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Design, build, hack....zap and repeat!

Dead End PC?

Posted on Jan 11, 2014 | Comments Off on Dead End PC?

I finally ran into one. Ok, so it is a 9-year old Dell Dimension XPS Gen 4, but I’ve upgraded her over the years…XP to Vista to Win7 to Win8. And then I wanted to take her just one more step…Win8.1. And no! Sorry, you can’t install the update because it’s not supported by your computer’s CPU. I guess somewhere around the beginning of 2004, Intel added all this stuff to their chip: Physical Address Extension (PAE) mode, No-eXecute (NX), CMPXCHG16b support and Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 (SSE2). And the BIOS needs Data Execution Prevention (DEP), which apparently was not a stringent requirement for 64-bit Windows 8. Hard to believe a service pack would change hardware requirements for an operating system. Another strange thing is that the 32-bit version does not have the same hardware requirements, so I can...

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What’s a Gadgeteer?

Posted on Sep 6, 2013 | Comments Off on What’s a Gadgeteer?

After the Arduino came out and before the Raspberry Pi, there was a subdued hacking platform created by Microsoft called the Gadgeteer. Yes, Microsoft is, deep down, a hacking kind of company. After all, that is the way it started in the software business. And from the beginning it has always had its hands in some sort of hardware, although better known for its operating system and software. Even though there are several platforms better known to the hacking and maker communities, the Gadgeteer is rather innovative. Projects with the Gadgeteer consist of a mainboard and modules connected via a standard 10 pin connector. And although the software language is on the  Microsoft.NET Micro Framework,  it is publicly licensed under the Apache License and the hardware designs are under the Creative Commons License.  Hardware modules are available from several vendors. There...

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