Third Party Boards Won’t Compile in Arduino IDE after an Upgrade? Read on to see how to fix it

So, I finally upgraded my Arduino IDE software to 1.6.7 and, as a result, none of the ATTINY boards would compile…Neither the digispark or Adafruit trinket. All I got was the error:
Board digispark-tiny (platform avr, package digistump) is unknown.
for the Digispark.

After some research, I found a solution for Windows:

  • You need to remove all of the board definitions from Arduino.
  • Open Board Manager and REMOVE all non-Arduino boards you have installed
  • Close board manager
  • Goto Preferences and remove the board url’s there
  • Next, open Explorer in Windows and navigate to: C:\Users\youruserdirectory\AppData\Local\Arduino15\packages and remove the directories under packages
  • Restart Arduino and then add the boards back

This should take care of the problem. You can fix it in Linux by following the same directions. The Linux equivalent of the Windows User directory would be your user directory\Arduino15…

Putting Windows 10 on my Toshiba Encore Mini

WP_20150802_20_59_36_ProI finally received the ‘Reserve Windows 10’ icon on my Toshiba Encore Mini last week, which I promptly went and ‘reserved’ my copy.  A day after general availability, I checked the icon and the resulting app that opened told me my Mini was compatible and there were no issues.  Of course, it only has 16GB of storage, of which 289 MB was available, I was a bit dubious.  So, upon finding out that one could download the Media Creation Tool, create an ISO file and install from that.

So, I proceeded to clear off some space so I could download the file-I did not know how much space I would need.  I got just over a gigabyte free and downloaded the tool.  Of course, it did not work. I tried to specify the SD card, which was 32GB and clear.  No go.

Persuing the ‘net for an ISO, which I thought Microsoft had on its site, but no longer do, I found an article on Softpedia that details how to download the ESD file and create an ISO from that. This ESD file is a compressed file image, very much like an ISO. We want an ISO because it can be mounted like a hard drive.

After getting the ISO and putting on the SD card, I mounted it as a drive on the Toshiba and began the installation process.  Unfortunately, I cannot say how long it took because I went to bed.  Upon checking it the next day, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had installed and the only things left were the usual user setup and download of the applications and remaining drivers.

BUT…

You knew there was a but, right?

There was the issue of drive space, the primary drive was zero bytes free.  Damn.

WP_20150802_20_59_39_ProSo…I fire up Explorer and began to poke around.  I discover the Windows.OLD directory was there. SIX GIGS worth. Now, you cannot simply right click and delete. The Trusted Installer owns the Windows directory that is in .OLD and that’s where the space was used.  Since you do not have rights to this directory, you must give them to yourself.  You must have Administrator privileges. First thing to do is right click on the Windows directory (Make sure it is in the Windows.old directory) and select PROPERTIES. Click Security.  Click ADVANCED.  Click CHANGE OWNER. Click ADVANCED, then FIND NOW. Look for your user account name and select it. Click OK, OK. Click Apply. It should then make you the owner of the directory and sub directories.  It may take a few minutes. Once done, dismiss all of the dialog boxes. From Explorer, click DELETE in the ribbon or right click and delete.  IF that does not get all files and directories, you may have to repeat the process for those directories.  It took me about fourty five minutes to get them all.  For some reason, some sub directories and files also require you to take ownership even if you ‘own’ the others.

After all of this, I ended up with just over 4GB of space left, enough to install the OFFICE Mobile Suite, which is free for screens under 10.7 inches. I was also able to install a few games from the store and still had space free, around 3GB. 

I didn’t think I’d be able to upgrade this thing, in fact, Paul Thurrot claimed to have broken his out of frustration. 

The end result is a fairly responsive and, now, usable 7 inch tablet that is running Windows 10 pretty smoothly…in 1GB of RAM.  Oh, and Bluetooth appears to be working, something that was not happening with Windows 8.1.

Turns out that my piece of junk, cheapo tablet isn’t such a piece of junk after all.  And, Word works just fine. How about that?

Windows 10: One more recap

10-UpgradeWell, the waiting is nearly over.  The Windows 10 rollout has begun. Those who are ‘insiders’ will be getting the bits first, then a staggered roll out for everyone who ‘reserved’ their copy will begin to get the new OS.  Your computer, if you reserved, will let you know when the OS has been downloaded so you can then install it.

So, just what will you get? What new functionality is in there, you might ask.  Well, here’s a short wrap up.

Cortana

Cortana is a digital assistant for your computer.  Cortana will search the web and your computer to give you the information you need, find that file or start an application.  You interact with Cortana in many different ways including keyboard, speech, the EDGE browser and other ways.  Cortana will learn how you use your computer and become more efficient and give you answers accordingly. And, since you use more than your computer, say a tablet or smartphone, Cortana is there. Available on iOS, Android and Windows Mobile/Phone, Cortana is there when you need it.

EDGE Browser

Replacing Internet Explorer, EDGE gives you a better browsing experience.  Faster rendering, more accurate rendering and the fastest Javascript processor yet.  EDGE is more minimalist and, therefore, easier to use.

 

EDGE has a unique feature that lets the user markup the page. You can take notes and draw on the web page and then send it to Microsoft OneNote for later use and indexing.  This feature works best with a touchscreen device, but is also mouse and keyboard friendly.

Bundled Applications

3-MailThe bundled applications have been improved. The mail and calendar applications, especially, received welcomed changes that make them easy to use, nicer to look at and smoother operation.  Looking more like a consumer edition of Outlook, Mail and Calendar play nice with not only Exchange, but GMAIL and other third party mail and calendar services. This is not your Dad’s Outlook.7-Photos (1)

Photos application now includes support for importing photos from your phone, has the same editing features that were nice in the Windows 8 version of this application AND have more intuitive OneDrive integration.

Start

8-StartThe Start menu looks familiar to both fans of Windows 7 and Windows 8. It retains the live tiles of Windows 8, arguably the best feature of Windows 8 AND the Windows 7 menu.  If you like 7, you’ll love this, ditto for Windows 8 fans. The Start menu can go full screen for those who like the Start Page from 8/8.1 Or it can reduce to almost nothing if you despise it.  However, in the default configuration, I think everyone will like them. Live tiles present information (if coded) that often precludes the need to open the application all the time. 

For a more in depth look at the operating system, click here to download the Quick Guide from Microsoft.

Windows 10, coming July 29…what you need to know

edgenewtabWindows 10. Microsoft’s apology for Windows 8.  Currently in testing and ‘Insider Preview’ modes, the operating system from Redmond now has a date…and a price.  The date? July 29,2015. The price, err prices? $119 for Home and $199 for Pro for consumers who are purchasing the operating system for a system that does not have Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. If it has Windows 8, the user will need to update it to Windows 8.1 (a free upgrade) and THEN to Windows 10.  The $119 would be for people who:

  • built a computer
  • got a computer with no operating system
  • has a computer with Linux or Windows XP
  • An Intel Macintosh that does not have either Windows 8.1 or Windows 7
  • Wants to use it in a virtual machine

These same scenarios also work for PRO. 

You CAN upgrade your tablet or PC to Windows 10, in its first year of release, for free IF you are ALREADY running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 

Now that we cleared that up…

Here are some things you will LOSE IF you upgrade from Windows 7 and, in some cases, Windows 8.1:

  • Windows Media Center
  • Windows DVD Movie playback (third party applications are not affected, ONLY Microsoft applications, like Windows Media Player and XBox Video will lose the DVD playback. Gabe Aul of Microsoft says A Microsoft alternative ‘may’ arrive later.)
  • Windows 7 desktop gadgets
  • The ability to hold off updates for Windows Home users (pro and Enterprise will have full control)
  • The Windows LIve OneDrive application
  • Solitaire, Minesweeper and Hearts. These have been replaced by Windows Store versions. You will have to download them.

So, Which version will you get? Well if you have…

  • Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home or Home Premium, you get Windows 10 Home. If you have Windows 7 Ultimate or Pro, you get Windows 10 Pro.
  • Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 with Bing, you get Windows 10 Home. Windows 8.1 Pro and Pro for Students, get Windows 10 Pro.
  • Windows RT…sorry, you get a minor update to RT and that’s it.

How to get the upgrade…

Microsoft has an application that allows you to ‘reserve’ your copy of Windows 10.  You will do so via a dialog box that explains the benefits of the new OS and allows you to enter your email address.  Microsoft will send you an email when the OS becomes available (July 29) and will pre-download the install files for you.  How sweet of them, eh?

This is all great, but will my computer run the new OS?

