What’s an SoC? Defining system-on-chip is harder than you think.

As gadgets get more advanced, the technology inside them has been subtly changing. Not too long ago, microcontrollers were the mainstay of most battery-powered gadgets and appliances around the home. But over the last decade or so this has started to shift, and ever more devices are now based upon system-on-chips (SoCs). But what exactly is this new class of...

Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi: 9 Crucial Differences You Need to Know

A lot of newcomers ask which is best: Arduino or Raspberry Pi? There’s no “right” answer to that question. It depends entirely on your needs, because even though they look similar and cost roughly the same, it’s like comparing apples with oranges.  There are a lot of differences between Raspberry Pi and Arduino. No-one has the time to read the...

Microprocessors vs. Microcontrollers vs. SoCs: All You Need to Know

  What does the word “processor” mean, nowadays? People use it to talk about a bewildering array of microprocessor technologies, from humble 8-pin microcontrollers to today’s massively integrated, multi-die packages that keep pushing the boundaries of the smartphone revolution.  Once upon a time there were CPUs. And then there were microprocessors (MPUs), quickly followed by microcontrollers (MCUs). And finally there...

Advanced Wildcard Patterns Most People Don’t Know

If you’re a macOS Terminal or Linux shell user you may be familiar with simple wildcard patterns. But most people don’t know the more advanced patterns, which occupy a kind of netherworld between simple wildcards and their more complex cousins, regular expressions. In this article you’ll learn about these patterns and their hidden power.   In my article Think You Understand...

Wildcards in Unix & macOS: Why Most People Only Think They Understand Wildcards

A very useful concept on the macOS (and Linux) command line is that of wildcards. Many casual command line users will have a passing familiarity with them but most people don’t really understand how they actually work. What’s a Wildcard? Many, many years ago I remember a tutor in an introductory CS lecture telling the whole class that wildcards were...

Build an ATtiny44/24/84 Programmer Using an Arduino Nano

This tutorial will demonstrate how to build a programmer that can directly flash Atmel’s ATtiny range of microcontrollers, using only an Arduino Nano and a few additional parts. The programmer will work unmodified with the ATtiny44, ATtiny24 and ATtiny84, and is easy to adapt to the ATTiny25/45/85 by reconfiguring the breadboard wiring. Why Would I Use a Raw AVR Micro?...