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Oct 19, 2010

Arduino rocks!

by Eric Smith — last modified Oct 20, 2010 02:45 PM
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I recently went to an event where Arduino microcontrollers were mentioned, so I thought I'd try them out.

Arduino is an open source hardware and software platform, built around the Atmel AVR family of microcontrollers. These are very tiny computers by today's standards. They're only 8 bits wide, instead of the 64 bits of most new Intel servers and workstations. They only run at about 16 kilohertz instead of 1+ gigahertz. They only have about 32 kilobytes of permanent storage, instead of the multi-gigabyte disk drives on the machine you're probably reading this on. And finally, they contain only 2 kilobytes of RAM, approximate 1 millionth of the RAM standard in any laptop sold today.

But they're cheap, tiny, run well on a few AA batteries, and are well supported by the "maker" community. This is a large group of people who build their own projects, often hardware and software. Make magazine is devoted to this community.

The event I attended was at HacDC, which is a great space to get help with any sort of project you might be interested in. They have a couple of very impressive homemade 3-D printers, even!

What am I going to do with my Arduino? I'm not so sure yet. I bought enough sensors to build a simple alarm system, and I'm interesting in controlling my Arduino with a standard infra-red remote control. I might also use it to build a wireless mesh network. This project is mostly an excuse to solder some circuits and get by to my electrical engineering roots. I'll create small blog entries here if I do anything interesting.

I bought my Arduino, sensors, motors and a few tools from Adafruit Industries. There are literally hundreds of sites that sell and support Arduino and AVR. I like Adafruit because the woman that runs it has many great tutorials and helpful blog posts.

Dec 10, 2009

Android Gains Traction in the Investment Press

by J. Robert Burgoyne — last modified Dec 11, 2009 01:55 PM
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Robert V. Green of today published a well thought out article on how and why Android could seriously erode the Windows monopoly.


I was encouraged to see that Motorola recently decided to drop Windows Mobile from their future cell phone offerings to focus on Android. 

Now Robert V. Green of the well-respected investor website writes in an article published today that he believes Android could seriously erode the Windows monopoly over time. 

Based on our own experiences using Android on the HTC G1, we'd say there's a long way to go before Android replaces Windows on the desktop, but it's nice to see the investment press taking notice.