Let’s go fly a Kitematic: There’s plenty of command line tools for Docker and command line driven ways to run it on Mac OS X. The latter’s harder because you need to run a VM and load it with an image and… well there’s boot2docker to help but… Enter Kitematic which takes the previous tools and rolls them with a neat UI and some extra neat tricks to make it a lot easier to start playing with the idea. Among those tricks are things like automatically creating an [appname].dev DNS entry so you can quickly connect to your new apps when they are up and running. If you like to run GUI tools alongside terminal sessions on your Mac, you might want to give Kitematic a go.
Versioning wars: Yes, people are arguing on the Internet and this time its over versioning. Some years back, Semantic Versioning appeared and set out some rules for when to bump the major, minor and patch numbers in a version number to embue it with some meaning. While this works for libraries where the consumer is often another program, it works less well with code to be consumed by people. The argument starts on Underscore’s Github where breaking changes as fixes were causing friction over what the version should actually be. This spilled out onto Hacker News which lead to the suggestion that “Semantic Versioning Isn’t” and back to HN where people continued to disagree. But it did get Fear-Driver Versioning (ferver) and the idea of romantic versioning a moment in the sun. From what I see, SemVer works but it does require discipline and transparency from the developers and the consumers of that code. Still… Developers eh?… because those bike sheds won’t pick what colour they are going to be by themselves.
Old School on a Pi: Want to run old school stylee? We’re talking Unix V5 here. Matt Hoskins has updated his 2005 presentation on how to do this (think PDP emulation and similar) so you can now do it all on a Raspberry Pi. Read on to learn the true old ways of Unix.
ChainDuino: An interesting Arduino varient now gathering funds on Kickstarter is the ChainDuino project. Simply put it allows a number of Arduino-style microcontrollers to be chained together over CAT5 cable with that cable delivering power, using a passive Power over Ethernet mechanism, and communications, using RS-485.
This could be incredibly useful in creating a large area sensor net (current max, 32 boards) as it can stretch for up to quarter of a mile and there’s no need for power sockets along the entire length apart from where you inject the power. The ChainDuinos have two RJ45 ports on them for chaining or an IDC connector for cutting into a long uncut run of cable. That does mean there’s no space for USB on these boards so they’ll need programming over an FTDI(serial) connection… there’s no programming over the wire yet but its on the todo list. There’s also a Mega version of the board for more I/O and plans for a shield. An intruiging way of getting Arduino controllers connected.
HackADay bits: HackADay always has interesting stuff. Things that caught my attention this week are:
* the 68008 bootstrapped by an Uno – check out that breadboarding. It’s not a new technique a friend noted pointing out the Amstrad PCW8256’s Z80 was also bootstrapped from a microcontroller, the keyboard controller to be exact.
* a touch screen that balances balls – the ball rolls on the resistive touchscreen and an Arduino then rebalances it according to where it senses the ball.
Hats for Pis: Arduino’s have shields, BeagleBone’s have caps and Raspberry Pi’s have those-thingys-that-plug-onto-the-IO-pins. Well, thats how it was, but it seems the Pi folks have set out to change that with HATs – Hardware Attached on Top specifically for the Pi B+ with it’s 40 pin IO. The B+, unlike its stable mates, has mounting locations for screws with these add on boards and a specification for the board. So we get stability, physical and electrical. And now Adafruit are going all out prototyping HATs. Here’s a proto-board HAT, a GPS HAT, a TFT HAT, an Arcade HAT and a servo HAT… they aren’t available yet, but there’s going to be plenty of HATs to choose from in the future.
ODROID-W: Hardkernel are more known for their Exynos based single board computers which pack quite a punch in a small space – enough that a meaty heatsink is needed. But their latest product eschews the Exynos chippery for a Broadcom chip, the same chip as the Raspberry Pi. The ODROID-W is apparently the result of a wearable research project which saw Hardkernel minimise the Pi design down to a wearable module. This module loses Ethernet, switches to a MicroSD slot and micro-HDMI then adds an eMMC socket, real time clock and battery booster and packs it into a tiny board. It’s rather neat and if you want more ports, there’s docking modules with or without touch TFT LCD screens. It’s one of the more interesting additions to the Pi ecosystem and I’ll have more to say about it when they arrive at Codescaling.
