UCubed 2012 @ MadLab in Manchester

Friday saw me on a train to Manchester to attend the 2012 UCubed Unconference and what a great time it was too.

I went just because I could! But I also had my Raspberry Pi to demo as well as showing my BASIC interpreter running on it along with all the other stuff that comes with it – The Debian install and LXDE desktop. It generated a lot of interest indeed!

The Raspberry-Pi table at UCubedIt generated so much interest, that I barely had time to see and talk to more people! However I did attend the talk given by Alan O’Donohoe and on my way to the station, Alan put me on the spot for a quick audio-boo on IRC!

Some of Alans photos of the day can be found here

Another chap who caught my eye was Julian Skidmore of the Fignition project. Pretty amazing stuff – he has an Atmel 8-bit chip (same as Arduino chip), displaying video entirely in software and it runs a variant of FIG Forth.

The venue for the event was Manchesters MadLab a pretty fantastic place!

Thanks to Alan, Les and the others for organising it. It certainly made a nice change from sleepy Devon!

Got my Raspberry Pi!

Here we go! My Raspberry Pi has arrived and I’ve been having some fun. First job was to secure the additional bits and pieces for it – USB keyboard, mouse, powered hub and (still on order!) HDMI to DVI adapter.

First impressions? It’s small – but then again, so is the main-board inside your average mobile phone which these days is actually more powerful than the Raspberry Pi, so I really shouldn’t be surprised!

First task was to boot it up – I’d already prepared a 4GB SD card with the latest Debian image on the Raspberry Pi website. I plugged it all together and before long (really, 5 seconds) it was booting up. Part of their boot-up sequence involves a reboot, but that only too a few more seconds and it was there. Login with the published details and that was that. One more Linux box to my collection!

What a difference 30 years makes
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My BASIC is at the stage where I’m writing lots of little (and not so little!) demos for it, and I’m having a lot of fun re-writing some of the old games and demos I wrote and used all that time back, and noticing something else… Computers now are much faster and more capable than they were 30 years ago, so why not take advantage of it…

One of the things I wrote back then was a turtle graphics interpreter for the Apple II. I wrote it in Apples Applesoft BASIC, so it was slow, even then. BASIC interpreting a simple turtle graphics language I’d developed so I could draw pretty pictures. Some would take up to 5 minutes to draw!

Now, build turtle graphics into RTB and write some programs to explot it… And I find that the pictures are not only fast, but fast enough to animate! So you draw a nice spiral, but if you draw it in a loop, changing the start angle every iteration, it spins – something that took over a minute 30 years ago can now be done 30 times a second.

So this opeens up a whole new world of possibilities – animated turtle graphics! That in itself is quite exciting, but what else can we do?

Watch this space as they say…

More on DRC
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Decided to produce a standard Arduino Sketch to implement DRC, as well as my original version which runs under DROSS. Admittedly, DROSS is a bit overkill for this little project, and most people will probably be more familiar with the Arduino IDE and Sketch system than command lines and Makefiles!

Updating pages on DRC
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Getting there slowly and I’ve now put up some data on the Drogon Remote Control pages. I think I need to investigate some photos and probably video links too – as I’m sure nothing beats a video these days.

Also trying to work out the best way to present software for download. Might just have a page of links, but that’s ultimately going to be tricky to manage… But for now it might do!