N_A_B
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:18 am

BBC announce plans for "Digital Creativity and Coding"

Tue Oct 08, 2013 11:27 am

Hi all,

Just spotted the following announcement on the BBC web pages about their plans for the future (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-24442265):

"Digital Creativity and Coding will see the BBC set out to get the country [UK] coding in 2016, repeating the trick it pulled off in the 1980s with BBC Micro. The BBC will challenge its best creative minds and invite in a wide range of partners, to find the best way of building on the range of initiatives in this area."

Wondering what they'll decide to use to educate the nation...

N.

SiriusHardware
Posts: 502
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:09 pm
Location: UK

Re: BBC announce plans for "Digital Creativity and Coding"

Wed Oct 09, 2013 5:33 pm

Indeed, will we see owl-badged Raspberry Pis at last? As I understand it, the BBC were sounded out but did originally rule out the idea of putting their logo on any kind of computing product, including the Pi, in the present.

I was amused to see that they revived the subject (again) of how bitter Clive Sinclair was about the BBC Micro stealing the educational thunder from the Sinclair machines, but the truth was that the BBC Micro was a much more micro-architecturally 'normal', robust machine than the Sinclair machines ever were, and its version of BASIC arguably set the standard, a standard which, incidentally, can still be experienced today by running RISCOS on a Pi.

The Sinclair machines had the merit of being cheap, and that was why I owned several of them myself rather than Acorn models (Here in the arctic north, only kids from posh families were likely to have a BBC micro in the house). So what will the BBC do this time? Will they commission another physically robust, generic machine with a fixed ROM-resident operating system and a relatively high price, or will they be brave and go with the popular and numerous (but more quirky) Raspberry Pi? Or will they just produce some sort of IDE which will run on any PC? Or Indeed on any Android device?

It's a pity this is going to take so long to get up and running, as the maker/coder ethos is stronger right now than it has been at any time since the original 1980s home computer boom which spawned all the (now middle aged) nerds like me who bought most of the first wave of Pis. But I'm glad it's going to happen at some point, anyway.

Here's another similar link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24446046

P.S. Does anyone remember trying to download a program into their computer using a lightpen pointed at a flashing dot in the corner of their TV screen? Not sure which TV programme it was, but probably BBC's 'Micro Live'.

hippy
Posts: 6864
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:34 pm
Location: UK

Re: BBC announce plans for "Digital Creativity and Coding"

Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:47 pm

SiriusHardware wrote:So what will the BBC do this time? Will they commission another physically robust, generic machine with a fixed ROM-resident operating system and a relatively high price, or will they be brave and go with the popular and numerous (but more quirky) Raspberry Pi? Or will they just produce some sort of IDE which will run on any PC? Or Indeed on any Android device?
The BBC are somewhat between a rock and a hard place on choosing a hardware platform.

No matter what they do they will be accused of using taxpayer funding to give an unfair advantage to their own or someone else's venture. Even with the Foundation's charitable status the Pi itself is primarily a commercial venture, generating money for both the Foundation and commercial partners.

I imagine the only way the BBC could do it without stirring up a hornet's nest would be by being hardware platform independent. It is easier to defend a chosen programming language as most appropriate for teaching coding skills to the target audience even if others disagree.

SiriusHardware
Posts: 502
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:09 pm
Location: UK

Re: BBC announce plans for "Digital Creativity and Coding"

Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:13 pm

I suppose one option would be to offer everyone access to their own 'cloud computer', a virtual online computer with reasonable graphics, sound and some multimedia capabilities - to write programs, view the output, etc, all that would be needed would be something running a web browser and a reasonably fast internet connection. It would have the advantage that you could use it from almost anywhere, wouldn't have to physically carry it around with you, wouldn't require an HDMI monitor (!), wouldn't have to purchase any hardware you don't already have (assuming you already have something with which to access the net), and it wouldn't create a bias for or against any particular hardware vendor.

The downside of this approach is that it would have almost no potential for hardware hacking - nothing to plug LEDs, wires, motors, switches and sensors into. That would be a great pity.

So, what about a multiplatform (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android) 'C' IDE which has built in support for an open-source USB connected hardware I/O board, maybe something like a standard Arduino board fitted with specific firmware to make it into a dedicated I/O board for this cross-platform IDE?

hippy
Posts: 6864
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:34 pm
Location: UK

Re: BBC announce plans for "Digital Creativity and Coding"

Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:02 pm

One idea would be an 'Internet of Things' style I/O device which simply plugs into a LAN socket or includes Wi-Fi. That splits what's being controlled from where coding is being done, be it in the cloud or on the desktop.

That's pretty simple to do and, as long as the protocol is open, anyone can provide hardware to support that so the BBC could claim there's no hardware favouritism. A PI could make a suitable IoT device though a standard micro would be a cheaper option; one with on-board ethernet support shouldn't be more than $3 in 10K bulk, could probably build the whole thing in a case for $10.

Such a device would have utility beyond whatever the BBC are planning, would be useful for Pi or PC programmers. I am sure most would prefer to blow up something cheaper than our computers so perhaps it's a product just waiting to built.

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