Well, I did receive (bought actually) an old (not 2013) nexus 7, using it right now to post. Its interesting although I am not used to tablets, and I think they still have to evolve a lot before they can at least surpass pen and paper. Still, it's a nice tool which I will surely use on a daily basis. Pity I cannot easily throw vhdl with it, nor draw some of my exquisite diagrams. The real advantage is it fits my pockets, i can take it wherever I go without much hassle, something I could not do with my (now broken) 10.1 Chinese pipo m9.
I was not a real big fan of tablets till I got this Dell device. My biggest complaint was that most tablets were devices intended for media consumption and lacked productivity features and compatibility with the programs and apps I needed. I am going to post more on it here in the future, but it really can do almost anything that you need to do. Because it has the full Windows experience with the desktop environment and x86 architecture, it allows you to run most any program compatible with Win 8.1.
It will be great because I needed a companion to my work laptop with is a 17" mobile workstation. It really is a beast, but anything that I do on that computer is considered property of my employer. I did not want to bring another full sized laptop. This little tablet fits the bill as it is smaller than the extra battery for my laptop.
With it, I also understand the limitations of the device. I am not expecting it to have the most convienient keyboard, but it is a tradeoff that I am willing to make. I also found that I have gotten to the point that I can almost touch type with the onscreen keyboard.
Hah, I personally do not use Windows for quite more than a decade, although I do use Microsoft office under crossover. Office tools are Microsoft best products, their OS albeit not bad (it is POSIX compliant) still suffers from bad evolution decisions. Plus, I like my OS to have open code so I can understand it and tweak it to my needs. Linux is far from ideal, but does suit me as a core OS. I could say same for Darwin/iOS, a nice microkernel, but without its source I, as a programmer, feel lost.
It is so cool to print() inside a kernel to understand its behavior.
I can understand that. Each OS has their own strengths and weaknesses. I have tried Ubuntu four about a year, and while I can say that it functioned for day to day needs, each time there was an update (equiv to a Windows service pack) it would break half of my program installations. I would then spend a few days getting them back up and running. I just got frustrated with having to deal with that. That and most of the programs that I use on a daily basis are Windows only.
Updates breaking things seems curious; To me at least.
I've almost never had things broken by updates of Ubuntu. Actually, I'm not sure the word 'almost' needs be in that sentence.
If most of your applications are Windows-only, are you using Wine extensively? Wine is definitely much less stable than the OS itself, if only because they're always having to catch up with the oddities within Windows (I don't mean that disrespectfully, it's just that some stuff is not publicly documanted and Wine is effectively reverse engineered). Mostly when I run Windows applications, I switch to Win7 (Win8 is ghastly, IHMO).
Hm, another possibility occurs to me. I almost always use their 'LTS' (long term support) versions, rather than the newest version, as almost be definition the latter will be less robust. I'm always cautious of new versions of software.
No, I was running the standard distribution of Ubuntu for -nix programs. If I needed to use a Windows program, I would boot into windows (dual boot machine). The programs I was running were things like OpenFoam and a handful of other CAE programs.
I know of the LTS versions, but to me if I cannot run the latest released version without any major issues, then it is a beta version. The updates are essentially equivilent to service packs. Heck updating from Vista to Win8 is easier than reinstalling the missing programs.
For me, an OS is a tool. When it comes to my tools, I want them to just work. I do not want to have to fix the tool. My standard usage model does not require a lot of customized OS installations, hence that is no benefit to me. In summary it just did not fit my requirements. This does not mean that it is a bad OS.
There were a few other things that I fould annoying (like any OS that someone uses). I dislike having to enter a pasword for everything. To me this was as annoying as the Vista UAC issue.
Once again, this is not to say that -nix OS's do not have their place. there are some usage models that make it the right choice. I still run it from time to time when I have a program that only runs on a -nix installation (though I usually run it as a VM).
I have a soft rule tht I don't upgrade anything until the first revision bump or service pack, unless I have to do so, or I particularly want some new feature. There are almost always a few peoblems, occasionally bad ones.
That's true of all my CAD and software packages as well as OSs.
