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Jim Manley
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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:55 pm

obarthelemy wrote:Oh, so you mean netbooks have, mainly, been a fiasco for suppliers because they were too good a deal for customers ? Me want more such fiascoes !
If you don't care if the manufacturers of your hardware and developers of your software stay in business, that may be fine ... for you. However, most people don't find that to be a very viable long-term strategy when investing not only their money, but, a whole lot more in the way of effort to populate it with software they want and data they need. I attended the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Commodore 64 featuring the former (emphasis on that word) CEO of the now long-defunct Commodore, Inc., Jack Tramiel. Steve Wozniak was also a featured guest and they both recalled the history of Commodore and Apple (Commodore owned the manufacturer of the 6502 microprocessor used in Apple ][ products). Eventually, Tramiel discussed the day when the number of Commodore 64s sold exceeded the total of Apple ][ units sold and the moderator asked Woz what Apple thought about that. He replied sagely, "Well, we at Apple have always been in this for the long term, and if you run in a race to the bottom, eventually you get there, which means bankruptcy." Which is precisely what happened to Commodore and countless other companies throughout the history of computing, with HP, Nokia, etc., just the latest roadkill getting flattened.
obarthelemy wrote:I've not heard of any particular reliability issue, nor observed any around me. Sources ? I understand some users are disappointed because the things are slow, limited, and uncomfortable, and that nerds bemoan the lack of expandability, but that's part of the initial deal, not a surprise.
I'm not Google, and if you want to write a peer-reviewed journal article, you're welcome to look it up, as it's out there (and industry insiders can confirm off-the-record what I reported). I have yet to be proven factually wrong here (modulo the unintentional typical minor detail, usually an error of omission that I likely wasn't aware of, than an error of commission). The disappointment factor is part of the reliability issue if you include performance as a metric, which is especially true for MS-laden PCs that routinely become more sluggish. It starts with the bloatware and then the successive layers of security prevention needed, the inability of MS OSes to keep the disks defragmented without user intervention and performance degradation, and the littany of other issues with which we're all quite familiar.
obarthelemy wrote:Also, I disagree strongly about your alleged android's ergonomic shortfalls.
This isn't my opinion, it's a very common reviewers' theme. You've actually made my case because you're acting as your parents' very own Genius Bar (and I'll bet you know much less about Android than Apple Geniuses know about iOS devices). Your approach isn't scalable, especially in the we-hope-it-never-happens, but, you-get-run-over-by-a-bus scenario. Geeks continue to fail to understand that Apple customers are actually paying for much, much more than just a lump of hardware with some software slapped on. They're paying for the convenience of being able to walk into an Apple Store for help with any Apple product. They're paying for on-the-spot replacement of warrantied hardware, including transferring your data to the new device from the backup automagically made every time you dock your device to any of your computers, or iDrive or any other personally-established backup (plus now, iCloud). They're paying for very easy-to-use, complete integration of purchased media, software, data, etc., via iTunes and other services (they're in the process of splitting out the functionality of blogs, video, apps, customer data, etc., so that iTunes will eventually only deal with music). They're paying for expertise in ease-of-use that's been built up within Apple for 36 years, not just the latest fad widget that occurred to some shiny newbie engineer who's just shown up for his first day of work.
obarthelemy wrote:the Acer A200 set me back 250€, which is about half what an iPad whould have cost me. And the hardware is superior to a 1st or 2nd Gen iPad (front cam esp., they do skype a lot with the grandkids.. or is that at the grandkids ? ^^)
The A200 is clearly equivalent to the iPad2, modulo the camera, and iPad2 is still available from Apple at roughtly the same price as the A200, but, with 3G options, a back-facing camera, two-plus more hours of battery life, etc. Personally, I'm too ugly to ever want a front-facing camera, so, my mileage varies considerably from much younger, prettier people, especially teenage girls who apparently think video chat is a requirement over a tablet having a battery :) I don't know of anyone else who uses video chat, either, but, our family and friends tend to be more like ourselves than distant strangers, hence, I think Apple got the low-res front-facing camera right (and a back-facing camera on a tablet? Puh-leeze! Acer got that one right by not even including one on the A200). I'm old enough to have witnessed the debut of the AT&T Videophone at the New York World's Fair in 1965-66 and, while it was cool, it never became more than a beta product (or, in the parlance of the 1960s, an acknowledged "market test" pre-production unit) because their market research revealed that few people wanted to have to worry about how they looked, women, in particular, and older women, especially (and that was in noisy, choppy, low-res, analog, B&W video!).
obarthelemy wrote:I know Android better, so I felt more at ease messing with that than with an iDevice
That makes one of you ... OK, I'm just yankin' yer chain, and there's nothing wrong with being an Android expert ... but, what version of Android? :D At least it hasn't been skinned with some incomprehensible, bloatware-hobbled proprietary UI by some heathen wireless carrier!
obarthelemy wrote:ergonomics. Android has lots of widgets, which are a very visual way to access features and content. Once set up, there's really no need to go into any menus at all, and my parents, which I've been supporting for years, are so inept (love you!) that any set up at all would have been above their ken.
Again, your parents are very lucky to have a knowledgeable Android Ace (hereby copyrighted and trademarked by me, Google! :lol: ) - what would they (or almost anyone else over 40) do without you, and for so many years? Well, we know the alternative ... ;) I actually do like many of the features on the most recent Android tablets as a geek, but, I cannot in good conscience recommend them to people who are just going to spend all of the limited time we have to communicate socially with me trying to remotely fix their inevitable problems. Even worse, I'm begged to do it without the benefit of having precisely the same hardware model (and configuration) and software (OS, and then apps) they have. Thanks, but, no thanks - been there, done that for decades, got the T-shirt ... in both wet and dry variants! I'm not trying to force any particular brand down anyone's throat, I just point out what the true cost of each alternative is - I mean, I could be truly insane and tell people that the Blackberry Playbook is the only way to go. As it turns out, I actually have one, but, only because a Googler gave it to me after he received it as an honorarium for giving a talk in Europe (it was brand-new in the package). The hardware is really great, but, I promptly rooted it so I could do useful things with it and it will be interesting to see if RIM stays in business long enough to get the promised upgrade done that will allow running Android apps alongside BB stuff (due sometime in 2013, IIRC, but, I'm not holding my breath).
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Tue Jul 03, 2012 1:41 am

obarthelemy wrote:"We are witnessing, living in, and if we're paying attention, participating in what is the greatest shift in power in human history"

Is there any generation who hasn't thought that ? Is the net really more important than christianity, democracy, printing, electricity, medicine, universal education, women's lib, abolition, the industrial revolution... ?
Oh, come on, now you're just being more obnoxious than I am (and that's quite an accomplishment! :D ) Let's think about how life is different now than it was before the Internet:

If we could bring people from past generations into this conversation, do you really think someone who survived the Black Plague would disagree with me? Do you really think someone who parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, as well as Remagen, Bastogne, and the Battle of the Bulge (where they were taken POW through the end of WW-II) and slogged through what the Nazis unleashed would disagree with me? (that would be my father, who's now 90, so, the answer is "No."). Do you really think that any king or queen from any period in history who never got to travel at more than 15 miles per hour by animal power over smooth conveyances (paved roads and rails, much less at nearly the speed of sound through the air to anywhere on the planet within hours), who lost large fractions of their populations (including family) to pestilence and disease, and who couldn't write or talk instantly with almost anyone, anywhere on Earth would disagree with me? Do you really think that Roman serfs driven into massive battles, Egyptian pyramid builders breaking their backs cutting and pushing rocks uphill for decades, Asian rice farmers perennially bent over while standing up to their waists in manure and brackish water, or any other person from similar circumstances would disagree with me?

