Ask any programmer/sys admin/general geek about the Raspberry Pi and they’ll most likely have heard of it. The little inexpensive computer was first designed to get kids into coding but its price and form factor have made it an ideal fit for an incredible amount of DIY projects. I’m going to look at a few project ideas that could be of use to the modern tech company office, from the utilitarian to the wacky and fun.
Here at Vidatec HQ, our Raspberry Pi is plugged into a monitor constantly keeping an eye on our server stats. All that is required is to set your Pi up to boot to a full screen instance of Chromium and navigate to a page you have set up, so there is no reason you can’t set up a web page that pulls in relevant stats to your company, such as website analytics or social media stats. Details on how to set that up are here.
Within a fast-moving and diverse company, it can be difficult to keep track of what’s happening in the office at any given moment. Shared calendars can be utilised to improve communication and avoid any double booking of important rooms. Luckily, it’s pretty simple to set up a Pi to display a Google calendar.
There is one important thing, and it is impossible to escape in a modern office, it is the need to share files. There are many cloud-based solutions but unfortunately these rely on a fast upload and download speed for your office broadband connection and using a remote file store can often be a clumsy way to share data with colleagues. A simpler way to host commonly used files is on a local network file server. This means that files can be accessed from anywhere in the office and as files are not stored offsite, you keep full control of your data, your files are secure and up/down speeds are often faster.
Now, obviously a tiny ARM based computer on your office network is never going to replace a server that is capable of hosting your company website. However, for the purposes of hosting intranet materials such as employee handbooks or an internal noticeboard, a Pi can be a great and inexpensive solution. As it is a full Linux box, it supports many web technologies such as Apache, Django and Node.js, so you can take your pick of technology to host internal materials, these are installed and configured the same as you would on any other Linux machine, making it easy to set up if you have experience.
What’s an office without some good music? And making sure one person isn’t solely responsible for the music is vital in keeping everyone happy (this had to happen at Vidatec due to some ahem disagreements…). So, what better solution than a collaborative jukebox? Using the brilliant Mopidy software, you can load up your Pi with music or connect to a number of cloud services such as Spotify, Soundcloud or Google Play Music and allow multiple users to contribute to the office playlist. Tada! No more Bryan Adams marathons. Or ALL the Bryan Adams marathons.
Now onto the weirder ones, which isn’t to say they’re not cool… Cloud texting company Zipwhip have posted instructions on how you can turn your regular coffee machine into a fancy Internet connected machine that will make coffee at your (SMS) command.
Office life can’t be work all the time, everybody needs a break now and then, and what better way than to play retro games on your Raspberry Pi? The RetroPie project has been going since 2013 and features support for a wide range of consoles from the Commodore 64 to the PlayStation 1, FTP file transfer for game ROMs, USB controllers among other things that make playing retro games on your Pi a breeze.
We’re a tech company, so we’ll take any chance we get to jump on some cool technologies. As people often work remotely, it’s hard for us to know who’s in the office at any given time, so having an iBeacon in the office to automatically check people in would be a great solution. This guide on Adafruit details how to put together your very own (p)iBeacon.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using a Raspberry Pi, let us know on our social media channels if you try any of these or come up with a cool idea we might like.