jamesh
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:38 pm

Jim JKla wrote:Spoil sport I liked linenumbers they were great for writing spaghetti code all those pretty goto and gosub commands. :mrgreen:
Actually I don't have a problem with goto if used sparingly - and used with labels rather than line numbers...comuted goto's were essentially in BBC basic! But replaced by case style statements now anyway.
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poing
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:14 pm

Yeah, well, I don't know...
Even in VB 2010, just as in Python, reported errors always say something like: "you're a moron, because you made a mistake in line 'x'". I'm sure the proggies are right on the moron side, but I'd be in all stages if the output was just "you're a moron".

YMMV :mrgreen:

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:31 pm

It's true the lines are still numbered it's just that you don't number them.

But as a old Spectrum hack I still miss the old way. :D
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:06 pm

Most editors have a command from menu or keyboard shortcut to

Jump to Line x (go line x)

Which once you get past "hello world" programs helps you find the problem line quicker, no matter how many edits you do.
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Nipper
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:08 pm

"I missed the reference to line numbers in the original comment. Lines numbers are defunct. They are completely unnecessary (even in basic), and do not lead to good programming practice, certainly not in any mainstream languages"

I have to question what age group the Raspberry Pi foundation thinking of when they say they want the Pi to be used as an educational tool ? I remember as a 4 & 5 year old learning to read, write, and, learn about numbers and what could be done with them. It was a very visual experience, and, by being visual you could also imagine a cat sitting on the mat. Think at the level of a 5 year old and not as an adult and you will begin to see why an entry level language is the way not only to teach but is required for learning. It has to be both logical and visually stimulating to be of any use to a novice.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:17 pm

Nipper wrote:"I missed the reference to line numbers in the original comment. Lines numbers are defunct. They are completely unnecessary (even in basic), and do not lead to good programming practice, certainly not in any mainstream languages"

I have to question what age group the Raspberry Pi foundation thinking of when they say they want the Pi to be used as an educational tool ? I remember as a 4 & 5 year old learning to read, write, and, learn about numbers and what could be done with them. It was a very visual experience, and, by being visual you could also imagine a cat sitting on the mat. Think at the level of a 5 year old and not as an adult and you will begin to see why an entry level language is the way not only to teach but is required for learning. It has to be both logical and visually stimulating to be of any use to a novice.
Well, we have a 6 year old currently on the front page, so I guess that a good starting point, but in my opinion, it's for ANYONE who want to learn. Obviously the majority of people learning at any one time are between 5 and 23.

Although that has nothing to do with line number in code. Which are simply not used in modern computer languages.

I suggest you try Scratch, a completely visual programming language, which the Foundation is promoting, and in fact putting money behind to make it work faster on the Raspi. We envisage that as the starting point for the younger end of the spectrum, and in my experience (my 10 year old) it does a good job. It doesn't have line numbers!
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:01 pm

1) I doubt your 10 year old is typical.

2) The two of you are looking at the term "line numbers" from totally different perspectives. You (JamesH) are thinking in terms of the religious evil of old-style BASIC and GOTOs, while Nipper is merely looking at in terms of navigation - that line numbers (whether they be part of the language (as they were in old-style BASIC) or merely as an artifact of the editor [*] are a great aid to code visualization and navigation.

[*] For example, in vi/vim, while line numbers are not there by default, they can easily be turned (via "set number")
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Nipper
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:02 pm

Well I don't want to get into a bragging war but at the age of 5 my eldest daughter was typing in code and running sprites around the screen. She fully understood what the code was for and how it worked, she could also follow the route the code was taking, with her finger on the screen, and, explain why things happened when they did. What I am trying to say here is that use of modern code is what holds young minds back, not the computer they are using. We as adults had the privilege of learning on basic computers using BASIC language where we were able to conceptualise what we were doing. Modern programming doesn't allow that that to happen. That is maybe why universities found a drop off in both student numbers on computer courses and the skill levels those students possessed.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:06 pm

jamesh wrote:comuted goto's were essentially in BBC basic!
(I assume you mean computed, since BBC BASIC never had COMEFROM.)

Nobody used computed GOTOs, "GOTO (1000*A%)", because they were incompatible with RENUMBER. One used ON … GOTO or IF … THEN PROC instead. BASIC IV added ON … PROC.

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Nipper
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:15 pm

Sorry to butt in again, I am talking from the Commodore 64 perspective, with all the bells and whistles it was so easy, but then "progress" came along and where our grounding came from was seen as "old fashioned" or "no longer relevant in todays day and age".

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:15 am

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

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clive
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:22 am

Nipper wrote:What I am trying to say here is that use of modern code is what holds young minds back, not the computer they are using. We as adults had the privilege of learning on basic computers using BASIC language where we were able to conceptualise what we were doing. Modern programming doesn't allow that that to happen.
Hi Nipper. What do you mean by "modern code" and "modern programming?" As a teacher I am specifically interested in your view that the "use of modern code is what holds young minds back" and the basis for this statement. Are you saying that e.g. people programmng in Scratch are less able to 'conceptualise' what they are doing compared to BASIC? Or that e.g. Python is harder to read / write than BASIC? Your views would be welcome, thanks.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:24 am

I am a bit confused by the notion that there needs to be a special raspberry pi language. The last thing we need is yet another language. You have a choice of all of the popular mainstream languages, you have many flavours of BASIC and then you have things like scratch. Pascal is another great option. Why reinvent the wheel when you have dozens of languages which were written to teach programming and work perfectly well on pi? Not to mention that you can emulate whichever old system like c64 you want and get the same feel, if that's what you're after.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:16 pm

I agree, after reversing my position on this on another thread a year ago.

The new quick start guide should save a few (hu)man-hours of dispair - thanks S(a/i)nta!

The only addition I would make is a photo of the usb power plug as there are a plethora of diddy-usb-esque connectors - anyone else buy the wrong one?

Re: the community not helping - The Foundation had already started a guide which needed amending and writing a second would be confusing for a beginner. Additionally I believe there needs to be officially approved versions of such fundamental docs, and the Foundation seems to have paid capacity to do this, so perhaps no voluntary help is needed.

I guess I could myself have authored such a document and added it to the wiki but I am unsure how to do this - and navigating to http://elinux.org/eLinux.org:RPi_Counci ... l_aldermen
displays a notice at the top of the wiki page which says: 'Please note that User Registration has been temporarily disabled due to a recent increase in automated registrations. If anyone needs an account, please contact request one here: RequestAccount' and then 'Because of the messed up stuff on the Raspberry Pi wiki, I have found it necessary to create a governing council for the RPi wiki. Please edit the below section if you'd like to become a member (alderman) of the council. ' and then there is some unpleasantness directly below that which puts me off.

I myself prefer to make direct offers of help to single individuals and am similary happy to respond to specific/direct requests for help. I am wary of becomming part of a bigger exclusive group for fear of confusion, conflict and wasted effort. Any such group should exhibit strong leadership and a helathy balance of consensus and debate amoung its members.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:37 pm

pygmy_giant wrote:I agree, after reversing my position on this on another thread a year ago.

The new quick start guide should save a few (hu)man-hours of dispair - thanks S(a/i)nta!

The only addition I would make is a photo of the usb power plug as there are a plethora of diddy-usb-esque connectors - anyone else buy the wrong one?

Re: the community not helping - The Foundation had already started a guide which needed amending and writing a second would be confusing for a beginner. Additionally I believe there needs to be officially approved versions of such fundamental docs, and the Foundation seems to have paid capacity to do this, so perhaps no voluntary help is needed.

I guess I could myself have authored such a document and added it to the wiki but I am unsure how to do this - and navigating to http://elinux.org/eLinux.org:RPi_Counci ... l_aldermen
displays a notice at the top of the wiki page which says: 'Please note that User Registration has been temporarily disabled due to a recent increase in automated registrations. If anyone needs an account, please contact request one here: RequestAccount' and then 'Because of the messed up stuff on the Raspberry Pi wiki, I have found it necessary to create a governing council for the RPi wiki. Please edit the below section if you'd like to become a member (alderman) of the council. ' and then there is some unpleasantness directly below that which puts me off.

I myself prefer to make direct offers of help to single individuals and am similary happy to respond to specific/direct requests for help. I am wary of becomming part of a bigger exclusive group for fear of confusion, conflict and wasted effort. Any such group should exhibit strong leadership and a helathy balance of consensus and debate amoung its members.
Thanks for the pointer to the Wiki alderman stuff - hadn't realised it was becoming quite so dictatorial. It does look a little unpleasant, I agree. Not sure, as it's not a Foundation run site there is anything to be done though. Will talk to the boss.
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:01 pm

I totally agree. I to have been in computers since I was 20 years of age, I am now 60, and thought "I'll have a piece of that Pi action" but everything I try has had a stumbling block. As a example (1) - What's so big about Cross Compiling on a Windows platform? I can Cross compile for Atmel ATmega devices on a PC. I can Cross Complile for PIC 18F devices on a PC. Where is the problem? I need a Gcc complier that works on a PC with the associated header files for the Pi environment, and I will transfer the resultant Object file to the Pi and run it. I do not want to load Linux into my PC. I do not need a 2nd occurance of windows in a split screen environment PC. I do not need to have Debian Vs Raspian issues. I am only creating a file that will run on an Arm Cpu.
Example (2) - I want to use I2C bus and program it in 'C' - what a palaver!!! I can see the signals SDA & SCL on a 'scope if I use i2cdetect -y 1 (I have a Rev2 Pi) but will it work from a C program - no it will not.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:04 pm

Cross compiling: Linux generally users the gcc compiler, which is available on Windows via cygwin. Although I tend to use a Linux box for cross compiling. I see your point though. For the moment, you just compile on the Raspi, until you figure out how to set up the cross compiler. In my experience, cross compilers are ALWAYS a PITA to set up.n Whatever the platform, but in you case you are cross compiling across OS as well as instruction set, which makes it even more complicated. Although cross compiling is not a begineer subject, so doesn't really fit in this thread!

