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back to article The Raspberry Pi: Is it REALLY the saviour of British computing?

It is fair to say that the Raspberry Pi is a success. I love them, you love them, the whole world loves them. It has reminded the rest of the computing world that the UK - and Cambridge especially - has a proud computing heritage. It’s hard to miss mentions of the Pi in the technology press each day. It is spoken of in hushed …

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Absolutely

And that's where the "community" was meant to magically step in.

There are some pi magazines, although I've not read any of them so can't comment on their content cf+ the BBC Micro fest of our youths...

We need to get out there and write educational programmes - or are all the "people skilled" programmers of the appropriate age bringing up families now?

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Re: Absolutely

I won't be teaching my kids with a Pi - I have a Commodore 128D and Acorn A5000 for that purpose.

People seem to have forgotten that the home computer boom took off when manufacturers were able to market and sell pre-assembled computers. Yes, the Pi is affordable - but then so was the KIM-1. However, the first mass-selling home computer that slaughtered the competition (the Commodore 64) did not require the customer to source their case, power supply and keyboard separately.

My gripes with the Pi are also of an architectural bent - ethernet is hobbled because it has to go over the USB bus, rather than having a dedicated PHY (as the Beaglebone Black has.)

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HDMI not compulsory

You don't need an HDMI display for the PI, any old tv with a composite input will work.

Having said that, I do agree that cheap computers do not make programmers. How many parents in the 80s bought Timmy an 8 bit micro thinking they were helping with his education only to end up with an expert in Jetset Willy?

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Re: HDMI not compulsory

"How many parents in the 80s bought Timmy an 8 bit micro thinking they were helping with his education only to end up with an expert in Jetset Willy?"

My parents, for one. Mugs :)

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Re: HDMI not compulsory

"How many parents in the 80s bought Timmy an 8 bit micro thinking they were helping with his education only to end up with an expert in Jetset Willy?"

A fair few. That doesn't detract from how many where inspired by having a computer to new heights.

Without the 80s boom the UK would be a technological backwater.

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Re: HDMI not compulsory

Not all old TV's work - you seem to have to plug the audio cable in too and not many TV's I've tried have one.

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Re: HDMI not compulsory

"Not all old TV's work - you seem to have to plug the audio cable in too and not many TV's I've tried have one."

Maybe not, but it seems that the 4.2" and 5" flat screen displays sold on eBay as part of DIY car reversing aids do: they come with the composite TV connectors pre-attached. from about 16 quid. Then add a USB mouse, speakers, a cheapie USB keyboard and a Pi case. This can all be had for no more than the cost of the Pi plus wall rat, cables and SD card.

Or, of course, you add your RPi 'B' to your home LAN with an ethernet cable, install one of the free X-server packages (VcXsrv or XWinLogon) on your PC and run the RPi headless - and all for the cost of the ethernet cable. My RPi has been run headless since I bought it: the only difference is that my PC runs Fedora rather than Windows+Xserver.

Want a switch instead of pulling the micro plug out of the RPi? Easy: you can get 150mm USB socket to micro-USB plug adapter cables for about a fiver. Another fiver at Maplins gets you a rocker switch and small plastic box to put it in. Just strip the cover off the adapter cable for 25mm or so, cut the RED wire and solder the ends to the switch and put switch into the box. Job done.

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5" screens ?

Will no one think of the kids eyesight ?

Another reason for them to go blind in their bedrooms

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Re: HDMI not compulsory

Want a switch instead of pulling the micro plug out of the RPi? Easy

Use a paperclip or other bit of wire to short the holes at P6. This reset mechanism was added in rev 2 boards, so it can be used to avoid some wear and tear on the USB power socket.

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Re: HDMI not compulsory

"Or, of course, you add your RPi 'B' to your home LAN with an ethernet cable, install one of the free X-server packages (VcXsrv or XWinLogon) on your PC and run the RPi headless - and all for the cost of the ethernet cable. My RPi has been run headless since I bought it: the only difference is that my PC runs Fedora rather than Windows+Xserver."

