Author Archives: Atif Mumtaz

Intel Edison bites the dust – No more in IoT space

Has Intel finally thrown in the towel in the IoT space? Earlier this year, Intel announced that it will discontinue their IoT platforms namely, Galileo, Joule, and Edison. We wrote about Edison when it came out with the promise of really taking on the IoT space head on. However, it failed to create the momentum that was needed to take off. Alas, it never happened and Intel Edison bites the dust.

Raspberry Pi IoT devices have been imitated by others and numerous clones exist in the market. But many of these imitators do not seem to last long. Like Intel, they bite the dust when they lose momentum. We recently covered CHIP computer, which too is suffering from inability to build and ship their US$10 computer on a board to customers. Many such stories abound.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

C.H.I.P. and Pi Zero W – US$10 dollar Computers

We love the little C.H.I.P. Single-board computer. And it boasts some really powerful specs for only US$9. Yes, only US$9. While Raspberry Pi is not far behind in competition with their own Pi Zero W, but we still love the little C.H.I.P. Both CHIP and Pi Zero are available for US$10 with eerily similar specs.

These somewhat really minuscule computers are even more powerful than the original Raspberry Pi that came out five years ago.

CHIP and Pi Zero W offer an opportunity for hobbyists to build even cooler gadgets with really cheap computers as compared to high end raspberry Pis. CHIP offers some wonderful products, including PocketCHIP, which is a fully portable computer in your pocket. It comes standard with battery, screen and a working keyboard for around US$70. Perfect for hackers, gamers or hobbyist to carry something around.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

Three Raspberry Pi Powered Creative Learning Kits

Raspberry Pi is currently one of the hottest devices to build your own creative IoTs, computers and learning kits. But one of the biggest selling points of these kits is the price. Cheap, open source and easy-to-learn, creative kits make it great fun with kids and family alike.

The popularity of Raspberry Pi has made it possible for many other startups to use it as the basis for their commercial products. MyCroft, is one such creative device that we reviewed earlier that builds an Alexa like AI assistant on top of a Pi.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

Book Review – Fermat’s Enigma by Simon Singh

“I have discovered a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain.” Pierre de Fermat (1637 A.C.)

And so began the epic quest to solve a mathematical riddle. Famously referred to as Fermat’s Last Theorem. And in Simon Singh’s book, Fermat’s Enigma, we get to glimpse this exciting journey closely.

The somewhat innocuous statement by Fermat, kept the mathematicians around the globe hacking away at a possible solution. But none was forthcoming for the next 350 years. All attempts to solve were in futile.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

Keybase Communications Software– Open Source Alternative to Slack

Keybase is Slack like communications tool for teams. But unlike Slack, Keybase communications software is totally open source and there are no premium charges for advanced features. That is, for now at least.

Keybase boasts a lot of features for free that are premium on alternative commercial offerings. And it also supports public-key cryptography making all communications private and safe.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

Atari is back – with Ataribox Console

Yes, Atari is making a come back yet again. And this time through Ataribox console. For those of us who grew up playing Pac-Man and Space invaders on the classic 2600 console, this is a big announcement. Getting to relive those memories again on an eerily familiar looking console is just awesome. Some of the old classic games will be back with this new console along with dozens of new offerings.

The official website is really cryptic as no details can be ascertained from it. But blogs are humming with insider news and updates. Ataribox console is supposedly a mini computer powered by Linux Operating System.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

Popular Raspberry Pi Clones

IoT revolution and popularity had its roots in Raspberry Pi. This relatively inexpensive little computer on a board, had millions of tinkerers around the globe building thousands of interesting little gadgets. Almost all are open source. From a remote controlling a buggy to Baby Monitor to Music Box. You can follow some of the more promising ones online on Raspberry Pi website. This little device has inspired many raspberry pi clones.

Today, there are literally dozens of Raspberry Pi clones. Some even aptly named after a fruit like the original. So here we list some of the most promising ones out there with comparable price brackets that are easily procured online through major online shopping sites. They all run some form of Linux or Android. However, the most popular version of Linux is based on Debian distribution.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

Bakhshali Scroll is the Oldest use of Number Zero

The origin of zero is still a mystery. The Egyptians used it, and so did Babylonians. However, it was never as a numeral rather more like a place holder. Quite recently, a team of Scientists at University of Oxford Bodleian Libraries, carbon dated one of the famous ancient Bakhshali scroll. The dates come out to third and fourth century A.D. making it one of the oldest recorded use of the number zero.

The scroll has been with Bodleian library since 1902. However, it was excavated from field in 1881 in Bakhshali town (current day Pakistan). It has always been recognized as one of the oldest mathematical text with use of zero several times. But it’s exact date  had remained a mystery since its excavation.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

Popular Self Driving Cars – Open Source Projects

The number of open source “self driving cars” projects are growing and all are commendable efforts but also highly ambitious. Over time, the hope is that they will mature enough for us to use them effectively on our roads without risking lives.

As of today, the majority of the commercial projects rely on simulating driving conditions of the North American market. Most importantly, California, where laws are favorable for self driving cars. However, there is a huge potential for such vehicles in Asia and Africa with completely different and at times impossible driving conditions. Those markets may not be ideal for Tesla and Google cars, but open source enthusiast can tinker around and customize it for local conditions.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

E-rozgaar – Preparing Youth for Gig Economy

Innovative ideas create amazing results. Punjab IT Board’s bold initiative of investing into the future of youth through skill enhancement has brought wonders. A total of 100 students graduated in the first batch this week from Chief Minister’s e-rozgaar programme. Off those a little over 50% were females.

Saad Hamid and I were invited for a “Fireside Chat” during their graduation ceremony. The focus of our chat was “How to Monetize using Open Source”. We not only discussed open source but also shared insights on how to transition from freelancers into becoming successful entrepreneurs. The questions probed by students were really thoughtful and the session was thoroughly enjoyable. I am also part of the steering committee of the programme and therefore I do get a chance to get more deeply involved.

Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.