richardp
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:01 pm

jamesh wrote:
I'd say it was more mature than the C64, Spectrum, BBC etc... It's got a robust multi tasking OS, with a vast software base for starters.
I would argue semantics :) Maturity and Feature-set are different items. I have a cheap android tablet that has all the trimmings from the Android market but yet it still crashes and goes non-responsive at random intervals.

Using a known system (aka Linux) does not change the overall solutions Maturity. As to the vast collection of software I am reminded of the PC-SIG Shareware library. Millions of applications that no-one actually wanted :D

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:50 pm

I want to address the underlying issue here from a different slant by way of a rather long (for a forum post) anecdote.

Cast your mind back to 1974, and note that "PCs" of *any* kind other that rare and expensive home brew systems simply didn't exist (and neither did Linux).

My wife made her living pounding typewriters and related equipment, like IBM MTST, MTSC, and MCSCs. She was working for a small office that handled grant accounting an publishing the resulting papers at the University of California, Berkeley. Now you need to understand that here degree is in Linguistics and she is *neither* technically nor mathematically inclined. (When she wrote SF/F, the family joke was that she wrote the words and I did the math and physics.)

She heard about this nifty new idea that was floating around campus called a "word processor", specifically, a computer that would permit typing documents and then editting and formatting them. The programs ran on this new system called "unix" that she knew nothing about.

One of the professors whose papers were handled by the unit she worked in got himself a unix account to try this new stuff, but he was an early riser and wanted to work on the system between 4 AM and 6 AM...which just happened to be the same time they took the systems down for PM every day.

Since my wife had expressed interest, one day he brought her his paper, id & password (bsd 2.9 on a PDP-11/70), terminal (ADM-3A), modem (300bps acoustic coupler), and documentation (unix manuals and guides for vi and nroff) and told her when he needed the paper back.

The following several days got...interesting. I would get frantic phone calls at work saying that the computer had done this or that, or given some error message and asked "what does THAT mean?" Not being a unix person myself (I was busy using IBM DOS--the mainframe one--on System/360s), I had to listen to what she read out of the manuals and make my best guess as to how to get from where she was to where she wanted to be.

She got the paper done.

She went on to become quite accustomed to using unix, up to and including helping convert the rest of the office she was in to using vi, nroff, troff, and the associated pre-processors (like eqn and tbl). Eventually, she wound up as an editor on the Computing Services newsletter.

To this day she *still* doesn't do the admin work on the computers she uses, nor does she think she knows a lick of programming...in spite of having done a great deal of nroff, tbl, and eqn coding.

How does this apply to the Pi?

Simple...there are a myriad ways of approaching computers and learning more about them. Not everyone will wind up with the same set of skills, but throwing someone in the deep end with only someone standing by to give a little aid here and there *can* work.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:55 pm

W. H. Heydt wrote:I want to address the underlying issue here from a different slant by way of a rather long (for a forum post) anecdote.

Cast your mind back to 1974, and note that "PCs" of *any* kind other that rare and expensive home brew systems simply didn't exist (and neither did Linux).

My wife made her living pounding typewriters and related equipment, like IBM MTST, MTSC, and MCSCs. She was working for a small office that handled grant accounting an publishing the resulting papers at the University of California, Berkeley. Now you need to understand that here degree is in Linguistics and she is *neither* technically nor mathematically inclined. (When she wrote SF/F, the family joke was that she wrote the words and I did the math and physics.)

She heard about this nifty new idea that was floating around campus called a "word processor", specifically, a computer that would permit typing documents and then editting and formatting them. The programs ran on this new system called "unix" that she knew nothing about.

One of the professors whose papers were handled by the unit she worked in got himself a unix account to try this new stuff, but he was an early riser and wanted to work on the system between 4 AM and 6 AM...which just happened to be the same time they took the systems down for PM every day.

