Jim Brown
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:22 am

A lot of people talk about the fond memories of owning and using the retro home computers. I certainly share those memories too. The thing is, these machines had distinctive design, character, and were fun to use:

Zx81 - Small footprint and solid look

Spectrum - Again, solid look with rubber keys and a colorful logo

C64 - Curvy fabrication and nice chunky keys

Amstrad CPC - All-in-one keyboard+cassette deck

Compare that to what we get with desktop PC's - Just a boring bland beige boxes with tons of tangled cables coming out of the back

At least with Raspberry Pi we have something with a bit of character. Even if it is a naked PC its distinctive enough to get people pointing and asking, "what's that thing do?"

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riffraff
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:40 am

It's more than just unique looking, it's really subversive and radical because it's an upstart embedded processor gone LOCO!!!

jamesh
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:56 am

Interesting post.

I see what you mean – they are all a bit ''PC'' nowadays. You get occasional interesting designs – notebooks, those little Acer Revo's etc, but on the whole pretty boring.

Nowadays, all the real interest is in the software running on the devices

Interesting times!
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Vindicator
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:18 am

Those days are gone I'm afraid, my sons will pay a fortune far a case then put crap inside it for the guts, the more lights and embellishments the better, but as you say no real character.

I fondly remember some of the days when I spent hours typing in a program out of a computer magazine and then the cassette player eating the tape LOL.

Or your particular machine did not have enough kilobytes of memory. (yes I'm that old my ts1000 had 4Kb on board and a 16Kb add on module.)

My TRS 80 computer had like a whole 16 colors and 48K of memory.

Punching a hole in the uncertified side of a floppy disk to use the other side and it being a 8" or 5 1/4" drive and putting a piece of tape on it to write protect the disk.

Terms like single sided and single density, or double sided double density to remind you of your precarious data storage size.

listening to a modem connect and knowing it successfully connected by the tones you heard.

The modern PC's even with Linux on them are too automated and yet still some times frustrating, But more often or not nowadays it's because of some virus/ad ware/spyware that has compromised your mostly BORING PC.
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psergiu
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:23 am

Yep, PCs are boring.

That's why i'm using a Mac

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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:43 am

psergiu said:


Yep, PCs are boring.

That's why i'm using a Mac



A Mac is a PC too, its just another Intel box. No amount of extraneous "i"s and white paint can hide that!  Of course, I'll be mounting my Model B (when I get it) in an old beige tower case, then I won't be able to lose it... 

( 9 + 1?  *shakes head* )
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Vindicator
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:55 am

There we go opening that can of worms.

7+3=73 ?
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Canuck
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:11 am

OP, if you hate boring case design go design your own.. having them mass produced would be too mainstream for you from what I learned in your post.

The only "whats that thing do" the Raspberry Pi would get out of me would be "what can that thing do" since it only has a ARM11, would have been better off with a C9.

Arhenius
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:48 am

Jongoleur said:


psergiu said:


Yep, PCs are boring.

That's why i'm using a Mac


A Mac is a PC too, its just another Intel box. No amount of extraneous "i"s and white paint can hide that!  Of course, I'll be mounting my Model B (when I get it) in an old beige tower case, then I won't be able to lose it... 

( 9 + 1?  *shakes head* )



But Mac' used to be really awesome computers.  They made the IBM clones look sad. SCSI disks, direct motherboard connections, no stupid ISA boards slowing things down.  Pity they are now just overpriced pretty boxes.  You can build a device twice as power and run linux better than a mac does today and sadly I dont see it changing back.  Once PC manufactors stay making pretty Windows boxes - bye bye mac. The C64 - its bus bottleneck was unbelievable!

I do like the RaspberryPi, it does take me back to my days on ZX81, spectrums, etc.  With absolutely no idea what I was doing but have fun all the same.  Can't wait to get my hands on them.

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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:51 am

Jim Brown said:

Compare that to what we get with desktop PC's - Just a boring bland beige boxes with tons of tangled cables coming out of the back

And that's worse than an R-Pi which can seemingly only easily fit in an Altoids-style box with cables coming out of all sides ?

Home computers all seemed to me to adopt typewriter-style designs with PC's then splitting the electronics and keyboard with little apart from overall size and any specific design elements to get excited about with either.

The thing that home computers, PC's and HiFi and TV electronics have in common is, usually, having their connections at the back and occasionally front. Trying to get an R-Pi into an aesthetically good looking box under the TV with no PCB mounting holes, and without a mass of wires in all directions is certainly a challenge, definitely not boring, but a struggle I'd have preferred to do without !

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psergiu
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:10 pm

R-Pi (espcially witha a Gert-Board attached) will allow for wonderful non-boring installs like this:



Don't dis my Mac Mini - it has about a dozen external devices connected (HDDs, floppy, cdrom, card reader, serial adapter, TV Tuner, USB hubs ... ) so from behind it almost looks like the above picture

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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:22 pm

hippy said:


Home computers all seemed to me to adopt typewriter-style designs with PC"s then splitting the electronics and keyboard with little apart from overall size and any specific design elements to get excited about with either.