I know a few iPhone people who recently wished they'd had the same philosophy.
Like you I can't afford to waste my time fixing things that get broken. I choose on the whole to let others firnd and report the unexpected consequences.
With Ubuntu, I tend to treat the 'standard releases' as release candidates and the LTSs as the formal releases. With Microsoft I tend to wait for sp1 or for around 3 months before I update.
I did get very cross indeed with Ubuntu when they switched from Gnome to Unity, as for once I _did_ use a new release rather than an LTS, with the view that it would be much quicker for me to get an Ubuntu system up and running properly than a Windows system (I had less than 3 hours; Windows I can install in that time, collecting and installing tools, too, made it improbable I'd manage it) I was shocked that Ubuntu installed Unity, which I find awful to use, and found impossible quickly to configure. I started over with an older LTS and just about completed in time (like by 3 minutes, IIRC). I thought I knew better than to do that, but apparently not :-(
I think that you have a pretty pragmatic approach. Right now, I do not see myself anytime soon going back to a dual booted machine. Running it as a VM for the occasional program that I need is working well.
On the other hand, a –nix type OS is great for things like the Beaglebone Black. It allows a device like that to be able to be more versatile (though not a desktop replacement). I really need to play with the one I have some more. I think that it is a really great device.
@Alvie, Microsoft do indeed have the occasional good product. I use Office 2003, because some idiots thought they could force their "ribbon" concept down my throat in every subsequent version. What a waste of precious pixels in laptops!
With the recent M$ Surface models, I was hoping for a release of Visual C++ that supports ARM as a target. I haven't seen anything yet, maybe next Christmas.
I was hoping M$ would release a cut-down Windows for use with development boards like Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone etc. They must be keeping that for next Christmas, too.
@SA-penguin....MS Office Ribbon....well said....it's an abomination. When you can find the relevant command on the ribbon, it does not have all the options...some of them you can only get by right clicking....etc.....
I use the version with the ribbon because I was sick of not being able to read .DOCX files, but I do yearn for 2003. Don'cha love progress?
I for one love the ribbon feature, but then again, I come from a mechanical design world where most MCAD, and PCB design tools suffer from not being able to get the features out to the user. Plus I still use the hotkeys for most of the things that I need. In the end, though, I found that the ribbon interface bring out a lot of options that many people did not know existed.
In all seriousness, though, I did not intend to have this be an OS bashing thread. I think that all OS's have their good and bad features. Each one caters to a specific subset of users, and marketing will attempt to highlight the faults of their competition. For me Microsoft products meet my needs better than any other OS for a variety of reasons.
One of those reasons is that, on a tablet I installed a full IDE for the STM32 microcontrollers in less than 10 minutes. It is something that I could easily guide anyone else to do in less than a few steps. I did a quick look, and I do not see a full IDE for Android or Mobile iOS for STM32. In this sense, for me this is an area that without Win8.1 on a tablet, I would not be able to do this. I would have to bring another complete laptop.
If I was looking for a media consumption device, then Apple products have this cornered. For people that like to tinker with the OS and other feeatures, then Android. For the record, I own an Android phone, I have a dual booting computer with Ubuntu and I use Windows as my primary OS. My wife owns an iPhone and iPad. So I have been exposed to all of them.
@Adam... " I did not intend to have this be an OS bashing thread. "
Sorry, Adam, that's what you call getting sidetracked.....But MS annoy me with the way they let you get comfortable with one way of doing things, which is perfectly good, and then replace it with another "flavour of the year" merely, it seems, for the sake of change.
MS products are the nearest thing there is to a universal OS / office suite and hence will always be popular, and almost obligatory, but they do have a way of getting up your nose.....
