Raspberry Pi roundup: Searching for Pi, steampunk laptops, Code Angels, and a visit to Competitor Corner

Our weekly roundup of all things Raspberry Pi.

One of the first big stories about the Raspberry Pi when it hit retail shelves more than five years ago was that it didn’t actually hit most retail shelves. Availability was a serious issue at launch, as the Raspberry Pi Foundation didn’t yet realize what a hit it had on its hands, and initial supplies didn’t last long. Pis began popping up on eBay for substantially inflated prices.

The situation has gotten a lot more reasonable these days, but, for those of you having Pi sourcing problems, never fear – Italian developer Marco Della Valle has created an attractive, functional site that automatically checks major retailers for their supplies of the Raspberry Pi Zero and Zero W models.

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The Pi Locator – which is live here – also highlights the delivery area for each retailer, so that you can tell whether supplies are available in your country.

Competitor Corner

The world of hobbyist computing is generally collegial and friendly. That doesn’t lend itself to a good metaphor, so we will instead describe the Raspberry Pi as the grizzled gunfighter in an old west saloon, against whom the young upstarts test their mettle and become another notch on the barrel of its battered six-shooters.

orangepifinal Orange Pi

The Orange Pi Prime development board can be used as a PC.

The latest cocky young greenhorn to stalk through those weird half-door thingies is Orange Pi, which has a wide range of Pi-alikes, all of which are priced to move – the Orange Pi Prime is a $30 board that does more or less the same things as the $35 Raspberry Pi 3, and throws in a Mali-450 GPU, to boot. The $10 Orange Pi 2G-IoT has, as its name suggests, a 2G modem for long-distance data transmission, and is otherwise similar to a Pi Zero W.

Orange Pi is the brainchild of China-based semiconductor company Allwinner, which makes SoCs for tablets, smartphones and various kinds of media player. It’s also a notably poor open source citizen, getting into hot water over alleged GPL violations and for shipping products with a gaping back door built into their version of the Linux kernel.

So you might want to flash your own software if you plan on using their gadgets, but you sure can’t knock the price tag.

(H/T: IDG News Service)

Steampunk laptops

Steampunk, for those of you who have a particular aversion to Art Deco and brass, is a science-fiction-ish school of design that reimagines modern or futuristic technology with all sorts of gears and valves and other Victoriana. It can look awfully cool, if you’re into that sort of thing.

raspberrypi Rob Frazelle

So here’s a Raspberry Pi serving as the basis for a beautifully made steampunk laptop, awash in cogs and cams and gears and dials. It’s the creation of phrazelle, who made it for his girlfriend and detailed the creation process here at Instructables. It really is something else to look at, and it’s also fully functional – running the Pi-specific Pixel front end on top of the Raspbian Linux distro.

(H/T: The Raspberry Pi Foundation blog)

Code Angels

For some reason, people seem to think that learning to code is somehow a valuable skill in today’s workplace. I know, it seems weird to me, too – I’ve always thought that English majors made the big bucks – but there’s no changing their minds on this.

In all seriousness, there’s an upcoming Kickstarter for a service called Code Angel that promises to teach users how to code in Python, through a series of game development projects. If you don’t have a computer for the digital edition of Code Angel, they’ll send you a pre-configured Raspberry Pi in its own case so that you can get started.

When you screw up, you send them the code via their website and they critique it for you. Simple enough.

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