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Is anyone else having doubts about the Raspberry Pi?


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#1 Shaquil   Members   -  Reputation: 815

Posted 28 December 2012 - 09:48 PM

One thing I got for Christmas was the Raspberry Pi. At this point, I wish I had put the money toward something else. The Pi Foundation claims that these machines are for kids to learn with, but I just can't see it. I'm a kid, I'm new to Linux, I'm new to working with hardware, and using the Pi thus far has been a complete pain.

 

The $35 dollar price point was a lie, much like the price of nearly any small/"portable" piece of hardware. You pretty much have to buy a case if you want this thing to last, and that's at the very least $10. Then there's the micro USB power supply which requires 5v at about 500mah. I dunno what makes anyone think that a charger like that would be laying around. I have a micro USB phone charger, but it maxes at 250mah. So that was another $10. Then there's the SD card, which ranges between 10 and 30 dollars. We'll call it $15 to be fair. Altogether that's around $70 for this "computer" that's completely painful to use from the start. And then there's the 2 weeks - 1 month or longer wait.

 

Worse, if you look at the website's main blog (http://www.raspberrypi.org/), all you see is posts highlighting projects that are utterly out of the reach of beginners, done by people with years of hardware, software and linux experience who are using the pi to do things they, for the most part, already had an idea how to do. In what way is this helpful to newcomers, other than to lure them in with projects that seem feasible? I just can't see it. I'm sure that a very tiny few people on this forum actually have a pi, but I'd love to get some feedback. Mine is pretty much sitting there. It'll be nice to have as a linux computer I can turn on and practice with through putty so I don't have dual boot over to Ubuntu, but other than that, I can't see myself using it for a while. It's not beginner friendly in the least.



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#2 Luckless   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1680

Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:00 AM

5v 500mah micro USB? Isn't that the standard USB spec power output for powered ports on a PC computer, using cords that many households (at least those geeky enough to house someone wanting a Pi) would have half a dozen or more?

I have SD cards laying around, and CF cards too for that matter. This really doesn't look like something that someone without any computing experience would have any interest in, and a prior interest in computers comes with a prior collection of goodies.

It may not be simple or overly friendly, but it isn't exactly impossible to work with.

Also, aren't most of those projects fairly open? Want to do something like what someone else did? Copy them and make your improvements. Not sure how they did it? Ask. It isn't a magic device that you pull out of a box and things just happen. What kind of projects do you want them to feature and focus on? The web is full of blogs detailing simple little projects from people toying with them.
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#3 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:56 AM

I have slightly biased opinions on it, but I do wish they sold kits that came with cases/power supplies/etc.

 

I don't think the intention was necessarily for kids to learn about things on their own. It seemed more to be about having a system that was simple enough for a kid to understand when being taught rather than about having a system that is easy enough for a child to use with no previous experience. We live in a world where computers are perceived increasingly as a black box inside which stuff happens rather than a series of components that work together. I think the raspberry pi succeeds in breaking that mold.



#4 Dinner   Members   -  Reputation: 263

Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:55 AM

I think the device is for experimenting, I had mine for ages, projects in mind, build an os, slowly gathering parts for a robot (have nearly all the movement and vision, but it needs a brain.

 

I sold mine so I am able to buy the upgraded version (got a good deal, some price that I paid for it.

 

The other person wanted it for a business client, they setup solar panels at schools, and record the information down to give to the teachers to teach the students about solar panels, they wanted to use the small factor of the pi as an client to download the information from the panels and ftp it to a web server to display the results.



#5 Cornstalks   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6966

Posted 29 December 2012 - 03:57 AM

The $35 dollar price point was a lie, much like the price of nearly any small/"portable" piece of hardware.

I thought they were pretty clear about what the $35 gives you.

 

You pretty much have to buy a case if you want this thing to last, and that's at the very least $10.

Depends on how you treat it. If you don't abuse it you really don't need a case.

 

Then there's the micro USB power supply which requires 5v at about 500mah. I dunno what makes anyone think that a charger like that would be laying around. I have a micro USB phone charger, but it maxes at 250mah. So that was another $10.

Really? I can power it through my micro USB phone cable just fine... Besides, in USB 2.0 a unit can draw 500 mA of power just fine, at least as specified by USB 2.0 (and assuming Wikipedia isn't lying). If you just use a standard USB 2.0 connection you're fine, and I'd say most people have such a connection readily available.

 

Then there's the SD card, which ranges between 10 and 30 dollars. We'll call it $15 to be fair.

