back to article The Raspberry Pi is succeeding in ways its makers almost imagined

“Grandpa is getting pretty old. Out there all alone on that farm, he has no one to look in on him, just to see if he’s ok. He’ll use the landline, but he’s beyond of the range of mobile, and he’s never been really great with computers. No Skype or emails. Grandpa does have internet. So I built this for him.” The girl points …

  1. Eric Olson

    The human mind is amazing

    Even when it still has that fresh-from-the-box look.

    I Google everything. I'm in my early 30s and had the fortunate luck of going to an elementary school that was the first in the district that had a computer-based library catalog. I quickly learned the benefits of a keyword search, which now is almost detrimental in that you can get better results using natural language searches. When I meet a developer who's fresh from college or even as old as I am, I'm astounded by the number of times I get a, "I've never used X before, so I just pounded away until I got the result I wanted," response. And when asked if they bothered to look around online or use well-known sites to review similar scenarios, I get blank stares.

    I hope more of these kids keep approaching things as problems waiting to be solved and are willing to not just lean on those who came before them, but then write up or share what they did so that another pre-teen (or developer I browbeat for wasting time) to stumble on to when faced with a similar issue.

    All you can do is provide the tools and let the mind do its thing... and maybe get out of the way with all this bull about who should be doing what. If some kid who wants to be a dancer can also have the savvy to build out a small tool or trinket that solves a inconvenience or concern (like grandpa passing away and no one noticing), that's just something else they can lean on later in life when there are new tools or new minds that need inspiration.

    1. MrT

      Re: The human mind is amazing

      "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." I suspect that Newton would have liked the Internet too.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: The human mind is amazing

        Though can you imagine the flame wars between Leibniz's tribe and Newton's boyz 'n' girls?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: The human mind is amazing

          Though can you imagine the flame wars between Leibniz's tribe and Newton's boyz 'n' girls?

          Choco Leibnitz are delicious! Fig Newtons are horrible! End of debate.

          Although, Jaffa cakes are better than both.

          1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

            Re: The human mind is amazing

            "Although, Jaffa cakes are better than both."

            But bacon is Best.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The human mind is amazing

      The internet is amazing. A woman sitting next to me on the train asked me for directions to somewhere obscure in London. I'd no idea, but I did have a smartphone.

      I support all our company's IT (under ten people, and we pay for Cloudy solutions for the many things I can't do). Years ago I used to struggle to fix PCs. I'm not in IT, I just use the things. Now I can just hit Google, find the right page on Microsoft's site (I wonder if they've fixed internal search on there yet?), found that there's a troubleshooter to fix Windows update, searched the code number it gave out, fixed it. Admittedly I should have thought to try the troubleshooters, as MS have written many of them, and they often now work, but I only fix a pooter every few months, so forget most stuff. But now the internet can remember for me. And I can search on my iPad, while the laptop is in front of me.

      Or Google solved the worst emergency possible this Saturday morning. I'd forgotten to make bread on Friday night, as we were too busy drinking cocktails. Yum. What were we going to have with our bacon?!?! But I had some left over sour cream, and maple syrup. Can you make American pancakes with sour cream instead of buttermilk? Theoretically it's acidic, so should do the job. But what if our breakfast goes wrong and I'm forced to go to the shops before I've eaten my bacon? The thought was too horrible to contemplate! Found a couple of nice looking recipes in but a few taps of the iPad, made vanilla pancakes, and the recipe said that warm maple syrup was a human right, so I warmed it up (and it is indeed nice).

      And the other day I found the legislation on consumer contracts and wrote a nice letter for a friend's Mum and got her back the £2k that some scumbags had legally scammed her out of. They forgot to update their terms and conditions when the legislation was updated in June. Ooops.

    3. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: The human mind is amazing

      > Even when it still has that fresh-from-the-box look.

      Especially when it still has that fresh-from-the-box look.

    4. Jim 59


      "I can bring up a web browser, and take photos inside grandpa’s house. Has he moved his coffee cup today? Is the telly on? At least then we’ll know he’s okay. And I can even type messages” - she changes focus to a textbox inside a web form - “that show up on top. We used ImageMagick for that, you can see it in our code.”

      ie. "Yipee! Now we don't have to visit Grandpa !"

