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Posted by Emma Boyle, Gamer in Chief

If there’s one thing open world games want us to feel it’s a sense of possibility; they allow us to make choices about what we look like, where we go on their sprawling maps, how we fight – sometimes if we fight – and how we complete quests. Giving players control over how they complete quests often involves some kind of morality system where they can do the right thing or the wrong thing; kill or don’t kill, steal or don’t steal, work alongside the villainous character or go against them.

These choices are wonderful, but sometimes they can feel oddly sectioned off in that your decision in one part of the map has absolutely no affect on your reception in another part, or your interaction with a character, positive or negative, actually has no bearing on how the game plays out at all because everything has been scripted and has to play out a certain way. This can, unfortunately, leave the choice systems in these games feeling shallow and you as a player feeling ineffectual.

In his game Great Cascade, indie developer Brett Johnson seeks to find a way to make our choices as players feel more important to the outcome of the game, to create an open world “where characters remember and react to the things you do — where your actions matter.” He plans to do this through creating dynamic AI characters and using a system of cause and effect rather than a morality system or a scripted story with branching paths. Brett says that by creating characters with individual personality traits, memories, and goals, who will, as a result, act and react differently to your decisions the game’s story will emerge through your play and will be more obviously shaped by your choices.

The game’s trailer shows the kinds of decisions you’ll be able to make in action; you can help a character get back a mysterious box that’s been stolen from them or you can steal the box for yourself and sell it off to someone else that wants it. Whatever decision you make there will be consequences and it will shape the way the game and your character progresses. Brett says that at the start of every game character traits and relationships are completely randomized making each playthrough a different experience as each decision will be received differently.

Even outside of the game’s mechanics, we’re interested in its visuals; they’re simplistic and bright but extremely pretty and considering it’s coming from a one-man development studio, Great Cascade looks incredibly impressive.

Although there isn’t a release date for Great Cascade yet, the game is currently on Steam Greenlight for a PC and Mac release and Brett is recording its development on his blog. It might be in the early stages of development but Great Cascade has a promising and interesting approach to open world gameplay as well as appealing visuals so we can’t wait to see how it progresses.


Image: Steam

The post Great Cascade is a game that promises dynamic AI characters appeared first on Gadgette.

Gary Lineker begins sit-up regime

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 03:02 pm
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Posted by Smithy

Gary-LinekerGary Lineker has this morning begun a fitness regime to ensure he doesn't look like a fifty-five-year-old man sitting in his pants when Match of the Day begins next season.
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Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Star_Wars_Episode_VII_The_Force_Awakens

Yes, it’s Star Wars day again! We’ll surely have more Star Wars news to bring you throughout the day, but what better way to celebrate the occasion than by playing some Star Wars video games? Odds are (3720 to 1) that you Star Wars fans already own some—or all—of these, but if you’ve been holding off due to a lack of galactic credits, today’s the day!

Steam, of course, has the most with a huge list of Star Wars titles both old and new to choose from, many at 50–75% off. You can find them listed here. PlayStation 4 owners also have a decent selection, with the recent Star Wars Battlefront at half price along with a handful of older titles to check out. PS3 owners can also get in on the action with The Force Unleashed at 75% off (just $4.99) and a PS1 and PS2 game you can find on the full list over at the PlayStation Blog.

GOG also has a few different Star Wars options front and center on their main page today with similar titles to what you’ll find on Steam grouped together with bundle pricing. Microsoft’s offerings, on the other hand, are a bit lackluster, with $5 of credit offered for buying The Force Awakens or playing Battlefront today. The Force is not strong with that one, but it’s better than nothing, I guess.

Mobile app stores from Google and Apple are also worth checking out, with both offering deals today, as well. May the fourth be with you.

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

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Posted by Marc Abrahams

What is necessary — from an engineer’s perspective —to keep a strapless evening dress in place? We explore that question, and the Henson-Conantian music that resulted from it, in this week’s Improbable Research podcast.

SUBSCRIBE on Play.it, iTunes, or Spotify to get a new episode every week, free.

