PiLights part 1 – kit and test code

At work, we have a system that lots of users interact with, but which sometimes needs some “alone time”. From time to time, we email our users and ask them to close the client application, so that it can do what it needs to do. (Needless to say, this software was not written in-house!) Users being what they are – and emails being what they are – this approach leaves something to be desired.

A colleague and I put our heads together and decided that we needed something obvious, intuitive and highly visible. “What if,” we thought, “we could wire up some traffic lights to a Raspberry Pi?” So that’s what we decided to do. In this multi-post blog series, I’ll outline what parts we used, how we wrote the software, and how we made our little old Pi ready for the enterprise environment. In this first episode, I’ll focus on how we got to a working proof-of-concept.

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Tools of the trade – my top 3 peripherals at work

This post was inspired by conversation I had at my desk today. It’s a conversation that takes place every now and again and it always takes the same form: someone will come over to my desk, start using my mouse, and remark on how lovely it is. They aren’t wrong. My mouse is excellent. Not flashy, but quietly brilliant. And it’s not just my mouse either. My keyboard is a joy to type on and I have some pretty nice wireless headphones too.

Now, the point of this post isn’t to boast about all my lovely things. As I point out in these desk-side conversations: these are the tools of my trade. During the week, I spend fully a third of my waking hours using a keyboard and mouse to cajole electrons into doing my bidding. Whilst I’m doing this, I very often use my headphones to shelter my concentration from the noisy open-plan office around me. Given that I’m using these things so much, any minor niggles can add up to become real productivity drains. In short, it’s pretty important to work with decent tools.

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