Since my wife had expressed interest, one day he brought her his paper, id & password (bsd 2.9 on a PDP-11/70), terminal (ADM-3A), modem (300bps acoustic coupler), and documentation (unix manuals and guides for vi and nroff) and told her when he needed the paper back.

The following several days got...interesting. I would get frantic phone calls at work saying that the computer had done this or that, or given some error message and asked "what does THAT mean?" Not being a unix person myself (I was busy using IBM DOS--the mainframe one--on System/360s), I had to listen to what she read out of the manuals and make my best guess as to how to get from where she was to where she wanted to be.

She got the paper done.

She went on to become quite accustomed to using unix, up to and including helping convert the rest of the office she was in to using vi, nroff, troff, and the associated pre-processors (like eqn and tbl). Eventually, she wound up as an editor on the Computing Services newsletter.

To this day she *still* doesn't do the admin work on the computers she uses, nor does she think she knows a lick of programming...in spite of having done a great deal of nroff, tbl, and eqn coding.

How does this apply to the Pi?

Simple...there are a myriad ways of approaching computers and learning more about them. Not everyone will wind up with the same set of skills, but throwing someone in the deep end with only someone standing by to give a little aid here and there *can* work.
I tried casting my mind back to 1974, but then realised I was only 9. So the only thing I can remember is....er....nothing.
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Mon Dec 31, 2012 8:53 pm

That's about time time I started, on an acoustic coupler to the one computer serving all Birmingham schools, one terminal per school.

I've got my finger out and written something. It's here. Comments and constructive brickbats welcome.

It does Python because I think it's right, and because there is no BASIC on standard Raspbian.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:24 pm

rurwin wrote:That's about time time I started, on an acoustic coupler to the one computer serving all Birmingham schools, one terminal per school.

I've got my finger out and written something. It's here. Comments and brickbats welcome.

It does Python because I think it's right, and because there is no BASIC on standard Raspbian.
Followed you`re thread and was impressed. If you could get readers of the Forum to contribute to what you have started then maybe you will have the helpful guide that a lot of people are asking for. If you were to include a small document with future Pi sales that gave instructions how to reach it online then maybe a bridge has been crossed. A HAPPY NEW YEAR to yourself and all involved with Pi. And a big thank you for listening and involving others back and forth in what has turned out to be a really lively debate. By the way I do wish to learn to program Pi (as soon as I get a replacement SD card).

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:18 am

Since we're having a beginner thread, I'd like to share some experiences about the things that had a big impact on how I work with computers.

First, unlike many here, it wasn't so long ago that I was 12 and in primary school. Back then we just got informatics as a subject. The curriculum wasn't what many people would call interesting. We spent some time doing binary arithmetic and a little bit of studying of computer components. Then we moved on to BASIC programming. We still didn't have PCs then (and programming was done on paper only) and the informatics teacher was new. So we spent some time digging in the school storage area and managed to dig out an Orao. It was an 8-bit computer running on a Motorola processor if I remember correctly. It booted directly to interpreter and we only had the computer and no cassettes, no manuals or even program listings. So anything we wanted to do we had to program directly on it. At first everyone was impressed by it, but after few weeks, many lost interest in doing anything with it. Me and few other classmates didn't. I had a much better PC at home (Cyrix MII running at 233 MHz with 32 MiB of RAM), but that computer at school could be programmed by me and my home computer running Windows 98 couldn't.

Sometime later we got real PCs for class use and then the major difference showed itself up: Those who weren't so interested in the old computer also mostly spent their time in class playing computer games behind teacher's back while the few of us who were interested in that strange computer continued doing what was in the curriculum. Later on we also got into computer related secondary schools and universities. The first point I see in this story (if there is any at all) is that for some people Word and Excel mastery is really the best that can be done to help them. The second point is that for some of us that old, barely working and constantly crashing manual-less computer wasn't enough to stop us.

