It’s always exciting when Raspberry Pi releases a new model. The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (or Pi 3B+ for short) sports a revised quad-core system-on-chip which now runs faster, at 1.4GHz. It’s a meaningful speed boost. Everything feels a little snappier. Big programs like Mathematica load faster and online videos play more smoothly.
Raw power is always a headline grabber, but we find it’s the other tweaks that make the new Raspberry Pi truly interesting. Eagle-eyed readers will already have spotted the chrome-plating around the wireless networking chip. This now supports dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) wireless networking, enabling faster data transmission speeds from wireless networks. Even more exciting is the long-awaited inclusion of Gigabit Ethernet (albeit limited via the USB channel). There’s now also Power over Ethernet (PoE) via a new official HAT accessory.
PoE is something the community has wanted for a long time; it enables the Raspberry Pi 3B+ to be deployed on a network without requiring a separate power supply. Many readers are already thinking of quirky uses for a networked Raspberry Pi that works independently of a mains supply. But let’s not forget the speed boost. The new speed is impressive. Turn to page 16 to read all about the new Raspberry Pi 3B+, including benchmarks, real-world testing, and project ideas.
Things getting a change in raspberry pi organizations
A few days into our experiment, I found myself facing some admin tasks, so I was using more Office-style programs than on previous days. I needed access to collaborative documents from Google Docs and Sheets, and to WordPress for writing blog posts. Here’s what I needed to achieve, along with some of my solutions.
Using online collaborative spreadsheets and documents As I discovered earlier in the week, juggling Chromium tabs is essential to keep the Raspberry Pi running well. Google Drive and Google Docs use large amounts of resources, so keep that in mind when working with them. I recommend trying to use one document at a time, or to close as many other tabs as possible if you need to juggle more than one. If you keep this in mind, Docs and Sheets work well in the Chromium browser, so you shouldn’t need to make any further changes to get them running.
Dropbox Making the most of cloud storage A lot of The MagPi files live on a shared Dropbox that we use to create the magazine, and we all need to upload articles as well as monitoring the production process. There are two main ways to make this work: follow our previous tutorials and install Dropbox to Raspbian, or make use of the Dropbox web interface.
There are advantages to both options. Creating a dedicated Dropbox folder is a lot faster and frees up all-important browser resources, while the web interface allows you to quickly access, download, and upload a few files at a time. While I used the web interface method this time, I have used Dropbox on a Pi before. If this were a more long-term solution, I’d set up Dropbox on an external hard drive. This makes everything easier, although it takes a while to set up.
Read PDF file
How to read PDFs on the Raspberry Pi Opening a PDF on the Raspberry Pi is easy – there’s a dedicated PDF reader installed. Opening PDFs in the browser can cause problems, though. Chromium has a habit of trying to load PDFs into the browser without downloading them first. This is fine on a normal desktop computer, but it doesn’t always work on the Pi.
If you’re having trouble reading a PDF online, download it first and open it in the default program. If you need to copy text from it, you’ll need to open it in Chromium. Open a new tab, then drag and drop the downloaded PDF onto Chromium to load it.
Blogging Things to keep in mind while using WordPress I didn’t have any big problems while writing The MagPi blog posts. The main thing that caused the Pi to slow down was adding images directly into the posts. I’d recommend uploading them to the Media library first, before embedding them in a post.
YouTube & online video
As we’ve discussed before, YouTube works just fine on the Raspberry Pi with Raspbian and Chromium. I caught up with my YouTube subscriptions (handily placed in a Watch Later playlist) while sipping a tropical, rum-based concoction I’d devised to celebrate the end of the week. I daringly took my viewing into fullscreen mode, which juddered a bit when it started but performed well over the next half hour or so as I switched between a selection of videos.
I haven’t had much luck with other types of online video this week. However, this task only used one tab in my browser, so I thought I’d push the envelope a bit and see whether I could catch up on Dragon Ball Super via Crunchyroll. Unfortunately, instead of providing the low-quality playback I had come to expect, the video player just refused to load, leaving me unable to find out whether Goku had reached Super Saiyan Blue 2! I had similar problems with Netflix while trying to watch some of the new Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episodes.
Network video playback
One cocktail down and with another to go, I decided to see how well the Raspberry Pi would handle streaming video over the network. The Pi has hardware decoding for HD video and I’ve run some playback with it before, so I was interested to see how it would all work. I have a file server on my network (powered by a Raspberry Pi, of course), so I connected to it and had a go.
Omxplayer is bundled with Raspbian, and it provides one of the best ways to play video on the Pi. While it is a Terminal app, a GUI that will automatically play your videos is available (via the kweb suite: magpi.cc/2sTExQo).
I did need to change the audio output settings: open the GUI via Menu > Sound & Video, click on Edit Settings, and then click on the analog audio button at the top of the settings page. The video playback might not line up with the interface, but the HD video plays just fine, using the spacebar to pause and play.
I like to watch anime and tokusatsu shows so much that I get myself Onesise of my favorite characters from kigurumi.co. The shows usually come encoded in 10-bit colour. While Omxplayer will play them, expect some glitches as the Pi doesn’t support 10-bit hardware decoding.
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