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I happened to catch an interview with the designer on PBS the other night. The Pi was designed by a Cambridge University professor and is the size of a credit card. It does everything a basic pc can do, connects to the internet and costs $25 each. It can be used about anywhere a pc can be used and maybe more places because of its size and low cost.

Techies are reportedly building and planning myriad tools with multiple PI's and the ideas are flowing in from around the world.

At $25 per, schools could have computers for each student, poorer countries can connect citizens to the internet. Industry is ordering them for multiple applications including server groups.

Professor Eben Upton, the inventor, modeled the price and manufacturing assuming that 10,000 units might be sold in his lifetime. However, on the first day of availability, 100,000 units were purchased, causing severe backlogs. As manufacturing is geared up, the orders continue to flow in as more and more people get hungry for a slice of Raspberry Pi.

Dan
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PBS: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/21/tech/innovation/raspberry-pi-c...

30+ Cool Ideas for your Raspberry PI Project: http://pingbin.com/2012/12/30-cool-ideas-raspberry-pi-projec...
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OK - here's a science fair experiment for adults (or 10 year olds):

Take something like this as the front end of your gadget (probably need the USB version):
http://www.ultimarc.com/ipac1.html


Now consider that you can program text "into" each of the terminals on the keyboard emulator. Any sort of switch you can think of can connect a terminal to ground. These switches can be as obvious as a wall switch or could be thermostat closings, push buttons, rotary switches, photo-electric cells, magnetic switches - you name it.

The text will appear to the PC as if you typed the line. You now tell the PC how to respond to each line of text (could be a single character, but some of this sort of device can send a whole paragraph - which could be useful in some application).

Given some fairly simple programing, and some interfacing on the output side (or across a network), you can generate a different response to each switch closing (turn up heat, call the cops, ring a bell, output some text to a remote computer screen - or whatever).

Sure, we associate PC's with the thing on our desk or nowadays with a smartphone, but originally (early 1970's) these chips were developed for machine control applications and all we're doing is applying them with a bit of imagination. Bearing that in mind, there's no reason why we can't use them to control whatever we want (rather than have them control us).

Jeff
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Along these lines, the Arduino project has been alive and well for a while now:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arduino

Arduino is an open-source spec for creating hardware interfaces between computers and other things. I was playing around with robotics with an eye to creating a guitar playing arm from a printer. Never did get a prototype going.
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Heh...a minimal computer, running an oddball OS, that connects to a TV?

Sounds like a CoCo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRS-80_Color_Computer

Steve
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Raspberry Pi is a really nice find.......even if the chips are possibly Intel's or Arm's both companies are left with problems longer term.....

making a lot of stuff for less money is just that.....mr. softie is left completely out of the picture......ouch.....

even aapl will face extinction sooner rather than later if these things truly shift in the first world......which I imagine they will......or are shifting.....

Dave
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even aapl will face extinction sooner rather than later if these things truly shift in the first world......which I imagine they will......or are shifting.....

In the mid 80s, the Radio Shack CoCo cost about $100. The Tandy 1000, an MSDOS machine with the Deskmate productivity software bundle was $1000.

The MSDOS machines conquered the world, while the CoCo died in 1990.

Steve
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Most people are too lazy or dumb to deal with anything thats not totally user friendly. No fear for Apple in the near future.

BB
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Most people are too lazy or dumb to deal with anything thats not totally user friendly. No fear for Apple in the near future.

I sure would like to have a lightweight computer with a touchscreen, a keyboard, front & back facing cameras, a built-in microphone, terrific built-in speakers, plus BlueTooth, WiFi & Air Card - all in a device that could withstand a drop from 10 feet onto hard concrete without sustaining any damage.

I've never understood why computer manufacturers can't put a handle or a hook/loop on computers so they can be hung on a peg or slung over one's shoulder. Even a toggle loop for a strap would be a welcome improvement.

