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Peeqo – The GIF Bot

via Raspberry Pi

Peeqo is a conversational UI that answers only in GIFs. For those who know me, it’s essentially the physical version of 90% of my text messages with friends and colleagues.

I’m sure that future historians will look back on 2016 (if they dare acknowledge its presence) as the year we returned to imagery as our main form of social interaction. Once upon a time, we communicated stories and emotions via drawings on cave walls and hieroglyphs etched into stone. Throw in a few thousand years of language evolution, and we’re right back to where we started, albeit with a few added frames of movement.

So whether you pronounce it GIF with a ‘Guh’ or GIF with a ‘Juh’, you’re sure to have come across one in your everyday life. After all, they make for a much better visual response than the boring old word format we’ve grown accustomed to.

So it’s no surprise that when programmer and developer Abhishek Singh introduced Reddit to Peeqo, he managed to peak-o* our GIF interest right away.

Peeqo was Singh’s thesis project at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. It was his attempt to merge the three things he loves: making things by hand, animated movies, and the GIF.

Some of you may be aware of Slack, a team messaging system used by businesses, groups, and charities (*ahem*) across the globe. One of Slack’s many features is the ability to pull GIFs from the popular GIF database GIPHY and display them in response to text conversation. Peeqo uses this same premise, searching keywords on the site to pull the correct response to your verbal communication with the bot.

(It’s a great lesson in making sure you use correct keywords when saving images to the web for public use, as some of the responses don’t always fit the mood. An example, which I will leave you to find, would be a specific Team America GIF that Liz has banned me from using in the Comms Team channel.)

Peeqo sits on your desk and uses the Google Speech API to detect the use of the wake word ‘Peeqo’ via one of four microphones, then it uses api.ai to search GIPHY for the correct response to your query. All of this runs with a Raspberry Pi at its heart, while two Arduinos work to control the LED notification ring atop its head and the servo motor that dictates the body’s movement. Peeqo also acts as a great bridge into home automation, controlling lights and other smart devices in your home or office, along with acting as a media player and new best friend work-based assistant.

I won’t go into the technical details of the build, but if you’re interested, an almost fully GIF-powered walkthrough of Peeqo is available here.

As is the case with so many of you lovely makers out there, Singh aims to make the entire project open-source; you can sign up for a notification as to when this will happen here.

Until then, here’s Abhishek explaining his project in more detail.

Abhishek Singh – PEEQO – YOUR DELIGHTFUL ROBOT ASSISTANT

Peeqo is a personal desktop robotic assistant who expresses himself through GIFs. Designed for people who spend long hours at their desks, this pint sized robot helps with essential work tasks and provides little moments of delight and entertainment often needed to get through the day. https://itp.nyu.edu/thesis2016/project/abhishek-singh http://peeqo.com

 

*Peak-o? Oh wow. Wow. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ll get my coat.

 

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Community Profile: Zach Igielman

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This column is from The MagPi issue 49. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

Zachary Igielman

Zach Igielman

Category: Maker
Day job: Student
Website

You may recognise the name Zachary Igielman from issue #38, where he was mentioned during our review of the exciting Pimoroni Piano HAT. The Piano HAT, for those unaware, was inspired by Zach’s own creation, the PiPiano, a successful crowdfunded add-on board that hit 184% of its funding two years ago. Aged 14, Zach had decided to incorporate his passions for making, engineering, and music, building himself a PCB that could use physical keys to control electronic sound files and Sonic Pi code. The PCB, he explains, is a great classroom tool, educating students on the fundamentals of physically building digital tech and soldering, through to understanding sound generation through PWM frequencies.

Zachary Igielman

PiPiano: Zach taught himself how to build a PCB in order to bring the PiPiano to life. Using Indiegogo to fund his project, Zach hit 184% of his target before approaching Pimoroni to hand over the design. And from his homemade PCB, the Piano HAT was born.

Zach began to teach himself to code aged 11, soon discovering the Raspberry Pi and, later, the Cambridge Raspberry Jams. It was through this collective of like-minded individuals that Zach was inspired to broaden his making skills, moving on to create line-following robots that avoided objects by using sensors.

Moving forward, Zach visited the Raspberry Pi offices for work experience, continuing to work on and study robots and robotic guides, working alongside our engineers to build upon his knowledge. It was around this time, in October 2014, that Zach met Frank Thomas-Hockey via Twitter. Frank was looking for help in creating the first London Raspberry Jam and Zach was more than willing to lend a hand. Between them, they 
set up the Covent Garden Jam, welcoming over 100 visitors to their first event. Their most recent Jam – now with the additional help of volunteers Ben, Paul, and Joseph – allowed them to simultaneously run workshops on soldering, Sonic Pi, and Minecraft, while also highlighting maker projects through show-and-tell sessions and talks.

