Page 3 of 6

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sat Dec 03, 2011 4:36 pm
by SlayingDragons
I think that, as liz said, the board needs to build a community first. Trying to shove the boards immediately into schools isn't going to go too well if there's no solid, experienced community behind it. PCs were hacker toys before they were consumer products. And something this powerful at this price isn't going to just be something thrown in the back of a drawer.

And yes, I do plan on using it for it's purpose. Technically I'm its target audience, but I also plan on making hackable little desktops for my little brothers. It's going to be a while before schools pick up on them, because, well, schools are just always behind on technology. I think the people at RasPi said that their goal was to get the board into the hands of children, not necessarily into schools and such.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sat Dec 03, 2011 4:42 pm
by tufty
I'm heartened that a significant number of people here (at least responding in this thread) seem to "get it". The presence of fired-up educators and, even better, members of the pi's intended target audience, warms the cockles of even this grumpy old git's heart.

Simon

No, it didn't snow, by the way.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sat Dec 03, 2011 4:57 pm
by Burngate
Maybe snow tomorrow?

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sat Dec 03, 2011 5:38 pm
by ukscone
Quote from Burngate on December 3, 2011, 16:57
Maybe snow tomorrow?

If it does could you box up a few hundredweight and send it to me please. I LOVE snow, just wish someone would invent warm snow and that it came in pretty pastel shades

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sat Dec 03, 2011 5:40 pm
by ukscone
Quote from ukscone on December 3, 2011, 17:38
Quote from Burngate on December 3, 2011, 16:57
Maybe snow tomorrow?

just wish someone would invent warm snow and that it came in pretty pastel shades

Oh they have. it's called water.


Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:16 pm
by RITRedbeard
I care about the goals of the project as I can empathize. I've had interest in computers since an early age but there reached a point where my technological inquiries were beyond what those around me knew. Curiosity "in the dark" can put one off from exploration (I remember buying really poor programming books for Windows MFC, Javascript, etc... lots of misdirection to get where I am even then it is still a work in progress) and leave a sour taste in the mouth.

In high school I was already keen and skilled with building desktops from parts and they had some related classes but they were all canceled. The resources to improve my technical knowledge simply were not there.

With that being said, I think Raspberry Pi can be a real shot in the arm in education. Ultimately, it becomes how it is marketed, having proper and inspirational teachers, and building a community to interface with educational market as well as personal. A delicate balance.

My personal interests are how ARM/RISC is advancing in the face of Wirth's Law, what I mean is the following:
You take a look at your typical daily use-case and ask yourself "could I get by with a less powerful computer?"
Then take it one step further, technically and ask yourself "Why does my browser/text editor/software x take up so much memory? Was it designed efficiently?"

A good thought experiment or the Pepsi Challenge is asking yourself "Could I perform my daily computing tasks on Raspberry Pi or similar device? How about a device twice as powerful and with more features and I/O? How about a device three times the computational power? How about a device n-th powerful as RPi with x set of feature?"

If you answered "Yes" or "For a majority of the tasks, yes" on a relatively low n-th count, you ought to be amazed. Amazed at how far ubiquitous and affordable computing has come and has yet to come and also amazed at the bloat of software due to API middleware, software laziness, and math ignorance (algorithms/optimization).

So the triple constraint for usage of Raspberry Pi or n-th iteration in this regard boils down to:

Form factor (size), I/O + features, power consumption (all related to one another)
Overall computational performance
Price

The important thing Raspberry Pi Foundation is doing is being vendor for a product of this size, cost, and type.

But that was a large digression regarding my thoughts on Raspberry Pi and why it is exciting beyond educational purposes. :)

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:57 pm
by PiOfCube
@RITRedbear-d
"You take a look at your typical daily use-case and ask yourself "could I get by with a less powerful computer?""

For at least one of my PCs, I can absolutely say YES to that... I like to have certain screens visible at all times... For example, I use IRC and like to have that open so I can keep an eye on certain channels and when I have time (that's a laugh) I can chat. I do not need a full-blown PC for that. I was considering getting an ARM board plus an LCD display as I just use a terminal window to go through a SSH session and run IRSSI to connect to the IRC server. What put me off was the price but then I heard about Raspberry Pi... That alone would free up a few power sockets and mean less cabling to get tangled up... Using an LCD or a similar text display would also free up the monitor and would be ideal as it would only ever have to show text. Once upon a time I would have just used a dumb terminal with an ethernet port but these are ridiculously expensive for what they are.

