Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU
"I wonder how this CPU performs? Does it compare to anything I'd care about, or is it more akin to something I'd build a wifi router out of?"
The Propeller is an interesting beast. It has eight 32-bit cores they call cogs and a hub that ties them all together and gives each of them round-robin access to the 32K of hub RAM. Each core itself only has 2K of RAM it can access, so any assembly program has to fit in this small space.
Most the the time, you don't write assembly code (unless you need the speed), but use Spin instead. Spin is a proprietary, interpreted language. Each cog can host a separate version of the Spin interpreter, and tokenized Spin code is fetched out of hub RAM, which is much larger than cog RAM (32K vs 2K), so Spin programs can be larger.
There's also a C compiler that has a strange implementation given that cog RAM is too small to hold more than a trivial program if the code were entirely cog resident.
One other difference between the Propeller and most other microcontrollers (AVR, PIC, ARM, etc.) is that the Propeller has no built-in peripherals. The philosophy behind the Propeller is that if you need a peripheral, you implement it in software and run it on one of the eight cogs. Need a UART (or six)? It's just a matter of software. It is somewhat wasteful, however, to dedicate an 80 MHz 32-bit processor to a simple I/O task -- that might offend some purists. Since all peripheral functions need to be implemented in software, it's not possible to directly implement peripherals that run at high data rates, such as 480 Mb/sec USB.
The Propeller also lacks interrupts. The logic here is that since you're dedicating a full 80 MHz processor to an I/O function, you can poll without affecting any of the other processors and hence don't need interrupts.
All-in-all it's an interesting and unusual architecture, but I don't see it replacing more mainstream MCUs anytime soon.
Jesse Jackson: Tech Diversity Is Next Civil Rights Step
Jesse Jackson is a Professional Victim. 'Nuff said.
Let Spouses of H-1B Visa Holders Work In US, Says White House
Just goes to show, once again, that we have the best government money can buy.
Nest Halts Sales of Smart Fire Alarm After Discovering Dangerous Flaw
"Yes. That's why fire sprinklers are so successful. There's nothing between the water and the fire except a low-melting-point component in the sprinkler head."
Sprinklers are something you really don't want to fail, because both scenarios are destructive. If the sprinklers fail to work as designed, your house burns down. If they go off without a fire, you have lots of water damage, which is almost as expensive to fix as fire/smoke damage.
High Tech Companies Becoming Fools For the City
Well, here's what I think they're after: City centers (assuming there is a city center, not all cities have them), tend to be areas filled with the things that make the city unique: tourist attractions, public artwork, nifty historical architecture, headquarters skyscrapers of well-known businesses, etc.
Yes, but they're also full of bums/beggars, filth, graffiti/grime coated buildings and streets, noise (constant car horns and sirens), congestion, bad smells, crowds, long waits, and many other reasons why many people prefer to live in suburbs.
Free Desktop Software Development Dead In Windows 8
"It seems like with this move and generally the Metro and Windows 8 walled garden stuff, Microsoft is going more and more "the Apple way". "
If, by the "Apple way", you mean iOS development, then I'd agree with you as the App Store is the only viable means of distributing apps short of jailbreaking an iDevice.
This is not the case with OS X apps, however. Sure, there's an App Store for the Mac, but it's not mandatory like it is for iPhones and iPads. Plus Xcode, the Apple development tool, is free and this tool is not an "Express" version like the free versions of Visual Studio. The underlying compilers (either GCC or LLVM) are open source too, which is more than you can say about the Microsoft compilers.
Photographer Threatened With Legal Action After Asserting His Copyright
""The fair use doctrine permits nonprofits more leeway than for profit businesses." - That's not true but it's understandable if she believes it is and thought no harm was done."
It would be understandable if she were an average person, but she claims to be an attorney on her web site, and as an attorney, she should know better.
New Legislation Would Punish Mishandling of Private Data
The problem with legislation of this sort is that the fines imposed are ludicrously small compared to the revenue of the companies being fined.
If I were fined for, say, exceeding the speed limit at the same ratio to my income as most fines imposed on companies, then the fine would be something like $0.05. Hardly a disincentive at all.
.NET Gadgeteer — Microsoft's Arduino Killer?
I don't love Microsoft, but kudos to them for branching out creatively in an effort to shore up their sagging fortunes.