From that period comes the second story I want to share as well. Back then in Windows, there was something called Windows 98 tour. It was an interesting interactive application that basically showed the operating system capabilities. It played some music and did some animations. The most interesting part of it for me was a link to a tutorial program buried somewhere in the windows directory. It had some basic things like click, right-click, double-click and drag and drop exercises and explained ideas behind some basic GUI concepts. For example you had to drag a circle from one part of the screen to another or to double click on a specific part of a box so that it would change texture and so on. In later versions of Windows it was removed. I think that such an application should be made prominently visible if it exists or made if it doesn't. It may help the youngest and oldest users of the Pi. I've seen some older people who can't get the hints provided by the GUI which show relation of elements. Unfortunately, I don't have any experience with young children. The tour application could be helpful too, or maybe a list of interesting links that would come with the OS itself. Basically the pdf quick start guide is a bit too short for someone that is new to GNU/Linux and the whole ecosystem in general and I have a feeling that the wiki is a little bit distant right now for many.

Now I'll rant a bit about my first experiences with GNU/Linux. The first distro I installed was Slackware. It was probably in 2001 or maybe 2002, I don't remember exactly. The basic install went pretty smooth, but then I got a command line and I had no idea what to do with it. Back to Windows 98 it went with me (but I kept the Darkstar hostname for many years after that). Next attempt was Red Hat 8. I was 13 at the time. I managed to get the CDs and somehow installed it on my computer. I even got a hardware fax modem, since winmodems which were popular at the time didn't work on GNU/Linux. I got comfortable with GUI and learned what was KDE and GNOME (and I also decided that I liked KDE better) and got comfortable with the repository based distribution system. From then on until the release of GNOME 3 I've always had at least one GNU/Linux distribution installed. Oh and back then, my parents couldn't install any operating system on a computer. They can't even today.

And for the end of this more or less useless post the thing that really got me close to GNU/Linux: Gentoo! Now I know that Gentoo has reputation of being extremely unfriendly to new users, but for me it was the completely opposite experience. The first thing I did was to print out the Gentoo handbook for my platform. It's a very long document, but is one I really recommend that every GNU/Linux user reads. Assuming no prior experience, it explains how to install Gentoo on a new computer using Live CD. What I really (and it's worth saying again) really liked about it is that it reads a bit like those choose your own adventure books.

It doesn't dumb down any part of the process, but at the same time it explains relatively nicely how each part of the process works and what each option that can be selected does. In each section there's an objective like for example network connectivity. Then there are ways to do it. If you want to use this magical script that will solve everything, go here. If you want to use DHCP, go there. Way over there you have the explanation how to set absolutely everything by hand. For almost every step needed to get the system running, there are two or more ways explained how to do it.

This is the first time I really felt safe using command line. Most instructions in the handbook are generic and will work on almost any distribution. Even when I couldn't get IP address at all in Ubuntu, I'd go back to that printed Gentoo handbook and to its chapter about networking. The manual way was longer and more complicated than latest GUI, but it would always work. People who only used the Networkmanager (whose slogan is Linux networking made Easy, if I remember correctly) had no idea what to do when they couldn't connect using it. I did. They took (or maybe it's better to say were given) the easy solution and when it doesn't work, then they have unsolvable problem because they don't know any other way. Sure in day to day use, the easy solution does have many benefits, but if we only rely on it, we turn into Windows.

I see many people here talking about simplifying things so that they could be used by children and showing only one path that works right. It really hurts me to see that. I'm not against having a recommended well documented path, but what I'd really like to see for Pi would be document as wide as Gentoo Handbook. Give people lots of options and gently point them in the preferred direction, but don't shove them and tell them it's my way or highway.

Finally I can see two potential problems with this approach: First is: Who is going to write such a guide and the second is what if we overwhelm the kids.

For the first one, I don't have a good answer. Hopefully community. We have a wiki (or do we? The dictatorship reports I've seen don't look very nice) from which we could compile data.