This week, Marc Abrahams  — with dramatic readings by Nicole Sharp — tells about:

  • Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Dress: The essay Charles E. Siem‘s essay “Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown” appears in the book called Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gownedited by Robert Baker. Here’s a look at the book cover, and at one of the diagrams in the essay:
  • Strapless-BOOKSiem-dress-diagramStress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown: The music— Deborah Henson-Conant‘s musical creation appears on her Grammy-nominated album Invention & Alchemy, which is available via her web site, HipHarp.comInventionAlchemyCover
  • Stress Analysis is a collection of knowledge and techniques developed by engineers, to help them figure out whether particular objects will remain intact, or will instead crack and perhaps break.

The mysterious John Schedler or the shadowy Bruce Petschek perhaps did the sound engineering this week.

The Improbable Research podcast is all about research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK — real research, about anything and everything, from everywhere —research that may be good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless. CBS distributes it, on the CBS Play.it web site, and on iTunes and Spotify).

Forest is a tree-growing app that keeps you focused

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 12:41 pm
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Posted by Jennifer Harrison, Science Officer

It’s easy to become distracted by our tech, especially when there’s work to do and procrastination sets in. That’s why we made a list of the best anti-distraction apps to help your writing. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what apps you use on your computer if you’re addicted to your smartphone. That’s a problem that can get in the way of any form of productivity. We’ve tried a few apps designed to keep you focused that usually set time limits and reward you with breaks now and then but they become very easy to ignore and stop using. An app will have to do something different than show us a timer to keep us from Twitter and Neko Atsume.

Forest is yet another smartphone app that claims to help you focus but it does things a little differently. When you need to get some work done, you plant a tree in the app. It will keep growing as long as you ignore your phone and stay away from the distracting apps that ruin your productivity. If you cave and feed Tubbs, the tree dies. If you work for 30 minutes, you end up with a fully-grown tree.

Image: Forestapp.cc
Image: Forestapp.cc

Your trees make up your forest, which you can view at any time in the app. The size of the forest gives you an idea of how much you’ve done, although you can see real stats as well if that’s useful. It’s nice seeing your stats in the form of a beautiful forest and the more you work the more tree species become available so you can really make it your own. You can compare your forest and stats with friends. The app also lets you pay to plant real trees to help the environment.

You can quit any apps designed to help you focus and Forest is no different. You can ignore it, turn it off, or uninstall it just like all the others. The trick to these apps is to actually care and it’s much easier to care about a cute tree and an impressive forest than a timer or a graph. Let yourself care about growing the trees and seeing more species and you have some good motivation to avoid the distracting apps you haven’t whitelisted.

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forest_4
Images: Forestapp.cc

The Forest app is free on Android£1.49 on iOS, and £0.79 on Windows Phone. There are also browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox that let you grow a tree and blacklist distracting websites. These extensions sync with the smartphone apps so your trees always contribute to your forests of productivity.


Main image: Forestapp.cc

The post Forest is a tree-growing app that keeps you focused appeared first on Gadgette.

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson

Dave’s majority could be at risk

The news that the Electoral Commission is talking to the police and CPS about Tory GE2015 election expenses in key marginal constituencies has the potential to be troubling to the party which, of course, won a majority of 12 last year.

Crick and his C4 News team retuned to the subject again last night focussing on one party police commissioner candidate who was the election agent in a marginal seat that the Tories won a year ago.

Under normal procedures objections for election expenses have to be carried out within a year of the documents being filed but it is possible to extend that which is what the Electoral Commission is asking.

It is possible that criminal proceedings could be taken but what could be really troubling is if the elections in those seats were annulled and new votes would have to take place. Cameron could feasibly lose his majority.

So far 26 seats have been looked but I understand that other might be being probed.

As well as the legal side the story fuels a narrative that the Tories didn’t win fairly.

Mike Smithson



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Posted by Teresa Jusino

Next week is going to be an especially geeky episode of The CW’s The Flash with Kevin Smith at the helm. Check out the trailer in the video above!

