Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 27th Apr 2012 11:33 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems The BBC reviews the Raspberry Pi. "The device may inspire a new generation of computer programmers or it could leave children used to smartphones and tablet computers baffled and bewildered. A great experiment with the way we teach computing has begun and we can't be sure how it will end." Mine's coming the week of May 21.
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Should be interesting!
by Athlander on Fri 27th Apr 2012 12:05 UTC
Athlander
Member since:
2008-03-10

As someone who grew up with the BBC Micro B, I'm interested in seeing how this pans out. Will the Raspberry Pi be a success in schools or will it end up in the hands of universities and hobbyists?

Will it inspire people who otherwise would never have considered programming? Has it been proven that the 8-bit computers of the 80's played an important role or would those who cut their teeth on such machines have become programmers anyway but learning at university, rather than at school?

Reply Score: 4

RE: Should be interesting!
by phoehne on Sun 29th Apr 2012 04:45 UTC in reply to "Should be interesting!"
phoehne Member since:
2006-08-26

School administrators aren't that insightful, IMHO. There's a lot of focus on what they're using in the 'real world,' rather than teaching anything useful about programming.

Reply Score: 1

I ordered 3
by jgagnon on Fri 27th Apr 2012 12:16 UTC
jgagnon
Member since:
2008-06-24

And I am eagerly awaiting them. Not because they are the world's best computer or that I think I will replace my high powered desktop or laptop with one.

Their small size, inexpensive price, full set of features, and reasonable performance will open up a world of possibilities for hobbyists and companies. This will especially bet true once the "Arduino-like" add-on for the Pi is finished.

Reply Score: 3

Laurence
Member since:
2007-03-26

The quality of that article is just embarrassing (particularly for me, a BBC licence fee payer).

The use of language is terrible, the opinions are based on conjecture (schools Pi's will be shipped with an enclosure so his whole premise about open circuits being daunting for children is moot) and he even has to fall back to a school kid to write his review.

What's worse is this article isn't even an exception. It's a typical example of how technologically inept this guy is (and I'm not the only person to notice this: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/24/educating_rory/ )

The Beeb would do well to hire an IT expert with real expertise than the muppets they currently pay to write.

</rant>

On a plus side, My Raspberry Pi is ETA'ed for next month ;)

Reply Score: 6

bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

In the meantime far more capable (and open) cortex a8 based boards with 512/1G, nand, wireless, vga, SATA, etc are starting to hit, at similar price points:

http://micdigi.com/2012/04/hyston-will-release-the-google-tv-box-ba...

Interesting times are coming.

Reply Score: 6

Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Yeah, boards like these are nothing new. However it looks like the Pi is starting a trend of selling them at low prices - which wholeheartedly I welcome.

Reply Score: 7

Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

schools Pi's will be shipped with an enclosure so his whole premise about open circuits being daunting for children is moot


This brings up the question of why do we want to hide the circuits from the kids? Shouldn't we show them the guts of the machine, and maybe inspire them to want to learn more?

I understand the need for a case, but I think it should be clear.

Reply Score: 2

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

The Beeb would do well to hire an IT expert with real expertise than the muppets they currently pay to write.


Yeah, but those with real expertise are busy getting stuff done. It would seem the old saying "those who can't do, write about doing it" is particularly true in the IT industry.

Reply Score: 3

phoehne Member since:
2006-08-26

My favorite part is the bit about python being for older kids and that girl is 18. How old do you have to be before you can try C in his world? 37?

Reply Score: 3

Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24

Heh, everyone know you can shoot your own foot off with C, 'think of the children!'

Reply Score: 2

Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Fri 27th Apr 2012 13:35 UTC
MOS6510
Member since:
2011-05-12

I don't really see the use for it, apart from the price and the chance to build your own fancy case.

Personally I'd prefer an instant on device like the 80's home computers and a wider range of included programming languages, including Assembler.

For example turn it on and instantly be presented with a prompt from an operating system that allows you to directly start programming in BASIC or another simple language. Just flick the switch and start coding if you want to. Or from that prompt switch to other languages.

An emulation of BBC BASIC would be awesome.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by MOS6510
by renox on Fri 27th Apr 2012 14:03 UTC in reply to "Comment by MOS6510"
renox Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't really see the use for it, apart from the price and the chance to build your own fancy case.
I tend to agree with this: it's a nice cheap computer, but I don't think that I have an use for it..

