"Beginners" put off...


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by pygmy_giant » Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:37 pm
There is a 3 year-old on youtube who can solve a 3x3 rubiks cube in 114 seconds.
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by joan » Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:41 pm
Yoof today. My best time is just under 4 minutes.
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by pygmy_giant » Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:42 pm
the ones with a hole are a bugger

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by bgirardot » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:03 am
Jim JKla wrote:It appears our friend ****** is just not up to it and wants to justify an inate inability by blaming the tools available. I sugest jamesh you leave him to plat fog it's clear it's going to be a more intrinsically satisfying pastime.


Cutting someone down really does not help in any way.

Most people are trying their best and coming at this from a very wide variety of backgrounds, age groups, and ability levels. As far as I know everyone who is earnest is welcome and encouraged.

People offering feedback in a thread about the difficulties of being a beginner do not need to be ridiculed.
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by pygmy_giant » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:06 am
Anyone who has tried programming and denies ever having wanted to dash their brains out on the desk is a liar.
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by Nipper » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:26 am
Using Amiga Basic on a Commodore 64 didn't cause headbanging
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by pygmy_giant » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:28 am
Perhaps I've got the wrong hobby.
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by rurwin » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:44 am
Nipper wrote:Using Amiga Basic on a Commodore 64 didn't cause headbanging


That's because you came to it slowly and steadily, learning one thing after another. Becoming an expert at anything in life requires the same commitment: 10,000 hours. There are no short-cuts.
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by pygmy_giant » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:54 am
Also the Pi is a victim of its own flexability with the most popular OS (Linux) being modular consisting of 1000s and 1000s of files with 1000s of settings which provides much greater scope for disaster alongside its flexability - I found that a culture shock.

Single OS machines like the Amiga require almost no configuration and in those days the hardware choice was limited and did not require further configuration and there was far less likelihood of incompatibility. The same is true of cross platform software and and languages.

As the Pi is by nature a Frankenstein's monster I am not sure that those possibilities for disaster can ever be eliminated - unless perhaps you switch to RISC OS which has a nice BASIC language built in but also has its own unique peculiarities and problems.
Last edited by pygmy_giant on Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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by Jim JKla » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:58 am
I would hope it would encourage them to go away and think before they suggest something is harder than platting fog particularly when it's not.

It may be difficult and require study but the suggestion that it's impossible (and that is implied by the "plat fog" statement) is patently an attempt to say we need to make this easy.

I don't cut down those that want answers.

I go out of my way to write Noob oriented guides (they are on the wiki)

The post that started it smacks of

"This is too hard for me so to justify my inability to do the work/study I must get others to concede it is too hard for everyone"

If that attitude was

"Help I am having trouble understanding this and it appears to be more difficult than I expected"

Then he would be deep into the ranks of people I have already helped.

I want him to see that the tin does not exist and therefore there are no instructions on it. We are being asked to shy away from the whole concept embodied in the RPi because it's not simple. At this time we are writing instructions to put with the box when the RPi goes to full blown Educational release. The last thing I personally need is an insistence that the bar has been set a little too high. Of course the bar is high if it was low everyone would trip over it.

The published philosophy behind the release of the model "B" as is was to prepare the way for the Educational release not to provide some out of the tin toy ready to play with.

If that is what was wanted then there is a need for him to find another product. The RPi is not easy if it was it would not have the potential it does have. I am saying we need to work to make the support better making the RPi simpler would be bottling out of the very task the foundation have set us. ;)
Noob is not derogatory the noob is just the lower end of the noob--geek spectrum being a noob is just your first step towards being an uber-geek ;)

If you find a solution please post it in the wiki the forum dies too quick
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by pygmy_giant » Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:03 am
I can see both sides - you've got to give things a chance and request/accept help, but equally if this is to be understood by eight year olds and administered by busy teachers, that needs to be made as painless as possible.
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by Jim JKla » Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:13 am
I am working on that, painless is my aim. I am sorry lowering the bar is not in my mindset. providing a step ladder to make the bar seem less daunting I would sugest as a better approach and the one I am taking. ;)
Noob is not derogatory the noob is just the lower end of the noob--geek spectrum being a noob is just your first step towards being an uber-geek ;)

If you find a solution please post it in the wiki the forum dies too quick
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by jamesh » Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:24 am
Nipper wrote:Using Amiga Basic on a Commodore 64 didn't cause headbanging


Try and remember back to the day - the day when you first got the machine - did you have any previous experience? What was the first few hours like with this completely unfamiliar machine? I'd suggest you also felt a bit lost then too. The difference is that the Amiga is a fantastically simple machine in comparison to the Raspi ,which is why its faster to learn that than the Raspi. But you still had to learn.

Of course, there are deficiencies in the documentation for the Raspi. They'll get sorted over time. So it should get easier, but just the added complexity of a Linux based device over the incredibly simple Amiga will mean there is more to learn. And that is a good thing. Modern OS's ARE COMPLICATED. Even Windows (once you start doing serious stuff on them). Being proficient at Amiga BASIC won't get you anywhere.
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by Nipper » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:47 am
I am not saying you should ditch the operating system for the people that are already comfortable with it. All I am arguing for is a place where youngsters can learn how a computer works in a language they understand. When you first started to learn mathematics, you first had to learn about numbers, it was a visual system of learning, learning to read and write you had to learn the alphabet first, also visual, it was only after learning the basics were you able to take the next steps, everything was a steady progression. Python assumes you are already past the first stages of a learning curve, a bit like giving a 3 year old a Bible to read, and, expecting that child to understand what is written down between the front and back covers. This is a hurdle Python and Pi has to overcome. Set up a new forum on here, specifically aimed at the teaching profession, and, get the teachers to voice their requirements, in an open, and, uncensored debate.
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by JoeD » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:49 am
jamesh wrote:
Of course, there are deficiencies in the documentation for the Raspi. They'll get sorted over time. .


So the PLAN is to put people off using the Pi then?

From what I've seen, there will be a lot of Pi's sitting in boxes not being used as the documentation IS NOT THERE to get started. The really basic stuff. The aims of the Pi people will not be fulfilled and kids will be PUT OFF cvomputing rather than the other way around.

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by rurwin » Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:10 am
Python assumes you are already past the first stages of a learning curve, a bit like giving a 3 year old a Bible to read, and, expecting that child to understand what is written down between the front and back covers.


I don't see that at all. What does BASIC have that Python does not? Exactly the same programs can be written in exactly the same way in Python as in BASIC.

Code: Select all
10 print "Hello World"
20 goto 10

Code: Select all
while True:
    print "Hello World"


Code: Select all
10 print "What is your name?";
20 input A$
30 print "Hello "; A$

Code: Select all
print "What is your name? ",
name = input()
print "Hello", name


Code: Select all
10 print "Think of a number between 1 and 10"
20 max = 10
30 min = 1
40 guess = int((max + min)/2
50 print "Is it "; guess;"?"
60 input a$
70 if a$ = "yes" then goto 1000
80 print "Is your number higher?"
90 input a$
100 if a$ = "yes" then min = guess
110 if a$ = "no" then max = guess
120 goto 40
1000 print "I got it!"

Code: Select all
print "Think of a number between 1 and 10"
max = 10
min = 1
gotit = "no"
while True
    guess = int((max + min)/2
    print "Is it", guess, "?"
    gotit = input()
    if gotit == "no":
       print "Is your number higher?"
       higher = input ()
       if higher = "yes":  min = guess
       if higher = "no": max = guess

print "I got it!"
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by cyrano » Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:12 am
Nipper wrote:I am not saying you should ditch the operating system for the people that are already comfortable with it. All I am arguing for is a place where youngsters can learn how a computer works in a language they understand.


You mean like... school? :lol:

When you first started to learn mathematics, you first had to learn about numbers, it was a visual system of learning, learning to read and write you had to learn the alphabet first, also visual, it was only after learning the basics were you able to take the next steps, everything was a steady progression. Python assumes you are already past the first stages of a learning curve, a bit like giving a 3 year old a Bible to read, and, expecting that child to understand what is written down between the front and back covers. This is a hurdle Python and Pi has to overcome. Set up a new forum on here, specifically aimed at the teaching profession, and, get the teachers to voice their requirements, in an open, and, uncensored debate.


Python is a well-established scripting language. I don't think Guido needs to do anything. It's just one of the many available tools. And a very good one. Dumbing it down to absolute beginners level would probably kill it.

Have a look Scratch. Seems that's more up your alley.

I wouldn't give a 3 year old a bible. To much violence and porn for a fairy tale.
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by jamesh » Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:16 am
Nipper wrote:I am not saying you should ditch the operating system for the people that are already comfortable with it. All I am arguing for is a place where youngsters can learn how a computer works in a language they understand. When you first started to learn mathematics, you first had to learn about numbers, it was a visual system of learning, learning to read and write you had to learn the alphabet first, also visual, it was only after learning the basics were you able to take the next steps, everything was a steady progression. Python assumes you are already past the first stages of a learning curve, a bit like giving a 3 year old a Bible to read, and, expecting that child to understand what is written down between the front and back covers. This is a hurdle Python and Pi has to overcome. Set up a new forum on here, specifically aimed at the teaching profession, and, get the teachers to voice their requirements, in an open, and, uncensored debate.


Python is about as simple as it gets for a textual programming language. It cannot get much simpler. There are many many beginners guides to Python on the net which can take you from very first principle, Remember Python is only supplied on the Pi, it wasn't written for it - its a multiplatform language used worldwide by many projects completely independently of the Foundation.

That place where youngsters can learn (python, or anything else) - there are already many of those too on the internet. They are just a google search away. Spend a little time, just like you had to do when you got your Amiga. Do some investigation. Don't expect everything handed to you on a plate. LEARN stuff by researching it - that's how the (computing) world works. After about 5s of Google, I came up with this http://wiki.python.org/moin/BeginnersGuide

TBH, I'm pretty much out of arguments on this one. Yes, there needs to be better documentation in some areas. It will get done. There will be lots more educational stuff done in 2013, as I've already said. It pretty much a matter of collating information that is already available, and getting it in to an easier to read form.
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by jamesh » Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:20 am
JoeD wrote:
jamesh wrote:
Of course, there are deficiencies in the documentation for the Raspi. They'll get sorted over time. .


So the PLAN is to put people off using the Pi then?

From what I've seen, there will be a lot of Pi's sitting in boxes not being used as the documentation IS NOT THERE to get started. The really basic stuff. The aims of the Pi people will not be fulfilled and kids will be PUT OFF cvomputing rather than the other way around.

JoeD's Dad.


Actually, all the documentation to get started is already available - here's a link to the basic quick start guide. http://www.raspberrypi.org/wp-content/u ... e-v1.2.pdf

Its on a link form the home page of the website
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by richardp » Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:40 am
Take steps backwards... when I was a Nipper phrase springs to mind...

There were ZX Spectrums and Commodore64's (There was no BBC machine where I grew up) - with that came many publications that printed the program listings for complete games! .. these games were often very rudimentary but people typed them in, just to see what it does for themselves. This to me was fun and as it happened, I learned something! (heaven forbid) The language of the day was Basic (Commodore and Sinclair) and the language was easy...
Code: Select all
10 print "Hello World"
20 goto 10

would get me excited as the text scrolled by with a really juvenile giggle. The main thing is that the BASIC was documented (the Sinclair manual was brilliant) and the rewards were instant without knowing what you had done, it just worked. The program started at the beginning and followed steps that were easy for anyone to understand. After that you progressed to Circle/line/pixel/colour and a deeper understanding of loops was needed to achieve better screen effects.

To make a long story not so long; the idea that you were programming was not the main focus, it was having fun! and getting a computer to do stuff. THAT is the bit that is missing on the Pi! ... the FUN for newcomers! Sure its fun for established programmers enjoying nostalgia, but my kids don't rate it as fun when you need to boot the system, wait .... login, startx (yeah I know, you can load X automatically), wait .... click scratch, wait. I don't need a Pi to run scratch.. OR Python for that matter; but what I do need is a system that 'Just Works' without the fuss of getting a masters degree in nuclear physics just to plug the thing in.

As James has stated several times that the documentation is coming soon; this is good progress - but until then, the Pi is NOT ANYWHERE NEAR the maturity that a Commodore64/ZX Spectrum was 30 years ago. Time will get it there, but keep in mind that Sinclar and C= could not release firmware updates after the release of the product. It just worked!


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by mikerr » Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:56 am
Nipper wrote:Using Amiga Basic on a Commodore 64 didn't cause headbanging

I'm sure you meant commodore basic on a c64, but interestingly AmigaBasic (on the Amiga) was actually one of the first BASIC versions to lose line numbers, and wasn't much used.

Back in the 8bit days (ZX81/Spectrum/C64) lots of people did a bit of programming because the basic interpreter was available at switch on by default,
you even had to use it to load programs from tape - when we all moved onto Amigas and PCs, basic was no longer there by default, and disappeared for many.

I blame the GUI/mouse ;)
Last edited by mikerr on Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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by pygmy_giant » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:04 pm
If Linux brings you out in a rash try RISC OS. Linux has a continually ballooning software base, wheras RISC OS' software base is more slow growing (and less free). You may also find RISC OS documentation similarly thin, but it boots in the blink of an eye and has BASIC. If all you want to do is program in BASIC RISC OS could be better for you.

BASIC stands for 'Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code' and is a good introduction to programming. Most professional programmers will tell you that all languages have their pros and cons and that to them syntax is trivial and that they select the language according to the task in hand. BASIC is as good a place as any to start programing.
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by gritz » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:07 pm
jamesh wrote:...So it should get easier, but just the added complexity of a Linux based device over the incredibly simple Amiga will mean there is more to learn. And that is a good thing. Modern OS's ARE COMPLICATED. Even Windows (once you start doing serious stuff on them)...


1) Surely the point of this whole project is to nurture a future generation of engineers - not to merely swell the ranks of pedantic yet feckless system administrators? The world has more than enough of those already... ;)

2) Regarding the endless "discussions" over this-or-that programming language: If a newbie has managed to get as far as starting Python (or whatever) and is squinting at a tutorial in Magpi then they're probably going to be ok. It's the getting to that point that's the hard part - all that wading through arcane terminal guff can wait - which leads me back to point 1 and the original point of this thread.

Having had a few training roles in assorted production environments I can say that "normal" human beings (ones who don't consider themselves particularly technical) can handle complex concepts with aplomb if they're given the right information from a single, unambiguous source and the kit they're using behaves in a vaguely logical manner. Confidence is everything for our newbie and nothing undermines that confidence more than their trainer repeatedly saying "Ah, that's not actually supposed to happen...". Only when our newb gains confidence in the basic methodology can we start chucking random variables at them.

It's good to see that lots of people on all sides of the argument care passionately about it all though.
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by pygmy_giant » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:16 pm
Python is todays popular language, but it will not always be that way. What kids really need to learn is the principles of programming and the flexability to apply them to any language. As with spoken languages, that starts with getting cosy with a single language and then branching out. When my 8 year-old enters the job market people will say 'Oh yeah, I remember Python - that was good in its day, but everyone uses Teapot++ these days'.

Anyone wanting a job in programming will have to get used to regularly teaching themselves new things. The Pi is just a springboard - I don't think people should get too precious about this language or that language.
Last edited by pygmy_giant on Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by Joe Schmoe » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:19 pm
I think it is pretty clear that RISCOS would be better for the targetted audience (and the targetted process - namely, education), but we're kinda stuck with Linux - for a variety of reasons, both technical and social/political.
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