      Sorry about that.

      "Completely at home with Raspberry Pis, these kids Google around for the things they don’t know how to do - because when you’re 11, you don’t know what you can’t do."

      Perhaps not that different from programming your Dragon 32 in 1984, from a computer magazine.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Grandad

        If Grandad's not live on the Internet then he's just a malformed HTML form away from being it. Perhaps that's the next lesson...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @jim 59 - Re: Grandad

        Right on! Now we are all going to die alone and forgotten but hey, that will be under the caring attention of a bunch of sensors.

        I wonder what kids wouldn't do to avoid the presence of old age members of the family.

        1. fruitoftheloon

          @ASC (the dick head) Re: @jim 59 - Grandad


          Did you actually read TFA?

          I would love my lad to come up with something like that.

          It may be a little beyond your clearly limited intellect, but may I alert you to a few key points:

          - most ~11 year olds cannot drive (legally) and don't usually own a road legal car

          - not everyone lives about five minutes from their grandparents

          I would be a little concerned if my lad (almost 7 now!), decided to hitch so thag he could see grandma, 300 miles is a fair schlepp for a sprog dontcha think?

          Pleae retire to your cave...


      3. Trixr Bronze badge

        Re: Grandad

        Oh, for chrissakes.

        I get the impression that the story is set in Australia. I live in Canberra, and I recently went to visit a friend of mine in a remote community in Western Australia. 1 hour flight to Sydney or Melbourne. 6 hour flight to Perth. 2 hour flight to small airport. 2 hour drive to small satellite town (not a farm). That's not including waiting for stopovers, which may entail an overnighter in Perth for the next daily flight to the small airport.

        Maybe grandpa is not that easy to visit.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Grandad

          Or maybe they do visit grandpa often. But grandpa likes his independence, and a lot can happen in just 24 hours, so even daily physical visits aren't going to be as good as this monitoring.

          It just amazes me how some people can find a negative in such a positive story.

          1. Manolo

            Re: Grandad

            "It just amazes me how some people can find a negative in such a positive story."

            A Dutch writer once said: "Some people read like hoovers, they can get dirt from everywhere".

            And the article cetrainly mentions the remoteness of Grandad.

        2. Jim 59

          @Trixr re: Grandad

          I get the impression that the story is set in Australia. I live in Canberra, and...

          Whoops. My cynical "Grandad" joke was only meant to be a joke, not to upset this cheerful thread. Like Trixr, I also guessed the Australian thing and the great distances there. I confess to owning 2 Pis myself, and to using one of them to spy on my own empty house when I'm not there. And to being the author of several if the Pi Internet guides accessed by these kids. It's true that webcams are no substitute for a visit but everybody knows that anyway.

  2. stairway

    Good old days

    Ah lego DACTA, how i miss you apple2e.

    1. SineWave242

      Re: Good old days Enjoy. Cheers! :)

  3. maxregister

    I wonder what tools or languages are these children using to build these things. It says the 11-year-olds used php, but what about the other projects? And isn't this the kind of thing Scratch was made for?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Scratch is an introductory concept kind of thing. I found that the kids move on from that pretty quickly and Python is a favourite.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        "Scratch is an introductory concept kind of thing" -- werdsmith

        Under the hood it's Smalltalk; an, or rather the, OO language that puts almost everything that came afterwards to shame.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          "Smalltalk; an, or rather the, OO language that puts almost everything that came afterwards to shame."

          Yes, I've heard that said often, but only by people who have invested a lot of their professional life in smalltalk coding and can't really do anything else.

          1. John H Woods Silver badge

            A Smalltalker who cannot easily write in any other OO language (OK, they might tut and sigh a bit) doesn't really know Smalltalk. There's almost no language in Smalltalk (three reserved words) and almost no syntax --- it's virtually all paradigm.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Smalltalk; an, or rather the, OO language that puts almost everything that came afterwards to shame

          You mean the OO language designed (in its first public incarnation) to be unusable to people who are red-green colorblind? Yeah, good thinking there, tying the language to an IDE with ill-considered UI controls.

          Other implementations were thankfully divorced from the IDE.

