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Hardware Hacking Programming Build

Raspberry Pi's Eben Upton: How We're Turning Everyone Into DIY Hackers 90

redletterdave writes "Eben Upton is the CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation's trading company, where he oversees production and sales of the Raspberry Pi. In a lengthy interview with ReadWrite, Upton shares how he invented Raspberry Pi, and what's coming next for the $35 microcomputer. Quoting: 'There's a big difference between [just] making a platform like Raspberry Pi available and offering support for it. I think if you just make it available, you'll find one percent of eight-year-olds will be the one percent who love that sort of thing and will get into it, regardless of how much or how little support you give them. ... [S]ince we can afford to pay for the development of educational material, we can afford to advocate for good training for teachers throughout this. There's an opportunity to get more than one percent. There's an opportunity to reach the bright kids who don't quite have the natural inclination to personally tackle complicated technical tasks. If you give them good teaching and compelling material that's relevant and interesting to them, you can reach ten percent, twenty percent, fifty percent, many more. We look back to the 1980s as this golden era [of learning to program], and in practice, only a very few percent of people were learning to program to any great degree. ... I think the real opportunity for us now, because we can intervene on the material and teacher training levels, we can potentially blow past where we were in the 1980s.'"
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Raspberry Pi's Eben Upton: How We're Turning Everyone Into DIY Hackers

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  • by Rufty ( 37223 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @03:38PM (#46707527) Homepage
    It's not the thing that matters. There are faster, cheaper boards than the Pi. But the community, with examples and workarounds so that the changes are you don't have to beat a path, but just hit google.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 )

      The Arduino is much cheaper, you can even just run an ATmega328P on a breadboard. And the community is huge too.

      • I think Whoosh applies here for you.
        It's not about the sodding hardware, or cost of said hardware. !!
        • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @04:06PM (#46707769)

          I don't understand the moderation on my comment nor your reply. We're talking about hardware and communities here, which the Arduino has too. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that the Arduino community, with its dozens of variants, is a lot bigger than the Raspberry Pi community.

          • OP said there are faster & cheaper boards available, which is undeniably true, the article specifically says it's about the community & the provision of support for school children (Kids are the spawn of goats) which makes the Pi a better tool for school children, due to the community support - for teaching programming.

            The Arduino may well be cheaper; but the point's moot.
            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

              The Arduino may well be cheaper; but the point's moot.

              The two are not even comparable. One is an embedded microcontroller platform with no video, a few k of RAM and flash, has no OS and uses C for writing software. The other is a computer, runs a variety of operating systems and software, can be programmed in a variety of languages and connects directly to a monitor and keyboard/mouse.

          • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @04:26PM (#46707987) Homepage Journal

            The Arduino isn't a computer, it's a programmable microcontroller.

            There really isn't any comparison between the two.

            • by Polo ( 30659 ) *

              But people naturally compare them anyway.

              You have to admit there are lots of tasks that don't require realtime control where people could choose either system.

              I think the Arduino shield system is brilliant, and the equivalent on the Raspberry Pi is not as well thought out. This is the biggest shame of all.

              My top few wishes for the Pi would be:
              - a well-thought-out, open shield system
              - 4 support holes at the corners instead of 2 in the middle
              - maybe a better case design - all ports along one side maybe?
              - an

      • by Kartu ( 1490911 )

        Arduino is just a microcontroller with some IO ports, PI is a full blown computer that runs Linux.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's not the thing that matters. There are faster, cheaper boards than the Pi. But the community, with examples and workarounds so that the changes are you don't have to beat a path, but just hit google.

      There's a faster, cheaper board than the Pi? I've seen similar boards with less power/io at a slightly cheaper price, and I've seen more powerful boards with less IO that are significantly more expensive. But I've yet to see a cheaper AND faster board than the PI with similar IO. Could you link me please?

    • Can you show me a cheaper board that can decode 1080p video using standard APIs (which are exposed to developers like me) such as OpenMAX?

    • There are faster, cheaper boards than the Pi.

      Can you suggest any? My google-fu is not up to the task...

    • by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <plugwash @ p> on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @07:07PM (#46709243) Homepage

      There are faster, cheaper boards than the Pi.

      There are boards that are faster than the Pi and boards that are cheaper but I haven't seen anyone come out with a board that is both faster and cheaper.

  • Am I getting old? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dancindan84 ( 1056246 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @03:59PM (#46707697)

    There was a time I would have jumped at playing with a Pi, and I did take a look into using it as a media device like he mentions in the article. I looked at what it was capable of and what I'd have to do to get it to do what I wanted vs. building a media PC around XBMC... and bought a Roku instead. I just couldn't be bothered. I still love tinkering with stuff programming-wise, but I've completely lost my ambition to tinker with hardware. Am I just old, or what?

    • Re:Am I getting old? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Finallyjoined!!! ( 1158431 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @04:07PM (#46707775)
      I'm 54 this year. I love playing with my Pi.

      But then it's more powerful than the Minicomputers I started on in the late 70's
      • A frickin' ATtiny85 is more powerful than a minicomputer from the late 70's. ;-)

      • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

        I'm 54 this year. I love playing with my Pi.

