Jan 22, 2014

Dec - 11 2013 | By

Both Glenn & Paul were in the studio

Notifications of new show notes and edits are tweeted at: twitter.com/ddhart.
– They're tagged with #Zentech.
– When what's said is unclear to me (or I'm unfamiliar with a topic) I tend to quote (" ") verbatim.
– Editor's comments are delimited by < >

 

Briefly, Glenn mentioned a university study in the UK regarding memory loss and aging. Apparently, the ability to remember remains fine with age, it's just that older folks start running out of space to store new information.

Glenn thanked members of KVMR for their support. To become a member, please go to kvmr.org.

The guys talked about a couple of adult toys — the Arduino and Raspberry Pi. These are small programmable electronic devices that can make lights flash in different order and combinations.<and drive relays to perform physical tasks>. They are a motive force behind what you'll find at maker fairs, like the local Curious Forge.
<The Raspberry Pi comes with Mathematica, a CAS (Computer Algebra System), I've heard:
Raspberry Pi Includes Mathematica Free>

At 40 cents each, Paul has been experimenting with RGB LEDs, which, in combination, can be driven to give various colors. He noted the LEDs are either on or off and don't change in brightness with the amount of current going thru them, like an incandescent light bulbs do. Instead, their brightness is controlled by turning the current on & off quickly, and it's the time on vs. time off that determines the brightness.

Glenn said he saw a project in the Make magazine to make your shoes light up while you walk — the light changes depending on how much pressure is put on different parts of the shoe.

Paul said the Arduino costs about $20 or $30, the Raspberry Pi is about $49. The Raspberry is essentially a complete computer and operating system, the Arduino is a simpler, more primitive device that requires more user involvement.

To hook up the Raspberry Pi you just have to use an HDMI cable to plug it into your TV and plug in a flash drive (included if you buy the kit). Then you can use the 2 USB ports to attach a mouse and keyboard, and you're in business. It has…
– a MIPS processor running at 800 megaHertz.
– a graphics processor unit.
– a choice of operating system — a derivative of Linux or the MIPS OS.
– as with the Arduino, there are peripheral circuit boards available to do various things as well as a variety of software.

Paul said, as he had previously, that Youtube is a good resource for do-it-yourselfers. The videos tend to be short and to the point, while addressing a single topic.

Paul talked about the link at the top of this page. When you sign up at Flag Counter, you are given a URL that you then incorporate into your own web page. <I think it counts the number of visitors to your page and what country they're from> When someone visits your page, Flag Counter "increments one flag count per country that has visited you". He said the service is free but they do put cookies on your system though he thought they might be harmless. He thought it might still work if you turn your cookies setting to off.

Glenn said, "I have often said, in my book, the very best way to avoid getting viruses, Trojan horses, anything malicious or something malicious on your computer is do not open anything in your email". Paul added, stay up to date with the Flash player, it's the single biggest vector for the invasion of your machine — it's required for many things and it's bug-ridden.

Ralph called. He was thinking about an Arduino project to make a door opener for his chicken coop that would go up and down along with the Sun.
– First check to see if someone has done it already.
– Paul searched for the words: chicken coop controller. He found applications that not only control the door, but also provide other functions — weighing eggs, monitoring alarms and temperature, etc.
<This might be it>

Ralph also asked about podcasts of the Zentech show. Paul said there are some old ones, <here> <and here> and that he just doesn't find the time to put up more shows. He said KVMR does have podcasts of the many other shows it broadcasts. Go to kvmr.org and click the link called "Podcasts". These are just talk shows because copyright issues prevent podcasts containing music.

Paul said he enjoys the TED Talks and the Radiolab shows. Google the words: ted talks. You'll find a "marvelous series of videos".

Paul implied that it was from Radiolab he learned about loyalty cards at casinos. The casinos keep track of frequent visitors and their rate of winning or losing money. If they find you've been losing a lot, they may offer you a perk like a free stay at a hotel, just to keep you coming back.

Paul offered a tip to save money. He suggested you download, as he did on his Nexus tablet, all the apps for all the 'box' stores like Lowe's, Home Depot, Walgreens, CVS, Ikea, Rite Aid, etc. You can then get discounts, coupons etc. In particular, he likes the Lowe's app. It lets him order what he wants and have it delivered, or have the items boxed up and be ready to be picked up at the store. The stores are very competitive in this area, they can't afford not to offer these services, conveniences and savings.

Paul wondered why one would buy a Kindle when they could buy a tablet.
– The Kindle is a loss leader. It's cheap to buy but Amazon (its maker) expects you to keep coming back to buy things for it — books, music etc.
– Amazon tries to restrict you to their own website. You don't have access to the Google Play Store (without hacking the Kindle).
– Paul has been perfectly happy with an Android tablet <his Nexus 7> that can access the Google Play Store and, after getting the Kindle app, also have access to Amazon products.
– There are also Kindle apps for the Apple devices and desktop/laptop PCs.

Glenn said he's consider getting a Kindle Paperwhite reader. Paul explained…
– The Paperwhite looks more like a printed page than conventional tablets do.
– Conventional tablets use backlit LEDs and their batteries typically last 10 to 12 hours
– The Paperwhite can go for weeks between charges.

Paul said when you're shopping for an Android tablet, it should let you have access to the Google Play Store without any hacking.

Next show Paul plans to review the Dragon 7 tablet that he bought for his sweetie.
– It doesn't have a GPS chip.
– It doesn't have Bluetooth.
– It does have a camera.
– It does have OTG USB (On The Go USB). That means you can add those missing components.
– If you use it in a car, OTG USB means you can push it into a dock that has USB, and if there is a GPS USB chip in the car "you can make this kind of hybrid monster that does all the things you want it to do…"

Paul said he's found "even better" free GPS software called OsmAnd. There's also a paid version for $7. "You can actually download every map in the world" though that's not advised because you generally have limited storage on a tablet.
<More on OsmAnd here>

It's become common for tablets not to have external flash drive storage, Paul said. There can be a problem if the user removes the flash drive because that takes away some of the storage that the tablet depends on and that "can screw stuff up". The thinking now is that with judicious management, along with online storage, the internal memory should be sufficient.

Glenn mentioned his online backup isn't working because he has too many pictures on his iPhone and iPad. And he's having trouble deleting the pictures en masse <as I understood him saying>. Paul thought someone will make an app for that, eventually.

Last updated 10:23 PM 1/22/2014