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Education Programming United Kingdom Hardware

Raspberry Pi Arrives, With a School Debut In Leeds 148

Posted by timothy
from the when-a-plan-comes-together dept.
hypnosec writes "It seems fitting that the first batch of Raspberry Pi computers landed in the UK in the hands of school children based in Leeds as what many consider as another wave of grass-root computing revolution, another BBC Micro 2.0, begins. The Raspberry Pi has been designed from scratch to get anyone interested in computer programming to do so without forking out much; the base unit can connect to a television like the Commodore C64 or the Sinclair ZX81. According to the BBC, the first batch has been presented [Friday] by Eben Upton, the school project coordinator, in an event held at the Leeds offices of Premier Farnell, one of the official PI distributors."
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Raspberry Pi Arrives, With a School Debut In Leeds

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  • At the price. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zippo01 (688802) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @07:39AM (#39684145)
    This is also a great way/price for people to get into building and operating clusters. I plan on dropped 200 and building a 8 system cluster, just for fun.
  • Re:no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drosboro (1046516) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @08:03AM (#39684223)

    Lied about import duty? One of the most interesting things about this whole process has been how upfront and transparent they've been. When they discover some new roadblock or detail that they weren't aware of (such as the status of the Pi wrt import duties, or the requirement for CE testing), they've been quick to post to their blog and tell the world about it.

    As for "and market them badly"... really? How much do you suppose they've spent on marketing, exactly? Are you aware of how much publicity they're getting, worldwide, for free? Even my local newspaper, which is absolutely dreadful for tech news, has carried very positive (and nearly accurate!) stories on the Raspberry Pi. Seems to me that, if there's one thing they've done extremely well, it's creating a huge buzz around their concept, WITHOUT blowing a huge pile on marketing.

  • Re:no (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2012 @08:48AM (#39684379)

    did you read the reasons behind No. 4 on your list?

    Initially the foundation expected the R-Pi would be only picked up by enthusiasts and developers (Like Arduino boards) so EC mark was not a requirement. Since it was being sold as a "Development" board NOT a finished Consumer item.

    But when they realised the demand and reached out to the 2 companies to licence it, the companies WANTED the EC mark before they would sell it.

    The R-Pi foundation was waiting for the initial surge of orders to pass so they could concentrate on the "Educational Version" of the device which WOULD go through EC testing since it was being sold as a complete consumer product.

  • Re:no (Score:2, Interesting)

    by citizenr (871508) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @09:15AM (#39684515) Homepage

    One of the most interesting things about this whole process has been how upfront and transparent they've been

    Yes, like when they said they are sitting on 10K units ready to ship, or when they announced official launch and started selling nonexistent boards, or when they said that this time around they _really_ have 2K boards and to prove it they posted a picture of a chinese factory :). Or how now, 2 months after official launch, first people to get their hands on the boards are children in UK and not people who paind for the boards 2 months ago thinking they are buying something and not preordering.

    WORST product launch ever. I just hope thats the end of rasppi drama and there wont be any more hurdles (for example lack of mpeg4 hardware acceleration, lack of camera interface documentation and so on)

  • Re:no (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @10:46AM (#39685151)

    Initially the foundation expected the R-Pi would be only picked up by enthusiasts and developers (Like Arduino boards) so EC mark was not a requirement. Since it was being sold as a "Development" board NOT a finished Consumer item.

    Confirming that "we must manufacture abroad because finished gadgets don't attract import duty" is bunkum.

    The Raspi was always going to be sold as a finish board; it's not possible for it to be hand soldered. The original intent was to manufacture in the UK but that proved to be too expensive in part due to the import issues... I believe the duty costs on the parts was greater than the duty costs on a completed board. Which is dumb, but not the fault of the Raspi Foundation.

    The original plan was that the Raspi would be sold like Arduino/Beagle boards - i.e. as development boards - and thus would not require CE certification in the first instance. However, either due to the volume of demand and/or the way it was being promoted - i.e. as a board you can just plug straight into your TV for immediate use - the distributors then decided they needed certification from the get-go.

    And before you say "but they should've known the demand would be high; how would they have delivered it to millions of school kids like this", the original manufacturing volumes were always going to be low, but they had expected the types of people who would pick up the intial Raspi's would be nerds/developers who would help in creating the eco-system for when production ramped up and certification had been completed.

    And I guess for RS/Farnell, the problem was that with such huge demand, they'd be legally vulnerable if the product wasn't certified.