Yes but all this plays rather nicely into the "you've clearly already got a PC, so use it" argument in the article.

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Roo
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Re: HDMI not compulsory

"Without the 80s boom the UK would be a technological backwater."

Depends on how you define a backwater.

From the point of view of producing semiconductors (including microprocessors) we are a technological backwater, the ARM crew notwithstanding.

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Re: HDMI not compulsory

"Want a switch instead of pulling the micro plug out of the RPi?"

On the odd occasion when I've wanted to reset it I've tended to use the more resiliant plug on the big volts end of the power supply. The one plugged into the mains extension lead. Doesn't show any signed of wearing out yet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HDMI not compulsory

"use the more resiliant plug on the big volts end of the power supply."

Effing engineers. Where's the fun (never mind the article material) in doing it that way.

Effing engineers. Shoot the lot of them, replace them all with web desingers.

RIP Lou Reed.

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PJI
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Meh

Re: HDMI not compulsory

A fiver here, a fiver there, just for odds and ends and second hand bits. Half a dozen of those and you've already spent more than the cost of the Pi and hardly started yet; in addition, the mere ability to find and assemble those bits assumes the sort of knowledge and interest that busy parents who are not interested in or working in informatics just may not have (the child probably does not: he is learning); the schools have not got the time to have a teacher or even a secretary running around acting as retailer for bits and pieces.

The idea is interesting; but I suspect that most Pi machines, bought for the home for a school in a fit of well meant enthusiasm, will end up in a draw, gathering dust.

Do remember, schools have a lot more to teach than just informatics: the three Rs, so that the children can read and record and plan their informatics work; a decent grasp of history, geography, art etc. so that they know how their world got where it is and have some feeling for society, state and continuity (and to provide handy sources of silly computer names etc. to show off their intellectual credentials), at least one foreign language because the world is bigger than we are …. Oh, and schools are expected to provide sport, social discipline and on and on.

While you are moaning about embryo informatics specialists, athletes are crying out for the new generation of sportsmen, businesses are demanding numerate and literate recruits with social skills and at least one foreign language, government wants good administrators, we all want nurses, doctors, radiologists, teachers ….

Computing or informatics is a particular field, like plumbing or architecture. The educational system, unless it is supposed to start streaming children like like drones at 6 years old, must provide a pool of educated (not trained) pupils who can adapt to the growing needs of their society, one of which (probably a smaller one) is computing expertise. Think too how many of us change career, completely, because the reality of the chosen one turns out not to be what we wanted or that field just withered away: by emphasising something aimed at a particular industry, that change becomes difficult and unnecessarily expensive.

I know that this purports to be a "technical" web site; but contributors must lift their eyes to see beyond their keyboards or tablets, to what our work is for and its real place in the overall context.

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Childcatcher

Great expectations...

I think that a large part of the problem is what else the "kids" that the PI is targeted at have experienced:

I started mucking about with programming in the 8-bit days - despite their low visual and audio quality (compared to today), I found the games of the time absolutely amazing. More importantly, the graphics that I managed to get going on screen were within shouting distance of those used by these games, which only encouraged me to keep going.

Nowadays, the kids that the tech pages reckon will get into programming via the PI have been brought up on a diet of XBox and Playstation, near-photo-quality 3D graphics, realistic physics and immersive audio, written by teams of hundreds of people. And I'd be willing to bet that upon realising the vast gulf between "hello world" ant GTA5, the a lot of these kids will be put off rather than inspired.

It's not a problem with the PI - it's just that too many people expect to be able to do everything immediately.

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Re: Great expectations...

All too true unfortunately - although I would have thought a step by step introduction of the usages of different libraries could help in that area. For example starting from a plain text hello world up to a 3d representation that can be spun and zoomed in a 3D space.

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Re: Great expectations...

>been brought up on a diet of XBox and Playstation, near-photo-quality 3D graphics, realistic physics and immersive audio,

So, use those attributes to teach things. Something like Gary's Mod, for example, allows for Python Scripting. Class project? Design a Rube-Goldberg style mousetrap. Physics. Cause and Effect. If X happens then do Y.

Whilst you're at it, teach them to record and edit audio. Take it into the music class. Let them mess it up by setting the recording levels too high - they'll learn from that. Have them re-create their school in a virtual space. Use a Kinect (low cost low res 3D scanner) and integrate into Design and Technology. Some of them might become engineers.

A crazy amount of biological research (a science subject that attracts more females than some other science and technology subjects) involves programming and computation these days. Let's have some 3D proteins and enzymes floating around and interacting. What happens when we turn up the temperature? Do they interact faster, or do they become denatured?

Zoology, have a virtual ecosystem. What happens to the population of herbivores when I remove all the apex predators? (hint: it doesn't grow steadily)

I had a graphical calculator when I studied calculus. It was an aid,

However, hand skills are very important. Mental arithmetic, laying out engineering drawings by hand, laboratory skills. I had a graphical calculator when I studied calculus; it was a great aid to visualising, but it didn't replace doing things by hand on graph paper.

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Re: Great expectations...

@Dave 126

But why use the PI to do it?

Don't most school kids have access to or own a laptop or other sort of PC? If you want to try your hand at programming, why not write apps for your smartphone. There's a big market out there and the opportunity to make some money out of your class project. The tools for doing this sort of thing are readily available and free if you've already got a smartphone/tablet, a PC and a USB cable.

I never got the idea that a PI was going to help with teaching programming. Interfacing with other hardware and junior robotics? Possibly... But not straight out programming.

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Re: Great expectations...

Don't underestimate the effects of it being "your" computer that you are in control of.

Before the 8bit-80s, computers were dialup big expensive scary machines in universities somewhere that you might be allowed to use if you carefully followed the rules under strict supervision.

Now computers in schools are strictly administered scary systems might be allowed to use if you carefully followed the rules under strict supervision - with dire penalties if you do something that isn't in the list of permissible user actions for keystage N of curriculum X.

Yes you can learn to be a professional programmer by just reading CLR and doing 6.046 online. Just like you might be able to become a professional chemist by solving wave equations and never seeing a lab.

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Re: Great expectations...

But why use the PI to do it?

Because - see "androgynous cupboard" below - it's cheap enough that if you break it, you don't need to cry. A new one won't break the bank. That's particularly important if you are interested in tinkering with hardware.

But even if "all" you have done is accidentally nuked the hard disk of a PC while trying to repartition and install Linux alongside Windows, there is lots of work to get it back to how it was and maybe lots of data you will never get back. Lots of expense also, if you didn't appreciate the importance of making some factory restore DVDs on the day you unpacked it (assuming you did get to unpack it yourself). If it wasn't strictly speaking your very own PC, but a shared resource, people will be blaming you. Not a nice place to be, especially not for a kid.

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Re: Great expectations...

> But why use the PI to do it?

The Pi's strengths are cheap/portable/electrical interaction with other devices.

You can hook it up to a motion sensor and doorbell and it isn't so expensive that you can't leave it there. It won't replace a pc for general computing but the level of general computing has risen so far its hard to inspire kids to compete with teams of hundreds of adults. The benefit is in little cool things where someone can say, "I did that!"

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Re: Great expectations...

> Don't underestimate the effects of it being "your" computer that you are in control of.

What the author of the article failed to understand was that cost is not the driving concern here.

Most homes have a PC now, but whereas when I was a kid, my Vic20 was mine and mine alone to do with as I pleased. The home PC is used by the whole family and you're expected not to bugger it up. This discourages experimentation.

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Re: Great expectations...

@Steve Crook

Sorry mate, I wasn't being clear.To be honest, I was rambling a bit because my head was buzzing with how great it would be to 8 years old again with some of this kit! (For years I resented my primary school for possessing a BigTrak but not letting me play with it!)

I didn't mean to advocate the Pi (nor dismiss it), I was just trying to step back from the issue and think about how programming might be used in education by writing down some unordered thoughts : D

Upon reflection, I think that teaching some programming and then having it integrated into other subjects where appropriate (much like mathematics is) might be a good idea... but it is only my opinion and I have no expertise or credentials in education (other than I have been subjected to it!).

Disclosure: I should be considered a complete beginner in programming. I read about BASIC when I was in primary school, but hardly wrote more than a few lines. I did a bit of Hypercard a few years later, and at university I used a little bit of VB with Powerpoint, in order to create a mock-up of a MP3 player interface (in the 'information ergonomics' module of my Product Design course.

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Re: Great expectations...

Steve Crooks' point about smartphones is interesting because smartphones already have motion / light / sound sensors built in. Okay, the lack of standardisation between models would cause some issues, but I could imagine a class project to make a 'burglar alarm' from a smartphone ( IF no light detected AND foot steps detected THEN make a alarm sound and flash light )

Okay, there is a case to be made for not giving young children smartphones (they don't need to text each other and play games in school) but a phone is a mobile package of CPU and sensors...

On another note, does anyone else remember those RadioShack / Maplins kits that were a board of electronic components (transistors, diodes, relays, a transformer, a CCD etc) that allowed circuits to be created by just clipping pieces of wire into spring-terminals? I made smoke come out of mine...

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Re: Great expectations...

That's what I was thinking, although more on the lines of using an el-cheapo android tablet. Have one or two of those for the class, and use normal PCs to write apps for them. Apps are small, and tap into lots of libraries. Apps can be written as web-pages, or as something better that uses the phone hardware, so the learning curve can be a bit shallower.

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Re: Great expectations...

TBH At the moment with my class I am getting them to use a PICAXE to monitor light gates and record the data etc. The next project is to control the flight computer for a water rocket.

I like the PICAXE the is a lot if "8bitness" to it.

10 Pin 1 Low

20 wait 1

30 pin 1 High

40 wait 1

50 goto 10

Oooh look the LED in Pin 1 flashes.

Besides they really are cheap the 08's are only £1.50 plus a battery and a bit of bread board to start.

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"power connector is a micro USB connector - they’re quite fragile. There’s no reset button on a Pi, so if you need to reset it then you’ll be abusing that connector quite a lot"

Or you leave the connector in the Pi and just switch it on and off at the mains?

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Anonymous Coward

Real CS types have a power supply sitting somewhere. They solder two wires to the top left pin header and then they have the RPI powering up. Abusing a USB cable for powering devices is against all good manners in computery.

I had much more issue with the Flash card, which must conform to "level 4". Then it worked like a breeze.

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Car analogy

(Jesus, a car analogy already. Hello, Slashdot)

Many familes have a car too, but a 12-yo with a vague inclination towards mechanics isn't going to disassemble it to see how it works: it's too expensive, and the family need it to be in running condition. But give said 12-yo a beat-up old 1960's mini and express permission to tinker, and in ten years you might have a skilled mechanic (*). I know a few people who've done just that.

Yes there's plenty of hype (from third parties), but I still don't see many articles that say "this will spawn a generation of programmers". However I think "this might spawn a generation of programmers" is accurate, especially given the opportunity for most kids to learn these skills in ICT at school or on the family desktop at home was pretty much zero. So it's undeniably an improvement.

The difference between a computer and a computer you have permission to destroy and rebuild is quite a big one.

(*) there are other possiblities too...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Car analogy

"The difference between a computer and a computer you have permission to destroy and rebuild is quite a big one." (and the rest)

This man gets it, and deserves more than a few upvotes.

Kris *nearly* gets it too, apart from the idea of letting the little ones loose on the family/school/library(?) PC, which is already prone to breakage without infant intervention.

Raspberry Pi makes that a non issue.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Car analogy

> This man gets it, and deserves more than a few upvotes.

Then why didn't you upvote him? He has no upvotes at the moment (although I will upvote him once I have posted this).

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Re: Car analogy

Yes, exactly.

If you're into software tinkering only, then the RPi is great - get it configured, back up the SD card, and you can trash it and rebuild with virtually no effort. It's a good way to learn about Linux system administration. You could even have different SD cards for different purposes and swap them around very easily which I imagine is invaluable in a school environment (every kid can have a SD card, they Pis themselves can be kept in the classroom).

(Admittedly, you could do some of this with virtual machines on real PCs, but I it's much easier to wrap your head around the concepts if you can see the hardware in front of you).

If you want to tinker with the hardware, there's a bigger risk that you'll fry the board, but if you can get a new one for less than £30 it's definitely in the "affordable toy" category rather than the risk of breaking the family PC. (Not that you have convenient I/O pins or whatever on the family PC anyway.)

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Re: Car analogy

Agreed: The FEAR of screwing up computers is a very strong limiting factor against tinkering, and not just for children. For me this is the absolutely critical difference between 'Today's Family Netbook' and the 8/16 bit computers many of us 30-somethings grew up with, it's not just about the cost.

If you totally, utterly screw up your Pi OS & don't know how to fix it, you can just stick in your backup SD card and carry on within 30 seconds. No harm done.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Car analogy

A non issue? Sadly no. do you realise how easy, with an instant short it is to kill Pi's I/O pins which are unprotected?. Without a separate buffer board, the main chip is very vulnerable. And that means you throw away your Pi if you happen to kill pins you need.

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Re: Car analogy

> A non issue? Sadly no. do you realise how easy, with an instant short it is to kill Pi's I/O pins which are unprotected?

A very large proportion of Rasp Users will not use the I/O pins so they are unbuffered to keep the cost down.

If you really want to mess with I/O, then a buffer board would be a useful accessory.

As with a lot of these types of things, the Rasp is a compromise of ruggedness and cost. I think they have it about right.

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Anonymous Coward

Ooh,

he's having a go at Slackware now! I was brought up on Slackware and it never did me any harm...

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Re: Ooh,

"anyone remember the early days of Slackware?"

Pretty much every longtime linux user. Ah, how I miss recompliling the kernel just to get the network card to work, etc, etc...

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Bronze badge

Repeat after me:

Shiny toys do not teach your children.

Computers do not teach your children.

Books do not teach your children.

Omega-3 in their diet does not teach your children.

The RPi is a tool. In the right hands it's useful. But it's sold many times more as a cheap geek toy for projects than anything to do with education. How do I know? I have a first batch Pi. I work in schools. I bought it to trial it. We never even put it near a classroom. Sure, we could have, but it's no different to the netbooks, tablets, or any other fad that has come along - posh hardware looks nice on parent's evening, but doesn't actually teach anything.

Mine has been sitting in the attic for months. Mainly because of problems that you shouldn't have to deal with on such a device (The USB shares bus-bandwidth with something else - the SD or the Ethernet I can't remember - and as such can lose USB packets [read: All your devices crash and stop working] silently without any clue what went wrong... it's a hardware problem that recent firmwares try to workaround by tweaking some settings but nothing that can be resolved. The posts on this from the first few weeks of RPi bug reporting are still open).

And there is zero effort to actually teach schools how to use it. If it appears at BETT it's as a faddy device on some third-party stall to make you buy it for no good reason, and with few resources to use it. The kind of teachers we have nowadays, that means it's dead in the water. The ones who can make their own resources are few and far between and, let's be honest, don't need fancy gadgets to do those things anyway. They'd be able to teach them with a washing up bottle and double-sided sticky tape.

