Hardware hacker Bunnie Huang and software hacker Xobs have begun crowdfunding the Novena Open Hardware Laptop/Desktop computer. All software source is available. All hardware is open and documented. It is, to my knowledge, the first completely open device built since the early days of garage computing.
The look of the computers are, to put it kindly, pragmatic. Function permeates every aspect of the computer. The hardware is a “dream setup” so to speak. It has the most powerful and open specs money can buy. You can get just the motherboard for $500 (this would be my choice), an All-in-One for $1,195, an open keyboardless laptop for $1,995, or the Heirloom laptop fully built for $5,000. As you might imagine, this isn’t for regular users. It’s for developers, hackers, and hobbyists who want/need an open build environment.
I’ve been following this project since Bunnie first posted about it a while back, thinking one day I may have the necessity/audacity to acquire one when it comes out. Well, the time has come and I have a perfectly good Thinkpad x230 and no justification for buying it beyond total geek glut.
I won’t list the full specs here, but please to go check it out: https://www.crowdsupply.com/kosagi/novena-open-laptop
Over at mylinuxrig.com Steven Ovadia interviewed me about my setup. SPOILER: It isn’t anything special in terms of l337ness, but I do use GNU/Linux fulltime for research, fun, and everything else. Check it out: http://www.mylinuxrig.com/post/81400392540/the-linux-setup-michael-c-pagnotti-student
Over at BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow has written about a wonderful Kickstarter project for ScratchJr, an 8 and under programming language and collaborative software that teaches coding and lets children program their own games and stories. ScratchJr is inspired by the Scratch programming language for 8 and up kids to learn to code, but is redesigned for younger learners.
From the ScratchJr Kickstarter page
Here is a rundown of who is involved:
ScratchJr is a collaboration between the DevTech research group at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University (led by Prof. Marina Umaschi Bers), the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at the MIT Media Lab (led by Prof. Mitchel Resnick), and the Playful Invention Company (led by Paula Bonta and Brian Silverman). The graphics and illustrations for ScratchJr are created by HvingtQuatre Company and Sarah Thomson. The initial development of ScratchJr has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Code-to-Learn Foundation, the LEGO Foundation, and British Telecommunications.
From the Kickstarter:
Coding is the new literacy. With ScratchJr, young children (ages 5-7) learn to program their own interactive stories and games.
Mitchel Resnick is the head of MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten. Here’s what he says:
“We just launched a Kickstarter campaign for ScratchJr, an introductory programming language that enables young children (ages 5-7) to create their own interactive stories and games. As young children code with ScratchJr, they learn how to create and express themselves with the computer, not just interact with it. In the process, children develop design and problem-solving skills, and they use math and language in a meaningful and motivating context, supporting the development of early-childhood numeracy and literacy. ScratchJr is a variation of our Scratch programming language, used by millions of people (ages 8 and up) around the world. In creating ScratchJr, we redesigned the interface and programming language to make them developmentally appropriate for younger children, carefully designing features to match young children’s cognitive, personal, social, and emotional development.”
The long standing tradition of Bruce Sterling’s closing statements at SXSW.
One of my very favorite scifi authors, Bruce Sterling, has done an interview with a blog I frequent called The Setup. The blog primarily profiles what important tech-minded people use to get stuff done. By golly, Mr. Sterling’s interview is as brief, irreverent, and profound as one would expect from him.
This amazing video could have easily been a CGI short horror movie, but it isn't. Space Replay is the brainchild of Royal College of Art student Francesco Tacchini, with Julinka Ebhardt and Will Yates-Johnson
One of my very favorite stories just popped up on r/books. I grew up reading Isaac Asimov’s books.
My dad had a giant homemade cobbled-together bookshelf that spann the entire wall from ceiling to floor with computer manuals and magazines, mystery novels, non-fiction science books, and loads of scifi.
Carl Sagan, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, so many others, and just about every Isaac Asimov novel ever. It was a humongous nerd library, and I, a young shut-in. I read so, so many books too early. I didn’t understand most of what I was reading.
In my late teens, I re-read many of the books I had read in my tweens. One story stuck out and struck me beyond all others.
“The Last Question,” by Isaac Asimov is incredibly profound. I recommend it. That’s what I’m doing here, I guess. So, take a few minutes and read this. Warning: profundity ahead
Once again, thanks to Reddit for reminding me!
It’s been a rather busy time recently. Opportunities abound! I’m part of a couple of new blogging ventures (I choose not to promote them here for ethical reasons). I am continuing my book on DIY learning online after a short hiatus. Of course, I am still plugging away at UCF and learning new things. People say that college is just a way to escape from the real world and what not, but I will probably be in the college classroom in some capacity. It’s just a comfortable place for me.
I will have more information about other projects soon!
Taking time to be productive and taking time to be constructive: I love to be busy, but I’m finding more time to cultivate my creativity and my family life. It’s so important to fuel the drive, in addition to being driven. This has been a major goal for me. Fostering my enjoyment of life, as well as my success. It sounds like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how quickly you get caught up.
To that end, I’m going to do a few “check this out!” style posts regarding music, movies, and books I enjoy. Hopefully, you will too!
Twitter all day: @screenhugger