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Education Hardware

Raspberry Pi Reviewed, With an Initial Setup Guide 188

jjslash writes "It has been six years in the making, with the original goal of the project intending to reignite computer programming in schools across the country. Despite those honorable intentions, the $35 ARM-based credit-card sized computer has captured the imagination of programmers, consumers and tinkerers alike, resulting in unprecedented demand for the product. Last month the first 10,000 credit-card sized computers were set to make their way to those who pre-ordered them back in February. TechSpot takes a look at the Pi Model B, covering the basic steps for setting up the computer, as well as basic post-installation tasks those first using it might encounter."
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Raspberry Pi Reviewed, With an Initial Setup Guide

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  • by SteveFoerster ( 136027 ) <steve AT stevefoerster DOT com> on Friday May 04, 2012 @11:00PM (#39898755) Homepage

    It's not really credit card sized. If it were it'd look like SELMA from Time Trax. It has two dimensions that correspond with a credit card, but it's a lot thicker. Not that I'm complaining, it's still amazingly small. I just think it's better described as "deck of cards sized" or "pack of cigarettes sized" or whatever.

  • User friendliness? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Announcer ( 816755 ) on Friday May 04, 2012 @11:22PM (#39898869) Homepage

    My 2c worth:

    How about making it so that when it powers-up, it's ready to go, without having to set up a user account, etc... just create the image on the SD card, then have the Pi come up to a desktop environment with a few helpful links. One of them should be a user-friendly programming environment that's just a mouse-click away, containing a few useful and easily modified example programs. Make the language something better than BASIC, but just as easy-to-use/learn... "Think of the children".

  • by smi.james.th ( 1706780 ) on Saturday May 05, 2012 @01:25AM (#39899341)
    Most Mac users I know didn't even realise there Macs have a command line, over here it's more of a fashion accessory though.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday May 05, 2012 @04:06AM (#39899983) Journal
    Most of the Mac users I know have a PhD in computer science or engineering. Yay for selection bais...
  • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Saturday May 05, 2012 @09:37AM (#39901133) Homepage

    Not only that, but provide a foolproof way to roll back to the factory image...

    If education is the goal, the ability to experiment with the system safe in the knowledge that you can't permanently damage it is very important...

    To give an example:

    When i started with computers, i had a Sinclair Spectrum... This machine, and some of the subsequent systems i had provided me a FAR superior introduction to computers than todays windows boxes for a number of reasons.

    1, this computer was mine and mine alone, my parents never used it and couldn't care less about it... i could experiment with it all i liked, by contrast had it been a shared family computer i would be scared of breaking it for fear of angering my parents and siblings.

    2, the computer came with a manual clearly laying out that whatever you do you can't break the machine via software, if you made it crash worse case you just hit reset and your back at the original basic prompt as if nothing had happened. by contrast, a windows system is very easy to break and could be quite complex, time consuming and expensive to fix afterwards. Knowing that you can't permanently break the system and that worst case you can perform a trivial reset procedure is VERY important, as it gives you (especially as a child) confidence to experiment with the system, and experimentation is the best way to learn.

    3, the computer came with a manual that gave programming examples and encouraged you to try things out, again safe in the knowledge that you couldn't break it... by contrast, windows actively discourages users from messing with the system, certain files are hidden by default, certain locations on the filesystem are considered off limits and display a warning (which is quite scary to inexperienced users) when you try to access them...

    4, the computer came with a built in programming language that was readily accessible and oriented at beginners and also came with lots of examples, providing a good way to ease people into it, i don't think windows even includes qbasic anymore and even when it did it was well hidden.. instead you have a few scripting languages that are not beginner friendly, are not located where a novice will find them and are not documented in the supplied paperwork...

    5, you got a paper manual... sure i would usually advocate electronic manuals because they are more environmentally friendly, searchable and easier to update.. BUT, for a novice having an electronic manual is a stumbling block - with zero computer knowledge, how will they know how to view the electronic manual?

    Hopefully if properly marketed and distributed, the raspberry pi can replicate much of what made the earlier computers so accessible to youngsters, and teach people to experiment with computers rather than to be fearful of them.

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors