A Cornucopia of Things

I would write down pages about all of the subjects I would like to study or continue working on but that paragraph would never end.  That is why, invariably when I try to enumerate my current projects I fail.  The list keeps expanding.

The same thing happens when I start working – hoping to complete one of my various books.  Before long I have an expanse of details that has become unmanageable.  Then I sometimes ask if there is a better way!

Organizing my thoughts and materials helps but is not all there is to it.  Having a focus and being clear about what I want to write or accomplish really does help.  That said something always comes up that doesn’t quite fit.  I call these things ‘fuzzy’ and these days, rather than ‘calling them out’ incorporate them into my Taxonomy of Things.  If it quacks like a duck but swims like a fish it is still catalogued as a duck, for all you object-oriented Ruby on Rails enthusiasts out there!

Problems are solved so that we can solve other problems.  Some of my interests, such as how to build better websites aren’t really that important to others.  Everyone in the field has their own solution!

Lately however I am finding the burgeoning problem of cataloging the Internet of Things to be of value and of worth to others.  There are so many gadgets and devices.  Once again I wonder if this cornucopia of electro-mechanical things, seemingly spilled onto every page of the Internet and prnt media today, has any end?


Not Another Computer!!

It’s time once again for another Blog Post! This time I will be writing about how the process of building a small computer has changed.  That is to say, although I have been having fun (and it has been a long time since I could say that my ‘job’ was fun) putting together the pieces of a UDOO x86 basic board.

So far this experiment has mostly led me back to the ‘Shopping Cart’ for more parts.  This is not the idea one thinks of when one sets out to start an economically viable business.  In addition to UDOO Basic I have now ordered a 5″ LCD display and still need a solid-state MMD2 drive.  Wow!  So much for a ‘small’ device run on an x86 board like the Galileo!!

At least this is not just about me!  When we, as individuals or companies “miss the mark” as Intel did (in my humble opinion – IMHO – now tell me, is that humble?) by releasing an Arduino-compatible x86 board that had too slow a Front-Side Bus what do we do?  Try again!

This time however, older and wiser; I might just ask if I am starting to build the next Personal Computer and not the ‘Pod I was looking for in the first place.

Meet ROI: Return On Investment

Near the “turn of the New Year” I am looking over the developments that I have accomplished in 2017 in order to find profitability and profit for my small business.  One speaks about Return on Investment or “ROI” a lot in Information Technology but the Business Strategy used to obtain that dollar reward is less discussed.  But the moment you purchase a new technologic device, be it a mobile phone or a toaster you should be thinking about how you are going to earn your dollars back and more!

I wrote about and worked on x86 opcode embedded computers a lot during the year.  But looking on YouTube and in the Jameco catalog I see that the Zilog Z80 and even the Motorola line-up of chipsets is a lot more popular in today’s Retro Computing Market.

I once even built a small board computer using the Zilog Z80A.

But “back in a different day” we all spoke about the IBM PC and how Microsoft took over from IBM, and the heyday of the Personal Computer began.  This was our lore and if as technical professionals we had some of the facts wrong we still had enough background information to get started out here in the small computer economy.

You would have to be an English Literature major to compare the different stories, a.k.a, Product Histories, that are used to describe where we in today’s Internet of Things (IoT) space.

In fact, I am.  Drum Roll Please!

We must evaluate why we have made the strategic business and technology decisions that we, as a culture have made.

But is this the best way to think about this material?

Should we instead determine our choice of Central Processing Unit (CPU) – an term that at once encompasses today’s Microprocessors (MPU)  and MicroControllers (MCU) and GPUs and APUs by an actual metric rather than a User Acceptance cum. Business Success Story?

— Evan Jan Williams, MCP, MCSD, VCP, ZCE


A Plan for LocalPOD

Here is my plan for earning income from LocalPOD without spending a penny more on development.

If you had attended Philadelphia’s Emerging Technology Conference in April of 2017 as I did you would have heard about how important Virtual Reality is today.

Basically in the last few months as I perfected my design of my first hotspot with a touchscreen: aptly named LocalPOD, I ordered a lot of 3D printed cases.  These didn’t always fit and had to be thrown away.  That was a lot of money to throw away!!

Now I am planning to build a site, right here, that lets someone choose their board and print a case.  Wow it’s so easy!

The site will have to use VR so we can see right away if the case will fit.

Because! The biggest thing that the Small Board Market is lacking right now is the case!!!!

A New Model for Web Development

Hi!  I’m still here working on LocalPOD but you would not believe how many great Hotspots POD and Gateways are out there already!  Here is the AdLink Tech MXE-100i http://www.adlinktech.com/PD/web/PD_detail.php?cKind=&pid=1563# for example!  Well that looks just great!  But no one seems to offer a Hotspot with a reprogrammable LCD display! I wonder why??

