Onion vs. Raspberry Pi vs. Arduino
Laptops & PC
January 30, 2017
Raspberry Pi vs Arduino And Added vs Onion

Raspberry Pi vs Arduino And Added vs Onion

In the Internet of Things, there are as many different devices it seems as there are Internet sites. However, out of these three, several have made the biggest impact due to their usefulness and sheer dimunition. On one hand, we have the Onion, a fresh Kickstarter graduate Linux server barely bigger than a postage stamp.

On another, we have Raspberry Pi, a veteran Linux computer known for its extensible general purpose input/output and ability to run a variety of versions of Linux at a reasonable cost. Finally, we have Arduino, which does not run a Linux system but provides extensibility to the Internet through modules called “shields” that allow it to have WiFi, Bluetooth, and any number of extensible circuits.

Onion: The Little Linux Server

Raspberry Pi vs Arduino And Added vs Onion

Visit the Onion page at http://www.onion.io and you’ll see a full site dedicated to this little marvel. A very recent graduate of Kickstarter, this fully funded project from Germany began shipping in November of 2016 and is designed specifically to be a Linux server for the Internet of Things. IoT technology is becoming more and more widespread, and as is apparent from the Onion, more and more diminutive. Their trademark picture is a photo of the Onion CPU next to a cherry, the Onion ever so slightly bigger in dimension.

Raspberry Pi vs Arduino And Added vs Onion

Unfortunately, although the Onion is very extensible, and a steal at the Kickstarter price of $5.00 plus shipping, it requires a dual-port USB dock to be of any real use. However, with that $15 piece of hardware, the world opens up. Connect to your device using either a SSH terminal such as PuTTY or an X terminal emulator such as Hummingbird and you are greeted with a familiar Linux command line. From there, you are free to update as often as new functionality comes out and extend it through the 40 GPIO ports available using a programming language of your choice.

Add a Micro SD card, and different software loads are possible as well as storage solutions. Remember that this device is a server—you can use it as a music server, connect it to a printer, develop a surveillance rig…the Onion is at your mercy. Its diminutive size means it hides anywhere, and receives its power through a Micro USB jack. The downside to the Onion is that it is geared more to the experienced Linux user as opposed to the inexperienced maker, and the console interface for command line Linux is far easier to use than anything to make this thing tick. However, despite that drawback, for raw power and low price point it is hard to beat with a complete Onion running just over $25 shipped including dock.

Raspberry Pi: For the Maker

Raspberry Pi vs Arduino And Added vs Onion

Developed for learning and designed as almost a companion animal to the later-mentioned Arduino, this device is available in several formats (A, B, B+, C) and each transition ushers in extended functionality. Tested here is the B+, with both HDMI and component video/audio breakout and extra USB ports. The Pi is designed to live in a case, but that case is noted by the fact that it has a very large hole in the top of it to accommodate extensions. By ribbon cable you can attach any one of a number of aftermarket cameras. WiFi was optional with the tested model, but a Pi-specific WiFi adapter for USB came cheaply as an option. On top of that, there are 40 GPIO ports that can be adapted to different circuits using DuPont-style connectors and a breadboard or modules that plug in to the square holes that are reminiscent of a legacy hard drive connector.

The Pi runs exclusively off of a SD or MicroSD card depending on model, but later models are said to be able to run off of a MicroSD card and run a copy of Windows 10. Used as designed with Raspbian, a specific distribution of Linux designed specifically for Raspberry Pi, you are greeted with a host of tools for programming in Python and manipulating the works of the Pi. Whether it is Linux vs Unix, raspberry pi should technically work for both. In fact, the Pi is fully compatible and is capable of programming the Arduino, although with a MicroSD power supply an external power supply for the Arduino is a necessity. For a coder who is also a maker, and is comfortable in a Linux graphical environment, this little box running as cheaply as $25 is a worthwhile investment in learning.

Arduino: For Makers

Arduino lacks the operating system of the previous two entries, but it itself is noteworthy in that it is an Internet of Things maker tool. Running on a variety of Atmel AVR microcontrollers (Arduino Duo, Arduino Uno) or a Cortex ARM microprocessor (newer models), Arduino can do whatever you ask it to within its number of inputs and outputs. Using DuPont style headers, you can plug any number of shields or devices into it, including shields made for WiFi and Bluetooth that allow it to connect to other devices. Example projects are remote rain sensors, spy cameras, and other projects including a particularly stunning 3x3x3 LED cube that can be built and run with a minimum of code using an Arduino and a readily available binary shift register chip on a breadboard. Unlike the other devices which expect you to know Linux, Arduino only expects you to know a stripped-down version of Python, which it uses to create what is known as a “sketch.” Once a sketch is loaded on the Arduino, you no longer need a computer and once you apply power your microcontroller powered project is off and running. Its extensibility goes far beyond the basic number of ports on board; there are shields that extend the ports to allow you to connect any number of components and it is also capable of serial commands over a bus allowing components like an LCD display to be driven with just a couple of wires.

