Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Raspberry Pi -- Teaching Kids to Hack / Program

Here are some notes:

Some highlights of the article:  
First, let me go on the record as saying I'm a huge Raspberry Pi fan. If you haven't heard already, a Raspberry Pi is a small but complete $35 computer (or $25 without Ethernet). It's a complete 700 MHz ARM CPU with a GPU and 256MB of RAM. It has two USB ports, Ethernet, Audio as well as video out over RCA (Composite) or HDMI at 1080p. It uses an SD Card for its hard drive and takes 5V at >700mA of power over a mini USB.

It's a complete Linux machine - It really is. You don't need to use it for anything they expect you to use it for. If you want to install Fedora Remix and make it a little NAS with an attached USB hard drive, feel free. You can make it a tiny web server or use it as a little VNC client while you VNC into your work at 1080p from your 42" HDTV. 

  • It is great for learning to code - It not only runs Python but it will run anything that a tiny ARM machine can run, even Mono and .NET! The Raspian default distro of Linux includes Python 2 and Python 3 IDEs and is easy to script.
  • It's a fun educational PC for little kids - With the addition of the GCompris software suite you've got dozens of games and activities that cover everything from math to reading, science to geography.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mars Discovery?

It looks like NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has discovered something interesting on Mars.  It will take weeks for the data to be checked and re-checked, but here is what Fox reports:

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has apparently made a discovery "for the history books," but we'll have to wait a few weeks to find out what the new Red Planet find may be, media reports suggest.

The discovery was made by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, NPR reported Tuesday, Nov. 20. SAM is the rover's onboard chemistry lab, and it's capable of identifying organic compounds — the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it.
SAM apparently spotted something interesting in a soil sample Curiosity's huge robotic arm delivered to the instrument recently.

- Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger
"This data is gonna be one for the history books," Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger, of Caltech in Pasadena, told NPR. "It's looking really good."

Read more:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Holiday Gift? Muse Magazine

MUSE magazine is one of our favorite educational magazines for children aged 7-15.  Check it out!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Current Tablet Market

The NY Times had a nice article on the tablet market.  In our own experience, tablets are very useful -- and factors include:

  • The "It" factor:  Apple has built "it" -- and most people love the "it" and "cool" factor.  
  • Size:  Many people love the 7" size of the Amazon Kindle -- and especially how the shorter size fits in your hand!  

  • Price: Very good, name-quality, tablets can be bought from the $150 range up to $700!  
Tablets - Popular & New Arrivals

From the NY Times:

By keeping its tablet prices so high, he said, Apple could lose its place as the biggest tablet seller, just as it did with smartphones when it lost the first-place position to Samsung, which makes less expensive phones using Google’s Android software. The iPad still dominates the market with a 50 percent share, according to third-quarter figures from the research firm IDC, but that is down from 60 percent a year ago. Samsung is in second place with an 18 percent share, Amazon is third with 9 percent, and Asus, which makes Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, is in fourth with 8.6 percent of the market.

Complicating the decision on hardware, different tablets connect to different online stores for apps, music and video. If you have built your music and app collection on Apple devices, an Android tablet may mean starting from scratch, and vice versa.

Read more here: