Friday, January 31, 2014

Let’s make a Pi

One of my aims with my solo attempts at ISV’dom is to try and allocate a portion of the sales income to good causes.  Obviously this isn’t happening at the moment but a recent Facebook conversation led to an exciting opportunity to do something.

I was responding to a friend who runs a charity, called Life Begins, based in Livingstone, Zambia. Lynne (our friend) had posted up an entry showing some local kids crowded around her laptop checking out Facebook. Apparently an opportunity to obtain some old computers was a possibility.

“Pity we couldn’t get some Raspberry Pi’s out to you” was my response.

RaspPi4What followed was brilliant.  After the chat Lynne went off browsing all things Pi and, like many before her, was instantly amazed.  A quick agreement to donate two Pi kits (Pi, case, keyboard, mouse, cables, cards etc.) followed, with the charity funding another two. But hey, this was social media right! Another post to friends quickly funded another Pi kit leaving the charity with only a single Pi to fund.  Monitors would be sourced locally, with someone already lined up to help out.

Lynne’s planned trip to the UK two weeks later was then the target for pulling together the hardware and a suitable OS install. The hardware only required a few days to source and have delivered. The OS configuration was even easier than the last time I played with a Pi.  The NOOBS installer had Raspbian installed and running quickly - booting directly to a desktop. A desktop tidy up and an install of LibreOffice resulted in a great little introductory computer which the kids, and adults alike, can use for education and acquiring computer skills.

I left Scratch and IDLE installed and available from the desktop too.

The only hiccup in the whole process was with the secondary, backup, SD cards I’d bought.  The image created from the installation using the pre-installed SD cards was too big to fit on the backup cards (even though both were 8GB). The installation was simple enough to do again on  the smaller cards though, and a new image was created and written to all 8 cards (1 primary and 1 backup per Pi).

The Pi’s are en-route to Zambia now and we’re looking forward to the first reports appearing on Facebook as they’re put to use!

If you would like to follow their progress then pictures and updates will appear on the Life Begins Facebook page.