For the second, well we're trying to educate next generation of computer scientists and engineers here. If they get used to reading long lists of hopefully well explained options, the 1500 page datasheet for the newest ARM chip they get one they grow up won't be ask shocking.

I hope I didn't waste too much of your time for having you read this.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:59 am

Thanks Kole, that was a fascinating read, and you bring up some interesting points.

I remember giving my father the Windows 98 tour application when I got him a computer for him to type letters on. I tried it out myself first and thought it was very good. It would tell you what to do, wait for ages, and then if you hadn't done it, it would gently remind you. My father found it nagged him. By the time he managed to do what he had been asked it would have reminded him two or three times.

He had a recurring problem that took me some time to figure out. It seems he tended to stop and think with his finger on the Enter key. He would look back at the screen and find his entire letter had disappeared. He would complain bitterly and type the entire thing again, only to be mystified when, when he printed it, he got two copies.

Regarding your Gentoo Handbook thoughts, I have said before that with whatever OS you use you sometimes hit a problem that takes three days to fix and taxes you to the limits. On Windows, (and probably MacOS or any OS that you can't research down to the last nut and bolt) you come out of that three-day nightmare tired and beaten, having reinstalled the OS, maybe lost a load of stuff, and having learned nothing. With Linux you come out having fixed the problem, learned something new, maybe met new friends, and with a greater confidence in your own abilities. So I would definitely agree that having detailed and in-depth documentation is vital, even if a ten year-old kid or an adult newbie would not understand it. Some day they will, and some day they will need it.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:52 am

lunar-base-1 wrote:I agree! "It's getting started that's the problem."

At the moment I have power (PWR - red led) but nothing else - oh the green led (ACT) flashes intermittently when I power up - then goes away.

I purchased my unit from RS just before Xmas. The 4GB OS on a "microdisk" / flash card / solid state memory came with it.

Connected as follows: 5v dc 2000 mA; 4 input powered USB; USB keyboard and mouse (yes they work on my other computer); HDMI connector to a year old JVC that also works when it has an arial plugged in. At the moment I am getting a "No digital TV signal available" message on the screen.

On the hand held controller I can call up the "source" as follows TV / SCART / DVD / SIDE-AV / SCART-5 / HDMI1 / YPbPr / VGA/PC

I am using a "HDMI" cable (HDMI at both ends - from RS). Perhaps I should be using HDMI at the RasPi end and VGA at the TV end ?

Suggestions gratefully accepted.

Anyhow, it is comforting to know that I am supporting an educational charity. And for those who have contributed to this thread - yes it can be frustrating too ! Getting kids off the ground with this thing is going to mean "proving" a set of RasPi's kits with connections and a few easy programmes before you let loose the poor things on it.

[Once you have "proven" the set then you can disconnect the kit and let them have a go" ] I have run electronics classes for beginners and I have learnt to "get the setup right" before passing on the kit to anyone else. - Sam
Hopefully someone replied already, but in case not... It's likely that the RS SD card you have needs to be upgraded see here for how I discovered that http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewt ... 2&p=246078

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:25 pm

I have to +1 the Gentoo Handbook suggestion as well. I didn't feel like I understood or could use any linux distro effectively before going through the handbook.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:40 pm

jodykingzett wrote:Sorry to say this guys but I am currently banging my head against the wall and am finding the multi-tudinal / multi-optional various forms of "apparent" help NOT helpful... :

1. Too much unexplained jargon
2. Too many links that don't work
3. Too many variations
4. Too much unexplained detail

I'm 35, having been using computers for years and started out on the zx spectrum, I was really looking forward to using my Raspberry Pi but currently it's sitting sadly in drawer. I can only imagine that a kid at primary school wouldn't know what hell was going on if he/she visited this site with a RaspberryPi in their hand...

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can someone make a "user" friendly beginner's guide.

