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Building a Home Security System with Raspberry Pi Paperback – December 28, 2015
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About the Author
Matthew Poole is a systems engineer based near Southampton on the south coast of England with over 20 years of industry experience. After graduating in electronics and communications engineering, he went on to train as and to become an air traffic engineer for the UK Civil Aviation Authority, working on microprocessor-based control and communications systems. Later, he became a software architect and mobile technology specialist, and worked for several consultancies and global organizations. He is now a partner at UK Mobile Media, a boutique systems consultancy focused on designing Bluetooth and other wireless systems, taking ideas from concept to prototype. He is also the director of technology for Mobile Onboard, a leading UK-based transport technology company that specializes in on-bus connectivity and mobile ticketing.
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- It clearly leads you through the initial steps of getting a raspberry pi up and running from scratch. I had never used a pi before, and I was easily able to follow the instructions to get the operating system installed and to get everything configured. It is awesome that this can lead a complete beginner through what I'd consider an intimidating process.
- It has examples that include all of the steps and code necessary to make it work. I haven't tried everything in the book, but all of the examples I tried worked.
- The examples it provides include most of the basic things you'd hope for. It tells you how you can hook up a motion sensor, take a picture when motion is detected, and send the picture to yourself in an email. That's pretty cool.
- The examples tell you only what you need to know to make them work. There's not much background information, so you're left pretty ignorant to exactly what is happening.
- There's not enough detail in general. This book is trying to be as simple as possible, I realize, but it's not nearly technical enough for me. Anyone who thinks like an engineer is going to be disappointed at the lack of background explanation of how anything works.
- The book sticks with bash scripting to run commands. I found bash to be an absolutely miserable language to work with and would have much preferred python. One huge reason why python would potentially be better is that most other people using pi seem to be using python. If you look around online for how to do additional things with the pi, you're going to come across a bunch of python examples. Since this book doesn't even mention python, you're not going to be in a position to apply those examples without learning some basic python stuff first. It says something about other programming languages being out of scope. I'd argue that bash is a language too, so making me type out bash scripts isn't much different than python scripts. There might very well be a reason why bash is better for the purpose of a home security system, but it doesn't explain how. Bash is not user friendly and seems ridiculously archaic.
- The book gives practically no explanation of how bash works, so you're not going to able to do anything beyond the examples without additional research elsewhere. It doesn't explain bash syntax, and since bash scripts are behind much of the functionality of the systems it is creating, I find that to be a huge problem.
- The book gives very little explanation for why it does things the way it does. For example, why use the console instead of the UI? Why use bash instead of phython? Why use Putty? Why use the hardware it chose? What other options do I have? I would assume that the book is leading me in the right direction, but it generally leaves me ignorant to my other options and leaves me with little confidence in what I'm doing. Also, it uses all kinds of third party software that you download...that seems like a huge security threat. It would be nice if it could explain why it chose these things so that I could have more confidence that this is a good and secure setup.
- It doesn't include some more advanced things that seem obvious. For example, is there a way to live-stream my camera output? That would be awesome, but I'm not seeing that in there.
- Maybe this isn't a fair con, but it's something to realize: some of the examples in the book are expensive to try. They will require hardware that can cost $50+ a piece. I haven't bothered to calculate it, but if you bought everything the book used, you will have spent at least a few hundred dollars.
As frustrated as I am at the lack of content, I still got a lot out of this book. It was a very good intro to the raspberry pi, and I was able to get a rudimentary security system up and running with it. I think you could end up with a pretty decent system if you followed all the examples.