[CALUG] the Pi, and other machines

waltechmail at yahoo.com waltechmail at yahoo.com
Sat Feb 2 12:23:19 EST 2019

hi all,

I found this article to be pretty informative about things
many do not know about:


The important take away is what I've thought for years 
about some hobby and other processors, but never bothered
to investigate;  the existance of software other than the 
advertised.  The fact it's hidden away.  The fact it runs in
the GPU - making it more generally known a GPU can run real
code - not just be some number cruncher.

How many CPU chips purchased with built-in software ( say, some
BASIC or C-interpreter ) and installed on a PCB are proprietary ?
Same for GPU chips that are "easy to use" ?

Additional tripe:

What most younger techies don't realize is the "pi's" -
single board computers for hobby designs and reference
designs have been around since the early 1980's.  fFor every CPU type
including ( for example), 6800, 68000 class, Z80's, AMD
and  bit slice  and Intel compat... and pics, and 6500's..and TI and...
(I'll skip the Kim for now ), albeit size-wise, most ( not all ) WERE
larger in physical size.  Nowadays, size matters a lot more than it used to.
Both the chip and the PCB.

What the article says in a round about way is that the pi functions,
like most SBC's, simply bring out all the chips pins, and WOW,
many believe thats all clever...  Remember, it's a chip function in
order to save chip pins, and you are expected to use one function
or the other- not both.  I do mean expectation.   Cleverness is 
a "oh wow!", and market tool.   Of course, cost is the driver. 
Often you could just as well solder a few wires right to the chip
pins- skip the PCB.  ) Yeah yeah, I know the other reasons.. 
Just making a point.

The article is right: make the most use of what you have 
THEN you buy ( or design ) the add-ons.  Hiding the special
software is a sore point with me.  Unless the product is entirely
proprietary and NOT hyping some GPL software using say,
linux as merely a main loop to run "apps".  ( some people  call
then "containers"... yeah yeah, I know its a little different ). 
The effect is whats important.

What about all that power supply nonsense ?  I think it's to
sell power blocks.... Most CPU's have internal voltage regulators.
Power blocks are a way to  sell one product, and get you to upgrade.
OK, this whole paragraph is arguable..  But build a 0.5A supply today ?
OK, again, someone else is saving 0.002c  and making an extra $2 .
Skip this- not that important.

Relatedly, Why not use a $30 off the shelf android with camera,
hi res screen, wifi, cell, bluetooth, GPS, USB, instead of an android ?  
You want to program? - go ahead !!

And while I use an android, I really hate it.   It's cheap and no different
than any other cell phone.  As a phone, it's quality is as bad as $10
walkie talkies I used 40 years ago.  And I'm beyond wanting to find out
enough to re-assemble the software: i.e. untie from Google.
Thats an aside:  it's the secret software that needs addressing.

Walt . .........

 The government is lawless, not the press (people).
 ( [Supreme Court] Justice Douglas re: The Pentagon Papers )

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