Peter's Blog

Just commenting on things that interest me

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MXChip IoT DevKit (AZ3166)

In late 2018 I attended an IoT training session in Microsoft here in Dublin. They gave us all a “DevKit” which can be used to experiment with IoT in conjunction with Microsoft Azure. The device was jointly developed by MXCHIP and Microsoft.

The device is like an Arduino except that it is packed with sensors and also has:

  • A small (4×16) OLED screen
  • A headphone socket
  • An Infrared emitter
  • Built-in Wi-Fi.

Here’s a diagram showing the various components:

And here is a picture of my device:

Because this device has so much built-in capability, I always intended to develop something for it.

And in my next post I will describe my first project.

Arduino Uno

I got my first computer in the 1970s (an Apple ][) and my second in the 1980s (an Atari 800).

I always had an interest in getting my computer to interface with hardware devices but I never really did anything about it.

In 2011 I came across the Arduino platform and I finally had a chance to use a device which straddled the gap between software and hardware. I bought a book called “Arduino Cookbook” and I learned all about “sketches” (software) and “shields” (hardware).

Later that year I bought the “ARDX arduino experimentation kit“.

To be honest, I spent a lot more time reading the book than I did playing with the kit!

In July 2012 I did bring both on a holiday to Kenmare and I managed to create a fairly interesting light display with 8 LEDs.

Included below is a video from that time showing how it worked.

I planned to add a potentiometer to be able to control the speed of the sequences but I don’t think I ever got that working.

Coronavirus, Leo Varadkar and Sarah Connor

So Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been dominating our lives for weeks and week now.

But we do have some control over what happens. We can choose to stay home. We can choose to wash our hands. We can choose to do social distancing.

And we are lucky (unlike some other countries) to have good leadership at this time of crisis. Leo Varadkar is doing a great job. So is Simon Harris. So is Tony Holohan. So are our front-line workers.

But my admiration for Leo Varadkar went up a few notches back in March when he used a line from the Terminator movies during a very serious speech. He quoted the line: “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves”.

At first I was astonished – I thought I must have misheard.

But no – he really did say it. Fair play to him.

Here are the speeches by Leo, Simon and Tony (the line is at 6:14):

Another thing to hate about The Rise of Skywalker

In a recent post I mentioned three things that I hate about The Risable of Skywalker.

Well here is a fourth thing which I missed completely.

Apparently, TRoS has the worst music of any Star Wars movie.

Now obviously John Willians is a genius, and his contribution to the success of Star Wars cannot be overstated.

But apparently something went wrong with TRoS (probably all of the re-shoots and re-edits) and the musical cues from the previous movies are messed up in this movie.

Here is the information from the expert on the subject:

Bruce Lee’s Death

I mentioned Bruce Lee in my last post.

My son (knowing that I am a huge Bruce Lee admirer) bought me the book “Bruce Lee: A Life” by Matthew Polly some time ago.

It’s a big book and I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read it yet.

I did however manage to read an article by Matthew on where he puts forward a new theory on the cause of Bruce’s death.

In relation to the official cause of death, the article states that “The autopsy had revealed the medical reason—cerebral edema (swelling of the brain)—but the coroner had no idea what had caused it”.

I the absence of an obvious cause, the government accepted a theory that the cause was a “severe allergic reaction to aspirin, or anaphylactic shock”.

Matthew Polly rejects this theory saying that “Lee was a hardcore martial artist who had taken aspirin most of his adult life without any side effects”.

He puts forward an alternative theory that Bruce died from heat stroke and associated this with the fact that “Several months before his death, Lee had an operation to remove the sweat glands from his armpits”.

It’s amazing that new theories about Bruce’s death are emerging 47 years after his death. But it’s a testament to the man (the legend) that people want to know.

Here’s an iconic picture of Bruce from Way of the Dragon:



Bruce Lee Watch from Casio

I mentioned my hero Bruce Lee in a recent post.

I mentioned Casio watches in a recent post.

This post brings those two topics together as it is about a Bruce Lee watch which has been released by Casio!

