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Monday, December 10, 2012

A Slice of Raspberry Pi

Did you attend Autodesk University or watch the keynote speech?  Spoiler alert: it was spoiled by a 12 year old named Schuyler St. Leger, a young man who got his first computer at 4 years old and spoke about being a designer and a maker.  It was quite profound and mesmerizing watching him speak.  After all, this is the future generation that grew up surrounding by electronic devices and are almost Borg-like in their daily lives.

So, while everyone else was sitting there in a room with 8,000 people, with Schulyer up on the stage, I was searching the web to find where I could purchase a Raspberry Pi.  Hint, in the US, it's Newark Electronics (link).  I ended up spending $68 for everything I needed.

(Photo: Here's my 4 year old, JR, playing with his new computer)

Why did I buy a Raspberry Pi?  Honestly, I have no idea.  But darn it, I want my child up on that stage one year soon.  After all, JR stole my iTouch at a year and a half old and had his own hand me down iPad at 2 1/2. I won an iPad 2 in an office contest last year, so he got that at just shy of 4 years old.

On Saturday, I installed the OS software and had JR playing games about an hour later.  I semi-learned a new operating system in a few hours, tried to download a typing tutor game and some other stuff and one of them killed the system when I tried to restart.  Reinstalling the Raspian OS is much faster the 2nd time.  Took about 3 minutes to get it all started and wait for everything to be on the SD card.  Figuring out Aptitude to install apps was a little painful, but at least I'm a novice expert on Linux.  I still have no idea what Sudo means, but at least I'm starting to remember the commands.  Sudo passwd is the way to install a password for the root system in case you're curious.

We'll see what happens, but at least now, my son has a very inexpensive computer that he can crap up however he likes and it's only a few minutes to install a fresh operating system.  I hope once he learns to read, he'll be able to program games and such.

This exercise should be fun and mentally painful all at the same time.  At least it seems easier than learning AutoCAD.  Hopefully, all of this will help as I start to figure out how to make iPad apps and Revit plugins.  The possibilities of future wasted time are endless. Final note: after I wrote this, a brand new article came out, http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/10/opinion/rushkoff-code-writing/ . Perfect ending to this story.

Here's a bunch of tips and timesavers if you're thinking of doing this yourself.  Don't bother reading this part if you're not Ubergeeky and won't be getting this soon.

To save you time, if you're going to do this on your own. You'll need the motherboard, an optional case, Micro Usb power supply (if you don't already have 20 of them), an HDMI cable and a monitor or TV with an HDMI input (there is a video output from the motherboard so you can just use a stereo cable to that device). Also, you'll need a usb keyboard and mouse if you don't have extras lying around.  I recommend getting a wireless keyboard and mouse.

Lastly, you'll need an SD card.  I just got a 16 GB superfast one for $18, since my 4GB card is old and slow.

Here are instructions on installing the software and more information:

For software games and other stuff, make sure you download armhf files based on the processor that comes with Pi.
There's a program called Aptitude that helps install programs.  Note that C-T means Control+T and that's how you get to the commands.

Quick Start Guide: http://www.raspberrypi.org/quick-start-guide
Download the core software: http://downloads.raspberrypi.org/download.php?file=/images/raspbian/2012-10-28-wheezy-raspbian/2012-10-28-wheezy-raspbian.zip
You'll want what's called Rasbian, which is Debian for Rasberry.  Wheezy is the version you want. More info here: http://www.linuxsystems.it/2012/06/raspbian-wheezy-armhf-raspberry-pi-minimal-image/

From terminal here are some helpful tips:
Beginners guide: http://elinux.org/RPi_Beginners
Install updates: $ sudo apt-get updates and http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=17788 for details
Install chrome:  sudo apt-get install chromium-browser 
  from: http://raspberrypi.stackexchange.com/questions/1556/why-wont-flash-player-on-chromium-work
For Flash: $ sudo apt-get install gnash
Command for install Deb files is: sudo dpkg -i package_file.deb
Programs are stored in /usr/bin
Your documents are stored in /home/pi/Documents (or Downloads)
Make sure you overclock the motherboard when you run the raspi-config program at the start.
Make sure to set the keyboard for US (under other from the config program).



Enclosure Type:PCB Box; Enclosure Material:Plastic; Body Color:Red; External Height - Imperial:2.52"; External Height - Metric:64mm;


Cable Assembly Type:HDMI; Cable Length - Imperial:16.4ft; Cable Length - Metric:5m; Connector Type A:HDMI Plug; Connector Type B:HDMI Plug;


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Odyssey of the Mind December 10, 2012 at 12:35 PM  

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