No worries, though it is hard to ask for progress without having to deal with change. I think that this is what has happened with Win8. I was a bit worried as I had heard all the negative reviews on Win8, but I went in with a go and see for myself viewpoint. I came away actually very impressed. Was it different, yes, but it works very well, and is laid out in a fashion that is rather intuitive for most people. Is it different yes. If you want to go back to standard views there are some options available. Here are a few:
The other reason that I support having changes in systems and programs is because everything can be made better. A great example is how CATIA has stuck with their interface for such a long time. It is the worst example of a mid to late 90's interface. At the time it was state of the art. Then a company called SolidWorks came along and started to take market share with their intuitive product. It had a great user interface. In fact it was one of the first mcad products to embrace the ribbon. Here it makes loads of sense. There are different sets of tools that are not all used at one time, and so you get to save screen space by using this interface method. You would have thought that after the company that owned CATIA would have used some of the elements from SolidWorks after it was under the same company, but no, CATIA launched an all new version with the same 90's interface. Such a waste. There are many other CAE tools that do not change because it would make all the old users mad that they had spent years learning skills that are now antiquated (Ansys).
Sorry, I didn't intend to usurp the thread. Although I got some great replies to sort through.
What did I get? A Lattice ICEstick kit, and an STM32F4 Discovery [with LCD]. So pray tell: how did you set up a toolchain for the STM32, in only 10 minutes? I was planning on a Virtualbox copy of XP as a development platform...
Ooo, you got one of the things that I have been eyeing up. Have you played at all with the ICEstick? I would be interested to hear a review on it. I am looking to jump in and learn FPGA's this year. Are there any thoughts that you could share on it?
As to the IDE for STM32 microcontrollers, I use CoIDE. It is a nice IDE based upon a customized version of Eclipse. It has a few quirks, but on the whole it is not too bad. You will want to download and install GCC ARM (instructions with download link for GCC ARM 4.8). Then you can download and install the CoIDE. I usually do it through their CoCenter application as it will check for updates. I have never set it up on a VM or on an XP box, only on a Vista, 7, and 8.1 box. The other small caviot is that I am not sure if the STM32F429 is supported yet. I know that there are plans to do so. There is a work around here.
As to the thread topics, no worries, I just prefer to focus on the positive side of things. Some times things can have a tendancy to run away otherwise. Thanks for posting!
@Aeroengineer: The icestick is... on hold. I wanted to use it first, but alas! There's a download [Icecube2] from Lattice required, and something is causing the file transfer to fail about half-way through. I've sent an email to Lattice about this.
Meanwhile, I'm setting up the STM32 toolchain as per your suggestion. So far, so good.
I would love to hear what you think of it. I am looking to get an FPGA dev board. I am leaning towards something that has a Spartan 6 on it. I think that I have figure out what project I want to do with it, it should be interesting. I will do it in conjunction with the Red Pitaya when it comes.
The CoIDE is pretty nice. It is nice that it has a set of user examples. There are a few things that I do not like about it, but on the whole it works pretty well.
Not listed, but a contender is the Cyclone V GX Starter kit by Terasic [$180]. The big thing to consider is: what do you want to do, and how do you plan to hook it up?
PMOD connectors are a good start, that's why I bought the Lattice board. But once your speed rises, you need a high-speed logic interface, which means FMC - or HSMC. Parallellas and microZeds uses non-standard interfaces. I suspect even the Red Pitaya boards stack using something non-standard [don't quote me].
I've seen a link for a FMC-to-HSMC adapter but not vice-versa, which gives a slight edge to Altera. I'm looking fast ADC's: the Terasic high speed AD/DA card [$220] runs at 65Msps. Total cost: $400 - or $50 cheaper than a Red Pitaya. However, the Red Pitaya has an even faster ADC.
Thanks for the info. I will look it over. As for the applications, I am looking at doing some digital signal processing, possibly a LF radio receiver.
As to the connectors on the Red Pitaya, I know that the interconnects to be able to chain multiple Red Pitayas together are SATA connectors. The other digital connectors I believe are IDE connectors. Don't quote me on the last one, but I am pretty sure that is what it is. I can find out more about them here for you if you are interested.
Wait, David. Office 2003? Really? I was glad to be rid of it.
Not that I like the ribbon feature, but as one who often has to generate .pdf files from my Office documents, doing so from Office 2003 was *excrutiating*. It went pass after pass, over the entire document, sloooowly, at least three times, so anything of substance would take 30 to 45 minutes to process.
