29 posts • joined Wednesday 19th August 2009 20:03 GMT
8 bit computers are all around you down on Earth
Not many people realise how many 8 bit computers are all around you down on Earth. For example the computer in your bankers card is most likely to be a Motorola 6805 or an Intel 8051. The touch controller in your Android phone is most likely an Atmel AVR 8 bit processor. The 6805 is very similar to the 6502 microprocessor in the Commodore 64 computer and the BBC micro and the 6809 processor in the the Dragon computer and the Tandy Colour computer. Someone recently estimated that 90% of all computers manufactured are 8 bit microcontrollers and only 2% of all mircoprocessors manufactured find their way into PCs. Intel is therefore arguably irrelevant as a volume microprocessor manufacturer.
Many contractors have had a 10 year pay freeze already
This article makes it clear that it contractor rates have fallen this year. What it does not make clear is that many contractors have had no cost of living increases for the last 10 years AND that overtime pay has disappeared.
Also these figures do not include employer's national insurance, acomodation costs or pensions. True salaries are half those quoted here
Samsung manufactures many iPhone and iPad components
Samsung will no longer prioritise production of components for Apple. Expect shortages of Apple products over the next year. Sell your Apple shares.
Re: If your all in one PC breaks then it will take a fortune to fix
I should also mention that SCAN sell pre-built PCs.
It is interesting to note that although the new MacBook Pro with a retina display costs $2,100, it is partly glued together. It is therefore less repairable than most Apple products. The people who buy Apple products need to consider what would happen if they were to fail when they are out of warranty.
The only way to reduce the cost of repairing both all in one PCs and laptops is of course for there to be international standards for the boards and cables in these devices much as there is for desktop PCs. Then if a laptop motherboard was to fail, it could be cheaply replaced by a third party compentively priced laptop motherboard.
If your all in one PC breaks then it will take a fortune to fix
When you buy a new PC make sure that all of its components (case and motherboard etc) are completely standard. Then when one component breaks you can simply go to your local friendly PC maker and ask then to replace the case or motherboard or whatever for probably no more than £80 per component. You will also probably find that your new component is slightly faster.
I was given a HP laptop last year (which sells second hand on ebay for about £120). After a few months the SATA disk controller on the motherboard failed. I asked a PC shop for a quote for fixing the laptop. Their quote was £250 for the new motherboard and £150 for labour. If my desktop PC motherboard had failed then the repair would have cost around £80 for a new motherboard plus £20 for labour.
If you build your own PCs then costs can be even lower. My son has bought all of the components for the 3 PCs that he has build from SCAN. He believes that suppliers such as SCAN actually sell better quality components than many of the computer manufacturers. He raves about Corsair power supplies.
Most of the enthusiastic young IT graduates in the UK are Indian Nationals
I have met many enthusiastic young IT graduates recently in my travels as an IT contractor. However the suprising thing is that they are mostly Indian Nationals. A conversation with one Indian graduate revealed to me why this is happening. He told me that the ICT teacher he had from age 11 was passionate about C programming. My son's ICT teacher told me has never written a line of code in any programming language. The UK has a lost generation of young people who could have had a career in programming who instead are stacking shelves at Tescos because they were failed by ICT teachers who know virtually nothing about computers.
You have to buy 10000 to benefit from this price.
RS Components tweeted:
RS Components @RSElectronics
Relax @Raspberry_Pi The Androids are not coming yet. Most VIA staff unaware of APC. $49 price applies to 10000 units. Interest expressed :-)
Retweeted by Raspberry Pi
I want an ARM based £80 netbook
When netbooks first came out they only cost £150 and ran Linux. Then Microsoft said "you can have Windows 7 (virtually) for free". Netbook manufacturers then dumped Linux for Windows. Unfortunately although the first batch of netbook ran Linux quickly they could not run Windows 7 at an acceptable speed. This meant that netbooks were given faster processors and more memory. Netbooks now cost £300.
What I am hoping is that manufacturers will produce a new batch of compact netbooks which run Linux on ARM processors and only cost £80. The demand for the Pi has proven that there is a market for very low cost compact Linux only netbooks.
@Bingo I am sure that Google/Motorola are only suing Microsoft to demonstrate that "these patents are getting way out of hand". Google was forced to buy Motorola (and its patents) as a defence against Steve Jobs desire to "declare thermonuclear way on Android".
A level playing field for developers
One question that I have is how can people have ported a Linux software package to the Raspberry Pi when no hardware is yet available? The answer is presumably that around 500 Raspberry Pis have already been shipped to serious software developers around the world.
The problem is that Open Source development is supposed to be a level playing field. What I think should happen is that people be allowed to request that the Raspberry Pis that they have on order be shipped to them without magnetic jacks now on the understanding that they are sold as seen. I can not see how a large amount of educational software will be available in the middle of the year when the model A ships unless incomplete model Bs are shipped to developers now.
Re: Prototypes are never CE marked
I was not suggesting that they sell the first 10k. I was suggesting that they probably have a further 10k sitting in a factory in China awaiting the delivery of magnetic jacks that serious Raspberry Pi developers would be prepared to use.