          The IDE aside, Smalltalk suffers from the same problem all conceptually-pure programming languages suffer from. As a computer scientist, I like Smalltalk's purity and elegance. As a professional developer, I recognize that it's useless for nearly all of the problems I get paid to address, because it can't quickly and cheaply be integrated into a huge corpus of existing code, and it would necessarily introduce certain inefficiencies in resource-critical systems.

          That doesn't mean there aren't problem domains where conceptually-pure languages like Smalltalk aren't well-suited - I'm just not (often) working in them. Or that there aren't existing systems that wouldn't be better off rewritten in Smalltalk or another pure language (so much truly abysmal C++ out there...) - but no one's going to fund that.

          1. John H Woods Silver badge

            "unusable to people who are red-green colorblind" -- Michael Wojcik

            Did you mean red/yellow/blue button? That's hardly unusable to the colourblind once you know which button is which finger. Unlike the (still) unusable pastel shades that are the defaults for much of Excel graphs and Powerpoint templates.

    2. Day

      I think the point of the article is that the right tool for the job is the one that the person who is doing the job finds. Generally, the right tool will be the one that has the clearest tutorial for a task that is closest to the issue at hand.

    3. The Indomitable Gall


      Scratch is an abomination. To be fair, pretty much every attempt at "visual programming" is.

      The problem is all the "shapes" in a Scratch program are the shape of plain-text, linear code. Surely the biggest difficulty most newcomers to programming have is the fact that branching code is displayed linearly -- a visual language that retains that linearity rather than modelling the code flow therefore fails to address the main problems and serves little purpose.

  4. graeme leggett

    I'm waiting

    For my son to come up with a project that a Pi (or similar) can be used on.

    He tends to ask me to help him with more 'old-fashioned' problems, eg making Concorde-ish wing shape in Lego.

    He's got access to How It Works magazine and publications from Maker and NoStarch Press so plenty of chances for inspiration to spark.

    It may not of course, but he's got the opportunity and that's what Pi etc are for - making opportunities possible.

    1. Finder Keeper

      Re: I'm waiting

      How about a 3D printer then? That and sketchup ought to get him started.

    2. Joefish

      Re: I'm waiting

      Have a look a the projects done with RCX / NXT / EV3.

      A paper-roll plotter is a good one. As is writing names or just drawing patterns on a boiled egg (or a ping-pong ball, for practise). Or have an automated train as part of a LEGO GBC contraption to carry the balls back to the start.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge


    Congratulations to these kids. Most impressive.

    Reminds me of the old saying : "when you don't know what you can't do, you don't know you can't do it, so you find a solution".

    These kids are finding solutions, and proving to themselves that they can do it. That is the best confidence-builder there is. I can't wait to see what they'll come up with next.

    1. MrT

      Re: Awesome

      That old saying reminded me of one of Sir Ken Robinson's well known presentations about creativity in education, especially the bit about the 200ft high paperclip.

      There seem to be a lot of other relevant clips on The RSA's YouTube channel as well, but the SKR one popped up in my mind first.

    2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: Awesome

      It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done.

      Terry Pratchett

      1. Grikath Silver badge

        Re: Awesome

        "Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it! "

        R.A.H. as L.L.

  6. Hans 1 Silver badge

    Made My Day

    If only the kids in my household could be interested ... I have a pi next to me ... nope, nothing ... it does not do minecraft well enough .... They are impressed by the size of it, though ...

    1. Probie

      Re: Made My Day

      I can relate to that, it breaks my heart that my kids seem to be ruled by technology (play, play , play stupid bloody game apps) rather than ruling technology by making it do what they dream up. God knows I have enough "stuff" for them to use, Pis, Gallileo, Dash and Dot (by wondermaker) and all it does is gather dust. As for the kids who prototype stuff, really, really, well done, I hope you end up being the Linus Torvalds of the future.

      1. dotdavid

        Re: Made My Day

        Kudos to the kids that do, but why should all kids want to rule technology by fiddling around with hardware? It takes all sorts, and Minecraft is hardly mindless entertainment with its own set of creative tools that kids can use.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Made My Day

          I know of at least one summer program that's teaching kids how to code by teaching them how to write their own Minecraft mods.

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Made My Day

        > ruling technology by making it do what they dream up

        Eh, I had a TRS-80 and suffered from the "ok, now what do I do with it?" syndrome myself, and I didn't have Minecraft to distract me.

        That's still my problem today. I can implement the hell out of something if I can figure out something useful to implement.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Made My Day

          When I bought my Apple II in 1979 the neighbours' "about -teens" kids used to play the games on it. As many of the games were written in BASIC it was easy to do "cheats" to increase lives etc. The kids wanted me to make the "cheats" - but were never interested in how the programs worked.

          Thinking back to my similar age in the 1960s when transistors were becoming affordable and there were old radios and TVs for scavenging. At my Secondary Technical School we started a Radio and Electronics Club. Out of 500 boys there were possibly about a dozen who joined.

          All of us came from families with no background in electronics etc. My own initiation was a transistor radio kit which my father had bought and couldn't get to work. The advert said "A child can build it" - and I did. No soldering needed - just a rats nest of wires joined with 8BA nuts and bolts.

          The current crop of neighbours' kids like my Halloween and Xmas electronic SFX. Even though they are keen on Lego they show no interest in creating things from electronic and computer modules.

        2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Re: Made My Day

          Yeah, I had an MSX, and whilst I typed in a lot of listings and got to the customisation stage of coding, I didn't actually do much coding from scratch, and no assembly. It wasn't until I had an Amstrad PCW that I started to code properly.

      3. Ally 1

        Re: Made My Day

        They just haven't had a problem that captures their attention that needs solving yet. Coding is boring when it's just coding. Try find a task they are interested in, give them the Pi and access to Google and...ban them from minecrack until they solve it

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Made My Day

          "Try find a task they are interested in, give them the Pi and access to Google and...ban them from minecrack until they solve it"

          Not gonna work. Anything that HAS to be done (before you're allowed XYZ) is automatically a chore and as such, uninteresting.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Made My Day

          @Ally 1

          I need that for myself -- a problem to solve (other than the problem of needing more experience with this sort of thing) and to be banned from my favourite game... I procrastinate too much.

          I actually can think of two real-world problems to solve for myself but they'll require a lot of mechanical stuff, e.g. valves, solenoids, pumps.

        3. Yugguy

          Re: Made My Day

          YES -exactly.

          My 9 year old daughter can be as flitty as a butterfly until a problem or a task grabs her attention and interest. Then she will spend literally hours sorting it.

          Frankly there's enough time for makework when they're grown up and have to.

      4. Day

        Re: Made My Day

        It may be that your kids have not identified a "need" that really speaks to them. All of the examples given address something that might motivate a person: Looking out for Granddad; Ensuring fairness in netball; Saving your teacher from food-poisoning; Checking air quality for asthmatics. Given these problems, the kids were motivated to find a solution. My guess is that they believed that they could find a solution because of all of the inspiring and "modular" examples that are available via a quick Google search.

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: Made My Day

      My son liked the demonstration of the giant clock in the pi Minecraft, and we moved on to altering the code to use different blocks and then using code to build a wall but that was as far as we got.

      It would be easier I think if wed had a setup whereby we altered the code on a laptop and ran that code on the Pi into the TV rather than swapping between progs on the Pi. Easier to point to code and what it's doing.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Made My Day

      minecraft! I curse my relatives for installing this shite on the tablet my daughter (8 year old) used when she was with them. I then took the kids on a week long canoing trip and I kept hearing how this or that landscape opening just in front of our eye (and they were truly stunning views) looks JUST like.. in the minecraft. Or mindcraft. Or what-fucking-ever craft. For the whole f... week I heard that. And you try to explain to a kid the disparity between a 6-inch, crude simulation and the real world around you! 3-seconds attention span, your time's up, the kids put the volume to "mute", and you can jammer away for hours :(

      1. dotdavid

        Re: Made My Day

        " I kept hearing how this or that landscape opening just in front of our eye (and they were truly stunning views) looks JUST like.. in the minecraft."

        Just curious but would you have had the same reaction if your kids were saying this or that landscape looks just like something they'd built in Lego? Or something they'd seen in a documentary on TV? Or something they'd seen described in a book? Because I see little difference.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Made My Day

          Just curious but would you have had the same reaction if your kids were saying this or that landscape looks just like something they'd built in Lego? Or something they'd seen in a documentary on TV? Or something they'd seen described in a book? Because I see little difference.