Edit: I-O Dumb Terminal, plus IBM style 122-key 5250 Keyboard, 15 inch color monitor = $595 (USD)

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:32 am
by axiomprime
I am 100% behind the goals of the foundation and think they are totally plausible. Speaking as someone that feels totally shafted by the level of computing in my high-school I'm also planning on learning all the things that I should've been taught.

I will be using one of these as a media centre and emulator but that's all money to the foundation. I hope this doesn't go the way of One Laptop Per Child and get beaten to the mainstream by Asus.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:55 am
by AncientRelic
I agree with the idea of needing less on secondary PCs. I've got a box by my bed that's just for movies. That's a Athlon II 255 with 4Gb of DDR3 just playing AVI and M4V. Bit of overkill. If I can get an R-Pi to replace it I'd be thrilled.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:11 am
by axiomprime
I built a cheap, low power, PC out of a bargain-bin Atom board to be my overnight torrent & every day browser but even that seems overpowered for what it's used for. My big PC probably costs about two RasPi a year just in wasted electricity.

I was looking at one of those Tegra2 based machines by some Israeli company before finding out about the RasPi. I work in a place that sells monster machines with £100 operating systems to people that want to update their Facebook page and manage their holiday snaps. Those days really are numbered.

Please release version B in a swish case with Mint pre-installed on an SD card or someone else will have something similar in the shops.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:45 am
by Moor
I'm a high school nerd.
I learned BASIC in a small, once-a-week lunchtime class over 4th to 6th grades.
I learned Python -- a bit. A small amount of what my dad taught me.
I programmed on my graphing calculator -- got Langton's Ant, and tried to get Life on it. It's hard, when you have to go into random menus instead of typing.
I'm taking Java now.
I've played around with Command Prompt.
I use computers a lot.

I've always been nostalgic for the power and understanding I never had -- tastes and stories of it, yes, because my father has been in computers since the beginning -- but I've never hard that power.
I devoured Steven Levy's Hackers. I read the whole way through The Unix-Haters Handbook, questioning my dad about every topic and term I didn't know.
I've amassed a good bit of knowledge.

The only problem is, I don't know how all of it fits. I know bits about system calls, about abstraction, about the reasons for higher-level languages.
But I've never seen it in action.

When I learned Chemistry, we started from the beginning. Our first lessons were information from Quantum Mechanics, then to the periodic table, then to molecules. So that when we saw the different numbers of elements per row, we understood why.

That's what I want to do with the RasPi.
I don't think I'm going to understand exactly what's happening -- not what's in each register, what everything is doing in the GPU, CPU...
But I can try.
When I get my RasPi, I'm going to boot it to command line. And until I understand what everything is doing when it doing anything there, I'm not going to bring it into a windowed system.
I'm going to have a machine, of my own, that I won't have to guess about anything that's happening, will know exactly where to look if something stops working.

I'm going to learn how computers work.

And when I do, I'm going to go to a nearby elementary school, start up a club for all four or five kids there that want to, and help them learn, too.
Because they're going to be the next generation of hackers -- just like this generation, they'll come from the kids who want to know.
Those kids had BBC Micros as their rabbit hole. I'm going to take the RasPi to these.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:42 am
by gimp
Moor -- quantum mechanics, transistors, digital logic design, and computer architecture. Them's your building blocks if you're starting from scratch. After that you can learn how to make an operating system and a compiler.

It'll take time, and you'll want the right tools. I recommend an FPGA if you really want to go that far. As exciting as the r-pi is, it's not the end of the rabbit hole -- it's only one level down from a windows machine.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:20 am
by Moor
Yup. Just one level.

But it's one level farther then I have unrestricted, low-cost-failure access to right now.
I'm not going to pretend that I think it plausible, or even practical, to learn every single thing regarding how computers work.

I am going to pretend than I want to try, as far as possible.
(I mean, to explain it -- my basic philosophy is to do more than you want to achieve: I stutter and slur my words, so I joined Speech and Debate (Also, partly, because I like arguing. *InnocentSmile*). I want to obtain as close to a mastery of computers as possible, so I want to learn as much as I can about computers, from the ground up (And, also, I enjoy the general amassing of knowledge, and the feeling of power you get when a computer does exactly what you tell it to.) )

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:02 am
by tufty
It's only one level down if you use it "as intended" (i.e. with Linux installed on an SD card). You can go down another level if you throw all that away and start rolling your own OS. That rams you hard against the silicon.