I have had good news on the Intel side of the house however, sort of!  The Intel Curie module based on one of the newer revisions of the Intel Quark series 32-bit micro(processor, controller)-units can run Linux.  See https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/291192/can-the-intel-curie-modules-be-programmed-in-assembly-using-the-quark-toolchain That is fantastic news for me and when my Radeon board comes in from Gumstix I will be getting Linux going on it if I can!


You may ask how such a little board as that is going to compete with anyone!! Well just wait! At least it is low-powered.

The only thing that bothers me now about Intel’s modified Quark is that it really only runs a modified version of Linux.  Linux is Open Source but an Intel subsidiary, WindRiver maintains this branch of the Yocto Open Standards build.   The Intel Curie does not have an x87 coprocessor onboard requiring a top system engineer on call to set up Linux.  What happened to open standards?  You can read more about Wind River’s offerings here.  https://www.windriver.com/news/press/pr.html?ID=13925

That may be alright with you but there are different versions of the word ‘free.’  The standard General Copy-Left states that I may have access to any open source code that I need to profit from my work.  Yes, let’s go all the way back to 1980 and refer to Eric Raymond The Cathedral and The Bazaar.  Perhaps Intel and Wind River have adopted RedHat’s version of Open Source which is to release their developments back into the community having profited from their own work: if so, that’s alright with me too!

But now you are wondering why I called this post A Different Take on Web Development??  While I am trying to benefit personally from my own development, LocalPOD, using any preferable, and preferably Intel, chipset that is out there, I might still need to earn a dollar from web development!!


Back to System on a Board

LocalPOD is off to a great start.  The Kickstarter campaign did not complete but it had two supporters.  Plus all of the people who provided advice really should be counted too!  But that’s business stuff; back to technology!

I have been able to clarify what LocalPOD is: an “all-in-one portable data networking hub.”  One might have a bluetooth camera or speaker that just doesn’t connect to a computer.  Or one might want to use a hotspot on a new computer.  One might want to use a wired USB keyboard on one’s cellphone. There are a variety of other connectivity combinations where LocalPOD may help.

So the prototyping phase of LocalPOD is really over.   That’s good because Intel Corporation just discontinued or rather modified my system of choice, Intel Quark X1000 x86-based System on a Chip.  Now the Intel Quark just supports the Intel Curie system.  This is a scaled back version of Intel’s original offerings in 2013 that allowed one to run i586 x86 Linux on a 32 bit system with all the fixings.  Intel Galileo, Intel Edison and Intel Joule were all included in this list.  Do I need a Trademark Symbol here?!

That may be a good thing.   One the prototype is done, scaling back to an MPU might work.  MPU stands for MicroProcessing Unit.  The original Quark was truly a CPU: Central Processing Unit.  I learned that the presence of the x87 Mathematical CoProcessor on the Quark CPU is what allows Linux to run: I have no idea why?

Scaling back is not really what I want to do, but hardening the design and using an MPU could be alright.  So I am wondering if I might move on from the Software on a Chip (SoC) that we have seen represented by systems like the Intel Curie, Arduino and ARM and just go back to the old System on a Board: that is, computer board that I used to build.  Back to the future!

Isn’t it funny that all of these new Single Board Computers use System on a Chip processors?  Why not use a little more board?

Thanks for the Feedback

We are one week into our Kickstarter Launch here at LocalPOD central and so far we are doing great!  Thanks for the comments, they really help.  We are going to make a better video.

Also so many people said to me, “That is great, but what does it do?” That I finally gave up and wrote a formal document.  Here it is:


We have one donor on Kickstarter so far!

You see, one does more than set a goal for a project like this; then carry it out.  One does not succeed in that way.  It is more like one has a dream and “throws one’s heart over the bar.”  Thanks to Reverend Norman Vincent Peale for that one!  I thought he was talking about gymnastics.

It has been hard for me to convince people that they need LocalPOD.  Not LocalPOD as it currently stands but LocalPOD as it is intended to be at the delivery date of the Kickstarter in September 2017.  For I have done so much work to bring this project to this stage over the last five years.  Knowing that I needed a small computer to make the ‘Pod a success I tried out so many devices: Arduino, programmable without a bootloader, BeagleBoard, an ARM3 Tiger board, TI DSP and MSP430.  The only thing I didn’t try was Raspberry Pi!  I think that the Galileo board is great!

Please keep your comments coming.  And please support LocalPOD on Kickstarter!  Remember you are not buying hard-baked hardware.  A lot of software development has gone into the ‘POD by myself and the free Open Source community as well!