Personally I'd prefer an instant on device like the 80's home computers
Uh? Once you have put the SD card in it, it is an "instant on" device.

and a wider range of included programming languages, including Assembler.
The review talks about Scrath and Python, but it doesn't say that you're limited to only those languages..

I'd be very surprised if there isn't an assembler already working.

As for an easy to use language environement, Scratch is used to teach programming to kids, so..

Edited 2012-04-27 14:09 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Fri 27th Apr 2012 14:12 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Uh? Once you have put the SD card in it, it is an "instant on" device.


I don't know if it is. I have a cheap netbook somewhere and it takes a while to boot Linux from its SD card. To be honest I have no idea how the Pi does this, if it boots in a traditional manner or does something else.

My Commodore 64 "boots" in 2 seconds. As I kid when I wanted to code I'd turn it on and type away. Even a boot time of merely 30-60 seconds could have been enough for me to get over my coding urge and do something else.

Wider range than what is available on Linux???

As for an easy to use language environement, Scratch is used to teach programming to kids, so..


Linux has a very wide range, but only 2 are included. It can be a hassle to install others and this might put people off. Also when everybody starts installing themselves they may end up with different version than their friends causing compatibles issues, like Python 2 vs Python 3.

If its aim is to teach coding it should be ready to do that, not require the user to perform non-coding stuff to get to what he wants to do and why he bought the Pi.

Of course Scratch and Python are 2 choices that should cover a large mass of wannabe coders.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510
by Laurence on Fri 27th Apr 2012 14:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26


My Commodore 64 "boots" in 2 seconds. As I kid when I wanted to code I'd turn it on and type away. Even a boot time of merely 30-60 seconds could have been enough for me to get over my coding urge and do something else.

I don't know about your household, but in mine I couldn't just turn the computer on. There had to be this whole charade of me talking my parents into letting me: "yes I have done my homework", "no I wont get annoyed if I lose at a game", "yes I will let my litter brother on the computer later today", "I will come off for dinner without arguing",... and so on.

Plus waiting for games to load dwarfed any PC booting time. Sometimes I'd just program my own games because it meant I could use the computer sooner than if I sat around waiting for the cassette to load (and hoping it would load as that was never guaranteed to happen).

In fact I remember when we first got a floppy disk drive for the Amstrad CPC 464 - it felt like magic.

Kids have it so easy today, they have no idea. Yet I can't help thinking they've missed out because of it.

Linux has a very wide range, but only 2 are included. It can be a hassle to install others and this might put people off.

apt-get install [language of choice] doesn't seem that hard :p

Edited 2012-04-27 14:40 UTC

Reply Score: 7

RE[4]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Fri 27th Apr 2012 14:44 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Well, my father died when I was 13 and my mother didn't like me, I was an unwanted child. My brother was 15 years older.

He did take away the cable from the computer to the TV so I did do my homework, but I just put a piece of metal wire between them. The picture wasn't great, but I remember I could play Elite.

He lived in the attic and when he came down he put on the intercom, the other one was in my room, as an anti-burglar system. I used it as an early warning system to quickly turn the computer off.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510
by Flatland_Spider on Fri 27th Apr 2012 15:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

They thought about using built in flash, but they decided they didn't want something that was brickable.

I've never found programming languages to be a hassle in any of the Linux distros or FreeBSD. Generally, I install them, and they're ready to go. I've found installing programing languages in Windows to be a hassle, and I've found many an IDE to be a hassle.

You can do shell coding immediately after login in init 3 mode. You could probably setup a script to launch the python shell on login as other solution.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by MOS6510
by tidux on Fri 27th Apr 2012 17:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

Add /usr/bin/python to /etc/shells and chsh to it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by MOS6510
by whartung on Fri 27th Apr 2012 17:10 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510"
whartung Member since:
2005-07-06

I've never found programming languages to be a hassle in any of the Linux distros or FreeBSD. Generally, I install them, and they're ready to go. I've found installing programing languages in Windows to be a hassle, and I've found many an IDE to be a hassle.


