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Retro computing day – June 2016

Some pictures from SoSLUG’s retro day, held Saturday, 18th June at TAP. The day started around noon, and was intended to be a hands on fun day,
playing with computers and consoles from the 1980s and 90s. Entry was free, and all comers were welcome, and if possible invited to participate, by bringing whatever’s in their loft
such as any retro machines, manuals, disks, tapes, games etc. from this era.

The event was well attended, with visitors coming from as far afield as Cambridge and Frinton, and all ages were represented.
Some having grown up with the technology, but the event was primarily intended as an opportunity for younger visitors
to see just how far computing has progressed in 30 years.


Just for comparison some retro pie stations + controllers were also on hand. They still use Turtle graphics,
which was developed by Seymour Papert in the late 1960s, to support his version of the turtle robot.
The robot turtle had pen attached to its body, and when placed on the a sheet of paper
(the back of old wallpaper was good for this), would then trace out it movements based on commands from the user’s workstation.

It’s simple commands still make it an easy introduction to programming for children today.


Keeping the robot tradition alive, some modern day robot’s were also on display. This one, with just two wheels, was self balancing.


Smaller robots were used to demonstrate their mobility. Balloons were attached to the robot, along with a pin. The aim was to burst the opposing robot’s balloon.
Great fun requiring a lot skill and concentration.


IMG_6993a IMG_7006a

Robot designer sharing his experience with a SoSLUG member.


The games consoles on display were, Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, Megadrive, Super Nintendo,
N64, PlayStation 1 & 2, Dreamcast, Sega Saturn, Neo Geo, etc!

Games were initially stored on ordinary audio cassettes, hard drives came later. Even the early computers,
such as the Apple II, initially used audio tapes, as these were readily available to the hobbyist community.


On perhaps a slightly more serious level, the computers on show were, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, Commodore PC, Amiga 1200, iMac G3,
486 DOS machine, and an Apple II(ish)!

Well actually the latter was an ITT 2020 (shown below), a variant of an Apple II computer, which is a part of our local history. It was
the first Apple computer to be built in the Europe under license, at the ITT Consumer Products Division in Basildon.

For the technically minded, the BBC Micro, and Apple computers used a 6502 microprocessor with a clock speed of 1MHz.
The maximum amount of RAM that could be fitted to the Apple II was a whooping 48KiloBytes. Most machines where programmed with (very basic) Basic,
but by fitting a language card, the Apple could also be programmed using the Pascal programming language. For a long time after, this was the language used
to teach programming, as it’s rigid syntax was intended to promote, good programming habits.


The Apple I, it’s predecessor can be seen in the Science Museum, along with other memorabilia of that age, such as the Moon lander.

Author: Alan Campion - Page reference: 5434
Last modified: Alan Campion - 2016-06-20

Categories: Events

Childs Play

Childsplay Educational Software


Childsplay is not a single game but a suite of educational games aimed predominantly at children

Of the Childsplay/CognitionPlay/Schoolsplay family of programs, Childsplay is the one oriented at home users but can also be used in kindergarten schools. Python and PyGame based, it provides a framework for activities that are more ‘game’ like: they can have animation and move.

Childsplay has all the activities found in the old childsplay, version < 0.90.


Childsplay provides several features for users and developers of activities:

  • Memory activities that are fun to play and at the same time learn sounds, images, letters and numbers.
  • activities that train the child to use the mouse and keyboard.
  • pure game activities like puzzles, pong, pacman and billiards.
  • multilingual support, even right to left languages (via Pango).
  • solid data logging to monitor the children’s progress; locally (SQLite) or over network (MySQL or any other db supported by SQLAlchemy).
  • set of OpenOffice reports to print this data (still in development state).
  • object oriented framework for easy activity development in Python/PyGame.
  • good support by the developers and translators.

Images originally placed in this article 2007 it is likely the images may have been updated since.

Game Module Image Description Age
Numbers numbers Put the correct operator between two numbers. 5-7
SoundNpic soundnpic A toy for young children with pictures and sounds. 2-4
Packid packid A pac-man game, try to catch the letters. 4-7
Soundmemory soundmemory The classic memory game, with sounds. 3-6
Fallingletters fallingletters Type them before they reach the ground. 4-7
Findsound findsound Listen to a sound and find the image to which it belongs. 3-5
Findsound2 findsound2 The same as findsound, now with numbers and letters. 5-6
Pong pong The classic game, play alone,against the computer or against another child. 4-7
Billiard billiard Try to put the balls in the hole. 4-7
MultiTables multitables Learn the multiplication tables. 7-9
Puzzle puzzle Recreate the image. 4-6
LetterFlashcard letterflashcard Learn the alphabet by listening to the words and initials. 1-4

Childsplay uses a plug-in system for the game modules. These games are packaged in plugin-packages (only one for now). You must first install childsplay before you can use these games, because they only work from within childsplay.

