Whilst trying to decide on what to write about today I noticed a little piece on the Raspberry Pi on the BBC news site. This is rather relevant to me as yesterday I received my replacement RPi (the first one seemed to have some issues with its HDMI port).2012-12-21 01.12.09

Columbia_Emporia_Post00It’s now setup in my living room running Raspbmc and sharing content over my network. It’s basically replacing my old media centre entirely and for a fraction of the power requirements.

As many of you will know, my old media centre was called Rapture. This new, lighter weight one has been dubbed “Columbia”.

The support for the little device is excellent and I have no doubt that this wouldn’t have been possible if it had remained a niche device. 10,000 units was the expected number of units for the year – actually there’s now 750,000 out there, apparently.

As it stands though they’re mostly in the hands of enthusiasts like myself rather than school children. The plan is to make a concerted effort to target education more, as per the project’s original intentions.

That said I feel that having an army of enthusiasts out there tinkering with them is brilliant. With so many in use they can really be thoroughly tested and understood allowing for a huge support network and a vast resource of knowledge to be created.

There’s plenty of naysayers, particularly those who point out (correctly) that one can learn to code on anything. I don’t think they really consider how children think or behave in doing so.

When I hold my RPi I find myself marvelling at how that little card can do so much. Sure, it can’t do some of the things my desktop PC can do, but this little thing could run from a few AA batteries and act as a powerful CPU for all sorts of cool projects. It also doesn’t have all the distractions of a full PC – I couldn’t play, say, Spec Ops: The Line, on it even if I wanted to!

A large part of teaching is getting the right attitude from students and a desktop PC just doesn’t seem like the way to go. Teaching them to code something that could run on their phone does, but that’s tricky due to the expense and current fragility of smartphones.

A Raspberry Pi on the other hand costs less than £30 and can be thoroughly tinkered with. If the OS gets buggered just reflash the SD card. Done!

Better still one could have a load of SD cards to do different things, pop them into the device and show children how easily the same hardware can be transformed and adapted.

Well I think that’s godsdamned cool.

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