The episode is titled “The Runaway Dinosaur,” and it finds Barry struggling to get home after the harrowing events of last night’s episode. Here’s the official description:

The Runaway Dinosaur – With Barry (Grant Gustin) gone, the team must figure out a way to handle the return of an old enemy – Girder (guest star Greg Finley). Realizing Girder is retracing his steps from his last attack, Iris (Candice Patton) volunteers to act as bait to trap him in S.T.A.R. Labs. Meanwhile, Barry fights to return to his old life.

It’ll certainly be interesting to see what a Kevin Smith-directed television episode looks like. After all, there’s no reason to bring on a director with that kind of name recognition unless you’re going to let them do their thing. As it is he’s already cast Jason Mewes, aka Jay of “Jay and Silent Bob,” in the episode, though there’s no character listed on IMDb. We’ll have to wait and see who he’s playing!

As The Flash closes in on the end of the season, how do you think the show has evolved? How do you think the current situation is going to resolve itself? (Kid Flash? Jessie Quick?) Let’s talk Flash in the comments below!

(via Comic Book Resources)

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

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[syndicated profile] ars_technica_uk_feed

Posted by Ars Staff

(credit: Rachel Johnson)

A political deal to make public sector websites more accessible—particularly to those with disabilities—was agreed by the three European Union institutions on Tuesday.

In a late night deal, the parliament, council, and commission backed Europe-wide rules to make public bodies' websites and mobile apps more user-friendly for the blind, the deaf, and the hard of hearing.

At present, around 80 million people in the EU are affected by a disability, according to the commission. But that figure is expected to rise to 120 million by 2020 due to an ageing population.

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Posted by Andrii Degeler

An Amazon Fresh truck parked on Capitol Hill. Next stop, Blighty? (credit: Jeff Reifman)

Amazon Fresh will reportedly start delivering groceries in the UK by the end of May, and the online retail giant has refused to deny the plans.

It's understood that Amazon has asked suppliers to start shipments within a few weeks, following some testing carried out at an East London depot.

The Guardian picked up a story in supermarket trade magazine The Grocer (behind a paywall), which reported that at least one supplier—Bol—would begin to deliver its chilled meals to Amazon Fresh on May 18.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Nintendo-themed Vans are coming

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 11:50 am
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Posted by Emma Boyle, Gamer in Chief

Shoe brands collaborating with the world’s biggest pop culture brands isn’t anything new – over the years we’ve seen brands like Converse and Vans bring out lines featuring characters from Marvel, DC, and Star Wars. You name it and there’s a strong possibility it has been or will be featured on a shoe. That said, as common as these collaborations are, we do still get excited for the good ones and an upcoming line from Nintendo and Vans is looking extremely promising.

The Nintendo collection will feature designs inspired by the company’s most famous games with Old Skool and Sk8-Hi styles emblazoned with characters like Princess Peach, Mario, Donkey Kong, and scenes from games like The Legend of Zelda and Duck Hunt. There’s even going to be a pair covered in NES controllers.

nintendo-vans-sneakers-02_o6lvx4
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Images: Vans

According to Sole Collector, European shoe distributor 43einhalb will begin selling the collection in June and prices will vary depending on the style of shoes.

Shoe collaborations can be hit and miss but this collection looks fantastic and we can’t wait to get our feet into them. We imagine these shoes will have sizes for women, unlike Reebok’s Ripley boots.


Images via Sole Collector

The post Nintendo-themed Vans are coming appeared first on Gadgette.

gaze

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 11:06 am
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Posted by Author

gaze

Congrats to Andrew from Wakefield for winning this month’s raffle – a signed, dedicated copy of Wrong Again, God Boy.

Join the fun and support J&M on Patreon here.

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Posted by Annalee Newitz

(credit: CBS)

Note: The final season of Person of Interest doesn't yet have a broadcast date in the UK. It'll probably air on Channel 5, and probably not until much later in the year.

