I've been on work experience at Purple Tuesday this week, the task they set me was to setup a Raspberry Pi from scratch and create a simple program. The only time I had heard of the Raspberry Pi was when it was on the news, so I wasn't entirely sure on what it was supposed to be used for and as I'm not a computing expert, I was a little unsure what to expect!
When you take the Raspberry Pi out of the box, it is just a circuit board and you have to plug everything in to it and download an operating system onto it. I relied heavily on the guide on the Raspberry Pi website, which I found very helpful as it gave you good step by step instructions.
The hardest part of getting setup was installing the operation system, which needs to be installed on an SD card. I had a few problems here because I didn't really know what files I needed to download and my knowledge in this area is quite limited. But with some help I managed to download and extract all the right files and get them loaded to the SD card. Now we could boot it up! It started first time with no problems at all. Although the screen resolution was quite bad so we needed to change that, but I am not sure if that was because of the Raspberry Pi its self, or if it was the TV we were using.
Creating an App from Scratch
After logging in and starting the windows environment I had a quick look at all the programs available. I had to create an app using one of these programs; the program I was going to use was Scratch. I had used Scratch a few times before at school, but before this week I didn't really know how to use it properly.
I decided to make a game where you control a car around a track and you have to complete the track in a certain amount of time otherwise you can't continue the game, you also have to keep inside the track boundaries otherwise you have to start again. Scratch enables you to do this by dragging commands onto the screen which when joined together, enable you to make things happen. The guys told me it's like writing computer code without the code! As well as using Scratch I also used Photoshop and Illustrator to try and design the car and tracks
Couple of Problems...
When I was using scratch, the Raspberry Pi seemed to run really slowly which meant that it took a long time to put in the commands. This was quite annoying because you would only have one program running and everything was really laggy, for example if you were dragging a command across the screen it wouldn't move across the screen smoothly it would judder across the screen, this would all happen when you only have one program running.
Another problem that I found with the Raspberry Pi was that its pre-set internet browser was very slow, and I couldn't even load up my emails it was so slow. Fortunately I was able to download and install Chromium, which is like Google Chrome and this was much better. But that wasn't the biggest issue I had unfortunately, when I went to turn it off one time, I quit scratch and chose the option “save and quit”, so that is what I thought it had done, so I shut down the Raspberry Pi, then when I came back on it the file had gone and that was 3 solid days of work gone so I had to do it all over again! The guys told me I should have been keeping backups, oops!
What I think overall of the Raspberry Pi is that it is a bit slow for what I was trying to do on it. I don't think it can handle you using more than one program at a time. I also noticed that it crashed a lot of the time so I wouldn't recommend it to anybody who wants to do things quickly. However I do think that the idea of it is good and for something which is about £20 it isn't too bad, it does do pretty much everything that you can do on a standard computer which I think is very good for something which is a fraction of the price. So, I do like the idea of it and I would recommend it to anybody who only uses a computer occasionally and if you just wanted to do simple things on it e.g check the internet, or write a document.