For the maker just wanting to get his feet wet in the realm of coding and turn over rapid prototypes, Arduino was designed just for this purpose. For a more Linux-minded individual who wants similar capability but more extensibility, the Raspberry Pi is the animal of choice. But for pure robustness and features in the smallest, most power conscious package to date, the Onion takes the prize as the newest, greatest thing to hit the market, and it is obvious from the strong response to the Kickstarter that a strong aftermarket in Onion add-ons is soon to come.

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How To Run Your Laptop Battery Efficiently
Laptops & PC
January 24, 2017

Did you know that you could increase the run time of your notebook battery by optimizing the power settings of your laptop?

Yes, optimizing the laptop power settings and some other strategies of conserving notebook battery power can add extra hours to the run time of your battery. That is because operation at maximum performance requires more power where as with optimized power settings a trade off is obtained between the performance and power consumption.

The notebooks have become thinner, smaller and lighter because of sleeker notebook battery designs. Thus this has been at the expense of large powerful long lasting batteries. This loss however is compensated by smarter power management options that accompany the present day laptops.

Here we will mention some of the strategies that can save a lot of your notebook battery power. For more cool tips and tricks get in touch with us here at www.laptopstandboss.com!

…and NO, there’s nothing geeky about them. They are very doable and you can implement them immediately.

Power down the display

Dim the screen to the lowest level at which you feel comfortable while working. When you lower the screen resolution and colour depth the workload on the GPU decreases, thus increasing the battery run time. That jazzy background screen saver of yours is bound to consume more energy than a simple one. So try keeping a simple back ground theme.

You can change the settings by going to Start/Settings/Control Panel/Display/Settings/System/Advanced/Performance Settings/ Visual Effects.

Turn off un used devices

Turn off the unused devices as they might consume power when they are turned on even though they are not being used. For example bluetooth wireless consumes notebook battery power even when not in use. Simillarly airport wireless consumes power despite of it’s features not being used to connect to a network.

Disconnect peripherals when not in use. Eject CDs and DVDs if they are not currently being accessed. Disable the CD ROM’s auto insert notification.

Turn off extra features

Turn off or reduce the frequency of auto save features. Disable automatic formatters, spell checkers and auto recalculate features. Turn off scheduled tasks. If you use scheduled tasks to run programs or scripts, or if you schedule other tasks to occur automatically at a preset time, specify that these tasks won’t be performed when the computer is running on battery power. To reach the scheduled task options follow Start/Settings/Control Panel/Scheduled Tasks or Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Scheduled Tasks.

Keep the use of tools in the notification bar to a minimum. The idea is to make minimal use of the CPU. Look at the notification area of the taskbar and close any tools (or utilities) that are unnecessary. Often, these tools are pre-installed on the computer. To make changes to the taskbar and the start menu go to Start/Settings/Control Panel/Taskbar and Start Menu.

Decrease hard drive activity

Notebook battery run time can be improved by reducing the hardware activity. Go for Defragmentation of your hard drive regularly. This optimizes the placement of data on the drive so that it could be found more quickly. It can be found at Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Defragmenter.

Optimize windows paging file. It’s a part of the hard drive which serves as the memory whenever the RAM is full. To optimize it go to Start/Settings/Control Panel/System/Advanced/Performance Settings/Advanced/Virtual Memory and then change and set both the initial and maximum paging file size to 1.5 times the capacity of the installed memory.

Disable start up Items

Every time Windows boots up, start up items load into memory. That causes other open applications to spill over into virtual memory and adds up to the CPU memory. The start up options can be disabled by going to Start/Programs/Startup folder. Remove the unnecessary background items.

Add memory to your notebook. You can minimize the virtual memory reliance of Windows and reduce notebook power consumption by adding memory to your mobile PC.

Configure proper power settings

Windows includes certain power schemes that were created for mobile PCs in particular.

  • The Portable/Laptop power scheme makes power usage minimum to conserve your battery, but then it adjusts to the processing needs so as not to compromise with the system speed.
  • The Max Battery power scheme minimizes the notebook battery power usage but does not adjust to your processing demand changes. So use Max Battery only when you require minimal processing power.

You can change the power schemes by going to Start/Settings/Control Panel/Power Options/Power Schemes.

Standby and hibernate modes are two important power conserving features. Each has it’s own unique situation of application.

Standby is energy conserving, because your laptop switches to a low-power state. Devices, such as the monitor and hard disks, turn off and the notebook/laptop uses less power. Standby leaves applications and files open on your desktop. Standby is perfect when you’re taking a short break. One important limitation with the standby mode is that everything stays in memory but is not saved to the hard drive.

Hibernate mode writes an image of the current work on to a special file on the hard drive, and then shuts your notebook almost completely off. It takes a bit longer than standby, since it writes to your hard drive. Hibernate also takes a bit longer to resume, since you must go through essentially the normal boot process. When you start it back up, you’ll see everything as you left it. Hibernate is the perfect mode for shutting down for the night or even the weekend.

(NOTE: Check the power save settings under the BIOS. If this is not enabled then the windows power management settings may not work properly.)

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