Revolutionary $5 Computer: Raspberry Pi Zero

Raspberry Pi Zero

The New Raspberry Pi Zero.

The Raspberry Pi foundation has released the new Pi Zero, which comes in at an absolutely amazing $5 price. They are of course totally sold out so I can’t get my paws on one yet, but even so I know this is going to be amazing. I was excited about the size and cost of the model A+ which was $25. Now the tiny size of this new one opens up new avenues of creativity. The size is what I am all exited about, the price is just a nice bonus.

I was planning to do a keyboard computer conversion using a model A on a Apple IIGS keyboard, but now I think I will wait and get my hands on a model Zero for the conversion. In some ways the Model Zero makes the project even a little less impressive since it is so small. I am glad they didn’t populate the GPIO pins on this one, I had to de-solder the pins on one of my last projects, and I like that I can wire directly to the header with this one.

The Pi foundation has been very successful in promoting their single-board computers as learning tools for kids (or really anyone) getting into computers. They are low-cost and have an easy learning curve, so people who might otherwise be intimidated can start making things and experiment with programming and making electronics.. I am very impressed with what they have done.

This little micro board computer is vastly more powerful than my first computer: The ATARI 1200XL and it is smaller than a credit-card.

Truly amazing, I can’t wait to get one and start playing!

Osprey Veer Resource Bag Review


I have been using the Osprey Veer Resource bag since 2010 as my ‘walking bag’ whenever I go out for a walk, or a short bike ride. I keep it to pretty minimal contents; mostly my iPad, a few pens and my Moleskine. Thats pretty much it most of the time.

I bought the blue one in these pictures at REI in Portland back in 2010, I wanted something I could keep essentials in, and since I am a huge fan of Osprey Packs, I bought this without hesitation, and it really has served me well. I used it very regularly from 2010 till 2013, then I gave it away. After a few months of carrying my heavy Momentum 34 pack with me everywhere, I realized how much I missed having something small and easy to grab on my way out the door, so I went to buy another one, only to find that Osprey had discontinued them. I watched eBay like a hawk, and finally bought another one this year. (Red this time)


Other than two small irritations (more on that later) I am really in love with this bag, it has a great strap design so that it sits right on the small of the back when you are walking, and doesn’t interfere with your hands, or get in the way at all. Unlike a backpack which is hard to get into if you want something, you can just swing the veer around easily and access the contents on the move. It has a flap on the front that is secured with Velcro, and has a place for a few pens, and a small hidden pocket where I keep my Moleskine.

The main compartment has a protective flap over the zippers to help keep moisture out, which I think is a really thoughtful design idea. I keep my iPad in there, as well as a larger journal or some other project from time to time. I will often throw in a bluetooth keyboard if I am going to do any long-form writing.

IMG_1877On top is the best pocket on the bag, it is right where your hand naturally falls when you grab for the bag, and I use it to keep things I want instant access to. I keep a flashlight there, and headphones, a cliff-bar and a multi-tool most of the time. I know that this bag has a pretty strong following in the concealed carry community because of this pocket, it almost seems engineered for CC.

There is a place to put a water-bottle, and in my case; I keep a 18oz Hydrofask there most of the time.

The only 2 things I don’t like about the bag, are the poorly designed outside flap pocket, it has a very short zipper which restricts access, and seems like it would have been better if it were a vertical zipper instead. the smart-phone pocket on the strap is also too small. It barely fits an iPhone 5s, and I don’t think it would fit a 6 at all.

At this point (2 years after Osprey discontinued production) you are probably going to have a hard time finding one outside of eBay, but I still think its the best small walking bag ever made.





Whats In My Bag 2012

  1. Ipad & Case
  2. Glue Dot Runner
  3. Gum
  4. Sennheiser PX100s
  5. Coghlans Trek I First Aid Kit
  6. Lamy Safari Yellow
  7. Lamy Al-Star Graphite
  8. Kum Pencut Scissors
  9. CliffBar
  10. Kashi Granola Bar
  11. Osprey Veer Bag
  12. Staedtler Color Pencils
  13. Bluetooth Keyboard

The Mighty IBM Model M 122 Key Keyboard. [Ideas And Hacks]

M122 Keyboard transparent

I love the IBM Model M.

The Mighty Model M 122 Key Terminal Keyboard, this is the keyboard of the gods. Zeus uses one to update his blog, and post pictures of his cat.

Just about the only piece of computing hardware from the 1980s that is still useful on a daily basis. (in-fact I am using one right now to tap this out)

The layout of this keyboard is still used today, and the same basic keyboard is still in production today; just under a different name. I have several of these lying about from old 286 PS/2 systems, and I have been doing some updates and modifications to a few of them. The terminal Keyboards are all getting updated to USB 2.0 using Soarers converter (an ATMEL MEGA32U4 based converter that can act as a USB HID device), I have converted 3 of them so far, and you can read about my conversion service here: IBM Model M Keyboard (more…)

Synergy on Fedora and Slacko Puppy 5.5


I have two computers on my lab bench: the Franken-Computer that I wrote about a few weeks ago, and another regular computer running ‘Slacko Puppy 5.5’ (which is a lightweight Slackware build) I have had these two systems going for a few months, and have had two sets of keyboards and mice, but knew I didn’t want to waste all that good useful desk-space with an extra keyboard and mouse.

I had initially thought that I would put in a KVM switch and just switch the inputs whenever I needed to, but instead I installed Synergy on both systems and now I am able to use both computers just as if it were only one! Really awesome.

I simply move my mouse off the edge of the screen, and voila!!! it appears on the other system!

I didn’t have any trouble setting up the Synergy client on the Fedora system, but I did run into a bit of trouble on Slackware. I had to track down a pesky dependency that Synergy needed, but a few minutes googling led me to it with little trouble.


Dual Screen VESA Mount All In One FrankenComputer Hack

I am converting an old Compaq Laptop and A Dell Flat-Screen Desktop Monitor into an All-In-One computer with one power supply and dual Displays.


I took the display panel off the rear mount, and behind it there is just enough space to mount the power supply for the laptop motherboard.


And here I tied the power input to the same input the monitor shares.


Here is the first bench-test connected to the lower display.


Here is the notebook motherboard mounted to the back of the display and many of the connections routed.

It is aliiiiiiive!!!! Booted into Fedora 18 with both displays active.

Here is a better picture of the rear, showing how I routed all the data and power lines.

The final project. Complete.
Working, mounted to the wall, and ready for action!!!


In Love With The Return Key


My first computer was an ATARI 1200XL
I was in seventh heaven! I can still remember the smell of the plastic when I opened the box,
(it was used, but still in the box) and I remember the sound that 5-1/4″ floppy would make when it was seeking.
I had an INDUS GT drive (which was pretty fancy for its day) and I had an ATARI tape drive as well. The tapes were fun, you were supposed to use ‘real data tapes’ because they were of higher quality, and would retain the data better, but I never could afford them: so I just used erased music tapes. (which never lasted very long)
I would spend many hours up at night laboriously typing BASIC commands, and learning how to write programs myself. I had a few books, and some old Atari magazines to go on, but a lot of what I learned was by experiment.j

I would craft this work of art, and then when the last line was done, I would pause a second, and then type: RUN, and press the return key……………..

That moment of expectation, and the (often unpredictable) results is an aspect of computing that I miss. Now I am grounded in expectation of what a computer ‘should’ do. I don’t modify my experience; I don’t create new programs.
I do use the computer to create, and to code, but on another level; in a more sanitized operating world. Sometimes I miss that wonder and amazement from executing my program just to see what it would do.