I've got spare SD cards laying around. Sure, you may not, but many people do, and if you don't you can get a dirt cheap 4GB one for under $10.

 

Altogether that's around $70 for this "computer" that's completely painful to use from the start.

I'm not sure how to say this, but if you're expecting something fancy for $70, it's not gonna happen.

 

I think people get their hopes up too high for the Pi. It wasn't ever meant to be a "here's a pretty tutorial on how to get into Linux and computer stuff;" it's more of a "here's a cheap little thing you can tinker the heck out of." Additionally, as has been mentioned, a lot of the beginners that are targeted are beginners in a classroom, with an instructor to guide them. I understand it may not have been what you expected (and maybe it was marketed to you in a less-than-ideal way), which is unfortunate.

 

I don't know what doubts I'd have about the Pi. What exactly are you doubting? Frustrations I can understand, but I'm not sure about doubts.


Edited by Cornstalks, 29 December 2012 - 03:59 AM.

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#6 Recantha2   Members   -  Reputation: 106

Posted 29 December 2012 - 05:03 AM

Hi.

I've had a Raspberry Pi for 6 months now. I've done some software bits and pieces and some stuff with hardware, such as temperature sensors and small LCD displays. There are lots of blogs out there for beginners. Can I suggest, to start with, looking at http://raspi.tv , especially some of the early posts, for some ideas for projects. I've got a blog at http://www.recantha.co.uk/blog that has some beginners stuff on it too.

 

If all else fails, the forum on the raspberrypi.org website is a good place to shout for help. You normally get a reply within a few hours and people are, on the whole, very friendly.

 

--

Mike



#7 nife87   Members   -  Reputation: 516

Posted 29 December 2012 - 06:34 AM

FYI, I had multiple USB chargers around 700-1000 mAh (from an HTC Desire, amongst others), several USB Male A - Male Mini A cables and also multiple SD cards lying around, but I reckon that is just me, then :-)<br /><br />I have several/many years of experience with both Linux and programming in general, so it was certainly not hard for me to get started, but I agree that the entire experience of an RPi is more general minded than an Arduino, for instance - and this is great for guys like me who truly wanted a small, capable computer without (software) limitations. You can do pretty much whatever you want with it, especially with those GPIO's (LED Cubes is a great example), and its only limitation is the mediocre hardware (for a "normal" computer, that is). Although I am missing an interface with higher bandwidth than the current (combined SD/USB/Ethernet controller using USB 2.0 bus) for making the perfect DYI NAS :-P<br /><br />TL;DR: I agree. Beginners would probably be more productive with something like an Arduino, but intermediate users have craved this device for a long time.

Edited by nife87, 29 December 2012 - 06:35 AM.


#8 Shaquil   Members   -  Reputation: 815

Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:42 PM

I can power it through my micro USB phone cable just fine... Besides, in USB 2.0 a unit can draw 500 mA of power just fine, at least as specified by USB 2.0 (and assuming Wikipedia isn't lying). If you just use a standard USB 2.0 connection you're fine, and I'd say most people have such a connection readily available.

 

I don't know what "most people" you're talking about. Are you talking about "most people who would have a need for the Pi" or are you talking about "most people" who would be interested in technology? This plays into another of the serious problems with the message of the foundation. Who is the Pi for? From the FAQ: "We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming." All over the world? Like in places where kids don't have a bunch of HDMI cables, micro USB cables and SD cards just laying around? Or even in western countries where there are, believe it or not, still people who somehow don't have those things? Worst of all, people try to pretend that stuff is easy at hand. Yeah, I guess when you live in a nice area where there's a best buy and a radio shack and another hardware store around the block. Funny, but turns out there are some places on earth that aren't like that either. I just don't like the "$35 computer" thing, when you know it costs more than $35 to use this thing.

Altogether that's around $70 for this "computer" that's completely painful to use from the start.

I'm not sure how to say this, but if you're expecting something fancy for $70, it's not gonna happen.

 

I think people get their hopes up too high for the Pi. It wasn't ever meant to be a "here's a pretty tutorial on how to get into Linux and computer stuff;" it's more of a "here's a cheap little thing you can tinker the heck out of." Additionally, as has been mentioned, a lot of the beginners that are targeted are beginners in a classroom, with an instructor to guide them. I understand it may not have been what you expected (and maybe it was marketed to you in a less-than-ideal way), which is unfortunate.

