We frequently run sessions where the attendees want or need to keep their work from week to week.

TechResort has a fleet of laptops and even though they have unique numbers, it’s a pain to find the laptop you were using last week.  With Raspberry Pi computers the whole of your operating system, application data and your programming files all fit onto an SD card (like you use in cameras and phones) so it’s best to be able to use the same one when you’re working on projects.

We have a file server and we could keep data on that but it’s often not appropriate or it can be technically tricky.  So we routinely use removable media.

The difficulty comes in labeling…

Modern media is so small that it’s actually quite hard to label it meaningfully.  So, over time, we’ve developed approaches that work really well for us:

USB sticks

  • Always buy sticks that are in one piece and have a ring for attaching stuff to it.
  • Make laminated blank labels an attach them to the USB sticks with a small, cheap cable tie.
  • Get session attendees to write their name on the label with a Sharpie (other permanent markers are available)
  • Put them in a box or a drawer for that session and kids can retrieve them from week to week.
  • Periodically copy the data from the sticks to a server
  • At the end of a course labels can be cleaned with a little Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) and the USB sticks wiped to be used again.

SD Cards

  • Always buy micro SD cards with a adapters – they’re usually a tiny bit more expensive but that’s easily made up for by not losing as many
  • By having the micro SD/adapter combo you can use the cards in a wider range of devices (old Pis are standard SD, new ones are micro)
  • Buy individual plastic cases for the cards and keep cards in them
  • Label them with a Sharpie
  • If you’re using them in Raspberry Pi sessions consider backing up the home directory to USB sticks, too.

There’s a side benefit to making attendees save their files in a specific place – they learn the habit of taking responsibility for their files (mostly).

Mind you we still need to close each session with “don’t forget to check your files are where you thought you put them”.