68HC12 Evaluation Board

Yesterday I spent over five hours in lab working on four different projects in assembly language. The software my class uses for writing assembly is Freescale's CodeWarrior 12. I installed a freely downloaded copy on my Windows laptop so I can code at home. This works wonderfully in the IDE's Full Circuit Simulation (FCS) mode; however, FCS does not simulate the evaluation board we use (shown below). It will not allow access to hardware ports or even allow faking of the ports. For example, if you wish to output a one-byte value to the LEDs, you send the value to port $0248; FCS will simply not allow any data to go to $0248. You can go to $0248 to see the value at the address but you cannot edit it in FCS.

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If CodeWarrior is set to our evaluation board, it requires the evaluation board be physically present. Otherwise effectively nothing can done. This results in trying to write everything in FCS and using substitute ports since the actual hardware ports are verboten. I sometimes write my hardware assignments this way then duplicate the code, set it for evaluation board then go back through it to tediously revert every substitute port to the required hardware port.

Years ago I bought a license for Metrowerks' CodeWarrior, which was the alleged top IDE for programming for Macintosh. I did very little with it.

Resurrected MacBook Pro

My MacBook Pro returned on the 20th after going off for repairs following the failure of one Nvidia chip. The flat fee of $310 resulted in replacement of the logic board, replacement of the hard drive, and upgrade to OS X 10.9 Mavericks, which has been working quite well. With service like this, Apple keeps me a happy customer.

Dead MacBook Pro

Not long before I left Japan, I bought a MacBook Pro. It has been a good machine. Last year I began running Windows 7 in Boot Camp on it after partitioning the hard drive.

Problems began to appear when booted in Windows. Certain sites would crash Windows fairly reliably. Video would sometimes crash it. There were warnings about a need to update the Nvidia graphics drivers, but doing so was difficult; the one time I did, the crash was so bad I had to reinstall Windows 7. When booted into Mac, however, problems were fewer.

Then I upgraded to OS X 10.9. That was a disaster! The Mac crashed constantly, always with the same warning about a graphics CPU or something. Eventually I took the machine to the local Apple Store once an attempt to restore it from a backup failed. It turned out there had been a recall due to faulty graphics chips. However, I was told the program had ended because most of the problems were ultimately attributable to software conflicts; regardless, the recall had ended only a few weeks before I came in. I was also told people running Windows in Boot Camp seemed to be having more of these kernel panics, so I quit running Boot Camp. They were able to get my machine running, so I ran with it.

Until a few days ago when the crashing began occurring multiple times per day. I booted off backups on both USB and FireWire drives to restore from the respective backups, but the MacBook Pro crashed a few times during restoration. Eventually it would not even boot from OS DVDs.

On Friday the 12th, I lugged the MacBook Pro back to the Apple Store. This time the diagnostic tests showed one of two graphics chips were not responding. Since the chip itself cannot be replaced, I need a new logic board, which alone costs around $900, an Apple quote. However, because my problem seems tied to the recall problem, I should be able to have everything done for $310. I left the machine with them and returned home. They will contact me in another day or two if some other problem is found. Otherwise, the MacBook Pro should be back and working inside a week.

Too bad it did not crash over the summer instead. In the third week of classes has been inopportune, to say the least.