Category Archives: Code

Dabbling around with x86

I am going to work as an embedded software developer in May, so I thought I should feel cozy with x86. The only experience I have with x86 is in a dissassembler context… so be warned! This may be messy.

I wrote this little fellow which simply prints a given number in octal using recursion :]

To all the potential employers out there, here is a bonus… fizz buzz :3

Hello World, using only C syscalls

I’m currently working on implementing system calls in BlarbVM (see my previous post on it), so I am trying to get comfortable using only syscalls.

In Linux, you can change the heap size through brk (syscall #12). To write a string to standard output, you must provide a pointer to a location on the heap.

The following code:

  1. Get’s the end of the heap address
  2. Increments the end of the heap address by 6 bytes
  3. Set’s the value of those 6 bytes to a null terminated “hello\n” string
  4. Runs a syscall on the desired heap position to print “hello\n”

WearHacks Toronto 2016 Project: InfraViewer

At WearHacks Toronto 2016, we were trying to think of project ideas, but nothing came to mind that we all agreed on. So Adrian, Austin and I went out for coffee to take a mental break. While at the coffee shop, we were talking about all the types of light humans are blind to. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could the whole spectrum of light, including infra red and ultra violet? … maybe we can!

When we got back to the Bitmaker offices (where the hackathon was held), we checked out the available hardware to see if there were any IR cameras. Unfortunately, the only IR camera we could find was on the Kinect, and it’s IR camera only has intensity (not spectrum data). So we made due with what we had and decided to use both the IR and RGB cameras of the Kinect to render both layers on top of each other.

Josh, Austin and I worked on the translation algorithm while Kulraj and Nick created an SFML GUI. The colorspace transformation algorithm we ended up designing and implemented was to shift the visible light by 10 degrees (hue), then shift the IR spectrum into the first 10 degrees of red hue. Essentially, we squeezed the visible light from the non-IR camera so there was no red left, then put a red layer on top of that image to display the infra red data.

The hardware turned out to be pretty difficult to overlay. The IR camera and visible light cameras had significantly different resolutions and aspect ratios. So we had to program some magic to translate the IR data to fit on top of the RGB data. Because of this, the IR layer was slightly offset from where it should have been. For instance, a slight red glow would appear around our bodies (from our body heat), but it would be shifted one side, since the camera perspectives were not identical.


You can check out the project here: InfraViewer. But be warned, the code base is pretty messy!


Esoteric programming languages are awesome. So I decided to create one, which I call BlarbLang.

The goal of this language is to be the simplest possible systems programming language. It uses a stack for parameters, and every function must destruct its own stack frame, and push a return value, manually. The language “doesn’t care” about performance, only simplicity. It currently supports only 5 operations:

  • a b ~ Store the value of a in register b
  • a $ Push register a onto the stack
  • b a ! NANDS index a with index b and stores the result in index b
  • a ^ pop ‘a’ elements
  • a ? if index a is true (non-zero), execute the rest of the line

In one of my CS lectures (CSC258) I remembered learning that every gate can be created using NAND gates, so that is the only type of logical operation in the language! Using the above 5 operations, tons of different operations can be created, including adders, shifters, comparison operators, and more.

There are 8 registers available for users. The 0th register is the line pointer, registers 1-3 are temporary registers (for swapping and stuff), and the 4-7 registers are “long term” registers, meant to be used outside of the standard library (by the user).

Labels allow creation of functions. For instance, the following code creates a function called “nandi” which NANDs two immediate stack values:

In the future, I want to add one more operation: the system call operation. Currently, the language can only modify data within the VM. That is, on the stack and in registers. However, using system calls, users will be able to allocate heap memory and perform useful tasks such as reading from STDIN and writing to STDOUT.

GDB Basics: Stack Traces

C beginners are often very lost when their program crashes from a segmentation fault or similar issues. Most of them know about GDB but are pretty intimidated by it.

Here is a super simple example about how to find a stack trace from a program crash.

Of course, this will result in the console simply printing “Segmentation Fault” which doesn’t help very much, especially in more complex programs.

Using GDB, you just have to remember 2 commands to get a stack trace: “run” and “backtrace”.

To compile, use the “-g” flag with gcc to include debugging symbols for gdb:

To run this in gdb, run:

Now all you have to do is type “run” into the gdb console. It will show you the line where it crashed, but to show the stack trace you must run the “backtrace” command:

GDB has a lot of other great features like breakpoints and memory analysis. If you are comfortable with assembly, you can even run commands while your program is running!

Dabbling Around with Scala

Scala is a legendary language that allows both OO and functional programming. On top of that, it is compatible with Java and compiles to JVM bytecode. Hence, in theory, it could be used anywhere Java is used *cough cough* Android *cough cough*.

For a while, I have been meaning to try out Scala – and today I bit the bullet.

Closures are awesome. Here is a simple example which multiplies a list by 2 and prints the result:

Of course, this is a very trivial example of how closures can be used, but I find the syntax pretty cool nonetheless 😀

Here are some other features that I really like about Scala:

Just for kicks, I decided to build a simple regex matching program with character matching, “multiple”, and “or” functionality.

Dabbling around with Haskell

So last night I went to a Haskell workshop.

One of the examples my professor gave was the factorial function:

The first line is the function signature, the second line is the base case, and the third line is the recursive step of the function. One thing I really like about Haskell so far is how clean recursive functions are.

Today I started dabbling a bit more with Haskell and created a recursive function to calculate pi using the Gregory–Leibniz formula:

I had to name it “pie” because “pi” was a reserved keyword. The “fromIntegral n” is there to allow an integer to be part of a fractional calculation. This is necessary because Haskell is über strict with types.

Here it is in action:

Gravity Simulator

A while ago I made a physics simulator for projectile motion which would gravitate towards the ground. I decided to build off this idea and make a free space gravity simulator!!!

To launch new planets, click and drag. When the planets collide, they will create a larger planet with a greater mass. The dynamics of this were done in a 3D perspective, so that is why planets grow very slowly in proportion to their mass build up (the mass is proportional to the cube root of the radius).
Check it out!

Conservation of momentum is followed, so launching a small planet with a high velocity at a large planet will produce a small velocity change due to the mass difference 🙂

I made a Chrome plugin!

So I am currently facilitating the hardware room at the UTM Hacks hackathon… Currently, everyone is settled down and hardware registration has been dead for a while, so I created a Chrome plugin!

The functionality is to play elevator music whenever you are on a login page. In my opinion, this is arguably one of the best plugins ever written 😉

Without further ado, here it is!