I’ve always been a fan of the Raspberry Pi. Ever since it came to the public marketplace in 2012, makers and tinkerers alike were crazy over it, as was I. After all, who couldn’t be at least slightly interested in the idea of a computer the size of a credit card, running Linux with standardised inputs and outputs. The mind boggled at what could be done.
I got my Pi (Model B+) in 2014, and immediately I was fooling around with it. My first goal was a webserver, before I realised how limited the Pi actually was. While those limitations have mostly been remedied by better specs, initially they were a gauge of what could be done with the machine. I tried a media center with XBMC before finally settling on using Volumio on it to turn it into a music player, affectionately called Pi-Fi on my network. I always toyed with the idea of buying the latest version and turning it into an emulation machine (RetroPie now works up to the PSx), but never really went forward with it.
But buying a Chromebook lead to another limitation that I hadn’t thought of before: Chromebooks do not print in the typical way. You can’t just hook a USB printer in and hit CTRL+P on them. They use Google Cloud Print, and while I could just set that up on my main machine, not having it on is the point of having a Chromebook in the first place.
I remembered that I had fooled around with doing the exact same thing on my first Pi, and then looked up the side project that the Raspberry Pi foundation had released through the official magazine: Raspberry Pi Zero, and it’s wireless latest version the Zero W. It had roughly the specs of the first model, so I thought why not, and bought it.
Programming it was easier than previously; more people had fooled around with it and wrote more concise instructions, compiled scripts and the like. Took me an afternoon, and I hooked up my old Deskjet 6520 up to it (for reference, the printer was bought in 2005) to try it. Worked a dream, and now I have my printer set up somewhere where I have the room for it, as opposed to on the floor when using it, trip hazards and all.
I might try buying the latest full model and setting it up as an emulation build, but for now I’m happy. I have my Pi-Fi and RasPrint, and it’s taking me away from my main PC, which is important to me. RasPrint allows me to print from literally anywhere in the world that I can access Google Docs, and I love the idea of being that mobile on a whim.