Person of Interest begins its fifth and final season tonight with a raw, disturbing look at the techno-dystopia created by two warring AIs who want to control the fate of America. That's not exactly where you'd have guessed this show would have ended up, if you tuned into the first episode back in 2011. The series started as a vigilante crime-fighter drama, pairing hacker genius Finch (Michael Emerson, from Lost) with ex-CIA ninja Reese (Jim Caviezel, Passion of the Christ) and good NYPD cop Carter (Taraji Henson, before her famous role as Cookie on Empire). The twist was that Finch had created a supercomputer called the Machine, which could analyze surveillance data to predict crime. Though the government had wrested control of the Machine away from Finch, he'd backdoored it to send him the social security numbers of future victims and perpetrators. With help from Reese and Carter, some lives could be saved.

Created by Jonathan Nolan (writer of The Dark Knight) and Greg Plageman (NYPD Blue), the show was tightly-plotted, and always had thoughtful commentary on technology and spycraft. Though it started as a techno-thriller, the show quickly moved away from its number-of-the-week format into something far more futuristic and weird. Conspiracies nested perfectly within other conspiracies, and as our protagonists untangled them we saw how corruption was creeping into law enforcement, from the NYPD to black bag ops at the highest levels of the intelligence community. Bad and good were mashed into creepy shades of gray, and the Machine became a major character, struggling to break free of its coded limitations. New characters joined the cast, like psycho hacker Root (Amy Acker, from Angel and Cabin in the Woods), who believes the Machine is alive, and emotionless super-agent Shaw (Sarah Shahi). Oh and also, the gang got a dog named Bear. When Carter died tragically at the end of season 2, the former corrupt cop Fusco (Kevin Chapman) stepped up to give an inside view of the NYPD and deliver some deadpan humor.

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Posted by Lindsey Simpson

ExhaustBaz Bazson from Kingston upon Hull has left his neighbours stunned by leaving the original exhaust on his 1999 Renault Clio.
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Posted by Neil Tollfree

SAT-tests-child-examFollowing yesterday's ‘Let Kids be Kids’ protests about the over-testing of six to eleven-year-olds, the sheer complexity of SATs have been laid bare.
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Posted by Spacey

Hans-Gruber-Die-HardZac Goldsmith has launched a last-ditch bid to secure the London mayoralty by claiming that rival candidate Sadiq Khan once shared a platform with Hans Gruber.
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Posted by Beth Mole

(credit: Louis Lanzano/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In a Tuesday court hearing, a federal judge delayed setting a trial date for Martin Shkreli, the disgraced founder and ex-CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who was indicted on seven counts of securities fraud charges last December.

Shkreli and his lawyer requested the delay after learning recently that prosecutors are considering filing more charges against the embattled former executive and his ex counsel, Evan Greebel, who was already charged with one count of wire-fraud conspiracy. The new potential charges—along with the initial ones—relate to allegations that the pair ran a Ponzi-like scheme, in which they funneled millions of dollars out of Retrophin, another of Shkreli’s pharmaceutical companies, to cover losses from two hedge funds Shkreli managed.

In the Brooklyn federal court Tuesday, prosecutors told the judge that they would decide if they would file new charges within the month.

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Posted by Sebastian Anthony

A number of red phone boxes around the UK will be retrofitted with Wi-Fi Internet access, a printer/scanner, a 25-inch screen, a wireless mouse, a powerbank of plugs and recharging connectors, and a hot drinks machine.

To begin with, the company behind the retrofitting—Bar Works Inc.—will be converting 15 old phone boxes in five cities around the UK, with the first one scheduled to be opened in about eight weeks (around July). The complete list of cities and locations is unknown, but we do know that London, Leeds, and Edinburgh are on the list.

The idea, of course, is to turn the red phone boxes (more accurately: the K6 telephone kiosk) into work spaces that business types and entrepreneurs can drop into whenever inspiration strikes. To gain access to the little red offices you'll have to pay £20 per month to join the "Pod Works club," which then gives you access to a mobile app that can be used to unlock a kiosk "any time, day or night."