It would be nice if there was a nice, simple system ala QBASIC, which had a nice full screen IDE and simple Debugger. Most of the current stuff is really sophisticated which tends to make it complicated. I dunno how well Squeak/Pharo will work the RPi, but I would still think there's a little life in a ncurses based IDE thing that's not Emacs.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by MOS6510
by Mark0 on Sun 29th Apr 2012 10:19 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by MOS6510"
Mark0 Member since:
2005-08-11
RE[4]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Fri 27th Apr 2012 19:15 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Just thinking, wouldn't it be great if (bear with me, I'm stuck in the 80's and home computers mentally) you got a home computer selection on power on, selecting one would load an emulator. The VICE project emulates a bunch of Commodore computers, there are a few ZX Spectrum emulators around and I'm sure we can find a BBC, MSX and Atari one too.

From an educational viewpoint I don't think it would be very helpful, might as well learn a programming language that's useful, but for retro people it would be very cool.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510
by sirspudd on Fri 27th Apr 2012 19:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510"
sirspudd Member since:
2010-10-13

hah!

Please don't forget Qt Quick 2

I should know, I am the turnip responsible for packaging Qt 5 for the Debian image

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by MOS6510
by whartung on Fri 27th Apr 2012 17:07 UTC in reply to "Comment by MOS6510"
whartung Member since:
2005-07-06

Most of the older computers may have been instant on (plus monitor warm up), but in truth they weren't typically usable if you had a disk drive unless it booted from the drive. The cassette typically came in built to the ROM and worked fine, but the DOS had to load.

That said, all of my current Macs are EFFECTIVELY instant on. Yes, my desktops are basically in low power sleep, but my iPhone and laptops are in more of a catatonic sleep. I don't know when the last time my mac laptop was actually rebooted.

I don't know the power and sleep support that RPi has. And, out of the box, it doesn't have a spot for a battery to maintain state and live unplugged.

But, I think it is likely effectively "instant on" for most use cases. It won't be instant on when you take it from home to school or whatever, but c'est la vie. Someone can come up with a battery backed up case. I wonder how long the thing will stay alive in sleep mode on 4 AA batteries, or some commodity cell phone battery that costs more than the computer.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Fri 27th Apr 2012 19:07 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

My experience with home computers in the 80's was limited to the Commodore 64 and 128. Both could access the disk drive without the need of any extra software, although the C64's way of using the disk drive was a bit awkward.

I think the main advantage, from an educational point, was that home computers didn't change. Windows/Linux/OSX computers get operating system updates, they come on changing hardware, you can customize the way everything looks.

A home computer always comes on with the same screen, its build-in programming language stays the same, the chips don't change. It gave you a chance to really get to know the computer and figure out how it works. There weren't so many layers between you and the computer like there are now.

I really like my Macs, but I can't love them like I did my Commodore 64.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by MOS6510
by jgagnon on Fri 27th Apr 2012 20:07 UTC in reply to "Comment by MOS6510"
jgagnon Member since:
2008-06-24

It would be possible to create an "instant on" experience with something like the Pi. It is cheap and soon it will be freely available. Having a standard piece of hardware to program to allows people to get innovative with their solutions.

Point is that this is the start of something really, really awesome. The Pi will do for general computing what Arduino did for micro-controllers. Is it "best of class"? No, but it doesn't have to be. It has a strong following and that is all it will take.

The Pi has all the potential to become the next Commodore 64 (fixed hardware, just waiting for the software to be written). If not it, then something directly inspired by it.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Fri 27th Apr 2012 20:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

A few years ago there was the Commodore 64 DTV, which was a Commodore 64 crammed in to a joystick and with a number of build in games.

It could be hacked to attach a real C64 keyboard and even a disk drive to it. It seems to me the possibilities with the Pi are even greater.

I just hoped it doesn't become too much of a success, causing "everybody" to come with their own Pi product and fragmenting the market with a whole bunch of these devices, all cheap, all different.

The C64 had a 10 year run and each time programmers kept pushing the boundaries and make it do stuff people never imagined it could do. There is no need to push the Pi if in a few months the Pi2 is announced and other companies come with their own Pi, with better specs.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510
by jgagnon on Fri 27th Apr 2012 20:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510"
jgagnon Member since:
2008-06-24

What I am hoping for is that inexpensive alternatives to other computing components will follow suit. How about a touch enabled LCD screen for $50 (or less)? They have an Arduino-like device in the works for the Pi that should open up another whole world of expansive opportunities. Or a any number of other typically expensive add-ons that could all now find a new price point.

