The Raspberry Pi is a tiny, cheap computer with the design intention of being for kids to learn real computer and programming skills (as opposed to just learning how to use an office suite of applications). Kudos to the Raspberry Pi Foundation for their continuing efforts to bring back computer science to schools.

After all, it was due to the availability of affordable, programmable computers in the 1980s that allowed kids then to get into making things with computers. Programming games, art and music. Being creative. The talent this fostered in Britain was immense. I believe the Raspberry Pi and it’s ilk will be the key to inspiring the next generation of talent.

As well as being a powerful tool for educational purposes—due to it’s programmable nature—the Raspberry Pi (sometimes referred to as RPi) is also an incredibly versatile box of wonders. The community that has sprung up around it has seized the opportunity of this common platform to develop new, and port exisiting applications and variants of the Linux Operating System.

A New Year’s resolution of mine was to find a use for my RPi. Well, I can happily report that I now have. Enter Raspbmc, “a minimal Linux distribution based on Debian that brings XBMC to your Raspberry Pi.” XBMC is “an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media.” The installation proved to be a simple and ejoyable experience. Thankfully, this hassle-free installation and interaction with the Linux ecosystem is becoming more common (two steps to install rather than 27).

The defaultmost popular RPi Linux distribution (sic - Operating System), Raspbian Wheezy (I have not yet found the story behind the name “Wheezy”) comes with a fully-featured desktop environment which is imminently usable and tastes just like Windows and Mac OS X; office suites, image editors, the whole gamut. All free and open source.

My setup is an original Raspberry Pi Model B with 256Mb RAM; it now ships with 512Mb for the same price (~£35). As it comes without a case, I later bought a rather groovy Pimoroni PiBow case (£12.95).

Note, the RPi doesn’t come with it’s own power supply. You have to supply a 5v micro-USB connection with at least 0.7mA. I started out using an old Samsung mobile phone charger, but have since switched to a Masterplug SRGDU62PW USB Charging Surge Protected 2m Extension Lead Power Block with 6 Sockets and a funky orange micro-USB cable.

In addition to a power supply, you’ll need an HDMI cable, an ethernet cable (to connnect to your internet router), and an SD card to hold the operating system and software. Which paves the route to RPi nirvana:

  • Raspberry Pi Model B
  • Power supply (5v, rated to at least 0.7mA, micro-USB)
  • HDMI cable
  • SD card (8Gb or more recommended)
  • Ethernet cable
  • USB mouse and keyboard
  • (optional) USB hub to expand on the two existing USB ports
  • (optional) bluetooth USB dongle (for couch-surfing)
  • (optional) wi-fi USB dongle (for your RPis all over the house)

I use separate memory cards for each distribution. Currently: - Chameleon for retro emulation - Raspbmc for media centre - Raspbian Wheezy for learning more about Linux and maybe someday programming a game.

There is an Amazon affiliate link below if you don’t already own one and want to remedy that. Honesty policy: I get a little cash if you buy through this, which I will undoubtedly spend buying more gadgetry. Thank you if you use it.

AuthorI.B. Simpson


The word curation was incredibly trendy —for an internet heartbeat— and then it became cool so the hipsters had to start making fun of it (hey, I’m not denying free will, just pointing out tribes will follow their defined behaviours). I’d like to say curation as a word used on the internet is now in a post-hipster phase. The problem with post-hipster goods, is that they are blemished/soiled; there remains a nasty aftertaste, akin to dehydrated coffee breath. Even when you brush it out, the memory and dehydration remains for a time. Mending this is impossible(?), or at least there will always be left a poisoning memento.

Upon dwelling upon this thought, I thought, what could I cough, curate, cough, cough. Keen to write and share, nay, curate (say yes), more regularly (yes) without sacrificing quality (yes) or copying (oh) a very well-known format and being a poor man’s n-1 (no), e.g., Marks could cruelly be called a poor man’s Gruber1.

By your powers combined a lack of broad, new exploration around the web in my recent years, I am Captain Planet! I awake from a mossy, foggy slumber, drowning. Drowing in a harsh, jagged, isolated rock-pool full of stagnanting green-brown seawater and not much else, to start the following weekly series of posts: Links. In common with Terpstra’s Web Excursions Series will be the fact it is weekly, and have the category Links. From there I diverge.

Each weekly post will have an introduction to contexturalise, which composes my thoughts peppered with links; then the links section, which will compose links peppered with my thoughts.

Simple as. Oh, and weekly does not always in this case mean I will do this for every week! What it means is that these are links I found throughout the titular week. But as it sounds like amazing fun, I just might manage about every week. How hard can it be to dig through my history [ed - haha, you have a filthy mind reader] and post regularly the most interesting things I find on the web, when I am on a horizon expanding mission? Yes, this shall be curated by me, to me, to me, to you. Diary, history, knowledge and gout-inducingly rich (or not), I hope you’ll find it delectable.

It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy (or not), like De Gaulle’s guilt complex (as discussed in an early episode of The Iron Triangle Podcast), where if I am only fishing in my stagnant rock-pool (that I was, if you’ll remember only until recently still drowning in), the results will not be good.

I’ve already trawled Week 46, and the results are all from the rock-pool, so I’ll spare you the rancid limpets and rotting fish flesh and get out to sea. The best way to keep abreast is to use an RSS service such as Google Reader (format agnostic) which I’d personally recommend Apple users combine with the beautiful the excellent application Reeder (Mac & iOS) to subscribe to my RSS feed.

  1. Comparing the two is ludicrous. Though they both sometimes hit the same ball/ripe melon/frenemy/tech journtalist/blogger with their bats, their personalties diverge where their opinions may be analogous. One is not, I feel, a derivative of the other. The bats are different. The swing is different. The backstory is different. It’s a Cinderella Story. ↩

AuthorI.B. Simpson