Wednesday grab bag

Another post in an occasional series on the cool stuff people have been doing with their Pis. Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday – total disorganisation on our part. The event we were at yesterday (at which we won a paperweight proclaiming that Eben is Cambridge’s most influential business person, a rather phallic award, and a box of chocolates – hurray chocolates) went on for longer than we’d expected, we didn’t get to do half the things we were meaning to before the end of the day, and we are reminded that it’s probably getting close to time to hire some admin staff, because this diary is becoming a MONSTER.

First up, some competition news. PA Consulting is sponsoring a series of prizes for UK teams. The task is to make something that will make the world a better place, using a Raspberry Pi – you can enter hardware projects or software projects. There are categories for several different age groups from primary school through to university and beyond; this is a competition that adults can enter too. The schools prizes are a generous £1000; for other categories, prizes range from internships to cash prizes. And the first 200 teams to enter will get a free Raspberry Pi – what could be nicer? Read the rules and enter here.

PA Consulting banner

In other competition news, if you submitted an entry to our own Summer Coding Contest (which we’re judging at the moment – we had a lot of really excellent and complicated entries, so it’ll take us another couple of weeks to get through them all), you should have received an acknowledgement email from us. If you haven’t, please email [email protected].

Yesterday, we learned about the first ever Raspberry Pi supercomputer. A group at Southampton University led by Professor Simon Cox has, with the help of six-year-old son James Cox (the team’s LEGO specialist), built a supercomputer out of Raspberry Pis, a bajillion cables and an awful lot of LEGO. You can read all about it here, and learn how to make your own. Obviously, this is probably not the most economical way to get bang for your MIPS, but it’s a really lucid way to explain how a supercomputer works, and we love it.

Cox pere et fils, and a supercomputer

Prof Cox and James, and the biggest Bramble we’ve seen yet

The Raspberry Pi isn’t just getting a foothold in UK universities. This morning, I was sent this video from the IIIT in Bangalore, an Indian university specialising in information technology. Students there have been making an informational video about setting up the Raspberry Pi. Over to them:

Meanwhile, back in Europe, Ponnuki has a clever little hack to turn a Kindle into a Raspberry Pi e-ink display. E-ink’s something we’ve been very interested in at the Foundation. This kind of very readable low-power display is a really good option for environments where power hard to come by: battery-powered portable systems, solar-powered systems which need a display in out-of-the-way places, and set-ups in developing countries, can really benefit from this sort of technology. You won’t be able to watch video with these refresh rates, but most desktop-type applications are very usable. Right now, it’s very hard to buy such a display as a consumer – they’re usually part of an e-reader device, and even if you’re lucky enough to be able to source one independently, they’re very expensive. We’re watching the sector with interest, and we’re hoping to see prices come down and availability increase – we’re aware of a few companies who are doing really interesting work in this area. But until then, we rather like Ponnuki’s solution.

Raspberry Pi with Kindle as display

Kindleberry Pi. Click the image for instructions on setting up your own.