#> sudo apt-get install childsplay childsplay-plugins childsplay-plugins-lfc

Installing the three packages above will net you all the childsplay games listed.

What didn’t you know you can add more than one package at a time to install.

Author: Derek Shaw - Page reference: 4173
Last modified: Alan Campion - 2015-01-26

Categories: Games Tags: ,


TuxType – Educational Software

This software is still probably aimed at the young and designed to elevate the apptitude and dexterity with regards to touch typing and keyboard skills. However when developing the grey cells it is just as valid no matter what age you are.


Tux4kids Debian

#> sudo apt-get install tuxtype tuxtype-data-nonfree

Author: Derek Shaw - Page reference: 4171
Last modified: Alan Campion - 2015-01-26

Categories: Games Tags: ,


TuxMath – Educational Maths Software


Using a combination of hand to eye co-ordination the would be Mathematician quickly calculates sums that cascade slowly to ground entering any correct answer for any given sum on the screen, answering with any correct answer will destroy the relevant raining equation completely, (or so my littlen tells me). The object of the game is to disguise the fact that a child is using their brains to calculate mathematical equations to resolve mathematical problems. The participant is rewarded with a score for each correct answer, different levels and degrees of difficulty are available, with repeated practice it is possible there could be another Einstein in the making.

Tux, of Math Command (TuxMath, for short) is an open source arcade-style video game for learning mathematics, initially created for Linux. The game-play mechanic is based loosely on that of the arcade game Missile Command, but with comets falling on cities, rather than missiles. Like Missile Command, players attempt to protect their cities, but rather than using a trackball-controlled targeting cross-hair, players solve math problems that label each comet, which causes a laser to destroy it.

Eventually the city imagery was replaced with igloos, to match the arctic theme of Tux, the Linux penguin, who stars in the game. (The first alpha of the game was released by its initial developer, Bill Kendrick, in September 2001, days prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks. It was decided that the imagery of exploding buildings no longer suitable.)




#> sudo apt-get install tuxmath

Author: Derek Shaw - Page reference: 4168
Last modified: Alan Campion - 2015-01-26

Categories: Games Tags: ,

Recycling Workshop

Binary Ethics – Binario Etico(Italian)


Binary Ethics based some 50Km from Rome (no don’t ask me which direction), are calling for participants for a ten day long workshop covering the Ethical disposal or reuse of old redundant computers and their like.

Below is an email I received from Alessandra at Furtherfield an organisation SoSLUG has some association with in the past.

Hi Derek

How are you?

Some friends from Binario Etico in Italy have been awarded some EU funding to run a project that looks at recycling, repairing and
reusing computers to change our consumption habits.

They are currently looking for participants from the UK (all expenses covered by the fund) and I thought you might help spread the
news. All the workshops will focus on the use of recycled technology and FOSS.

Attached is the call out and more info about the project.

Hope you’ll be able to help.




Alessandra Scapin
Furtherfield Producer

Furtherfield – A living, breathing, thriving network – for art, technology and social change since 1997

Furtherfield Gallery, McKenzie Pavilion
Finsbury Park, London N4 2NQ
T +44(0)208 802 2827
M +44(0)7717 887923

Furtherfield is a Not-for-Profit Company limited by Guarantee registered
in England and Wales under the Company No.7005205. Registered business
address: Ballard Newman, Apex House, Grand Arcade, Tally Ho Corner, London N12 0EH.

Binary Ethics Workshop

Now I have already sent an email via our newsletter but if you didn’t get it for whatever reason you can ferret out all the info here or the attached links. Now as far as I know all accommodation, food and travel is funded but you will need to get to the organisation in order for your travel expenses to be refunded. Below are the attachments that came with the email I am happy to answer any questions I can please contact

Author: Derek Shaw - Page reference: 4135
Last modified: Alan Campion - 2015-01-24

Categories: Uncategorised Tags: , ,


A Word About Games

Many people are frustrated for want of a better expression with Linux because they think it is lacking in the Games department, all said and done this is not an accurate assessment. Want to know what Gutsy Gibbon support by way of games just look here Intrepid Ibex Games and Ubuntu Community Docs Games

  • True you don’t have to buy Games for Linux Systems most have always been free via open source
  • Windows OS holds the Market share for Commercial games. Yep and you can pay huge sums for it.
  • It is also true that it is unlikely that the latest well known commercial games will be written exclusively for Linux and even if they were, these are unlikely to be free or open source, however if commercial games are available and open source you could donate using the money you save from paying Micro$oft.

It is false to say that Linux games are in anyway inferior to that of games written for the Windows platform. It is also false to say that Linux games are graphically less acceptable or exciting than it’s Windows counterpart. Linux supports a rich variety of games covering the basic Tetris and familiar card games to the highly complex strategy and shoot em up games.

It is equally true for both Linux and Windows that performance improvements can be gained as with any game or application, by the purchase of high end hardware, by that we mean CPU, Memory and Graphics card. Many gamers conduct a lot of research to find the right equipment to use with their many different games especially under Windows.

What does this wiki aim to provide?

Linux and Ubuntu in particular are well supported for games, you can even obtain an Ubuntu distro specifically with games in mind, however these distro’s tend to focus more on giving you every game possible or and/or every application possible. Because of this we will focus more on the specifics of the individual games themselves rather than everything, in the hope that if you have what you need less clutter will allow you to appreciate the distro more.

We can not stress enough, certainly for the games side of things that if you want to play shoot em games in Hi Res you will need good graphic’s card a reasonable CPU and plenty of memory and good or reasonable hard disk 80Gb plus.

We and I in particular are not gamer’s as I have little or no interest in gaming other than that of others are interested in this side of it, and the rich graphical content that it portrays. We are interested in promoting Linux not necessarily exclusively on Ubuntu although it may appear that way, however appearances can be deceiving.

Gaming Distro’s

Do you know of a gaming distro not covered in this wiki then please send an email to linux at we will be happy to amend the links provided the content and distro is currently available. Most if not all the distro’s listed are links to current or archived ISO in CD or DVD format, torrents are also listed.

As you might already be aware yes Ubuntu have cornered the market with their games distro not altogether sure that Ubuntu are responsible for this distro, anyways it is based on the Fiesty Fawn 7.04 to date very stable until you upgrade it. Shed loads of games and other stuff if you want everything then this is one of the distro’s you will be happy with. The desktop has a script which itself will be updated when you run it. There are a number of versions both 1.5 and 1.4 should work and indeed does work with Athlon AM2 Dual Core plus 32 bit CPU’s.

Ubuntu Ultimate

SupergamerVL based on Vector Linux SuperGamer used to be based on PCLinuxOS we have had problems running this dvd as a Live DVD and never got past this point to install it, however you are welcome to try, link below is to a torrent file compatible with application Azureus.

Supergamer Downloads

Knoppix has a games distro also we have no idea what it offers, if someone would be kind enough to tell us we will be pleased to update this page.

Konoppix Games
Another Knoppix site


Ever heard of (MMORPG) Massively Multiplayer On-line Role-playing Game these are online games played played by large communities of gamers. Some of the links via the menu on the left will take you to more information about these particular games.

We do not pretend to know all the Linux gamers CD / DVD there are out their, if you email us and let us know we will investigate and if current we will add them to the list.

Shootems or FPS

Author: Derek Shaw - Page reference: 4097
Last modified: Alan Campion - 2015-01-23

Categories: Games

Moving Forest



June 22 to July 5 , 2012 London and beyond

A twelve day prelude moving across the city; a twelve-hour sound art opera of betrayal and rebellion culminating in a spectacular series of disturbing performances in Chelsea College of Art Parade Ground; a one-day coda of debate.
12 hour performance – July 4 – Live Streaming moving , 9:00 – 21:00 (GST)

Where on july 4, Use your media player eg. VLC – Open Network Stream Stream terminated
Continue reading

Author: Derek Shaw - Page reference: 2897
Last modified: Alan Campion - 2015-02-20

Categories: Project Tags:

Happy birthday Linux!

Happy Birthday Linux!

It may surprise many new users to the Linux scene, that Linux celebrates it’s 20thbirthday this year.

As this video demonstrates, you can see it’s considerable achievements over that time.

The date of Linux’s birthday remains open to conjecture. Was it when it was first conceived by it’s creator, Linus Torvalds, or when version 0.01 was shared with a few friends, or when version 0.02 was first publicly released? I’ll leave you to decide.

But in the meantime; Happy Birthday Linux and here’s to the next 20 years.

Author: paul - Page reference: 2866
Last modified: paul - 2017-02-15

Categories: Events

Raspberry Jam

Southend Raspberry Jam #3 – Saturday 16th August 10am – 5pm


We are holding our third Southend Raspberry Jam on Saturday 16th August from 10am – 5pm at the Tickfield Centre, Southend.

There will be talks, show and tell, workshops, videos, robots, flashing leds and lots of fun.

