raspberries and blackberries

Summer is tough because people are out there doing way better things than listening to me.

But several things happened recently, so hear me out.

Microsoft released Windows 10 for the Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi is a little hobbyist computer. I got one at the Ignite conference in May, where Microsoft was giving them away.

Computer on a Stick

Why was Microsoft giving them away, you ask? Because Windows 10 runs on this thing and it's got 1 gig of ram and some crazy processor I'm not sure really exists.

It runs off a micro SD card. It's got a couple of USB ports on it. It's got HDMI. It's got a great noisy wrapper.

Now it's not the Windows 10 that runs on your tablet or your desktop, but you do get a bunch of the runtime stuff. You get PowerShell, things like that, even a wireless port and Bluetooth support.

This is Microsoft's way of getting into the whole poorly named Internet of Things (IoT). So you can hook up a bunch of sensors and motors and mousetraps and all that kind of stuff to this and it will do things for you.

Now my house two weeks ago nearly flooded twice because my sump pump float failed, so I started hooking up my sump pump manually, and then the sump pump itself failed.

I have a little water sensor there, which screams bloody murder when the water level rises. But that is only ever any good if there's somebody home to be annoyed by it.

So I was thinking a great project for my Raspberry Pi would be a water meter that sends me a tweet or emails me or opens my garage door and closes it or something whenever the water level comes up.

That's the great kind of Internet things that you can do with this, and Microsoft has a good projects page for this. There's all kinds of fun — you know, robots and lions and tigers and bears, all that. So that's fun.

A Sad Tale

You guys may remember the sad tale of woe that was my little machine Wormy.

Wormy was a little device that came with Windows and when it came from the factory it was infected with a virus and tried to take my network down. Good times, good times.

Well, the folks that made Wormy, MeeGoPad, made another device and — and because I'm a slow learner, I bought it.

The technical thing is that it's a MeeGoPad T02 and it looks conspicuously like the little Intel compute stick.

It's got all the same things under the hood — the Intel Z3735F processor, 2 gig of Ram and I think 32 gig of storage and all that.

The big difference is this is a little bigger, it's got a little better airflow, and also has two full sized USB ports.

The other one has one full USB port and one USB-to-go port on it. And I've found that's kind of clumsy and I've not had a lot of fun with that.

So, this little guy sells for $80 to $90 bucks — a bunch of vendors have them. The Intel compute stick sells for around $150 on Amazon.

I'll be putting Windows 10 on this. I've got it hooked up to a TV, maybe I'll put some digital signage on this or something like that.

It's just kind of fun — a cheap little device to put Windows on. I've had a lot of fun with that, more fun than I probably should have.

Longing for Windows Phone

Another thing that caught my eye: Microsoft is releasing Cortana for Android. A couple of months ago, I switched from my much beloved Windows Phone to Android and the whole reason was I just needed apps. I needed to be able to run stuff.

So now I've got a Galaxy S5. It's ok. I have apps and I love the apps.

We were at the zoo this weekend, the zoo had an app and it had a map and that rhymed. I should have had something else to go with that.

The Windows Phone never had that.

There are no apps for Windows Phones, at least none of the apps that I wanted. It's just infuriating.

But as I've been using Android I've found that I just don't like the OS. For instance, at the beginning of this podcast, some folks were talking about me on Twitter saying nothing but good things — you don't have to worry about checking up on it, it was nothing but good things.

But I can't figure out on Android how to have things show up in the notification panel without getting other notifications, without sound or vibrating or things like that.

I could do all that with Windows phone. And mail is a mess on Android. I can't have multiple shortcuts with multiple accounts and things like that.

So the best of both worlds would be if I could get the apps I wanted and everything on one device.

Well, a couple of big things happened this week.

No. 1: Microsoft announced that Cortana could replace Google now. Cortana is the voice-activated stuff. I miss Cortana. I used it all the time on my Windows phone.

I haven't been able to use it on Android, which has Google now. But Cortana is coming out. You have to sign up for it. It's private.

I've signed up for it and sent offers to bribe any number of people that I know who work at Microsoft.

What Else?

If you're tired of reading, you can watch Podcast 257 or listen on iTunes

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  Title image by qgil.