Apple devices are pretty to look at - but I don't think they're all that user-friendly. With all those slick surfaces and smooth lines, they just beg to be dropped so they can crack and break.

;-)
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I've never understood why computer manufacturers can't put a handle...

My first computer, the 30-lb. "portable" device I took with me to law school, was a KayPro II. Even it had a handle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaypro

http://www.classiccmp.org/dunfield/kaypro/h/k2frontl.jpg

http://www.flickr.com/photos/47936517@N05/5632145141/

Even cavemen had enough sense to make sure the earliest tools, such as clubs and axes, each had a handle.

I must be the only person in the world who considers a computer a tool - rather than an object d'art.

;-)
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My first computer, the 30-lb. "portable" device I took with me to law school, was a KayPro II. Even it had a handle.


My family had one, too. It was my first computer. I played Ladder, Catchum, Adventure, and Moonlander. And I programmed in Basic.
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<I've never understood why computer manufacturers can't put a handle or a hook/loop on computers so they can be hung on a peg or slung over one's shoulder. Even a toggle loop for a strap would be a welcome improvement.

Apple devices are pretty to look at - but I don't think they're all that user-friendly. With all those slick surfaces and smooth lines, they just beg to be dropped so they can crack and break.>

I agree, which is why I always buy the best case available for my devices as soon as I get them, they do exist. Along with a clear screen protection sheet. I still have my first generation ipod touch and its like new. Only problem is the OS can't be updated and the app I used most from Audible.com for audiobooks was recently updated to the point that I can't use it on my 5 year old device anymore. Now its only good for music, solitaire and a bit of browsing with WiFi. Planned obsolescence is inevitable for all brands it seems, it happens sooner or later

BB
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I still have my first generation ipod touch and its like new.

How's the battery doing?
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Most people are too lazy or dumb to deal with anything thats not totally user friendly. No fear for Apple in the near future.

BB


first Steve,

I too remember the radio shack computer and the TI and the compaq......but those you generally had to program your self......MSDOS was a break through in comparison.....by only a little bit....but that little bit mattered to spread sheets and word processing.....along with the apps movement of the late 1980s and 1990s......

the main thing was the PC architecture came with increasing amounts of power and speed....so they beat the competition while offering similar interfaces from year to year.......

BB....what you are missing is that most of the power and speed will transfer to the smaller lower powered I assume.....NEW brands of computers.......that the year to year interfaces will be more than good enough for what you are terming the dumb......

...and when we look back in less than ten years these small mother boards with the cheaper chips will be more than plenty powerful....they may in fact be even more reliable.......

Intel, AMD, ARMH and Aapl will all have their place at the table.....but for less and less money.....

Dave
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In keeping with Meta's prohibition against discussing religion, I am going to admit to being agnostic in reference to the following discussion (and regularly participate in multiple versions of the following rituals simultaneously):

I've been "playing" with microcomputers since they had toggles on the front and started selling them when state of the are was a CP/M system running on an S-100 bus box. I've seen laptops invented in the early 1980's, only to disappear when the "luggable" IBM clones hit the market (Kaypro's, Compaq's, etc.) and then be re-invented a number of years later (funny that the battery powered portable printer didn't come back - only one I know of in that class right now is the Pentax sold by Brother). We sold TurboDos based multiprocess or systems in 1982 which could be interpreted today as a "network in a box" (though networks weren't around or blade servers (though that seems to be another re-discovery a few years ago). I saw the mouse invented (the first one I saw was on a Teletype CRT terminal in 1979), but not become commonly used until the Apple Lisa, Starnet merge with Ethernet to end up as 10Base-T. The "reverse video" (black letters on a white background) screen be "borrowed" by Apple from Xerox.

Apple has become successful in charging a premium for well designed and implemented hardware with an accompanying software suite (based on an operating system acquired from their "Next" acquisition to replace the mess that they had ended up with buy building layer upon layer of crap on their operating system) that used the KISS method to make it friendly to even liberal arts majors :-).

