For years I have wanted a centralized digital home theater system. The limitations of almost every component failed for a variety of reasons. Cost being a big issue, limitations in computer speeds, noise and complexity all played their part in preventing me from getting the system that I wanted. The biggest issue was not requiring a full blown media center enabled PC on every television in the house. Even the cheapest PC is several hundred dollars, and you are forced to deal with consumable parts such as hard drives and fans wearing out. Size is also a big issue, and boot up times is REALLY annoying. Additionally, even the quietest of PC’s will add at least 30DB’s to the noise of the system by the time you add in several quiet cooling fans, power supplies, spinning hard drives, etc… The way around this is long cables, dedicated rooms, etc… which is just more cost, complexity, etc…
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Last year, I wrote about cancelling my home phone line with our local provider and replacing this home service using the wonderful “PBX in a Flash” software on a server located in my house. The original article details the process and hardware utilized. Of coarse, the overall goal of this project is to cut home phone service costs, provided better phone service. My wife Heather LOVES receiving voice mail messages on her computer via email.
In practice, there are a few draw backs to the the setup. The good news is that there are solutions to every problem.
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For months I considered purchasing a Raspberry Pi single board computer. For the unaware, the Raspberry Pi is a single board computer, which is amazingly inexpensive ($35) and reasonably powerful for its size and cost. The design concept was to create a small, inexpensive computer to use as a learning tool for children. The back-story is really cool and a great example of how things should be done, well worth the read.
The Raspberry Pi Model B is a 700Mhz ARM1176JZF-S core processor with 512 MB of ram. It has an HDMI and RCA video out, built in Ethernet, 2 USB connections and audio out. Storage is done with an SD card and powered by a 5 Volt, micro USB connection.
The first thing to know about the Raspberry Pi, is that this is all about cost for them. So, there is nothing extra in the package. When ordered, your will get the ‘board’, no power cord, no SD card, no case, nothing. This is not a pick one up from Best Buy and plug it in kind of computer. But that is part of its charm, and the intent behind it, is to teach kids how to work with computers.
Continue reading “A Little bit of Pi”