Thanks
There is one available from http://www.amazon.co.uk

Raspberry Pi User Guide
Eben Upton (Author), Gareth Halfacree (Author)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (14 Sep 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 111846446X
ISBN-13: 978-1118464465

That book is a good start for a manual.

As so many people who were raised on the BBC and Archimedes computers are using the Raspberry PI, hopefully someone will publish books that were equivalent to books that were available for the BBC, Archimedes and later RISC PCs on machine code, assembly language and even books like Joe Telford's Practical Hardware Projects for the BBC micro, which was great for a beginner (Although I did once wreck a BBC motherboard when I made a soldering mistake using the cassette port to drive buggy motors (teacher was not amused :twisted: ) ).

My old BBC B, BBC Master, BBC 3000A and Archimedes 7000+ are all still fully operational as well as having numerous manuals for programming RISC and associated assembly language as well as machine code for early Arm 250/300/7500 processors. Most of the break out boxes, drives, the buggy, are all working. Only the BBC Eprom programmer is not working.

I am mid house move at present but about March will have a room to work on building break out boxes similar to those we used on the BBC for the PI to control various electronic equipment. I am going to check out embedding in big trak first to smooth things out then move onto building a robot system.

So much of the Raspberry Pi reminds me of the BBC and Archimedes computers. It is almost like updated nostalgia :)

Kind regards

Andrea

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:02 pm

rurwin wrote:I've got my finger out and written something. It's here. Comments and constructive brickbats welcome.

It does Python because I think it's right, and because there is no BASIC on standard Raspbian.
I like it
(does that count as a constructive brickbat?)

To the sounds of own-blown trumpets, I wrote something vaguely similar for RISC OS
"A stroll around RISC OS"
in PDF and odt if anyone's interested

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:40 pm

At the risk... This thread, whilst very popular is an example of the sort of thing that puts beginners off...

It strays all over the place, with moderators as well as experienced contibutors largely responsible for the avalanche of information of the type that beginners are saying snows them under. Thanks to andrea for the reference back to the first post of 210.

The guide at http://www.raspberrypi.org/wp-content/u ... e-v1.1.pdf also mentioned earlier is very good, but too utopian in that it assumes every step will work. Step 4 in particular won't as DiskImager has unpublicised limitations which could do with at least a reference/solution in the guide. see https://bugs.launchpad.net/win32-image- ... bug/984510

Verifying downloads wasn't as simple as it appeared either, with no obvious source for the information eventually supplied by joan... that the published checksums are for the zip, not the image file inside it. Perhaps that could be added to the guide?

The many suggestions that all the problems are neccessary, from an educational standpoint, seem to me to be putting the cart before the horse. My education, and that of others, is founded on the learning of countless millions of my predecessors, living and dead. And if each of us were to have to repeat each and every one of their mistakes in order to progress our own knowledge then I suspect there wouldn't be a Raspberry Pi to discuss, or a forum to discuss it on. To them I say, please continue to teach your children to swim by throwing them in at the deep end, and let Darwin decide the outcome.

If anyone is still looking for an all in one box kit try here http://www.maplin.co.uk/raspberry-piand ... kit-652805 though for some reason it dosn't include a case, it has 'everything' else.

@liz, of moderator status. I think you're right this has strayed far far from the point, though there is use in some of it. Is there no way to shift off topic posts bodily into the right threads :?

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 4:37 pm

Looks like there are lots of people who care about trying to get newbies using the Raspberry Pi on this thread, so hopefully I can tap some of your experience :D

We http://www.pi-cars.com are trying to use hacked radio controlled cars to entice beginners into programming (and electronics) with the Raspberry Pi. To do this we are in the process of creating the tutorials (or driving lessons as we are calling them) to let newbies get up and running with a Pi-Car. The first part of this is setting up the Raspberry Pi - which can be a challenge for someone new to it as people have mentioned.

