/ arduino

2013 – A Year In Review…or how the Raspberry Pi Changed My Life!

It’s traditional at this time of year to reflect on the past 12 months and to see how much you have changed in that time. In 2013 I went from being in full time employment to becoming a freelancer and I have to say that it has been the best career decision of my life.

So dear reader, I take you through 2013 from the point of view of Les Pounder…that’s me :)

January to March

Well the start of the year was busy busy busy for me. I was still working at FARM Digital as a Project Manager, and I was managing some epic projects for the company. Some projects for large multi-national organisations and others for smaller businesses. Here I learnt to control projects using a more Agile approach, focusing on delivering the requirements set by the customer using test driven methodologies.


I also managed the logistics of Alan O’Donohoe’s first Raspberry Jamboree, along with my good friend Dan Lynch. I was playing the role of “Mr Wolf” from the Pulp Fiction movie, basically solving problems before they happened and Dan was in charge of A/V. Great time was had by all and I made lots of good friends there.


The Manchester Girl Geeks asked for the Blackpool LUG Special Projects Team (aka “The Screaming Penguins”) to document their “Bracamp” event at Madlab. This event turned the tables on a traditional tech event, and had a 90% female attendance and talks featured issues and projects from a female developers point of view.

April to May

April saw Jon Spriggs and I hand over our UCubed event to new blood, and the event is in the best shape ever, with lots of talks and interesting projects on show.

In May I left FARM Digital to try my hand at being a freelancer, and this is where the adventure begins.

May to July

In May, I registered as self employed with HMRC, not an easy process but I received some great advice from Rosie Slosek – thanks Rosie.

I worked with Linux Format and Linux User & Developer Magazine on some great content, such as voice controlled Raspberry Pi and a simple internet radio streaming device for the kitchen (way before PiFace Control and Display allowed you to do it ;) )


I also worked with Cefn Hoile to promote the Shrimping.it range of Arduino compatible devices called “The Shrimp”, and you should buy some of his kit, not because I get commission (I don’t) but because it is a cheap way to get electronics into the hands of eager children.


In July I took the Shrimping.it kit to Salford University for a two day exhibition. Where I showcased the use of the Raspberry Pi, Arduino and “The Shrimp”.


Also in July I started teaching Raspberry Pi and Maker Culture to Primary and Secondary School teachers, a full day of learning Linux, Python, electronics and maker culture for those teachers new to the concepts. This was the best decision that I ever made and it has opened up myself to new ideas and concepts, as well as teaching other courses such as Python for KS4, Crash Course in Programming and Advanced Raspberry Pi courses.


Lastly in July, we had the epic Barcamp Blackpool which was the BIGGEST one ever with nearly 200 people in attendance. Barcamp has evolved into a Makerfaire + Barcamp + social gathering and that is just brilliant

August to September

I worked on a number of articles for Linux Format, reviewing the recently released ZTE Open Firefox OS phone, a number of Linux distributions and wrote copy for a number of corporate blogs that required someone with commercial experience of using Open Source technologies.


I also wrote a few blog posts for Safari Books Online, which talked about using the Raspberry Pi and it’s GPIO pins for simple beginner projects, such as Flashing an LED using Scratch and creating a push button control for the then recently released Raspberry Pi camera.

I wrote two features for Linux Format, the first an in-depth look at the rise of the Raspberry Pi “Jam” events, and the second was a guide on how to run your own technology event.

In September, I was approached by a client to create something beyond my wildest expectations, a Raspberry Pi powered, Python controlled fortune telling machine!

This was a great project, and involved about 8 weeks of work with the client and lots of electronic components. I used PiFace to control the components as I needed to control 12V devices and PiFace handily comes with 2 relays which were more than ready for the job.


I took part in PyConUK and was part of the team that ran the Education track. This track covered many aspects of teaching Python and Raspberry Pi to children across all key stages. We used Minecraft, Python and electronic components to show how much fun learning to code can be.



I started working for the Workers Education Association, teaching adults how to use computers for basic tasks, such as word processing, spreadsheets and online safety. This was an immeasurably rewarding experience, and I was very sad when it ended.

In October I wrote my first tutorial for Linux Format, which was led you by the hand to make your first Firefox OS application and then test it in a handy simulator (or real hardware if you had it..which I did :) )


Oggcamp, the massive tech / open source / social geeky gathering was in Liverpool again, and it was a runaway success. Well done to the team behind it, but especially my crew, who I cannot thank enough for their hard work and dedication.

I worked on an interesting project which was to create an operating system image for use in customer kiosks and digital signage across the UK, basically the advertising screens that you see dotted around train stations and shopping centres.


The Linux Voice team asked me to take part in their podcast, so I gladly stepped forward and brought my old mate Dan Lynch along for the ride. It was a great podcast and we covered lots of great content, have a listen.


This was a busy month, I was teaching Python, Pi and Programming for at least 2 days a week and writing a series of reviews and tutorials for Linux Format. I did manage to squeeze in a holiday to London with MrsP, and we enjoyed a weekend full of Doctor Who related fun at the 50th birthday celebration.

I started work on my first book, the title is still to be decided but at present it is “Google Coder for the Raspberry Pi” and I bet you can guess what it’s all about? Well if not, Google released a coding environment for the Pi. The environment is to enable the learner to quickly learn and develop web applications in a supportive manner. The book has now been finished and is being proof read, with release to be in early 2014


I had so much to cram in to December it was amazing!

Linux Format asked me to write two features back to back due to the Christmas break. The first feature covered Raspberry Pi add on boards from various companies around the UK. Great feature as I got to play with a dozen cool boards. I also wrote an in depth guide on using PiFace and a tutorial covering Scratch for beginners.

My second feature was a complete guide to the Raspberry Pi, from knowing nothing to building simple projects and gaining the confidence to tackle another, slightly larger project. I also wrapped up my Scratch tutorials with a simple arcade game.

And here we are, you made it through all that text, I don’t know whether to congratulate you, or just feel sorry for you ;)

2013 has been an amazing year for me, and it’s all thanks to the Raspberry Pi.

Happy New Year to you all!