I’ve had a Rasberry Pi model B2 on top of my wardrobe since January 2012, but I hadn’t been able to think of a use for it until now. In particular, I had been reluctant to learn Python. Perhaps the name had put me off, the same as I won’t drink beers with strange names such as Bladdablasta, on the basis that if it has to have a strange name to make you notice it, probably it’s not very good.
But first I’d better see if I can get the Pi working. I plugged it all in and it came up straight away. My Eizo monitor has an HDMI input which I’m not using (I use the DisplayPort input for my PC) and I can just switch between the two computers with the monitor’s front panel button, so I can use the Pi and the PC simultaneously.
The first issue was that Eric (or do I mean IDLE?) was out of date. You have to update it by copying the new IDLE from the Pi website onto a new SD card (never overwrite you old SD card in case the update goes wrong and you have to revert to the old one). There instructions for copying the new IDLE 3 from the Pi website. I only had a 32 GB SD card in the drawer so I downloaded onto that using my PC and fast internet connection. It took hours. And then the Pi refused to boot from it.
When you go to the Pi website, the first thing they tell you is to reformat the SD card, which I had done, but I’d got some error message so I think the card wasn’t properly formatted, which may explain the really slow download.
So I bought a new 8 GB SD card and this time I didn’t try to format it. I decompressed the NOOBS software from the Pi website and copied it straight to the SD card.
I then put the card into the Pi, turned it on and it booted! After doing something (don’t ask me what) with the SD card, the Pi asked you to load Raspian Jessie. This is the current version of the operating system. Then it tells you it will extract the OS and load it onto the SD card. This took another 30 minutes. I sat there wondering if it would be worth it.
The next problem is that there are (at least) two versions of Python. I decided that in the interests of future-proofing, I’d used the latest, Python 3. But since much of the sample code is written for Python 2, and it seems there are some comaptibility issues, I anticipate that there will be trouble ahead.
Next Instalment – writing the RSS Parser Code.