stillness2health
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In search of a quiet mini-computer

Fri May 08, 2015 9:20 pm

Hello,

Barely a few months ago, a chance encounter led me to the Raspberry Pi world of computer-science education, especially to kids and to a young generation surrounded by fast computing devices, in their hands, pockets and very quickly around their wrists. This commentary, however, is about some advantages of slowing down, instead of getting faster, especially noticing "demographic' shifts toward the newest Raspberry Pi, the 6X faster Pi 2 computer.

A few quick words about where I come from, which should enlighten the perspectives I just started to bring out: I am immersed and practice in the general field of data science/computational physics/DSP with a Ph.D. education in the late eighties, having seen high-performance laboratory computing going from Primer Computers (and remote IBM mainframes) to Vax, Sun, SGI and then to powerful PC-based Linux boxes/clusters. UnfortunateIy, my health got into trouble in the mist of this Internet/digital age, which prompted me to go through a cycle of electronic detoxification, especially to free myself from the excessive exposure of EMFs - Wi-Fi, cellphones etc. This is a very controversial topic nowadays, I know, but a feat practically impossible to achieve, until I discovered the little mini-computer, Raspberry Pi.

What I saw in Raspberry Pi (model B and later B+) is a little silent-running (to quote E. Upton) computer fast enough for all that browsing at home as well as for office work, using only a wire-feed for internet, not getting stuck with Wi-Fi (EMF) emissions like with many other computing devices (better yet, Wi-Fi dongles are available for Raspberry Pi when needed but you would know it is there since one has to plug them in first). The use of Raspberry Pi for daily work brought me back to the grad school days (late eighties) in the ability to think and to write, when at that time one had to visit a special computer center for dedicated tasks such data analysis and graphics visualization. For many years with desktop computing, there has not been a single day of work without muscle strains, eye problem, exhaustion and finally burn-out.....

Ok, what is the punch line? I rushed to acquire a Pi 2 as soon as it came out a month or so ago, thinking that i can afford a little more speed in launching an application or in making a PowerPoint (Oops, Impress) presentation. Unfortunately, no matter how many times I tried, I just can't get back the calmness I can have with using a Raspberry Pi B or B+. So much so, I would often get the same kind of frustrations facing a difficult task or a deadline as using a mainstream computer. So, why bother with the Pi 2 then?

My question is then: why my poor brain/body perceives the two apparently very similar devices so differently? Are there fellow Pi enthusiasts out there having similar experiences? If Pi 2 is so much "noisier", wouldn't the slower Raspberry Pi B (or B+) be a better device for children education than the faster Pi 2 line?

I look forward to comments and discussions with experts in this community.

Sincerely yours

Nick

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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Fri May 08, 2015 9:59 pm

I think you need to apply your knowledge of Physics and determine just how much energy your body could be absorbing from RF signals around you and compare that to the energy used by your body cells just to keep living. After that, seek out counseling to find out what is really bothering.

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morphy_richards
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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Fri May 08, 2015 10:05 pm

Thicker tinfoil in your hat is required. Don't forget to rub a cable to earth.

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Jednorozec
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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Fri May 08, 2015 10:22 pm

You might want to read The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. He talks about how the tools that we use change the way we think and perceive the world.
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It's called thinking. Why don't you try it sometime?

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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 2:44 am

I am almost 100% certain that you are deluding yourself with regard the effects of new and old Raspberry Pi on your body and psyche.

I say "almost" because, well, in science you need to be open minded.

As such I would really like to borrow you for a week of intensive double blind trials to see if you can really detect the difference between new and old Pis operating in close proximity whilst you are working. Your scientific background should have suggested such experiments years ago if this has been a real bother for you.

Failing that:

1) Get some extension cables for screen, keyboard and mouse and move the Pi some meters away from your work place. The inverse square law is a sure way to reduce exposure to radiated energy.

2) Put the Pi is a EMI proof metal enclosure.

My bet is that the screen you have in front of you is bathing you in far more EMI than any Pi. Better put a metal shield over that :)
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 3:04 am

stillness2health wrote:My question is then: why my poor brain/body perceives the two apparently very similar devices so differently?
:lol:

There are two possibilities: 1) you are certifiably nuts, or 2) you have technophobia, the persistent fear|paranoia of technology generally, or fear of certain types of technological side affects/

Personally, I'm seriously thinking that its probably the latter.