Yes, if…

  • You are running or capable of running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1
  • A 1 gigahertz or faster processor
  • At least 1 gigabyte of RAM (2 gigabytes for Windows 10 64bit)
  • At least 16 GB HDD Space for 32 bit, 20 GB HDD Space for 64 bit
  • Direct X 9 or higher and WDDM 1.0 graphics driver and video card
  • Graphics card capable of 1024 by 600 minimum

In addition, your configuration and location will have an affect on features that get installed:

  • Cortana is only available in the US, UK, China, France, Italy, Germany and Spain at the time of this writing
  • Windows Hello requires special hardware
  • Continuum is for tablets
  • Audio and Video streaming via XBOX Music and Video applications are only available in certain regions
  • Speech recognition will vary by hardware quality
  • Application snapping is resolution dependent
  • A Microsoft account is required for some functionality
  • Secure boot requires UEFI 2.3.1
  • Bitlocker requires TPM 1.2, 2.0 or a USB flash drive
  • Hyper V requires a 64 bit system and an extra 2 GB of RAM
  • Miracast requires a display adapter which supports WDDM 1.3 and a Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi direct
  • and more. See Microsoft. com for a more complete list.

There you have it, important things to know about the forthcoming operating system.  I’ll show you some of the new features in upcoming posts.

Windows Phone 8.1: Worthy update

wp_ss_20140422_0002Windows Phone 8 was already a pretty decent mobile operating system, but the 8.1 update makes it more complete.  While no modern mobile OS is as good as webOS was, Windows Phone 8.1 comes awfully close and some nagging issues it had are gone.

After having used webOS for two years, I got really used to its nice way of managing running applications.  Bring up the card view, swipe left or right then swipe away the app you want closed. Easy. Apple ‘borrowed’ the notion for iOS 7 and made it work.  Microsoft, as is often their way, half assed it: they allowed you to swipe left and right to SEE the open apps, but you had to actually go back in the app and shut it down. Not hard, but not simple and not elegant. Well, they fixed it with a simple, if in-elegant way: hold down the back button, swipe left or right to the app and tap the big X in the circle. Effective, if ugly.

Fortunately, other things are much nicer.

Speed, for one.  The over experience seems a bit snappier, but it could also be that ‘new OS install’ factor. We will see, in a couple of months, if it persists.

The Start page is a bit more customizable. You can now have more tiles across the screen. The number will depend on size of the tiles and the screen. You can now use a custom background as well. Be careful here, some of the live tiles may become unreadable if the background contains the same color as the live tile text.

Storage Sense is a nice new feature that not only lets you know about much of your phone’s storage is being used, but it also allows for the installation of apps to an SD card-something that was not previously allowed.  You can also tell Windows Phone to store your downloads on the SD card as well.

Of course, the BIG new feature is Cortana. Cortana is the new personal assistant from Microsoft that is designed to act like Siri or the Google Android equivalent.  Cortana can not only answer questions, but can also do things like add a calendar entry, to do item, set up ‘quiet time’ in which it will answer email, texts, phone calls, etc. It stops the phone from making any noise and lets the calling entity know why.  I have not fully tested this, so I cannot verify it does what it claims, but, if it works as well as the rest of Cortana, then it should be fine. 

This is a worthy upgrade and one that really cleans and polishes some of Windows Phone’s dirtier corners.  It is not perfect, but none of the others are either (well, save for the aforementioned webOS. Have I mentioned how much I liked webOS?) and stills need a bit more refinement.  For example, while overall performance is better, it seems to stumble when reloading the Start page. Some times it comes right up, other times…not at all or very, very slowly.  To be fair, I am running the developer preview, which is supposed to be the shipping bit but without any carrier or phone optimization, which means there are no device specific drivers or other such things to make the overall experience optimal for the device. It also speaks volumes for the work that Microsoft has done: the developer preview will work on ANY Windows Phone 8 device. As is.  That says a lot right there.

** If you wish to take the plunge now and not wait for the official release, you can go here to get instructions on how to update your Windows Phone 8 device to 8.1. NOTE: it is a one way ticket, you cannot revert back to Windows Phone 8 and you WILL lose carrier support (not service) until the ‘official’ release is out. This means, if you upgrade to the dev release and then have a problem using your device, your carrier will not assist you.  Now, if you want to continue…click the link. (The link takes you to Paul Thurrot’s WinSupersite. The article is dated, but the instructions still work.

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!

