Wednesday, December 12, 2012

my Raspberry Pi

on a whim, I plunked down $35 for a Raspberry Pi lightweight computer. I have put off blogging about it because I have done very little compared to what I see being done. this used to make me feel guilty but I realize now that for everyone who you see doing something amazing with robots or Arduino or 3D vision sensors and Roombas, there are probably 10 people like me who use it for piracy and as an SSH server and whatnot.

so, here is what I'm doing with it:

I was inspired to write this when I read that the Raspberry Pi Foundation had finalized arrangements to move production of the device from China to the UK where they are based. as a not-very-patriotic left-wing American I don't know why this moves me but it does. the creators have fulfilled their own dreams by getting the Pi produced at the same price on British soil as its previous Chinese manufacture, creating 30 British jobs in the process, and came full circle to the BBC Micro computers which were designed and built in Britain and which taught them programming and hardware hacking, and inspired them to create this project. why would a government-controlled company design, manufacture and market its own computer? that seems to make no sense, but it inspired the three core Raspberry Pi founders to build this thing that has been an amazing success, has thousands of British students competing to build cool things, and has brought 30 jobs to Wales… what could make more sense than that? writ large, there are thousands more stories like this. I have nothing against Chinese manufacturing or the Chinese in general but I'm in awe that a $35 computer the size of an index card can be made in Western Europe without compromises for a price roughly equivalent to an iPhone 5 case. there's a cool article about the manufacturing process but in reality I'm mostly excited about the innovations people are coming up with on their Pis and the fact that a '70s government program has led to this flourishing of innovation. and I'm always excited to see my kids get into some sort of nerdy thing they can do with me. 

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