Christianity - I won't pick on any particular belief, but, violence in the name of religion (or against religion, e.g., the Nazis, Communist Chinese, et al) has killed more people than any other cause, except for the diseases that religion could never prevent, much less cure, no matter how devout the practitioners were. Then, there are the child molesters who have produced generations of mentally/emotionally-damaged inhabitants of jails and asylums.

Democracy - for whom and when? U.S. slaves before 1865? U.S. women before 1920 (and probably still a majority worldwide today)? North Koreans who have always voted at a rate of 100%, guaranteed? Egyptian Coptic Christians (not to mention women again) of today? Greece, the Cradle of Democracy, doesn't seem to be doing too well with it nowadays, are they? Of course, it takes a well-educated and participatory voting population to make Democracy work and, with the exception of those freed from totalitarian regimes in the late 1980s and early 1990s, that doesn't happen nearly as much as it should. It will be another generation before we know whether the winners of the Arab Spring challenges have made Democracy work any better.

Printing - that requires substantial capital even to this day, so, early on was completely controlled by churches and royalty, and more recently by media conglomerates, including the few that own nearly all print and on-line scientific journals (cue Rupert Murdoch for yet-another investigative inquiry)? How many of the leaflets you've posted on neighborhood utility poles have resulted in anything like the give-and-take going on here across a good chunk of the planet?

Electricity - the kind flowing completely unregulated through hundreds of wires on any given street of any given city (and nowhere else) at the dawn of the 20th Century, the kind used to carry out death sentences, or the kind not flowing through large swaths of the Eastern U.S. the last couple of days, and that just happened to also ground (literally) large portions of services on the Internet?

Medicine - the kind used to preferentially abort female fetuses, the kind used to sterilize large groups of people just because of their demographic profile, the kind that keeps things hard, the kind that regrows hair, the kind that gives athletes unfair advantages (and totally fair shriveled gonads and baldness), or the kind that's supposed to control physical pain, but, is abused for mental/emotional purposes?

Universal education - you mean the kids who have never owned a book in their life in Third World countries, the students in poor areas who routinely get disposed-of materials from the better-off areas, or those who are now more educated and have better access to education than 99.99999% of the adults in their country through access to the Internet via low-cost computing devices, or did you mean people who have been exposed to propaganda (some of it corporate-sponsored) even in developed countries?

Women's lib - the kind where they have increasing rates of lethal diseases due to smoking, drinking, drug abuse, unprotected sex (often after participating in the three preceding vices), obesity, record rates of poverty due to being single parents with no male role model to tame unruly boys, etc., or perhaps the kind where they overwhelmingly attend (and maybe graduate from) curricula for which there are so many others with the same degrees the majority are completely unemployable?

Abolition - the kind where there was never any intention of taking care of freed slaves in order to ensure continued economic calamity that continues to this day, or the kind where shackeled slavery was just traded off for the kind where hordes are penned up in government-provided housing that serves as a convenient way for drug dealers, thieves, and violent offenders to inflict suffering on victims in proximity to the criminals' place of "business"?

Industrial revolution - the kind where child labor transitioned from helping families practice agriculture to helping reduce costs on factory floors (most recently in China) among industrial hazards such as rampant pollution, unsafe machinery/tooling, etc., for periods lasting well over half a day for seven days a week, or the kind with the workforce hobbled with repetitive stress disorders, numbed minds, and, in some cases, an inflated sense of economic worth thanks to labor union management that over the long term ensured their own jobs at the cost of the rank-and-file (there are only 10% of the port workers there were 30 years ago, but, the average income is $150,000 a year because the only ones left are the shop stewards, the auto workers' union bosses priced the workers out of competition, etc.).

I am NOT advocating that any of the above are bad/pointless/worthless, I am just pointing out some of the associated warts that don't seem to get as much publicity as the benefits always do for these concepts/technologies (where practice almost exclusively diverges from theory in every case). I just think the net positive of the Internet far outweighs those of most of the above, although it's hard to argue that medical science isn't a large positive. That is, until you consider that it's available very unevenly, even within the most developed nations, and why are there so many boner and baldness pills sold compared with anti-malarial drugs, anyway? Besides, it's way too soon to tell - we won't really know what the lasting effects of the Internet will be, and how it will morph many years into the future, which it is destined to do.

The negatives of the Internet pretty much overlap with those in any information-intensive sector, e.g., pornography (goes back well before video, books/magazines, and high-brow art to cave paintings - I'm not kidding), political propaganda, overabundant advertising, etc. Thank goodness Genghis Khan, Hitler, Stalin, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot, et al, didn't have access to cable, satellite, and Internet technologies - RJ Reynolds/Philip-Morris/Altria, Anheuser-Busch, GM, Proctor & Gamble, etc., are bad enough! I suppose the cable/satellite property The History Channel (aka the Hitler Channel) does a pretty good job of keeping Adolf's words alive and beaming out into space (ala the book/movie "Contact"). "Soft(er)" porn is just a few remote button presses away on any major hotel chain's video-on-demand system, with Internet porn requiring just a few more keypresses, unless it's bookmarked. I developed the software for and ran the TiVo Audience Research and Measurement system where anonymized DVR metadata was sent back to the mothership nightly, and the top ten Wishlist auto-recording keywords were all porn-related, as were the top shows explicitly recorded by schedule (aka "Season Pass"), and more recent TiVos can record Internet-distributed video and audio material (via RSS, URLs, streaming services, etc.). At least the Internet is multi-way (although it may seem it's devolved to it at this point, you and I aren't the only ones able to comment here).

I had to think about some of the above for a while - thanks for stirring up "zee leetle gray cells", as Monsieur Poirot would say 8-)
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:49 am

Sorry Jim, but that last post is a whole load of cobblers.

