January 6th, 2016

Raspberry Pi Closes December on Up Note

The Raspberry Pi Report

Pi Wars Logo - Raspberry PiWith the holidays and all, the month of December wasn’t as action packed as some of the past months have been concerning the Raspberry Pi, but there were still some interesting stories that occurred. Let’s take a minute to reflect back on the Raspberry Pi and December.

Pi Wars: The second annual Pi Wars competition occurred in Cambridge this past December, and just like the year before it was a complete success. If you haven’t heard of Pi Wars, then get used to seeing the name because this event will only keep getting bigger. Pi Wars is a robot competition that centers around each robot having a Raspberry Pi at its core. There are a series of challenges in which entries must compete, and at the end of the day winners are declared. Some of these challenges are the infamous obstacle course and Pi Noon (a robot vs robot competition). Entries are also judged by factors like code and building quality as well. Overall it’s a great chance for Raspberry Pi enthusiasts to get together and enjoy the fruits of their labor. If you want to get involved in the event next year, check out the event’s website because they are already lining out the details for Pi Wars 2016.

Ubuntu Flavor Maker: If your thirst for a Ubuntu distribution for the Raspberry Pi was not quenched with Ubuntu MATE, then thirst no more! The Ubuntu Flavor Maker project was released this past December, which allows users to pick and choose their favorite Ubuntu flavored distributions to use on their Raspberry Pis. Keep in mind that these flavors can only be used with the Raspberry Pi 2 B model. Now available for use, besides Ubuntu MATE, are Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Server Minimal and Ubuntu Server Standard. Excluding the server images, the Raspberry Pi Python Stack comes installed by default as well, which are Python packages that most Raspberry Pi users have come to expect on an image. If you aren’t pleased with your current Raspberry Pi OS, then I highly recommend giving one of these Ubuntu flavors a chance. I downloaded and installed the Lubuntu image a couple of weeks ago and have been very pleased with the overall performance and usability.

Raspbian gets an update: Also important news was the major update Raspbian received. Some of the major features to get added were Node-RED, GPIO Zero support, and a new graphical repository manager. If you missed the news on the update, then no worries, I wrote about all the highs and lows of the update here on FOSS Force a few weeks back.

MagPi released another book: Following up on their last book, The Official Raspberry Pi Projects Book, the folks at The MagPi have released another book entitled, Make Games with Python. Written by Sean M. Tracey, this books is made up of ten chapters on how to use Pygames to create your own game. As with all MagPi books, you can find this book using any Android or Apple device and pay for it directly, if you would like to support the MagPi, or download it for free.

These aren’t the only stories to hit the air waves concerning the Raspberry Pi in December, but were the ones that really stuck out. If you think I missed a story or two, please leave a comment so that others can catch up on what was the Raspberry Pi and the month of December.

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Isaac Carter

In addition to hosting a Raspberry Pi meetup in Washington D.C., Isaac Carter is a co-host on mintCast. He's also a software engineer who enjoys working with Java, JavaScript, and Linux. When he's not coding, you can find him reading on any number of subjects or on the golf course.

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3 comments to Raspberry Pi Closes December on Up Note

  • Jim

    Isaac, I kind of thought the Astro-Pi project lifting off (literally) would have tipped in as an important update for December. Short version: Two Pis were sent up to the Space Station, with experiments that the kids came up with and coded. More details at http://www.astro-pi.org.

  • terry jacks

    for all the uses people get out of RPi, i still think it failed in its most important quest: getting young (often from poor families) who otherwise might not be interested into coding. That was the reason behind this. So some poor kid could have a machine he could learn with (the very reason you could plug it in an old TV).

    What Ive seen so far is geeks having fun. Most of the project you see with kids are those that have parents who are geeks or kids who even without a RPi would have been taking things apart. At worst, its those kids who are lucky to have a school with some tech support.

    To reach a NEW audience, you have to think outside the box and help self-learning for those that dont have parents or uncles who know this stuff.

    Ive seen some programs that try to do this but very superficially (im looking at you Kano) but I still havent found anything where you can buy a child a RPi and then have a series of online videos and animations teach them step by step (taking in account that a 6-9 and 11-15yr old audience isnt the same. The MagPi books also fail in this regard, never mind the 20th century idea of books.

    These uses of a cheap computer are fun but they miss the goal of the project. (whether its Arduino or RPi or other cheap computer is just semantics)

    Which is why I still think the project is failing in its intended goals.

    The day a parent with zero tech savvy can buy the RPi and have their kids learn on their own, Ill change my mind.

  • Isaac Carter

    @Jim,

    Thanks for bringing that up. I mentioned it in the Nov wrap article and went back and forth on putting in this article as well. I should have put at least a couple of sentences down about it so thank you for mentioning it.