Raspberry Pi Projects

I have in my possession two Raspberry Pi’s. The first one is the one we take to GeekOut Bristol Meets, which has a bunch of retro games on it. I’ve got a bunch of controllers for it, where it acts as our sort of mini retro arcade. Great. But my other Raspberry Pi I’ve not really done much with for a while. Originally, I was going to have it as a sort of “task manager”, where you press a tick button to say you’ve done the task. However, I never got around to it. Now I keep looking at it and I’m thinking of doing something else with it. Here’s a couple of projects I’m considering for my Pi – So hopefully you’ll get some ideas what to do with yours!

I have in my possession two Raspberry Pi’s. The first one is the one we take to GeekOut Bristol Meets, which has a bunch of retro games on it. I’ve got a bunch of controllers for it, where it acts as our sort of mini retro arcade. Great. But my other Raspberry Pi I’ve not really done much with for a while. Originally, I was going to have it as a sort of “task manager”, where you press a tick button to say you’ve done the task. However, I never got around to it. Now I keep looking at it and I’m thinking of doing something else with it. Here’s a couple of projects I’m considering for my Pi – So hopefully you’ll get some ideas what to do with yours!

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Microsoft’s Twitter Bot Backfires Spectacularly

The media was abuzz for approximately 24 hours when Microsoft released a Twitter bot and then subsequently shut it down. What a quick turn of events this was, but hey – If you take everything with a pinch of salt, it’s amusing yet somewhat disturbing all at the same time. Join Timlah as we look through what Microsoft did, all in the name of a fictional teenage girl they called Tay.

The media was abuzz for approximately 24 hours when Microsoft released a Twitter bot and then subsequently shut it down. What a quick turn of events this was, but hey – If you take everything with a pinch of salt, it’s amusing yet somewhat disturbing all at the same time. Join Timlah as we look through what Microsoft did, all in the name of a fictional teenage girl they called Tay.

Continue reading “Microsoft’s Twitter Bot Backfires Spectacularly”

Old Websites on the New Web

Have you ever sat there, read through a website and thought “my god, that’s an old/bad looking page”? But why aren’t these old sites updated to look more modern? Today’s topic is a discussion on old vs new in internet technology.

Have you ever sat there, read through a website and thought “my god, that’s an old/bad looking page”? But why aren’t these old sites updated to look more modern? Today’s topic is a discussion on old vs new in internet technology.

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Video Game Highlight – Saboteur

Technology and the way games are published and made is very different today from how it was 30 years ago. You could say the same for any other industry, however the games industry I think has moved way faster than any other. Recently there has been a resurgence of games programmed by very small teams or a single developer with the re-birth of the indie scene. This may have something to do with the fact that computers are a much more consumable commodity and of course owe a little something to distribution services and easy ways to pay, like Steam. Thirty years ago these people were dubbed bedroom coders and I need you to imagine yourself back this far. Put yourself back in the year 1985 and in the mind of the then 18 year old, sole developer and self confessed college drop-out heralding from Taunton named Clive Townsend.

Technology and the way games are published and made is very different today from how it was 30 years ago. You could say the same for any other industry, however the games industry I think has moved way faster than any other. Recently there has been a resurgence of games programmed by very small teams or a single developer with the re-birth of the indie scene. This may have something to do with the fact that computers are a much more consumable commodity and of course owe a little something to distribution services and easy ways to pay, like Steam. Thirty years ago these people were dubbed bedroom coders and I need you to imagine yourself back this far. Put yourself back in the year 1985 and in the mind of the then 18 year old, sole developer and self confessed college drop-out heralding from Taunton named Clive Townsend.

Continue reading “Video Game Highlight – Saboteur”

Googles Alphabet

Those of you who were paying attention to social media on Monday may have heard that Google have a new parent company. That’s not a joke, that’s the gods honest truth, there is now a new parent company for the already massive mega corporation that is Google. The new parent company is a seemingly brand new company that goes under the name of Alphabet, but what does this mean exactly? There was a lot of confusion on Monday, but if you’ve been reading then it actually makes some sense.

Those of you who were paying attention to social media on Monday may have heard that Google have a new parent company. That’s not a joke, that’s the gods honest truth, there is now a new parent company for the already massive mega corporation that is Google. The new parent company is a seemingly brand new company that goes under the name of Alphabet, but what does this mean exactly? There was a lot of confusion on Monday, but if you’ve been reading then it actually makes some sense.

