Raspberry Pi 4 Now on Sale From $35



Eben Upton, Chief Executive Raspberry Pi Trading, posted on the official Raspberry Pi website that Raspberry Pi 4 is now on sale starting at $35. You can get yours from their approved resellers, or from the Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge.

To support Raspberry Pi 4, we are shipping a radically overhauled operating system, based on the forthcoming Debian 10 Buster release. This brings numerous behind-the-scenes technical improvements, along with an extensively modernized user interface, and updated applications including the Chromium 74 web browser.

Highlights of Raspberry Pi 4 Model B include:

  • A 1.5GHz quad-core 64-bit Cortex-A72 CPU (~3x performance)
  • 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of LPDDR4 SDRAM
  • Full-throughput Gigabit Ethernet
  • Dual-band 802.11ac wireless networking
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports
  • Dual monitor support, at resolutions up to 4K
  • VideoCore VI graphics, supporting OpenGL ES 3.x
  • 4Kp60 hardware decode of HEVC video
  • Complete compatibility with earlier Raspberry Pi products

This is the first time they’ve offered a choice of memory capacities. 1GB is $35, 2GB is $45, and 3GB is $55. The price does not include sales tax, import duty (where appropriate) or shipping. They made more of the 2GB variant than the others, and intend to adjust the mix when they discover which one is most popular.

There are some new Raspberry Pi 4 accessories. One is an all-new two-part case (priced at $5). Those who would prefer to re-use an existing case can cut away the plastic fins on the right hand side and omit one of the side panels. There is also a new power supply, micro HDMI cable, a Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop kit, and an updated Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide.


Columbus Blubrry Podcasting Studio #1378



Back in Columbus at the Blubrry Podcasting Studio for the week, yes my container arrived and for the most part, no damage discovered beside a few small items that I did not pack properly. Very pleased and I have a large percentage of the gear unpacked awaiting install into racks etc to put the studio back together. Very excited to get that process going once I get back to Michigan. But for the next month, it’s a road show tired and true.

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Container Delivery Saturday #1377



We will see if my container has been put through the washing machine cycle on Saturday. Have my fingers crossed that my household goods have made the ocean, rail, trucking journey with minimal rock and roll. Lots of travel in the pipeline. The show goes on the road on Monday for a month. Lot’s of fun ahead.

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Apple Launches Recall Program for Some MacBook Pros



Apple has launched a 15-inch MacBook Pro Battery Recall Program. It is limited to MacBook Pros that were sold during a specific period of time. The reason for the recall is safety concerns about the battery overheating.

The recall does not affect any other 15-inch MacBook Pro units or other Mac notebooks.

Apple has determined that, in a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk. Affected units were sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017 and product eligibility is determined by the product serial number.

Customer safety is always Apple’s top priority, and we have voluntarily decided to replace affected batteries, free of charge.

To participate in this recall program, Apple asks that you check to see which 15-inch MacBook Pro you have. Confirm that your model is “MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)”. If you have that model, the next thing to do is enter your computer’s serial number into the Apple website (linked above) to see if it is eligible for the program.

There are several service options for those who have computers eligible for the program. One is to find an Apple Authorized Service Provider, and another is to make an appointment at an Apple retail store. Apple recommends that you back up your data before service, and points out that service can take 1-2 weeks.

This is an important recall because of the danger of having the battery overheat. Those of you who have friends and family who are using a 15-inch MacBook Pro may want to make sure they are aware of the recall.


Senate Hearing to Explore Facebook’s Libra Project



Well, that didn’t take long! The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will hold a hearing about Facebook’s Libra project on July 16, 2019. Reuters reported that the hearing will explore the Libra project as well as any data privacy considerations it may raise.

This comes after Senate Banking Committee members wrote to Facebook asking for information on rumors about its cryptocurrency project in May of 2019. The Committee wanted to know how Facebook would protect consumer information.

Senator Sherrod Brown (Democrat – Ohio), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs wrote “This new cryptocurrency will give Facebook competitive advantages with regard to collecting data about financial transactions, as well as control over fees and functionality”. He continued:

“Facebook is already too big and too powerful, and it has used that power to exploit users’ data without protecting their privacy. We cannot allow Facebook to run a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight. I’m calling on our financial watchdogs to scrutinize this closely to ensure users are protected.”

In addition, Representative Maxine Waters, (Democrat – California) Chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services posted a statement about Facebook’s cryptocurrency. She wrote “I am requesting that Facebook agree to a moratorium on any movement forward on developing a cryptocurrency until Congress and regulators have the opportunity to examine these issues and take action. Facebook executives should also come before the Committee to provide testimony on these issues.”

My best guess is that Facebook failed to consider that creating its own cryptocurrency could result in questions from legislators. Either that, or Facebook decided it was better to ask forgiveness than permission with Libra.


Google is Investing $1 Billion in Bay Area Homes



Google announced that they are investing $1 billion in housing across the San Francisco Bay Area. They chose this location because Google is one of the Bay Area’s largest employers. Google wants to help solve the problem of a chronic shortage of affordable housing options for middle and low-income residents.

First, over the next 10 years, we’ll repurpose at least $750 million of Google’s land, most of which is currently zoned for office or commercial space, as residential housing. This will enable us to support the development of at least 15,000 new homes at all income levels in the Bay Area, including housing options for middle to low-income families.

After that, Google will establish a $250 million investment fund so they can provide incentives to enable developers to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units across the market. Google will also give $50 million in grants through Google.org to nonprofits focused on the issues of homelessness and displacement.

In addition, Google will work with local municipalities to support plans that allow residential developers to build quickly and economically. And, Google will also fund community spaces that provide free access to co-working areas for nonprofits, improve transit options for the community and Google’s employees, and support programs for career development, education, and local business.

Personally, I think this is a great idea! One of the problems California has is the lack of affordable homes for middle-income and low-income individuals and families. It is nice that Google is using some of its wealth to help solve this problem.


Facebook Announced Libra Cryptocurrency and Calibra Wallet



Facebook announced Libra, its very own cryptocurrency powered by blockchain technology. It is also introducing Calibra, a digital wallet for Libra. The wallet will be available in Messenger, WhatsApp and as a standalone app. Facebook expects to launch these products in 2020.

For many people around the world, even basic financial services are still out of reach: almost half of the adults in the world don’t have an active bank account and those numbers are worse in developing countries and even worse for women. The cost of that exclusion is high – approximately 70% of small businesses in developing countries lack access to credit and $25 billion is lost by migrants every year through remittance fees.

I see a problem. People who don’t have bank accounts might not be able to afford a smartphone to access Calibra and the Libra cryptocurrency on. I suspect Facebook is aiming mostly at businesses and not-so-much on people who are poor.

Facebook says that Calibra will let you send Libra “to almost anyone with a smartphone, easily and instantly as you might send a message, and at low to no cost.” In time, Facebook hopes to offer additional services for people and businesses, such as paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code, or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass.

According to Facebook, Calibra will use the same verification and anti-fraud processes that banks and credit cards use. There will be automated systems that proactively monitor activity to detect and prevent fraudulent behavior. If someone gains access to your account and you lose some Libra as a result, Facebook will offer you a refund.

What about privacy? Facebook says Calibra will not share account information or financial data with Facebook or any third party without consumer consent. Personally, I wonder exactly how that consent will be given. Will users have the choice to opt-in to giving consent? Or will Calibra require that consent before people can use it?

Facebook also says Calbra customers’ account information and financial data will not be used to improve ad targeting on the Facebook family of products. Given Facebook’s history, it would be wise to be skeptical of that claim.