I have an Atmel AVR development system sitting on my desk in front of me and I can assure you that it does not have a CE mark on it. It is ridiculous to suggest that the first few batches of Raspberry Pis will be shipped to anyone other than serious developers such as myself.
Prototypes are never CE marked
I am sure that the first XBOX 360 prototypes shipped to game studios were not CE marked. Developers need systems that are good enough for development, not perfect systems. There are problems with the current Raspberry Pi that will presumably be fixed in the model B+. The alignment of the magnetic jacks on the cicuit board is a bit crooked and perhaps the Boot ROM in the Broadcom microcontroller will be updated to support class 8 cards, but who cares? When these problems are fixed I will simply go out any buy a cased retail model of tbe model B. What I need is a development system now. I would like to suggest an experiment to Farnell, collect 10,000 part built Raspbery Pis from the factory in China where they are sitting awaiting delivery of magnetic jacks and put them in ebay. My prediction is that they would sell for £100 each.
Sun Microsystems estimated that half of all programs written were written for embedded systems. The purpose of the Rasberry PI is to teach people how to write these embedded programs. Writing real time software for a PC is a very difficult proposition. It is far easier to teach embedded software development on a bare bones system such as the PI.
Every nerd in the World wants one
I read a tweet by an employee of JPL a few month ago in which he stated that he wanted a Rasberry PI. The PI has also been mentioned in CNET podcasts. Every geek in the World wants one. Even if people are just curious, the PI costs so little that they will buy one to see what the fuss is all about.
I ordered 2 from Farnell at 5pm. The web site suggested at the time that I should expect my PIs in 30 days. I have no idea when they will actually arrive. This is almost as exciting as when I ordered a ZX80 for £99 in 1980.
I predict that within 6 months sales of the PI will exceed total sales to date of the iPad. Given the certainty that there will be sales at this level, my recommendation is that computer game writers who want to make a little money start porting their games to OpenGL on the PI.
Electrostatic cleaning may be considered for future mars missions
The designers of the Opportunity Mars Rover tried to reduce the effects of dust by making Opportunity's panels larger than they needed to be. This combined with providential winds when needed has kept Opportunity going.
Electrostatic cleaning may be considered for future mars missions. Here is a link
Note that the Curiosity Mars Rover currently headed for Mars has a nuclear power source and so needs no such technology.
Real Steel game advertises the XBOX 720
An ingame advert appeared for the XBOX 720 which gives some credence to the name:
Apple did not invent the mobile phone
Apple did not invent the mobile phone. All they did was to implement a touch based Graphical User Interface (GUI) that people like. Most software in a mobile phone is not part of the GUI.
Apple was banned from selling iPhones in Germany in November because the iPhone was found to violate two Motorola Mobility none GUI related patents. The first, European Patent (EP) 1010336 (B1), covers a "method for performing a countdown function during a mobile-originated transfer for a packet radio system", while EP 0847654 (B1) describes a "multiple pager status synchronisation system and method".
Over the next Year I expect the real inventors of Mobile phones Motorola, Nokia, Ericsson and Microsoft to ask for payment for the many hundreds of their patents which may have been violated by the iPhone.
Yes the Australians cut 10 seconds here and 10 seconds there from many Dr Who episodes and then carefully filed them away. These are the only film clips available from many Dr Who episodes.
The BBC had several film copies of every black and white Doctor Who episode and so the need to reuse magnetic tapes was not an issue in the destruction of Doctor Who episodes. Most of these episodes were destroyed because the chinless wonders who ran the BBC at the time did not see the films as having any value. It is notable that the BBC did not destroy a single classical music program from the 1960s.
Why is the new Kindle $79 in US and £89 in UK?
A pound is worth $1.58 and so why does the UK Kindle cost 1.78 times as much as the US Kindle? I do realise that US proces are always given without sales tax and UK prices include Vat. However, this can not fully explain the 78% price hike.
Can the Fire run standard apps such as a PDF reader?
The Kindle Fire has a customised old version of Android. This leads me to ask whether it can run standard Android apps such as a PDF document reader, a Word document reader and an Excel spreadsheet reader.
My reason for asking this question is that existing Kindles can not read PDF files without first mailing them to Amazon. I do not want Amazon to read work related PDF files and this had stopped me from buying earlier versions of the Kindle ebook reader.
The fact that the Fire has a customised version of Android also leads me to ask whether the Fire obeys the copyleft restrictions on the Linux kernal. Richard Stallman would not be happy if the Kindle Fire is a closed source software product.
Microsoft will cut the cost of software to virtually nothing to make a sale
I bought a complete Windows 98 PC for £35 for a friend some years ago from Hemplan. It had a believable Windows 98 sticker on the side. From what I can see, Microsoft allow recyclers to install Windows on any recycled PC which was originally sold with a copy of Windows.
There are plenty of other suppliers of refurbished PCs in the UK other than Morgan and Hemplan who will sell you a refurbished PC with XP installed for less than the cost of an XP license. CRS is another company which comes to mind. I can not believe that these 3 high profile companies could get away with selling dodgy copies of XP.
