysis Program

Basically WASH gathers data about every robot and puts that into a database. The database is sent to SOAP computers. SOAP then makes the data public along with pictures and video footage. It is a free service that provides scouting information for teams that want it.

So instead of trying to make your one 'crappy' laptop able to hold scouting information I am proposing that you check us out. Visit www.soap108.com for more info.

At any rate I'm sure one of us could answer any questions that you have about trying to set up some sort of database thingy.

Mike Soukup
11-12-2002, 01:29 PM
Yea, WASH w/ SOAP, blah blah, what Chris said. Sorry, I just don't feel like plugging it much right now, I'm still waiting to get un-burnt out.

phpMyAdmin is a front end using (obviously) PHP for (obviously) a mySQL database. You can get it at http://www.phpmyadmin.net/. It's simple to set up and very powerful - you can create users, change user permissions, create & edit databases, update tables, etc. You'll barely have to use the mySQL command line anymore, if at all.

evulish
11-12-2002, 02:54 PM
How would I get that WASH/SOAP data onto my laptop? Would it require an internet connection? I haven't figured out a way to connect it to any other computer. I really don't want to set up PLIP/SLIP either :) Anyways...I may make it compatible with your WASH with SOAP so that I can possibly give you data...or get some from you, but it won't work quite the same.

And frontends are nasty. I'm trying to learn :) I happen to like the command line. Mice are icky. (Plus...if I screw up in a GUI, it makes me look stupid...if I screw up in command prompt, nobody has to know because they wouldn't understand anyways! :D) The only frontend I'll be using is /bin/bash :D

Mark Hamilton
11-12-2002, 09:47 PM
MySQL sounds kinda overkill for what you are suggesting. MySQL is designed for decent sized websites (not huge though). I have a feeling you'd be better off with a light weight DB(MySQL isnt the only open source relational DB). All you really seem to need is basic insert and select commands. Someone probably makes a light weight version of Apache suitable. You might be better off just using CSV's with perl. Perl's excellent string handling and easy report formatting really makes it good for this kinda thing.

edit: Teach me for not reading the whole discussion. The laptop he specs later on is much better then the 486 he mentioned earlier. Most of my advice makes no sense now.

Originally posted by evulish
I scanned over the docs that came with mysql and it looks like stuff I can handle...I think I'll have a good idea once I get the DBI API down. *shrug*

Thanks for offering all your help...I may need it in a few months.

The Perl DBI is quite easy. The hardest part is parsing the results into something useful (the whole cursor thing hurts my head). Makes me wish for C++ structures and classes. Theres probably a way to do that too but I never got that into Perl. Basically you connect to the DB, then you have to prepare the command (I dunno why), then you send the signal to execute. You can get the results from a select in a couple different ways. The easiest is in an array, one record at a time. Its worth noting that php has syntax very similiar to perl, but can be embedded in the page (dodging having to fight with Apache and cgi problems) and has the easiest access to mysql by far.

evulish
11-18-2002, 10:25 PM
Hum...

The laptops battery charger thingy is dead or something. No wonder no batteries came with it. This laptop is looking worse and worse...

Just another brick coming out of the wall :/