          Yes, god forbid the little ones learn to draw comparisons and make analogies. Who knows what's next - critical thinking? This must be stopped!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Made My Day

      nope, nothing ... it does not do minecraft well enough

      Don't cut them short yet. Try asking them about 'redstone' sometimes, and if you get answers other than "I don't know redstone" then I'd advice you to pay close attention to whatever it is they're doing and / or have build.

      Redstone circuitry within that "simple game of Minecraft" can even be used to build memory modules, CPU's, and sometimes even word processors or whole computers. Here's a nice example:

      Just because people play Minecraft does not mean that they're doing nothing other than placing blocks to create 8-bit house environments ;)

  7. Steve 114

    Log in

    Wrong end of the age scale, but I often find solutions to things that Googled chat threads on the internet haven't solved. Then they say 'sign up to comment' - no way, on a zillion sites running scripts. Solution needed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Log in

      They just do that to try and stop spambots. You don't need to use your real details, and get yourself a throwaway hotmail ID for the purpose.

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Log in

        And NoScript for your browser. It might take a while to find the minimum set that will give functionality Y on site X but you have more peace of mind, and control.

        Sites that insist on a date of birth. Take mine, add or subtract an integer from all the numbers. Hey presto. Easy to remember too, and No, I'm telling you the integer ;-)

        1. Oldfogey

          Re: Log in

          There are a lot of websites out there that think I am 115. Not quite yet!

          If they actually cared they would reject such an obvious date as 1-1-1900

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Log in

            If they actually cared they would reject such an obvious date as 1-1-1900

            Great, another anti-vampirist promoting discrimination against the undead and differently-aging.

          2. dajames Silver badge

            Re: Log in

            If they actually cared they would reject such an obvious date as 1-1-1900

            1-1-1970 is a pleasingly round number on some systems.

      2. theblackhand

        Re: Log in

        Throw away Hotmail too much effort?

        Try or

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think if I gave my daughter one of my Raspberry Pis, she would try to eat it. She is 1 though.

    I do wonder how old she will be when she works out how to bypass my DNS server.

    1. Andrew 6

      If she's anything like my daughter ... nearly 2 now.... Im thinking I need to introduce some pretty sophisticated (for home setups) security and logging in about 1 year, so far standard child controls on a tablet are enough ... just, would be sooner but she likes climbing/destroying things more than the tablet at the moment.

      she has decided that my tablet I bought last year is her's though... not a major issue only a cheap hudl 2.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        she has decided that my tablet I bought last year is her's though... not a major issue only a cheap hudl 2.

        My granddaughter was quite interested in a tablet from about 1 1/2 years old to about 1 3/4 years old. Then she went back to wanting to spend as much time as possible either playing outdoors or building things with Duplo blocks (junior Lego).

        I imagine she'll get interested in tech again at some point, but right now - she's 2 1/2 - she wants to manipulate physical objects.

    2. Ian Emery Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      My daughter was 16 months old when she figured out how to unlock mummys iPhone (shudder), and make calls.

      WE found out when we found several international calls to Canada on the phone bill - the Canadian dialling code is apparently her favourite number combination.

      Since then she has discovered how to delete all the bookmarks and history in FireFox using a keyboard short-cut (I now back then up weekly).

      She is 2 1/2 now; I expect she will have hacked NORAD and be playing "Global Thermonuclear War" on the WHOMPER by the time she is 3.

    3. Spanners Silver badge

      I'm fairly sure that my son had done it around 12 or 13.

      He was discreet and quiet about it so I did not question him much. He is not terribly interested in IT in any role other than a user now but he is aware that there is more. If he feels the need, he may ask me.

    4. lucki bstard

      My children worked how to bypass controls when they were less than 5 years old. The older ones shoulder surfed when I typed in admin password to access false positive websites. The funny part was that they weren't even that good at reading at that age, they just learnt the 'pattern' I was typing. Playing Civilization helped them a lot with their reading though.

    5. sisk Silver badge

      If she's like my daughter you'd best make your security airtight before she's got her ABCs down. My son was easier though. Put a Minecraft shortcut on the desktop and that's all the further he'll go for now.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Pi guys - well done! Kids - well done! Their teachers - well done! Three cheers!