You might try wearing a football helmet (American) with tin inner lining and grounded gold foil covering (including face guard). Place the RPi at a 1/4 wave length from the helmet at all times and never (seriously, never) use the RPi for more than 20 minutes at a time with four to eight hours off for rest, food, and a beer or two.

Good luck.
marcus
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morphy_richards
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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 6:04 am

I went on a ghost walk in Tenbee last year.
Apparently, until recently people would regularly see little faint moving lights at night. Willow the whisps and jack o lanterns and such.
It was put forward that interference and low level light pollution from portable devices has made all that invisible.
(Sort of relevant to the op perhaps)

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morphy_richards
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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 6:50 am

I suppose the percieved issue might be solved by enclosing the pi in a grounded Faraday cage.

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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 6:57 am

morphy_richards wrote:I suppose the percieved issue might be solved by enclosing the pi in a grounded Faraday cage.
:lol:

heh... well then, that will cure the OP I'm sure... $35 RPi, $3,500 portable Faraday cage!

https://www.lbagroup.com/products/farad ... oCQDXw_wcB
marcus
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morphy_richards
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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 7:13 am

MarkHaysHarris777 wrote:
morphy_richards wrote:I suppose the percieved issue might be solved by enclosing the pi in a grounded Faraday cage.
:lol:

heh... well then, that will cure the OP I'm sure... $35 RPi, $3,500 portable Faraday cage!

https://www.lbagroup.com/products/farad ... oCQDXw_wcB
I'm sure you could make one that can shield from EM frequencies that the Pi might generate for cheaper than that :geek:

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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 7:49 am

stillness2health wrote:UnfortunateIy, my health got into trouble in the mist of this Internet/digital age, which prompted me to go through a cycle of electronic detoxification, especially to free myself from the excessive exposure of EMFs - Wi-Fi, cellphones etc. This is a very controversial topic nowadays, I know, but a feat practically impossible to achieve, until I discovered the little mini-computer, Raspberry Pi.
I doubt the pi-2 emits any more EMF than a B+
but IMO people who say they are EMF sensitive etc may actually be more sensitive to the constant low/high frequency audio hum that many electronic devices emit,
and that most of us are more easily able to "tune out".

Yes it's usually PSUs and coils that are the culprit,
Changing/moving a psu can make a big difference.

It's not the noise level, but the frequency or variance.
It may be counter-intuitive but I know people who swear by these devices to effectively drown out / distract your brain from headache inducing low frequency hum:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B006Z9V1LM/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B00721JVFU/

expensive, but worth it if it gives you peace of mind...
Last edited by mikerr on Sat May 09, 2015 8:01 am, edited 4 times in total.
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MarkHaysHarris777
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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 7:51 am

morphy_richards wrote:
MarkHaysHarris777 wrote:
morphy_richards wrote:I suppose the percieved issue might be solved by enclosing the pi in a grounded Faraday cage.
:lol:

heh... well then, that will cure the OP I'm sure... $35 RPi, $3,500 portable Faraday cage!

https://www.lbagroup.com/products/farad ... oCQDXw_wcB
I'm sure you could make one that can shield from EM frequencies that the Pi might generate for cheaper than that :geek:
Well, keep in mind what we need to protect this guy from... EMI, EFI, EMP, and Electrostatic! Its got to be a Gaussian surface AND its got to block high frequency magnetic storms... as well, it must be opaque... that is gonna cost, I'm just saying...
marcus
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MarkHaysHarris777
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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 7:54 am

Do you folks remember the TRS-80 from back in the 1970s? Holy cow, you could hear that thing from 10 feet away, and you could pick it up on any simple AM radio receiver from about 20 meters...

... the RPi 2B is quiet as a church mouse..
marcus
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joan
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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 8:49 am

stillness2health wrote: ...
My question is then: why my poor brain/body perceives the two apparently very similar devices so differently? Are there fellow Pi enthusiasts out there having similar experiences? If Pi 2 is so much "noisier", wouldn't the slower Raspberry Pi B (or B+) be a better device for children education than the faster Pi 2 line?
...
Has your ability been tested? If you can tell the difference it shouldn't be too hard to confirm by independent experiment.

