Further reflections on the Raspberry Pi

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I don’t want to be like a wet blanket – I really love the Raspberry Pi and the idea you can get a bare bones but entirely functional computer for less than thirty quid and hook it up to your HD TV with a £1.50 HDMI cable.Raspberry Pi on HD TV

But, having spent the day trying to get it to do some pretty basic things – like play some video or audio – I have to say that a lot of educationalists seem to be vesting far too much hope in what is, after all, a testing board.

It’s true that you can boot the thing up quickly and easily and that it comes with Scratch (though I haven’t tested that, yet). But I suspect most kids will get frustrated very quickly with it when they find it cannot do lots of things on the internet that they take for granted.

Using it is like regressing a decade or so in the Linux experience – lots of things don’t work (I still have not got mine to play any sound via the HDMI cable) or the software is not (yet) available.

I could see how it could be a low spec web server (after all I got a Dreamcast to be one of those) or a management board for NAS, and I’d love to play around with the GPIO stuff, but I would worry that many children would be put off if things that they expect their programs to do just do not happen because of some problems with the drivers.

The idea is a very sound one, though, and I am sure that in six months time it will be worth considering, but I wouldn’t bet my ICT budget on a fleet of these things yet.

(In my own case my idea, that I could use the board as a micro alternative to a projector by having it display presentations and video on our office HD TVs is on hold for now, as the software is just not available as far as I can see.)

One thought on “Further reflections on the Raspberry Pi

  1. Are the problems you are encountering fundamental? Are they relevant to the mission? Does anything about the device remind you of the fun and challenges you had with a Sinclair?

    You don’t say what video problems you are having. It is known that not all CoDecs are enabled in the firmware due to patent licensing costs.

    I don’t have a RaspberryPi because I know that I’d never get around to playing with it. But I’m four times older than its target audience (you are only two times older). When I was that age, I’d travel two hours to sneak into a university to play with a PDP-8/s, a machine somewhat similar in power to a Sinclair zx80.

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