Out of the list that obarthelemy gave (although I don't personally think any religion should feature in any list of "good things"), about the only one that the internet improves on is printing. It's certainly nowhere near as important a shift as any of the others, despite their faults. Indeed, even compared to printing, it's largely a shift of media (how many web designers do you know who design as though they were designing for print, for example).

If you want some pointless and inflammatory downsides of the internet, though, how about...

The internet that's in the process of being turned from a utopian information sharing system into an advertising delivery system? The internet that empowers advance fee scammers to defraud innocent victims of > $100M per year in the US alone? The internet that empowers "schoolyard" bullying 24/7, leading to hundreds of child suicides per year? The internet that pushes vast sums of money into the hands of pornographers and has banalised the objectification of women, potentially leading to an explosion of physical exploitation of women? The internet where your communications are monitored and your privacy otherwise invaded by states where you might not even live on a daily basis? The internet where your private information is sold to the highest bidder by almost every site you register for?

etc etc

Simon

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:29 am

Some entertaining stuff here, but we're drifting way off topic aren't we? Politics? Religion?

(Waits for the final post, which links it all back to Bill Gates supporting the Raspberry Pi in all but name?)
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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:44 am

I was wrong about christianity, I was thinking of impact more than "rightness". Make that religion/ethics/philosophy. And add what Sid Meier's Civilization calls "Scientific Method" as a counterpart ^^

Also, where I live the Acer A200 is 250 euros, the iPad2, 400. Not the same ballpark.

Video chat can be used to maintain closer contact. My brother is in Canada, my parents in France, so they see these grandkids once/twice a year, vs several times per week those on my sister's side. The Video part, on one side, allows the kids to show off their new toys, muscles/teeth, hair cuts, clothes, school reports... and the grands to demonstrate and teach basic acrobatics figures to do with that new lego airplane. Helps staying in touch a lot. I understand people don't want each and every phone call to be video (I know I hate it), but in some cases...

The sad thing about consumer IT is the low price/value placed on service (on top of ergonomics issues). It's at the point where people will pay for a plumber, or tell you to get one, but they'll expect us to spend hours fixing their computer issues, and god forbid we tell them to get service from a shop (well, few shops are competent anyway, I even have doubts about Geniuses, and we don't have the Geek Squad in France, but from what I read, that was a joke). I'm fairly sure Apple vs Windows vs Linux doesn't matter here, PCs (incl Tablets, even Phones) still need setup. Look at some of the questions on this forum ^^

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:51 am

obarthelemy wrote:The sad thing about consumer IT is the low price/value placed on service (on top of ergonomics issues). It's at the point where people will pay for a plumber, or tell you to get one, but they'll expect us to spend hours fixing their computer issues, and god forbid we tell them to get service from a shop (well, few shops are competent anyway, I even have doubts about Geniuses, and we don't have the Geek Squad in France, but from what I read, that was a joke). I'm fairly sure Apple vs Windows vs Linux doesn't matter here, PCs (incl Tablets, even Phones) still need setup. Look at some of the questions on this forum ^^
LOL I remember setting up a new PC for a mate. After spending a couple of hours on it he asked me (with a straight face)
"Hey, have you ever considered doing this as a business?"
The first thought that came to me was 'well you don't want to bleeping well pay for it so why would anyone else?' :lol:
I kept that one to myself though - so we're still friends. :D
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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:07 am

obarthelemy wrote:"We are witnessing, living in, and if we're paying attention, participating in what is the greatest shift in power in human history"

Is there any generation who hasn't thought that ? Is the net really more important than christianity, democracy, printing, electricity, medicine, universal education, women's lib, abolition, the industrial revolution... ?
That was a very interesting post, Jim, thanks. But it doesn't answer the original question.

The answer is "yes". None of the quoted events created a shift in power of the same size and speed as the last two decades. In some cases, the industrial revolution for example, any shift in power was negative. In that case, bosses grew richer and the previously self-employed became wage-slaves. But since nobody cared what the peasants thought before or after, any change in power was minimal.

The only event that comes close was Women's Lib, and that only really affected North America/Europe/Australia/etc. The tensions from that incomplete shift are still playing out. As are those from the parallel and just as important anti-racism tendancies.

Many of the others also only affected the "west", and almost none of them had any effect on existing power structures. Most or all of them had generally positive effects, but they did not affect who had the power and who didn't.

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:45 am

Rubbish. Really.

Only ~30% of the world's population have access to the internet. Access is only above 50% in the developed west (US / Yurp) and oceania/australia.

Yes, the internet has 'empowered'[1] a part of the underclass in the developed world, but it's done nothing beyond moving the deckchairs on a global scale. The crushinly poor are still crushingly poor, the starving are still starving, and the global underclass ar now the digital underclass as well. It's easy to say that the internet has changed the world when you're sat comfortably in the west, well educated, overpaid and overfed, and with access to a largely uncensored internet that's 99% published in your native language.

Simon

[1] pronounced 'facebooked'

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Tue Jul 03, 2012 1:50 pm

i guess it coudl be argued that the internet has the potential to improve on all those things. But then the English football team had the potential to win the European cup. And look what happened there...

Anyway, although this thread is intereting, it has deviated a long way from the original post, so take care, less the evil thread locker rears his ugly face.
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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Tue Jul 03, 2012 5:30 pm

jamesh wrote: {...}Anyway, although this thread is intereting, it has deviated a long way from the original post, so take care, less the evil thread locker rears his ugly face.
If your trigger finger is getting itchy, then why not just move this thread to off-topic?

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:05 pm

OK, mods, Gates begat MS, which begat Windoze, which begat security problems and other major wastes of time for lots of people, which encouraged the Foundation to develop the Pi, which begat this forum, which begat this thread, which begat these posts. Repeat after me, "These are not the droids you're looking for ... " :D

For those who are saying that most of the world doesn't have Internet access, you really need to get out more ... or at least pay attention to the news. Internet access stats tend to focus on computers hooked up to broadband pipes, which is the minority fraction of how people access the Internet worldwide. While the per capita access varies widely geographically (one person using at least one Internet-accessible device), it has a disproportional fan-out in the underdeveloped world, where a cell phone is the Internet (something like 60% of Internet access is solely via cell phones on a per capita basis), and in many remote areas, a single cell phone serves an entire community. Most places that have never had access to TV (especially in their language) and barely enjoy shortwave radio now have Internet access via a variety of intermediate RF spectra and media, some of it via shortwave radio applique interfaces (digitally-tuned transceivers with special modems - ships without satcomm use this all the time). Microwave relay equipment is being dismantled in the developed world and being reinstalled on mountaintops and other high places in remote areas of the world for broadband access. We can only hope that Pi boards eventually show up in these remote areas, which is a good bet given their low power requirements - a square foot of solar cells, a couple of handfuls of rechargeable batteries, mobile devices to provide multi-user I/O, and away you go.