In my mind, it's a bit too early to choose a winner and stop the forward motion. Maybe next year we will have a dual-core Pi for $35, who knows? In my mind that won't be a bad thing.

Edited 2012-04-27 20:30 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Fri 27th Apr 2012 20:39 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

I once had a whole bunch of old computer magazines, sadly they have gone missing. But I do remember one featured an ad for the IBM PC, only $14,999.

It does seem prices have come down!

It would be great if cheap add-ons for the Pi were made to extend it. But I won't buy one until some very cool cases arrive. I guess I could make my own, but I'm not that confident I could make it look really nice.

A small LCD screen would be cool, turning it in to a Atari Portfolio or Epson PX-8 kind of device.

I have a working PX-8, looking almost new:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epson_PX-8_Geneva

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by MOS6510
by jgagnon on Fri 27th Apr 2012 21:52 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by MOS6510"
jgagnon Member since:
2008-06-24

My first computer exposure was with a TI-99/4A that my then soon-to-be brother-in-law had. My older brother then bought a Commodore VIC 20 and a year later I had my own C64. I've been dabbling ever since.

I don't have any of my old C64 stuff but I did buy an Amiga 500 many years ago that is now collecting dust. :p

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Fri 27th Apr 2012 22:02 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

You can buy anything you want on sites like eBay, although some rare stuff may take time to show up.

Today I played Revs on a Commodore 128. It has a cartridge with a SD card. The computers boots in to a menu, allowing you to start games from the SD. I loaded Revs from a 5.25" floppy though.

A bit like my Amiga 1200, all its software and loads of games are on an internal CF card. Together with the 68060 board makes it fly faster than light!

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by MOS6510
by steve_s on Sat 28th Apr 2012 18:04 UTC in reply to "Comment by MOS6510"
steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

An emulation of BBC BASIC would be awesome.


There's been an effort underway for a few months now to port RISC OS to the Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately it seems they're still some way away from release. Once they're done though you won't have an emulation of BBC BASIC, you'll have legitimate full-blown BBC BASIC V running natively.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Sat 28th Apr 2012 19:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

I'd spend money on that!

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510
by zima on Fri 4th May 2012 23:59 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

You don't have to, if it's RISC OS you're after - they already give a free way: http://www.osnews.com/thread?509236 (though yeah, via emulation; TBH & IMHO probably more convenient long term, on a laptop, than toying around with R-Pi)

Edited 2012-05-05 00:05 UTC

Reply Score: 2

0x10c
by FunkyELF on Fri 27th Apr 2012 14:35 UTC
FunkyELF
Member since:
2006-07-26

I wonder if the RPi will be able to play 0x10c.
It is Java based, but then again so was Minecraft and I was unable to play the demo in Fedora 16.

For those that don't know about it, read the little summary they have here... http://0x10c.com/

This game has the potential to get a lot of new programmers interested in assembly language. Because it is a brand new imaginary CPU people are creating dev tools for it, creating compilers, new languages, etc. Some might say it is a waste, but I think it would be a learning experience.

I wrote an emulator in a couple hours and was thinking about writing an assembler.

Anyway, to keep on topic and about the Raspberry Pi... as a cheap computer it'll be great to teach kids programming, but it is very complex so the programming will have to be very high level. I think the only way to go back to simple computers to get kids down and dirty will have to be virtual worlds like this 0x10c game, which again the RPi may be able to do ;-)

Reply Score: 2

Perspective
by ameasures on Fri 27th Apr 2012 16:22 UTC
ameasures
Member since:
2006-01-09

As a Brit who can remember times before the BBC micro and I have to think the Raspberry Pi is good news.

I have taught year after year of computing undergrads who turn up aged 19 and many have never programmed.

Virtually their entire experiences of computers prior to that moment were as consumers of Microsoft Office.

The notion that they might create and engineer something rather than just enjoying the consumer experience was a shock that just baffled many of them.

Reply Score: 5