New Tech, New Features, New Pants

July 29, 2021

This morning I was working on a guide and process manual for building a digital signage system using Raspberry Pis and open source software. One of the libraries I work with is switching out their digital signage system and they’d like something they can own, rather than something they need to subscribe to. It’s been a while since I set up a new Pi. I’ve got three or four older Raspberry Pis running around my tech stack, but they’ve been running for a while now, so there’s nothing to set up. But, for this project, I wanted to use a brand new Raspberry Pi 4 from CanaKit. The setup process hasn’t changed much, except for one small feature.

I built the Pi, and I dig the new cooling fan. That’ll be great because these digital signage Pis can run MP4 video as well as image slides, so I figure the the fan will help out while rendering HD video. Now, to be straightforward, I didn’t know that the volume was turned all the way up on the HD monitor/TV I use for these kinds of things. I never watch anything on that monitor and, honestly, I forgot it had speakers at all.

A silhouette of a man yelling into a bullhorn.
Would you like to install an important accessibility feature?

So hey! Did you know that, after the initial installation of Raspberry Pi OS, it’ll boot to a welcome screen? And did you know that, at that welcome screen it will pause for a few seconds and then it will speak to you, and tell you how to install a screen reader? Did you also know that, if the volume is turned all the way up on your monitor, the Pi isn’t speaking to you so much as it is screaming at you that you can install a screen reader?

I didn’t. Until today.

I nearly came out of my chair. I was scrambling for the volume control and turning the air in my office a lovely shade of blue. Don’t get me wrong, the ability to install a screen reader is absolutely an important accessibility feature and I applaud the Raspberry Pi OS team for implementing this feature. I just wasn’t quite prepared for the Pi to grab my head and shout about it to my face, at least in a sonic perspective. Thankfully, I’d recently made a trip to the loo, otherwise some new shorts may have been required after my heart rate dropped to something below “startled gazelle.”