Raspberry Pi: First Impressions

Raspberry pi

After months of waiting, after going through buyer’s remorse, then nonchalance, I received my Raspberry Pi today. My usual response to new hardware is one of automatic excitement. It’s excitement that comes from the amygdala, bypassing the neocortex altogether. So I was surprised to hear myself mumbling “meh”.

I am spoiled utterly by Apple, where you are sensuously connected to your purchase through sublime packaging that is an experience as seamless as it’s possible to have. I had to consider that I had spent 1/16th what I would on an Apple product, but in reality, product experience is seldom directly connected to wallet shock. Sure, if the experience is horrible, one is tempted to look at the price as further evidence of decision failure, but that tends to happen less and less nowadays. I’ll shut up about Apple in a minute, but it never happens with Apple product. 

Raspberry Pi is a throwback to the Tandy era. It should strike me square in the amygdala, given how long I’ve been involved with computers, but it fails, because it isn’t the 1970s and this is pretending to be relevant now. 

It’s not that it’s a bunch of chips and connectors on an open board that’s the problem. I’ve got a drawer full of old ISA cards, SCSI interfaces, Matrox graphics cards, PDS interfaces and the like, so I can live with that. It’s just so…unusable.

Here’s what I need before I can even use this device:

1. A USB power supply. (I don’t even know what one of those is actually)

2. An HDMI cable (All of mine are in use, but I could spare one I suppose)

3. A USB keyboard (my Apple ones probably won’t do the job, so I’ll have to order a cheap PC keyboard)

4. An SD card, not a generic one.

5. A USB mouse. (Not a problem, I have one or two lying around)

6. A monitor. (I have one, but it’s hooked up to a real computer)

7. An Ethernet cable to the router, which sits miles away from where I want to use the device 

8. And of course, the piece de resistance – a real computer which is used to prepare the unprepared, uninitialised, unadorned Raspberry Pi board.

I will then have to prepare the SD card with one of several brands of Linux and I can then plug it in.

Given that I already have a computer, which can run Linux virtualised, and given that I’m probably going to have to spend well over a hundred quid to make this thing useful, what exactly is the point of this?

How Do I Prevent Image Capture from Opening?

Image Capture, an otherwise useful utility for scanning, is not something I want to have starting up every time I connect my iPad. So given that it’s a Sunday, I decided to do something about it.

Obviously, my first port of call is no longer my wits or my guile, but Google and it’s always interesting to see which suggestions that now venerable tool throws up before I complete my entire search term.

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Facebook obviously has bigger problems on their hands than their IPO it seems, look at the company they appear to be keeping.

Back to Image Capture, it seems this is all one has to do:

First, click the little up arrow / triangle icon at the bottom left of the window.

Screen Shot 2012 06 17 at 12 36 06

Then click on the drop down.

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And finally, set it to start-up silence. 

Screen Shot 2012 06 17 at 12 36 35

So is there anybody who likes the Facebook Timeline?

Freemium is Not New

Mayor launches tube busking contest

When buskers play their music in the London Underground, they don’t expect everyone within earshot to give them money. Some people offer a paltry token or two. Others are intensely moved because that piece of music means something to them and there is something about the way that it is being played that resonates with them. These people are what you might nowadays refer to somewhat disparagingly as “whales”. What you don’t have is some lawyer going after everyone in ear shot to try and extort a few thousands pounds out of them, but that’s another story. The fact remains that the market for the busker is open and available. They occupy their spot, and they get paid to do what they love and to better their craft. (Let’s face it, much if it will never qualify as art and most of it is crap.)

Artists now freely upload their music to YouTube and reap the benefit of an even larger audience. Some of that audience, like myself, will seek out their work and buy it. Witness some of the great Canadian guitarists of today, like Antoine Dufour for example. I’ve bought several of his albums from iTunes without hesitation, because I’ve watched his YouTube videos entranced. I’m his whale. Had he not made his music freely available, I’d never, and I mean never have bought his music and would have been poorer for it. Fair trade.

We live in a world of continuous partial attention. So the same trick is not as easy to pull with games, but I really would like to see the faces of people who make free games. I want to know why they do what they do. I’m not interested in those who turn it into a science and I’m not interested in cow clickers, though I was momentarily suckered by the “double your grind speed” mechanic in Jetpack Joyride for a paltry 69p. Not every game needs the artist on the cover, just as I neither know, nor care what Robert Plant looks like to appreciate Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, one of the greatest songs ever made.

Sooner or later, we are going to realise that there is a skill to making video games that is evidence directly in the gameplay and results in an experience that is shared and valued by many people, consistently, and that is where the value truly lies. Such people should be valued. Those people should never need to busk, nor should they be asked to. Those people should, like Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin, be able to command a price, never release a single and be able to command universal respect.

Freemium is not new, and I do wish people wouldn’t bang on about it as if it was some revolution. All that’s happened is that a market exists that is large enough to support it. We never had the dynamics to support the model and when the dynamics change, new models will also spring up. It’s not like the people at the top are stupid. You can’t turn around huge organisations that are responsible for the livelihoods of thousands of people on a sixpence without incurring massive suffering, pain and upheaval.

Things are changing. People I know and respect are working really, bloody hard and do understand the dynamics. It’s just that they’re not going to lead their staff into a chasm that doesn’t suit the business and might in fact kill it. Steering a supertanker takes time, but you can bet that supertankers do get steered and are capable of withstanding much heavier seas than tug boats.