The Wheel of (BASIC) Excuses

Back in the day, over at IEEE Spectrum magazine, the editorial elves had a sheet of paper stuck on a wall, with a spinning arm which pointed to any number of plausible excuses for not having handed in homework an article in time.

The offices were renovated last year, and Stephen Cass thought that it was time to update the paper version, bringing it kicking and screaming into the 1980s with a Raspberry Pi-based BASIC system. You can’t fit many excuses on wheel drawn on a sheet of paper. With a big enough SD card, you can fit all the excuses onto a Raspberry Pi.


I remember struggling with getting BASIC to do things fast enough to be useful when I was at school back in the dark ages. The RISC OS version on your Pi is much evolved from the BBC BASIC we knew and loved in (squints) 1980-something; it’s also much, much faster by virtue of all that extra RAM. Stephen was pleased and alarmed by this.

Stephen didn’t put the code for the spinner in his original piece, because he had the aberrant view that nobody would be interested. Happily, he’s fixed that and pasted everything into a comment below his article. (Hit “See more” to view the whole block.)

There are, of course, plenty of non-journalist applications for this snippet of code: games for the kids, allocating chores, automating decision-making…we hope some of you will end up adapting it and letting us know what you did below.


gordon77 avatar

Could it be used for reasons we don’t have the Pi screen yet ? ;O)

Nic avatar

No it can’t, because we don’t have a Pi screen to display the excuses on.

whheydt avatar

Sigh… I picked up BASIC by using the FORTRAN I already knew…

Andy avatar

I’ve used many excuses in my time, but “I ran over the goldfish” got me fired.

Lorna avatar

I can see myself making a chore wheel in the very near future!

Liz Upton avatar

You could stick an Easter Egg in your chore set: make bed, do dishes, sweep kitchen, polish mirror, EAT CHOCOLATE.

Hudson avatar

I really like the wheel of basic excuses. If I am tired enough to run out of imagination one day, I can just tap into some of the great ones used in the past. My kids can also stop using the dog ate my homework, especially since we don’t have a dog.

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