posts tagged with the keyword ‘raspberrypi’

2016.01.04

*nix

Hey there… Dan Gillmor moved to Linux and it’s even better than he expected!

As for me, I’ve been using Mac OS X pretty much since it came out, and before that I used System 9, 8, 7, etc… Operating systems created by Apple. I’ve also used FreeBSD in the past (though mainly on servers) and I’ve been using Linux in some form or another for close to 20 years. Along the way I’ve also used Windows, though always for work, never for fun.

I’m going to call out a few things Dan mentions, just so I can comment on them.

…here I am, writing this piece on a laptop computer running the Linux* operating system and LibreOffice Writer, not on a Mac or Windows machine using Microsoft Word. All is well.

Luckily you can use LibreOffice on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. You can also use OpenOffice on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. And hey, you can also run NeoOffice on Mac OS X (sorry Windows and Linux users) which is what I did years ago before OpenOffice ran on Mac OS X.

This brings up a point I’d like to expand on, that even if you run Mac OS X (or Windows) you can almost always lean towards the open alternative that is available. This might mean LibreOffice instead of Microsoft Office, and it may mean Thunderbird instead of Mail.app, or Firefox instead of Safari.

Other software I use includes jEdit, Arduino, Processing, Fritzing, Inkscape, Audacity, OpenSCAD, and yes… those are all available for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. You might also notice that (almost) all of the websites listed end with .org, which is telling.

The applications you use all depend on what you do with a computer, and what you use a computer for. I tend to use computers to make things, and luckily the specific things I like to make fit in well with the software I use.

Some of the applications listed above rely on Java. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Java, but it does help a lot of software run on multiple platforms. One of the applications listed relies on an X11, or more specifically, XQuartz. X11.app used to be distributed by Apple, but they abandoned it, but that’s okay because XQuartz exists.

One application I use that is not available for Linux is Evernote. I should say “not officially available”, since there is Nevernote and Geeknote. Yeah, often you can find an unofficial client for Linux that might work.

Of course if your work demands you use specific software, you may not be able to exclusively run Linux. Oh well…

Now…

No one should ever have to open a command-line window and type “sudo apt-get update” or other such instructions.

I tend to cringe when I see things a computer user should never have to do. I mean, if you want to do X, you may have to learn Y, right? Now, personally, great power comes from being able to open a command line window and type commands. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, though sometimes it is the easier thing to do, if you have the knowledge. If you don’t want to open a command line window and type things, chances are good you won’t have to. (But you should anyway, if you really want to harness the power of your computer. As long as it’s running *nix, I mean. Sorry, Windows users!)

And then…

It’s almost certainly too late for Linux to be a hugely popular desktop/laptop operating system, at least in the developed world.

Maybe, I don’t know… I have seen Linux change over the last two decades, and I’m still excited about what I see.

Dan did say “desktop/laptop operating system”, but let’s look elsewhere. Linux is used on servers, and appliances, and things. What do I mean by “things”? Well, every Raspberry Pi project runs Linux. Here’s 400+ projects running Linux. Here’s a few more projects and some tutorials, all using Linux. I even use Linux computers at work (building exhibits) that just play sounds. Using Linux on a Raspberry Pi makes sense for this, and lots of other things.

Anyway, Dan’s post is good (though it’s strange it’s posted on Medium instead of his own web site, because, freedom and all that) and I’d urge anyone who is not familiar with Linux to take a look at it. It’s pretty awesome. So is open source, and freedom, and the command line.

2015.11.01

No Signal

“No Signal” was a project I wanted to do back in 2014, but never had time to. The idea was to have a projector set up in a space with a video playing that suggested the projector could not find the input source. For anyone who has done a presentation or had to deal with a data projector, you probably know the joy of changing the inputs, waiting for the signal to sync, and even “perfecting image” messages.

It’s 2015 and we still can’t plug a computer into a projector and have it “just work”.

No Signal

Since we needed some projects for the Dark Room at Maker Faire Milwaukee, I figured this would be a good fit. I quickly edited together a video (and I was suffering from a lack of sleep when I did it) that got more ridiculous as I kept adding things. I gave my projector to Bryan Cera for his “Entertainment System” project so I ended up using an old Apple Cinema Display I had on hand. The front looks very clean and stylish…

No Signal

…and for anyone brave enough to look at the back, I wanted it to look ridiculous. Insert comments here about how Apple products are clean and beautiful on the surface while hiding the ugly shit so you can’t see it. I used a lot of zip ties to secure the Apple Power Brick™ to the back of the display, and also added a Raspberry Pi to play the video. There’s also an DVI to HDMI converter in the mix.

