the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Monthly Archives: June 2012

google nexus 7 tablet

On order. I'd been contemplating one of the $100 Chinese tablets that run ICS, but considering the price of Google's own tablet, with the fact that it's got great hardware (Quad core TEGRA proc, 1280×800 graphics) and some seriously engineering on the firmware (Jelly Bean), AND despite its lack of i/o (no HDMI, no microSD), I sprang. Watch this space.

On the web:
Goolge Nexus 7

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raspberry pi hands on

Raspberry Pi arrived on June 25th via DHL and off to Microcenter I went to get a 4GB SD-HC card ($3.99) and a new card reader ($9.99) for my linux box, because the old one couldn't read "HC" cards! Easy enough to setup, I followed the instructions on flashing the SD card with Debian "Squeeze" operating system. That accomplished, I then plugged all the necessary connections (using the power adapter from my cell phone) but quickly realized that there was an issue. Off to Raspberry Pi's wiki page for troubleshooting. Fortunately, it's well maintained and figuring out my issue and the resolution was easy as, er, pie.

There would appear to be a bug in the distributed version of bootcode.bin

So I replaced the bootcode.bin file on the SD card, and then tried to get it to work again. It did, but unfortunately that HDMI connection wasn't going to go through my A/V Receiver and off to my projector. (See this post for why). Not the Pi's fault, I was off to Microcenter the next day to get a HDMI->DVI-D adapter. That in place, I was in business. But wait, the screen looked pretty crappy. Once again, I was off to Raspberry Pi's wiki page for troubleshooting.

Big black borders around small image on HD monitors

and

Interference visible on a HDMI or DVI monitor

The fix was simple enough for both issues. Edit the boot configuration file for Raspberry Pi and add the following:

sudo nano /boot/config.txt
disable_overscan=1
config_hdmi_boost=4

and then reboot. Viola! Raspberry Pi meet Strawberry Bricks.


Performance is just okay for modern computer use, but I guess that really isn't the point of the Raspberry Pi. It's an educational tool, not a desktop computer. Whether that's of interest to you or not, well, you'll make that decision.

On the web:
Raspberry Pi

raspberry pi

Cheap computing's had a lot of promises for machines under $100. The Raspberry Pi, designed by the British not-for-profit foundation of the same name, is a "single computer on a board" that features an ARM processor and high-quality graphics, all for USD$35.00. It's designed to interest kids in computer programming, science, etc. Engadget has a rather tepid review here.

The unit is the size of a credit card, and has connections for USB, Ethernet, SD card (required for booting), HDMI (audio and video), RCA video and a 3.5mm audio jack. It's ARM, so software needs to be compiled for that processor; both Debian and Fedora have been ported, so yes, it's ostensibly a Linux box. It also has a GPIO connector, which means it can also be programmed to do about anything (robotics, interfacing, etc). The unit is powered by 5v, and most any micro-usb charger will do.

To get the Pi running, you'll need a pre-loaded OS on an SD card, connect (wired or wireless) keyboard and mouse, hook up to video via HDMI or composite, and power it with 5v via micro-usb.

I got into the queue with RS Online (one of two exclusive distributors) to order one on March 1st, and actually placed my order on May 24th. Next update when it's in my hands!

On the web:
Raspberry Pi Official Site
The MagPi Magazine
Wikipedia – Raspberry Pi