    It's all good.

  10. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    This mirrors the real software world

    To be honest, working in software today mirrors a lot of that. Today we actually right very little original code.

    The job now is largely understanding the problem domain, and the then creating the best solution with the tools and libraries available.

    The truth is, even in the embedded worlds, the processors are so powerful there is little need to handcraft that bubble sort. The days of trimming bytes of the code to fit it in 16K of ROM are long one.

    So if the kids are learning how to create imaginative solutions to their world problems, good on them.

    1. Martin

      Re: This mirrors the real software world

      The days of trimming bytes of the code to fit it in 16K of ROM are long one.

      True - but it was great fun!

      I was particularly impressed with those kids keeping an eye on their grandad - we need more like this. So long as they are not discouraged from IT when they are fifteen by boys telling them that girls don't do computers, or other girls telling them that IT isn't cool.

    2. kmac499

      Re: This mirrors the real software world

      Very true; for a commercial solution why build it ? when you can buy it or download it for free or very cheaply. That's part of our standard design process when trying to create a new system.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: This mirrors the real software world

      Today we actually [write] very little original code.

      True in many domains, but not all of them. I've written thousands of lines of original code in the past year - and I really do mean original, not adapted from exemplars. In some cases I was reimplementing algorithms from scratch because flaws in the existing implementations were too extensive to make refactoring worthwhile; in others I was implementing new functionality.

      I'm happy to use libraries, frameworks, and suitably-licensed open-source code where appropriate, and they do supply a lot of the low-level functionality - basic data structures and algorithms; but for the kind of work I primarily do, there's plenty of original code that needs to be written as well.

  11. SecretSonOfHG

    Nice Pi case in the picture

    This time I'm glad you've a headline image, because that case looks very practical, where did it come from?

    1. Youngdog

      Re: Nice Pi case in the picture

      Think it's this:

      Going by the recent news around Amazon I would recommend using this for reference only and sourcing it from somewhere with more ethical working practices!

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge

        Re: Nice Pi case in the picture


        THANKS, no really, THANKS ... now I just ordered a new Pi 2 with that case (better to have the latest pi to go with it) ... what can I tell the missus this time ... [be creative, be creative, be creaaaaaaaaative]

        1. Hans 1 Silver badge

          Re: Nice Pi case in the picture

          Already received it, got a microSD prepared and hooked it up, 15 minute job ... much less actually, but I do not like sitting by the computer while the computer is writing the image to the sd card, so I had a glass of rose wine on the balcony.

          It is way faster, still not "quite" desktop grade, downloading libreoffice as we speak, giving that a test.

          Oh, and my ISP's router understands torrent, so I am torrenting raspian wheezy (tbh, I cap the speed at day time, but every little thing helps, if only we all could do that).

    2. unix95

      Re: Nice Pi case in the picture

      Raspberry Pi official case ->

    3. CrosscutSaw

      Re: Nice Pi case in the picture

      That case IS nice!

      Puts mine to shame, I have a lame clear plastic one that came with the kit.

  12. mahasamatman

    Peace in our time.

    There is not a single downvote for any comment on this article yet ...

    Is this a first at The Register ?

    Raspberry Pi unites commentards in ways previously unthinkable.

    1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Peace in our time.

      It wasn't me that applied the inevitable downvote to your post but it did make me LOL so kudos to whoever did it and boo to whoever did it because I wanted to!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Peace in our time.

      oy, how many of you outthere, busybodies, skiving on your employers' time?! The up and downvotes change in front of me eyes (yes, I CAN, I'm on bloody holiday, I'll downvote ya when I'm back at work!)

    3. CrosscutSaw

      Re: Peace in our time.

      I downvoted you... but it was an ironic downvote. So it really is a thumbs up :)

      Um. Downvote is the new upvote?

  13. Nigel 11

    Don't want to code?

    They don't want to code? But stringing bits and pieces of other peoples' codes together to make something new is coding. It's been getting more and more that way ever since the first software libraries came into being, back in the days of paper tape. (Is that where we get "stringing together" from? )

    Closed software and closed hardware architectures tried to make this impossible for individuals who can't pay hundreds or thousands for proprietary compilers and proprietary libraries, and more again to interface hardware to complex general-purpose busses.