I guess no one was paying attention when a street food vendor in Tunisia set himself on fire in protest of the corrupt government, which begat a viral mobile Internet-based video/photo/Twitter campaign of indignation, which begat the fall of half a dozen totalitarian regimes (so far), which begat a path toward that Democracy thing cited earlier. Note that the taste of Democracy (not even close to being all there yet, but, moving in the right direction) followed the Internet activity, not the other way around, and there's no end in sight to this phenomenon. As I've said, we're only at the beginning of the beginning of what the Internet is eventually going to influence, but, it's expanding much faster than any of the concepts listed previously, and is helping many of them to flourish.

Agriculture in remote areas has been revolutionized by even marginal Internet access at the level that the Green Revolution and similar efforts improved food production in the Third World decades ago. Farmers are getting access to weather and Earth resources satellite data in real time which allows them to irrigate, fertilize, and use pest control much more efficiently (up to orders of magnitude on an annual basis) than when they would just apply scarce resources evenly over their entire land area. You can't get much more influential in a beneficial way than putting more and better-quality food on poor peoples' tables. Pi devices would be useful in this setting as a way to provide computing services (e.g., analyzing info in more detail, education, etc.) while communications-oriented activities continue on the cell devices.

Internet-based microfinance is leveraging the aforementioned community cell phones that are shared by each of the individuals doing business in the area, many of whom are women, who also tend to be responsible for harvested foodstuff preparation and distribution. Excess food production in these remote areas is traditionally sold through regional markets, but, the suppliers are routinely gouged by market operators by one or two orders of magnitude between buy and sell prices. Now, with just a daily update on commodity prices over the community Internet-connected device, the suppliers know what prices the markets are selling at and can price their products much closer to what is ultimately being paid by buyers. As remote dwellers learn of this, they not only pass it on via word-of-mouth locally, but, the info is further propagated over the community Internet devices to the next-nearest communities. A lot of very valuable economic information can be obtained and shared with even the most minimal of Internet bandwidth, and community social information is also disseminated via these devices when they're not being used for more critical purposes. A bunch of Pi devices could certainly be useful there.

The built-in survivability of the Internet where data is rerouted around failures automagically, its ability to transport information in any conceivable form (text, audio, video, 3-D simulation/design, etc.), and its relatively low cost to entry mostly independent of government control (e.g., the ancient concept of government-run Post, Telephone, and Telegraph - come on, Telegraph???) are unlike the features of any preceding means of communication. Yes, there are attempts to censor and/or snoop on content, but, encryption, steganographic, anonymous proxy, and other technologies are able to outpace such activity (granted, it's not as easy or ubiquitous as it needs to be, but, that's just a matter of time). 3-D design and local reproduction on robotic computer numerical control (CNC) fabrication equipment has the potential to turn the mass production model completely on its head, at least where it makes sense for all but the highest-volume parts. The GPU in the Pi is particularly useful for both design and analysis of parts created this way, as well as controlling CNC equipment.

When Alvin Toffler began documenting in "Future Shock" the potential for innovation if monopolies such as AT&T were dismantled, he was talking in large part about what would become the Internet, which preceded the AT&T breakup by about 15 years in the form of the DoD's ARPANET and was already well-established in academic and corporate research labs via the National Science Foundation's NSFNet, its offspring, and commercial and foreign cousins. It's useful to go back and see what he described in "Future Shock" and "The Third Wave" - a world being increasingly disintermediated by virtual adhocracies that spring up in response to issues and problems as public awareness congeals (e.g., the Arab Spring, Occupy Whatever, etc.). It's by no means all peaches and cream, as the Occupy movement has demonstrated, but, that was due primarily to incomplete organization and prioritization of goals, bad PR due to interference with Main Street more than Wall Street, the onset of cold weather, etc., not a failure of technology such as the Internet to support it. Perhaps a number of Pi devices running some organizational software should be considered if future such events occur, so that they can be more effective in getting their message across without enraging the wrong parts of the population (not to mention formulating a message in the first place).

Given the direction of the European economy (or lack thereof), it's entirely possible that other forms of public actions will begin, and the squirrely hot weather we're seeing in the U.S. isn't increasing the likelihood that things are going to improve here anytime soon. However, when you're dodging wind-whipped falling trees, utility lines/poles, forest fires, tornadoes, etc., you do tend to reprioritize your interests. If all you wind up with is your Internet-enabled devices in the aftermath, however, they suddenly become extremely important in gathering info on how to have a continued existence. That big-screen TV with the tree branch through it suddenly isn't as interesting as the 3 ~ 10 inch screen you can carry anywhere (which is where you're going next) and still be connected to literally the world, as long as the UPS/generators powering cell towers/routers/servers/etc. keep running. Recharging an Internet-enabled device designed for that in a vehicle in a devastated neighbo(u)rhood sure beats a one-way AM/FM radio that you can't get batteries for after the first day (and for which you didn't think to buy optional rechargeable infrastructure). Rechargeable battery-equipped Pi with integrated display, keyboard, trackpad, and speakers for around $100, at the ready! See our lapdock thread: http://raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic ... d21767781d

Talk to a first-responder or emergency management specialist sometime and ask them how much they like the Internet. BTW, you do have your emergency contacts identified in your mobile device via the ICE acronym, don't you? Put ICE (In Case of Emergency) at the beginning of each emergency contact name in your devices' contact lists and number them if there's a priority, e.g., ICE1 Jane Doe (Spouse), ICE2 Jill Doe (Child), ICE3 Bob Doe (Parent), ICE4 Ted Smith (Boss), etc. First-responders and medical facility personnel are trained to look for ICE contacts in devices found with unresponsive people. Feel free to include this info on the SD card in your Pi, if you tend to be around it a lot, especially when mobile.

As for the record of the English football team, it varies around some sport-wide average determined by a very limited number of events. The Internet is happening in a lot more places on a much more continuous basis, benefiting a lot more people (especially those not shackled to a TV in a sports pub ;) ), and has been steadily improving in speed, reliability, flexibility, accessibility, cost, etc. You can't say that about even the Brazilian (five-time), Italian (four-time), German (three-time), Argentine (two-time), or Uruguayan (two-time???) World Cup champion football teams, especially in the declining cost and increasing reliability categories, can you?

For the mods who've been stirred from their slumber by a bump in the night, the Pi is Internet-enabled and therefore makes all of the Internet references here apropos, especially if we can manage to get any boards (preferably in appropriate cases) out to the huddled masses as well as those in the lowest-density populated places on Earth. That just made me think of how we need to make a sequel to "The Gods Must Be Crazy", except that a Pi drops from the heavens in front of Xi in the middle of the Kalahari Desert ... and hilarity ensues! :lol: ["Click-click, tock-took!"]
BTW, I would never have been able to look up that reference without the Internet, much less in under a minute without even moving my feet!
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Tue Jul 03, 2012 10:53 pm

My dad doesn't have internet access and he lives in the "First World". He copes. In fact he copes pretty well. He derives his information from outmoded concepts such as "travel", "seeking out a story first-hand", "books written by people who actually know stuff" and "not taking any b.s. from self-appointed experts", because he's heard it all before..."

When privatised internet v1.0 hits us then these outdated concepts (so mocked by current technophiles) will be sadly missed.

Dad's smart enough to know when to ask me to google something. He doesn't rely on it though.

And all this horrific internet footage from e.g. Syria just reminds me of the daily Vietnam carnage shown on the BBC when I was a kid in the early 70's. We absolutely need to know, but it didn't stop people beating lumps out of each other then and it won't now. In the end it just may devalue the wider appreciation of important information. "Oh goody, more war footage, check out the A10's." Lol, etc.

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:35 am

I believe Shakespeare (you may have heard of him) said it best:
"There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy ... "

Where did I once utter that "travel", "seeking out a story first-hand", and "books written by people who actually know stuff" are bad things, or that the Internet obviates them (despite being able to deliver a reasonable facsimile of all of those, including video chat with first-hand observers)? In case you haven't seen it elsewhere, I've lived and worked in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania for over 10 years, plus travel for months on-end to hundreds of places, many of which you've probably never heard of in your blinker-modulated world.

I've worked in hot war zones, the most depraved ghettos and slums, and other Hell-holes most here could not possibly imagine in their worst nightmares. I've also been to parts of the planet only a handful have ever been (which is a relief from forums like this, I have to admit). Couch-bound potatoes disgusted by TV coverage of such places have nothing to complain about, just like the other self-appointed critics who have spent so much time complaining about how bad things are elsewhere that they can't contribute anything of substance to society. I'm not talking about anyone in particular, mind you.

I've been developing technology for decades, including both patented and open-source (long before it was even called that), in commercial, government, academic, and independent environments. When I attended college, I roomed with people whom others wouldn't because of their ethnicity. I can communicate with a majority of the people on the planet at enough of a very basic conversational level that I can keep myself (and maybe them) from starving, and I'm as curious as any crate stuffed with cats about what others think, say, and do (particularly why). I also won't let people who make misstatements or spread downright disinformation proceed without challenging such malarkey.

For example, the Internet can't be completely privatized by its very nature - to say so reveals a fundamental lack of understanding about how the protocols work. In full disclosure, that's one of the areas where I've done patented work that is in the public domain, as was virtually all of the work to develop the Internet by all involved. The moment someone tries to privatize the Internet, it's a simple matter to create another one ... or more, particularly with the advent of IPv6. You may not be aware, but, there are actually a number of parallel internetworks, each with its own separate IP address space. I'm not talking about VPN, I'm talking about completely separate, parallel internetworks that share no IP address space whatsoever. There are transport mechanisms for moving data between these, with it being one-directional in some cases. I'll leave it up to your imagination to figure out some examples of how this might be used.

If you think that the infrastructure is dominated by private ownership, you need to go shopping for broadband trunk capacity sometime (i.e., fiber optics). Nearly 90% of the fiber that was laid around the world upwards of 10 years ago during the Dot Bomb era is still dark and unused, and optical switches just keep getting faster and increasing the number of channels that can be simultaneously transceived down just a single fiber, all at decreasing cost. Anyone with a pittance in comparison to what corporations have in financial resources could duplicate the entire Internet backbone literally tomorrow. There are even so many options for the "last mile" that anyone who wanted to could establish an alternative to that portion currently provided by commercial entities, and that market is expanding exponentially every day, so competition is endemic to the situation.

I spent a whole separate career working on applications of technology completely outside the engineering world in support of observing and analyzing how civilian populations, economies, governments, and militaries behave on an ongoing basis (BTW, that order, starting with the populations, is in order of significance in the big scheme of things). Trying to make sense of any of those sectors without examining all of the others is a colossal waste of effort. However, guess what, if you organize the information so that you can explore most (but, not all) relationships between the various moving parts you can get a much better-informed idea of what's going on there. With a lot more work, sometimes the reasons (or at least the driving forces) for what's going on can be deduced.

Nowadays, work like that is highly facilitated as we have a good chunk of everything ever published available not just verbatim, but, indexed and commented on by domain experts so that you can search and find data points, relations, descriptors, etc., (even in foreign languages). It's still very crude at this point, but, as interaction (such as what we're doing here) and commerce move further on-line (often exclusively, in most cases for economic reasons, not because of Big Brother), more will be learned about how and why things are. The benefit will be improved understanding as exchanges are made with ever-improving information.

Despite all of the horrors of places like Syria today, the fact is that fewer people are dying each year from armed conflict, and that's been true since the end of WW-II. Part of the reason is that we know so much more about what's going on that it's very difficult for forces to be marshaled on the scale of entire nations that battled up through the first half of the 20th Century without being discovered long before they reach sufficient size and capability. Another reason is that militaries don't go to war in isolation, nations do, and that includes all four sectors I listed earlier, with the most important being the economies. Reserve material only gets you so far, and the most expensive of those is fuel, which economies can't afford to squirrel away very much of, especially when doing so causes shortages that make the cost to the civilian population rise precipitously. Virtually all such economic activity is pretty much visible to anyone who cares to look for it due to the connected nature of raw materials, baseline manufacturing commodities, finished components, and consumable goods across international boundaries.

In the 1980s, national economies crossed the threshold where they could no longer function without computing services, and part of that includes network technologies. So, even if we wanted to, we couldn't support the current world's population without computing and telecommunications at the levels used today. I'm sure if we searched long enough, we could either find a report that would tell us explicitly what the economic and social impact of losing the Internet would be, or at least the data needed to figure it out.

On the other hand, I imagine that if every printing press were to suddenly break down tomorrow, it would be noticeable, but, it wouldn't be catastrophic, except perhaps to those whose living depends directly on paper having ink squashed onto it. That's getting to be a vanishingly small number of people as efficiencies increase and demand decreases in terms of volume, if not quality. There will probably always be people who will pay a premium for certain printed materials, much as there has even been a resurgence of late in people who buy vinyl recordings, of all things. I'm sure there's somewhere (on the Internet!) where we can still buy buggy whips (of the highest quality, no doubt), but, it might be on sites that are at least peripherally associated with the porn industry - especially if printed catalogs for such products are no longer economically viable.

I would think that if every religious building suddenly became inaccessible, that might raise a lot more than eyebrows, but, economies would continue to run. We already know what happens when the electrical grid goes poof, just ask the five million in the Eastern U.S. who lost their load over the weekend, and the two million still waiting for theirs to return for upward of weeks. If medicine were to disappear, well, given our increasing population densities, that wouldn't be as much of a problem in a few months once the pandemics run their course. Universal education would be a loss in the developing world, but, we probably wouldn't even notice it here (kids might actually become smarter, especially if the electricity stays off!). If women were suddenly set back, that would not go over well, at least in Western societies and those in places like Indonesia, parts of Africa, etc., where matriarchal societies have existed for millennia, but, life would still go on, albeit with little in the way of bedroom entertainment. Abolition being reversed would probably not sit well with a certain guy on Pennsylvania Avenue who has nuclear weapons release authority. Finally, if the Industrial Revolution were to be reversed, I'd sure want to look up that buggy whip manufacturer before the parts started running out for repairing food production and distribution, water and sewage treatment, electrical grid, transportation, fuel production and distribution, manufacturing, and porn ... I mean entertainment systems, and they all started failing permanently.

To bring things back to the OP, Bill Gates was just interviewed by Charlie Rose, with the timing associated with the announcement of the Surface too close to be a coincidence. It was likely recorded upwards of a week ago, within a couple of days of the announcement, since this is the week the largest number of people take off in the U.S. for Summer vacation and to celebrate Independence Day (we're so glad to see so many others have chosen to follow our lead in various other experiments in Democracy ... eventually ;) ). Gates chatted about the Surface, MS, the computing business in general, Apple's success (for which he actually exhibited some grudging admiration), and other things technological. He also spent about half the time talking about his Foundation's (the other Foundation's :) ) work, which is interesting from the perspective of how utterly daunting the challenges are. Unfortunately, he never did mention Pi, Raspberry or otherwise, nor did he even talk about low-cost computers of any flavor. What a missed opportunity, Bill.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone ... and Independence Day for U.S. Hmmm, where's the exploding fireworks emoticon? ;)
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- W.B. Yeats
In theory, theory & practice are the same - in practice, they aren't!!!

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:46 am

gritz wrote:
jamesh wrote: {...}Anyway, although this thread is intereting, it has deviated a long way from the original post, so take care, less the evil thread locker rears his ugly face.
If your trigger finger is getting itchy, then why not just move this thread to off-topic?
Because I don't know the right button to press.

But I do know that is people start to get a bit insulting I will close the thread (whether here or off topic). And the force tells me there IS a disturbance. Just asking people to keep it civil.
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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Wed Jul 04, 2012 7:43 am

alexeames wrote:(Waits for the final post, which links it all back to Bill Gates supporting the Raspberry Pi in all but name?)
I knew you could do it Jim :lol:
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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:38 pm

Here's an interesting upcoming article in Vanity Fair: Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside the Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture That Felled a Tech Giant, excerpt here: http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/ ... ve-ballmer

My favorite part is this reader comment:
InTheKnow23 wrote:As someone who spent 7 years in Microsoft until recently, I cannot state strongly enough how dead on correct this article is. I see some defensive postings below such as "What about XP?!" when the fact is that Windows ME and Windows Vista were two of the worst OS' ever released. The stack rating system [described in the article] is one of the absolute worst management techniques I've ever encountered. As the article says, it pits team member against team member (e.g. "one of us MUST die regardless of how we do as a team"). Innovation requires taking risks and stepping outside of the box. The stack ranking system pretty much ensures that neither take place - people do not take risks and instead focus each day on how to SURVIVE vs. how to make the Microsoft more Successful. If you try to push for new ideas and new processes, you are simply labeled a troublemaker and will soon be culled from the herd.

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:27 pm

There isn't a company I've worked for that hasn't been more or less like that.

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:49 pm

This is what Bill Gates said:
"Just giving people devices, that has a really terrible track record. You really have to change the curriculum and the teacher and those things, and it's never going to work on a device where you don't have keyboard-type input. I mean, students aren't there just to read things — they're supposed to actually be able to write and communicate, and so this is a lot more in the PC realm."
Rather than look for any hidden motive in what he said, I am more interested discussing the substance of what he said. I am interested in hearing what people here think — hopefully based in their first hand experience! Will tablets do well in educating kids? Or a subnotebook like OLPC or Asus EEE? Or is something like the Raspi better? And at what level and what kind of education? Can these devices be used effectively in places where it is hard to get good teachers (or any teachers) or do they still require good teachers? An internet enabled device like a kindle can be used in place of textbooks but what about testing that kids have actually learned the subject matter? What about helping them when they run into difficulties? What about facilitating debates and communication? etc. etc. It would be interesting to hear what people think should be tried or will succeed and why. And what else is needed to make a better use of tables/notebooks/something else?

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:50 am

alexeames wrote:Some entertaining stuff here, but we're drifting way off topic aren't we? Politics? Religion?

(Waits for the final post, which links it all back to Bill Gates supporting the Raspberry Pi in all but name?)
Agreed. We have even touched on Godwin's Law at page 3, which must hold some sort of internet record for being so early in a thread.


As for getting back on topic...

Whilst I do not believe he was referring to the R-Pi in any way, it is good to hear that he is advocating for a change of the curriculum in education. He may not be a fully signed up member to the cause, but he is regarded as one of the most highly influential people in the tech world and sound-bites like that will make more people take the idea seriously.

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:58 am

Bakul Shah wrote:This is what Bill Gates said:
"Just giving people devices, that has a really terrible track record. You really have to change the curriculum and the teacher and those things, and it's never going to work on a device where you don't have keyboard-type input. I mean, students aren't there just to read things — they're supposed to actually be able to write and communicate, and so this is a lot more in the PC realm."
Rather than look for any hidden motive in what he said, I am more interested discussing the substance of what he said. I am interested in hearing what people here think — hopefully based in their first hand experience! Will tablets do well in educating kids? Or a subnotebook like OLPC or Asus EEE? Or is something like the Raspi better? And at what level and what kind of education? Can these devices be used effectively in places where it is hard to get good teachers (or any teachers) or do they still require good teachers? An internet enabled device like a kindle can be used in place of textbooks but what about testing that kids have actually learned the subject matter? What about helping them when they run into difficulties? What about facilitating debates and communication? etc. etc. It would be interesting to hear what people think should be tried or will succeed and why. And what else is needed to make a better use of tables/notebooks/something else?

IMO, It really does depend on the device that you use and the course that you participating in which would determine how successful the idea of an internet enabled device in the class room can be.

Devices like the kindle and other tablets would be great for consumption of information, but can we can see this being rather limited when it comes to only having access to the information that has to conform to the constraints of an App store/Market place eco system. We may find that a if a school was to choose the IPad as their exclusive learning aid, then they may have to adopt the Apple Curriculum in accordance to the only information that has passed the strict vetting of the app store regulations.