Ribbon and all, Office 2007 and 2010 took care of that problem. What took 30 minutes with Office 2003 now takes, say, 4 minutes. Maybe even less. In fact, I discovered this using the same version of Acrobat, and just changing Office from 2003 to 2007.
As to organization, going from Office 2003 to Office 2007, I could usually see the logic of the change. Go in assuming you were new to Office, where would you put that feature if you'd never used an older Office? That usually worked. Going from Office 2007 to 2010, unfortunately, is a different matter. The proverbial "change for the sake of change."
Even something as basic as printing a document. Where did they put the "print" button? At the bottom of the screen, after you've navigated through the options? Of course not. It's at the top of trhe screen. How silly is that?
Oh, I got a very nice WiFi Radio stereo tuner. Fun toy, I must say.
Hi Bert and happy new year (it is in Australia already!)
It's horses for courses....I was really comfortable with O2003, it did everything I wanted, and all fairly easily. They could have got the DOC>PDF feature working properly without changing the interface.
And I'd remind you that one of MS's selling points at one stage, when they got all the Office components working more or less the same, was "the same familiar interface for everything". Yeah right, then go and change the same familiar interface....
Printing in 2003 was - click File, then print. In 2010 it's.....click File...print.... though in both versions as I recall you could have a print button on the taskbar.
Good point about starting off with 2007/2010 - you wouldn't know anything different. But MS had a huge customer base who DID know something different, and (mostly) liked it.
What would have been really good would have been the ability to select the old menu OR the ribbon.
A Wi-Fi radio tuner? I would be interested in seeing a link to the device if you can scrounge one up.
As to the changes in office, I have to say that to me Office 2007 could not have fome fast enough. Especially for Excel. The default formatting for the charts was so much better. This combined with the methods for handling pasting items into a word document made the upgrade worth it in the time that was saved. Other things like being able to have more than 2^16 cells in a row are also nice things. Lastly, I as I have said, I love the ribbon interface. I hate it when I have to go back to the standard interface.
There are two areas that I did not like, but they are small. In Excel, it used to be that you could automatically create the chart into a new tab/sheet. This feature was lost (if it is still there and someone knows where it is, I would be happy to be proven wrong). The other is that when placing a flag note in PowerPoint, it used to be that you could move the text box with the arrow head staying in place. No longer, now the entire thing moves, you cannot anchor the arrow head. This is a real pain for engineering presentations.
Sure. There are at least three on the market. Note that these are stereo tuners, which means they need to be plugged into a sound system. You can also buy small WiFi table radios too, but that's not what I wanted. I wanted something to replace the traditional AM/FM stereo tuner, and to also function as a shortwave radio functional replacement (and then some, i.e. able to receive stations from all over the world, including local stations from all over that you could never find on SW), but to do so with high fidelity and consistently great sound quality.
These also receive at least some traditional broadcast terrestrial radio. The NAD includes analog AM and FM, and the European Digital Audio Broadcasting standard as well, but not the US HD Radio variety of DAB. The Sangean has analog FM. The Grace includes also Pandora and Sirius, aside from Internet and FM terrestrial.
Note that you can also use a PC to receive these Internet radio stations. The tuner just makes the job really a snap, as easy as turning on your old tuner was.
Here is a link for windows embedded. It has been our for quite sometime. I know that it has been around for at least a year, though I am sure that it has been around for longer than that. This was first setup for the first Beaglebone, and now has been setup for the Beaglebone Black.
So perhaps Christmas for 2014 has come early for you ;) Though, that being said, I am not sure that Windows CE is the best for this type of device. It would really depend on what you want to do with it. I did read that there may be an effort to get Win RT up and running on the BBB, but I am not sure if it is a serious project.
I also got three really great books from my wife (plus a set of 11 Doctor Who miniature figures from my mom LOL). First I got the Arduino Cookbook, which I quickly read from cover to cover -- very useful stuff.
I love books! I just wish that bookstores carried books that I was actually interested in. also somewhat detrimental to my book purchasing is the high cost of the books I want to purchase. I would say that the average price is in the $60-$80 with some of the books that I want to get going as high as $160.
