RIM, maker of the Blackberry smart phone, has gone from THE smart phone to an also run since the iPhone and Android arrived. It seems to be just a matter of time until RIM is bought out by some other tech company, if for no other reason that to get at its patents. Market share for the Blackberries has been steadily dropping.
More and more computers are going back to the command line. This is being done so that it takes less resources to run that system. It also makes it easier to have what is known as virtual machines all running on one piece of hardware, thereby saving money. That includes Microsoft products such as their server. Yes, they will have a product that runs without MSWindows. Just like the old DOS machines. With Linux, BSD, and etc have been doing this all along. Two invaluable tools are DVTM (a command line window manager and SCREEN (a command line connection or session detacher/reattach).
With DVTM you can have multiple windows or more than one usable prompt at a time. You could be working on your favorite spreadsheet doing important reports while watching an administrative process. You are not limited to just two windows. Just depends on the screen size and what area the programs you have require. You can also minimize and maximize screens just like in a gui environment. For more details see: Linux command line window manager at www.instructables.com/member/computothought/.
Hope this helps put your old machines back to work for a bit longer.
Note: programs shown are aclock, lizzyclc, sc, and top.
One of my side hobbies is to make foil based equivalents of traditional antennas. This is my latest prototype of the Gray-Hoverman antenna. Just $5 dollars in materials. It is also almost light as a feather.
My next goal is to step it up a bit with commercial antenna clone. Probably do this one with coat hangers. Looking for the specs.
One of the hottest microcontrollers now is the Arduino. It was originally developed in Italy. You can get them at major electronic outlets such as Radio Shack, Fry's (known as Osepp), and many other places. Great for controlling all sorts of things or just even for learning electronics.
I had some instructions for installing the software for the Arduino, but when I finally tried to upload compiled code, there was no communication. Arduino defaults to com1 and if you are using Ubuntu, the usb port if should be ttyUSB0 instead. There are a few other gotchas, but I have it working and it is neat. The software comes with a lot of examples including one for a simple blinking light that does not require any extra parts to get working to start off.
If you plan to really use the Arduino, I really recommend getting the "Arduino cookbook". I think a lot of the robotics books are now spending time talking about the Arduino. Great gift for an aspiring techie.
If you have a Kindle, fire, ebook, epub, nook, pdf, android, or an Ipad, please listen up as we ran into this program that is available for the major platforms called Calibre. This particular program not only will help you manage your ebooks on your pc, but it can convert formats also. It is worth taking a look at. So far it is free!
The under fifty dollar linux based computer should be out this month according to news reports. It should not only be great not only for single purpose duties, but also be a great little game machine. If it comes to the U.S., it will be on my wish list! Check it out....