Here is the setup guide we created - happy to be flamed, especially if it is pointed out what can be improved - http://pi-cars.com/2012/12/19/set-up-your-raspberry-pi/

The next challenge is how to instruct people to get the code onto the Pi for interacting with the GPIO pins - we are going to do this via the Pi Store - http://store.indiecity.com/projects/pic ... re_toolbox

Thanks for your time.
Barnaby Kent
http://www.pi-cars.com
Control your radio controlled car through your Raspberry Pi

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:10 pm

rurwin wrote:I've got my finger out and written something. It's here. Comments and constructive brickbats welcome.

It does Python because I think it's right, and because there is no BASIC on standard Raspbian.
Whilst not exactly a brickbat, I think you miss the point. Most of the beginners complaints that I've seen (mine with them) are because they can't get to the
You've got a black screen with confusing white text, and you've managed to "login", whatever that means. What do you do now?
stage in the first place, or at least found it tougher than the guides, including the one you link to at http://www.raspberrypi.org/wp-content/u ... e-v1.1.pdf, would lead them to believe.

After that it's that the information needed is variously scattered, inaccurate, outdated and anarchic. There does need to be a single reliable point at which to start, from which links to reliably resolve issues, and progress further in whatever direction, can be found. It seems to me the only sensible location for that is the foundation's web site, and that it needs to be properly moderated so that inaccuracies and irelevancies are not published on it (which rules out a typical wiki IMHO). Sadly, and useful as it may be, your contribution has become the latest raindrop in the sea, hard to distinguish from all the other raindrops, and all the less potable for that.

Of course that applies to this post too :cry:

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 6:18 pm

maxlee wrote:
rurwin wrote:I've got my finger out and written something. It's here. Comments and constructive brickbats welcome.

It does Python because I think it's right, and because there is no BASIC on standard Raspbian.
Whilst not exactly a brickbat, I think you miss the point. Most of the beginners complaints that I've seen (mine with them) are because they can't get to the
You've got a black screen with confusing white text, and you've managed to "login", whatever that means. What do you do now?
stage in the first place, or at least found it tougher than the guides, including the one you link to at http://www.raspberrypi.org/wp-content/u ... e-v1.1.pdf, would lead them to believe.
:
Can you explain what you mean about not getting to that point? I just re-read the QSG and it does explain all the steps needed to get the SD card imaged and the device up and running in quite some detail. The only thing maybe missing is some possible error situations, but TBH, it's very difficult to document ALL the errors that could possibly happen. Or, as the writer of the guide, if you haven't experienced the errors yourself, you do not know about them to document!

So, what are the things that are stopping people getting to the booted Pi stage?

As regard to this thread diverging, I'm happy to let it do that within reason. It is NOT a thread to help beginners, it's a thread discussing a lack of accurate documentation and what to do about it, and so far that been the general use to which it has been put.
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:10 pm

I'm guessing they have problems imaging the SD card.

Apologies if I going off-topic again but...

It appears that the Foundation and an overwhelming critical mass of the community is supporting Raspian and Python, which is great, as in addition to choice there needs to be standardisation. Is this choice related to the educational curriculum in schools? Is there a programming curriculum in primary/secondary schhols that the Pi needs to follow or is part of the Foundation's aim to establish one?

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:20 pm

pygmy_giant wrote:I'm guessing they have problems imaging the SD card.

Apologies if I going off-topic again but...

It appears that the Foundation and an overwhelming critical mass of the community is supporting Raspian and Python, which is great, as in addition to choice there needs to be standardisation. Is this choice related to the educational curriculum in schools? Is there a programming curriculum in primary/secondary schhols that the Pi needs to follow or is part of the Foundation's aim to establish one?
I'm not sure. The current curriculum in the UK is very much biased to ICT, the use of computers, rather than the programming side. That needs to change, and I think is doing so. There are a number of initiatives to launch next year that will really push in that direction. Going to be interesting.

