I have never referred to myself as a hacker. Growing up in the days of War Games, it was not something you went around telling people you did in your spare time. At that time, even if you did, no one would know what the hell you were talking about. They would give you a wedgie and run off with the girl.
It’s a bit different now. To be geek is chic, and the term hacker is pretty much anyone who constructs, deconstructs, programs or modifies just about anything!
Somewhere in my thirties I stopped hacking computers, mostly because the computers in my life got easier. I was no longer building my own powerful PC’s for graphic and 3D work. I moved to a Mac Book Pro and barely looked back. Not because Mac was any better.(I’m pretty much platform agnostic.) It was just easier for a time in my life where I wanted to be mobile. I did not have to be tethered to clunky tower any longer. The laptop had become my workhorse, leaving the “build-from-scratch” days behind and my hobby of hacking computers along with it.
Enter Raspberry Pi and micro-computing.
I got my first Pi about three years ago. It was for some ambitious project that never made it further than printing a case with a MakerBot. After which it subsequently sat on my desk. Recently however, I got the urge to see what the hell I could do with it and before too long I was back in love with being a hobby hacker.
This new found enthusiasm sparked two new projects, both ambitious but a little more attainable on a couple Saturdays when I want to unwind.
The first is an anonymous, encrypted, torrent server that is low power and always on. The second, is an Emulation Station, which will allow Abby and I to play video games from almost every platform in the past, up to the PlayStation1.
The Pi Is No Piece of Cake
Setting up the Pi is not so plug and play. There is a good amount of basic computing knowledge needed to even get software installed. I can get into details later, but for now I will tell you that having some experience with Linux and the terminal helps a bunch. Google is certainly your friend when embarking down this road and the Pi community is very active on the web. Simply searching topics related to your problem tends to yield a lot of fruit.
These little machines pack quite a bit of power in a small package. My Raspberry Pi 3 is a Model B Quad Core with 1.2GHz of processor speed and 1GB of RAM. It also comes with onboard wifi and Bluetooth. All for under $40. Add the case and SD card (used to store the OS) and a nice setup will only set you back about $65. That is some serious potential for a small price.
These two new projects have become gymnasiums for my programming practices as well as my problem solving skills. They give me the desire to tinker and push the limits of my knowledge with networking, programming, and information technology operations. It feels great to be challenging myself in this manner. Working out the problems as best I can with only the internet as my guide. It is therapeutic for sure.