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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 9:46 am

mikerr wrote: ...
I doubt the pi-2 emits any more EMF than a B+
but IMO people who say they are EMF sensitive etc may actually be more sensitive to the constant low/high frequency audio hum that many electronic devices emit,
and that most of us are more easily able to "tune out".
...
+1
This makes more sense to me. Back in the days of my youth, when I was a Physics/Chemistry student I shared a room with a Maths/Music student and, through him joined the college choir and got to know quite a few other Music students. I was also. like many, into Hi-Fi systems and my early electronics involved building such. Several of those musician friends often complained about "mains hum" levels that I could tolerate (especially those that had "perfect pitch" because it was "off-pitch") but could totally ignore "hiss and other noise" (from vinyl records) that would bother me. A few others (and sometimes myself) could pick-up the high-frequency whistle of the T.V.'s of that time.
Trev.
Still running Raspbian Jessie or Stretch on some older Pi's (an A, B1, 2xB2, B+, P2B, 3xP0, P0W, 2xP3A+, P3B+, P3B, B+, and a A+) but Buster on the P4B's. See: https://www.cpmspectrepi.uk/raspberry_pi/raspiidx.htm

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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 9:54 am

MarkHaysHarris777 wrote:
morphy_richards wrote:I suppose the percieved issue might be solved by enclosing the pi in a grounded Faraday cage.
:lol:

heh... well then, that will cure the OP I'm sure... $35 RPi, $3,500 portable Faraday cage!

https://www.lbagroup.com/products/farad ... oCQDXw_wcB
Everybody has a Faraday cage in their kitchen. Open microwave door. Insert RPI. Close door. Take off tin-foil hat.

The OP is a troll or certifiable.
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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 11:25 am

DougieLawson wrote: Everybody has a Faraday cage in their kitchen. Open microwave door. Insert RPI. Close door. Take off tin-foil hat.

The OP is a troll or certifiable.
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) or, more properly, idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF), is quite common. 3% of people in California (2002), 4% in UK (2007) and 5% in Switzerland (2004) suffer from it, according to some questionnaires.

I think, like the majority, that the symptoms are most likely not caused by EMF but other factors, including nocebo effect. That is not a reason to be impolite when most people probably are guilty of maintaining some wrong causal attributions.

There are also many good answers in this thread. Putting the Pi 2 in an EMF shielding bag or box should work regardless if the cause is EMF or nocebo effect. Blind testing could as well be therapeutic - whatever the results.

Alternative explanations could also prove useful. Maybe the Pi 2, or more probably something else in the setup, is outputting irritating sounds.

Maybe there could be alternative behavioral explanations? If I browse the Web with the Pi 1, my blood pressure rises. With the Pi 2 it stays closer to normal. What could be the cause of that?

Maybe in the OP's case the frequent forced pauses, which come as a feature with the Pi 1, could have a beneficial effect on him. After all, many, if not all, symptoms of EHS could be the result of an overactive sympathetic nervous system. Something constantly interrupting the 'psychic inertia' of getting things done could then be good for some.

Decent posture and body-centered mindfulness are not priorities in the midst of computing. If the Pi's poor performance gives time to withdraw from the screen and eases on the 'psychic pressure', almost inevitably creeping in on computing moments, that could be simulated with the Pi 2: Degrade its performance or make a timer to interrupt what ever you are doing every few minutes - and let your gaze wander off the monitor and give some time for the eyes to relax.

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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 11:37 am

I have a regular customer who has the same 'condition' as the OP. I say nothing and do what they ask, their money is a good as anyone elses and I'm a professional. Personally I believe the effect is real, as far as the 'sufferer' is concerned but its brought on by the fear of rather than the object itself. Its little different to religion or politics in my book.
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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 11:59 am

I would not be so quick to say somebody is crazy or certifiable because of they are reporting experiences like this.

