Tag: bbc micro

BBC micro delayed

BBC MicroThe BBC has admitted that the Micro:bit which it was going to give to a one million kids is going to be late.

The Micro:bit was announced in March as a “get kids coding” initiative. Delivery was anticipated to occur in September, so that every 11 or 12 year-old in the UK could be given the computer.

Yesterday, the Beeb admitted that things are off the rails and that delivery can be expected “after Christmas”.

Apparently the problem is the gear’s power supply.

“We’re expecting to start sending them out to teachers before Christmas and to children early in the new year,” said a BBC spokesman

“As a result of our rigorous testing process, we’ve decided to make some minor revisions to the device – getting it right for children and teachers before we manufacture one million units is our priority.”

The Micro:bit is a revival of the BBC’s efforts in the 1980s when it created the BBC Micro and promoted it, and the idea of programming, through radio and television programmes. It worked too and is considered a starter for many kids of that generation.

The thought is that if the power supply does not zap them, kids will be encouraged to save the UK economy by coding.

BBC director general Tony Hall hopes the Micro Bit will “equip a new generation with the digital skills they need to find jobs and help grow the UK economy”.

BBC announces school gadget

BBC White City - Wikimedia CommonsThe BBC, in conjunction with Microsoft and other technology companies, has introduced a device aimed at giving school children better insight into computing.

The Micro Bit will be given to a million UK children in October this year and works with computers.

It has an array of red lights, a motion sensor and a couple of buttons and can be used to write simple code programs using a website. The programs can then be transferred to personal computers and to other devices. It also has a Bluetooth chip, an accelerometer, and a magnetometer on board.

It’s powered using a USB cable but can be powered on its own using an AA battery pack. The 1.6-inch by two inch device is aimed at 11 and 12 years old.

The project was started by the BBC but has received support from ARM, Samsung, Microsoft and Lancaster University.

The BBC is comparing the Micro Bit to the BBC Micro, launched in 1981, but it certainly is a heap less versatile than that device, which had a keyboard and lots of other bells and whistles.

Museum calls for BBC Micro engineers

BBC MicroThe National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) is looking for people who can help revivie the BBC Micro.

The BBC Micro was a very popular PC in the UK back in the 1980s and many students and adults earned their stripes by playing and using with the machines. The machine was made by Acorn and had the backing of both the government of the day and the BBC. It had significantly more features than Acorn’s earlier machine, the Atom.

The TNMOC has created a classroom of the 1980s complete with BBC Micros which is popular with visitors.

It has about 80 machines in the ring, but wants to keep the machines up and running.

So it’s asking for volunteers that have the knowhow to make the eight bit machines keep humming and singing.

The TNMOC said that over the last year over 4,500 students visited its premises at Bletchley Park and used a BBC Micro.

It wants volunteers to join its refurbishment team – you can find details here.

EU warns over European IT skills crisis

The European Commission has warned of an impending skills shortage that could threaten competitiveness on a global level.

According to EC vice president Antonio Tajani, there are major concerns of a bottleneck for tech sector growth, stemming from a lack of relevant IT skills being taught in schools.

While young people know their way around cutting edge technology, knowledge is predominantly on a consuming basis, rather than creative.

According to Tajani, the situation “threatens to hamper European innovation and global competitiveness”, claiming that it is “crucial” that creativity is increased to boost new start-ups and aid entrepreneurship.

EC stats show that by 2015, 90 percent of jobs will require some form of e-skills.  This means that the ability of Europe to compete in business and industry is reliant on a stronger knowledge of IT skills.

Considering the current economic climate, Tajani says, this is more important than ever.

Business leaders have been saying that skills shortages have been looming for a decade now.  IEEE boss Moshe Kam told TechEye a similar story a while back.

In the UK there have been attempts made to address the problem, with the government agreeing to change the ICT curriculum and promote computer sciences. This was in response to considerable pressure from the IT industry, both in the UK and further afield, with even Google boss Eric Schmidt lamenting Britain’s decline in IT skills.

The release of the RaspberryPi mini USB computer has also brought about something of a renaissance in computer sciences, promoting programming skills amongst youngsters and being compared to a modern day BBC Micro.

However, British companies such as Compuware have shown that there is still a long way to go to keep CIOs happy with the skill base available.

According to Adam Thilthorpe, Director of Professionalism at the Chartered Institute of IT, the EU and the UK have “every right to be concerned”.

He told TechEye that there is “massive demand” for highly skilled workers with the prevelance of technology in our daily lives.

“With the changing nature of the global economy I think that is going to become more and more apparent,” he said. “Manufacturing and natural resources cant be relied upon to generate GDP here.”

“The knowledge economy is something where we can drive GDP growth,” Thilthorpe said, “it is of major importance.”

Thilthorpe agrees that it has taken a long time for policy makers to react to looming skills shortages.

“The penny has dropped – it took a long time coming.  It is very difficult to deny that IT has become absolutely ubiquitous,” he said. “People are beginning to understand that if they get stuff right they can reap the benefits very quickly.”

Intel part Joy ride to the Future nearly opens for business

We missed the very first Intel Developers Forum at Palm Springs but have missed very few since. Chipzilla does realise that we have to be fed and watered and started off by giving we indigent international journalists lots of bits of paper, for breakfast, dinner and tea.

Some very very naughty souls discovered you could trade these with the bar staff and in the early days even get change from the coloured bits of paper.  Intel’s roadmap for food coupons for IDF has varied from year to year, but not radically. Not until 2011. Now until now. We’ve never been given Amex reward cards and are going to benchmark these until we drop.

Intel food coupons

Now I remember Rupert Goodwins commenting on an IDF I didn’t attend, think it was because I was at Harefield Hospital having my tubes successfully attended to.  Wonder if Harefield is still using that BBC Micro?  Rupert suggested there should be a cardboard cut out of me at the bar – and indeed we’ll miss Rupert this year. Perhaps we should go for a cardboard cutout of the biggest tequilas Rupert and I ever drank at IDF.

Now lastly, Intel uses some very professional firm called Black Tie to ferry the scruffy international hacks to and from the airport.  Tarinder Sandhu from Hexus was supposed to be on the fright, but he wasn’t.  Hope he’s OK.

There are still some other old contemptibles here, however, and no doubt we will learn more of their progress during the week. We’ll also keep you up to date on the new Amex vouchers and how they’re panning out.

Computer inventor doesn't use computer

Sir Clive Sinclair – the man who invented the ZX80 home computer and later the mich more wildly successful ZX81 – doesn’t use a computer at all.

That emerged from an interview he gave to UK Sunday newspaper the Observer.

Sinclair, who will be 70 this year, told the newspaper that the ZX80 and the ZX81 made him  a fortune. The ZX80 was launched 30 years ago after Sinclair launched a couple of other less successful electronics products – a calculator and a digital watch.

The ZX80 had 1K of memory, a membrane keyboard, used a cassette to load programs and had a screen that blanked when the machine was running software. The ZX81 was a little better – it created a huge market for addons including external keyboards and daughterboards for adding memory and other features.

The ZX81 had its moment of glory but was soon surpassed by the Commodore 64, and later the Acorn BBC Micros took the UK market by storm.

These days Sinclair doesn’t use a computer at all. He said he just couldn’t be bother to use a computer and if someone sends him an email he gets an assistant to retrieve them and read them to him. It’s not a home computer he’s got either, this is a company machine.

He told the Observer he finds emails “annoying” and he’d rather someone phone him than bother with computers, which he finds annoying.

You can find the interview here.