Then there is also the input activities where typing essays or drawing is necessary. You may be able to type comfortably with two hands on a tablet (I can) but not half as fast as one can on a keyboard as we have short-keys that reduce the need to break our flow and this is also limiting on a netbooks custom key-bindings (but better).

Net books are better for tasks where a mouse and cursor is needed in CAD tasks as you have a greater accuracy than a touch interface and you have short-keys again but will be limited to such a small screen that it can be a hindrance.

So now we could see pupils bringing in multiple devices for their classes which would be a nightmare for the IT infrastructure if they choose to support a BYOD policy. You could not support everyone's chosen device would be 100% compatible with the tools needed in the class let alone any issues they may have connecting to the network in the first place.

So the the best choice that schools would have would be to keep the standardised PC. It would still be best suited for the majority of the classes and can have all the software needed for all pupils at once (where required). This could also ensure that the pupils have access to the full knowledge of the web for research at anytime.

PS: I left out the whole paperless class room vs pen&paper argument as my post is quite long enough and my HP Touchpad battery (what I'm posting from) is about to die. In fact, that is another point... All of these devices in schools will need power sockets installing at each desk to ensure they stay powered up during class. That is an extra out-lay in building costs.

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:53 am

Certain devices have proven battery life of well over ten hours on a couple of hours' charge - you can probably guess which ones. Others, not so much, but, still, well above 6 ~ 7 hours, so, quite usable.

Most older people are still stuck in the "I can only run what's loaded on my device in applications" mindset. Wake up, it's 2012, in the 21st Century. We have this thing called the Internet (and intranets for controlled environments like classrooms) and there are these nifty things called web pages that can include processing as well as content (anyone recall Niklaus Wirth's "Data + Algorithm = Program" concept?). I don't know of a school that doesn't have at least 802.11b WiFi where wireless devices are used/permitted/encouraged, and the wired computers have at least that speed of access. Of course, that's not in much of the Third World, but, it's coming, eventually, using what the First and Second Worlds donate and hand down. South Korea and something like a dozen other countires have better per capita high-speed broadband access than the U.S., for one tiny example.

Web technology is continuously evolving and the content is increasingly interactive, to the point that you'd be hard-pressed to know you weren't working on locally-executing software (and much of it is, via HTML5, Javascript, CSS, Java, Flash, XML, etc.). Try Google Docs for a taste of what's feasible - it even runs offline in browsers, now. Gates is promoting the same old MS "you have to run OS and applications software we sell your school" model, because that's how he achieved and would like to continue in the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed (as do many other purveyors of commercial educational computing products). I'm more than a little bit concerned that off-device processing (aka cloud computing) isn't being developed much more intensely for the Pi, precisely because of its very limited CPU and RAM resources.

MIT, Stanford, Harvard, and other top-tier universities are putting their entire curricula on-line. Sebastian Thurm of Stanford/Google self-driving car fame (his teams won both X Prize challenges for off-road and urban autonomous vehicles) has launched a startup, Udacity.com. It builds on his experience teaching the Stanford Introduction to Artificial Intelligence course on-line to 60,000+ students worldwide simultaneously, of which almost half completed all of the homework and exams and earned full credit. Udacity students only pay about $50 to take the exams if they want credit for a course that costs campus students thousands of dollars. Homework, quiz, project, and exam grading is automated, so, this works well for a STEM course, but, wouldn't scale for a writing course (although spelling, grammar, plagiarism-checking, etc., are now automated for writing submissions at many schools). Here's the real kicker - average scores are about 10% higher for on-line students, including campus students who use the option, over the average scores for just the on-campus students who only attend the classes in person! Here's another amazing data point - the highest-scoring Stanford campus student was 413th out of the ~30,000 who successfully completed the course. They're researching the reasons, but, students proceeding at their own pace is very likely a large part of it, as has been seen in the rampant success of the Khan Academy YouTube lessons.

Every tablet can already have a keyboard and other input devices connected to it via USB and/or Bluetooth (depending on the model). Gates is pretending that the Surface is bringing a brand new idea to mobile computing that goes back to the days of the Palm devices of at least 15 years ago. If tapping on a screen works, great, and if it doesn't, just use an external keyboard - end of revelation.

As for continuing with the mess of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products already in schools and piling up ever higher, that's precisely what the current ICT debacle has produced - locked-down piles of overly-expensive, high-profit hardware and software that collects security vulnerabilities faster than MI-5 double-agents working for foreign governments. They're also a major pain to keep running if you expose the innards to kids,mwhich most agree we want to do so that they can really understand how they work. We want kids to experiment with them, but, if you do that and they mess up the Windows registry, etc., good luck getting the magic smoke back in the bottle. Entire self-licking IT empires have been built in school systems just like they have in businesses, except that I've personally observed schools with brand-new hardware and software piling up for years because those staffs tend to be so incompetent that they can't get a job in businesses. They're not all that way, and some are perennially understaffed, but, their overall track record is not good, and they provide no direct increase to teacher-student knowledge transfer beyond perhaps automating rote skills.

The major thrust of the Pi initiative is low hardware and software cost, easy to use via a GUI initially, with full command-line acces if/when desired, and exploration not only allowed, but encouraged. There's no IT-oriented registry to keep untangled, virtually no security issues if the default configurations are maintained, restoral and update of the software are simple and quick as needed when (not if) a catastrophe occurs, and portability of SD cards and/or devices between classes at school, and between school and home are quite feasible. If educators are involved in developing educational software as well as content, especially if assisted by advanced students, that would be an ideal outcome. Teachers are required to earn continuing education credits in some school systems, and this would make for an outstanding accomplishment on any CV/resume.

One of the things that Gates did say in the Charlie Rose interview is that he spends an hour a day reading or otherwise learning about something not related to his work with the Foundation or the day a month he spends at Microsoft discussing long-term strategy. If that was seven days a week over the past 36 years since he's left Harvard, that's about 13,140 hours, while five years of postgraduate study through a PhD, plus the senior year of undergraduate work he missed, is roughly 17,500 hours for a STEM curriculum. He's still a couple of years of equivalent dedicated study time short, and reading/learning is not the same as studying for and passing exams, writing a thesis, and developing and successfully defending a dissertation. However, he's obviously picked up at least an MBA's worth of business experience during his career.
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Thu Jul 05, 2012 5:22 am

Jim, I think that you (and a gazillion other starry-eyed tech heads) are in danger of getting all worked up about the medium and completely forgetting about the message. ;)

Some of us old-timers believe (possibly unfashionably) that content is important too, as are the thought processes that create / make sense of / destruction test it. Being able to pass around information easily is wonderful, but it doesn't conjure intelligence out of fresh air. That's why we'll always need smart teachers - context is everything. "The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted" - so said Plutarch, 1900-odd years ago.

And there are still plenty of have-nots, even here in the developed world. That's possibly getting a bit off topic though...

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Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:06 am

gritz wrote:Jim, I think that you (and a gazillion other starry-eyed tech heads) are in danger of getting all worked up about the medium and completely forgetting about the message. ;)

Some of us old-timers believe (possibly unfashionably) that content is important too, as are the thought processes that create / make sense of / destruction test it. Being able to pass around information easily is wonderful, but it doesn't conjure intelligence out of fresh air. That's why we'll always need smart teachers - context is everything. "The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lighted" - so said Plutarch, 1900-odd years ago.

And there are still plenty of have-nots, even here in the developed world. That's possibly getting a bit off topic though...
My tech cred may belie my age - I could be even more decrepit than you, chronologically. If you add up all the crap I've been through as described in probably way-too-much detail above, you might be able to figure out our likely minimal age differential (hint, my Dad parachuting into Normandy, etc.). I also should point out that I own a real engineering degree (the kind about metal pipes, hulls, radiation containment, electronics, etc.) and have a couple of decades of operating experience. Unfortunately, that kind of work is done in other countries nowadays and there's only so much of a commute I'll put up with (transoceanic daily would be a real ball-buster), and a pittance in pay, to boot! All of that is to say that I am thoroughly Ye Olde School in the best sense of the phrase - I believe in the existence of Evil, and His name is Murphy! :o

I also spent lots of years in the content business, although I suppose these posts are a poor excuse of an extension of it. You have to admit though, when I'm not being informative, at least I'm entertaining, which is more than you can say about some of the riff-raff here! :lol: I believe I earlier described my years spent helping deep thinkers by building tools that enabled them to transform oceans of raw data (the sushi of computing) into actionable information, occasionally enabling highly useful knowledge to be established. So, I am not only quite familiar with the mental gymnastics you so eloquently delineated, I'm one of a very small number of people who has actually managed to encode parts of the process to a point where technically unsophisticated (but, brilliant in more important ways) people could discover things that would have been impossible Ye Olde Fashioned Waye.

This reminds me of the Allied effort to break the Japanese Naval codes during WW-II. Relatively new experts from Station Hypo in Hawaii were dispatched to Northern Australia (IIRC) to see if they could assist British and Australian Navy cryptanalysts (code and cypher breakers/exploiters) with a growing backlog of recently-decrypted, but, not-yet-analyzed Imperial Japanese Navy radio Morse code messages. They were shocked to discover that their Allied counterparts were only going through the messages in the order they had been received after decryption ... and the backlog was then exceeding three weeks. In other words, they were translating and analyzing ancient history, while current events were piling up in their overflowing in-boxes!

They were slogging through what was 95% logistics and personnel tripe, while operationally-critical information about current and planned future Japanese efforts were rotting into complete worthlessness before their very eyes. That's what The Procedures stated was to be done and, by God and The Queen, that's what they were doing (including 4 PM High Tea, of course). The U. S. Navy officers immediately began digging through the most recent decryptions and quickly sorted them by subject, with the really important tactical and strategic messages fully translated and analyzed, while the chaff was disregarded until some anthropologist could go through them to write the complete history books in their retirement years. Within something like a month or two, a flight plan for Admiral Yamamoto's aircraft was intercepted and in no more than a few hours, it was shot down.

The moral of the story is that some old ways eventually wear out their welcome, and sometimes you just have to throw out the damned rule books, especially when rules defy common sense! The key is to have the wisdom to know what's important to keep, and I heartily agree with the spirit of your comments - I've spent my life's work doing just those sorts of things, or at least trying really hard. However, there are some truly amazing things that technology can help us accomplish that kings with all of the resources in their world could never even dream of as recently as decades ago. It took my parents seven DC-3 flights to get from New York to San Francisco for their honeymoon (and they could only do it because she worked in the TWA office at LaGuardia and could fly standby). Now, any of us can be anywhere in the world in well under 24 hours for the cost of a months' food, if we use WWW tools to match our time and price criteria. It all comes down to a matter of balance, and knowing how to use the available tools. That's something one learns very quickly in sword fighting and jousting, or winds up yelling, " 'Tis but a flesh wound! Come back here, you coward!", as the Black Night saunters off while you spurt profusely, sitting on what's left of your hips :D

You chaps and ladies are still celebrating High Tea, aren't you? I lived in Japan for over five years and let me tell you, they are several thousand years ahead of you pikers! I highly recommend putting that toward the top of your (kick-the-)bucket list - you can thank me later. Oh, and the food is to die for, too, especially the Fugu ... quite seriously - it's the blowfish in which the liver, heart, intestines, and eyes contain tetrodotoxin, more poisonous than cyanide. They recently eliminated the need for Fugu chefs to be licensed in Tokyo, the only place it was required, so, you've been forewarned ... YMMV - Your Mortality May Vary :shock:
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- W.B. Yeats
In theory, theory & practice are the same - in practice, they aren't!!!

gritz
Posts: 449
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:33 am

Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:43 am

Yeah, we all live in thatched cottages in the UK and take high tea... If only that were true then there'd probably be no need for this Pi at all. :lol:

I've not been to Japan, but the images of the aftermath of the Tsunami last year suggest that away from the city it looks just as low tech (and in some places dirt poor) as anywhere else. Have they even unified their mains voltages yet? I heard about the Fugu thing too (on my very analogue medium wave radio btw!). I think I'll stick to swordfish.

Your story of the pile of messages to decode reminds me of the time I was working for a large photolab. There was a fairly catastrophic contamination incident and processing was held up for a couple of days. We were kneedeep in backlog and at the time we offered a money back guarantee if we didn't meet the turnaround time. So rather than work chronologically and make everyone's order late, we started with the current stuff and worked backwards best we could. Obvious, really!

Regarding "throwing away the rulebook" - every few years some futuro-type comes up with a scheme for a rocket plane to fly London to Sydney in 50 minutes, or somesuch. Give me a break! Here's a novel idea: make it so it doesn't take half a day to get to the airport via public transport and the other half a day waiting to get on the damn plane. Now that's a practical solution!

Anyways, i mustn't keep you from your Pi. And best wishes to yer dad. Normandy's a nice place to visit - but not by parachute, with people shooting at you. :shock:

adama
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:28 am

Re: Bill Gates backs Raspberry Pi in all but name?

Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:30 am

baldboffin wrote:Bill Gates would back anything he thinks he can make money from
but would make damn sure it didn't quite work first time, or second, or third,
so you have to keep buying it over and over and over etc...
Gates bashing is /so/ 1990s. You realise that Bill isn't in charge of Microsoft anymore, and that he gives huge amounts of his money away to charity, right?

adam.

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