        I'm almost as old as you and I've been playing with my pi since my early teens. I still play with it from time to time.

        But when did they start calling it a "pi"?

      • Well, that's not it then. I'm 34. I work as a computer programmer at a college, so if you'd asked me 10 years ago if I'd be doing programming or hardware tinkering as a hobby I'd have said hardware tinkering, because I wouldn't think I'd have wanted to come home and program after a day at work of programming... but that's exactly what I do.

        It's different programming mind you. I play around with a PHPBB forum coding a custom shoutbox and D&D dicebot for me and my friends to play with, or playing with sma

        • Bliss. When I started, you'd write your programme, send it - by sodding post - wait for the punch card operators to type it in. Then you would have to go through all the cards to make sure one had not *become* transposed, then submit & wait for the output. Could take a week. You iPad bods are lucky.........
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Programmers are like porn stars. We go to work and do things all day that bore us to tears, then go home and do variants of the same thing for another 6 hours.

          Programmer: Spends the day writing enterprise productivity apps, then goes home and works on his VR game for Oculus Rift.

          Pornstar: 3-hour skin-chafing blowjob while standing on one leg in a cold shower with puddles of lube on the floor that would give an OSHA inspector nightmares, then goes home and invites a few friends over for BDSM in the steampunk

        • by gmagill ( 105538 )

          My other option was time, since I'm now married with two young kids (2.5 and 4 months)...

          So they were born 6 months apart?

    • No, you've just gotten burned too many times by consumer goods that were value engineered to the absolute limits of low quality.

      Give Arduino a try... specifically, the Arduino boards made by They're way too expensive to use for final versions of things you're building, but they totally rock for building your development prototype. Genuine Arduino boards are generally high-quality too, but aren't quite as "idiot-proofed" as the Ruggeduino. I'd recommend against Arduino clones from China t

    • Me too. But when it comes to TV, I just bought the easiest thing because when it comes to watching TV, I just want it to work because by then I'm already too mentally exhausted to screw around with it... My mentally-useful hours are spent either working or tinkering with interesting (to me) things... I don't want TV to be a hobby. TV is how I shut my brain off at the end of the day so I can fall asleep.

    • I feel much like you, and I attribute it to there being nothing particularly interesting or new about the Pi. It's just a small, cheap computer. I've installed and configured linux on a hundred systems big and small, and I learned everything this thing can teach me a long time ago.

      DIY is fun and can be a great learning experience, but it ends there. After that it turns into a time sink just to keep the damn thing going for no gain other than to learn what having a second job is like. If you just want someth

    • but I've completely lost my ambition to tinker with hardware. Am I just old, or what?

      As a kid I did far more tinkering with things than I do now. Part of this is because I have a family now, but another big reason is that I am simply far more productive at my core skills. I can do professional level work in my spare time with software related tasks, so tinkering in other domains holds less of a draw. I could either write some piece of software that may get used in the open source community or perhaps even sold as a product, or I could tinker with some robotics that isn't of much better qual

    • The $35 Raspberry Pi is a myth, but a $100 Raspberry Pi based XBMC box is a reality and takes all of 10 minutes to set up. I have 5 of them and have completely cut the cord from Cable TV now.

      Just grab a Canakit:
      and a FLIRC:

      • I use a stock $35 Pi running XBMC with no other hardware needed - what did you spend the other $65 on? I use the XBMC iPhone app to control it - no need for a remote. The Pi is taped to the back of the TV with ethernet and power plugged in.

        • Flash card? Case? Power? HDMI and Ethernet cable? All of those items add up. Not using a remote saves you $30 on FLIRC, but I'm sure you've got at least $35 invested in the other items require to actually transform the Raspberry Pi into something more than inert circuitry.

          • I already had most of the components laying around, but I did buy power supplies for the Pi's. I also have one in the attic running dump1090 and the upload client for flightradar24 - it has no case either, and I'm using a <$15 RTL tuner from

            Flash Card: $6
            Case: None - taped naked to the back of the TV
            Power: About $7 []
            HDMI Cable: $3 []
            Ethernet cable: already had tons laying around, or could make one for $1

            Grand total: $17

    • As with everything, it depends on (1) what you want to do now, and (2) your past experience.

      IMHO, you need to separate the need for a media box from a tinkerable gadget. When you sit down after a hard day and grab a drink, the last thing you want to worry about is JTAG chains or something. I like having a few x86-64 boxes to just get something done, even though the idea of little-endian 4004 descendants isn't exactly elegant.

      I still love tinkering with stuff programming-wise, but I've completely lost my ambition to tinker with hardware.

      If you love programming, what's the problem? You're lucky to have something th

  • I had always understood that the rasperry pi qualified as a nanocomputer... a computer that is approximately the same size as a credit card.
  • I don't want a $35 computer. I want a $10 computer, or I'll just keep using my chips instead. Everyone a DIY hacker my ass. More like everyone a DIY pipe dreamer with a little less money. Everyone I know who has bought an Arduino, with one exception, has told me it's "sitting at home and I've done nothing with it".
  • ...and then all the 1%ers, 8 year old or 60, will move on to something more challenging.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson