Saturday, May 14, 2011

Windows in a Box

I'm giving virtual machines another go...last time I tried VMware, I thought it sucked. It wasn't free, and what it did not support firewire or accelerated graphics. I don't know (yet) whether this is any better, but I'm giving VirtualBox a try. The idea is to run an eye tracking server in the virtual machine so that I run my OS X client at the same time and thus have both server/client running on one machine. This way when I travel (if I travel with this particular eye tracker), I won't have to lug two laptops around, just my Mac. We'll see how it goes. Right now I have Windows 7 installed, or rather, confined to its virtual box and the eye tracking software is running; I just need to hook it up to the eye tracker itself via USB and see if that works. I was told it would work with Parallels, but I'm going the el-cheapo route first. So far so good...if it works as I hope, then I'll post more on which eye tracker it is and how I find software development for it. Everything should work in Qt, my platform of choice. Oh...the funny thing about Windows is that of course the major part of the installation was Windows Update, what else?! You can see that yet another update was successful :P

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Eye tracking station upgrades

I haven't updated the blog in a while, it's been a busy semester. However, it's ending with a lab upgrade that I've been working towards for about a year now. Ever since one of the Windows machines driving one of the eye trackers gave up the ghost and died. It was an old Sun w2100z machine probably past its life expectancy. A replacement was found, but I think they nearly had to pull it out of surplus for me. So this time around instead of mucking about with very large workstations, I decided to replace both server/client at each eye tracker with a Mac Mini. You can see the two little silver boxes in the pic. Each Mac Mini has 8 G of RAM, an Intel Core Duo chip and an Nvidia GeForce 320M chip with 72 GPU cores. Not bad for such a little box! One Mac Mini will be used to run Windows to power the Tobii eye tracker, the other will be used as the client workstation. Since most of my programs work under OS X, I'm hoping that I can develop some cool eye tracking demos on them. Including real-time heatmap rendering and GPU-based scanpath comparison. I'm now just waiting for software installs on them, and testing whether the 400-800 firewire cable will work between the server and the Tobii (it should).