Open Data Camp

I went along to the Open Data Camp in Douglas. Here’s some of the things I learned about:

  • The IATI (International Aid Transparency Initiative) has guidance about what data governments and organisations should make available, and what format it should be in.
  • The UK government has moved to publishing data using open standards, but it failed to educate people about why it was important.
  • Digital Scotland have a really innovative procurement model, which the Isle of Man Government could learn a thing or two from! Instead of throwing money at things by drawing up a list of specifications and seeing who bids, it seems much more cost effective to solve problems by asking questions instead, and the solutions are often of a higher quality.
  • The Things Network has continued to grow in the UK
  • Russia publishes details of all its government contracts over about £1200. Yes, open data from Russia!

Oh, and beer tastes better when someone else pays!

The RC2014 Computer

While at Liverpool Makefest last June, I bought myself a kit to build an RC2014 Z80-based computer.

The kit was very well made, with high quality circuit boards which accepted solder very easily, along with sufficient documentation to make the whole building process smooth and enjoyable.

I found the process quite educational too, as the design of the kit splits out the various functions of a computer into separate boards which then plug into a backplane with a common bus linking the parts together. It was good to see how the CPU, ROM, RAM, Clock and I/O all work together to make a functional microcomputer.

I was able to talk to the RC2014 from another computer over a serial connection, but I found I got the real ‘retro’ feel when I added the RC2014 ‘video card’ – which is a serial terminal based on a Raspberry Pi Zero. This meant I could plug my creation into a monitor and keyboard without the need for a separate computer, making the whole thing into a self-contained 8-bit microcomputer.

I also added an I/O board of LEDs and switches so I could interact with the computer without the need for a monitor or keyboard.

My RC2014 incrementing binary numbers…

You can purchase a kit yourself or find out more about this little marvel at this website.