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Posted by Smithy

Donald-Trump-super-tuesdayWith Donald Trump on the verge of securing the republican presidential nomination, the United States has reinforced its reputation as the land of opportunity for people who inherit a billion dollars.

7 amazing accessories for the Raspberry Pi

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016 10:25 am
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Posted by Jennifer Harrison, Science Officer

The £30 Raspberry Pi computer has always been a brilliant bit of tech but the newest model, the Pi 3, is finally powerful enough to be seen as a “real computer”. Of course that doesn’t mean we’ll stop using it for amazing DIY projects like retro gaming consoles and catflaps that tweet. There are some obvious accessories you’ll need to have fun with the credit card-sized computer such as a case, a keyboard, a mouse, and an SD card for the operating system. But beyond those there are some really fun and useful accessories for making your computer more powerful or your DIY projects more creative. Here are our 7 favourite accessories for the Raspberry Pi.

1. Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2

The Camera Module is an official camera board for the Raspberry Pi made by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. They’ve always been the best way to capture images or video using the Pi. Instead of plugging into a USB port, the Camera Modules have always been designed to connect to the Pi’s dedicated Camera Serial Interface (CSI). The tiny camera board connects to the a small port on the Pi itself via the connected ribbon. It draws power from the Pi itself and works brilliantly.

The new V2 uses a Sony IMX219 image sensor and can capture images at 3280 x 2464 pixels. It can also record video at 1080p30, 720p60, or 640x480p90. These brilliant modules mean your Pi computer can work as a home security system that emails you pictures or videos of intruders, or it can provide vision to your Pi-powered robots.

There are two different models, one for normal light and one for night vision. Both the standard camera modules and the NoIR night vision module are £21 at The Pi Hut.

2. WDLabs 314GB hard drive

314 GB. Get it? Pi? 3.14? Ahem. The WDLabs 314 GB hard drive was launched on Pi Day and does what it says on the tin: it’s provides lots of storage for your tiny Raspberry Pi. It won’t be essential for everyone but some projects will use huge amounts of data and a Raspberry Pi is usually limited to just a few GB on an SD card. This is especially true for people using the Pi as a media centre. Sure, the Pi is quick enough to stream online content but this drive means you can have your local movie collection ready too.

Although there are other storage solutions available, the WDLabs drive is purpose-built for the Pi and has some great features. It’s designed to draw little power from the Pi itself, it uses the latest WDLabs tech from their standard hard drives for other computers, and comes with the brilliant BerryBoot system that lets you use multiple operating systems on the one drive. Anyone who frequently swaps SD cards to switch between operating systems and projects will appreciate this!

The drive is on a special deal right now at $31.42 (again, get it), which is sadly a boring £27.09 in the UK. That gets you the drive and a power cable. There are kits and other accessories available but at the minimum we recommend also grabbing the WD PiDrive Cable for £8.99, which deals with data transfer and powers the Pi and PiDrive from one power source.

3. pi-top

The Raspberry Pi helps beginners build things they never imagined they could build and the pi-top is a great example. Have you ever wanted to build a laptop? Now you can. The pi-top is a DIY laptop that has everything a normal laptop needs but it’s powered by a Raspberry Pi computer. It’s designed to teach people how to code and create devices but it’s also just a great way to work on your Raspberry Pi in the kitchen or in bed. Students don’t need to find a workstation with a monitor and peripherals to get to work.

The black bar above the keyboard and trackpad clicks off to reveal space for your Raspberry Pi. The laptop uses a 13.3 HD screen and a battery that lasts around 10 hours. It comes with an SD card to use the pi-top operating system and includes CEEDuniverse, an online multiplayer game that teaches you how to code and build hardware that interacts with the game world.

The pi-top is available for £190.99 at RS Components. If the lime green is a bit too much for you, there’s a grey model available too.

4. BrickPi

One of the most exciting things you can do with a Raspberry Pi is make it the brain of an electronics project. You could make a robot, or a weather sensor, or a home security system, and all of these will require some electronics know-how to get the Pi to communicate with any sensors or motors your project needs. We can’t all be electronics experts, we can’t all spend time soldering wires to circuit boards, but most people can play with LEGO.

