The MagPi, Issue 93

The MagPi Issue 93In this month’s The MagPi Magazine you’ll find my cover feature on working from home using a Raspberry Pi as a fully-functional desktop computer – and, as an added bonus, my photography of the TBBlue ZX Spectrum Next.

First, the cover feature. With a massive explosion in the number of people working remotely worldwide, and the corresponding shortages in hardware and accessories, now is a great time to look towards the Raspberry Pi as a functional alternative to traditional PCs. The six-page feature is split into three sections. The first of these sections looks at installing a Raspberry Pi Camera Module – or the newly-launched Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera Module – or USB webcam and using it for video conferencing via Google Hangouts.

The second section looks at online collaboration platforms, from Google Docs and Google Drive to Slack, Discord, and Firefox Send. The last section takes a look at LibreOffice, the open-source equivalent to Microsoft Office which is pre-installed in Raspbian Linux and fully compatible with the Raspberry Pi. Finally, a sprinkling of tips and tricks complete the feature.

The ZX Spectrum Next review, meanwhile, was written by The MagPi’s editor Lucy Hattersly, but illustrated by me: My hero shot of the ZX Spectrum Next, plus a close-up of the Rick Dickinson-designed keyboard which proved responsible for a two-year delay on the device as it was tweaked for maximum quality and performance, grace the two-page feature alongside a pair of images taken from the ZX Spectrum Next promotional materials.

All this, and more, is available in both the print edition and the free Creative Commons-licensed PDF download from the official magazine website.

Linux & Open Source Genius Guide, Volume 3

Linux & Open Source Genius Guide Volume 3Hot on the heels of Linux Tips, Tricks Apps & Hacks Volume 1 – Imagine Publishing’s latest ‘bookazine,’ gathering themed content from the company’s Linux User & Developer magazine – is Linux & Open Source Genius Guide Volume 3, which takes some of the more technical content from Linux User & Developer and repackages it for those who missed it the first time around or who prefer a meatier read.

As before, my content features prominently in the publication: a reprise of my Arduino feature from Linux User & Developer Issue 95 is included, along with all three parts of my special feature on getting started as an open-source contributor to the LibreOffice project originally published in Linux User & Developer Issue 108, Issue 109 and Issue 110.

The ‘bookazine’ also includes a whole host of my regular group tests, including Issue 112‘s look at mind mapping software, project management packages from Issue 111, CD ripping apps from Issue 110, email clients from Issue 109, password managers from Issue 107, and my annual look at the best Linux desktop distributions.

If you missed any or all of that content the first time around, Linux & Open Source Genius Guide Volume 3 is available now from the Imagine Publishing Shop.

Linux User & Developer, Issue 110

Linux User & Developer, Issue 110This month’s Linux User magazine features my usual group test article – this time on CD ripping packages – along with the last part of my series on becoming a contributor to an open-source project and a review of penetration testing toolkit BackBox Linux 2.01.

The group test required a methodical approach, addressing the most common needs from an audio CD ripping package: the codecs supported; the ability to deal with scratched discs; downloading of CDDB information and cover art; and handling of discs encumbered with digital restrictions management (DRM) technology.

It also provided me with an excuse to listen to some of my favourite music, of course.

Interestingly, the group test result convinced me to switch from my usual CD ripping tool to an alternative thanks to its surprising performance. It’s not often that I’ll make a move from a tool I’m used to as the result of testing like this, but it’s always welcome when it does happen.

The final part of my three-part series looking at contributing to the LibreOffice project finishes off with an investigation of how a contributor can make the leap from mentoree to mentor – a key part of any open source community. It’s something which is all too often overlooked, but as soon as you start to take your first steps on the path you begin to know more than those who start after you. As a result, you have valuable knowledge to share with the community – even though you might consider yourself a mere neophyte.

Finally, there’s the review of BackBox Linux, a distribution aimed at security and penetration testing. As with BackTrack, it’s an Ubuntu derivative but it includes a surprisingly robust suite of utilities – including documentation tools and general-purpose packages like audio utilities and even a scanner driver – which makes it a serious contender despite the immaturity of the project.

Further details on this issue are available over on the Linux User & Developer website.