Whether Python is standardised I don't know - it's certainly good enough. Raspbian is the best distro at the moment on the Raspi, and I cannot see that changing (at the moment).
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:39 pm

maxlee wrote: I think you miss the point. Most of the beginners complaints that I've seen (mine with them) are because they can't get to the
rurwin wrote:You've got a black screen with confusing white text, and you've managed to "login", whatever that means. What do you do now?
stage in the first place, or at least found it tougher than the guides, including the one you link to at http://www.raspberrypi.org/wp-content/u ... e-v1.1.pdf, would lead them to believe.
I've said before here that there should be a better W32diskimager application, more user-friendly and more fool-proof. However... the only Windows system I have here is an ancient Windows 2000 laptop, and while I spend all my working day programming on Windows, it isn't programming for Windows, and I have been dragged kicking and screaming onto Windows 7 in the last few months. Whereas the latest bug reports for W32diskimager is in regards to Windows 8.

The W32diskimager team is on record as saying (I believe repeatedly) that they are all Linux hackers, creating a Windows app because one was required.

Which means that I can't write the documentation you want, and I can't write the application that I agree needs to be written. And unfortunately the team that is writing the app doesn't seem to be the best for the job either.

What would be good is if some of the people on this thread who seem to be experienced Windows programmers and RaspPi newbies could pop over to the W32diskimager project and either lend them a hand or fork the project to make a user-friendly Raspberry Pi SD card writer and backer-up.

pygmy_giant
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:54 pm

I've never had any trouble with W32diskimager (on Vista). It does a grand job for me - whats the problem?

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Nipper
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:13 pm

rurwin wrote:Thanks Kole, that was a fascinating read, and you bring up some interesting points.

I remember giving my father the Windows 98 tour application when I got him a computer for him to type letters on. I tried it out myself first and thought it was very good. It would tell you what to do, wait for ages, and then if you hadn't done it, it would gently remind you. My father found it nagged him. By the time he managed to do what he had been asked it would have reminded him two or three times.

He had a recurring problem that took me some time to figure out. It seems he tended to stop and think with his finger on the Enter key. He would look back at the screen and find his entire letter had disappeared. He would complain bitterly and type the entire thing again, only to be mystified when, when he printed it, he got two copies.

Regarding your Gentoo Handbook thoughts, I have said before that with whatever OS you use you sometimes hit a problem that takes three days to fix and taxes you to the limits. On Windows, (and probably MacOS or any OS that you can't research down to the last nut and bolt) you come out of that three-day nightmare tired and beaten, having reinstalled the OS, maybe lost a load of stuff, and having learned nothing. With Linux you come out having fixed the problem, learned something new, maybe met new friends, and with a greater confidence in your own abilities. So I would definitely agree that having detailed and in-depth documentation is vital, even if a ten year-old kid or an adult newbie would not understand it. Some day they will, and some day they will need it.

Is this the link you were refering to in the Windows 98 Tour ? http://www.microsoft.com/mspress/books/toc/1359.aspx
The type of publication that is needed for now RPi ?

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:18 pm

pygmy_giant wrote:I've never had any trouble with W32diskimager (on Vista). It does a grand job for me - whats the problem?
Me neither on XP. I have heard reports of odd behaviour sometimes.

I'm so out of touch on windows programming having worked on embedded stuff for the last 10 years.
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:38 pm

Nipper wrote:Is this the link you were refering to in the Windows 98 Tour ? http://www.microsoft.com/mspress/books/toc/1359.aspx
The type of publication that is needed for now RPi ?
No. It was a CD, an application that ran on the PC. It came free with Windows 98.

@pygmy_giant, For instance: https://answers.launchpad.net/win32-ima ... ion/217323
and of course the nightmare bug that might now be fixed: https://bugs.launchpad.net/win32-image- ... bug/985080
Last edited by rurwin on Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mikerr
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 9:39 pm

pygmy_giant wrote:I've never had any trouble with W32diskimager (on Vista). It does a grand job for me - whats the problem?
On some (many?) PCs it doesn't detect the SD slots properly, so doesn't allow you to use them
- the drive letter doesn't appear in the drop down list in the app - despite showing up as a removable disk in windows.

