jasonl
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:46 am

There's been a fair bit of comparison of the R-Pi with the microcomputers of the 80s, and for it as a catalyst for teaching about computers.
Recalling the high quality manuals for the BBC micro and Sinclair machines, I think it might be a good idea to provide a 'Welcome pack' to flesh out the R-Pi to be a usable home computer, but with an emphasis on getting the user to create with it.

The pack would include an SD card with a basic system and introductory programs; a perspex stand or box for the R-Pi so its components can be seen; a physical manual. The manual would be a proper 'how-to' guide and reference along the lines of the ones for the BBC or Sinclair micros. A basic primer for how computers work with reference to the Raspberry, and simple tutorial covering the basics of programming (with Python?) - linked with example programs on the SD card.

Maybe I'm being a bit reactionary - as physical manuals to accompany computers went the way of the dodo ages ago... or could this be a selling point?

vadsamoht
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:06 am

It's certainly not a bad idea, however I forsee several problems. Firstly, there is the simple fact that a book that aims to essentially teach someone how to use a computer would be quite big, and that would increase the shipping cost. This could perhaps be negated by making it a digital document instead, however I doubt many people would read it if that was the case.

The second problem is simply that most of the people who buy or recieve the Raspberry Pi would either a) already know how to use a computer, or b) have been given one with the intent of learning, which probably means that there is also some sort of instructor who can provide that service. I can think of many situations where that may not be the case, however I still think the usefulness of a manual is severely limited by it.

Finally, there is the problem of providing a language guide. Naturally there are plenty of programming books out there, and it would perhaps be wrong to think that a better guide could be written by a nonprofit like Raspberry Pi, especially considering the complexity of more modern programming languages. However, perhaps a primer of sorts for each language may be useful, covering the (very) basics of all of the languages that are natively supported?

As I said, I don't think it's a bad idea, however it's not really practical as far as I can see.

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liz
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:07 am

The price is the selling point, and bundling a book (they're not cheap to produce) would hike it up. We will have online materials like the sort you mention that people can download, though - and, we hope, a nice lively community! Our big advantage over the Beeb is that we have the internet, so users can pool resources and talk to each other.
Director of Communications, Raspberry Pi

jacklang
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:12 am

I was just writing a post to ask what should be in the welcome pack, and to ask for community help writing it.
There is quite a lot of educational material out there that might help, such as the MIT Scratch material http://scratch.mit.edu. We need projects that kids will think are cool and desirable - music driven pattern generators maybe or a tamoguchi like swapping game, but I'm well out of touch.

The case will need an internal conductive coating for RFI suppression btw

CommanderCoder
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:36 pm

Looks like a few independent thinkers are on the same page with regard to a welcome manual. I posted a similar suggestion just now. As I say in my post, having it on paper is better. Any child whose parents cannot afford a cheap computer are unlikely to have the internet, but they will have access to a library. Sites like Lulu.com are a way to produce a book.

An important point made earlier was that this device is unlikely to have the mass appeal of a BBC micro and so it will come through an establishment which has instructors. Even then, I'd say that most people would want something to help them work on their own too.

I wouldn't expect any book to be a language primer, more like a book of listing (with points of interest) that would take the reader from typing "hello world" through to extending the examples to develop their own programs.

jasongreen
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Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 2:25 pm

Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:38 pm

Beyond which programming language, there's also the question of which human language(s) you would translate the documentation into and who would do all that translating.

Lakes
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:44 pm

Docs in PDF format for viewing or printing, but I like watching Youtube tutorials best... :)

Chris
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 5:13 pm

I think that the Community should look into creating .pdf books for given tasks which they have completed.

For instance, If you let say convert the R-PI into an NAS as it appears a popular goal, then document it and make a tutorial. This is a way of contributing to the development side. PDF's could be checked by the R-Pi team and if approved, could be downloadable from the R-Pi blog.

reggie
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 5:21 pm

I think these are all very decent points, I think we'll see a number of community driven contributions to a lot of things, as I remember things, the original BBC stuff was done with feedback from it's community, these days things have changed and we have the power to publish information instantly, we have the wiki, pdf's are easy to produce and it's easy to be peer reviewed. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how committed everyone is :) I suspect that the resellers could supply cheap 2GB SD cards, preloaded with a welcome pack if it comes to it.

Chris
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 5:31 pm

Quote from reggie on August 31, 2011, 18:21
I think these are all very decent points, I think we'll see a number of community driven contributions to a lot of things, as I remember things, the original BBC stuff was done with feedback from it's community, these days things have changed and we have the power to publish information instantly, we have the wiki, pdf's are easy to produce and it's easy to be peer reviewed. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how committed everyone is :) I suspect that the resellers could supply cheap 2GB SD cards, preloaded with a welcome pack if it comes to it.

I think you have a point about the Wiki, its not just instant and relatively free but its more organised than paper based materials due to the search functionality.

The Wiki gets my vote.

obarthelemy
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:23 pm

This is a very personal opinion, but ... I hate PDFs.
I see them as a typesetting format, with very good layout control, but as essentially a read-only format which
- is a pain to edit/annotate,
- does not react well to different screen sizes (i do my reading on a smartphone, a tablet, or a PC these days),
- and even update: PDFs seem always much less updated than wikis or web pages.

Trying to think of kids, I think videos and paper books would work best, with a wiki as the core knowledge repository.

ShiftPlusOne
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:52 pm

I am with you on that one.

vadsamoht
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:21 pm

I would tend to agree that the Wiki would be the best place to generally store the information, however there are always issues with the quality of the aritcles and the irregularities of the way people format them.

Perhaps it would be worth every so often collecting all of the (best) articles, cleaning them up to a reasonable standard, and putting them together into a single file that can either be downloaded individually or bought through some printo-on-demand service for those who want a reasonably comprehensive set of guides and tutorials, but who do not want or cannot be online while using it. This option may also be beneficial for classroom situations where there could be a small number of printed books that the students can refer to as they need.

jasonl
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Re: Welcome Pack

Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:14 pm

As I see it the Welcome Pack would be a separate product to the Raspberry Pi itself. Similar to the way some Arduino introductory kits are marketed. You can buy them with or without the board. They're a kit of stuff to do learn about the hardware and do some fun stuff. I think a £20 welcome pack would be reasonable plus the £25 or so for the R-pi.

Sure, all the electronic docs will be provided in time - and there's a huge amount out there already for Linux, programming, Python etc. But I think a good basic structured hard-copy manual would be useful for classroom or self-study, and give pointers for further information. It certainly couldn't be a full reference.

I see a Welcome Pack in the context that the Raspberry Pi is a machine to learn what a computer is - a machine that the owner (child, student) can make do what _they_ want to. It's not just another black-box electronic gadget or PC that they only consume stuff on. It can give a handle of what this machine can do - where the web tutorials/guides/wikis and blogs will take over.

reggie
Posts: 151
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Re: Welcome Pack

Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:22 am

I think that sort of thing would probably come from 3rd party stores, it seems that raspberry pi is aimed at education and promoting UK tech, so a welcome pack with electronics is probably not in their remit right now. That having been said it might be worth talking to UK hobby electronics stores in particular and maybe sparkfun and seeedstudio about them throwing some bundles together or even look at their existing offerings to see if it fits the bill.

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