Learning to code is turning into what can the Raspberry Pi do?

PicturePhoto Credit: G. T. Wang via Compfight cc

This week, after spending quite a bit of time learning a tiny amount about the world of Scratch, I decided to revisit the basic workings of the Raspberry Pi again.  I had read that there are a few simple projects that you can do with different operating systems and I decided to give a few of them a try.  I am pretty impressed with the operating system, Raspbian, that I downloaded from the official Raspberry Pi (RPi) website but there are a few things that I wanted to be able to do before I tried some of the other Os’s. I wanted to figure out how to make the RPi print.  After some research into this I discovered a tutorial on How-to Geek (they also have a really great ‘What is a Raspberry Pi‘ article that I took the time to read) that would help me figure this out. I needed to install the Common Unix Printing System (CUPS) before this would work and to do this I would need some basic command-line information. I was doing all of this via the web browser on the RPi and it was a simple task to reduce the size of the browser window, open a terminal window and start to type… Did I forget to mention that the RPi can multitask too?  A few lines of code – sudo apt-get update, then sudo apt-get upgrade, to make sure the RPi had the latest updates to Raspbian, then sudo apt-get install cups. after CUPS finished installing, I entered the CUPS setup tool via the web browser, clicked a few buttons and answered a few questions and I printed my first test page.  I quickly shut down the browser, opened the word processor, Libre-Office and typed a quick document, printed it, and did a happy dance. Then I showed it to my wife, she was noticeably unimpressed with my technical prowess, but did manage a ‘That’s nice dear, could you take the compost out, please?”

​What did I learn today? I found a really great resource How-To Geek, that has quite a few tutorials for the Raspberry Pi. I discovered how to update, and upgrade the device, as well as, I am now able to print documents, web pages, pictures, or anything else that I need.

What can the Raspberry Pi do, part 2.

PicturePhoto Credit: NunoCardoso via Compfight cc

 I really like to play games. Not just any games, I like old arcade games, or games that I can start and finish in 5 to 10 minutes. One of my favourites is Space Invaders, a stand-up, consloe game from the 1978. In my early teen years, I spent a considerable amount of quarters trying, and failing, to get good at this game. I have a friend who mentioned that the RPi made a good game emulator so I decided to find out how to make mine play Space Invaders.  I started with a google search for ‘how to play games on the Raspberry Pi’ and the first youtube link was titled “Raspberry Pi Emulator Setup In Less Than 5 Minutes” and as I watched it, I thought, “I wonder what else this guy has done?” I headed over to his website Pi My Life Up, and was amazed by the amount of great material that Gus (Can’t find his last name) has created. He has over 80 videos on his Youtube channel and all of them are very well done, clear and easy to follow. 

Folowing Gus from Pi My Life Up’s suggestion, I went to the RetroPi website to download the software that they have created. It is a game emulation package that will run any old computer/video games that you have the code for.  I downloaded the sd card image, flashed it to a micro sd card, plugged it into the RPi, turned it on and I was playing the pre-installed games that come with the emulator. It has turned my RPi into an amazing game machine. Now I have to find a copy of Space Invaders…

What did I learn? I learned that multiple sd cards, each with different operating systems on them is a better way to go. I had problems getting the RretroPi software to install on top of Raspbian. Some more command line coding was needed and I am beginning to think that I will be spending most of my time learning the Linux operating system in the next while. I found a couple of really great web resources, Pi My Life Up, which has some easy, fun, projects, complete with Youtube videos for those who learn better visually. I also discovered the abandon-ware software market. It is mostly free to use because the creators are no longer supporting the software, and most importantly, it is a great way to find old, out of service games.

Next time? I’m going to try to turn the Raspberry Pi into a Chrome book with Chromium OS…