Zachary Igielman Covent Garden Jam

Covent Garden Raspberry Pi Jam: Through Twitter, Zach met Frank in 2014, a like-minded Pi enthusiast looking to start a London-based Raspberry Jam. Between the two of them, they launched the first event at Dragon Hall, continuing the success of the Jam to now include multiple workshops, show-and-tell sessions, and talks.

Finally finished with his GCSE exams and about to begin his sixth-form studies in Maths, Further Maths, Physics, and Computing, Zach now has the time to continue his recent collaboration with friend Jake Blumenow.

Zach met Jake and built a fast friendship online, lovingly referring to him as a fellow “computer geek”. The two have worked on projects together, including several websites, and spent time travelling, bouncing ideas off one another with the aim of creating something important. It’s their most recent venture that’s worthy of recognition.

“At Google Campus, we developed our business model: we believe people of all ages have the right to understand how the technological world around us works, so they can modify and create their own technology.”

Between the two of them, they aim to create complete Raspberry Pi education kits, inviting beginners in making and coding to create functional projects, such as an alarm system, thus cementing the pair’s desire to highlight the day-to-day importance of tech in our lives.

Zachary Igielman Jake Blumenow

Collaboration with Jake Blumenow: Zach and Jake believe everyone has the right to understand how technology builds the world around them. With this in mind, they formed a partnership, working to create Raspberry Pi educational kits, starting with a DIY alarm system.

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The Raspberry Pi Christmas Shopping List 2016

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Feeling stuck for what to buy the beloved maker in your life? Maybe your niece wants to get into Minecraft hacking, or your Dad fancies his hand at home automation on a budget?

Maybe you’ve seen Raspberry Pi in the news and figure it would be a fun activity for the family, or you’re stuck for what to buy the Pi pro who’s slowly filling your spare room with wires, servers, and a mysterious, unidentified object that keeps beeping?

Whatever the reason, you’re in the right place. The Raspberry Pi Christmas Shopping List is here to help you out.

For the beginner

Here are some of our favourite bits to get them started.

  • A Raspberry Pi Starter Kit will give your budding maker everything they need to get started. There’s a whole host of options, from our own kit to project-specific collections from our friends at The Pi Hut and Pimoroni in the UK, Adafruit in the USA, Canakit in Canada, and RS Components across the globe.

Marc Scott Beginner's Guide to Coding Book

  • They may already have a screen, keyboard, and mouse, but having a separate display allows them free rein to play to their heart’s content. The pi-top takes the form of a laptop, while the pi-topCEED still requires a mouse and keyboard.

pi-top

CamJam EduKit

For the hobbyist

They’ve been tinkering with LEDs and servo motors for a while. Now it’s time to pull out the big guns.

  • Help to broaden their interest by introducing them to some of the brilliant products over at Bare Conductive. Pair up the Pi Cap with some Electric Paint, and they’ll create an interactive masterpiece by the time the Queen’s Speech is on.

Bare Conductive

  • Add to their maker toolkit with some of the great products in the RasPiO range. The GPIO Zero Ruler will be an instant hit, and a great stocking filler for anyone wanting to do more with the GPIO pins.

GPIO Zero Ruler

Camera Kit Adafruit

For the tech whizz

You don’t understand half the things they talk about at the dinner table, but they seem to be enthusiastic and that’s all that counts.

  • Help them organise their components with a handy Storage Organiser. We swear by them here at Pi Towers.

Storage

Helping Hand

  • And then there’s the PiBorg. Treat them to the superfast DiddyBorg and you’ll be hailed as gift-buyer supreme (sorry if you’ll have to better this next year).

Diddybord

  • And then there’s the Raspberry Pi Zero. Check out availability here and buy them the sought-after $5 beast of an SBC.

For the… I really have no idea what to buy them this year

There’s always one, right?

  • A physical subscription to The MagPi Magazine is sure to go down well. And with the added bonus of a free Raspberry Pi Zero, you’ll win this Christmastime. Well done, you!

MagPi_Logo

 

Stocking fillers for everyone

Regardless of their experience and tech know-how, here are some great stocking fillers that everyone will enjoy.

 

STEM-ish gifts that everyone will love

These books are top of everyone’s lists this year, and for good reason. Why not broaden the interest of the Pi fan in your life with one of these brilliant reads?

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Alex’s Festive Baubles

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I made a thing. And because I love you all, I’m going to share the thing with you. Thing? Things! I’m going to share the things. Here you go: baubles!

Raspberry Pi and Code Club Christmas Decorations

These 3D-printable Raspberry Pi and Code Club decorations are the perfect addition to any Christmas tree this year. And if you don’t have a tree, they’re the perfect non-festive addition to life in general. There’s really no reason to say no.

