Updating To Windows 10 For Fun And Profit: Make Those OEM Keys Go Further

Microsoft seems to have an every-other-version curse. We’re not sure how much of this is confirmation bias, but consider the track record of releases. Windows 95 was game-changing, Windows 98 famously crashed during live demo. Windows 2000 was amazing, Windows ME has been nicknamed the “Mistake Edition”. XP was the workhorse of the world for years and years, and Vista was… well, it was Vista. Windows 7 is the current reigning champion of desktop installs, and Windows 8 was the version that put a touchscreen interface on desktops. The “curse” is probably an example of finding patterns just because we’re looking for them, but the stats do show a large crowd clinging to Windows 7.

Windows 10 made a name for itself by automatically installing itself on Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers, much to the annoyance of many unexpecting “victims” of that free upgrade. Several years have gone by, Windows 10 has gotten better, and support for Windows 7 ends in January. If you’re tied to the Windows ecosystem, it’s time to upgrade to Windows 10. It’s too bad you missed out on the free upgrade to Windows 10, right?

About that… It’s probably an unintended side effect, but all valid Windows 7 and Windows 8 keys are also valid Windows 10 keys. Activation is potentially another issue, but we’ll get to that later.

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1984 WeatherMan Pi Shows The Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

When [MisterM]’s MIL gave him a rad 80s portable cassette player, he jumped for joy. Once he figured out the window was exactly the same size as the standard for Raspberry Pi HATs, the possibilities left him reeling. A flurry of ideas later, he settled on a weather display featuring a Pimoroni Unicorn HAT HD.

The 1984 Weatherman Pi pulls data from the Dark Sky API every 1.5 seconds using a Zero W. [MisterM] chose to highlight the current temperature, conditions, and rain probability, though there are heaps of other API goodies still on the table. It shows the current weather conditions as animations, scrolls the temperature, and gives a nice graph of rainfall probability.

Surprisingly, the dazzling display isn’t our favorite part. See those spongy headphones up top? They’re not just for decoration, though they go a long way in helping the cassette player keep its identity. Whenever there’s a change in the weather, they shimmy back and forth on a 9g servo. If the servo were continuous, it might be neat to use them as a weather vane.

Be sure to check out [MisterM]’s comprehensive demo/build video waiting for you on the B-side. We love a good weather display around here, and the more colorful and literal, the better.

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A Thermal Typewriter For Burning Thoughts

There’s a certain charm to old technologies that have been supplanted by newer versions. And we’re not just talking about aesthetic nostalgia this time. With older versions of current technology, you are still connected to the underlying process, and that’s a nice feeling.

Part of the typewriter’s charm is in its instant permanence. These days, its so easy to backspace, delete, and otherwise banish thoughts to the void without giving them a fair trial, though it’s nice not to have to pound the keys to make an impression. At the typewriter, your words are immediately committed to paper, for better or worse. You can usually see them pretty well, although maybe not on the current line, and that is good for letting the words flow without judgment.

[Murtaza Tunio] recently used a thermal POS printer in an art project, but it had since grown cold with disuse. Why not turn it into a typewriter? All it took was a Raspberry Pi, a USB keyboard, and an existing Python library for communicating with these parallel printers. Typing is a bit challenging for a few reasons. For one thing, [Murtaza] has to type five lines before the words become visible. The enter key doesn’t come across for some reason, so a different one had to be assigned. On the upside, [Murtaza] can trigger the paper cutter with a keystroke.

Not too hot on thermal printers? You might find this e-ink typewriter refreshing.