Raspberry Pi for Secret Agents Second Edition

by Stefan Sjogelid

I scored this a 4 / 5

What nerd isn’t going to want to read a book entitled Raspberry Pi for Secret Agents. A cool bit of tech being used in a cool sounding setting? I’m in!

That is to say that today I will be reviewing the second edition of a book called Raspberry Pi for Secret Agents.

I should probably give some disclaimer at the head of this review, I own a Raspberry Pi but I do not own all of the other hardware needed to fully play with everything laid out in this book.

Having said that I have at some point or other done something similar to pretty much every project. To that end I feel comfortable enough lending my opinion to this book.

I am reviewing a digital version of this book which I have been reading on an iPad.

Lots of Upsides

As the title suggests the premise of this book is to guide you through some projects you can do that help you play pranks or spy on people. Naturally enough this is just subtext and what you actually learn are some pretty great core concepts of developing pretty much anything on top of the Pi.

After guiding the reader through setting up their Pi (assuming no prior knowledge) we are presented with topics such as;

  • Recording and playing Audio
  • Hooking up webcams to do things like motion detection
  • Creating a chat bot which is hosted off your Pi
  • Setting up the Pi to be used outside
  • Remotely erasing the data on your Pi

Some pretty cool stuff I am sure you will agree!

Stefan has a friendly way of writing, it is very personable and he distils some fairly complex ideas into something useful for the lay person.

Whilst I have tried many similar things before on my Raspberry Pi, there was a lot that I learned from this book, including;

  • Backing up the SD card onto my Mac
  • Setting up shell scripts to auto run when the Pi boots up
  • Setting up a video steam from the Pi
  • Using Profanity and OTR for chat
  • Using GPS as a time source

Some Downsides

There are some things about the book that I am not so keen on. The first is that some of the execution of the book feels a bit sloppy. Here are two different screen grabs that show bad formatting.

Inconsistent Formatting

Lone Character Formatting

The other thing is that a lot of the things we are doing in this book could be done on any *nix machine and whilst some take advantage of the Pi, I get the feeling that others are more aimed at “Things people didn’t know you could do with Debian”. The chat bot for example was something that didn’t need to be on a Pi at all.

Conclusion

If you have a Pi and you want some intermediate/expert projects to play with, this book could be very useful.

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