I2C: There's a bug in your program....!! And again, really really not a beginners subject, and something that would be complex on any platform.
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:56 pm

I agree that I2C is not a beginners subject but I think the BCM2835 hardware couldn't make it easier as it automatically does things that usually have to be programmed in.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 8:55 pm

Hi,

Just after the Pi was released, we installed our first model B in about 15 minutes. This was before Asb's configuration script was as good as it is now. The supporting hardware (SD card, power supply, etc.) was chosen after reading the wiki hardware section. There are many dodgy power supplies out there. For example, I bought a Raspberry Pi power supply from Amazon, which died after just a couple of hours of operation. This was embarrassing at the time, since it was being used for a Jam and had not been tested before. A 1Amp power supply with a CE mark (European version)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CE_marking
is a good way to go. A range of tested power supplies would help others. USB peripherals can be a bit of a mine field too. Documentation, testing and no poly fuses will probably improve this for others.

Our three year old son can plug his Pi together, power it up and start Childsplay or Tuxpaint without any help. Our other two sons (6 and 8) can easily start up scratch too. They have not been stopped or put off.

Scratch is good for stimulating imaginations, but can become limiting after a while. Python can be useful for many things, but is not as fast as a bit of well written C. Back in the early eighties, I did write BASIC programs on an Amstrad CPC464, but found the interface was limiting. There were no window managers for the Amstrad. BASIC using Acorn PCs was better, but still not the same as C. It can be really encouraging to get to grips with what is actually going on under the hood too. If the children of today can be taught to program in a variety of languages, then they are likely to be able to migrate to the languages of tomorrow.

Concerning the i2c error, it would be helpful to post the test program and error message in the appropriate forum section. Given the test program and error, someone else might have an idea of what to try.

Unlike the Atmel ATmega, the working model with the Pi would seem to be directly compiling and working on the Pi. Therefore, cross-compiling is not something which is typically expected.

Rather than a "them and us" discussion, would it be possible for those who are finding beginning difficult to work with Clive et al. to improve the beginner documentation etc.? In this manner, we can all seek to help others improve their computing skills.

Best regards,

Will

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liz
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:00 pm

pygmy_giant wrote: I guess I could myself have authored such a document and added it to the wiki but I am unsure how to do this - and navigating to http://elinux.org/eLinux.org:RPi_Counci ... l_aldermen
displays a notice at the top of the wiki page which says: 'Please note that User Registration has been temporarily disabled due to a recent increase in automated registrations. If anyone needs an account, please contact request one here: RequestAccount' and then 'Because of the messed up stuff on the Raspberry Pi wiki, I have found it necessary to create a governing council for the RPi wiki. Please edit the below section if you'd like to become a member (alderman) of the council. ' and then there is some unpleasantness directly below that which puts me off.
Bloody hell. Thanks for the pointer to that: none of us here at the Foundation has any idea who that person is. We'll be having a chat with the eLinux guys after the new year about our options; at this point, I think that it may be better for the community if we migrate things off to a wiki owned by the Foundation. (I was just saying to the mods elsewhere that eLinux was a wonderful solution at a point where we had no customers or staff, but I was a bit horrified to see this alderman unpleasantness, as well as some real misrepresentation of the Foundation's attitude to the wiki on that page.)
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williamhbell
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:23 pm

Hi Liz,

If a separate wiki is created: perhaps an email could go out to authors of elinux pages beforehand, such that we might copy content etc.?

Thanks and best regards,

Will

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:31 pm

There is good content on there which can be re-used.

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liz
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:33 pm

Oh definitely - we'll be talking to eLinux about reusing the existing content.
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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:54 pm

Can I put in a word here for Wikidot.com?

It is not WikiMedia, it is more powerful and, in my opinion, easier to use. It also has a great community.

The existing content would have to be converted, but that should be amenable to automation.

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Re: "Beginners" put off...

Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:04 am

Personally I'd stick with mediawiki, it may have it's quirks but it's probablly the wiki engine most people will be most familiar with. I'm also very skeptical of "SAAS" soloutions since they put you at the mercy of their operator.

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