This last Monday, Chicago hackerspace Pumping Station One hosted a “Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi Meeting” in which a representative from the Element 14 company demonstrated the newest model of the Raspberry Pi, a revolutionary computer designed to be cheap, easy to program, and flexible in use. During this meeting, the representative explained how Raspberry Pi B+ model, as it’s called, has been stream-lined for ease of use and efficiency, and how it can be used to solve the computing problems of educators and innovators inexpensively and effectively.
Many of the lecture attendees were middle-aged programmers, teachers and computer experts, deft hands at the art of writing and modifying computer code. As a result, the audience’s commentary and questions were technical and to the point, asking the lecturer about the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi B+ in certain situations.
Craig MeLoyne, the lecturer, answered each question calmly and academically: at one point during the lecture he passed a Raspberry Pi B+ device around the room so that people could see how it differed from previous models.
Like previous models, the Raspberry B+ is surprisingly small when held in the hand, like a deck of cards or a leather wallet. Appearance-wise, it’s a simple green circuit board with a matte-black processor at it’s center and several different ports welded to it’s edge so it can receive power, connect to keyboards and screens, and attached itself to memory cards, experimental sensors or motors. Unlike previous Raspberry Pis, the B+ model has four USB ports, lower power consumption, and a micro-SD memory card slot; these varous ports and sockets have also been arranged close together along two edges of the Raspberry Pi, making for a more streamlined product.
Many of the questions the guests had revolved around how the new Raspberry Pi model could be used to solve their problems. A programmer who worked with computer mainframes that operate machinery asked if a Raspberry Pi B+ could run the mainframe programs needed for his work, while a computer science teacher asked if students could learn beginner programming languages on a Raspberry Pi platform (and whether it’s desktop could be modified to keep them from browsing the internet while teachers were distracted).
Craig MeLoyne wound up replying to every question by saying “yes, you can do that” . The advantage of having the Raspberry Pi computer run on Open Source Linux software, he explained, is that you can pick and choose what programs and operating systems you want to install, and easily modify existing programs if there’s not yet something that fits your needs.
The “Not Exclusively Raspberry Pi” event at Pumping Station One wasn’t geared towards novice programmers or beginner DIY enthusiasts. It was geared towards professionals and dedicated hobbyists, experienced code jockeys who wanted practical information on the capabilities of the new Raspberry Pi Model B+, and got it.