Raspberry Pi

A long time ago, for my birthday I was given a surprise gift. I remember hearing about it in a phone call and not really understanding the point. I was surprised to open the package to see a small box with a credit card sized computer inside. I remembered the phone call. 'What am I going to do with this?' I thought.

Since then I have started many projects with the Raspberry Pi and even managed to finish a few of them. It has been a game emulator, a file server, a media center and an email server to name a few. I have thrown it away twice, been banned from using it once and spent a good few hours contemplating the worthiness of my efforts. On reflection I think that it has been worth it all, just about.

Things I have learnt

The Pi was one of the first experiences I have had of the command line by learning to navigate the file system. At first this was because I didn’t know how to get a Graphical User Interface working and later it was because I didn’t like the way the default desktop looked. Part of the learning experience was finding out that you could work on the Pi without the need of a dedicated screen, keyboard and mouse by way of a secure shell over the wireless. The reality of this was that I could sit on the sofa with my laptop and hack away on whatever I was working on while my Pi hummed gently away in a cupboard. Amazing.

What is really great about the Pi is that after the initial outlay on hardware (which comparatively speaking is not all that much), there is very little cost to it other than time. It can be your own little sandbox to experiment with computers which could lead to something fantastic. It certainly has for me. I look upon my time with the Pi rather fondly, even the bad times seem to be painted in a positive haze.

Current Status

Currently the Pi is still in my cupboard, with the operating system moved to a tiny USB stick and attached to a 500GB Hard Disk acting as both a central storage unit for all our films, audiobooks and music as well as my primary email server. In the past month however I have received and sent approximately ten emails. I very much see this as a sign of success and so I am considering retiring the email side of things and potentially enhancing the media server aspect of my Pi use.

I have tried to get a satisfactory media server going for a few years now. I tried connecting it directly to the TV, using XBMC as the interface and my phone as the remote. I have also tried installing DAAP protocol to have my own iTunes server in the house. The first was alright until we lost access to the TV and the second keeps crashing and relies on iTunes which is a terrible experience. I have settled for attaching to the Pi as a regular file server, navigating the file structure as you normally would and using Quicktime to play films and TV shows.

Like the email server, I just don’t use the media enough. Not too long ago I was shown Koel which may be a possible solution to the music listening problem I don’t have.

So what to do?

The Future of Pi

I have been greatly impressed with the way the Pi has managed to remain on and functional for over a year now, surviving two house moves and having previously bricked the hard disk twice. It would be a shame to not use the thing anymore but I am at a bit of a loss as to what to use it for now. In all likelihood I will probably go down the route of making a proper media server to provide me with my music and films from anywhere in the world. Open to suggestions though.

People like to make Robots with them, although I am reluctant to invest eny more money into additional peripheries, although, I could be persuaded. The Pi is definitely one to keep an eye on though. With new versions like the Pi Zero emmerging coupled with a persons imagination we are likely to see some exciting things.

One project that I would be really excited to get involved with is the Kindleberry. Perhaps one day.


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