News (and a Few Comments)

I haven’t been keeping up my blog lately. Lots of other things have been happening. I thought I’d take a moment to update everyone on a few of them.

I started off the new year with a plan. I had been camping out on Pam’s MacBook Pro for over a year and I decided that it was time that I got my own machine again. I looked at the bank account and like the responsible adult that I am (no snickers from the peanut gallery), I decided that there wasn’t an Apple computer in my near future.

I have my iPhone and my iPad. I have the use of Pam’s Macbook Pro if I really need a Mac. But for my everyday work horse I needed something less expensive.

Around that time the Raspberry Pi 3 was announced. I was impressed. Here was a computer with the horsepower of a high end cell phone. I mean that as a compliment. High end cell phones are more powerful in many ways than a lot of low end desktops.

Then, Pi day came (3/14/16, get it? Pi rounds to 3.1416.) and Western Digital, the disk drive manufacturer came out with a special product. It was a 314 GB hard drive for the Raspberry Pi that they were selling for $31.41. When I looked into it I discovered that they had a 1 TB model for around $80 and it came with cables, a power adapter, and a case.

Needless to say, I bought the Raspberry Pi 3, a new monitor for about $100, and the WD 1 TB Pi Drive. The Raspberry Pi and monitor came in rather quickly. WD backordered the disk drive and I ended up waiting a month for it. But for about three hundred dollars, I had a new computer.

When it finally came in, I installed the multi-boot software that they suggested for it and chose Fedora 23 ARM for the distribution that I wanted to run. To make a long story short, for technical reasons that I won’t go into right now, the Pi was not up to being used as a developer’s computer. It is fine for a hobby computer or for a student that is just learning to program. It is great to build Internet of Things projects around. It just doesn’t have the guts to be a developer’s main computer.

I was depressed. I thought I had discovered a cheap way to get my own computer up and running. I moped around for a few days and then I started looking around to see what I could find to solve my problem. I found a local store that had refurbished computers but they weren’t exactly what I needed. Besides, I didn’t have the money to buy what they had in stock.

Then, in a flash of inspiration I remembered that I had a $100 Amazon gift card that I  had forgotten about. I started shopping on Amazon and soon found a refurbished Dell with a 3.0GHz Core 2 Duo processor, a 500 GB hard drive, and 8 GB of RAM. It wasn’t perfect but it was adequate for a developer’s machine.

I had to put $40 with the gift card to get it but a week later it arrived. It came with Windows 7 Professional. I am not a Windows fan. I have worked with Windows every day at work for the past twenty years or so, so it isn’t that I don’t know how to use it. I just don’t like it. But that’s a topic for another blog post.

I do know that Windows is useful on occasions so I went ahead and installed it. Then, I installed Fedora 23 x86_64 on it. I was impressed. The Fedora install program did a wonderful job of shrinking my Windows partition and creating the Linux partitions. Fedora booted up and has run like a dream ever since. It is not a Mac but it is a good solid developers machine. I have been very happy with it.

I’ll post more on what I am developing with it in another post. This post has gotten longer than I intended and I need to get to bed. I will hint that not only am I developing software with it but I am also writing a book on programming with it.