The .stl files you’ll need to make the baubles are available via MyMiniFactory (Raspberry Pi/Code Club) and Thingiverse (Raspberry Pi/Code Club). They’re published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 license. This means that you can make a pile of decorations for your tree and for your friends, though we do have to ask you not to change the designs, as the logos they’re based on are our trademarks.

Here’s a video of the prototype printout being made. If you can help it, try not to use a brim on your print. Brims, though helpful, are a nightmare to remove from the fiddly Pi logo.

Enjoy.

3D Printed Raspberry Pi Logo

Print time: 20 mins. Printer: Ultimaker 2+ Material: ABS With thanks to Makespace for use of the 3D printer: http://makespace.org/ and Safakash for the music: https://soundcloud.com/safakash

 

 

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Alex’s Festive Baubles

via Raspberry Pi

I made a thing. And because I love you all, I’m going to share the thing with you. Thing? Things! I’m going to share the things. Here you go: baubles!

Raspberry Pi and Code Club Christmas Decorations

These 3D-printable Raspberry Pi and Code Club decorations are the perfect addition to any Christmas tree this year. And if you don’t have a tree, they’re the perfect non-festive addition to life in general. There’s really no reason to say no.

The .stl files you’ll need to make the baubles are available via MyMiniFactory (Raspberry Pi/Code Club) and Thingiverse (Raspberry Pi/Code Club). They’re published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 license. This means that you can make a pile of decorations for your tree and for your friends, though we do have to ask you not to change the designs, as the logos they’re based on are our trademarks.

Here’s a video of the prototype printout being made. If you can help it, try not to use a brim on your print. Brims, though helpful, are a nightmare to remove from the fiddly Pi logo.

Enjoy.

3D Printed Raspberry Pi Logo

Print time: 20 mins. Printer: Ultimaker 2+ Material: ABS With thanks to Makespace for use of the 3D printer: http://makespace.org/ and Safakash for the music: https://soundcloud.com/safakash

 

 

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Announcing our new online training series

via Raspberry Pi

At the end of this week, with our final Picademy of 2016 taking place in Texas, we will have trained over 540 educators in the US and the UK this year, something of which we’re immensely proud. Our free face-to-face training has proved hugely popular: on average, we receive three eligible applications for each available place! However, this model of delivery is not without its limitations: after seeing our Picademy attendees getting excited on Twitter, we often get questions like: “Why haven’t you run a Picademy near me yet? When are you coming to train us?”

Cartoon: an apparently clothes-less man sits at a desk with a keyboard, monitor and Raspberry Pi, on a tiny sandy island surrounded by blue sea. A stick figure wearing a Pi T-shirt waits under a palm tree beside him to be taught about computing using Raspberry Pi. A shark repeatedly circles their island.

We grew frustrated at having to tell people that we didn’t have plans to provide Picademy in their region in the foreseeable future, so we decided to find a way to reach educators around the world with a more accessible training format.

We’re delighted to announce a new way for people to learn about digital making from Raspberry Pi: two free online CPD training courses, available anywhere in the world. The courses will run alongside our face-to-face training offerings (Picademy, Skycademy, and Code Club Teacher Training), and are facilitated by FutureLearn, a leading platform for online educational training. This new free training supports our commitment to President Obama’s Computer Science For All initiative, and we’re particularly pleased to be able to announce it just as Computer Science Education Week is getting underway. Here’s the lowdown on what you can expect:

Course 1: Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python

In the foreground, a Raspberry Pi computer with a small "traffic lights" board attached; it has red, yellow and green LEDs, and the yellow one is lit. In the background, various electronics components, a mouse and a keyboard.

This four-week course will introduce you to physical computing, showing you how easy it is to create a system that responds to and controls the physical world, using computer programs running on the Raspberry Pi. You’ll apply your new-found knowledge to a series of challenges, including controlling an LED with Python, using a button press to control a circuit, and making a button and LED game.

If you’re a teacher, you’ll also have the chance to develop ideas for using Raspberry Pi and Python in your classroom, and to connect with a network of other educators.

Course 2: Teaching Programming in Primary Schools

A boy and a girl aged around 9-11 years sit at a desk in a classroom, focussed on the activity they are doing using laptops. From the girl's screen we can see that she is programming in Scratch. A man sits beside the boy, helping him with his work.

This four-week course will provide a comprehensive introduction to programming, and is designed for primary or K-5 teachers who are not subject specialists. Over four weeks, we’ll introduce you to key programming concepts. You’ll have the chance to apply your understanding of them through projects, both unplugged and on a computer, using Scratch as the programming language. Discover common mistakes and pitfalls, and develop strategies to fix them.

Registration opens today, with the courses themselves starting mid-February 2017. We hope they will inspire a new army of enthusiastic makers around the world!

Visit our online training page on FutureLearn.

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