I wasn’t sure what I thought about this at first, but I have come to like the idea.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The watch has a black and yellow colour theme based on Lee’s iconic outfit from Game of Death
  • Bruce Lee’s signature, the Chinese character for his nickname “dragon,” appears at the 3 o’clock position on the dial
  • Bruce’s tenet of “Using no way as a way, having no limitation as limitation” appears on the bezel and on the case in Chinese characters
  • The Jeet June Do symbol (based on Yin and Yang) also appears on the back
  • It’s designed to last with a titanium case and bezel (the bezel is also coated with diamond-like carbon to increase abrasion resistance) and the glass is sapphire crystal with non-reflective interior coating
  • It’s a solar-powered G-SHOCK with Bluetooth
  • It was released this year to celebrate a significant anniversary for Bruce (he would have been 80 on November 27th)
  • Only 300 were made (in Japan) and the RRP is $4,000

So if anyone is looking for something to buy me as a present…

This flashy video was made by Casio to promote the watch

The Perfect Watch

I mentioned in my old blog that I have a Casio Wave Ceptor watch and that I love it.

I love the way it always has the right time.

The only reservation I had about my old watch was that it only had room for a four character digital display.

So you could not see hours, minutes and seconds at the same time (what’s the point of a watch which is accurate to a traction of a second all the time if you cannot see the seconds!)

Similarly you could not see the date and time at the same time.

So for Christmas I got the perfect watch. It is digital and it shows all of the above at the same time (plus am/pm and the day of the week!)

The watch is a Casio Wave Ceptor G-Shock. The specific model number is GW-M5610.

For me it had to be a Wave Ceptor so that it would always have the right time.

Originally G-Shock watches were designed to achieve “Triple 10” :10-meter free-fall endurance, 10-bar water resistance and a 10-year battery life.

My watch is actually water resistant to 20 bar, and (because it has solar power) the battery should last much longer than 10 years.

Casio now talk about 7 elements: electric shock resistance, gravity resistance, low temperature resistance, vibration resistance, water resistance, shock resistance and toughness.

So as well as being robust, waterproof, radio-controlled, and solar powered, my watch also has a backlight and (because it can detect its orientation and the lighting conditions) the backlight comes on automatically in low light when you tilt the watch to look at it!

The watch is genius! So I now have a Casio that’s dressy, and another one that’s incredibly functional. Here’s a photo:




Three Things I hate about The Rise of Skywalker

There are a lot of things I did not like about “The Risible of Skywalker” as I choose to call it.

But my expectations were so low that there are only a few that I hate.

Palpatine is back

So this is the ninth and final movie in the Skywalker.  J.J. Abrams (Jar Jar Abrams as Nerdrotic so appropriately calls him) has been brought back in to rescue the series after the dreadful Last Jedi. He needs a climax, He needs a super villain. he pulls his writing team together and they come up with this idea: Let’s bring Palpatine (Darth Sidious) back

This is quite surprising as:

  • There was no mention of him in episodes 7 and 8
  • He was killed in episode 6

But no problem. The team has a great idea. He can be a clone.

But there is a problem. A serious problem.

The killing of Palpatine at the end of episode 6 was incredibly important. It was the culmination of the first two trilogies. It was what Luke had been training to do. It was the redemption of Anakin/Darth Vader and the end of his story arc.

So bringing him back is a serious misjudgement and a betrayal of the story of the first 6 movies.

Rey is a Skywalker

At the end of the movie, Rey declares herself to be a Skywalker in a very forced scene.

There is no logic to this. There is no basis for it.

It is completely out of the blue and completely ridiculous.

Rey is a Palpatine. She is not a Skywalker.

Maybe Rian Johnson has the right idea in his movie when he said that she was a nobody.

Being a nobody makes a lot more sense that this ludicrous ending.

Opportunity Missed

So when JJ was looking around for a super villain, and a way to end the 9 movies, and a way to pull everything together, there was a perfect candidate standing in the wings.

I did a post in 2017 based on the theory (by Lumpawarroo) that Jar Jar Binks was a Sith and was secretly manipulating people and events under a guise of ineptitude.