 

I don't know what doubts I'd have about the Pi. What exactly are you doubting? Frustrations I can understand, but I'm not sure about doubts.

 

From the FAQ: "We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming." From the Raspberry Pi User Guide: "A big kick up the backside came a few years ago, when we were moving quite slowly on the Raspberry Pi project. ... I was talking to a neighbour's nephew about the subjects he was taking for his GCSE. ... computer games were a passion for him, but his schooling had skirted around any programming. This is the sort of situation I want to see the back of, where potential enthusiasm is squandered to no purpose."

 

So wait, this is for kids who are enthusiastic about learning things like programming, hardware, and linux? Where are the detailed tutorials? Where's the very patient, helpful community? I think they've just gotten themselves into something they didn't understand fully. If you want to help kids get into hardware and understanding computers under all the GUI's and abstractions, then you've got a road ahead of you. Especially if most of your supported operating systems are linux-based. You're going to have to provide something the Linux/Unix community still hasn't done: A welcoming, down-to-earth community for kids and beginners, the two interests groups most likely to completely give up and go somewhere else when things get tougher than they are fun.

 

At the moment, we're talking about people who don't even know what "pwd" does, and they're asking questions like "How can I get audio over HDMI?" and being told "post your edid dump." Oh, is that all? Thanks. You think my little sister is going to put down her kindle fire to enjoy the subtle pleasantries of googling for hours to solve a problem she doesn't understand? The idea is great, but the execution is not. This isn't the way to get kids or beginners into computing.


Edited by Shaquil, 29 December 2012 - 12:43 PM.


#9 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:06 PM

At the moment, we're talking about people who don't even know what "pwd" does, and they're asking questions like "How can I get audio over HDMI?" and being told "post your edid dump." Oh, is that all? Thanks. You think my little sister is going to put down her kindle fire to enjoy the subtle pleasantries of googling for hours to solve a problem she doesn't understand? The idea is great, but the execution is not. This isn't the way to get kids or beginners into computing.

 

What's wrong with that?

 

"post your edid dump."

"What is an edid dump and how do I get it?"

"Check this out. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_display_identification_data"

"Oh cool I learned something new about my raspberry pi and computing in general! :D"



#10 Shaquil   Members   -  Reputation: 815

Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:19 PM

"post your edid dump."

"What is an edid dump and how do I get it?"

"Check this out. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_display_identification_data"

"Oh cool I learned something new about my raspberry pi and computing in general! :D"

Now I may be wrong, and you can try to find it if you want, but nowhere on that page does it tell you to type tvservice -d [filename]
.

So how is it helpful, again...?

 

The most help I got on the forums was "type tvservice -d". No one told me I had to specify a file. I only realized it after a little reading, and applying what miniscule unix experience I have already. Had I seen it a month ago I'd have been like "What? It doesn't even work." Even now, I've got it writing to a file, but I've no idea how to parse or read the file. No help on that, either. If that's the best that can be done now, I'm just gonna put this thing away for a while. Thanks for the help anyway.



#11 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 17262

Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:00 PM

Yeah, I guess when you live in a nice area where there's a best buy and a radio shack and another hardware store around the block. Funny, but turns out there are some places on earth that aren't like that either. I just don't like the "$35 computer" thing, when you know it costs more than $35 to use this thing.
I also have the USB cables (at least 2) to power the thing. I don't have a smartphone, just the free (or almost free) cellphone the phone company gave me. Not everyone will have those! But many will, so why charge them extra for something they already have? I also have a MicroSD card (three, but I lost one and gave one away). I got them each for less than $10. That's just happenstance though, most people won't have them. I don't have a collection of geeky technology sitting around my desk, so the fact that I had a MicroSD card is a coincidence.

The computer part costs $35, and they are trying to get it cheaper still.
That doesn't mean it won't cost more to use the device.

Total cost to program with the Raspberry Pi:
$35 - The Pi itself
$10 - The cables
$10 - The MicroSD card
$0 - The case isn't actually needed
$350 - A monitor
$700 - A computer to code on
Reoccurring $40 monthly internet fee to access the documentation

Should they ship all this with a Raspberry Pi? No.

If their descriptions and stated goals are too enthusiastic, that's just a very small company of people who are very passionate.

Ideally, when they start having third would countries using this device, the schools will have a computer and a monitor and cables set up, and the kids will each individually only have the Pi and the MicroSD card. Hopefully, when they reach that point, the Pi and the MicroSD cards will together cost $12 or so, and will be purchased en-bulk by their government, just like India was planning on doing with the OLPC, before the OLPC was more expensive then predicted and India decided to research making $10 computers to hook up to school monitors.

