May the 15th is a very special day. My birthday, and like most people I wanted to do something pretty awesome for it! But, I rejected the normal traditions of booze, parties and even cake to try something totally new on my YouTube channel and integrate it with my new role as a Raspberry Pi Creative Technologist.
I wanted to spend my birthday with the Internet! (Yes, I know how lame that sounds but no, I have no regrets)
I came up with this idea a couple of days before my actual birthday during one of my ‘creative naps’ (trust me, napping is extremely useful for helping creative juices flow, it’s not just laziness, I swear). I realised that the closest people to me were scattered all around the world, from different parts of the UK all the way to the USA, and wished there was a way to share my birthday with them all. But of course there is, this is the digital age after all!
So I set forth investigating all about setting up a live stream through YouTube. My idea seemed simple, live stream for as long as I could, giving my friends and viewers alike from around the world a chance to take part in the online event in their own time zones. The only problem was, THE LAG! It was horrendous, I would say there was about a 10 second delay at the best of times. Granted, this probably had a lot to do with the fact that I live in a house with 3 other equally Internet-obsessed individuals, but still, there was no way that I could interact with people this way. That’s where the Raspberry Pi comes in! I could set up a live twitter feed, pulling tweets with #YagmanXBDay and see them in real-time, using these tweets as a way to interact with my viewers more efficiently as well as having them to fill gaps in my very long stream so that I could have small breaks. Perfect!
I then made my own tweaks to the code by using the node module colors.js to decorate the terminal, making the tweets appear in a more presentable way. I randomised the colour of each tweet, keeping the twitter handles the same to emphasise who the tweets were sent from and added break points in between each tweet to make them easy to differentiate from each other. The code can be found on my GitHub in the Twitter-Feed git repo.
By running this on the Raspberry Pi I was then able to SSH into it from my mac and connect an external screen just for the terminal window that was hosting the twitter feed. This way, when using Google Hangouts to live stream the event I could simply use the screen share option to switch to the open terminal window to show viewers their tweets.
The response and engagement that I received from the live stream itself far exceeded my expectations!
The twitter feed stayed active throughout the full 6+ hours of my live stream, even those who couldn’t watch the video stream were getting involved by tweeting with the hashtag #YagmanXBDay. Some simply wishing me a happy birthday, others helping to spread the live stream further, commending my achievement of what is possibly the ‘Nerdiest Birthday Ever’.
— dannypallett (@DannyPallett) May 15, 2015
— Joshua Mendoza (@JoshJ_Mendoza) May 15, 2015
Viewers of the stream used the twitter feed to interact more directly with me while I entertained them through singing, attempting to rap, answering questions and even reading them a bed time story before finally ending the stream.
This birthday I came away with a wider knowledge of technology and how much the Raspberry Pi can handle, greatly improved improvisation skills by coming up with creative ideas on the spot to keep my viewers engaged for over 6 hours and ultimately proved to myself that even with limited time, if I put my mind to something I really can make it happen. (Anyone can!)
Thank you to everyone who got involved in my Birthday Live Stream, either by watching, tweeting or even showing interest in it now! I’m no fool and I know that without the kind and awesome people who show interest in my content and projects, they simply wouldn’t amount to anything. It’s with engagement and interaction that spontaneous ideas such as this one become a reality and I couldn’t do it without the wonderful online community that I am so grateful to be a part of.
The full stream is on my YouTube for all to enjoy!