This is not my theory but it is genius.

This was a much better option than bringing Palpatine back from the grave.

And it would have helped to redeem the first trilogy, and to re-purpose one of the most reviled characters.

What a win that would have been!

Apparently JJ was aware of and happy with this theory. What an opportunity he missed. Further proof, if any is needed, of his own ineptitude. Jar Jar Abrams.


I’m not going to include a photo from this movie.

Instead here is a photo from happier times and a better movie.

Three Things I hate about The Last Jedi

Today is “May the Fourth” and I’d like to talk about Star Wars.

I wrote previously about Star Wars Episode 7, which I choose to call “The Farce Awakens”.

This post is about Episode 8 which I am calling (spoiler!) “The Last Jedi Movie I will ever go to see in the cinema”.

This movie (coming a year after “Solo”) is surely the last nail in the Star Wars coffin.

It scored 7.0 on IMDB and had a audience score of 43% on Rotten Tomatoes (the 91% critics score is a complete mystery to me).

I *did* go to see the movie in the cinema when it came out. I haven’t seen it since then so I am just going to talk about the three things I hated so much that they have stuck in my mind.

The way they treated the character of Luke Skywalker

Mark Hamill has spoken at length about his disagreements with Rian Johnson about the way he was forced to portray Luke. I completely agree. From the moment that Luke has to throw away the light sabre, to the moment when he comtemplates killing Kylo Ren; to when he milks some strange creature. There is no respect for the character. Also, there is no hint of the optimism that characterised Luke in the original trilogy.

Leia’s Death Scene

When Leia was floating off into space dead, I was happy. I though it was a nice serene death. And, of course, we knew that Carrie Fisher was dead so it seemed fitting. But then Rian Johnson had her come back to life (how long can someone survive in the vacuum of space) and then fly back to ship. This looked absolutely ridiculous!

Luke’s Fight with Kylo Ren

So the climax of the move is the fight between Luke and Kylo Ren. But at the end we discover that Luke isn’t really there and the whole things was just a waste of time. Literally. There were no stakes. There was no chance that either of them would win. Or that either of them would die. Just a complete waste of time. I know there was something about Luke buying time for the others to escape but in reality it was just pointless. Episode 4 ended with the blowing up of the Death Star before it could destroy the rebel base. How things have gone downhill in the movies since then.

There were lots of other annoying things in the movie. But these three have managed to stick in my mind.

Now I happen to think that Rian Johnson has made some very good movies, before and since.  So I am mystified as to what went wrong here. But it certainly was awful, and it certainly was the last Star Wars movie that I will be seeing in the cinema.

I’m not going to include a photo from the movie. But here is one of Luke, Leia and Han from happier times!

Things I hate about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The title of this post is a bit misleading for two reasons:

  • I loved this movie
  • There is only one thing I hated about the movie

This is a great movie. And Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are outstanding in the two main roles.

It didn’t score very well in IMDB: 7.7. This is less than most of the other movies which Quentin Tarantino directed.

And it didn’t score all that well on Rotten Tomatoes:  85% for critics and 70% for audience.

But I really enjoyed it. One of the high points for me was when Brad’s character was insisting that he wanted to see George  Spahn at the  Spahn Ranch. Fantasic tension.

On the other end of the scale … the thing I hated was the portrayal of Bruce Lee. I don’t think there was any need to portray him as an arrogant idiot. And, in spite of Tarantino’s defence of the portrayal, I don’t think there is any real basis for it.

I’m not the only one who had a problem with this. IMDB (in the trivia section) reports the following people as taking issue with it:

  • Shannon Lee, Lee’s daughter
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lee’s student and friend
  • British Chinese martial arts actor and choreographer J. Cheung who apparently turned down the role of Lee, citing its lack of respect to Bruce Lee and his spirit
  • The Chinese Government who apparently refused the film a certificate for release in the country

Dan Inosanto, Lee’s number one student, has also come out against the portrayal.

I think the movie would have been better without that piece, but apart from that it is excellent.

Here are Leo and Brad doing their stuff:


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