Microsoft just announced record Q4 earnings a few weeks ago of over $17B. How, by any stretch of the phrase, are their fortunes "sagging"? I wish my own personal fortunes were sagging as badly.
Solar Panels Increase Home Value
"It's closer to $6k per kW in my next of the woods (that's why I paid), but I'm sure you can find a company to do it for $5k. I went with a company that had done some installations in my neighborhood, though, and had a pretty good reputation."
That's close to what mine cost ($80K for 12.5 KW). Even in summer with all 3 air conditioners running, my electric meter is still running backwards. Even it winter it's usually generating more power than we're using, expect on dark overcast or rainy days.
Why Does the US Cling To Imperial Measurements?
"There is no consistency, and that alone can give rise to errors"
If you think we're inconsistent, take a look at the bloody Brits.
They use cm and meters for length, except on the roads, where they still use miles (and MPH).
They use grams and kg for weights, except for people, where they use stone.
It's a bloody mess.
Workers Will Smash Their PCs To Get an Upgrade
G00head: What company do you work for? I want to make sure I never apply for a job there.
Hubble Confirms Nature of Mysterious Green Blob
"Sorry for being such a nitpicker. Actually, if the quasar that lit up the cloud died about 200.000 years ago, "
If the quasar died 200,000 years ago, how would we know this? If the quasar is 650 million LYs from Earth, wouldn't the evidence of its death take 650 million years to reach us?
Sony's Blue-Violet Laser the Future Blu-ray?
Of course, as soon as Sony brings this to market, some other company, or group of companies, will unveil a competing product incompatible with Sony's, starting yet another format war. Too bad these guys can't just work together and agree on a common format and save us all time, money, and having to deal with dead formats (e.g. HD-DVD).
Building a Homemade Nuclear Reactor In NYC
Fusion is relatively easy to achieve on a small scale. What's extremely hard to achieve, judged on the efforts of various organizations over the past 60 years, is fusion that produces more power than it consumes.
UK Police To Allow Gun Users To Renew Licenses With iPhone App
As the old saying goes: "Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6".
Pakistani Lawyer Wants Mark Zuckerberg Executed
Yet another example showing that the Islamic world is still in the Dark Ages that most of the rest of the world emerged from sometime in the 13th century.
Parallel Programming For the Arduino
Oh, I forgot to mention that David May, the creator of the XMOS chip, is also the creator of Occam, the language mentioned in TFA.
Parallel Programming For the Arduino
"I'm somewhat familiar with the Propeller. Parallelizes quite well up to eight simultaneous tasks. Nineth? Well, turn back around and back to hell."
In that case take a look at the XMOS chips. Each core supports eight hardware threads and there are 1, 2, and 4 core versions available. Each core runs at 400 MHz. With the 4-core chip, you have 32 hardware threads to work with. Need more? No problem, just add more chips and connect them using the built-in Links hardware. XMOS sells a development board that has 16 of the 4-core chips for a total of 512 hardware threads.
The development tools (IDE, compiler, debugger) for Windows, Linux, and OS X are free downloads from the XMOS site. XMOS has added parallel processing capabilities to C (calling it XC), but the development tools also support C, C++, and assembly. JTAG units are US$50, which is quite reasonable.
Check it out: www.xmos.com www.xcore.com
Disclaimer: I have no relationship with XMOS except as a satisfied customer.
Modern Day Equivalent of Byte/Compute! Magazine?
In the U.S. there are three general electronics magazines:
Nuts & Volts
Of these, Circuit Cellar is the more advanced and covers topics that are probably over the head of most beginners, but it's still worth a read in any case.
Elektor will be familiar to European readers as it's been published in multiple language versions over there for decades. The U.S. edition dates from the beginning of 2009 and contains the same editorial content as the UK edition. The construction articles in Elektor are quite well done and are look very professional. Elektor recently bought Circuit Cellar, but haven't changed the focus of that magazine (yet). Whether they do in the future remains to be seen.
Nuts & Volts is geared more toward hobbyists and beginners, but it's still good for all levels (at least some of it). It has several long-running columns devoted to the Arduino, the PICAXE, and (starting recently) the Parallax Propeller.
Another good option is Everyday Practical Electronics, which is published in the UK and sold by major U.S. chain bookstores.
Although not strictly devoted to electronics, Servo Magazine (published by the same people who publish Nuts & Volts) does cover the electronics aspects of robotics. There is some overlap with Nuts & Volts, but not a lot.