    Luckily the world had Stallman to create an open alternative. And now the RPi and similar devices are opening up the hardware as well.

    It won't be thousands of years in the future when the first advertisement for a "Programmer-archaeologist" appears. Probably only a couple of decades, if it hasn't already been posted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't want to code?

      "Is that where we get "stringing together" from?"

      A series of light bulbs used to be "strung together" - then it was applied to electronic components. It meant in an informal way. However I suspect it goes back to the invention of "string" itself. Log rafts, spears, and other constructions were bound with wrappings of grass, leather strips, or animal guts. Old radio projects were often "lash ups" viz components lashed together - at least metaphorically.

      Decorative beads were assembled on strings to make a designed pattern. In the 1960s - multitasking software "beads" were self-contained units of code that only had the cpu for the short time that it took to execute them. Several "beads" were part of a "thread" that was the program for one task.

    2. Paul Kinsler

      Re: Programmer-archaeologist

      ... some of the requests for help on comp.lang.fortran get pretty close to this concept. :-)

  14. Rumournz

    the trick is ..

    get em hooked young..

    I was fixing a friends PC and their daughter (6 at the time) was bugging me to hurry up, so she could use it. so i said it'd be faster if she helped, and while fixing it I pointed out what each of the parts were and what they did - in the finish she re-assembled it (gave it a good clean out while i was at it) she's now studying robotics at Uni...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: the trick is ..

      At uni? That's pretty damned good for a 6yo :-)

      (I assume there was meant to be a "some years ago..." phrase in your post somewhere)

  15. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    This reminds me...

    ... of the classic situation where the parents buy their kid some fantastic new toy and the kid ends up playing with the box because their imagination isn't fettered by the "this is what you do with it" mentality.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: This reminds me...

      Every xmas I'd ask for some action man vehicle, but then spend most of xmas day playing with the box. Toys used to be packed in good quality cardboard and a huge box you climb into.

      I expect kids don't order large items as much and the box quality isn't what it used to be.

  16. GeezaGaz

    Nice little story...

    Mind you when I was 13 I had a ZX81 and no Internet to learn/look things up from.

    Keying in programs from magazine listings were the order of the day...and we were expected to invent the world too, even with dodgy RAM packs!

  17. Jame_s

    i bought my boy a pi and a kit of things to plug into it complete with book aimed at kids.

    he's looked at it once and got bored.

    i'm not so sure he's mine.

  18. Sykobee

    Heh, 80s kids learned programming from magazines. Luckily I got a second hand computer that came with an extensive back catalogue of magazines, so I didn't have to wait a month between programming articles. I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been back then to have to wait several months for that programming series to get somewhere useful.

    1. theblackhand

      Re: Programming magazines

      You missed the best part of monthly programming magazines - the misprints/errors/missing lines where you tried to debug what was wrong and failed and waited until the next months issue for the fix.

      The good old days of copying a non-functional program to tape, removing the DFS ROM from a model B to free up additional memory and then re-running the program to get useful error messages...

  19. Stevie Silver badge


    I don't care if it's made of Lego, just give me a flying car, dammit!

  20. CrosscutSaw

    Kid is making me look bad

    I only use my Pi to game, and to stream movies and TV shows.

    She showed me!

  21. Suricou Raven

    Raspberry pi for a netball scoring system?

    That's ridiculous overkill. You could make that on an arduino. Or a PIC chip. Or a few 4000 series logic chips.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Raspberry pi for a netball scoring system?

      Yes, you could. But it's easier on a Pi, and there is a lot of community help. And the Pi is still only $35, so ease of development outweigh the extra cost over a PIC or Arduino.

      The world is filled with overkill. 8 Core CPU's in a phone? Basic cars that can do 100mph when the speed limit is 70? 50" TV's?

    2. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Raspberry pi for a netball scoring system?

      I used to say that about PICs -- "why use a microcontroller for this, when you could use logic chips?" About the time I was building a clock with a bunch of divide-by-N counters I realized that I was being stupid -- a microcontroller was cheaper and would use less power than the pile of logic chips I had.