ODROID-VU: While looking at the Odroid-W, I noticed the Odroid-VU. This is a 1280×800 9″ multitouch display with USB and HDMI connections which seems to be joining the race for who can make the all-purpose hacker-maker portable screen.
BeagleBone Black GPIO: BeagleBone Black’s have a lot of IO capabilities and it can be a bit daunting taking it all in. So Kilobaser’s BBB GPIO tutorial is a great place to get a handle on all these pins and how to control them from Linux.
BeagleBone Black Tutorials: Another useful resource is Logicsupply’s Inspire blog where various handy articles have been appearing like this one on how to drive OLED displays fromC/C++ or making Xbee work or this one on web controlling LEDs using a smartphone.
Two Gameboy-a-likes: There seems to have been a little resurgence in the idea of emulating the classic Gameboy.At the start of the month, Adafruit introduced the PiGrrl which used a 3D printed case, a hacked up SNES style controller, a Pi and an Adafruit TFT display as the screen. It’s a fine project and on my “may do” list but it was the second Pi project which really impressed me. The Super Pi Boy eschews hip niceties of 3D printing and crams the electronics in an original Gameboy case for that authentic feel. The screen is an interesting hack too, taking a vehicle reversing screen (they are cheap) and converting it from 12V to 5V to wire into the Pi’s composite. It’s a tale of roughly hewn modifications but a good read.
Routing for freedom: The EFF are campaigning for safer networking and as part of that they’ve announce the alpha developer release of Open Wireless Firmware which should eventually offer something better than the bag of holes your typical router firmware is. Currently it only runs on the Netgear WNDR3800 so you’ll want one of them if you want to hack on it, unless you want to port it to something else.
Sparkfun with data: Sparkfun, makers of many fine hackable gadgets has announced a data service at data.sparkfun.com which can hold 50MB of data (rate limited to coming in at 100 update per 15 minutes). Posting data to it is as simple as composing a URL with a string appended. It looks great for experimenting with IoT concepts without diving in to full message queues and protocols. Behind the service is Phant.io, an open source platform you can set up yourself if you want.
Roboceratops rocks: Hackaday points to a project, in early development but looking fine, Roboceratops that is creating a robotic dinosaur. I can’t wait to see how the beast looks when it’s fully autonomous and fleshed out.
The new Raspberry Pi B+ is official. No change at the core, it’s the same 700mhz Broadcom chip with 512MB RAM, but it’s all changes outside. There’s a new USB/Ethernet chip, 4 USB ports, composite video pushed into the 4pin audio connector, reworked power handling and a 40 pin GPIO port. The latter is most likely to generate physical incompatibility though the layout changes mean no current cases will work. There’s more information over at Adafruit’s B+ page.
My theory? This is step one in rationalising the board for the future and that when a new more powerful Pi appears, it’ll appear in this form with an ecosystem prepared by the B+ release.
Hot Pi: First up, a hot rumour via Hackaday is that there’s a Raspberry B+ with 4 USB ports, no composite, a 40 pin GPIO port and other changes… is this real? We shall see, but the Pi has been aching for an update and even if this isn’t it, there’s a gap to be filled.
Big Docks: Google’s Kubernates project has drawn in a whole load of contributors. Kubernates is a cluster manager for containers. Now, [according to the announcement], IBM, Red Hat, Microsoft, Docker (and CoreOS, Mesosphere and SaltStack) have all signed up to develop various aspects of the platform. Could be interesting… it’s already interesting that Docker has at once become the centre of and just a component of bigger effort all at the same time.
Just announced in the last few hours, CentOS 7 for x86-64 has arrived. This is the first release under the new arrangements since Red Hat reversed into CentOS, leaving the distro independent but hiring a number of key players. Apart from this being a rapid arrival for a major new release, the announcement notes that they aim to get future updates heading out within 24-48 hours of release. There’s a new versioning system too, so this is Cento 7.0-1406,14/06 being June 2014, when Red Hat released RHEL 7.0 and the code base that this release of CentOS was built on. There’s torrents available for the DVD ISO, “Everything”, GNOME Live (the announcement has a malformed link for that – it’s http://mirror.centos.org/centos/7/isos/x86_64/CentOS-7.0-1406-x86_64-GnomeLive.torrent), KDE Live, a Live CD and a NetInstall. And to the torrents we fly to check out how it looks… well it should look like RHEL 7.