Microsoft took a different tack by providing software packages which would run on a wide variety of hardware which kept getting cheaper. Their software didn't generally start as the best, but their marketing ability took up the slack and eventually their software products generally became better than adequate and in many cases as good (or even better than) most competitors.

Both of the above solutions require (or at least most people buy) a significant investment in additional application software.

There is another alternative that most people have heard of, but I suspect few have tried - Linux. I would encourage any who have a PC and are frightened to download a free copy of Mint Linux with the Cinnamon desktop and burn it onto a DVD (choice of 32bit or 64bit http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php ). Also download the documentation. Boot from the DVD and play with the system (as long as you don't install, everything should be the same when you remove the DVD and reboot your system. You will find that it comes with a pretty complete software suite (including "Libre" a Microsoft Office compatible suite, GIMP - a graphics package similar to Adobe Photoshop, Firefox web browser, Thunderbird email, etc., etc.). There are thousands of other compatible free commercial level other software packages which can be downloaded as well if you like. So this is yet another alternative - a modern "bullet-proof" operating system with a massive quantity of (legally) free software which will run on the least expensive hardware you can find (there are other Linux distribution which will run on PC's that even the most frugal here would have chucked out long ago, but I chose Mint as the one which would feel most comfortable - intuitive to - owners of Windows and Mac boxes even though it requires a bit more horsepower than a 386 to run).

Anyhow, the reason I brought this up in the first place is that you are likely to find a Linux port to the Raspberry Pi. Fool around with it on a PC and then decide if you could live with a little programmable gem like this "toy".

As far as Notehound's dream machine - everything is easily doable today, but being able to survive a 10 foot drop is going to increase the weight. I would rather say that the machine should be able to survive a drop that is comfortable for you to fall carrying it :-)

When you realize that cell phones and e-readers (maybe even wrist watches) can run Linux (and every Apple product seems to be Next Unix based - a very similar operating system to Linux - history unimportant here), this device actually is pretty large.

Jeff
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I too remember the radio shack computer and the TI and the compaq......but those you generally had to program your self......

Here is a list of the software that was available for the CoCo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_software_for_the_TRS-80...

Many were games on ROM packs that plugged into the side of the computer. Some were apps, like Scripsit (word processor) and Spectaculator (spreadsheet), where the program was on a ROM pack and data was saved on a cassette tape. You could access Compuserve, when it was text only, with a CoCo. If you added some memory and a floppy drive, you could run Deskmate, with a mouse driven GUI under OS9

Here are some screen shots for Deskmate for the last generation of CoCo

http://www.lesswaiting.com/coco-deskmate.shtml

RS also had a line of printers that supported the CoCo's serial interface, as well as parallel, including a very nice Diablo built 132 column daisy wheel that I had connected to my CoCo with OS-9 Deskmate. Excellent print quality with a carbon ribbon, if a bit pokey.

The CoCo filled my word processing needs so well, I didn't feel the need to get an MSDOS machine until 95, when I wanted to use AOL. By that time, RS had not only killed the CoCo, they had completely withdrawn as a computer hardware and software producer.

Steve
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coleco_Adam

Steve,

a blast from the past....Coleco's Adam......

This was a Connecticut company....they put out the cabbage patch kids.....etc.....

Dave
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Anyhow, the reason I brought this up in the first place is that you are likely to find a Linux port to the Raspberry Pi.

In fact, they recommend you buy (alongside the Raspberry Pi, but at extra cost) an SD card with pre-configured Debian Linux on it.

However any ARM-processor OS probably ought to work.

(I wonder if there's going to be an Android OS for it.)

They also sell a power supply, however it's a microUSB power connector and quite a lot of devices including most cell phones use that so they are quite common and you probably already have at least two.
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(I wonder if there's going to be an Android OS for it.)

They are ahead of me. Android 2.3 is already available.
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