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#12 markr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1653

Posted 29 December 2012 - 05:23 PM

I think the main problem is that the media frenzy surrouding the Pi has resulted in some expectations in some parts of the community, which vastly exceeded anything the Pi foundation ever promised or even suggested.

 

Yes, many people need to buy additional bits - especially PSUs and leads - to use their Pi.

 

As far as $700 for "a computer to code on" - this is absolutely false - the Pi was MEANT to be a self-hosting system. If you need to cross-compile to it, then you're Doing It Wrong. That was never the intention (and it's certainly not how I use mine!)



#13 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 19010

Posted 30 December 2012 - 04:12 AM

I think the main problem is that the media frenzy surrouding the Pi has resulted in some expectations in some parts of the community, which vastly exceeded anything the Pi foundation ever promised or even suggested.
That's what I think whenever I see the posts "Raspberry Pi is teh aw3s0m3". Or when I look at the frequent Slashdot articles on it, which are very similar.

The Foundation as always been pretty clear about what they want: A cheap SoC that anyone can use -- which people tend to notice -- and materials focused around education and the Python programming language and tools like PyGame --- but that second part people tend to overlook.

The device can do more, certainly. And people have done quite a lot with it.

It is a cool little device, no question about that. But relative to what most people have available it is slow and clunky.

The Foundation wanted people to do cool stuff with it, but that is beyond their initial goals.

If you have a computer system and you can install PyGame on it... well then, you've got it and that's it. That's all the device was designed for.
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#14 Shaquil   Members   -  Reputation: 815

Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:18 AM

That's what I think whenever I see the posts "Raspberry Pi is teh aw3s0m3". Or when I look at the frequent Slashdot articles on it, which are very similar.


The Foundation as always been pretty clear about what they want: A cheap SoC that anyone can use -- which people tend to notice -- and materials focused around education and the Python programming language and tools like PyGame --- but that second part people tend to overlook.

The device can do more, certainly. And people have done quite a lot with it.

It is a cool little device, no question about that. But relative to what most people have available it is slow and clunky.

The Foundation wanted people to do cool stuff with it, but that is beyond their initial goals.

If you have a computer system and you can install PyGame on it... well then, you've got it and that's it. That's all the device was designed for.

 

No, the worst thing is that not a single person who has posted in this topic can seem to exactly agree on what the hell the Pi is for. You're right that the media has been playing things up in a different direction than what the foundation first wanted, but let's be honest: The foundation is eating it up. Like I said before, just look at their blog. For the most part, it's just hobbyist projects that are in no way beneficial to someone who doesn't know Linux, Python, or how to work with hardware. There are some things that are slightly beginner friendly, but then that's completely offset by posts like this, where they point out projects being done by grown men who admittedly have years of experience working with hardware. It plays right into that "It's a $35 computer you can do anything with!" idea. I just don't know what they're trying to do. I'm sure there's an appropriate place for them to point out stuff like that, but why the main site that everyone goes to? What is the message supposed to be?


Edited by Shaquil, 30 December 2012 - 08:19 AM.


#15 Madhed   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2513

Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:37 AM

The Pi is what it is... It never claimed to be more.

 

Originally the Raspberry was designed as an educational tool. To enable classes in poorer countries to get a bunch of cheap computers to teach their students. Then later the geek/nerd crowd jumped on it and hyped it up like it was... t3h l33test sh!t evar!!1

 

This is also the reason for the shipping delays. They were just not prepared for the amount of orders.

 

I really don't see the problem here. If it didn't meet your expectations you hve only yourself to blame.



#16 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3539

Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:48 AM

Your complaints don't make sense. Your post just reads like someone who went into Home Depot and bought a ton of wood, then complains that no one has told you what the wood was for. smile.png

The PI is not supposed to be "FOR" anything. It's a system on a chip, and left at that. What it's "FOR" is up to you. You have 100% freedom. If it were anything more than a system on a chip, it would be useless for it's intended purpose.

It's a system that anyone with the relevant skills can take and transform into another device without having to design their own chipset and OS.

#17 SymLinked   Members   -  Reputation: 824

Posted 30 December 2012 - 09:26 AM

I'm a kid, I'm new to Linux, I'm new to working with hardware, and using the Pi thus far has been a complete pain.

 

To start with, Linux isn't easy when you're new to it. The Pi isn't making it easier, either. No one said it was going to be easy.

