Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation
The Introduction to Raspberry Pi at the Norco Library went very well, especially when considering I didn’t really know what to expect. Everyone learned something (me included), got to ask questions, play with the hardware, restart, discuss ideas, plan future events, everything I could have hoped for. Thanks go to Ms. Luz Wood, the branch manager of the Riverside County Library, Norco Branch, for approving our application and providing the meeting space. It really is a good facility.
Donna and her husband related their experience working with and teaching Squeak, derived from Smalltalk and a predecessor to Scratch. Squeak and Scratch are both environments designed specifically for teaching programming to children, including under ten years old. She is a principal with the Hawthorne Center for Innovation. I will be helping at their booth during the upcoming SCALE 11x conference at the LAX Hilton, Saturday, February 22. At least one other person and I will be demonstrating Raspberry Pi. She will be there for Sunday coverage as well.
Back to our own recent experience. I had set up two full workstations, “full” in that each of them had a separate display of its own, plus mouse and keyboard, to get the whole workstation feeling. I did demonstrate sharing Internet over Ethernet and an SSH session, including when you don’t know the IP address of the Pi to start with. All this put together is what I call Starbucks mode, and all you need is the Ethernet cable plus power.
We discussed how this works, and whether kids could use it. The consensus was that older kids would adapt, and find it useful. Younger children really benefit from having a display and accompanying graphical user interface.
Forwarding an X session over SSH provides some of the benefits of a GUI, letting us use our favorite Linux editor to work with files actually residing on the Raspberry Pi. However, it is even a couple steps more in addition to figuring out the SSH setup in the first place, so again, it would help older students most.
For everyone else, a full setup with display, keyboard and mouse should be considered standard. This includes adults who just are not that comfortable with the Linux command line. In any case, we had the displays set up. As mentioned, one Pi had Internet service via a hard Ethernet cable from my laptop, but the other Pi did not.
To the rescue: Jacob. He had his netbook with him, small enough that it didn’t actually have onboard Ethernet but came with a USB dongle. Also apropos, he was running Ubuntu with the Unity interface, very similar to my setup, so I was able to show him the steps I followed from a handy tutorial. It worked, and now the second Pi had not only its screen and keyboard, but Internet service as well. We installed htop to get color coded readings on how much memory we were using, then experimented with how many Web pages we could open. Also, there was some discussion on what is Midori – answer, it’s a Web browser, simple but not too bad. I’ve found it useful. On the other hand, Dillo was a little too simple, downright primitive. It looked a little like Web browsing in 1996.
To clarify, the library’s WiFi provided the Internet service in the first place, which we connected to wirelessly, then shared onward via the cables. Works great, I’ve done it a lot. If we wanted to support 4 or 6 Raspberry Pi computers, I would bring a 10/100 Ethernet hub, though of course that means more cables and another power adapter.
Anyway, long story short: it was a very productive day. Thanks to all!