Sweetening the Pi

When last I posted, I had set up my Raspberry Pi to run XBMC. It worked well. But was both underpowered, and lacked a good remote.

That changed yesterday when my latest order from Amazon arrived at my door. The first thing I did was unpack the SD card. The one I had used initially was 4GB and Class 4 with an indeterminate data access rate. This one is 8GB, Class 10, and with a very high access rate--exactly what is recommended for a proper XBMC installation that is intended for 1080p video. I then installed RaspBMC on it, hooked it up to the TV once more, plugged in a USB keyboard (thereby underscoring the need for a good remote), and fired it up. It automatically began updating to the latest version of RaspBMC.

While that was going on, I unpacked the other half of my Amazon order: the new remote. Folks, this thing is sweet as hell. It's a little wireless keyboard with two round thumbpads, a basic trackpad, and a rechargeable battery--all about the size of a very thin game controller. For something like XBMC, which often requires text input, it's a whole lot easier typing on an actual keyboard, rather than using a thumbpad to navigate an onscreen keyboard. The only downside is that I had to let it sit for a few hours and charge its battery before I could use it. It was worth it! Now instead of being tethered to a USB keyboard with a short cable, I can sit on my couch, cross my legs, and do all the configurating I want! I pointed it to my media server and let it populate its database while I slept.

The only thing left to do to make this complete is to run an Ethernet line up to the family room. The Raspberry Pi can handle a wifi dongle, but it's always better to go with copper whenever possible. Right now I'm borrowing my Tivo's Ethernet cable. That's fine for a couple of days or so, but if I want to use this thing on a daily basis, it needs its own line. It'll be a good amount of work, but well worth the time and effort!