It's an interesting gadget, but nothing that didn't exist before (BeagleBoards, et al), or hasn't existed since (there are now a myriad of clones, and even Intel has pushed one out recently that's x86-compatible). It has quirks and problems, and it's not really designed for younger kids handling. The older kids using them all have Java-based smartphones, some of them running on Linux, but we're taking them away from the kids at registration and forcing them to cobble together some mish-mash of junk onto a PCB and then get happy when they make a Scratch program they've written in the IT suite run on it. Hell, my five-year-old has a Nexus tablet.

It was sold as "for schools" but it's anything but. As pointed out, there was a point where it was assumed the community would just "step up" and provide all this for free. What happened instead is all us geeks (who didn't grow up with this kind of hardware, or even the luxury of GCSE electronics) bought one, turned it into an in-car PC, and soldered our own circuits to it.

It's a tool. Without someone to use it properly, it's worthless. The people who can use it properly almost always would choose a BETTER tool (i.e. a PC or even a smartphone) to do what they want.

And it doesn't make your children any brighter than spending tens of thousands on bunch of swanky tablets that they all have at home anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

"It's a tool. Without someone to use it properly, it's worthless. The people who can use it properly almost always would choose a BETTER tool (i.e. a PC or even a smartphone) to do what they want."

Choose the right tool for the job then.

PCs and smartphones are great for doing the jobs the manufacturers chose them to be used for.

PCs and smartphones as educational tools? Maybe, if the subject is Windows/Office/Android.

If the subject is a little more demanding/creative, then Raspberry Pi *might* fit, depending on the details.

"it's no different to the netbooks, tablets, or any other fad that has come along"

Other than RasPis costing a tenth (or less) or the price of a netbook or PC (even before accounting for support cost), and other than RasPis all being almost completely identical (which matters in a volume rollout), and other than RasPis being able to do something besides run vendor-supplied Windows/Android applications, and a few other things, then yes you're right. It's no different.

One size does not fit all.

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"Mine has been sitting in the attic for months. Mainly because of problems that you shouldn't have to deal with on such a device (The USB shares bus-bandwidth with something else - the SD or the Ethernet I can't remember - and as such can lose USB packets [read: All your devices crash and stop working] silently without any clue what went wrong... "

[digression] Are you sure? I had that on mine and was convinced it was the pi. It wasn't. It was the power supply. Even though I'd plugged it into 3 separate USB plugs (and the USB output of 2 TVs), as soon as I ran it off my Samsung phone charger (output 3A) it became as solid as a rock.

Yes the Ethernet shares power with the USB (since the Ethernet actually is a USB device). The Pi would appear to freeze, but that was because the mouse (USB), keyboard (USB) and network (also USB) would all drop.

It wasn't until I tried it with an XBMC distro that the penny dropped - I noticed the online clock was still working. Ergo the OS hadn't crashed, but it had no I/O to the outside world, so it looked like it had. [/digression]

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Maybe you have missed the fact that the majority of the Raspberry Pi Foundation's time and energy is spent in developing educational resources. They didn't just sit back on their laurels like your Pi did. It's a non-profit foundation -- every bit of profit that comes from geeks and home theater hackers goes to provide teachers with resources to teach children about computers. (Or similar outreach work.) The computer was always only one piece of the jigsaw. Just a tool. It has always needed buy-in from teachers to make a difference to the national educational landscape. Teachers are always the only thing that matters. To suggest otherwise is a patent straw-man. In fact, for schools, The Pi computer is not particularly necessary... if they can get their PCs out from under the IT supplier's lock-down and let the kids actually program them.

And it didn't exist before. Not for $25. It existed for maybe $100, but there are large numbers of applications for which $25 or $35 is a shoe in, and for which $100 or even $50 is a teeth-sucking decision. Sending it up under a weather balloon springs to mind.

And no. I would not choose a better tool. A PC or a smartphone is horrible for a vast number of projects that I want to investigate. The Raspberry Pi sits very neatly between an Arduino and a netbook. Its got I/O and its got a network stack and filesystem.

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Bronze badge

No. It was not power. See the raspberry pi kernel bugtracker.

