Making a Psion Series 3a/c/mx USB power cable

After my previous success recovering data from my old Psion Series 3a palmtop, I decided I needed to bring some of the cables into the 21st century. While batteries usually last weeks with the Psion, using it on my desk was frustrating as it powered down after 5 minutes to save battery power. Therefore I decided the first cable to work on was the mains adapter and what better way to update it than make it a slim ultra-portable cable powered by USB – I could then use USB wall plugs, my MacBook Pro or even a humble USB power bank to power my Psion. Time to get out my wire snippers and wait for the soldering iron to warm up!
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Psion Fever – Breaching a digital data island

I recently decided to dig out my old Psion 3a palmtop from a storage box at home and I’ve been somewhat obsessed with it lately. When deciding to chuck something away, the tidy- living guru Marie Condo asks “Does it spark joy?”. So I looked at my 25-year-old obsolete Psion and thought yes… Yes it does, it sparks considerable joy.

Ahead of its time

The Psion was way ahead of its time with many features that the iPhone has only just recently received in the last 5 years or so. Features such as copy & paste, file management, printing, multi-tasking and all powered by 2 AA batteries! Something that is incredibly refreshing is the flexibility of the OS – just about anything can be tweaked with a specially written Assembly driver which is a huge contrast to the iron-clad security of iOS. This flexibility might also just be its salvation from an e-waste recycling future.

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Can software influence your emotions?

By the end of this article I want to convince you that your emotions can be influenced by software. To do that I’d like you to imagine a progress bar. Yes, the humble loading bar or progress-done indicator as it is also known. They have many variations. Some even have fancy animations so they feel like they finish sooner but its essence has been a mainstay of the user interface for 40 years or more. They are so ubiquitous, you can’t escape them.

So what actually is a progress bar for? At first glance, this seems easy to answer. Progress bars are designed to see the progress of a task… or are they?
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Time is an odd concept

Time is an odd concept. It’s suppose to be linear but sometimes you can watch the clock and 5 minutes seems like an hour. At other times you can look up from your desk after what barely seems like 5 minutes and find the night settling in.

It’s been 8 months since my last blog post and I hadn’t meant to leave it so long but I’ve been busy with a few things… I architected in-app subscriptions into my weather app for drones, released a brand new version with new features, joined a new startup, studied for a number of flying exams, lost a few hours to Starcraft Remastered, rebuilt Pac-Man from scratch, forked and heavily updated an open source project, started work on a prototype AI concept, watched a whole season of Game of Thrones, went to the gym a lot, learnt an old song on guitar, remembered to socialise oh and got quite into Rick and Morty again. Hence why I haven’t found the time to blog! However I should be posting again soon.

In the mean time, you should watch this interesting TED talk about a guy who thinks the brain hallucinates your reality which could have some interesting applications for AI.

Machine Learning and AI with Prof. Brian Cox

Last month I attended an interesting discussion panel on machine learning and artificial intelligence held by The Royal Society. This was presented by the ever warm and friendly Professor Brian Cox, everyone’s favourite TV astronomer. The video is online now and very gentle on technical details so worth a watch even if you know nothing about the gooey parts of a robot’s brain!