Things that go on on the mind have effects on the body. How many of us get that queasy fearful feeling in the stomach when looking over a balcony from high up a tall building? The adrenalin rush. That's crazy, there is no reason for it, you are safe there. Or what about when having to give a presentation to a room full of people? Some people "feel" God, or not, one of those is crazy. Placebo effects and other such phenomena have been experimented with and documented for ages. My body and psyche has a sever adverse reaction to most forms of popular music we are subjected to all the time :)

Clearly something is triggering stillness2health's responses. Could be EMI, which I very much doubt. Could be some sound from a buzzy regulator or whatever. Could be just the the machine responds faster. Could be nothing at all, he just knows it's a different, faster, machine and some odd connection in his mind triggers the response.

What I do object to is that somebody who makes claims to be "immersed in science" starts spouting a lot of mumbo jumbo about "electronic detoxification", whatever that is, "excessive exposure of EMFs - Wi-Fi, cellphones", not being able to "think and to write" because of it. All this with out any scientific evidence or a plan to verify one way or the other.

If this has been going on since the 1980's there has been plenty of time to think about it scientifically.
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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 4:42 pm

Today being Saturday, the Daily Telegraph has a "Wellbeing" subsection in the "Weekend" section
This week there's an article entitled "Is Wi-Fi making your child ill?", about a Dr. Erica Mallory-Blythe.

What I find concerning is not the scientific evidence (or lack thereof), or the establishment conspiracy (or lack thereof) on this subject.
No. What worries me is that the subject has come up in two supposedly separate places - this forum and a national newspaper - on the same day!

Is this purely coincidental?
Or is the Foundation a capitalist lackey of The Daily Telegraph?
Or the reverse?
Is Liz in reallity Dr Erica Mallory-Blythe, in a virtual remake of Dr Jekyll-Mr Hyde?
As well as wearing my tin hat whilst here on the Forum, should I also wear it whilst doing the Telegraph crossword?
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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 5:00 pm

There are a lot of useful suggestions in this thread, mainly about careful trials. This is not easy to do right. But before embarking on a big complicated double-blind trial and doing all the appropriate statistical analysis to ensure validity, let's check some basics. Did you use the model 2 with the same power supply, keyboard, mouse and display that you had on the old one? And in the same working environment?

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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 6:02 pm

experix wrote:There are a lot of useful suggestions in this thread, mainly about careful trials. This is not easy to do right. ...
It's a myth that trials/experiments have to be hard or expensive. See for example Emily Rosa's "theraputic touch" experiment. Simple and beautiful.

A (double) blind trial here would be easy and definitive. The important thing is to agree protocols and what would constitute as positive/negative test beforehand -- because otherwise it starts with the "your scepticism affected the result" and "I can do it all other times, the experiment is flawed" etc.

Image

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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 6:18 pm

The problem is that if you or I perform such a double blind trial no one will take us seriously.

You see, we don't have white coats and "official" blessing.

Even then those who like to deny any kind of scientific evidence will always find a reason to fault whatever result anybody produces.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 6:26 pm

Heater wrote:The problem is that if you or I perform such a double blind trial no one will take us seriously.

You see, we don't have white coats and "official" blessing.

Even then those who like to deny any kind of scientific evidence will always find a reason to fault whatever result anybody produces.
Agreed (although I do have both a white coat and a blessing :))

But then that's why this exists: http://web.randi.org/the-million-dollar-challenge.html

The day someone claims this I will eat a Raspberry Pi. Whole. And still plugged in.

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Re: In search of a quiet mini-computer

Sat May 09, 2015 7:19 pm

To be honest I find the derogatory comments in this thread at best ill informed or worst quite disgusting.

Computers give me tinnitus, any comments that suggest that I am therefore certifiable or a troll would be very far from the truth.
Evidence: prolonged exposure to very loud noises reduces the tinnitus, whereas prolonged exposure to computers (at the time the 2 were mutually exclusive) is always coincident with increased tinnitus.
Possible reasons that I can think of are screen flickering, fan noise (particularly ultra sonic) and of course EMF.

Sadly for medical science I have other things to do before spending a lot of time researching this, I just put up with it.
Also of note is some peoples reported ability to pre-empt a mobile phone ringing
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