The MagPi, Issue 34

The MagPi Issue 34Another month, another cover feature for the official Raspberry Pi magazine The MagPi. This time around, I take a look at Microsoft’s generous offer of a free copy of Windows 10 IoT Core for all Raspberry Pi 2 owners, and what it could mean for the Raspberry Pi community – and if that wasn’t enough, I take some time to review the 4tronix Agobo robot kit as well.

The cover feature is a two-part affair: the first section, which looks at exactly what Windows 10 IoT Core actually is – which is vastly different from the impression given by the mainstream press that Microsoft was giving away a full desktop-class operating system – as well as how it can be used is my work; a following section looking at a selection of projects which are already powered by the Raspberry Pi 2 and Windows 10 was written by editor Russell Barnes.

As well as helping to clarify exactly what Windows 10 IoT Core is and can do, my section of the feature includes a guide to getting started with the software – which is not as easy to obtain as, for example, Raspbian, requiring registration with Microsoft and to search on a surprisingly user-unfriendly section of the company’s website before agreeing to a pair of end-user licence agreements – and an analysis of B15, the HoloLens- and Raspberry Pi-powered robot Microsoft showed off at its Build event earlier this year.

The review, meanwhile, involved building an Agobo robot kit supplied by the lovely 4tronix. Simpler than the Pi2Go-Lite I reviewed for Custom PC Issue 135, the Agobo is designed exclusively for the Raspberry Pi Model A+ and as a result is compact and lightweight. It’s also great fun, and a kit I’d heartily recommend to anyone wanting a simple and straightforward Pi-powered robot kit.

All this, plus plenty of projects, reviews and features written by people other than myself, is available to download for free as a DRM-free and Creative Commons-licensed PDF from the official website.

Micro Mart, Issue 1198

Micro Mart Issue 1198 CoverThis week’s issue of Micro Mart features another cover piece of mine: The Printer Ink Wars. Yes, that’s what I called it. Oh, wait, it gets better.

In offices and homes around the world, a war is being fought. There are no explosions, and you won’t hear gunfire, but it’s a pitched battle for control of one of the most precious liquids known to man. The fight isn’t over oil or water but something even more valuable. It’s a conflict for control of the printer ink market.

I know, right? The piece takes an in-depth look at the ink and toner industry, both from the perspective of a printer manufacturer and from that of a compatible cartridge maker. To make sure the piece is as detailed and fair as possible, I sought comment from both sides of the fence. Interestingly, while numerous compatible cartridge makers were interested in talking to me – including the European Toner and Ink Remanufacturers’ Association (ETIRA,) the UK Cartridge Recyclers Association (UKCRA,) Amor Office Supplies, Green Cartridges and Cartridge World – the only printer maker that would talk to me on the subject was HP.

Thankfully, HP’s ink man, Mark Hurren, proved more than capable of fighting his corner. “I wish it had never been called ink,” he told me. “That makes it compared to everyday writing implements, which is unfair because it’s a much more technological product than that.”

The piece covers the growth of refills, the flood of dirt-cheap and intellectual property-infringing clone cartridges from Asia, and the patent issues surrounding recycled cartridges. It also contains some fairly inflammatory comment from Vincent van Dijk, general secretary of ETIRA – including the accusation that not all is as it seems with printer makers’ so-called ‘recycling’ programmes.

Micro Mart Issue 1198 will be on sale until the end of Wednesday next week, so if you want to find out more I suggest you take a trip to the newsagents sharpish.

Micro Mart, Issue 1195

Micro Mart, Issue 1195My first piece for Dennis Publishing’s weekly IT mag Micro Mart, and it’s a cover feature. Not that I’m boasting or anything. Okay, perhaps I’m boasting a bit.

As you can probably see from the cover it’s a look at AMD’s disappointing launch of its consumer-grade Bulldozer-core processors, the AMD FX Series. Completed to the tightest possible schedule – I received an email requesting a 3,500-word feature on Thursday, with a deadline of the following Monday – it forms an overview of the history of Bulldozer, its launch in the server market, its consumer launch and the complaints that have been raised over its performance.

It also includes comment from an AMD engineer in the company’s Austin facility on what is being done to address the architecture’s problems – not an easy thing to get on such short notice, and massive thanks to AMD’s André Heidekrueger and Bite PR’s Sami Makinen for organising that so quickly.

It’s a nice piece, if I do say so myself, and hopefully won’t be the last to grace Micro Mart’s cover. Fingers crossed for longer deadlines next time, though…