No Signal

This is some very sophisticated last-minute rigging right here! (Note the masking tape that secures the SD card in place.) The video is below for you to enjoy.

No Signal

No Signal

No Signal

No Signal

Disclaimer: I may have been slightly inspired by Improv Everywhere.

2015.10.27

RPi Mounting Plate

I needed some Raspberry Pi mounting plates, and while I’ve used this 3D printed version before, I didn’t have time to print six of them (and I didn’t have a functional 3D printer at the time.)

Raspberry Pi Mounting Holes

I grabbed a hole pattern file from Raspberry Pi Spi and used to create a simple plate with holes to attach the Model 2 B+ Pi using 2.5mm x 12mm screws.

RPi Mounting Plate

RPi Mounting Plate

There are tiny spacers that go on the 2.5mm screws to prop the Pi up 3mm. As long as you’ve got a laser cutter, you may as well cut your own washers, right?

RPi Mounting Plate

The larger spacers should be placed under the plate when it is screwed into whatever you’re going to screw it into. I’ll be screwing six Raspberry Pi plates into a wooden cabinet.

RPi Mounting Plate

You can grab the files from YouMagine or Thingiverse, though neither of those sites really cater to laser cut files… oh well.

2015.10.17

Apple Watch

I presented a video piece at Maker Faire Milwaukee I called “Apple Watch” which consisted of a Raspberry Pi Model B connected to an Apple Monochrome Monitor from 1988.

The power of component video was harnessed to make a 2012 computer talk to a display that is 27 years old. (Also, Apple used to make solid hardware that lasted a long time!)

The video that plays (after the Raspberry Pi boots up Linux) is the old black & white wristwatch from early versions of the Apple Operating System. The video loops forever and just shows the cursor with the watch hands spinning around infinitely.

You can wait for something else to happen, but it won’t. You can imagine this would fit on your wrist, but it won’t. If the power goes out and comes back on, the Apple Watch will just start up and attempt to run (forever) again. That’s all it does. Really.

Wiring

Raspberry Pi

1988

Apple Watch

2015.10.02

X11_ssh_tunnelling by Tene~commonswiki

When I first started using *nix-based operating systems I played with xeyes, which is a “follow the mouse X demo” and a very simple program. (Really, it’s not fancy, but 25 years ago, it was sort of neat.)

A few days before Maker Faire Milwaukee Vishal and I were brainstorming ideas for something done in Processing to show with a projector, and I suggested xeyes because it was silly and simple and we hadn’t slept much.

I figured there was a Processing version out there, and our old pal Alex has one at Tinkerlog. I grabbed it and started hacking. Someone mentioned putting the old Milwaukee Makerspace logo in place and putting the eyes on it. (It may have been me, I honestly don’t remember, again… not much sleep.)

Then Lexie showed up and I ran the demo and she suggested there should be a fly for the cursor. In my tired state I thought this was a great idea, and then checked on how cursors work in Processing (yes, you can use an image) and then I found a fly on OpenClipArt.org and added it.

mms-xeyes

Now we had something that let you move the mouse around and the fly would move and the eyes would follow it. I sent Vishal the code and he had a trackpad he thought about using with it… But then he said it would be cool if it just moved around on its own. I didn’t have time to write the code, so Vishal asked if I had a Teensy on me, and since I always do, I gave it to him. He then wrote code to make the Teensy act as a mouse and randomly move around the screen.

We hacked this all together pretty quickly, and it was fun, and not super-impressive, but we liked it. Oh, I also made a Processing.js version you can try. (It’s an early test version before I added the fly.)

mms-xeyes-rpi

A few days after Maker Faire I got an email from Bryan Cera about running Processing on the Raspberry Pi, which we had been discussing. He got it working, so I finally circled back around to give it a try. Well, it worked, and I got this mms-xeyes thing running as a full-on application.

This is pretty awesome. I mean, the cursor is a little weird, and disappears when you do not move the mouse (but reappears when you do move it) but overall it does work, and I’m pretty pleased with it. I’ve got a few ideas that involve Raspberry Pi computers running Processing sketches, so yeah… overall, this is good.

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