Book Tickets



Item – Lecture Room 1



Item – Lecture Room 2


10:45 – 11:15 Exploring Networks via Raspberry Pi Verena Hermann 10:55 – 11:25 Using GitHub Tom Keene
12:00 – 12:30 IoT (Internet of Things) Platforms Edmund DSouza 12:10 – 12:40 Quadcopters Dave Black
13:45 – 14:15 Interactive Media Graham Harwood 13:55 – 14:25 Medical Electronics Ed Bye
15:00 – 15:30 Pygame & Python GPIO Andy C. Knight 15:10 – 15:40 Mindio – Mind Control Ji Hu
16:15 – 16:45 Intro to Arduino & Laser Text Matt Booker 16:25 – 16:55 Minecraft: Pi Edition (Python) Andy C. Knight

Workshops and Exhibits, running all day:

  • Richard D: Build a Cat5 Ethernet Cable
  • Edmund D: Solder Booth
  • Ray E: Solder Electronics Workshop
  • Si Ye: Tooth Data Project
  • Ji Hu: Arduino: Mind Control
  • Derek S: Sonic Pi 2 – programming made easy, learn via the fun of sound
  • Scratch, by our young local expert
  • Mark T and others: Robot Arms – controlled with web interface and accelerometer
  • Matt B: Arduino Laser Text & Electronics
  • Laura T: Pinnochion & PiGlow
  • Andy C. K: Capacitive Distance Sensing 2 – as an input
  • Romilly Cocking: C3Pi Robot
  • Tony S: Motor Controllers
  • Love Southend: HTML and CSS style sheets
  • MyPiFi Traffic Lights
  • Careers mobile phone app
  • Average Man vs Pi (only 10:00 – 12:30): Temperature board, PiTFT, Homemade LED PCB, RaspBMC with Android remote and more
  • Python GPIO and Scratch GPIO: learn the ways to control electronics from your Pi


Win a Raspberry Pi B+ Ultimate Kit! (Kindly donated by
Plus an assortment of other prizes such as LED board.
Raffle Tickets £1 and will be drawn @ 4:00pm Saturday 16th August

Also, everyone who attends shall be given a free ModMyPi sticker!

Join the Mailing List

Click here to be informed of details of this and future events.
Watch this space and follow us on @SouthendRpiJams and @soslug for further details.


All ages and abilities welcome. No Pi required.

If you have a Pi or laptop or smartphone, then bring it along.

Wifi internet access

If you would like to demo your projects, hold a talk or workshop or sell you goods, we would love to meet you. Please contact us at



tickfield.png Tickfield Centre.jpg
Tickfield Centre
Tickfield Industrial Estate
Tickfield Avenue
Southend, Essex
Nearest rail station: Prittlewell
Nearest bus stop: Blue Boar, Victoria Ave

Update: Here are some posts about our successful event from the blogosphere:

Author: Derek Shaw - Page reference: 853
Last modified: Alan Campion - 2015-01-22

Categories: Events Tags:

Open Electronics Day

OpenElectronics Day – Saturday 31st May 10am – 4pm


OpenElectronics day on soldering, simple electronics, robots, raspberry pi, talks at Temporary Arts Project, Southend with Chelmsford Makerspace and Southend Techmeet.

Join us at TAP for a day of Open Electronics:

  • Come along and try your hand at soldering
  • Discover how to use LEDs to create patterns
  • Pick up ideas for your own building projects
  • Dip into our demo programme of robotics and other building projects
  • Listen to what’s hot, new and exciting in Raspberry Pi and Arduino groups
  • Meet other makers, share tips and hints, pick up ideas for your own projects

SoSLUG, Chelmsford Maker Space and Southend Techmeet’s interactive day celebrates all things Open Source and Electronic with a range of demonstrations and talks alongside a full programme of exhibits and activities.

All free of charge! Why not come and see what you can do?

  • Create light shows with Raspberry Pi/Arduino and learn how to control fans, lights, etc in your house through this amazing little computer
  • Make your own, permanent circuitry with our soldering workshops – your components will never fall off again
  • Discover intriguing new Breadboard and Vero Board making projects
  • Basic robotics with PiBOT and Sparkfun
  • LED Cubes: make your own patterns and timing in 3D – or make your Cube respond to sounds, music, light levels or buttons – all programmed by you
  • Banana keyboards – or jelly babies, apples, toys – anything, in fact! Learn how to programme a Raspberry or Arduino to “sense” when a human is touching something, using our natural electric conductivity and use that as a keyboard
  • Speaking to a Brick Wall? Discover how electronics and conductive paint can make your walls respond to movement with sound, music, light patterns or images.

  • SpokePOV: Use LEDs to create designs and patterns on bicycle wheels, and take away some ideas to customise your bike

Talks and demonstrations about robotics, ranging from the large to small, showcasing Raspberry Pi/Arduino and modular synthesizers and music-making

Author: Derek Shaw - Page reference: 850
Last modified: Derek Shaw - 2015-01-20

Categories: Events