Getting your Raspberry Pi 2 up and running

WP_20150226_14_57_56_ProMy Raspberry PI 2 arrived today. Once again, it came in a really small package and just drives home the fact that these things are so small and, yet, so powerful.  And inexpensive. Forty plus dollars, including shipping.  This Pi is a quad core, 1 gb of RAM and nearly a gigahertz in speed.  It is six times faster than the original Pi and, yet, cost the same.  Remarkable.

Upon unboxing the unit, I created the NOOBS SD card and…had nothing but trouble from the start.  An interesting thing to note is that the SD cards you created for your original PI WILL NOT WORK with the Pi2.  Those had to be formatted using exFAT while this one uses FAT32. WP_20150226_20_24_49_ProThe instructions on the PI website are wrong.  Use a FAT32 formatted card.  I gave up on NOOBS and downloaded the Raspbian image and used Win32DiskImager to drop the image on the SD card. Doing so allowed the PI 2 to boot right up.  It is much faster booting than the original.

The included software, Python, Scratch, Wolfram Alpha, Python Games, Mindcraft and the Raspbian applets all start right up and work just fine.  I have yet to do much with it, it took a while to get it going and family time took precedence so I’ve had little time to WP_20150226_20_54_33_Proplay.  That is coming.

Just wanted to get my experience out there so others may have an easier time getting going.  Below are the summary steps I took.

  1. Format your SD card (Micro SD) using a FAT32 formatter
  2. Download the RASPBIAN Linux image from here.
  3. Use WinDiskImager32 to install the image on your SD Card.
  4. Insert the card in your PI 2 and boot it up.

That’s it.

Here are some more detailed instructions, but the four steps above will do the same thing.

Let us know how your experience went and stay tuned for more on the Pi 2.

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Why, Apple, why? An iPad ordeal

Way back in April of 2010, about three weeks after it became available, I eagerly purchased an Apple iPad. Man, was this the device of my dreams, or what? Indeed, I had wanted a tablet for a decade, ever since I saw a really poor Fujitsu tablet with Windows 95 and ‘Pen Windows’ extensions. Even earlier, I once had an Epson ‘notebook’ which was similar to the TRS-80 Mod 100.

So, now I had this dream device.  I bought EVERY accessory for it that Apple came out with in those first few months. The keyboard dock. The video out cable. The Camera Kit. The case. Extra cables. I was so excited. I showed it to everyone I saw. After using it and downloading some useful apps, I thought this thing could replace my laptop.

After the death of my wife, I took my son on a rollercoaster tour of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. We hit up Six Flags America, Trimpers in Ocean City, Maryland, Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens in Virginia and Carowinds in Charlotte, NC. I had several digital cameras with me and took a lot of photos and video. At the end of each day, I would-using the Camera Kit, which was just an SD card adaptor and a USB adaptor-upload photos from the cameras to the iPad and then correctt them, catalog them and upload a few to Facebook or Picasa. For the next few years, I did this. I used the iPad as a laptop replacement.

Over time, though, it was less and less useful. As Apple brought out new models, my old iPad really began to show its age. I used it less and less and the laptop, which had showed its prowess many times, saw more and more use. My Kindle Fire picked up a lot of what I used the iPad. My Asus Windows 8 tablet sealed the iPads fate: it got relegated to kid duty.

A few days ago, I picked it up and began to peruse the photos. I realized that there were many that I did not have anywhere else. Hmmm…now I have to get them off.  Easy.

NOPE.  Apple made it nearly impossible to get your media OFF of the iPad. As the latest iOS this thing supports is iOS 5.1, I had few avenues.  iTunes was out as the computer I originally synced it with is long gone and iTunes will not allow multiple computer sync. Really.  How inconvenient is that? Windows file explorer could only ‘see’ the ‘saved photos’ and NOT all of them.  What to do?

Well, there are several applications that will bypass the one computer limit and allow true syncing. However, these applications are not free and I did not want to spend money on this as it is a one shot deal. 

To get photos into the Saved Photos folder, you must select them, one at a time and copy them over.  A real pain.  So, I figured I would have to go through this rather laborious ordeal. That is, until I remembered Goodreader.  GoodReader will allow you to import photo folders and then zip them up. It also contains a WEB SERVER. A Ha!

I had a plan.  I created a couple of folders in GoodReader. Imported the folders from Photos. Selected All. Zipped them up.  Fired up the web server. Connect from Internet Explorer and download each zip file. It took about an hour, but I got the photos I wanted.

Now, I ask you, why did Apple make this seemingly simple task an almost impossible on?

Windows 8.1 upgrade process a mixed bag (for halfbyte)

win81startMicrosoft began pushing out Windows 8.1 today.  So, naturally,  I had to upgrade two of my Windows 8 machines (the third has a failed HDD.) On my development desktop, I started the install before having to leave for several hours. I *THOUGHT* it was just going to download and I’d have to do something when I got back.  No, it downloaded AND installed. I was gone about two and a half hours and, when I got back, it had just finished the primary upgrade and was in the process of downloading the Windows Store Apps. Note: my desktop apps were still there. The upgrade went well and the machine is working just fine. If FEELS snappier that it has, but it could be my imagination, not sure.

Upgrading the Asus VivoTab Smart, however, was not as easy.  My first three attempts all met a quick and painless death. The install would start the download, hang for a minute and then tell me it could not install.  After scratching my head for a moment, I remembered that the primary ‘drive’ only had about 4.5GB free. SO, I MOVED a bunch of stuff-8GB worth-off to the SD card. This included PICTURES and some video that I had not yet saved anywhere else (BACKUP, people! sigh.) Once I had enough space cleared, the download process appeared to work. After about 15 minutes or so, the little “installing update” message disappeared.  Nothing appeared to be happening, so I tried again. I was met with a quicker failure message, so I thought “well, maybe it is doing something.”  After another ten or so minutes, I finally got a screen wide message telling me that I would lose all of my files.  I knew this and tapped the OK button. Little did I know how true this would be.

Again, for quite a while, over a half hour, the tablet appeared to do nothing. Then another screen wide message instructs me that the machine has to reboot. I sighed and tapped OK.  Another ten or so minutes pass and I’m greeted with the EULA page. I tap ‘I Agree’ and go on.  Looking around, things appeared OK, until I tried to access the SD card. I was greeted with the nice little message telling the card was corrupt. I restart the tablet and try again. Same message. I put the card in another computer and, same thing. After several desparate and futile attempts to read it, I finally clicked the FORMAT button and formatted the card. 

I’ve lost I don’t know what. Fortunately, many, if not most, of the pictures were copied to one of my other computers, SkyDrive and/or Facebook. 

Once the tablet had completed all of the post install stuff, it is working fine. I got my battery indicator back (it disappeared in the preview release) and the tablet is running significantly faster. I do have some desktop apps to install, but I think I will leave most of the crap I had installed off of the device.

Overall, I am pleased with the upgrade (NOT about losing my data, though) and the performance increase is decent on the tablet. I’m not going into the details of whats new or changed here, that may be another post. Instead, you can head over to the VERGE and check them out.

Just remember, BEFORE you do the upgrade, BACKUP YOUR DATA. I thought I was good to go, but…alas, I was not. Don’t make my mistake!