Long cold winter

During the long cold winter I spent some time coding.
I continued with my kitchen computer project.
First I chose to stick with Raspbian.
I chose to give up on Python and I am using Lazarus to program the kitchen computer.

I tried and tried to use Python but it was just too awkward to use for a GUI.
I switched to Lazarus and within a few hours I had the frame work for the interface. It is not finished and there is still some way to go.
I was able to load this portion on the Raspberry Pi and confirm that the buttons were accessible. The only issue I have right now is that the radio buttons are very small and quite close together.
Like all projects, I added more things. It is going to keep track of food for reordering when we are getting low, and I started to add a couple of timers. Now I think it might be too complex, so I need to go back and revisit it.

This is where things came to a stop.

My project got put on hold because I signed up for some EDX courses and that took a good chunk of 3 months. I actually took on too much all at the same time. I finished one course and the other is open until Dec 2014. I am just auditing them but it is fun to do.

I got a Raspberry Pi, now I need a suitable distro for a touch screen

I installed Raspbian before Christmas & I thought I should update the distro seeing that there was a newer version dated Feb 2013.

The touch screen finally came and I plugged it in and the display worked but the touch screen did not.
I was about to send an email to their tech support, when I thought I could try another distro.

I found a utility called Berry Boot that allows you to multi-boot several different Linux distros and makes it much easier to install several distros on the same SD card and try them.

So I started adding distros to a SD card: Raspbian, Puppy, RaspRazor and Sugar. There was also an update for Berry Boot, & a newer version of Raspbian. Wow now the touch screen works!
Now that I had a working touch screen, my criteria sort of changed and there was always something that prevented a given distro from being chosen.
The criteria I had were
1) icons on the desktop
2) one click to start a program
3) ablity to access my network smb drive
4) no login screen.
5) the ability to increase the toolbar or desktop fonticon size to “finger size”

My thoughts for my kitchen computer is sort of a kiosk computer where there is no physical mouse or keyboard.
I’m also looking at Arch, Raspbian, Puppy, RaspRazor, Pidora, PiBang, Bodhi, with various desktops like E17 XFCE and Openbox
Right now I have PiBang – XFCE riding over top of Openbox. It seems like the front runner

I got a Raspberry Pi, now what?

Last Christmas I got a Raspberry Pi as a present. I ran out and got a used hdmi monitor for $40 so I could try it out.
I decided to choose Raspbian for my operating system but I had to find instructions for installing it from Linux onto a SD card. It seemed so complicated. Even though I have used Linux for several years now, I really do not use the command line very much. The easy instructions were there if you use Windows.

I nervously loaded Raspbian on to a SD card. knowing that it could wreck my system if I made a mistake. The first few efforts did not work because the instructions were written by someone who knows the CLI very well, and was not described with enough information for someone who had not done this a billion times before.

It booted OK and I began to play around with it. My first thought was I could use it in my Dalek: speech, camera, motor control and remote control all on one PCB. But after doing a little studying about the GPIOs and the overall capability, I realized the amount of current that the R-Pi draws, the limitations of the GPIO and of the overall speed and other complications. I felt that I could accomplish 80% of the items with a Picaxe or Arduino but without some of those extra complications.

So if not for the Dalek, what should I do with it? Well I thought I could turn it into a media centre, however we have a Boxee, a Roku and a Xbox already. How many media centres do I need?
I started looking at what other people had done with their Raspberry Pi’s but I could not find anything that grabbed me or that I liked that could not be done with an Arduino.
I was ready to install a media centre on to it, then inspiration came.

We had planned to have our kitchen renovated for the last year and I suggested to my wife how we needed a computer for the new kitchen. It was sort of a joke when I suggested it, but I looked on line and found a 10″ touch screen available. $134 plus s&h. I suggested this to my wife expecting her to squash the idea but she said, yes, go for it.

I promptly ordered the touch screen (before she could change her mind). It took 9 weeks for the screen to arrive because even though the website showed it was in stock it actually was out of stock. During this time I started to look for a suitable programming language and define the GUI in my head. I assumed that I would actually be using Raspbian.