If you're interested in doing that, I'd strongly recommend Tanenbaum's book (Actually Tanenbaum and Woodhull, but everyone knows it as Tanenbaum). The problem being that it's bloody expensive. Approaching a 10-Pi level of expensive. *coff*. The other thing to do is go and look at how a *small* kernel operates. TNKernel and prex are both manageably small, it's easy enough to get your head around them. For the love of all that's holy, don't try and start by digging into the Linux source.

Simon

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:18 am
by walney
I'd also recommend this:
http://www.amazon.com/Design-O.....038;sr=1-1
(you can pick up a cheap second hand copy according to the link). It gave me a lot of 'ahhh, so that's how it works..' moments when I read it a long, looonnggg time ago :'(

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:32 pm
by Wooloomooloo
This whole thread has me scratching my head too. I was fortunate enough to learn all this stuff in "natural progression", as it was happening - solder transistors when germanium was mainstream, then TTL gates in their heyday, then have access to a Speccy clone and the Z80, then keep building my PCs and generally fool around with microcontrollers ever since they were UV erasable.

All that tech is hopelessly outdated by now - it's not that one couldn't learn about it anymore if one wants, it's that the motivation is no longer there. Most of it is not in use anymore per se - these things live on of course as modern discrete components or logic concepts inside an FPGA, but the world has moved on to much, much more complex tech leaving no direct "point of attack" (the BGA re-soldering issue in the other thread gives a taste of that). And I think this is very much so with software as well: when I learned it, Pascal was a valid programming language (yes I know, no cursing please), and so was assembly - likewise, it's not that nobody uses assembly anymore, but it's certainly not the tool one thinks of when something routine has to get done.

Back then, I learned assembly on the Z80 not because I felt particularly studious, but because the alternative (BASIC) was too slow for any decent job (read:game). I never really ended up writing a game, but I did sure as heck learn how to find and poke out the byte of code or data that let me cheat - I even wrote a tool that let you dump raw code to the video RAM, to search for graphics and masks in games. Heck, at some point I even realized my speccy clone had a full 64K RAM, 16K of which shadowed the ROM, thus the known faulty NMI handler could be patched to point to the code I pre-loaded into the unused printer buffer at the flick of a switch, at any moment. The purpose of all that? I could patch any game at runtime, any way I wanted (exactly; cheating, again). And I still remember the sheer terror of plugging in my home-made joystick interface with my hand-crafted PCB extension port connector directly to the speccy's bus for the first time (I was not going to get another one if the magic smoke decided to depart).

And where all this is going? Well, I guess my point is I did everything for a specific purpose at the time - I wanted to achieve something (usually game-related). I always was (still am) unable to learn anything unless I need it for something I want to do (maybe others don't work that way, dunno). And the time when this sort of thing got you somewhere is gone. I wouldn't dare poking around in a modern game with a disassembler today.

Sorry if it was tl;dr, or indeed if none of this makes much sense to you; these are just my ramblings about the doubt I have that the intimate relationship with every level of computing as a past generation experienced it is even possible to recreate today...

It sure would be nice to achieve it though.

EDIT: Oh, and one thing - believe it or not, the user manual of my speccy clone came with THE FULL SCHEMATICS. Hard to fathom today, isn't it...?

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:44 am
by radu
Look at this little thing: http://goodereader.com/blog/ta.....et-for-99/
No idea how much RAM it has (but probably at least 512). The memory can be expanded via MicroSD, it has HDMI, OpenGL ES, wifi, GPS (although it is a bit ambiguous if it supports GPS or it has on board GPS).
All you need is a keyboard and you can start programming on it, making the total cost significantly cheaper than a RPi (if you don't have a compatible monitor/tv).

So while the RPi has the advantage that it is more open and can be interfaced with electronic stuff, I can't see why 3rd world country schools won't chose this tablet over the RPi.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:07 am
by tufty
I can't see why 3rd world country schools won't chose this tablet over the RPi.
I don't know about 3rd world schools, but you should certainly choose this over the RPi. Off you toddle.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:17 am
by radu
Fortunately, I don't have to chose.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:45 am
by tufty
OK, I'll be more serious.

How much RAM it has is irrelevant. "Memory" can't be expanded by microSD, "Storage" can. MicroSD is a bloody awful format for anything you want to remove with any regularity (the connectors tend to have very low insert/eject ratings, and the cards are so tiny you can lose them with ease). Wifi & GPS are useful for a tablet, but not in a school environment. Want your kids browsing facebook instead of listening in class? Because that's what'll happen if you give the wifi connectivity.

So, plug in a keyboard (you may well need to reboot to get it recognised, that's certainly the case with Froyo), and you get a device you can "program" on. Well, sorta. you're restricted to what SL4A gives you, and it's only got a 7" screen, so you aren't gonna be showing much code per page. Sure, you could plug it into an HDMI TV, but that kinda defeats your cost argument. You won't want to be dropping it, either. If you break the screen, you're out $99 (not that I could actually find anywhere to buy one at under $160, or with ICS installed, but that's irrelevant), and if your students don't store *everything* on the SD card, they're out their work as well - Hint - you *cannot* store everything on the sd card under Android. Not to mention that a $99 device you can slip into a pocket is also a thief magnet.

Alternatively, you have the Pi, which is basically a very small desktop machine. Yes, getting an HDMI monitor is expensive, but "composhite" to a throwaway SD TV will get you something workable at "pick it up along the side of the road" prices. Even if you invest in expensive flatscreens, the devices are cheap, so frying a board is not a significant issue. Kids can take it home because it's cheap (their work is on the SD card, not the device itself) and relatively unlikely to be stolen.

Again, cost. Let's assume you equip a classroom with a number of HDMI monitors. Not only can these be locked down, but they can serve *every* kid in the school. You nly need to buy, say, 20 of them, at around the cost of equipping one class of kids with your tablet device, then you can equip every child in the school with a Pi. At that point you are equipping 4 to 6 times as many kids for the same outlay.

No, I can't see why a school would go for something like the Pi, either.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:16 pm
by radu
So you are saying that in countries where Internet access is the exception, not the norm, it is a bad idea to give students Internet access at school?
How many people in 3rd world countries have TVs at home? How many TVs at school? And how many have a constant, reliable supply of electricity?
I am not sure if you know, but you can actually run a 'normal' Linux distribution on Android tablets.

And the RAM size is irrelevant? What??

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:16 pm
by rommel
Hm, the first post got me thinking over my goal and motivation. I am feeling a bit odd now, because I certainly do not qualify as someone able to educate possibly hundreds of people. Maybe my multiplication factor is just: 1.

I want to use the Pi for displaying photography art in my living room/studio. I like the connectivity (LAN, HDMI) am more than satisfied with the processing power an hopefully the RAM will be enough to store a 24mpixel picture for display. So - it is a perfect match for my intended use case. I want to learn and understand the Pi and ARMLinux just the same way I learned to use Arduino to switch on my espresso machine. But probably I am not your education target.

But I think, that everyone - even with a very mundane use case as mine - can make a difference. If I can just get my 8yr daughter to be interested in the things that you can build yourself (Arduino) or at least program to do what you want it to do, and create something that you cannot buy in a shop, that YOU designed, that only YOU have, that realizes YOUR idea and that she is in a position to learn how to do that - this is what I am after. It is not the price - alone in my basement and under my desk there are 24 Intel cores running in total - I could just buy any nano-ITX board, but that would lack the fun. Why is my router running on a 256MB 700MHz ALIX with the complete Linux OS running in the initramdisk under busybox/uClibc without any harddisk or flash card? Because of the fun. Because showing people that - if you are interested in understanding how things work - right now you live in a time, where all information is available to you, it is all just about your dedication and perseverance if you make things on your own or just buy into prefabricated solutions and go with the mainstream.

So, maybe you now will be putting me on the waiting list to be served after all educators and schools have their round, I'd be disappointed, but, hey, it is your vision and you should pursue that. But I am not hiding under the radar. I speak out plainly what my purposes are and state clearly that my possible reach maybe just a handful of people. There maybe some more, once I have my website up and running, but that is just my vision ;-)

So, I will patiently wait for the Pi to become reality and can be ordered from your shop and if you are interested I can certainly keep you updated about the reaction of my daughter once she realizes the possibilities of the world she lives in...

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:02 am
by SlayingDragons
Quote from radu on December 6, 2011, 22:16
So you are saying that in countries where Internet access is the exception, not the norm, it is a bad idea to give students Internet access at school?
How many people in 3rd world countries have TVs at home? How many TVs at school? And how many have a constant, reliable supply of electricity?
I am not sure if you know, but you can actually run a 'normal' Linux distribution on Android tablets.

And the RAM size is irrelevant? What??

You seem to be making arguments just to argue. :P

And I don't believe that's what he was saying. He was saying that if you want to have it so they can't be connected wirelessly, you can simply not attach a wireless adapter. It gives added flexibility.

2nd part, you could easily pick up an old composite-in TV to use with the raspi. I can't speak for the 3rd world as I've never been there and neither have you, but supplying computers for the 3rd world, quite frankly, isn't the primary goal of the project. It's to get kids into programming, with supplying computers to 3rd world being an added possibility. Perhaps a more important goal would to be trying to get a constant supply of electricity before worrying about commodities such as a computer and TV, or a tablet?

And good luck trying to get a linux distro running well on a tablet without a decent amount of configuring. One of the nice things about the raspi is you can simply insert a new SD card and have an entirely new OS, including one pre-configured for the raspi. With a tablet, the memory is internal, so you must install it from another computer. And if you mess up the installation, you have to go through the process of reinstalling it, as opposed to simply reformating the SD card. That's not good if you're a kid and want to mess around with the internals. Let's jnot even get into closed bootloaders.

And RAM is irrelevant on a programming platform beyond 64kb. I think 128-256mb is gracious, you don't need nearly that much to learn how to program. It just opens a lot more possibilities for it, allows a more modern platform, and yet encourages effecient programming, as opposed to "The machine can handle it." or "Just upgrade the RAM." And lastly, GPS is not necessary on a programming platform, and neither is wifi or a touch screen. You seem to be missing the goals of the project.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:29 am
by PotatoHandle
I'm one of the people who are looking at this as a media device and/or server; however I think it's understated what the educational effect of simply using these devices may be to some people. I'm reasonably switched on, I work as a network admin, but I've never tried to work with the ARM architecture before (Aside from the basic use of smartphones), nor on anything but "regular" x86 and x64 computers.

Even the pre-release research process has been a learning experience for me, to a small degree; for example I have always been under the false impression that there was a linear association that the software was written for an OS, and the OS was written for the hardware architecture. Meaning that I thought that any software Ubuntu x64/x86 ran, Ubuntu ARM would run as well. I only learned this was not the case after researching for the RPi.

Exposure is a great tool to fuel interest. I always had a computer growing up, never a hugely powerful one though; and as a result I repeatedly tore it apart changed pieces, upgraded, modified, overclocked, etc, etc trying to get more out of it, and I learned a huge amount in the process. The RPi would be like the software equivalence of that. With nearly all the software available on the Pi being open source, people will effectively be able to tear apart programs, fix bugs, modify code, add features, etc, etc.

Makes we wish I was born a few years later, I'm too old to wrap my head around programming now. I'd love to just be able to compile existing source code for various archs. But yeah, I'm too old... Or more to the point, I have a mortgage to pay off and can't afford to get back on the education-train, haha.

Re: How many here actually *care* about the goals of the project?

Posted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:14 am
by DavidCDean
I'm a tinkerer too, and very little offends me on the subject of what people do with their time and creativity. But if there were one thing, it'd be the idea that anyone should dictate what people can and can't focus on when they're learning, tinkering and being creative. Worrying that too many folks procuring an early model might not be "on message" with the foundations stated goals treads unfortunately close to that.

That said, I think the goals are great. I wish the foundation and all like-minded parties (you) the best of luck. But ultimately you just have to let tinkerers tinker. There's no unobtanium in the raspi... there will always be more of them made (by this group or someone else). And the first 10k units aren't going to radically change the world in one night, regardless of who gets them.

I expect you know from tinkering with other boards that people will throw any and every idea at the wall to see what sticks. Some will get bored or do nothing impressive, just like you said. It's going to happen. Some will solve little "first world problems" and end up on HaD. That's not such a bad thing, to my mind... every good idea comes from a whole lot of lesser ones. Some folks just might do something really amazing, useful, widespread and important. Certainly, fingers crossed.

So be happy. :) Sit back, relax and enjoy what thousands of independent minds working in very different directions can create. Doubly so because there's no other way to accomplish what you're hoping to see. I'm sure I won't get one of the first run, and that's not the worst thing in the world. I just want something to learn on and tinker with... and see what kind of cool ideas strike me as worth trying.

Either way, in time I'm sure everyone will be pleased with the raspi's results. Go skiing! ;)