Version 1.0 of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard was released in January 1996. 25 years and three attempts later, we’ve gone from USB 1.0’s 12 Mbit/s speeds to USB4’s 40 Gbit/s speeds. Here’s how USB conquered the world. The Problem: Wrestling with Ports and IRQs In the early 1990s, connecting peripherals to PCs was a mess. To use set up any PC, you had to utilize a handful of different types of incompatible ports and connectors. Most commonly, those included a keyboard port, a 9- or 25-pin RS-232 serial port , and a 25-pin parallel port . In addition, PC game controllers used their own 15-pin standard, and mice often plugged into serial ports or proprietary cards. At the same time, peripheral manufacturers began bumping into data rate limits in existing ports used for peripherals on PCs. Demand for telephony, video, and audio applications was growing. Traditionally, vendors had sidestepped these limitations by introducing their own proprietary ports that could be … [Read more...] about 25 Years of Making Connections With USB (After Three Attempts)
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Apple is rethinking how components should exist and operate inside a laptop. With M1 chips in new Macs, Apple has a new “Unified Memory Architecture” (UMA) that dramatically speeds up memory performance. Here’s how memory works on Apple Silicon. How Apple Silicon Handles RAM In case you haven’t already heard the news, Apple announced a new slate of Macs in November 2020. The new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini models are using an ARM-based processor custom-designed by Apple called the M1 . This change was long expected and is the culmination of Apple’s decade spent designing ARM-based processors for the iPhone and iPad. The M1 is a system on a chip (SoC), which means that there’s not just a CPU inside the processor, but also other key components, including the GPU, I/O controllers, Apple’s Neural Engine for AI tasks, and, most importantly for our purposes, the physical RAM is part of that same package. To be clear, the RAM isn’t on the same Silicon as the fundamental … [Read more...] about How “Unified Memory” Speeds Up Apple’s M1 ARM Macs
Microsoft released Windows CE in November 1996 as a new version of Windows. Designed to run pocket-sized computers, CE brought the user-friendly Windows 95 interface to mobile computing for the first time. Its architecture also formed the basis of Microsoft’s later mobile computing and smartphone products. Here’s why it was needed. A Compact, Portable Version of Windows Windows CE was necessary because full desktop versions of Windows, then tied mostly to the Intel x86 CPU architecture, weren’t practical to run on the pocket-sized devices of the time. As a result, Windows CE represented an entirely different platform from its desktop OS cousins. It couldn’t run programs designed for Windows 95 or Windows NT. Windows CE’s design emphasized low power usage, compatibility with flash memory storage, and relatively low memory requirements. It also retained a user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) similar to Windows 95 , complete with the Start menu, and even a built-in … [Read more...] about What Was Windows CE, and Why Did People Use It?
If you’re building a spreadsheet to share with others or simply one for your own tracking, using a checklist can make data entry a breeze in Microsoft Excel. Here’s how to create a checklist in your spreadsheet and make it look like your own. Why a checklist? You might use a checklist for tracking items to pack for a trip, products for your company, a holiday gift list, monthly bills, or keeping track of tasks. With a simple check box form control, you can create a checklist for anything you like in Excel. Access the Developer Tab Before you can use the check box form control in Microsoft Excel, you need to make sure that you have access to the Developer tab . If you don’t see this tab at the top of Excel, it takes only a minute to add it. Right-click anywhere on your Excel ribbon and select “Customize the Ribbon” from the drop-down list. Alternatively, you can click File > Options > Customize Ribbon from the menu. On the right side of the window, under … [Read more...] about How to Create a Checklist in Microsoft Excel
Ecosia is a not-for-profit search engine that uses advertising revenue gained from searches to plant trees. It doesn’t have the privacy-focus of DuckDuckGo , nor does it have the search results of Google. But it does have a unique mission. This search engine is getting bigger and more widely recognized. For example, starting with Apple’s iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 , Ecosia is one of the few options you can use as your default search engine in Safari. Google Chrome also includes it as a built-in option. Ecosia’s Main Mission Is to Plant Trees Ecosia is a not-for-profit search engine that aims to help the environment by planting trees. The search engine’s mission is to absorb as much CO2 as possible by planting trees to try and reduce the impact of climate change. This is done for the planet, for people, and for animals. The service acknowledges that trees can help empower and lift vulnerable populations out of poverty through the regeneration of depleted soils and … [Read more...] about What Is Ecosia? Meet a Google Alternative That Plants Trees