I had that problem on this HP touchsmart PC (XP and now 8), and had to hunt down an older version of w32imager to fix it.

Though its now possible to do without a windows image program using berryboot:
http://www.berryterminal.com/doku.php/berryboot

(copy a few files to a fat32 SD card, and boot the Pi with that - the pi downloads the files itself - assumes an ethernet connection though).


Much of the "good " information is on this very forum ,and the elinux wiki below:

http://elinux.org/R-Pi_Hub

http://elinux.org/RPi_Easy_SD_Card_Setup

I would be much better if that wiki was hosted on raspberrypi.org
- I think Liz mentioned moves are afoot to do that ?

BTW finding stuff on this forum with prosilver theme
-Profile/Forum Settings and select the "Prosilver" theme
Android app - Raspi Card Imager - download and image SD cards - No PC required !

maxlee
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:21 pm

pygmy_giant wrote:I've never had any trouble with W32diskimager (on Vista). It does a grand job for me - whats the problem?
OK it works for you, clearly it must work for the rest of the world, and if it doesn't it must be their fault?

Not so much a problem as a limitation, but one not mentioned in getting started guides. The exe fails to list card readers not on the USB bus. Sadly, many of us have built in card readers which are not seen as removable by the Win32DiskImager. So when you start the exe you don't get either a drive already in the drop down list, or a list to select from. It's an issue listed in the project as a bug herehttps://bugs.launchpad.net/win32-image- ... bug/984510, and a lot of folk seem to share my experience.

The solution for me was to buy a dirt cheap USB SD card reader, a lot easier than getting the other poorly explained progams to write the image (I first tried a windows version of dd which trashed the SD card completely).

The point is that If the beginners guide says 'do this and this will happen' and it doesn't, it will put beginners off. Particularly if all anyone says in forums is 'It works for me', which accounts for most of what I've found.

maxlee
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:33 pm

rurwin wrote:
maxlee wrote: I think you miss the point. Most of the beginners complaints that I've seen (mine with them) are because they can't get to the
rurwin wrote:You've got a black screen with confusing white text, and you've managed to "login", whatever that means. What do you do now?
stage in the first place, or at least found it tougher than the guides, including the one you link to at http://www.raspberrypi.org/wp-content/u ... e-v1.1.pdf, would lead them to believe.
I've said before here that there should be a better W32diskimager application, more user-friendly and more fool-proof. However... the only Windows system I have here is an ancient Windows 2000 laptop, and while I spend all my working day programming on Windows, it isn't programming for Windows, and I have been dragged kicking and screaming onto Windows 7 in the last few months. Whereas the latest bug reports for W32diskimager is in regards to Windows 8.

The W32diskimager team is on record as saying (I believe repeatedly) that they are all Linux hackers, creating a Windows app because one was required.

Which means that I can't write the documentation you want, and I can't write the application that I agree needs to be written. And unfortunately the team that is writing the app doesn't seem to be the best for the job either.

What would be good is if some of the people on this thread who seem to be experienced Windows programmers and RaspPi newbies could pop over to the W32diskimager project and either lend them a hand or fork the project to make a user-friendly Raspberry Pi SD card writer and backer-up.
I think all it needs is the beginners documentation to point out that Win32DiskImager isn't as foolproof for everyone as says it is, and that it only works for drives that Windows sees as 'removable'. Built in card readers might not be seen as such, and that if you experience the problem you might have to invest in a USB card reader.

Posted a link to the issue earlier, replying to this post as well as you seem to be inclined to helpfulness rather than being of the 'it works for me school', and because I wasn't actually complaining about your documentation, just saying that it starts at a point after the point at which many beginners have already given up.

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