Episode 3: The Middle is a Pumpkin
The Middle is a Pumpkin
Welcome to The Bootloader, a bi-weekly podcast bringing you news, project updates, and product talk
from the tech and maker scenes. Paul and Tod will bring you three interesting things and chat about them for a few minutes each.
Full transcript available here.
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- What made Arduino possible in early 2000s: Atmel ATmega168P for $4 and avr-gcc open source compiler
- For $4 you got so much! 16 kB flash! 2 kB RAM! RISC architecture! Minimal required external parts!
- Now, WCH, the makers of the CH340 USB-to-serial chip that you’ve maybe seen on some dev boards, has a new chip
- Fellow hacker Akiba on Twitter alerted me to this, quoting a tweet from Patrick Yang at WCH
- New WCH CH32V003 RISC-V chip
- Arduino-class, only $0.10 (48MHz, 2kB RAM, 16KB flash, 18 IO, 8 ADC)
- RISC-V is an open-source CPU core that’s scalable from desktop-class chips to cheap embedded processors
- Similar to ARM cores in our iPhones and Raspberry Pi Picos
- But no license fee needs to be paid!
- Potential problems tho:
- bigger brother CH32V307 needs custom OpenOCD programmer RISCV-OpenOCD-WCH
- and only IDE supported is their MounRiver
- akiba’s tweet that alerted me
- CH32V307: slightly better version w/ USB
- Micropython for CH32V3
- Rust for CH32V3
Jetbrains, the makers of code editors and IDEs powered by IntelliJ, have released a new code editor called Fleet
- Focus on Speed - “fast and lightweight” is how they describe it
- Code editor and / OR IDE
- Smart Mode enables IDE features, including code completion, quick fixes and more
- Built-in collaboration tools - 1 button click to start a session and it auto copies the share link for you
- You can connect using SSH for example, and it creates an instance of Fleet on the remote computer you connect to
- Or easily connect to a Docker container of Jetbrains’ Space service
I’ve been using it and I like it
- It does feel snappy, not sure if it’s in my head or not
- As a hobbyist programmer, I probably only use a small percentage of the features found in an IDE, which is one reason why I like this
- I used PyCharrm for 4 or 5 years until switching to VS Code for a year, and then switched back to PyCharm earlier this year.
Let’s call this what it is: This is Jetbrains answer to VS Code.
- Where VS Code has a number icons on the side, Fleet has a few along the top
- And good for Jetbrains! Competition is good, it will drive innovation. If you’re an Atom user looking for a new editor or like to try new things, give it a try, I like using it.
GitHub sunsets Atom
- Useful Sensors is a new company by Pete Warden, who helped develop Google’s open source TensorFlow machine learning platform
- Pete is a founder of the “TinyML” movement: putting machine learning on devices you control, instead of in some cloud service
- The Person Sensor detects faces, basic facial recognition, can determine “looking at”, for $10!
- Can remember up to 8 people. But just gives them an ID 0-7, nothing is known about them, just “different”
- You get x,y position of face, with confidence percentage, and “is facing” flag!
- Uses I2C via Qwiic/StemmaQT I2C connector, so easy!
- API is simple, example code in Arduino, RP2040 C, Python
- The demo Pete published on Hackster.io uses an Adafruit Trinkey running CircuitPython to lock his computer when looks away
- I’m getting a couple of these boards to try out, should be here in a few days
- Hackster.io project article w/ Trinkey & CircuitPython
- EETimes article about Useful Sensors & Pete Warden
- Available now at SparkFun
- Developer Guide
- CircuitPython example
- GitHub Copilot potential lawsuit
- GitHub Copilot - Your AI pair programmer
- Matthew Butterick, a writer, designer, programmer and lawyer has started an investigation into a potential lawsuit regarding GitHub Copilot
- Shares examples of problems in both the training of model and Copilot usage
- Mr. Butterick states that the objection isn’t AI assisted coding, it’s how Microsoft went about it.
- When we look at Copilot usage, what could the impact on open source communities be?
- Mr. Butterick argues that Microsoft is creating a new walled garden that might “inhibit developers from discovering traditional open source communities.”
- Developers may not need to interact with an open source community in the future when the code they want is just presented to them
- Bug and issue trackers, source repositories, mailing lists, etc.
- Jamie Zawinski, aka jwz, a co-founder of Netscape and Mozilla
CircuitPython’s ulab (Tod #3) 19:18
- ulab: Numpy for CircuitPython
- In Python, any time you do a for-loop to do math a list of data, you’re probably doing it wrong
- For some operations, the Python built-ins “map()”, “filter()”, and “reduce()” can do the work for you
- But for really mathy stuff, you need something else. Enter NumPy
- If you’re experienced with Python, you’ve probably played with NumPy
- Edit images, audio, machine learning, all use NumPy
- It’s a wrapper around efficient native C code
- In general think of Python more like Lego:
- you connect pre-built pieces to solve your problem
- you can try to build everytihng from 1x1s but it’s a bad idea
- CircuitPython can’t have the full power of NumPy (which does linear equation solving, curve-fit analysis, etc)
- But it does have “ulab”!
- ulab does some of the most important array and matrix operations at near-C speeds
- For example: LED animations. a common task is “fade all LEDs a bit”
- Cylon effect: Turn LED on, Fade all LEDs toward black, go to next LED, repeat
- Firework effect: Turn random LED on, fade all LEDs towards black, repeat
- Fakey fire effect: [[ demo this on video ]]
- Normally this “fadeToBlack()” would be a for-loop
- In normal CircuitPython, this loop on 256 LEDs takes over 40 millisecs!
- The same operation with ulab takes around 4 milliseconds: 10 times faster!
- Tod’s writeup about this
- Simple Fire effect w/ CircuitPython & Neopixel matrix
- Paul’s 32x8 Neopixel matrix using FFT and ulab
MakerDeck (Paul #3) 23:57
- MakerDeck Twitch
- Twitch livestreams 7-9 3D printers all printing at the same time
- Can be anything maker related, such as crocheting or painting
- Chris Pirillo on Twitch
- Live on Twitch everyday at 6pm PST
- Huge Star Wars fan!
- Crew helping including @pezliz, zombiehedgehog, and @fixumdude
- Everything you want to know is on their Twitch page, from What is MakerDeck to how to participate and helpful hints
- Wonderful and very active Discord community
- Every channel you can think of from chatting in the Cantina to models to make to showing them off or even tech support if you need help
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