So far as Windows 7 is concerned I only paid £50 for a legal copy of Windows 7 Ultimate edition upgrade for my son's PC. If you have children then you need not pay more than £50 for any Microsoft software.
Dont you love Microsoft?
These PCs should be sold with Windows
I can not see microsoft allowing Linux to be sold on cheap PCs if they become mainstream. Microsoft has already seen off Linux on netbooks with £40 copies of Windows 7 starter edition. I am sure that Microsoft will similarily see off Linux on these refurbished PCs.
Anyway don't the people who made this announcement realise that you can already buy a refurbished PC with Windows XP installed for less than the cost of an XP licence. For example you can currently buy a refurbished 2.8 Ghz HP tower PC with XP installed for only £40 from Hemplan's ebay shop.
I have not seen a refurbished PC sold without an XP license for some time. I guess that Microsoft will do almost anything to ensure that all PCs are sold with Windows licences.
I need RS232C and other interfaces for embedded software development
In much elecronics equipment an RS232C diagnostic port is provided for configuring that equipment or accessing error logs.
An old laptop with a RS232C serial interface is usually required to configure such equipment. The alternative of using a USB to serial port convertor can be made to work, but my question is why buy a convertor when all that is needed is an old low performance laptop which the company already owns.
Most microcontrollers feature an RS232C serial interface but it is very rare for a microcontroller to feature an on-chip USB interface. This means that even tomorrow's electronics equipment will only be configurable using a serial interface.
There is even equipment out there that communicates using a centronics parallel interface found only on really old PCs.
I am perfectly aware that you can do ARM Linux cross development on a desk top PC.
However, if I was to buy a Linux netbook I would want to be able to development work such as running perl scripts on my netbook.
My point is that a Linux netbook is of little more use than a mobile phone if it can not be used for simple development. Given that mobile companies will give you a PDA mobile phone free as part of a mobile phone contract then it really is more sensible to buy a PDA mobile phone than a Linux netbook.
I am sick and tired of bloatware. If I have a PC in my pocket that is as powerful as a desktop PC from 10 years ago then I want to be able to do development on my netbook.
I wonder if these limitations apply also to XP netbooks. Are they similarily crippled so that you can not develop simple Visual Basic using an XP netbook?
Linux development must be supported on ARM netbooks
The ARM processor is a low power high performance processor well suited for netbooks.
Unfortunately the ARM processor is not often used in netbooks. This means that to use Linux software on an ARM based netbook a "C" compiler and other utilities such as "perl" and "bash" must be supplied to compile its source code for the ARM processor. Linux software is described as being "Open source" software. Linux software is not always available in compiled form for none Intel processors and so such systems are useless without compilers.
What I would like to know is whether these netbooks will be supplied with a basic "C" development system? A basic set of development utilities is very small and so could be easily provided in the FLASH memory supplied with these systems. Alternatively a "C" compiler could be provided on CD for these systems so long as they support an external CD drive?
I am sure that someone will say "Ah but all people want to do with these systems is to surf the web and edit a memo". My answer to them is that you can do this using a mobile phone. A real Linux system must have the ability to run thousands of different programs.
Will firmware upgrades remove dual boot from fat PS3s?
The best PS3 for Linux has always been the original 60 Gb model that came with PS2 compatibility. The reason is that the original model had 4 USB ports and also featured a Memory Stick card slot. In later 40 Gb and 80 Gb PS3s the number of USB ports was reduced to 2 and the Memory Stick card slot was lost.
I have noticed that many people are now selling second hand original model 60 Gb PS3s for about £220 in the UK, which is great news for Linux fans.
However, there is still one very important question that Sony must answer. That question is "If you upgrade the firmware in a fat PS3 to the latest version, will the fat PS3 also loose the ability to boot an alternate OS? If Sony plan to continue to support Linux on fat PS3s then enough fat PS3s will always be available on the second hand market to satisfy the needs of Linux users.
re. Hey Sony are you listening
I agree that the PS3 needs more RAM. IBM's most recent enhancement to the Cell Processor was to add a DDR2 RAM interface. If the PS3 slim used this chip and if its firmware was upgraded to support Linux again then a network of PS3 slim devices would represent a really useful Linux supercomputer.
More RAM would also help in the porting of XBOX 360 games to the PS3 slim. The XBOX 360 has twice as much RAM as the PS3.
I will not buy a PS3 without Linux
I like my gadgets to do as much for me as possible. This is why I made sure when I last bought a PC that it could be used for high end games, for Windows development and for x86 Linux development.
For some time I have wanted to buy a cheap PS3 and wanted it to similarily do a lot for me. Now without the possibility of learning about the Cell Processor and about Power PC Linux I might as well buy an XBox 360. After all as a result of the XBOX 360's popularity the XBOX 360 has more and better games than the PS3.
Do marketing people read these posts? Probably not. However if Sony's marketing people do read these posts then I would like to remind them that one reason for the PC's success was that it could perform many different tasks. Companies can buy cheap PCs for serious uses because home users buying PCs to run games forced down the price of PC hardware.
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