 

I got what I expected for $70. Bought one unit in August and played around with OpenCV and sensors/motors but it got difficult for me as I'm not used to working with anything else than Visual Studio/Eclipse. Was busy with other projects and so I lost interest a little bit and just figured I'd slap XMBC on it. Worth every penny anyway, it's $70 for crying out loud. The possibilities are there, definatly.

Will buy another one to experiment with when I get the spare time.



#18 superman3275   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2045

Posted 30 December 2012 - 11:14 AM

That's what I think whenever I see the posts "Raspberry Pi is teh aw3s0m3". Or when I look at the frequent Slashdot articles on it, which are very similar.


The Foundation as always been pretty clear about what they want: A cheap SoC that anyone can use -- which people tend to notice -- and materials focused around education and the Python programming language and tools like PyGame --- but that second part people tend to overlook.

The device can do more, certainly. And people have done quite a lot with it.

It is a cool little device, no question about that. But relative to what most people have available it is slow and clunky.

The Foundation wanted people to do cool stuff with it, but that is beyond their initial goals.

If you have a computer system and you can install PyGame on it... well then, you've got it and that's it. That's all the device was designed for.

 

No, the worst thing is that not a single person who has posted in this topic can seem to exactly agree on what the hell the Pi is for. You're right that the media has been playing things up in a different direction than what the foundation first wanted, but let's be honest: The foundation is eating it up. Like I said before, just look at their blog. For the most part, it's just hobbyist projects that are in no way beneficial to someone who doesn't know Linux, Python, or how to work with hardware. There are some things that are slightly beginner friendly, but then that's completely offset by posts like this, where they point out projects being done by grown men who admittedly have years of experience working with hardware. It plays right into that "It's a $35 computer you can do anything with!" idea. I just don't know what they're trying to do. I'm sure there's an appropriate place for them to point out stuff like that, but why the main site that everyone goes to? What is the message supposed to be?

I don't see the problem here. They have a blog where they post cool projects that people have done with the rasberry pi. Did they every say they would have tutorials on the blog? What did you expect


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#19 Shaquil   Members   -  Reputation: 815

Posted 30 December 2012 - 12:11 PM

Your complaints don't make sense. Your post just reads like someone who went into Home Depot and bought a ton of wood, then complains that no one has told you what the wood was for. smile.png

The PI is not supposed to be "FOR" anything. It's a system on a chip, and left at that. What it's "FOR" is up to you. You have 100% freedom. If it were anything more than a system on a chip, it would be useless for it's intended purpose.

It's a system that anyone with the relevant skills can take and transform into another device without having to design their own chipset and OS.

 

I'll just repost this for emphasis. From the FAQ and User Guide.

 

From the FAQ: "We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming." From the Raspberry Pi User Guide: "A big kick up the backside came a few years ago, when we were moving quite slowly on the Raspberry Pi project. ... I was talking to a neighbour's nephew about the subjects he was taking for his GCSE. ... computer games were a passion for him, but his schooling had skirted around any programming. This is the sort of situation I want to see the back of, where potential enthusiasm is squandered to no purpose."

 

I'm sorry, but it is FOR something. There's actually a large, growing thread in the forums about this very issue. It seems I'm not the only one: http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=25501

 

I'd love to have a true discussion about this, but there's nothing more boring than when someone tries to downplay my opinion or right to speak by saying that "You're not makin no sense! What you talkin bout!?" I'm done here. At least we agree on one thing: I was wrong about the Pi, its usefulness as a learning tool, and certainly its community of users.



#20 Recantha2   Members   -  Reputation: 106

Posted 30 December 2012 - 01:39 PM

I believe someone on the RPi forum said it succinctly:

"It does exactly what it says on the tin. It runs Linux or RISC OS. You can program it. You can learn how right from the lowest level. What you can't do is jump in the deep end and magically swim. You need guidance, from parents or teachers or scout leaders or books or the net. If you throw a kid in the pool you'll have drowned kids. If you let them learn with guidance you may get an Olympic swimmer. The educational material will be coming."

 

Now, of course, this "educational material" is a bit of a mythical beast at the moment, and in my opinion a lot of info has been too long coming.

 

The important questions I have for Shaquil are:

What do you want to do with the Pi? How much do you know so far? Where are you stuck?

 

If you could let us know what you're looking for, in terms of help, I know of several people from the meetup I go to who would be glad to help.

 

--

Mike






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