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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.


  1. ace says:

    It’s a girandola. They have competitions! What excellent sport!

    1. It would be cool to see sites where the details of girandola tech are laid out. What pointers can you give us?

  2. Larry Nelson says:

    My life has been spent on and among the great basalt flows of the Columbia Basin in eastern Washington. We have 400′ dunes of silt that have been terra-formed by long rooted grasses sitting atop thousand foot thick slabs of crystallized basalt.

    Come on out and I’ll give you the 50 cent tour when you want to research basalt crystal shapes by touching them.

  3. Bob Fegert says:

    Word is that the Pi2 can be clocked to 1.1Ghz.
    The ram chip is no longer stuck on top of the SoC so
    better cooling for overclockers.

    There is a competitor to the Pi2, the ODROID C1.
    They are the same price. The C1 has a faster Quad core
    SoC but it is ARM5 which is perhaps 25% slower for a given
    clock speed. (it’s at 1.5Ghz) It does have a better GPU.

    Here is a comparison of the two boards

    The enormous community around the Pi gives it the edge IMO.

    Now I’m wondering to what I should dedicate the two Pi B+ boards I just got in. I’m turning my old Pi B model 1 into a 1 – 250 Mhz transmitter… takes just a new SD card image and a piece of wire on I/O pin4 for an antenna…can play mp3 files to FM radios.

    I’m wondering if Jeff took delivery of his shiny new Baofeng today?

    1. As best I can tell, the Baofeng radio (and some assorted accessories, like the programming cable) will show up on 2/5. Definitely looking forward to it.

  4. TRX says:

    Will the ARM processor execute Intel binaries? Without someone’s “framework” or other code libraries, plus a compatible compiler, it’s not easy to write Windows apps.

    1. Bob Fegert says:

      No, the only way to do that on ARM would be emulation… the Pi2 would have to run at 5Ghz…lol

      I think, but am not certain, that Pi2 Win10 will be a port of a limited version able to run IoT binaries created by a compiler running on a Win10 PC. i.e. Win10 will have a cross-compiler for creating ARM binaries.

      It probably won’t function on the Pi as a full op system but will instead be a bootable system that allows the Pi to run Win10 created binaries as an embedded system. Like a robot controller or home automation system.

      I could be wrong about this though, also, it is possible that with enough moaning by the maker community MS might commit to something more. They do need to appeal to the army of young coders and experimenters and this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

  5. RIck H says:

    I’ve been contemplating creating a media server with the new Raspberry Pi. Purpose is to rip all my DVD movies onto a 1TB portable hard disk, and play them from there.

    I think I need this stuff;

    = the Raspberry Pi 2
    = the Kodi OS (formerly XBMC) for the media server
    = the Handbrake Software to rip DVDs
    = a 1TB hard drive (have a USB3 backup hard drive, HP, I think, that is not currently in use)
    = a case (thinking of building one out of small Lego blocks, since it might be for my son-in-law, who like Lego stuff)
    = a USB charger (lots of those around here)
    = some misc cables
    = keyboard/mouse for setup
    = a IR remote control thing (USB)

    Once set up, use Handbrake to rip the DVDs to the hard drive on the Pi.That would appear to be able to get me started.


  6. Bob Fegert says:

    I think the media server is a great idea 🙂

    I saw a case for the old ver 1 Pi that looked like a Lego case…maybe there will be one for the new version.

  7. Rich S. says:

    I think the most valuable piece of swag I’ve ever received was a copy of Borland C++ 4.0 around 1994. It may have also had been bundled with Borland Pascal 7 and the Turbo Assembler, although I might have acquired those separately.

    These were DOS based but had the ability to compile programs for Windows, though I never got that far because of Delphi.

    I think I got them by attending a launch event, and it wasn’t a door prize. I wish I could remember the details. So many trade shows between then and now. But I remember walking out of the hall in disbelief that they were giving it away.

    The box had a couple of bags of yellow labeled 5 1/4″ floppies and lots of perfect bound manuals with red/white covers for C++ and blue/white for Pascal. The 3.5″ floppies may have been there as well.

    Sadly all were lost in a fire in 2008, along with a lot of other pack rat memorabilia.

  8. Bob Fegert says:

    Sources reveal that the version of Windows 10 that will run on the Raspberry Pi2 is called “Athens”

    Win10 Athens on the Pi2 will run what are called “Windows Embedded Compact applications”

    This is from a MS presentation…
    Windows 10 “Athens”
    Built on ARM or x86
    An optimized version of Windows for resource and cost constrained
    devices with the full power of modern application development to run Universal Apps.

  9. TRX says:

    > giving it away

    I bought into Turbo Pascal in the mid-80s at v3. I knew it was incredibly cheap at the time… but the upgrades sure weren’t.

    I finally balked at… 6.0, I think it was. Borland was running giant ads in the magazines, offering to “upgrade” users of Microsoft’s products to Turbo… for substantially less than they wanted for their own users to upgrade.

    That went down very hard – hard enough that I never bought another Borland product again. A later employer paid for a copy of Delphi, but the upgrade and tiered pricing structure were too much to justify to the people who signed checks.

    Yeah, I could totally see Borland bending their customers over while giving away the same stuff for free. That was almost twenty years ago and it still ticks me off.

  10. Bob Halloran says:

    It sounds like the Windows 10 build available on the Pi2 will be a spin on the horribly failed Windows RT that was used on some of their Surface tablets (before they had to take a $1B loss and landfill them).

    I have to assume this is Microsoft still in the have-to-be-present-in-all-markets mentality that cost them horribly with the Win 8 GUI and the aforementioned Win RT tablets, which both failed miserably. Why would developers get into a locked-in OS with a negligible application base when there’s already multiple Linux spins available with much greater adoption?

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