My UDOO Quad-Core has arrived!

I have just received my UDOO Quad-Core from the Kickstarter.  I imaged an 8GB Micro SD card and got it booted with ease.   I’ve only been playing with it for about 30 minutes so far but its speed is impressive.  The Raspberry Pi feels very, very pokey by comparison.




I have a better power supply arriving early next week.  At that point I can experiment with the SATA connector for faster storage :)


The iPad mini kicks ass

This past Christmas I received an iPad mini (32GB, Wi-Fi). As an owner of a full-sized iPad since the 1st model, I initially saw the mini as a novelty more than a true contender for the tablet role in my life. As it turns out, Apple’s claim about it being a concentration rather than a scaled back model is absolutely true. I had a 64GB 3rd gen (Retina) iPad with LTE at the time, too. It was a great tablet, extremely powerful with a crisp display and LTE connectivity, but it was painfully heavy at times and the battery took *forever* to charge, even with a 2.1 amp charger.

Upon receiving the mini, I quickly stopped using the Retina iPad entirely. After not touching it for nearly a month I cracked, sold it and purchased a 64GB LTE iPad Mini. I’m all-in now.

My favorite aspects?

  • Super thin and light. Pocketable.
  • Excellent battery life. I’ve seen nearly 12 hours at times.
  • Quick charging (only needs 1000mA of current to charge at full speed vs 2100 mA for a regular iPad)
  • Awesome performance. Though they say it has an A5 processor, it’s really an A5/A6 hybrid. This new A5 is produced on a 32 nanometer process, unlike the original A5 debuting in the iPad 2 (which used a 45 nm process). Components that are closer together operate more quickly. It also sports a GPU more similar to that found in the iPhone 5. The speed is very compelling.
  • LTE connectivity. I really like to have mobile internet, and in particular, the ability to tether is nice. I would use my phone but that is very battery intensive for such a small device. This is a great tablet and hot spot :)

Drawbacks? I do miss the Retina display, but the slightly improved DPI of the mini makes 1024×768 tolerable. Other than that, I find myself short of complaints. For me, this is truly rare.
PS: I wrote this post on my iPad mini with the Zagg mini 7 keyboard case :)

Review: OWC Mercury Aura Pro (rMBP SSD upgrade)

After having run around with a MacBook Air 13″ with a 256GB SSD for a while, I foolishly assumed that I would be fine with the same on my MacBook Pro Retina 15.  Not so.  256GB turned out to be quite cramped and I was relieved to learn that the SSD is not soldered to the board.  It is a “gum stick” SSD which is easily removed and replaced.

I got the OWC Mercury Aura Pro 480GB kit along with the “Envoy Pro” — an enclosure for one’s original Apple SSD once swapped (or even the Mercury drive it self, I suppose).  The kit contains everything you need, including a torx driver and the elusive pentalobe screw driver needed to remove the bottom case of the rMBP.

The switch was painless with Carbon Copy Cloner.  It took about 20 minutes to clone 180GB of data over USB 3.0 between the two SSDs.  I was surprised to learn that Carbon Copy Cloner now costs money — $39.99 at that!  In the future, I’ll use rsync, thanks.

I am now up and running on the new drive, have re-enabled FileVault and all is well.  I strongly recommend this upgrade if you did not get enough storage on your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro Retina.  The swap took less than 10 minutes, the performance is a bit better and the capacity improvement is fantastic.

One gotcha I would recommend that one adress is to un-FileVault your original SSD before swapping, if you use FileVault.  If you do not do this, when you put your original SSD into the enclosure you’ll find it totally inaccessible.

Robot on the move!

Still very much a work-in-progress, you can see my robot here after being detached from it’s controlling Arduino Mega following some on-carpet test maneuvers.



It’s difficult to see, but there is an Arduino Uno R3 under there, topped with a standard Motor Shield.  Sandwiched in the middle is a prototyping board which I am using to break-out the Serial UART and I2C pins.  The wires hanging off the back are soldered to those pins to give me super-easy access.

Further down the line, the AA-based battery pack will be removed and replaced with something better (ie: rechargable).  For now, it does okay for running tests.