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Comment: Re:Every child should NOT learn how to code... (Score 1) 295

Some would argue that Common Core and related nonsense is precisely doing that - training kids only to be "testing bees". And some would argue that the social attitudes forced on kids by school district policies (zero tolerance, for example) are training kids to be drooling government slaves. #justsayin.

Comment: Re:I kind of agree (Score 1) 295

In 1985 when I was in 7th grade, the school I was attending (in Melbourne, Australia) had LOGO programming on Apple IIe and IIc computers as part of the math course (programming various geometry), and a language I don't recall on Mac 512Ke and Mac Plus computers as part of the 8th grade curriculum. It was a small part of the year (a couple of weeks? something like that?) but it was intended to teach using a programming language to model mathematical problems. Which it did.

Comment: Re:No kid should be forced to code ... (Score 2, Interesting) 295

Not sure if your comment is trolling, sarcasm, or just too deep for the average bear to understand. My first paid programming assignment was at the age of 10. And, it was in Australia. (Admittedly, it was just writing and modifying some bullshit educational software on the Apple II, but hey, it was software that other people used, and I was paid for it).

Comment: Re:typo? (Score 1) 227

by larwe (#49768405) Attached to: Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things
Same surface area? What sort of ruler are you using there; is it graduated in numbers or in unicorns? The RPi is a board-scale solution that's massive compared to an 8-bit PIC or AVR. You're aware that there are PICs in SOT223 packages, right? And even the very largest PIC is smaller than the combination of ROM and RAM and required support circuitry in the RPi.

Comment: Re:typo? (Score 1) 227

by larwe (#49768337) Attached to: Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things
> There are a few IoT devices that are WiFi based. You cherry-picked those. They are a temporary solution for legacy environments. Actually no, WiFi solves specific networking needs such as "connect to the Internet without a special hub device being required". Until BTLE repeater support or Z-Wave/Zigbee is built into every domestic WiFi router [as given away by FriendlyCableCo, Inc], and probably not even then, WiFi will be a major force in home networking and it is assuredly the lowest common denominator technology today. There have been a great many advances in tricky WiFi implementations for battery powered sensors, by the way. Cablecos won't pick a technology (unless they are selling a specific set of widgets that go with that technology) because there is no clear winner. There's probably _never_ going to be standardization on one radio technology for home automation, because of the strong desire for proprietary locked-in systems - having worked at a company that made, and makes, home automation equipment, and being in the meetings where technology is chosen, I can tell you any system that currently exists is a decade away from achieving critical mass for bulk consumer acceptance. This has always been the case for home automation, and always will be. The same comment goes for operating systems (at least two were released in just the last week),

Comment: Re:typo? (Score 1) 227

by larwe (#49767845) Attached to: Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things
Kinda missing the point. There is a step change in the system cost when you move from an all-in-one micro to external memories. So your micro is $5, and your DRAM is $3, and your external flash is $3, and some external bus logic is $1 and your PCB now needs to be six-layer or more to handle fanout of the uBGA packages, and you now have extremely high-speed signals on your PCB (previously confined within the micro), and... and... and... - it all goes hand in hand. You can't just say "micro X is cheap" because by itself, a micro without memories is useless. And, to continue down this line of thought, here's what our Atmel rep explained when I asked him "why can't you make a micro with 8MB of internal flash?": The silicon of a micro is complex (ESPECIALLY these mixed-signal chips we're talking about with radios and ADCs and so forth); they have many layers and process steps and consequently low process yield in terms of defects per square millimeter of die. So, the larger each chip on a wafer, the smaller the percentage of those dice that will be defect-free and saleable. If you just add a massive NOR flash array baked into the side of the artwork, you wind up with a die that's a) low yield because it's made on a process way too exotic for the simple flash array, b) consequently way too expensive. There is a complex break-even point calculated between the price the market will pay for a part with X amount of internal memory vs. die size, yield, the cost of packaging devices that have many pins, the possibility of stacking dice, and doubtless many other factors he didn't tell me about. So that's (part of) why manufacturers only make all-in-one chips up to some flash/RAM size. In other words: don't expect to see a chip with 32MB flash and 512MB RAM internally any time soon. I'm sure you could put together a *system* that can run Brillo somewhere in the sub $10 BOM cost, but this is an order of magnitude more expensive than one would put in, say, a door sensor contact. So Brillo seems intended for the expensive side of the smart/connected device landscape, or for hub type devices, not cheap ubiquitous sensors.

Comment: Re:typo? (Score 1) 227

by larwe (#49760961) Attached to: Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things
Yeah, but that's hardly the whole story. That $5 RAM chip is LPDDR, so you need a micro with both an LPDDR controller, and enough address space to make use of that 32MB without contorted bank-switching bullshit. It's a very significant jump in both component and design cost when you from single-chip SoCs to ASSPs that require external ROM and RAM. Package size, pin count, EMI considerations.

Comment: Re:32MB (Score 2) 227

by larwe (#49760927) Attached to: Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things
There are plenty of single-chip solutions that incorporate a micro, radio, and sufficient flash+RAM to implement an entire wireless sensor. Look at the ESP8266 for example, which is becoming very popular in makerspaces. https://www.sparkfun.com/produ... - you can easily source a complete module for under $5 at retail. Note that the external chip is the application code, which gets loaded into on-chip SRAM at boot time. It's unclear how much RAM is in it; definitely not megabytes, though. The chip has a 64K factory-programmed ROM with basic UART-to-WiFi functionality, but it can also boot a user application off external SPI flash. This new thing from Google appears to be trying to take the scaled-down code in the Chromecast and scale it down further (https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Chromecast+Teardown/16069 - Chromecast has quite a bit of memory in it).

Comment: Re:Don't want a data plan? Too bad. (Score 1) 313

by larwe (#49755593) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Dumb Phone?
Yes-ish. If you activate it with AT&T, you can get a plan with no data in it. But data isn't DISABLED on the SIM, so if you accidentally use any, you'll pay at PAYG rates, which I'm sure are ludicrously high. I believe with other carriers you can get prepaid SIMs that have no data capbility. Good point though.

Comment: Nokia... still (Score 2) 313

by larwe (#49753863) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Dumb Phone?
Actually for this set of needs, take a look at the Nokia Lumia 635. Dirt cheap (off contract), good battery life, FM radio inbuilt, and no huge app store full of loads of apps to distract you with complexity (#iceburn). Seriously, I have a few of these on the bench at home for development work, and I recently replaced my in-laws' several-year-old flip phones with 635s. At the time I purchased them I believe they cost $59; they're now $49 (AT&T GoPhone variant).

Comment: Re:Criminal liability ... (Score 1) 82

Do you live in the United States? It's considered practically a constutitional right here to be able to get a credit card online, or order a cellphone and service (which requires a credit card) online. Or to be able to call a 1-800 number and get a new La-z-boy delivered on credit terms.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde