Minecraft-controlled real world Christmas tree

Interact with the real world via the block world, with the Minecraft-controlled Christmas tree from the team at BroCraft Gaming.

Illuminating

David Stevens of BroCraft Gaming reached out to us last month to let us know about the real-life Christmas tree he and his team were planning to hack using Minecraft. Intriguing? Obviously. And after a few more emails, David has been back in touch to let us know the tree hack is now live and ready for the world to interact with.

Here’s a blurb from the BroCraft team:

Join our Minecraft server at brocraftlive.net, complete the tutorial if you haven’t already, and type /mcct to join our snowy wonderland. Collect power from power blocks dotted everywhere, then select a pattern with the Technician, and watch as the tree lights up on the camera stream LIVE before your very eyes! Visit the attractions, play our minigames, and find out what else our server has to offer.

The tree uses individually addressable LEDs and the Adafruit Neopixel Python library. And with the help of a bespoke Java plugin, all instructions from within the Minecraft server are fed to the lights via a Raspberry Pi.

You can view the live Christmas tree camera stream here, along with a brief FAQ on interacting with the tree within the BroCraft Minecraft server.

Minecraft Pi

You’ll need access to Minecraft to be able to interact with the tree. And, lucky for you, Minecraft Pi comes free with Raspbian on the Raspberry Pi!

To flash the Raspbian image onto an SD card, follow this video tutorial from the team at The MagPi. And to get more acquainted with Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi, check out our free resources, including the getting started guide, Minecraft selfies, and the big Minecraft piano.



Find more free Raspberry Pi resources on our projects site, and immerse yourself even further into the world of Minecraft Pi with The MagPi’s Hacking and Making in Minecraft Essentials Guide, available in print and as a free PDF download!

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Google AIY Projects Kit vs Star Wars Porgs

Here at Pi Towers, we have a love/hate relationship with the Star Wars creatures known as Porgs. Love, because anything cute and annoying will instantly get our attention; hate, primarily because of this GIF:

Star Wars Porg Raspberry Pi Google AIY Projects Kit translator

So when hackster.io tweeted about the following project, you can imagine the unfiltered excitement and fear with which I shared the link in the comms team Slack channel.

It looked a little something like this:

Star Wars Porg Raspberry Pi Google AIY Projects Kit translator

Google AIY Projects Kit

When we announced the Google AIY Projects Kit as a freebie included in issue 57 of The MagPi, I don’t think we realised how well it would do. OK, no, we knew it would do well. After we gave away a free $5 computer on the front cover of issue 40, we knew giving tech away with The MagPi would always do well. But the wave of projects and applications that started on the day of the release was a wonderful surprise, as community members across the world immediately began to implement voice control in their builds.

Star Wars Porg Raspberry Pi Google AIY Projects Kit translator

And now, twenty months later, we’re still seeing some wonderful applications of the kit, including this glorious Porg project.

Learn Spanish with a Porg — because of course

Hackster.io user Paul Trebilcox-Ruiz shared his Translation Toy project on the site yesterday, providing a step-by-step guide to hacking the motors of the Star Wars Porg toy so that it moves in time with verbal responses from the AIY kit. It’s all rather nifty, and apart from a Raspberry Pi you only need some wires and a soldering iron to complete the project yourself.

…some wires, a soldering iron, and the cold-heartedness to pull apart the innards of a stuffed toy, Paul, you monster!

“Hello” Translation Toy

Uploaded by Paul Trebilcox-Ruiz on 2018-12-10.

As soon as Paul realised that the Porg’s motors would run if he simply applied voltage, he extended the wires inside the Porg with the help of jumper leads and so attached the Porg to the GPIO pins on his Raspberry Pi.

For this setup, I hooked the two speaker wires from the Porg into the speaker connectors on the HAT, the button wires into the GPIO pin 24 and ground connectors under the ‘Servos’ heading, and for the motors I needed to hook up a relay for a 5V connection driven by the signal off of GPIO pin 26. The microphone that came with the AIY Voice Projects Kit was attached to the board using the pre-defined mic connector.

Then Paul wrote code that uses the AIY kit to translate any voice command it hears into Spanish.

For the full code and instructions, check out Paul’s hackster.io project page. And for more Porg love, here’s every Porg scene from The Last Jedi:

Porgs! Love Them Or Hate Them – Every Porg Scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi HD

Porgs are now part of the Star Wars universe for better or worse thanks to director Rian Johnson. How do you feel about the tasty critters? Thanks for watching

Bonus facts

  • Porgs were introduced into the Star Wars universe as a means of hiding the many puffins that traipse the landscape of Skellig Michael, the location used for filming Luke Skywalker’s home, Ahch-To. Bless you.
  • A group of Porgs is called a murder.
  • A baby Porg is called a Porglet.
  • And no, you can’t get a physical copy of The MagPi issue 40 or issue 57. They’re gone now. Done. Forever. But you can still download the PDFs.

 

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We tried out Valve’s Steam Link on Raspberry Pi and…

… it worked well!

tl;dr: really, really well.

But if “it worked really well” isn’t enough of a reason for you to give Steam Link on Raspberry Pi a go, here’s the rest of today’s blog post…

Steam Link on Raspberry Pi

The internet (mainly Reddit) was all aflutter last week due to the release of the Steam Link app beta version for the Raspberry Pi.

Steam Link, for the uninitiated, is a service that allowed users of the digital distribution platform Steam to stream video games from their PC to a display of choice — without the need to weave a mile-long HDMI cable between rooms and furniture to connect computer and television.

The original Steam Link

Up until now, if Steam users wanted to stream games to other displays, they had to do so with Valve’s own Steam Link device — a small black box available for purchase on the Valve website — and the device did pretty well. But with the new Steam Link app for Raspberry Pi, any Pi owner can get up and running with Steam Link using one single line of code.

And that’s all sorts of convenient!

Trying out Steam Link for ourselves

We didn’t just want to put out a blog post to let you folks know that the app’s beta version is now live. Instead, we wanted to collar one of our own to try the new app out at home and let us know exactly what they think. And since we knew that Simon, our Asset Management Assistant Keeper of the Swag, Organiser of the Stuff, Lord Commander of the Things, had a Steam Link at home, it made sense to ask him nicely to give the app a try over the weekend.

And he did, because Simon = ❤

One line of code later…

It took Simon all of five minutes to get Steam Link up and running on his TV. He even went so far as to copy and paste the short line of code via a Chromium search for the announcement, instead of typing it in for himself.

And then Simon just had to sign into his Steam account and boom, Bob’s your uncle, Sally’s your aunt, the process was complete.

“Took less than five minutes before I was investigating strange cults from the comfort of my sofa,” explained Simon, as we all nodded, inwardly judging him a little for his game of choice. But in case you’re interested, Cultist Simulator is made by Factory Weather, and there are currently some photos of a tiny kitten on their homepage, so go check it out.

User experience

Let us know if you’ve tried the Steam Link app on Raspberry Pi, and what you think of it. Oh, and what games you’re playing on it, especially if they include Cultist Simulator.

And to make your Steam Link setup process easier, type rpf.io/steamlinkblog into your Chromium browser on your Raspberry Pi to open this blog post, and then copy and paste the following into a terminal window to run install the app:

curl -#Of http://media.steampowered.com/steamlink/rpi/steamlink_1.0.7_armhf.deb
sudo dpkg -i steamlink_1.0.7_armhf.deb

[Edit – Lottie Bevan, co-founder of Factory Weather, has written several articles for Wireframe magazine. Be sure to head over to wfmag.cc to download issues 1-3 to find out more]

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The Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide is out now (and it’s huge!)

The Raspberry Pi Press has been hard at work of late, producing new issues of The MagPi, HackSpace magazine, and our latest publication, Wireframe. But that hasn’t slowed us down, and this week, we’re pleased to announce the release of The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide, a 244-page book that will help get you well on your way to Raspberry Pi domination.

The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner's Guide front cover

The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide

We’ve roped in Gareth Halfacree, full-time technology journalist and technical author, and the wonderful Sam Alder, illustrator of our incredible cartoons and animations, to put together the only guide you need to help you get started with the Raspberry Pi.

inside the Raspberry Pi Beginner's Guide

From setting up your Raspberry Pi on day 1, to taking your first steps into writing coding, digital making, and computing, The Official Raspberry Beginner’s Guide is great for users from age 7 to 107! It’s available now in the Raspberry Pi Press store, with free international delivery.

inside the Raspberry Pi Beginner's Guide

As always, we have also released the guide as a free PDF, and you’ll soon be seeing physical copies on the shelves of Waterstones, Foyles, and other good bookshops.

Code Club Book of Scratch

And that’s not all! This week we also launched the brand-new Code Club Book of Scratch, the first-ever print publication from the team at Code Club.

Code Club Book of Scratch Volume 1

You can learn more about the book on the Code Club blog, and you’ll also find it in the Raspberry Pi Press store, and in bookstores alongside The Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide. You can download the free PDF here, but the print version of the Code Club Book of Scratch is rather special. As well as being stuffed full of amazing Scratch projects to try down at your local Code Club, it also comes with magic glasses that reveal secret hints in some of the guides. It’s spiral bound, so it always lays flat, and there are 24 exclusive Code Club stickers as well! The pictures here don’t really do it justice – it’s a wonderful book, even if I am a bit biased.

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Wireframe 3: Phoenix Point, modders going pro, and more

We said we’d be back with more, so here we are back with more: issue 3 of Wireframe, the magazine that lifts the lid on video games.

From the ashes

Our third issue sees the now-established mix of great features, guides, reviews, and plenty more beyond that. Headlining it all is our sit-down chat with Julian Gollop about his upcoming strategy title Phoenix Point, with the X-Com creator waxing lyrical about Rebelstar, Chaos, and the secret of great AI.

We also take a look at the careers of amateurs-turned-pros, checking out the modders who went legit and getting input from those who’ve made the jump from doing it for fun, to doing it for fun and money.

And it doesn’t stop there

We’re investigating Thrunt XL, the indie game made without typing a single line of code; Terry Cavanaugh tells us about his unconventional new rogue-like Dicey Dungeons; and veteran game developer Howard Scott Warshaw looks back on the making of his Atari 2600 classic, Yars’ Revenge.

Plus:

  • Make your own first-person shooter in Unity with our step-by-step guide
  • The fur flies in the forthcoming multiplayer shooter, Super Animal Royale
  • How parallax scrolling gives 2D games the illusion of depth
  • The platformer from El Salvador that survived an attack of the clones

All this, and a variety of news, previews, and reviews covering everything from triple-A releases to dinky, loveable indie games.

Buy Wireframe issue 3

Print copies of Wireframe are available now in WHSmith, Tesco, and all good independent UK newsagents. Or you can buy Wireframe directly from us — worldwide delivery is available. And if you’d like to own a handy digital version of the magazine, you have the option to also download a free PDF.

Subscription options!

Whether you want to sample six print issues for a bargain price, subscribe for a full year, or get a regular digital edition sent directly to your device, we have some superb deals for you to choose from! To find out how you can save up to 49% on Wireframe, head to wfmag.cc/subscribe.

Or you can get the digital edition directly to your smart device via our Android and iOS apps.

See you in a fortnight!

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Reef-Pi: the ultimate Raspberry Pi fish tank management system

If you’ve ever had a pet fish, even the saddest of fairground goldfish, you’ll appreciate how much work and attention they require. And to those who have never owned a fish: believe me, it’s more than you’d assume.

Reef-Pi

And the moment you upgrade from goldfish to brightly coloured, tropical beauties, and replace the standard silk reeds and gravel with live aquatic plants and soil, you suddenly have to factor in things like optimum temperature and chemical levels.

Reef-Pi

Reef-Pi

Thankfully, Adafruit Learning System author and loving fish parent Ranjib Dey has been working on a tutorial series called Reef-Pi, a collection of how-to guides that help you build the ultimate in Raspberry Pi reef aquarium management system.

Ranjib Dey on Twitter

@reef_pi at makerfaire #MFBA18

Reef-Pi monitors pH, chemical, and water levels, controls temperature, light, and power, and automates the management of these aspects so you don’t have to think about them. Phew!

And if you don’t fancy a massive coral-filled saltwater tank like Ranjib’s, you can use parts the Reef-Pi series for your own tank, whatever its setup, because many of the operations are similar or easy to adjust for your needs.

Jean Tannen

Any excuse to show off beautiful Jean to the world

Take, for example, my new Betta, Jean Tannen. While Jean’s tank is a much smaller size, and Jean its only resident (for now), I still need to keep an eye on the chemical balance of his water, the heat of his tank, and when his lights should be turned on or off. Even the most commonplace goldfish will appreciate many of the services Reef-Pi automates.

The Reef-Pi system uses a variety of components, including Raspberry Pi Zero and/or Raspberry Pi 3, and each stage of building the project is well-documented on the Adafruit Learning System. So if you’re looking to upgrade your tank, or have always fancied having pet fish but don’t want the hassle of tank management, give Reef-Pi a gander and see what you think.

We’re going to try it!

Sarah, our new Operations Manager, has been looking to upgrade her giant fish tank with a Raspberry Pi or two, so we’ll be sure to share her progress in the new year. If you decide to give Reef-Pi a try, or have already automated your tank with a Pi, let us know in the comments, or tag us on Twitter or Instagram!

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The big, pHAT Christmas shopping list of the year

Looking for this year’s perfect something to put under the tree ‘from Santa’? Well, look no further than right here — it’s time for our traditional Christmas shopping list!

Woohoo!

Which Raspberry Pi?

As you are no doubt aware, the Raspberry Pi comes in more than one variety. And if you’re planning to give a Pi as a gift to a first-time user, you may be confused as to which one you should buy.

Raspberry Pi 3B+

For someone learning to write code for the first time, we recommend the Raspberry Pi 3B+. Anyone living in a home with an HDMI display, such as a computer monitor or television, will be able to plug directly into the 3B+, and in case they don’t already have a standard USB mouse and keyboard, these can both easily be acquired online, in many charity shops, or by sweet-talking a friend/neighbour/employer. You can even find some great Raspberry Pi starter kits that include many of the items needed to get started.

Raspberry Pi Zero W

The Raspberry Pi Zero W comes at a lower price, and with it, a smaller footprint than the 3B+. This makes the tiny Pi the perfect addition to any creator’s toolkit, ideal for projects that run on a Pi long-term, such as display builds, robots, or near-space HABs.

Pre-loaded micro SD card

Whatever Raspberry Pi you choose for the lucky receiver of your Christmas gift, we also recommend getting them a pre-loaded micro SD card. While it’s really easy to flash an operating system image onto one of the dusty old micro SD cards you have lurking in a drawer, pre-loaded cards allow new Pi owners to plug in and get started right off the bat. Plus, the ones with our operating system Raspbian on come in rather fancy, logo-adorned SD adapters. And who doesn’t like a rather fancy, logo-adorned SD adapter?

Books, books, books

We’re releasing two new books this week that are perfect for any Christmas stocking!

Code Club Book of Scratch Volume 1

Code Club Book of Scratch Volume 1

The Code Club team is buzzing over the release of the first Code Club book, available to buy from Friday. Primarily aimed at learners aged 9–13, the book focuses on teaching the Scratch programming language, and it’s jam-packed with fun projects, tips, and stickers. The book also comes with a pair of super-special computer science glasses that allow you to see secret hints hidden throughout the book. Very, very cool.

And since Scratch is pre-installed on Raspbian, the Code Club Book of Scratch is the perfect accompaniment to that Raspberry Pi you’re planning to get for the young person in your life!

The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide

Raspberry Pi Beginner's Guide Book 2018

From setting up a Raspberry Pi to using Scratch and Python to create games and animations, the hot-off-the-press Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide has everything your loved one needs to get started and keep going.

And when we say ‘ hot-off-the-press’, we mean it — we only released the book this week!

Both the Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide and the Code Club Book of Scratch are available with free international shipping. And if you’d like to give either of them a ‘try before you buy’ test drive, they should both available soon as free PDFs for you to download and peruse at your leisure.

Magazine subscriptions

Alongside our books, we have an array of magazines, including the brand-new, twice-monthly, video game–focused Wireframe! As with the books, you can download all issues of our magazines for a test read before you commit to a subscription.

Twelve-month print subscriptions to HackSpace magazine or The MagPi will reward you with a technical treat: an Adafruit Circuit Playground or a Raspberry Pi 3A+.


So not only can you give a gift that will last the entirety of 2019, but you’ll also automatically provide your favourite creative person with something rather lovely to play with when they receive their first issue.

And if you sign them up now, you can give someone a six-issue subscription of Wireframe magazine for £12! Or save 49% on a twelve-month subscription of 26 magazines from £40.

So many choices, so many ways to make the creators and tech fans in your life happy this holiday season.

Accessories and such

Maybe the person you’re shopping for already has every Raspberry Pi on the market. And as for our publications, their mailbox is full of magazines and books every week, and their smartphone and tablets are crammed with every PDF we’ve ever produced. So what next?

Swag

What do you buy the Raspberry Pi fan who has all the Pis? Swag, of course!

Raspberry Pi Swag - enamel pin
Raspberry Pi Swag - travel card holder
Raspberry Pi Swag - Mug

From stickers and mugs, to coasters and pins, check out the Raspberry Pi swag store for some wonderful treats!

Add-ons

Whether it’s a HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) for the Raspberry Pi, or a full kit to make something rather spectacular, our Approved Resellers stock all manner of Pi add-ons.


Pimoroni Picade
Pi Hut LED Xmas Tree

You can find your nearest Raspberry Pi Approved Reseller by clicking on any item on our products page and then selecting your country.

This isn’t all!

We’ve been putting together a Raspberry Pi shopping list every year in response to the message we receive from you asking for gift ideas. So why not have a look back at our previous lists to get more inspiration for what to give, including more books, toolkit staples, non-Pi tech bits, and, of course, LEGO.

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Take part in Hour of Code 2018

Every year for the last five years, Hour of Code has encouraged school students to spend just one hour writing some code, in the hope that they get bitten by the bug rather than generating too many bugs! This year, you can find activities from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Code Club, and CoderDojo on the official Hour of Code website.

Boat race

Boat race, a Code Club resource, is a one-hour project aimed at beginners. It guides students to use Scratch to create a game in which the player uses their mouse to navigate a boat to a desert island without bumping into obstacles.

Scratch can run in any browser, or directly from a Raspberry Pi, making it on of the easiest ways for students to get into coding for the Hour of Code.

The Boat race resource is available in many languages, including Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, and Ukrainian.

Beginner Scratch Sushi Cards

Again using Scratch, this CoderDojo project walks students through how to create a fish-catching game where the player controls a shark sprite.

Astro Pi Mission Zero

In in the Mission Zero project, students write a short Python program that checks the ambient temperature onboard the International Space Station, and leaves a message for the astronauts there!

Students complete this Hour of Code challenge using the Trinket online Astro Pi simulator, and those based in an ESA Member or Associate States can submit their code to run onboard the ISS. They’ll even receive an official certificate showing where the ISS was when their code ran.

A full list of ESA Member and Associate States can be found here.

Us too!

We don’t just create activities for other people to experience digital making and learning — we also get involved ourselves! Every month we host a maker day for our staff, where everyone can try out our digital making projects or even work on their own project. Our December maker day is during Hour of Code week, and we are going to make an extra-special effort and try to get as many staff members as possible coding!

The educators at Raspberry Pi are fans of Seymour Papert’s constructionist learning philosophy — you can read his Mindstorms book in this free PDF — and the joy of learning through making isn’t just a thing for kids; adults get just as much positivity out of creating digital fart noises or animating crazed chickens to chase the Scratch cat. With the right support from our wide range of projects, anyone can make their own ideas a reality through coding — Senior Learning Manager Lauren, for example, got very excited about her Morrissey haiku project!

Being able to code is creative; it lets you bring your idea to life, whether that’s something that could help millions of people or simply something you think would be cool.

So, whether you’re an absolute beginner to coding or you’ve fixed so many bugs that your nickname is ‘The Exterminator’, what will YOU code this week?

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Philip Colligan wants your books

You may have heard the news that the Raspberry Pi Foundation recently took up residence in a new location. And unlike previous offices, the new building offers up more room for members of the team to work and learn, including the yet-to-be-named library.

(I’ll have thought of name by the end of this blog post.)

The Raspberry Pi Foundation library

At the moment, the library is home to copies of books written by members of the team, issues of The MagPi, Wireframe, and HackSpace magazine, Project Books, Essentials Guides, and various other related publications.

However, on a recent visit in the Foundation office from Raspberry Pi Trading, I was accosted by Foundation CEO Philip Colligan and asked if I could put out the following request to our community.

We’d like your books

Philip would like to ask you whether you have any old books about coding, such as the classic Usborne series, or aged user manuals or games listings that you don’t need anymore and could donate to our library!

This call also goes out to anyone who has written a book about coding and would like to see their work on our shelves.



Immortality for all

I asked Philip what people can expect in return for donating a book, and he said the following:

raspberry pi library

So be sure to include your return address so we can send you some stickers as a thank you for your donation.

Send your books

If you have a book you’d like to donate, please send it to the address below. And if we receive double-ups of any publications, we promise to put them to good use by passing them on to local libraries or coding clubs so that others can experience the iconic books of our childhoods.

The Philip Colligan Library of Solitude and Reflection
Raspberry Pi Foundation
37 Hills Road

Cambridge
CB2 1NT
United Kingdom

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MagPi 76: our updated Raspberry Pi Superguide!

Hi folks, Rob from The MagPi here! The holiday season will soon be upon us, and that means a lot of Raspberry Pis will be given as gifts. For all these new Pi users, we thought it was time to update our beginners’ guide for 2019 in issue 76 of The MagPi, out now!

And yes, this includes the brand-new 3A+.

Look, up on the magazine rack!

Is it a bird? A plane? No, it’s Superguide!

In this Superguide, we’ll take you through the initial setup of the Pi, we’ll help you familiarise yourself with it, and we’ll even show you a couple of fun Pi projects to get started with! Whether you’re a complete newbie to Raspberry Pi or you want need a little refresher, our guide has got you covered.

Superb

3A+ subscription offer!

Speaking of the Raspberry Pi 3A+, we have a full feature on the fresh addition to the Raspberry Pi family, including all the juicy benchmarks, stats, and info you’d ever want to know. There’s even an interview with Eben Upton and Roger Thornton about its development!

In fact, we love the 3A+ so much that we’re offering a brand-new, limited-time subscription offer: sign up for a twelve-month print subscription of The MagPi now, and you’ll get a Raspberry Pi 3A+ completely free!

Hurry though, this offer only runs as long as stocks last.

Be quick, this offer won’t be around forever!

Heads, Pac-Man, and Christmas lights

Of course, there also are amazing projects, guides, and reviews in this issue. This includes As We Are, a mesmerising art project that displays people’s faces on a 14-foot tall screen shaped like a head. We also show you how to start making Pac-Man in our monthly Pygame tutorial, and our smart lights guide has a bit of a festive flair to it.


Get The MagPi 76

You can get The MagPi 76 from WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda. If you live in the US, head over to your local Barnes & Noble or Micro Center in the next few days for a print copy. You can also get the issue online: check it out on our store, or digitally via our Android or iOS apps. And don’t forget, there’s always the free PDF.

Rolling subscription offer!

Want to support the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the magazine? As well as the subscription mentioned above, you can now take out a monthly £5 subscription to the magazine, effectively creating a rolling pre‑order system that saves you money on each issue.

The MagPi subscription offer — The MagPi 75

That’s it for now! I’ll see you next time around Christmas.

 

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Raspberry Pi vs a Raspberry Pi–powered escape room

A few Mondays ago, the Raspberry Pi North America team visited a very special, Raspberry Pi–powered Escape Room in San Francisco. Run by Palace Games, the Edison Escape Room is an immersive experience full of lights, sensors, and plenty of surprises. This is the team’s story of how they entered, explored, and ultimately escaped this room.

At World Maker Faire this year, our very own social media star Alex Bate met Jordan Bunker, one of the Production Artists at Palace Games. Emails were sent, dates arranges, and boom, the Raspberry Pi North America team had to face the Edison Escape Room!

Escape rooms

In case you’re not familiar, an escape room is a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, logic, and strategy to complete the game’s objectives. Many escape room designers use physical computing to control the many sensors and triggers involved in the player experience.

Palace Games Edison Escape Room

The team vs Edison

Upon entering the Edison Escape Room, my team and I quickly realized that we were within a complex system built like a giant computer! So even though it was our first-ever time in an escape room, that would not be a disadvantage for us.

Palace Games Edison Escape Room

Our goal was to accomplish a variety of tasks, including solving many puzzles, looking for hidden clues when anything could be a clue, completing circuits, moving with the floor, and getting a bit of a workout.

The true test, however, was how well we communicated and worked with each other — which we did an awesome job at: at times we split up the work to effectively figure out the many different puzzles and clues; there was a lot “try it this way”, “maybe it means this”, and “what if it’s supposed to go that way” being yelled across the room. Everyone had their Edison thinking hat on that day, and we were so ecstatic when we completed the last challenge and finally escaped!

Palace Games Edison Escape Room

The inner workings

After escaping the room, we got the chance to explore behind the scenes. We found a local network of many Raspberry Pis that are coordinated by a central Raspberry Pi server. The Python Banyan framework is the connective tissue between the Raspberry Pis and their attached components.

Palace Games Edison Escape Room

The framework facilitates the communication between the Pis and the central server via Ethernet. The Raspberry Pis are used to read various types of sensors and to drive actuators that control lights, open doors, or play back media. And Raspberry Pis also drive the control panels that employees use to enter settings and keep tabs on the game.

“Raspberry Pi keeps us going. It’s the heart and soul of our rooms.”  – Elizabeth Sonder, Design Engineer & Production Manager

We highly recommend heading over to Palace Games and exploring one of their many escape rooms. It’s a great team-building exercise and definitely allows you to learn a lot about the people you work with. Thank you to the Palace Games team for hosting us, and we hope to return and escape one of their rooms again soon!

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Support Raspberry Pi on #GivingTuesday

Today is #GivingTuesday, a global movement to kick off the charitable giving season.

More than just a computer

When you buy a Raspberry Pi, you’re not only getting a fantastic little computer, but you’re also helping with our charitable educational mission to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world.

The kindness of others

We’re also supported in other ways by very generous people and organizations who believe in what we do. They donate funds, staff time, products, and services to help us achieve our mission. We use all of these resources to give thousands of young people the opportunity to be empowered by technology.

Thousands of young people all over the world learn to code and make things with computers because of your support.

Good news, Americans!

At the end of last year, Uncle Sam granted us nonprofit status, which means we can accept tax-deductible donations from those of you who are in the United States! To celebrate the first-ever #GivingTuesday with US nonprofit status, we’re kicking off a crowdfunding campaign for Coolest Projects USA on the GlobalGiving platform. Your contribution will go towards our annual Coolest Projects event where we celebrate young people who create things with technology. And if you contribute between now and the end of the year, we’ll be eligible for bonus funds offered by GlobalGiving. Our goal is to raise $10,000 for Coolest Projects USA, and we need help from all of you!

Showcasing creativity at Coolest Projects North America

Coolest Projects is a world-leading showcase that enables and inspires the next generation of digital creators and innovators to present the projects that they created at their local CoderDojo, Code Club and Raspberry Jam. This year we brought Coolest Projects to the Discovery Cube Orange County for a spectacular regional event in California.

Those of you in the States can also support us by doing your holiday shopping with Amazon Smile or the 3,000 online stores on Giving Assistant. We’ll get a small contribution for your purchases, and that’ll go toward all the programs that support educators and youth in the United States.

Donate to the Raspberry Pi Foundation

If you would like to make a donation towards our work from anywhere in the world, you can do so via JustGiving or PayPal. Your support for the Raspberry Pi Foundation helps us to train educators face-to-face and online, to provide free educational content for everyone everywhere, to support over 10,000 free coding clubs around the world, to celebrate young creators at high-profile events, and much much more.

Beyond #GivingTuesday

There are plenty of ways to help us achieve our mission all over the world:

No matter what you do, the most important thing we want you to know is how grateful we are to have you in the Raspberry Pi community — we deeply appreciate all of your support.

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The age of the Twitter bot

Despite changes to the process, setting up a Raspberry Pi as a Twitter bot is a fairly easy process. And while many such bots simply share time-lapse snapshots, or change the colour of LEDs across the globe, we know some that fill our timelines with fun, random joyfulness of a daily basis. Here are a few of them:

@DaphneFlap

Celebrated by cat worshippers the world over, Daphne’s Catflap documents the comings and goings of Daphne, the fluffy feline housemate of Kate Bevan. While my own cat is now too big to fit through his catflap, Daphne uses her catflap several times a day, and thanks to the Raspberry Pi connected to it, the catflap does a marvellous job of celebrating Daphne every time she graces us with her presence.

Daphne’s Catflap on Twitter

Adored Daphne, graceful empress of floof, floofybum. No adoring catflap could possibly be more blessed than me.

@raspberrypi_otd

Ben made a thing.

The Raspberry Pi OTD Twitter bot shares past posts from this very blog you are reading RIGHT NOW, and thus traces the evolution of Raspberry Pi through its tweets. One day, probably in twelve months, this very blog post will resurface on the Raspberry Pi OTD timeline, and then we shall all meet back here and say hi.

Raspberry Pi OTD on Twitter

On this day in 2015: Raspberry Pi Zero: the $5 computer https://t.co/1GRhq0TYuz

@randspberrypi

Sharing posts generated by Rand’s Raspberry Pi, this twitter bot posts random GIF-packed tweets, usually with a retro 1980s vibe and the hashtags #80s, #MusicVideo, #GIF, and #raspberrypi

Rand’s RaspberryPi on Twitter

Random #80s #MusicVideo #GIF #raspberrypi https://t.co/ieraOHGFjr

@falalala_la

Though it seems to be taking a hiatus right now, the Deck the Halls bot searches Twitter for tweets that fit perfectly to the tune of Deck the Halls, and retweets these with the classic “Falalalala, la la, la la!” as a comment. Be warned, a few of the tweets it recovers may be NSFW, but on the whole, it’s a joyful, joyful experience.

Deck the Halls on Twitter

Falalalala, la la, la la! https://t.co/r2dkE8wMFm

@bert_the_plant

I promise we haven’t killed him.

Bert is a ficus tree that lives in one of the meeting rooms here at Pi Towers. When connected to the internet, his Raspberry Pi and moisture monitor update followers about whether he needs watering, alongside a photo of his current state. And while his last tweet, dated 10 June 2017, claims he’s “so thirsty”, accompanied by a photo of pure darkness, I assure you this is simply because the light was off…and the Pi has since been unplugged…and Bert’s alive, I swear it, I swear!

Hold on, I just need to go for a walk to Meeting Room 5. No reason. *runs*

Bert Plant on Twitter

I’m so thirsty!

Connecting your Raspberry Pi to Twitter

The process of setting up a Developer Account so you can build your own Twitter bot has changed recently. But once you follow their new steps, you can still use our free resources for connecting your Raspberry Pi to Twitter.

In our Tweeting Babbage resource, you will learn how to write code that sends images from your Pi to the Twittersphere.

And if you’re a more experienced coder, you could try your hand at our Naughty and nice resource, which will walk you through creating a program that checks whether a Twitter user is in Santa’s good or bad books. After all, Christmas is just under a month away!

Santa angrily staring at a Twitter account

And from there, the world (the Twitter world at least) is your oyster.

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Has someone cured the common cold with a Raspberry Pi?

No. They haven’t. What’s taking you all so long?

Alex has a cold

I felt it coming on last night. That heavy-headedness. The slight tickle in my throat. Blurry vision, sudden chills, a desperate need for snuggles. Colds can go from zero to a hundred within minutes, and then, no matter how much you hydrate, how early a night you get, or how much medication you take, you know you’re going to wake up feeling rough.

gif of monica from friends feeling ill

As I have done today.

So I turned to the internet

And I typed this…

googling screengrab

And nothing came up. Nothing at all. I mean, I know you’re all busy living your best lives and all that, but c’mon, team — I was counting on at least one of you to have fixed this by now!

Somebody do something!

You’ve let me down, but I am going to give you all another chance to make amends.

In the comments below, or in reply to the social media posts on Facebook and Twitter about the publication of this blog post, I’d like you to invent a Raspberry Pi project that will aid me in getting over my cold.

It may be a robot that hands me a tissue, or one that rocks me to sleep. It could be an algorithm for predicting when I’ll next get sick based on certain factors such as climate, schedule, or my poor, vitamin-deprived diet.

It could even be a drone that will deliver my mother to my house whenever I need attention and a hug.

Whatever your invention, however wild and unlikely it seems, I want to hear about it. And the best ones will receive some stickers or something — whatever cool Raspberry Pi thingers I’ll find in my desk when I return to Pi Towers on Monday. #SuchPrepared #MuchProfessional #wow

And no, you don’t have to actually make the thing. Just tell me what it would do and, if you like, include pictures!

And while you’re all doing that…

I’m going to make another cup of tea and curl up on the sofa with She-Ra on Netflix. Ta!

She-Ra gif

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Wireframe 2: The Blackout Club, Battlefield V anxiety, and more

Momentum firmly established, we’re back with our brilliant second issue of Wireframe — the magazine that lifts the lid on video games.

And yes, we are continuing to write ‘video games’ as two words.

Blacking out

In our sophomore edition, you’ll discover all manner of great features, guides, reviews, and everything else you could wish for. In an exclusive interview, BioShock 2 director Jordan Thomas talks about The Blackout Club, his new co-operative horror game – which also features on our fantastic front cover! With inspiration coming from the likes of Stranger Things, you just know The Blackout Club is going to be something special.

We also hear from Battlefield V’s Creative Director Lars Gustavsson in a candid discussion about his own personal excitement — and apprehension — surrounding the launch of DICE’s latest in its nearly 20-year-old series.

And a lot more

Is that all? Of course not. Thomas Was Alone and Subsurface Circular creator Mike Bithell shares his personal perspective on the ever-changing shape of video games.

Issue 2 also takes an extended look at an RPG’s journey from tabletop to screen: it’s not easy to bring the likes of Cyberpunk 2020 to the world of video games, and CD Projekt Red, Chris Avellone, and others tell us just why that is.

We’re just spoiling you now, but there’s plenty more besides, such as:

  • The maths behind matchmaking and video game economics
  • The changing face of Mega Man, an enduring 8-bit icon
  • An indie game’s path from Japanese restaurant to Nintendo eShop
  • The simple yet effective AI behind Galaxian’s angry aliens

All of this is joined by news, previews, and reviews of everything gaming has to offer.

Buy Wireframe issue 2

Physical copies of Wireframe are available now in WHSmith, Tesco, and all good independent UK newsagents. Of course, we don’t like to limit your choices, so you’re able to buy direct from us, with worldwide delivery available.

There’s also the option to download issue 2 a free PDF if you’d like a handy digital version.

Subscription options!

Fancy putting your feet up and letting Wireframe come directly to you? In that case, you should take a look at our subscription options: pick up a sample six issues for a bargain price, subscribe for a full year, or get the digital edition directly to your smart device via our Android and iOS apps. To find out how to save up to 49% on Wireframe’s print edition, head to wfmag.cc/subscribe.

wireframe magazine

See you again in two weeks!

A wild HackSpace magazine appeared

HackSpace magazine issue 13 is also out today, and it’s pretty sweet. Check it out here!

HackSpace issue 13 front cover

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UK Scouts! New resources to support the Digital Maker badge

Six months ago, we announced our partnership with the Scout Association in the UK: we launched the new Digital Maker Staged Activity Badge, releasing new badge requirements, along with resources for stages 1 and 2, to help tens of thousands of young people learn how to create with technology.

Fun fact: when we launched the badge, it became the very first one to feature the new Scouts logo.

More resources!

Since then, we’ve been developing resources for more stages of the badge, and we’ve just released activities to support more of stage 2 and stage 3.

The Scouts on Twitter

We’ve teamed up with our friends at @Raspberry_Pi to give you even more resources to get stuck into! Here’s, Scout Ambassador, @astro_timpeake telling you why it’s so important that young people improve their digital technology skills. Read more here: https://t.co/4vwOwBDpv4 https://t.co/kKY4BVB0a2

Because the Digital Maker badge is a staged activity badge, any section of the Scouts movement can tackle it. And since an activity that interests and engages a Beaver is likely to be quite different to one that engages an Explorer Scout, we’ve increased the variety of activities we’re providing.

More tech!

The first set of activity resources we released either needed no technology or laptops only, as the leaders we spoke to told us it shouldn’t be too difficult to get hold of some laptops for a session. For the new resources, we’ve increased the variety of tech that we recommend using. Some of the activities use the micro:bit, since it’s a low-cost, easy-to-use bit of tech. For leaders unfamiliar with the micro:bit, we’ve put together this guide on using the device.

More activities!

With all our activity resources, we show how digital making fits into the scouting movement and into many typical activities you’d do with your troop. For example, you can program the micro:bit to be the musical accompaniment to your next campfire. Or, you can create your own custom map to show points on a recent hike that you did together — anything from where someone fell over, to where you saw the most amazing view.

More support!

Next year, we’re going to release even more material to support Scouts tackling the Digital Maker badge. We’ll carry on producing videos like this lovely one:

Computers in the real world

Uploaded by Raspberry Pi on 2018-09-28.

We’re also going to be trialling some leader training days to build your digital making confidence. In the meantime, if you have any questions, you can always email scouts@raspberrypi.org.

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From inspiration to innovation: Hands-On Coding blocks

Marcos Navas is a Union City Technology Facilitator with Union City school district in New Jersey and an active member of the maker, STEM, and coding communities. He was part of the first cohort of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators in the United States. Recently, he completed a fellowship with IDEO’s Teachers Guild and launched Hands-on Coding, a company that makes physical coding blocks for learners. Hands-On Coding blocks allow students to physically build computer programs and act out their code in the real world. They turn the human into a computer and teach children not only how to solve problems, but also how to express themselves.

In this blog post, Marcos shares how his experience at Picademy helped him successfully combine his skills as a teacher with an entrepreneurial drive.

Marcos Navas — Hands-On Coding

At Picademy North America

The day before my flight to San Jose Airport to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, I was busy in my garage makerspace. It’s strange when and how inspiration strikes, but it did — at 1am while I was preparing for Picademy. While looking at the Raspberry Pi and all the coding languages, I began thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could hold the code in my hands and manipulate it?” So I began tinkering with the 3D printer and created a repeat block — and that’s how the story of Hands-On Coding begins.

A girl playing with hands-on coding blocks at a desk

The following day, I was part of the first cohort of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators (RCEs) in America. I walked into a room full of innovative and creative teachers from all over the country. Over the next two days, we were introduced to the world of Raspberry Pi and the coding basics we needed to create our first project. It was here that I understood the power of coding and how it is the language of the future. I truly believed then — and now! — how impactful coding could be if integrated into schools.

With so many talented people in attendance, I decided to share my 3D-printed coding blocks. After receiving many “oohs” and “aahs” from my peers along with several order requests, I realized that my idea could turn into something much bigger!

Marcos Navas selfie — Hands-On Coding

FAIL: First Attempt In Learning

One of the major takeaways from Picademy was Carrie Anne Philbin’s intro slide titled “FAIL: First Attempt In Learning.” But, for me, the word ‘fail’ turned into ‘fear’: being new to coding and the Raspberry Pi was daunting. Through persistence, though, I embraced growth, and worked my way out of those fears; I began to gain more confidence, which led to new ideas and experiences. And I learned that changing my perspective on failure was the key to embracing it. Some time after Picademy, this same message was repeated to me by Reshma Suajani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, who saw my coding blocks and said: “Don’t let the fear of failure get in your way.” So I let failure drive me instead.

kids playing with hands-on coding blocks

Hands-On Coding blocks

After Picademy, I met with Sam Patterson, another amazing RCE, at his local makerspace. During our conversation, I handed him one of my first coding block prototypes and asked for his thoughts. His words got me thinking about kinesthetic coding and the physical movements of acting out code to build understanding.

Two years later, in July 2018, after developing partnerships, distribution channels, and a fantastic shipping department (me), we delivered our first Hands-On Coding blocks! Hands-On Coding now consists of me and my partners Laura Fleming and Joann Presby, and our goal is to revolutionize coding by making it a more physical and tangible educational idea open to various types of learners. We hope to teach the fundamentals of computational thinking and computer science through the use of blocks and the absence of any technological device; you don’t need to learn coding in front of a screen. Our endgame is to help humanity learn to design solutions to problems in our world.

Kids playing with hands-on coding blocks

After Picademy

My experience at Picademy was just the start of my journey. I not only gained an understanding of the importance of coding in education and the versatility of the Raspberry Pi computer, but also grew out my shell and gained the confidence I needed to put ideas into actions. I became a TED Innovative Educator and an IDEO Teachers Guild Fellow, I launched Hands-on Coding, and I created numerous relationships and ambassadorships with an array of edtech companies. I understood that just because I am an educator or teacher that doesn’t mean I can’t follow my own dreams and aspirations and be a teacherpreneur! I do not have any secrets or magic to this process. Rather, a dream, action, and hard work can lead you to many worlds of possibilities.

Picademy and online training

Keep up to date with Picademy, including the release of 2019 dates, by following the #Picademy hashtag on Twitter. You’ll also find more information on our Picademy page.

Our free online training courses offer another way to learn about introducing coding into the classroom, and much more. And you can discover more stories and support from educators like Marcos in Hello World, the computing and digital making magazine for educators, which is available for free.

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Literature dispenser

There are many things I do not know about Argentina. Until today, one of them was this: if you’re in an Argentinian bank, you may not use electronic devices. That includes phones and e-readers like the Kindle (and I can’t be the only person here who is pretty much surgically attached to their Kindle).

Enter the literature dispenser.

Roni Bandini, an Argentinian author, found himself twiddling his thumbs in a Buenos Aires bank queue, and thought that perhaps the 50 other people he could see in the same situation might benefit from a little distraction. How about a machine, owned by the bank, that could furnish you with one of a curated selection of short stories at the touch of a button? The short stories bit was easy: he writes them for a living.

Expendedor de literatura en tickets (invento argentino)

Expendedor de literatura en tickets desarrollado por @ronibandini Versión 2 Elementos utilizados para su fabricación: Raspberry Pi Thermal Printer LCD Display 16×2 Custom 3d Printed Case Más información en https://medium.com/@Bandini

He chose a Raspberry Pi because there are so many libraries for thermal printers and LCD displays available (and because it’s tiny, and you can fit a heck of a lot of short stories on an SD card these days).

Roni says:

This project was “trial and error” in many aspects. I had troubles with power source amperage due to thermal printer requirements, conflicts with previous software running in the Raspberry – since the same one was used for other projects – and I had to write some routines to avoid words being split due to ticket width. Since the machine could be working for 12 hours in a row, I have added a small 5v cooling fan in the back.

He built a wooden prototype, and was helped out by Z-lab, a small, local 3d print design studio, with permanent casing (which is rather lovely).

literature dispenser

The UI’s very simple: press the green button, be rewarded with a short story, printed to order on a till strip. We’d love to see businesses use these in real life (and we’re thinking one of these would be a lovely addition to the Pi Towers lobby, to help soothe anxious interview candidates). Thanks Roni – I’m off to try to find some of your work in translation, and we’re all agreed that we’re very grateful for internet banking.

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A new Raspbian update: multimedia, Python and more

Today we’re releasing a new update for Raspbian, including a multimedia player, updated Thonny, and more. Here’s Simon with everything you need to know.

Updating Raspbian on your Raspberry Pi || Raspberry Pi Foundation

How to update to the latest version of Raspbian on your Raspberry Pi.

VLC Media Player

When I first joined Raspberry Pi, back in the dim and distant past (in reality 2014, but it does seem a long time ago now…), and I started looking at Raspbian, I made a list of the additional features and applications that I thought it needed to be a “complete” modern desktop operating system. Over the years, we’ve managed to tick off most of the items on that list, but one glaring omission has been nagging at me all this time: a decent media player. Windows has Windows Media Player; MacOS has QuickTime Player and iTunes; but we’ve had a big hole where something similar ought to be for Raspbian. It’s been a common request on the forums, and while we’ve had bits and pieces that do some of the job, like the command line OMXPlayer application, we really wanted a nice GUI-based media player.

VLC is one of those programs that “just works” for media playback; it is cross-platform, it has a nice interface, and it plays back pretty much anything you throw at it. It was the player I really wanted to use in Raspbian — but it was unable to access VideoCore’s video decoding hardware, and the software video codecs in VLC were too slow to be anything more than irritating when running on Raspberry Pi, so it really wasn’t worth shipping it. Until now.

After a lot of work (by people far cleverer than me), we are now able to announce that Raspbian includes a fully hardware-accelerated version of VLC. It plays most audio file formats; it uses software codecs for many video formats, and it uses VideoCore’s video engine to accelerate playback of H.264, MPEG-2 and VC-1 video. (Note that you will need to buy additional codec licences for MPEG and VC-1; if you’ve already bought a licence to enable hardware acceleration in OMXPlayer and Kodi, this licence will also enable these codecs for VLC.)

Raspbian update screenshot

This is still a work in progress — we’ve got most of the major bugs out, but there will most likely be the odd glitch, and you’ll probably find that Pi Zero and Pi 1 will still struggle with some content. But once you’ve updated your Pi, you should find that double-clicking on a video file will open it in VLC and play it back with decent quality.

Thonny 3

A couple of years ago, as part of the list of additional features mentioned above, we looked for a nicer Python development environment than IDLE, and we found Thonny — a really elegant combination of a user-friendly IDE with features that are also useful to expert developers. It’s been our standard IDE shipped with Raspbian ever since, and Aivar Annamaa, the developer, has been very responsive to our feedback and requests for new features.

He’s recently released version 3 of Thonny, and this is now the version in Raspbian. Version 3 offers a lot of useful new debugging features, such as breakpoints and an Assistant feature that analyses your code to find bugs that Python’s syntax checker misses. There is a lot more information about Thonny 3 on Aivar’s website — it’s well worth a read.

Raspbian update screenshot

We’ve also made one user interface change this time. We’ve always offered the choice between running Thonny in its regular mode, and a cut-down “simple” mode for beginners, which removes the menus and gives a fixed screen layout. Up until now, switching between the two has happened via different entries in the main Raspberry Pi menu, but that was a bit clumsy. In the new version, simple mode is the default, and you can switch Thonny into regular mode by clicking the link in the top right-hand corner of the window; if you want to switch back to simple mode, select it on the General tab of the Thonny options dialogue, which is available in the Tools menu. (Thonny will always start in the last mode you selected.)

Desktop configuration

One of the other changes we’ve made this time is one that hopefully most people won’t notice!

The configuration of the Raspberry Pi desktop has always been a bit of a mess. Due to the fact that the underlying LXDE desktop environment is made up of a bunch of different programs all running together, trying to set up something like the system font or the highlight colour involves making changes to several configuration files at once. This is why pretty much the first thing I did was to write the Appearance Settings application to try to make this easier than digging around in multiple config files.

Linux desktop applications are supposed to have a global configuration file (usually in the directory /etc/xdg/) that takes effect unless overridden by a local configuration file (in the hidden .config subdirectory of the user’s home directory). Unfortunately, not all the desktop components adhered to this specification. As a result, getting the Appearance Settings application to work involved quite a bit of kludging things about under the hood, and one of these kludges was to always keep a local copy of each of the configuration files and to ignore the global versions.

This worked, but it had the undesirable side effect that any time we wanted to update the appearance of the desktop, we had to delete all the local configuration files so they could be replaced by the new ones, and this meant that any changes the user had made to the configuration were lost. This was quite annoying for many people, so with this release, we’ve tried to stop doing that!

Most of the desktop components have now been modified so that they correctly read the global configuration files, and for future releases, we are going to try to just modify the global versions of these files and not touch the local ones. If we update the configuration, you will see a message informing you that this has happened, but your local files will be left unchanged. To make sure you get the latest configuration, launch Appearance Settings and choose one of the buttons on the “Defaults” tab; doing this will set your desktop to our currently recommended defaults. But if you want to stick with what you’ve already got, just don’t do that! You can even try the new defaults out: press one of the defaults buttons, and if you don’t like the results, just hit Cancel, and your previous configuration will be restored.

Raspbian update screenshot

One final point on this: in order to get this all to work properly in future, we have had to delete a few local files on this occasion. These are files that most people will never have modified anyway, so this will hopefully not present any problems. But just in case, they have been backed up in the oldconffiles subdirectory of the user’s home directory.

Multiple images

When I first started working on Raspbian, the desktop image file was just under 1GB in size. This has gradually crept up over the years, and now it’s around 1.75GB. While downloading a file of this size isn’t a significant problem for someone with fibre broadband, many people are on slower connections where such large downloads can take hours.

In order to try and address this, for all future releases we will now release two separate images. The default Raspbian release is now a minimal install — it gives you the desktop, the Chromium browser, the VLC media player, Python, and some accessory programs. Running alongside this is the “Raspbian Full” image, which also includes all our recommended programs: LibreOffice, Scratch, SonicPi, Thonny, Mathematica, and various others.

The Recommended Software program that we launched in the last release can be used to install or uninstall any of the additional programs that are in the full image; if you download the minimal image and check all the options in Recommended Software, you will end up with the full image, and vice versa.

Raspbian update screenshot

Hopefully, this means that downloading Raspbian will be easier for people on slower connections, and that you can easily add just the programs you want. The full image is provided for everyone who wants to get everything in one go, or who won’t have access to the internet to download additional programs once their Pi is up and running.

We’ll also continue to produce the existing Raspbian Lite image for people who only want a command-line version with no desktop.

Update Raspbian

Both the new images are available to download from the usual place on our site.

To update an existing image, open a terminal window and use the usual commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

To install the new VLC media player from a terminal, enter:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install vlc

As ever, all feedback is welcome, so please leave a comment below!

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New product: Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ on sale now at $25

TL;DR: you can now get the 1.4GHz clock speed, 5GHz wireless networking and improved thermals of Raspberry Pi 3B+ in a smaller form factor, and at the smaller price of $25. Meet the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+.

New Product Alert: Raspberry Pi 3A+

You can now get the 1.4GHz clock speed, 5GHz wireless networking and improved thermals of Raspberry Pi 3B+ in a smaller form factor, and at the smaller price of $25. Meet the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+

Long-time readers will recall that back in 2014 the original Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+ was followed closely by a cut-down Model A+. By halving the RAM to 256MB, and removing the USB hub and Ethernet controller, we were able to hit a lower price point, and squeeze the product down to the size of a HAT.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+

Small but perfectly formed

Although we didn’t make A+ form-factor versions of Raspberry Pi 2 or 3, it has been one of our most frequently requested “missing” products. Now, with Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ shipping in volume, we’re able to fill that gap by releasing Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+.

Phenomenal cosmic powers! Itty-bitty living space

Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ incorporates most of the neat enhancements we made to its big brother, and features:

  • A 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU
  • 512MB LPDDR2 SDRAM
  • Dual-band 802.11ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2/BLE
  • Improved USB mass-storage booting
  • Improved thermal management

Like its big brother, the entire board is certified as a radio module under FCC rules, which in turn will significantly reduce the cost of conformance testing Raspberry Pi–based products.

In some ways this is rather a poignant product for us. Back in March, we explained that the 3+ platform is the final iteration of the “classic” Raspberry Pi: whatever we do next will of necessity be less of an evolution, because it will need new core silicon, on a new process node, with new memory technology. So 3A+ is about closing things out in style, answering one of our most frequent customer requests, and clearing the decks so we can start to think seriously about what comes next.

Just in case

Our official cases for Raspberry Pi 3B and 3B+ and Raspberry Pi Zero have been very popular, so of course we wanted to offer a case for this new device.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ in case without lid
Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ in case without lid
Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ in case

Unfortunately it’s not quite ready yet, but as you can see it’s rather pretty: we’re expecting it to be available from the start of December, just in time to serve as a stocking filler for the geek in your life.

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