True.  but AFAIK one of the many reasons for the "three box" approach of the IBM PC and its clones was ergonomics.  In most countries, workplace health and safety regulations demand that keyboards and displays are free to be positioned to minimise eye, back and wrist strain. When the PC became the kit to have in the home, rather than produce a "home PC" variant of their computers, manufacturers just sold the office PC.  I do recall that both Tandy and Amstrad produced keyboard and cpu combinations, but they weren"t well liked.

Of course, I don"t know how laptops get away with fixed keyboards and monitors.  I suppose its a loophole depending on battery life – they "can"t" be used all day…. 

Edit:  @ psergiu:  I've got a wire box like that too….
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:32 pm

Jongoleur said:

Of course, I don"t know how laptops get away with fixed keyboards and monitors.  
That's always intrigued me. Personally I hate laptops, I get RSI almost instantly when trying to use a trackpad. Give me a multi-part, beige box solution any day; functional and practical, size and quietness the only real issues and both solved if prepared to pay the cost.

Joules
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:10 pm

But isn't the point of boring PC's the very success of them.  We no longer tinker like we did because they have at long last become tools.  We rarely think about the machine as we interact more closely with the software and the communication revolution that has been born of them.  I do worry a little over how many here will get a Raspi and then discover that so much of what they wanted was nostalgia, though I hope that isn't the case.

I loved the 8 bit computer revolution, learning to program in basic and assembler, something I rarely do these days, though I have just loaded Basic onto my iPad and am enjoying playing.  I still tinker with micro controllers, but today the level of knowledge required and the pull of so many other seductive devices means we have so much less time for individual hobbies, and hence the demand for finished products over building your own.  Look at Astronomy, amateur radio, radio control models.  The interest in actually doing and building is in rapid decline due to glossy ready built equipment that is also cheap.

The "CHEAP" part may also be on it's way out as people are going to have to get used to much lower levels of income, so perhaps Raspi will hit during a perfect storm coming during the next few years economically.

I use a Mac as my main machine, because it does the job I require.  I also have a PC to do jobs (software related) that the Mac cannot.  I enjoy using the hardware but give it little thought until I need to interface something to it, then I normally curse the walled garden we are happy to accept, to earn our crust.

I hope the youth of today and tomorrow can discover the passion I once had for the 80's hardware.  I will be a late 40's teenager once again when the raspi is released, looking forward to late nights hacking and living off coffee.

The PC has it's place and is far from boring.

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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:25 pm

Canuck said:


OP, if you hate boring case design go design your own.. having them mass produced would be too mainstream for you from what I learned in your post.

The only "whats that thing do" the Raspberry Pi would get out of me would be "what can that thing do" since it only has a ARM11, would have been better off with a C9.


Hmm. Can you name me a CortexA9 with similar graphics performance for a similar price? You can't. There isn't one.

A 700Mhz Arm of any description, especially with the GPU accelerator, is quite a capable little machine. What you *can* do with it is entirely up to you.
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kme
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:27 pm

Jongoleur said:


Of course, I don"t know how laptops get away with fixed keyboards and monitors.  I suppose its a loophole depending on battery life – they "can"t" be used all day…. 


They don't. At least around here it is illegal to use a laptop more than 3-4 hours a day (don't remember exactly) if you use it as an employee.

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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:36 pm

hippy said:


The thing that home computers, PC's and HiFi and TV electronics have in common is, usually, having their connections at the back and occasionally front. Trying to get an R-Pi into an aesthetically good looking box under the TV with no PCB mounting holes, and without a mass of wires in all directions is certainly a challenge, definitely not boring, but a struggle I'd have preferred to do without !


Yes, we could do without. However, an acceptable compromise would be to turn the microUSB power plug 90 degrees to let it face the same edge as the hdmi plug. That will leave the west edge free except for the SD card, but you are rarely going to touch that one once settled.

I guess 95% of us currently around won't touch the composite, so that can stay inside a box being inaccessible. The audio out is very, very easy to route to one of the two other edges (south, east) if needed.

So if only we can get the microUSB turned 90 degrees we are down to a two-edge layout, which is acceptable.

Jim Brown
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:58 pm


A 700Mhz Arm of any description, especially with the GPU accelerator, is quite a capable little machine. What you *can* do with it is entirely up to you


Agreed. Besides, the humble Zx81 was extremely limited but that did not stop someone writing a 1K chess program.

As for the GPU I read that it has XBox-like graphics capabilities. That alone is enough to make the Pi a powerful unit. The CPU would have very little work to do in terms of eye candy


But isn't the point of boring PC's the very success of them.  We no longer tinker like we did because they have at long last become tools


This is the way everything seems to be going. Dumb it down and stop people playing around. Look at modern day cars - All engine management and nothing to tweak. Back in my day many hours were spent mucking around under the bonnet of an Austin Mini. Same thing for televisions - Its all surface mount, thus nothing to tweak.


I fondly remember some of the days when I spent hours typing in a program out of a computer magazine and then the cassette player eating the tape LOL


Ahh. I spent hours typing in a 16K 'frogger' game from a magazine for the Zx81 which had a 16K RamPack fitted. This was one hell of a sensitive RamPack too. All it took was a butterfly to flap its wings the other side of the world and ** poooof ** the '81 would freeze. Naturally, the said butterfly decided to flap its wings when I was about 15.9K into completion.Needless to say, I lost the whole lot!

hippy
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 2:47 pm

kme said:


hippy said:


The thing that home computers, PC's and HiFi and TV electronics have in common is, usually, having their connections at the back and occasionally front. Trying to get an R-Pi into an aesthetically good looking box under the TV with no PCB mounting holes, and without a mass of wires in all directions is certainly a challenge, definitely not boring, but a struggle I'd have preferred to do without !


Yes, we could do without. However, an acceptable compromise would be to turn the microUSB power plug 90 degrees to let it face the same edge as the hdmi plug. That will leave the west edge free except for the SD card, but you are rarely going to touch that one once settled.

I guess 95% of us currently around won't touch the composite, so that can stay inside a box being inaccessible. The audio out is very, very easy to route to one of the two other edges (south, east) if needed.

So if only we can get the microUSB turned 90 degrees we are down to a two-edge layout, which is acceptable.



Unfortunately that still means having HDMI and LAN/USB on adjacent sides. Though in all honesty that's no worse than having them front and back if the board isn't large enough to reach both front and back of the chosen case !

Power, RCA Video, Audio and USB seem reasonably easy to relocate by flying-wire and sockets on stripboard. LAN could be relocated the same way but I think that requires removing the LAN jack as it has magnetics included - a short RJ45 cable to socket without magnetics included is probably easiest. It's all a pain but not impossible (*).

As HDMI is difficult to relocate, that dictates it is at the back and how I think I'm going to do it. It also allows SD card access from the side which is tolerable. I'd add an image but can't figure out how and probably more on-topic for the case threads.

(*) I'm intrigued how people proposing tablets of some form or other plan to deal with the R-Pi form factor and connector poistions but that's also off-topic.

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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:17 pm

Arhenius said:


Pity they are now just overpriced pretty boxes.  You can build a device twice as power and run linux better than a mac does today and sadly I dont see it changing back.


I assume you mean "(for the same amount of money) you can build a device with twice the power" - that may or may not be true, and it may well run linux better than a Mac.  Unfortunately, it won't (at least if you stay within the terms of the license agreement) run OSX *at all*.  And that's why I have a Mac.  Not because it's pretty, but because it runs OSX.

Oddly enough, my first powerbook (a G3/300 "Wallstreet") was bought specifically to run Linux.  It made a cracking little mobile *n*x box (and still does) - decent screen, very good keyboard, SCSI, 2 batteries...

That aside, yes.  PCs are boring.  So are Macs.

Simon

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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:12 pm

B'dum B'dum....

I think the decision to place the connectors around the board in all sorts of odd places is specifically intended to reduce the boredom quotient.  After all, we NOW have the opportunity of providing a solution (desoldering, flying leads, extension leads, whatever).

Hours of excitement!!!
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Dudeofdoom
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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:16 pm

And I thought it was just me....

I don't think PC's have really evolved much over the last 10 years TBH...

Yep they've tweaked bits and bobs graphics and sound wise but other than that I thnk

they've stagnated.

Time they left the building tbh..

Mark

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Re: PC's are boring

Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:45 pm

I want my PC to be boring.  I want what I do with it to be exciting, but I'd rather the PC and OS always work correctly -- how dull.  Having a thousand malware windows pop up is not my idea of fun.  It's not any more fun than getting a mangled card deck back from the operator during the mainframe days.  While it's not boring watching a high-speed card reader turn your program into papier-mâché, I'd prefer "boring" in this case.

fireraisr
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Re: PC's are boring

Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:23 am

kme said:


I guess 95% of us currently around won't touch the composite, so that can stay inside a box being inaccessible. The audio out is very, very easy to route to one of the two other edges (south, east) if needed.

So if only we can get the microUSB turned 90 degrees we are down to a two-edge layout, which is acceptable.



You may not plan on using the composite but I know a lot of people still using outdated tv's that will use it. Also those that do have tv's with hdmi are usually being occupied by another connection. But most families tv's have a dvd/blu-ray players that have composite in and will happily accept the Pi's input.

I know I'll be using the composite video with my projector as it's the only connection not currently occupied.

Also, I may be wrong but I believe the audio is automatically routed through the hdmi when connected so you wouldn't need to route that if using that connection.

kme
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Re: PC's are boring

Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:26 am

fireraisr said:


Also, I may be wrong but I believe the audio is automatically routed through the hdmi when connected so you wouldn't need to route that if using that connection.


That won't help you much if your hdmi monitor is without build-in speakers. Or you have ambitions soundwise.

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