Windows 8.1 Update, it will be here soon

win8startctober 18, 2013…that’s the day Microsoft releases Windows 8.1, it’s fantastic update to the belittled Windows 8 release of a year ago.  If you are still running plain WIndows 8, you really have nothing to do other than just install the update. It will take care of that for you. IF, however, you are like me and like living dangerously, you have installed the ‘PREVIEW’ edition of 8.1.  And, well, you will have a  problem going to the official release.  ALL of your currently installed DESKTOP applications will have to be re-installed.  Your Windows Store Apps, while needing to be redownloaded in some cases, should weather the storm a bit better. Some of those apps, like Calendar and Mail, will have to be redownloaded since they are receiving major updates as well. We did not see all of them or all of the changes to them in the preview. Mail gets the biggest change as it was just junk anyway. However, more inoccuous apps like Music will also be updated, but not as drastically as Mail.

Be sure you make a backup of your system prior to the upgrade.  At the very least, you should:

  • gather all of your Desktop install media (if it had it) and any licensing info (like keys)
  • backup your photos, documents, source code (if you develop), art/graphics and any other filetypes you deem important
  • MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR WINDOWS 8 KEY. This is very important.
  • All the patience you can muster.

It might be best to wait a day or two to download as their servers will be hit hard. This update fixes many things, enhances a few things and takes a couple small step backward, but I think it is a worthwhile updata and there will be quite a few who will want it as well.

I’d set aside a couple of hours, at least, to do the upgrade.

Remember, October 18 is the day.

iOS 7 on older hardware: you should wait

I upgraded my 8gb iPhone 4 to iOS 7 when it released.  In the few days since the upgrade, however, I have experienced some anomolies with the upgrade. First off, it seems the NASCAR app is not compatible as it locked up the phone. I had to reset it to use it again.  While this may not be an issue for you, bear in mind that there will be apps that may not work or work well with iOS 7.

Next, while trying to setup one of the gestures, the OS started ‘scanning’ the screen, presenting options at each widget. The screen then became unresponsive.  After holding down the power and home buttons, I was able to reset the phone. Unfortunately, the touchscreen became unresponsive after about ten to twenty seconds.  I decided to restore the phone, but, because I have ‘find my iPhone’ enabled, I was unable to reset it with out turning off that feature.  Now, will someone tell me why it is this way? Yeah, I suppose it is a security ‘feature’, but, if my phone becomes unresponsive, how the hell am I supposed to fix it? Go to an Apple store?

Anyway, after twenty or so minutes and repeated restarts, I was able to close a few apps and get the phone responsive again.  There has to be a better way.  This process was enough to make me want to pull a Scott Bourne and toss the phone into the river.

While some Apple supplied apps are a bit faster, overall, however, this upgrade is akin to running Windows Vista on a machine designed for Windows 2000 or early XP: you might get it to work, but it won’t be pretty. There are so many features in iOS 7 that simply do not work on this earlier device I have to wonder why they thought it was a good idea. 

I know there are millions of iPhone 4 devices out there and those owners would be ticked (I would, I know) but, sometimes, things are better off left alone, like iPhone 4.  I am glad that Apple finally put it to rest, they should do that to the 4S as well.

This experience has, more than anything else, made me want to ditch the iPhone altogether now. I won’t go back to Android, that’s for sure.  I had given a fleeting thought to a Blackberry Z10, but, with their recent news and woe, I want a Windows Phone even more now.

Desire aside, other issues with the upgrade, for me, include confusing settings, the control center-which does not always popup- and animations that are just in the way.

If you have an older iPhone, a 4 or 4S, you may wish to wait for the inevitable ‘point’ release, which, I am sure, will be soon.  If you simply must upgrade, do so with caution. Make sure you back up first. And, good luck!a

iOS 7 Upgrade: good, bad and worth it

IMG_2469Apple released iOS 7 today and reviews seem to be mixed.  I downloaded and installed the new OS and, myself, have mixed feelings about it.  Overall, I like the changes, but some are a bit on the childish side, like the choice of colors on the home screen icons. However, the typography is outstanding. It is very Windows 8 like, which I like.

So, what’s changed? Well, pretty much everything.  From the unlock screen to the settings panels to the App Store. One thing that is better is that the interface is a bit more consistent than the original interface.  The fonts, which are now adjustable, are more consistent and are, well, gorgeous.  Some of the changes appear to be there for the sake of change, like the keypad keys being round. Serves no real purpose to make them round.

