Here’s a little toy I’d had on my wishlist for years and finally treated myself to about a year ago. It’s a Curta II mechanical digital calculator, manufactured circa late 1966. It achieved the extraordinary feat of putting the complex mechanisms of an adding machine into a package small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
Raspberry Pi Zero
The new Raspberry Pi Zero is only about $5 but has 512MB of RAM, a 1GHz ARM11 processor, HDMI out, USB, and a micro-SD slot. This puts a respectable amount of power within easy reach for hobbyists for all kinds of clever DIY applications. I love this.
“This tiny Raspberry Pi Zero will cost you less than $10” at Toronto Star
Tested Revisits Glowforge
The excellent YouTube channel Tested revisited the Glowforge laser cutter yesterday. Norm asks some questions, and we get to see some impromptu test cuts and engravings from starting design to completed cut, and done in various materials.
There is a print article with further questions at Tested.
I pre-ordered my own last week (a basic model + filter). I had some trepidation since, as awesome as it looks, it doesn’t officially exist just yet, and it’s a lot of money to plunk down. But this video allayed my fears. It seems to live up to expectations. If all goes according to plan, I should have mine in December. I’m sure as hell not cutting my Christmas ham with a knife this year, I tell you that much.
My Steam Link arrived today! The Steam Link is a little device that connects to your TV and allows you to play games on your TV using a PC in another room. Game pad and keyboard/mouse inputs are received by the Steam Link and relayed over the network to your PC, and the video is streamed back to your TV. It’s got a nice couch-friendly interface for navigating through your games. My PC is on another floor from my living room, and sometimes it’s better to curl up on the couch than sit at a desk, so this is perfect for me.
I had some minor snags initially. The Steam controller takes a little getting used to. The two circular areas are capacitive (like a smart phone screen) as well as pressable. They control a mouse cursor in certain contexts. I tried sending a message to a friend at one point and encountered a pretty bizarre two-cursor soft keyboard where each capacitive area navigated over one half of a QWERTY keyboard. Really odd, but I could see it maybe getting a little easier with practice.
My PC is in a multi-monitor configuration, and I think that may have been the cause of at least one failure of a game to stream properly. I tried running GTA V, but I hadn’t played it in a while and it required a #%*!ing Social Club update before it would run, which could only be done by manually visiting a URL and downloading it, which the Steam Link is useless for. That’s no fault of the Steam Link; that’s the fault of that damn game. I won’t get started on that rant.
That said, most games I tried worked pretty well. Guacamelee, for example, is the perfect sort of game for this configuration: a 2D platformer. Chariot is similar, though it did seem to be running at like 90% speed for some reason. I’m especially eager to try this thing out once the weather turns cold and getting curled up under a blanket on the couch.