The BrickPi is an amazing board that connects directly to the Raspberry Pi. From there it can connect to sensors and motors from LEGO’s Mindstorms series. These LEGO pieces are designed to work with a small LEGO computer for programming the creations to move around and make sense of the world, but the BrickPi allows your Raspberry Pi to communicate with LEGO’s pieces and all you need to know is the Python programming language. You can make some pretty weird stuff.

The BrickPi itself (and a case for it and the Pi) is €110.28 from Active Robots. There’s also a starter kit for €190.05 that includes the Raspberry Pi B+, a Wi-Fi dongle, a battery pack, an SD card for the operating system, a power supply, and an ethernet cable.

5. GrovePi

LEGO is great but it’s only going to get you so far in a DIY project. The Mindstorms series has a light sensor, ultrasonic sensor, a button, and some motors, but that’s pretty much it. Of course a Raspberry Pi can be hooked up to just about any electronics if you use something like an Arduino and learn how to use it and get used to soldering. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a middle ground? A simple, user-friendly board like the BrickPi but one that worked with a lot more than just LEGO? Enter the GrovePi.

The GrovePi is like the BrickPi in that it works as an interface between the Raspberry Pi and your electronics. But instead of connecting to LEGO Minstorms goodies, it connects to over 100 amazing sensors and other modules that make up the Grove family. The full collection includes the usual temperature sensors, motors, buttons etc but also things like electromagnets, haptic motors, gas sensors, water atomizers, radio receivers, and even accelerometers/gyroscopes to take your DIY project to the next level. And all of this is plug-and-play. No soldering. No learning more computer languages. Just plug it in.

The GrovePi itself is available for £27.90 (including postage) on Amazon. The best way to get started is with the GrovePi Starter Kit that includes the GrovePi board itself and a bunch of common modules. You can get it for £47.07 on Amazon.

6. PiTFT Mini Kit

There are loads of ways to see what’s going on in your Raspberry Pi. There’s an HDMI port for hooking it up to monitors but small electronics projects sometimes need to think outside the box. The solutions range from calculator-like readouts to small screens and one of the best is PiTFT Mini Kit. It’s a brilliant touchscreen slightly smaller than the Raspberry Pi itself, which lets you interact with the GUI desktop even if the device is built into a tiny DIY project. Everything is cooler with touchscreens, right?

The screen itself is 320×240 and 2.8″ so it might not be the best viewing experience for movies but it could be perfect for some DIY projects. Maybe you don’t need to interact with the operating system but you want your project to display photos and videos. It could be the face of a robot! It’s really simple to use and plugs into the SPI interface on the Pi.

You can grab the PiTFT Mini Kit for £21.89 on Amazon.

7. PaPiRus

Speaking of tiny screens for the Raspberry Pi, we couldn’t possible finish this article without mentioning the PaPiRus. Starting life as a Kickstarter project, the PaPiRus is an e-ink screen for your Pi. Yes, like on a Kindle. It connects to the Raspberry Pi much like the PiTFT mentioned above but this is even less power-hungry. It’s perfect if the touchscreen PiTFT is overkill and uses more energy that you’d like but you can’t use a screen that looks like a calculator’s readout. It would be great for projects that need to conserve energy and display visual information irregularly. We also love it just in principle. The Raspberry Pi gets so much love from enthusiasts around the world that we even have e-ink screens for it.

You can grab PaPiRus from Pi Supply. The 1.44″ screen size is £30, the 2.0″ is £33, and the 2.7″ is £35.

Now that the Pi 3 is fast enough to be a decent home computer and small enough to be used in DIY shenanigans, it feels like there’s nothing the Raspberry Pi can’t do. Hopefully some of the items on this list can help build your next amazing project.

 

The post 7 amazing accessories for the Raspberry Pi appeared first on Gadgette.

About This Blog

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.






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