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Web Wednesday – CSS Part 2

CSS, Cascading Style Sheets, are a wacky and wonderful part of the internet. Without it, we will not have all of the beautiful websites of the world today. Read on for some pseudo-related tips and tricks!

CSS, Cascading Style Sheets, are a wacky and wonderful part of the internet. Without it, we will not have all of the beautiful websites of the world today. Couple this powerful, beautiful styling language with our websites skeleton language, HTML, we’ve got an incredible combination. Here’s some more CSS tips and tricks before we move onto the next section of Web Wednesday.

CSS3_Logo

Let’s catch up and do a quick recap of Web Wednesday so far. We’ve already covered HTML in our first lesson, where we were able to create a functional website. It didn’t have much going on, but we had a website and we were proud of that face.

Next up, we started to look into CSS, the stylish language of the internet! We started to look at these things we call Divs as well as using ID’s and Classes to define specific elements of a webpage. We’ve made them look pretty and made them look crazy too. We’ve smoothed edges and even made a circle just out of CSS!

Circle
CSS is cool!

Pseudo-Class

So far, we’ve simply discussed how to change the style of an element, but what about whenever something happens with that element? What if someone hovered their cursor over a box which you wanted to have change into a different colour on mouse over? Introducing element properties into your website makes it feel that much more dynamic and responsive. To apply a pseudo-class to an element, you need to use a colon. So it is written like “Element-name : pseudo-class-name”.

Here’s a simple example:

<html>
<head>
<title>My test</title>
<style type="text/css">
  a:hover {
    color: #FF0000;
  }
</style>
</head>
<body>
  <a href=””>Click me please!</a>
</body>
</html>

Save the above as test.html and open it up in your web browser. Then move your cursor over the link. What happens?

Link hover

You know that menu bar up at the top of this website? Whenever you move your cursor over it, this is what it’s doing. It’s registered a Pseudo-Class is there and it applies the element whenever the pseudo-class is called (I.E whenever you move your cursor over it.)

Most people use these purely for links, but you can do things like this to just about any element you see fit… Including this:

<html>
<head>
  <title>My test</title>
  <style type="text/css">
    .mydiv {
      background-color: #FF00FF;
      height: 200px;
      width: 200px;
    }
    .mydiv:hover {
      background-color: #FF0000;
    }
  </style>
</head>
<body>
  <div class="mydiv" />
</body>
</html>

Go ahead and save this file, then open it. You’ll be presented with a pink square of 200 pixels by 200 pixels in size. If you move your cursor over this, it turns red. It is possible to do this to just about anything you want to, so it’s a neat trick.

Hover challenge
When hovered over, the above file should turn the square from pink to red.

Pseudo-elements

We’ve gone too deep, so we must dig a little deeper. Now, it’s time for CSS to do some really funky things.

You know our favourite p tag? Paragraphs are great, but sometimes you want to put added emphasis on, for example, the first line of a paragraph. Well how can we do this? Here comes an example of a pseudo-element:

Changing the first letter ONLY

Do you know those fancy letters? You know the ones, the ones that are bigger than all other letters, look important at the beginning of a chapters’ paragraph in a book. It might be the first letter in an article. Well the way you can do that, instead of reusing a lot of annoying code around these letters, is with CSS Pseudo-Elements. The biggest difference with using a pseudo-element is to use two colons (::) rather than the 1 colon which is used for pseudo-classes.

<html>
<head>
  <title>My test</title>
  <style type="text/css">
    p::first-letter {
      font-size: xx-large;
      color: red;
    }
    p#stylegraph {
      color: orange;
      font-size: 20pt;
    }
    p.stylish {
      color: green;
      font-size: xx-small;
    }
  </style>
</head>
<body>
  <p> This is my first paragraph! </p>
  <p id="stylegraph">This is a stylish paragraph</p>
  <p class="stylish"> This is my small paragraph! </p>
</body>
</html>

And saving that gives us this result:

first letter challengeThere’s a lot to take in here, but the most important thing to take in is that on every paragraph, the first letter has been affected as we targetted the <p> tag, rather than a specific ID or Class. Those took on the extras from their parent tag (that <p> tag).

