A quick post today: I’m at the airport gate waiting to get on a plane.
I sent out a tweet about this brilliant advertising application of the Pi last week, but so many of you missed it on Twitter and have emailed to tell me about it since then (including one Dr Eben Upton) that I thought it deserved a spot here. Here’s a digital billboard that responds to the wind created by an approaching train.
The advertising agency behind this piece of clever is Åkestam Holst from Sweden, working with production company Stopp for Apotek Hjärtat’s Apolosophy products. Stopp says the ad was scheduled to be run for one day only, but it was so popular that the company which owns the screens asked for it to run for the rest of the week “as a way for them to show the opportunities their screens can offer”. When you think about it, a device like the Pi that can run a full HD digital display and can be hooked up to respond to real-world inputs is ideal for this sort of setup. These guys aren’t the only agency to be using a Raspberry Pi behind digital displays: but this is the best integrated use of the device I’ve seen in this context, and it’s made for a very powerful piece of advertising.
Last month’s MagPi fundraiser for a Volume 2 binder was a roaring success: check out how they did on KickStarter.
As you’ll know unless you’ve been living in an internet-free commune, The MagPi is the free, monthly Raspberry Pi magazine, created by the Raspberry Pi community. We at the Foundation have no involvement with The MagPi beyond thinking it’s terrific: there are tutorials, listings, project ideas and more for people of all levels; from kids picking up a Raspberry Pi for the first time, to the most grizzled and hairy of systems engineers.
This month’s issue has a second birthday interview with Eben (unfortunately this issue went to the typesetters when the news about Friday’s open source announcement from Broadcom was still under embargo, so make sure you read that too to get a complete picture of what we’ve been up to). You’ll find a project where you can use a Pi for maintaining a notoriously finicky saltwater aquarium for corals – Emma has already asked me if we can get one for the office – and type-in listings for a great old-school text adventure called Stronghold of the Dwarven Lords. There’s another instalment from Project Curacao, the tropical environmental monitoring setup, alongside a weather station project you can make at home, where the environment is less exciting. My favourite piece this issue is from 13-year-old Jacob Roberts, who made his Pi into a portable computer on a pocket-money budget. He’ll show you how you can do the same.
There’s internet radio, motion detection, book reviews, competitions and much more. We really look forward to the MagPi every month: it’s a great resource for all Pi users, and we’re grateful, as always, to Ash, Will, Aaron and the team of volunteers who work so hard on it every month. Thanks gang – we’re looking forward to April’s issue!
Ben Llewellyn Smith is Head of Computing and ECDL manager at AKS in Lytham St Annes. He showed us this video just before last week’s Jamboree, to demonstrate his newly installed classroom Debian server being used by a class of GCSE students who all use Raspberry Pis.
Ben’s pupils each own a Raspberry Pi: we’re convinced that there’s enormous learning value in the sense of ownership and ability to customise that having your own Raspberry Pi, rather than a borrowed school unit, gives you. It’s one of the reasons we worked so hard at getting the cost of the Raspberry Pi down so low. This also means that the pupils can carry on working with their Pis at home in the evenings.
You’ll see the pupils being given a very simple Scratch task to test Ben’s new system in this video, and get a feel for what a teaching environment can be like. Ben’s aiming towards getting the class’s GCSE coursework done as a Minecraft hack, using Python on the Pi: he’s the kind of teacher I wish I’d had. (True story: my own Miss Lyons had to keep a picture of a floppy disk being inserted on her desk so she could remember which way up it fitted in the slot.)
The investigation that Ben’s class will be doing for the GCSE can be done on a Pi as well. We’re very pleased that Ben’s been able to be able to share this video with us all: I hope it’ll be of some help to other teachers out there. You’ll find a lot more from Ben at his YouTube channel: enjoy!
A quick post today: I’m pretty behind on work. (I’ve wasted most of today trying to find a new hotel room in San Francisco that, unlike the one I slept in last night, doesn’t have biting insects. I have now found one, and a wifi connection. And immediately after posting this, I am going to scrub myself vigorously in the shower. It has been a testing 24 hours.)
To keep you busy while I carefully wash everything in my suitcase, here is an excellent interactive image of a Raspberry Pi, created by the EverPi folk in Brazil (let us know your names, guys, so we can credit you properly) with all the components, down to the tiniest resistors, labelled when you hover over with the mouse pointer. Ever wondered what the component marked D2 does? Here’s your chance to find out.
Please excuse me while I go and cry in the bathroom.
Edited to add: Carrie Anne has also sent me this most excellent video of what happens when I’m not in the office to cheer me up. The crates in this video contain one Ben Nuttall, and one Gordon Hollingworth. I thought it might cheer you up too.