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Odd Lots

Short items presented without much discussion, generally links to other Web items

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

  • Big, big news today: The Raspberry Pi foundation is now shipping the rumored Raspberry Pi 2 board. (What this means in practical terms is that all your usual suppliers are sold out.) Will write more once I learm more, but geddaloadadis: Quad 900 MHz Cortex A7 CPU, plus a full gigabyte of RAM. And the sleeper, which is still tying my head in knots: The foundation has cut a deal with Microsoft to provide a version of Windows 10 that will run on the RPi2. The cost? Free. No more details than that right now, but I’ll be watching it closely. (Thanks to Bob Fegert for alerting me. Twitter has already earned its keep.)
  • Update: The new Windows 10 deal with the RPi community is part of Microsoft’s larger strategy on the Internet of Things, and will be available without charge through the Windows Developer Program for IoT.
  • Jim Strickland sends a link to Microsoft BASIC for 6502, in assembly. This is from 1978, and the oldest publicly available source code written by Bill Gates. The interpreter exists for the COSMAC 1802 as well, and I may still have it somewhere. It’s on paper tape, and I think in a metal 35mm film can. This was a great use for 35mm film cans, back when there were 35mm film cans, and paper tape to put in them.
  • Wired‘s vulcanologist Erik Klemetti has a fascinating article on how magma forms hexagonal pillars a la Devil’s Postpile and Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. These figure in the yet-unbegun novella prequel to The Cunning Blood, so it was nice to get some science on them.
  • If you liked the Panjundrum (see my Odd Lots for January 29, 2015) you will love this thing, whatever they call it: It’s a Panjundrum that flies. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • UPDATE: One of my readers just wrote to tell me that it’s called a “girandola.”
  • Yes, this is short for an Odd Lots, but I wanted to get notice out on the RPi2 sooner than tomorrow or the next day.

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

Odd Lots

  • Verizon refuses to stop using tower-side cookies (which can’t be deleted by mobile device users) even as AT&T has caved on the issue. The solution is to stop using Verizon. That’s what Carol and I are about to do.
  • Relax. Microsoft did not pull the plug on Win7 updates on 1/13. That won’t happen until 2020. What’s going away are new OS features and phone support, two things I don’t think the world desperately needs.
  • I like molten lava as much as the next guy. (Just wait until you read my novella Firejammer, coming out–finally–this spring.) That said, I’m not sure I like it quite this much…
  • With January only half over, the Great Lakes ice cover is now up to 34%. Lake Erie has pretty much iced over completely.
  • Britain’s Royal Society has published some evidence that people born during solar maxima do not live as long as people born during solar minima. It may be folate depletion by UV. Or something else. However, the correlation appears to be real. (Thanks to Neil Rest for the link.) Carol and I are solar minima babies, whew.
  • Discovered two very good red wines recently: Menage a Trois Red, and Menage a Trois Midnight. Both are dry reds, both are fruit-forward, and (in contradiction of the vintner’s Web writeups) neither has any detectable oak. I guess if you’re going to get the hipster market you have to claim oak, even if you lie about it. In this case, nothing of value was lost.
  • I doubt that my readers are dumb enough to think you can lose weight by ingesting chemistry sets like Slim-Fast. But just in case, read what Tom Naughton says about recent diet rankings in content-free publications like US News. Hint: The same doofi who bleat endlessly against “processed foods” (which now means “any foods I don’t like”) are endorsing fructose cocktails like Slim-Fast over Atkins and paleo.
  • Popular Mechanics lists the 14 best cities in America for startups. None are in Silicon Valley, and all are in relatively low-cost areas. Maybe hipster city cachet is finally starting to lose its cachet. Or so we can hope.
  • Lots has happened in CPU architectures since the 1980s, when a lot of us learned it. (I started a little earlier, but the IBM PC brought most of us to a new starting gate at the same time.) Here’s a decent summary. One consequence of all this is that human-written assembly language is less of a win over compilers, and the best reason to learn assembly these days is to understand what your damned compilers are up to in there.
  • Before he broke into the SF business, Keith Laumer was an ace model airplane designer. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
  • Physically small, fanless PCs have been around for awhile, and I was bullish on them until I began using Dell USFF (ultra-small form factor) machines like the Optiplex 780, which are pretty small and almost entirely silent. Should we settle for 1.6 GHz? Only if there’s a specific application in mind, like education (think RPi) or embeddedness.
  • Bill Cherepy sends us news of a thermostatic butter keeper that can keep a stick of butter (block? It’s a form factor we don’t make in the US) at any arbitrary temp from 15 to 23 degrees C. Butter is definitely coming back into its own, bravo halleluia!