That’s it. No more. We’re done. No more need for styling our websites. But there is a need for you guys to be set a little bit of CSS homework. Why not take these slightly tougher challenges this week and share with us your results. If you found them all easy enough, then you’re on your way to being a Design Wiz. This wasn’t so hard, was it?!

  1. Create a div which has an orange background, is 100×400 pixels
  2. Create a really simple webpage with the following features:
    • A header picture
    • A header where the font-size is 42 pixels
    • A large box for content with a solid border
    • A footer, where all text inside of the footer is just 8px.
    • Some text that when you highlight it has a yellow background behind it.
      Think about how you would implement this one, as it’s tricky. I’d recommend thinking about how <Div tags> and Pseudo-Elements work.
  3. A website with 5 100×100 boxes of different colours (red, yellow, pink, green, purple – Or whatever colours you want) that as you hover over them change colour.

Let me know what you think about the challenges and until next time, I hope to speak to you all soon. As always, comment below, over on Facebook or Twitter and I’ll happily help out if there are any problems!

Web Wednesday – Beginners’ CSS

Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, is what makes the internet a truly beautiful, stylish place. Last Web Wednesday, we looked at the basics of HTML. We showed off a few funky tricks and we’re well aware that HTML is like the bones of a website. They are what help you structure your website in a meaningful way. Divs, Tables, Headers, Paragraphs – Tags. That’s HTML in a nutshell – So how different is CSS and how important is it for a website?

Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, is what makes the internet a truly beautiful, stylish place. Last Web Wednesday, we looked at the basics of HTML. We showed off a few funky tricks and we’re well aware that HTML is like the bones of a website. They are what help you structure your website in a meaningful way. Divs, Tables, Headers, Paragraphs – Tags. That’s HTML in a nutshell – So how different is CSS and how important is it for a website?

Continue reading “Web Wednesday – Beginners’ CSS”

Web Wednesday – Beginners’ HTML

HTML is the structure, the bones of the internet. Every page you look at has HTML at its core, so if you’re even somewhat interested in why we word things the way we do on the web, or if you’re just curious as to what all this talk about this magical HTML5 is, this is the series for you. Welcome to Web Wednesday!

HTML is the structure, the bones of the internet. Every page you look at has HTML at its core, so if you’re even somewhat interested in why we word things the way we do on the web, or if you’re just curious as to what all this talk about this magical HTML5 is, this is the series for you. Welcome to Web Wednesday, a new series I’m running to help encourage people to get involved with web development. If you enjoy this series, please go and take your knowledge further and let me know in the comments what you do thanks to these simple lessons.

Continue reading “Web Wednesday – Beginners’ HTML”

Roll20 Campaigns

Roll20 was designed to allow people across the world to have a virtual tabletop. Unlike Tabletop Simulator, Roll20 aims to provide an easy way to integrate your camera and microphone, as well as an environment fit for running an RPG campaign.

Roll20I’ve briefly discussed the website Roll20 on here in the past, but I’ve never looked at the system for running or playing on a campaign. Recently, I have been getting involved in a Numenera campaign with some friends. Whilst I won’t be showing anything that’s happening from that campaign, I will show you what Roll20 does and how you can make the most out of the amazing tabletop platform.

Roll20 was designed to allow people across the world to have a virtual tabletop. Unlike Tabletop Simulator, Roll20 aims to provide an easy way to integrate your camera and microphone, as well as an environment fit for running an RPG campaign. It’s used by tens of thousands of people and the community is really buzzing, full of wonderful campaigns and rooms ready for people to jump right into.

Looking For Group Roll20

To play a game in Roll20, you have two main options: Form a group with your friends, as you would in real life and have one of them be the DM, or use the Looking For Group system. This matchmaking system simply allows you to find and select a game to go and join. Of course, DMs can decide not to put their game on the LFG system, so it’s not like you’ll always be running a campaign and some random person shows up!

