Tuesday, May 13, 2008

University of Moratuwa Tops the Google Summer of Code 2008

It is truly amazing. This year, it is a total of 24 awards for the University of Moratuwa, where I did my undergraduate studies, and it is the rank one in the world!!!

Ms. Vishaka Nanayakkara (Head of the department - Computer Science and Engineering Department) has sent the following email which has all the details. So instead of repeating, let me paste it here.

Dear all,
It is with greatest pleasure I let you know that University of Moratuwa has
become the Global Top University with Highest Number of Awards as well as
the highest number of applications in this year's Google Summer of Code. I
am certain that you will be very proud of the achievements of our students.

The information about this can be found at

CSE students started with one award 3 years ago and have bagged 18 GSoC
awards this year. There is one ENTC student and another first year student
from the Faculty of Engineering. With a total of 24 awards for the entire
University, University of Moratuwa has become the First in the entire world.

CSE students undoubtedly had a tremendous influence on this from Dr Sanjiva
. It was Sanjiva who first told them about this, it was his
guidance that led them to achieving the first award, it was his continuing
support (together with members of the FOSS community) which enabled them to
come this far. I think we at CSE owe him a lot for this great achievement.

I am certain that all of you as people who helped CSE come this far, members
of the CSE department industry consultative board, mentors, visiting
lecturers or well wishers of the department also have contributed in many
ways for the upbringing of our students and will be happy to share this
wonderful news with us.

Best regards,


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Vehicle Accident - My Experience

Last week my car was rear ended by another car while I was driving in a busy road. The speed limit of that road was just 25miles/hour and I can't believe how can someone just rear ended my car with the traffic at that time.

The vehicles were moving very slowly and suddenly I heard a big bang and my car went few feet to the front and sightly knock the car in front of me. The sound and the shock made me think that probably the entire trunk of my car is lost. Surprisingly, the only damaged part in my car was the raer buffer. However, the other person's car was badly damaged with all the air bags deployed and the radiator broken and causing lot of smoke.

Luckily nobody was hurt.

The driver of the car get down from the vehicle saying "I am sorry" and that simply removed the anger developing inside me towards that driver.

After that, for me, the procedure was very straight forward.
Got the police report
Call the other person's insurence Agent
Get a quotation from a repair shop
Give it to the insurance agent
Put the vehicle for repair
Use the rented car arranged by the insurance agent during the time my car is in garage
Bring the car home without paying a cent.

I know that it is too good to be true and many does not experience the same, but for some reason, that is exactly what has happened to me.

Still I am not sure what causes that person to hit my car. My only guess is he was distracted by something (most probably by his cell phone) and did not see me stopping at all. I came to this conclusion because of few observations I made.
I did not hear him breaking before the crash.
His left arm was slightly bruised, probably because he was holding his phone from that hand.
Even after the accident, he was getting lot of phone calls.

In any case, I have noticed that almost all the people drive with one hand on the cellphone. It seems like most of them can't drive without talking to someone over the phone. Even at color lights, it takes at least half a minute for some people to realize that the green light is on, simply because they are busy talking over the phone.

Hope they have some law prohibiting the usage of phone while driving as in my country Sri Lanka.

Friday, February 15, 2008

DOS 6.2 Windows 3.11 Bridgeport CNC Software BXX

The title of this blog contains few of the legacy software that I had to configure to solve a problem faced by one of my friend. Let me explain my interesting experience with all these old softwares below.

The Requirement:
  • My friend(Fazni Aziz) has bought a CNC machine for his newly established company and it is working fine with a computer which is running DOS 6.2. The only interface that computer has is the floppy disk driver and he has to transfer all his design files in floppies in order to use them with the CNC machine. If he did any changes then the files have to be copied again using floppies. The process is really painstaking.
  • The only copy of the Bridgeport software that he has is the installed copy.
  • He wanted something like file sharing so that he can simply transfer files between this legacy machine and his laptop. (This was his goal)
  • He also suggested that we setup a different computer so that he can use the old computer till I get a new one setup.


First I had to find the requirements for the Bridgeport software.
I decided to give it a try in my computer running windows XP.
I copied the required files as they were in the original computer and try running it in my computer. It did not work.

In the mean time a friend of my friend has suggested him using a virtual machine running DOS. So I setup VMWare and installed DOS6.22. Then I setup the Bridgeport software in the virtual machine. It did not work as well.

Then I decided to try the exact DOS version that the original computer has. That is DOS 6.2.
I got a copy of the hard disk of the original computer and an old computer(let's call this computer X).
I formatted the computer X for FAT16 file system. (Although I could not find any confirmation, this is one of the requirement for the Bridgeport software)
Then I copied all the files in the hard disk copy that I got to the hard disk of computer X.
Next, I use a DOS 6.2 boot disc to setup DOS 6.2 in the computer X.
This time for my amazement I was able to see the blue screen (The initial screen of Bridgeport software). Needless to say that it is working now!!!

One barrier is over, but now I have to setup file sharing.

One of my friend (Eran Chinthaka) gave me a valuable piece of information. That is Windows 3.1 can be installed on top of DOS 6.2 and it won't update the DOS version.

After searching on ebay, amazon etc... we were able to find a Windows for Workgroups( WFW) installation diskettes in ebay.

I installed WFW in the computer X on top of the DOS6.2. I have used WFW about 12 years back and that time it was really a big thing with the windows and mouse. This time it is the rescuer.
WFW supports file sharing for work group computers and hence we were nearing our goal.

Next hurdle is configuring a network card. (Computer X had a Realteck PCI network card but I could not find a driver for that for WFW)

From all the NIC's supported by WFW I found that SMC Elite 16 Combo card on ebay which supports 10 BaseT connections.

The disk came with the NIC card contained a software named EZStart.exe which supposed to help configuring the network card. However it did not work in our computer X. It simply could not identify the network card.

Luckily the disk contained another sofware named SMCA70.exe which extracts all the configuration files in it to different location. I use this and copied the configuration files to another floppy disk.

After several attempts I was able to configure the NIC card with WFW. However, still the network (TCP/IP) was not working and WFW does not support TCP/IP by default.
A Google search pointed me to this site where they have a TCP/IP version for WFW.

I installed it in the computer X and WOW!!! The computer X running WFW was able to connect to the network using DHCP.

Now the file sharing is just matter of enabling it using WFW and accessing them using any other machine in the same workgroup.

After a long battle the goal is now not a dream any more.

Bottom line:

The version of the Bridgeport software that we have: BOSS DX/32
So far we were only able to run this software on DOS6.2
Windows for Workgroups can be installed on top of DOS 6.2 without changing it.
With WFW we can configure file sharing.

This enabled my friend to do the following:

Design the parts(machine parts) on his laptop
Transfer those files to the computer X
Drive the CNC using computer X
If he notice any changes to be made to the design:
Stop the CNC
Access the file using his laptop (using file sharing) and modify the design
Start the CNC process.

I tried to explain some of the challenges that I faced during setting up the above computer and the software for my friend. Hope this helps someone trying to reach the same goal as him.