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PINE64 Inc.
PINE64 Inc.

This $15 Computer Raised Over $1.5 Million on Kickstarter

PINE64 Inc.
PINE64 Inc.

It can be nearly impossible to find a brand-new, cheap laptop for less than a few hundred bucks. But if you’re looking for a personal computer on a tight budget, consider the PINE A64: the 64-bit computer is currently available on Kickstarter for only $15.

The single-board device doesn’t exactly resemble the computers most people are familiar with, but in the hands of someone with a little tech know-how, the potential applications are enormous. The board’s CPU runs at 1.2GHz and its GPU runs at 500MHz. That’s enough power to put the computer's graphic capabilities slightly above those of the original XBOX console. The PINE A64 comes equipped with an ethernet port, two USB ports, and a 4K HDMI output, making it completely expandable and customizable. (Though the device's 512MB to 2 GB of memory isn't upgradable.) In addition to using it to build your own custom PC, the board could also be used to power a 3D printer, laser engraver, or tablet.

PINE A64’s co-founder Johnson Jeng told TechCrunch that he can see the board appealing to consumers in developing countries as well as techies here at home. For all the computing power it packs, the A64 runs on surprisingly little energy. It performs at a mere 2.5 to 3.5 watts compared to typical desktops that operate somewhere between 75 to 300 watts, making it a smart option for regions with limited resources.

The project’s Kickstarter campaign ended over the weekend after surpassing its original goal of $31,416 more than 50 times over, but you can still preorder the basic board for $15 or buy it with special add-ons and updates for a higher price. Shipping is estimated for February of this year.

[h/t: TechCrunch]

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History
The Queen of Code: Remembering Grace Hopper
By Lynn Gilbert, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was a computing pioneer. She coined the term "computer bug" after finding a moth stuck inside Harvard's Mark II computer in 1947 (which in turn led to the term "debug," meaning solving problems in computer code). She did the foundational work that led to the COBOL programming language, used in mission-critical computing systems for decades (including today). She worked in World War II using very early computers to help end the war. When she retired from the U.S. Navy at age 79, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the service. Hopper, who was born on this day in 1906, is a hero of computing and a brilliant role model, but not many people know her story.

In this short documentary from FiveThirtyEight, directed by Gillian Jacobs, we learned about Grace Hopper from several biographers, archival photographs, and footage of her speaking in her later years. If you've never heard of Grace Hopper, or you're even vaguely interested in the history of computing or women in computing, this is a must-watch:

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holidays
The Plugin That Keeps the Internet From Spoiling Santa Claus
iStock
iStock

During simpler times, the biggest threat to a child's belief in Santa was usually older siblings or big-mouthed classmates. Today, kids have access to an entire world wide web, full of potentially Santa-spoiling content. Luckily, there's a plugin that helps parents maintain their kids’ innocence through the holidays.

Created by the virtual private network provider Hide My Ass (HMA), the free software analyzes web activity for any information that might threaten to “bring a child’s belief in Santa crashing down.” In place of the problematic content, the plugin brings up an image of the jolly man himself. Typing the phrase “Santa is not real” into Google, for example, will instead take you to a web page showing nothing but a soft-focused St. Nick pointing into the camera and staring at you with judgmental eyes. The plugin is also designed to work for social media communications, internet ads, and articles like this one.


Hide My Ass

According to a survey of 2036 parents by HMA, one in eight children in the U.S. have their belief in Santa ruined online. Whether it's because of the internet or other related factors, the age that children stop believing in Santa is lower than ever.

The average age that current parents lost their faith in Santa Claus was 8.7 years old, and for today’s kids it’s 7.25 years. Concerned parents can download the plugin for Chrome here, though it may not be enough to hide every type of Santa spoiler: Of the parents who blamed the internet, 26 percent of them reported kids snooping over their shoulder as they shopped for gifts online.

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