Okay, but what about for the DMs and the players? Thankfully, whenever you need to do a roll, you can do this within the Roll20 Campaign itself, by simply going to the chatbox and typing in /r d20. That will roll one 20-sided dice, which is useful to know, but as you can imagine, just rolling one 20-sided dice alone isn’t particularly useful. Instead, you can do combinations of things such as /r 5d6 to roll five 6-sided dice. It’s an intuitive system and you can have 3D dice appear on your screen to accommodate it, should you want so see something physically rolling. You can also make macros of your spells and abilities. For example, if I said I wanted to use Firebolt, which was 2d8 with a 50% chance of burning, I could have it so my character says out loud: Firebolt! Rolls 2d8 and immediately after rolls a d2. This speeds up the flow of gameplay, allowing you all to focus more on the story.

Calculations
I rolled a few too many…

In the world itself, you can build up your campaigns by managing the three layers: Tokens, Maps and Tiles, Portraits and there’s also an Everything option. This allows you to search the internet for specific things. For example, in the campaign I’ve been building as an example, you’ll see Pikachu and Dugtrio standing on Kanto. The Kanto map was put into the Maps and Tiles slot, whereas the Pikachu and Dugtrio are on the Tokens layer.

It’s very possible for DMs to set up the whole game before it becomes available. Do you see the Meowth just above Pikachu, who is somewhat transparent? He’s like that because he’s on the DM layer, a way for a DM to set up a game before his party comes to play. When that Pesky Pikachu comes just close enough, Meowth will emerge from the shadows and start off a Pokemon battle… I mean RPG battle.

Epic Battle

Not only this, you can put music in your game, to make it that much more epic. Of course, for this Pokemon themed adventure staring Pikachu who wants to go and defeat the infamous Dugtrio trio (How do I ever think these things up?) I chose a battle theme absolutely befitting this situation…

Powered by Soundcloud

Along with this, you can build up characters, including their character sheets, so the game itself can reference these characters. It’s particularly useful to build up your characters before you start playing, as otherwise you’ll have to make them when playing your campaign: and no body wants to sit there and wait for you. Whilst an impromptu character is of course different, if you have main characters, prepare them before your campaign starts and the whole experience becomes seamless and almost interruption free. Unless you’re like me and you happen to keep playing music at people…

Create Campaign

Okay, so I’ve given you a rather cheesy look through the Roll20 system. You can add music, you can add materials and now thanks to the way they’ve continuously developed the system, you can choose from the start a template for your campaign. This means you can build a game off another game, or you can just use the free template character sheets. You select all of these extra options back when you’re making the campaign.

To see more with Roll20 please do go and check it out for yourself – It’s free to use, but you get more features such as the powerful scripting API, if you become a mentor or a backer at some level. it seems that since I last wrote about Roll20, there have been numerous things added in (Such as the built in character sheets, for one!) It’s apparent to me there is a great community behind Roll20 so please check out the wiki for more information on using it. Do you use this service? What do you think about doing a tabletop RPG over the internet? As always, please put your comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you think of this awesome web platform.

 

Giift

I’m an avid enthusiast for new technologies, new platforms and new websites.

I was contacted by someone and told about this Giift thing and I thought “Well that sounds good.”

Oh, but I digress, I haven’t even introduced you all to Giift. Let me introduce you now:

What is Giift

I’ll keep this brief but to the point, as I like to do:

Giift.com is a free service which looks to bring all of your reward, mileage, gift and membership cards, your vouchers/coupons and loyalty programs all under one roof. No more do we need to have an excessively large wallet to carry around all of those bits of plastic, our cards. So in a way, this could be viewed as the eco-friendly method of carrying your business, loyalty, travel and gift cards. There, free sales pitch for them without having to pay me, somebody should consider me as their advertising PR!

Anything else?

Giift.com allows you to monitor the monetary value of your cards, buy things with your cards online and even trade some of your cards.

Have you ever found that you have a gift card that you just don’t have an interest in using? Yeah, me too. I have had a few gift cards in the past where I’ve had to impulse buy something random or buy something for a friend. With Giift, you can trade those unwanted cards for a different gift card or you can trade them for actual cash. Nice!

Where is it available?

It seems to be available all over the world, although I have read somewhere that this is taking the most effect in America and China.

I think the site is a great idea. With the digitalisation of a lot of traditional funds, such as PayPal, BitCoin, online banking and much more, it seems like another step to removing the plastic cards and just constantly being connected and ready to go.

What do you think about the idea? Think there’d be much use in this where you live? Learn more by checking out their site.