    But when they realised the demand and reached out to the 2 companies to licence it, the companies WANTED the EC mark before they would sell it.

    Huh. Neither Upton nor anyone relevant at Broadcom would have any idea that one of the largest electronics distributors in the UK would expect EMC testing on a finished product?

    Think I mostly dealt with this above, but just to reiterate, nope neither Upton nor Broadcom would have expected that *because* they expected it to be treated the same as other "development boards". In that sense, the Raspi was a victim of it's own success... had the launch been lower profile, and the demand lower, CE certification probably would not have been required initial. Indeed, it might be that RS/Farnell would not have been brought on-board so early.

    The English are great at feigned ignorance, I must admit.

    Casual racism... smooth! You do understand that the people running the show actually have day jobs and that they haven't done this before. They're smart people, but much of this has been a learning experience... albeit, if you've ever started a business yourself, you'd recognise the whole "on-going learning experience" that is running a business. However, since you'd don't appear to understand this, I have to assume that you're just one of these people who coasts along in life whilst snearing at others who *do* make the effort.

    You seem to be making a lot of effort poking holes in a product that you apparently feel is worthless, which srikes me as odd.... it's almost as if you're some kind of... I dunno... internet troll or something! If you don't like the product and feel that other products exist and are better, buy those.

    But just to get things in some kind of perspective, the Raspi is approx. 6 months late against what the foundation originally said. This seems entirely consistent with the rest of the industry as far as I can tell, but the difference here is that Upton and co. have been entirely up-front with where they are and what the problems are. And for a first effort, and entirely for charity, I'd say they've done fantastically well and should be getting credit they deserve.

    **Note: this comment is entirely based on what I know purely by following the Raspi news. I'm not affiliates with the Foundation or anything, and I'm still waits for my Pi!

  • Re:The First Hurdle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Niten (201835) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @11:59AM (#39685547)

    The thing you might not have taken into account is the actual experience of the teacher who would like to introduce students to programming. I have no experience with the British school system, but I did work for IT in a K-12 U.S. school system not too long ago, so I think I have something to say about this.

    Where I worked, students' computers were heavily locked down Windows machines running a restricted set of software. Because of the machines' age, the bad third-party GPO-wannabe software that the school district used to manage the systems, and various virus infections, these computers were not the friendliest things to teachers and students – and both groups were perpetually scared to death of "messing up" the computers and getting in trouble. In reality, these PCs were used primarily as overcomplicated interfaces to various bits of flash- and web-based educational software, and anything else was deemed too troublesome.

    The point is that between the technical deficiencies and the bureaucratic ones, getting school IT to allow students to run a new type of program and then support it can frankly be a nightmare. You say these computers are capable of running Python, and this is true in the strictest sense, but in reality it's just not going to happen when half of the admins don't even know what Python is, and the other half are too scared of deploying a new, "nonstandard" interpreter.

    And if that's how IT feels about the prospect, just think of how frightening it looks to the teachers.

    Now contrast that with using something like the Raspberry PI. You can program without messing up your "real" computer! No IT support required, you can reset it to factory configuration in a heartbeat, and even if you do manage to physically break it somehow... hey, it was only $25. Perhaps most importantly, you can write a grant proposal to get a classroom full of them without having to go through the IT department. The Raspberry PI, or something like it, is the programming tool that teachers will be able to use in practice.

  • In other news... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kenh (9056) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @12:25PM (#39685715) Homepage Journal

    So could someone explain to me how these $25 circuit boards are "better" than any one of the countless millions of P4 computers that we dump in the cargo holds of contaner ships heading back to China to be "recycled" into a small amount of precious metals and a whole lot of toxic waste???

    Last time I looked this system required a power supply, USB keyboard and mouse, case, and a display that can accept a digital signal - in comparison, the Vic-20, Commodore 64, and Sinclair ZX-81 all came with keyboard, case & and power supply, and only required a composite video capable monitor (or a TV modulator).

    This is much more like the Apple I - the circuit board that could be bought unpopulated or completed, and was quickly snapped-up by a small community of enthusiasts and then made obvious the need to offer a complete system that included a keyboard, case and power supply.

    How long till Raspberry Pi offers their version of the Apple II, a system in a case with a keyboard, mouse, and power supply?

  • Re:no (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xaxa (988988) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @12:56PM (#39686011)

    The Raspberry Pi charity is trying to improve computer education in British schools. Better education is important for the country.

    What have you done to help?

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