  22. GlenP Silver badge

    Not Just Kids

    In about a week's time I'll have been an IT Professional (hell desk, programmer/analyst, IT Manager, etc.) for 30 years.

    I've just upgrade my Pi B to a model 2 for running a model railway. Google is proving darned useful for figuring out the control side of things and learning Python on the fly.

  23. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    Dear God, it's all gone horribly wrong.

    Great alarm on reading that article - sophisticated Crontabs? PHP? The Raspberry Pi team may have set out to create a generation of programmers, but they've accidentally created a generation of Sys-Admins instead. The ideocracy has begun, run for the hills!

    [asbestos suit engaged]

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Dear God, it's all gone horribly wrong.

      I like it! One I got to entertain the kids is now a wireless extender so people in the outbuilding can access the internet without access to my domestic network - for about half the price of a commercial unit. Another is now a music processor providing several thousand pounds worth of music effects/processing in a not very easy to use wobbly interface and I'm using another to teach the local primary academy IT teacher how to do IT.

      Still waiting for the kids to show much interest but perhaps now computers are more common than transistors were when I was a kid perhaps we do need a generation of Sys-Admins, perhaps crontabs to them are the flashing lights on a bistable that made my friends wet themselves.....

  24. sisk Silver badge

    Impressive....and scary.

    These 10 and 11 year olds are doing things that I didn't even have an opportunity to attempt until I was in college. And I'm not even all that old (unless you ask my wife - the perils of marrying a younger woman). In another 10 years we'll have kids just entering the dev field with portfolios that already rival those of people who've been getting paid for their work for quite some time.

  25. Wommit


    Lots of comments about kids using computers & stuff, a few about kids actually programming them too. All of this interaction with the hardware, whether it be a Pi or PC or Arduino, all of it takes a keyboard.

    When are we going to teach our kids to touch type? It would take a couple of hours a week in primary school. Then they would be able to concentrate on what they wanted the kit to do, games or wondrous things, rather than "where the hell is an 'n'?"

    Every one of us uses a keyboard at some point in our daily lives. Why are we not teaching our kids to use them effectively?

    Nurse says I have to lie down now.

    1. DocJames

      Re: Rant

      As soon as we persuade the politicians that they need to give up on handwriting. I doubt they'll have the insight however... Apparently Tony Blair was gobsmacked when he stopped being prime minister and discovered that everyone used computers and nobody handwrote anything any more. There was quite a change between 1997 and 2005; it just shows how isolating government is that he didn't notice.

      Actually, one of my teacher friends says that the kids don't handwrite anything any more (except jottings to act as memory prompts). Really the next big change will be exam essays - when they can be typed rather than written, there will be no incentive to maintain handwriting at all. Hooray!

      Icon of luddite.

    2. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Rant

      You haven't been in a school recently, have you? We DO teach kids to touch type.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Rant

        I learned to type when I was eight, fourty-mumble years ago.

  26. Andus McCoatover

    Wonder if it was the same 11-year-old girl....

    That fixed a (me being) stupid TightVNC configuration for me a few months ago via a forum?

    That was on a Raspberry Pi also....

  27. Ray Merrall

    Anyone remember the ZX81

    Back in time when the ZX fad was in full swing, (yes, I still have mine and I can remember being in the queue to buy it) I ended up at the ZX club which an enterprising hotel had set up. The point being, I was standing behind two 10 year olds busy "typing" in machine code free hand into the 16k rampak, no notes, just discussing between themselves what to do next. As I was watching to see what would appear on the screen of the portable black and white TV, another man came and stood beside me. After a while, he asked me what they were doing, I replied that I hadn't a clue but I was curious. After a while, one of the kids pressed the button and a pretty impressive variation of a pong game appeared. The other man's jaw and mine, I must admit, dropped. I later found out that he was a senior professor in Applied Computer at the local university, and that none of his students could have done (at that time) what these 2 had just completed.

    Kids will always be kids, who with no fear of the future, will do anything if it's fun. Give them the tools to play with or they will make their own.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    awsome, but...

    I bet the old man would be much more happy if his grandkids just called him everty other day.

    Just 5 minutes and his life would be full of colors instead of bitterness.

    And with this device - he thinks they take care ... just as zookeeper takes care of animals in the boxes.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019