I am an odd one in that I became an engineer because I figured it I should get paid ot do what I would already be doing. I do engineering as much for work as I do for fun. I really love it.
As to non technical gifts, the best thing that I got this year was to be able to spend a week back with my wife and son. I have recently changed jobs, and had to move out ahead of the rest of the family. So for me being with them was the best thng to get.
Travel in general is not my favorite thing. I do not like to travel to see places, but to see people. My ideal vacation is a staycation there with my family and close access to my tools.
No gadgets from my wife, which is fine. My recent purchases have included some fun ones, such as:
-- Seeeduino V3 + Grove shield (to match what I gave my nephew, so I can help him out a bit)
-- DVT 542C color machine vision smart camera (very cheap off eBay)
-- Panasonic FP2 PLC with 64 DI, 64 DO, 16 AI, 4 AO, and 16 axes of step/dir motion control
-- ACS CM-3-B-E-M3-H4 motion controller with 3 10A/20A servo drives. I really want to find time to play with this puppy; it supports kinematics, and has a simulator. OTOH, the fan is really loud.
A few years ago when KDFC (the SF classical station) wasn't available on the air at our home, I bought my wife a Grace Digital Bravada internet radio (she's a concert pianist by training); it's in the living room and has seen a lot of use. Grace often has refurbs available on eBay & their web site. For example, the receiver is available for $129 refurbished. Sometime I plan on getting their micro system for myself.
On tablets: I don't agree that Apple has the content consumption market cornered. I know more people with Kindles than iPads. For myself, I've become a bit frustrated with tablets for getting work done, and am very interested in hearing more about the Venue 8 Pro.
After using 7" & 10" tablets plus 10" & 12" laptops, I've decided I want a 10" class mobile device, most likely the Venue 11 Pro (which also has the active digitizer and keyboard with battery), but I won't be getting anything for a while. My guess is that Windows 8.x is fine on a tablet, but doesn't make sense for a desktop. My setup is a fast desktop (Samsung 840 Pro SSD, which is fast!!!!!) plus laptop/tablet (currently Thinkpad X61t, eventually a Win8 device).
I'm not normally a heavy Office user, except when updating tech manuals, but I hate the ribbon! I think it hides what's available, and I don't like the Word defaults. Besides, Word is horrible for handling large documents, especially if you're trying to merge 4 different documents into one coherent document -- in fact, it was so bad, I switched to LibreOffice, which isn't perfect, but sure beat Word.
It's my "continuing education" project; no specific projects yet. I got the FP2 because it supports single stepping and edit while running functionality (unlike the FP Sigma PLC I've had for a while) and the price was right (~$60).
I've been eyeing an ACS CM-xxx system for a while: I've been interested in motion controllers with kinematics support ever since I did a couple robot projects, and I've always thought ACS's SPii products looked really neat. So when one popped up on eBay with the right price, I just had to get it.
Although you can download the software for both for free, it does help that I know the local distributors for both companies pretty well. (Note: FPWin Pro V6 free does support the FP2, but is size limited; ACS's software is free, but you have to register, and possibly beg your local distributor).
I got a RainSong graphite/carbon fiber guitar... with Fishman electronics. My wife contributed, but she's not going to buy me gear, electronics, etc. as a surprise. Too much money involved.
Kind of shopping for a new Android tablet at the moment, but I figure I'll use the current one (Galaxy Note 8) a bit longer, even though I favor the 10" kind. My home PC is a beast -- six cores, 64GB, three screens, huge SSD and RAIDs, etc. It doesn't move.
Once you have a system like this, laptops are just an exericse in torture for any CAD work. And once you leave out CAD work (and the hobby stuff: music, video, photography, and other things that really just rock in front of all this hardware), what's left is pretty much as good on a tablet as anything else. And if you already know Linux, Android is just a natural... tablet-friendly GUI, but you could write code on it if you felt like it (and yeah, I do have Emacs installed...).
January 2016 Cartoon Caption ContestBob's punishment for missing his deadline was to be tied to his chair tantalizingly close to a disconnected cable, with one hand superglued to his desk and another to his chin, while the pages from his wall calendar were slowly torn away.122 comments