It's a bus bandwidth issue when you use the other buses while trying to use the USB bus (e.g. writing USB data to SD, or accessing USB data over Ethernet, whichever bus it is that it shares). It's random and unpredictable and the "fix" was to tweak priorities in the kernel, which reduces the probability of the problem but doesn't fix it.

When you have a serious bench power-supply with as much (regulated) power as you like, power queries go out of the window quite quickly.

Hell, one of my SD-cards is still floating around Broadcom in Taiwan somewhere because they tried to blame that at one point too and I had a Broadcom engineer request it from me (and it turned out that it was nothing to do with the cards whatsosever).

It's just not as nice a piece a hardware as you think when you do anything that remotely pushes it (and children are hardly going to be optimising SD/USB access in their coding). Even the design (i.e. these buses being shared, the weak capacitor situated as the only thing to grip when you want to remove the micro-USB cable, etc.) leaves a bit to be desired.

I'm not saying it's unusable but I don't think schools would want to be sitting diagnosing problems like that.

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But that is a myths, it doesn't cost a tenth.

If you've got money issues you just have to shop around.

At Aria right now, a refurb:

Fujitsu Esprimo, Small Form Factor, Core 2 Duo, 2GB, 80GB HD, DVD Drive.

Windows 7 Home Premium included.

£90

Yeah you have add a display and a mouse and a keyboard. But you have to do that with the PI anyway. For someone interested in the more "electronic" side of things I can see the PI as a smart buy. But if you want to learn software development I don't think it's a great match.

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Silver badge

@Lee D

I think the idea is to make these things so fun that mummy and daddy will want to play with them, and use little Johnny as an excuse.

This is in contrast to leaving to leaving little Johnny in front of a screen and mummy and daddy opening bottle of wine in the next room.

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Anonymous Coward

individual purchase vs volume rollout

"At Aria right now, a refurb:

Fujitsu Esprimo, Small Form Factor, Core 2 Duo, 2GB, 80GB HD, DVD Drive.

Windows 7 Home Premium included."

Plenty of similar options elsewhere, will do much of what most people need **from a PC**.

I've bought and supported nothing but refurb for friends and neigbours (and me) for quite a long time; flavour of the last couple of years has been HPQ DC7100/7700 SFF or similar for << <£100, largely because there are lots of them out there and I can be reasonably sure of getting something compatible for a while to come.

That works OK for me and my community of half a dozen.

Now scale up the "buy refurb, keep consistency" approach to dozens of learning tools in hundreds (thousands?) of schools, needing identical systems so that the software and documentation can be consistend and don't need to be different for each.

It doesn't work on that scale.

Random second hand boxes can be great for individuals at home, but are entirely inappropriate for a supported volume rollout.

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Childcatcher

Environments?

"It will require a choice of language that is appropriate to the age group."

Do we have any thoughts on these? All cross-platform (some on tablets)

http://scratch.mit.edu/

http://www.squeak.org/

and a wild-card for teenagers who like making a bit of noise...

http://puredata.info/

Then there is

http://processing.org/

but by the time you are there, it might be best to try a 'proper' language.

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Gold badge

Re: Environments?

Minecraft Pi Edition?

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Anonymous Coward

In The Spirit Of European Education

..please use something like PASCAL or Ada:

+ Strong Typing provide assurances

+ Strong Typing makes stuff reliable

+ Strong Typing bitches about your problems at compile time

+ Strong Typing makes you structure your problem properly

All very Swiss, very French indeed. And very reliable.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In The Spirit Of European Education

All fine, but it's 2013.

Doesn't that mean the answer is (was?) Modula 3?

Fwiw, Wirth's Algorithms + Data Structures is now legitimately available for free download, updated with examples in Oberon.

It is left as an exercise for the student to find it.

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Or to scroll down far enough to see that it's at

http://www.ethoberon.ethz.ch/WirthPubl/AD.pdf

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Bronze badge
Happy

Re: In The Spirit Of European Education

Prolog would be much better. Better than that Yankee Lisp thing, anyway.

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