Thursday, 1 March 2012

Windows pi and a new pad

Lots of interesting things on the horizon, ranging from new versions of old 'friends' to a bit of deja vu all over again.

Both Apple and Microsoft have announced new versions of their operating systems. Apple have found a new beast in Mountain Lion, otherwise known as iOS X Mountain Lion ... inspired by the iPad, they say. The shift away from a friendly front end to a heavy-lifting Unix-type OS (as some see it) towards ultimate user-friendlyness continues and is generating some controversy. (MacinTouch, as always, is a good place to check such things out). Are Apple moving away from the professional market with a consumer-oriented OS? Given where they make their money these days it wouldn't be that surprising, but the flak against the current OS, Lion, is enough to give me pause. Have your designers taken the plunge? What is your experience?

You might have thought that Microsoft would have provided a haven of professionalism (as IT support might put it), but perhaps they have also been bitten by the tablet bug. Windows 8 is available to preview, and it also slides and swipes its way around the screen.

What The Register lovingly calls the fondleslab may be due for some updates soon as well. The image on an invitation to an Apple event next week has us anticipating an iPad3 and possibly an announcement of a smaller version of the iPad. Several of our clients have incorporated the iPad into their workflow, with one making good use of it as an inventory tool when roaming their giant 'zoo' of test equipment.

But for me, the delight of the week is the Raspberry Pi, which looks set to bring the 1980s fun of computing back to a classroom near you. Shades of the BBC Micro for those of us old enough to remember it (and I was quite adept at programming it in machine code!) it even has a Model A and a Model B and uses an ARM processor that is a direct descendant of the Beeb micro. At £22 it went on sale yesterday morning and sold out in nanoseconds. More on the way.

I'm excited by the Pi's possibilities as an educational tool but it should also have application as an embedded processor and general gizmo. I can't wait to see what people do with it. As Yogi Berra also said: "You can observe a lot by watching".

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