Installing the upgrade was a long and tedious task. Downloading it was IMG_2461easy, but the install was long.  I was forced, about a third of the way in, to restart it but, once restarted, it took about an hour. During that time, of course, the phone was useless (and five rounds of Call of Duty helped with the boredom.) Once installed, I had to go through the awful setup again.  Funny thing, though, some of the questions it was asking, it already had the answers for, so I was a bit confused as to why it was necessary. I suppose it was just part of the normal install process, but I would think it could have checked and moved on. Be aware, however, the install requires 2.9 GIGABYTES, which is quite a problem for those of us with 8GB devices. Thanks to Apple, though, I was able to remove some apps and photos, install the upgrade and then restore the apps and copy the photos back that I wanted to stay on the phone.

IMG_2473The Fisher Price like home pages are just awful, though I found making the background one of the gradients helps the eyesore a bit.  As I have an iPhone 4, I do not see the parallax animation that Apple made such a big deal about during the iOS 7 reveal. In fact, many of the cooler features are missing because the phone is a 4. 

As iOS 4 is a hodgepodge of ideas taken from other operating systems, there are a few things that stand out, such as the new task switchIMG_2461er/killer. The card concept, lifted right out of webOS, the best phone/tablet OS out there. This, along with the typography, is what makes iOS 7 worth the upgrade. To use the feature, double tap the home button and then flick from left to right to see the cards. Each card represents a running application.  To activate that application. tap the card. To kill it, flick it up and the app is killed. Simple.

IMG_2461The Apple supplied applets are vastly improved. The calendar is far more useful, mail is nicer and the App Store is very nice.  They all seem faster too, thought the speed increase could be due to the new OS install.

Overall, it is a step up but, like Windows 8, it is a dramatic change from previous iterations and will not be well received from many out there.  Like Windows 8, I think the biggest complaints will be for the home screens. I also think that by the time iOS 8 rolls, this will be a dated look and will be changed again and the haters will claim victory.

Go over to the Verge or CNET to read much more in depth reviews, complete with screen shots and video.

Windows 8: it isn’t bad and it is not difficult to use

win8startMicrosoft is readying an upgrade to Windows 8 (surprisingly called Windows 8.1) which should address some issues with the operating system as well as add new features.  Microsoft is hoping the changes will help the operating system, which the tech press is now panning after heaping praise on the OS.  Among the improvements: ‘metro’ updates to more of the system settings, less dependencies on the antique desktop mode (they should ditch that now.)

Now, noted CNet/ZDNet columnist Mary Jo Foley is saying that ‘sources’ are now saying that there will be options to boot to the antique desktop and add the now useless Start Orb back (this, after Microsoft claimed to have removed the plumbing for it…riiiight.)  While I am all for the ‘metro’ additions, I can’t say I support the option to boot to the let-it-go-already desktop.  Seriously. The old Windows dressings need to go and go now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying ditch Win32 all together, but there is zero reason to leave the desktop intact.  None. It is holding back the operating system. Seriously holding it back. As long as it is there, people, who do not want to change, will continue to use.

Mary Jo herself proclaims this line reasoning as the number one reason Microsoft defaults boot to the Start Page. She is right.

The biggest gripe I see and hear is that Metro is difficult on non-touch devices. I use it on two desktops with decidedly non-touch interfaces and have no problems getting around. In fact, I find it just as easy, if not a bit more so, than with touch. The other criticism is discoverability.  Well, if that is the case, then every touch device currently out suffers from this very same issue.  Did you know that the iPad uses gestures?  Can you name them? Do you use them? My guess would be no. Most people just swipe and tap.  That is it. Well, guess what? It is the same for Windows 8 RT. With or with out touch, it is the same.

I think part of the problem is the name. “Windows” really does not suit it, but it is still Windows underneath.  And Windows has the recognition (good or bad.) Windows RT denotes the non-Win32 stuff, but still is confusing. Microsoft would have been better off naming that something completely different and explain that “Windows” is compatible with what ever that is.  Say, WinTab RT.  That would be a lot less confusing.

At any rate, the grumbling about using a mouse and keyboard with RT is silly. It is no less useful than that damned old desktop.  And, lets be honest, not every facet of the desktop is obvious. You have to right click to do certain things. That is NOT intuitive at all. We do it because we know or someone told us.  Well, same thing can happen for RT.

My point is that people seem resistant to Windows 8 solely because it is different. Not for silly reasons like ‘it isn’t very discoverable.’ Its funny that my five year old stepson can pick up the mouse and use Windows 8 like it is second nature. I did not show him how. He figured it out. In just a few minutes.  If a five year old can do this, certainly adults can.

Look for Windows 8.1 preview to be available sometime in June.