Yes, I admit it. I am addicted to the Raspberry Pi technology. They say that the first step to recovery is to admit your weakness and take ownership of them. So, here I am bearing my soul about my compulsions to own everything that The Raspberry Pi Foundation makes.
The Raspberry Pi is a revolution. It is also a revelation.
Pi is a revolution because it is the enabled masses rising to overtake the computing elite and democratize technology so even the common adult (or teen) can embrace it and flourish.
Pi is a revelation because it has revealed things that we did not know, that computing can be affordable, and that computing can be highly functional at even the lowest of costs by offering remarkable quality, and this alone makes it a game-changer.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK-based charity that works to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world, so they are capable of understanding and shaping our increasingly digital world, able to solve the problems that matter to them, and equipped for the jobs of the future.
They provide low-cost, high-performance computers that people use to learn, solve problems, and have fun. They provide outreach and education to help more people access computing and digital making. They develop free resources to help people learn about computing and how to make things with computers, and train educators who can guide other people to learn.
The real joy of the Raspberry Pi is the thousands of projects that absolutely anyone can undertake and have fun developing. No, you do not need to be a programmer, nor do you need to be rich. I have completed several fun and challenging projects for under $100.00 with Pi.
My current project is to connect Amazon’s Alexa to my newest Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. My goal is to use voice commands issued to Alexa to command and control external devices. For now, and as with every one of my projects, I am starting slow to ensure success. I use a step by step method to realize positive outcomes and appreciate that I am making progress. I am not a programmer. Sure, I took some elementary courses in Basic, Visual Basic, and COBOL, but no one would ever hire me to code anything. I am so slow and methodical that I would not succeed in this fast paced, agile-driven, dev-ops world. So, I just play, and have fun. I have no deadlines and no one hanging over me to get this project done. It will be done when it is done, eventually.
My goal is to have my voice commands trigger relays to activate a lamp by turning it on or off. I hope to do the same with a fan. I have no idea what I might do with it next to extend this project, but I do expect that I will expand it beyond these initial simplistic controls. I am just being playful and learning some new things. A professional programmer would have this all done to perfection in less then a day. It will take me longer. But, so what?
This post is to encourage everyone else to try new things. If the Raspberry Pi is not for you, then fine. Try something else. There is a real joy to learning and all learning is good learning. Even, and perhaps, especially learning from failure. I typically learn more from my failures than from my successes.
There is a real power and joy to learn new things. But, it is not easy. It takes effort. Sometimes I get frustrated and blocked. So, persistence is essential to success. A methodology is critical to getting unblocked and moving forward.
By embracing incremental methods that enable the achievement of little intervening goals as a part of a greater learning process: smaller achievements function as catalysts towards greater overall goals. These small steps are important when it comes to the joy of learning.
Although a child does not consider play as a tool for learning, play itself represents important and meaningful activity. Even if play does not produce anything significant or concrete from an adult’s point of view, a child structures his / her own environment through play. Thinking and action merge during play, and by means of play, a child takes over in terms of handling their social, cognitive, and physical environment. Playing is the child’s way of seeking pleasure: why is this matter not tapped into more in teaching? In my view as a ‘child who has never grown up yet’, I still see play as a catalyst to learning new things. I embrace play. You should too. Let your inner child come out to play and learning will follow naturally.
The joy of learning adores an environment of freedom. Your free play should not be regarded only as side action that occurs when nothing important is happening and all the ‘real’ tasks are completed. Free play is relevant to everyone and can be considered free, typical, and valued learning activity without any demands from others or attempts to subordinate it as an instrument. A free learner is inquisitive and creative.
The joy of learning does not like to hurry. As the joy of learning is often connected with finishing a task or solving a problem, hurry does nothing to enhance the achievement of these goals. The activity itself can act as a significant source of pleasure and joy. Focus on the journey as well as the destination!
We all want to learn. One adds one’s energy in order to attain positive experiences and with these experiences gains positive emotions in a pleasant situation.
There are many ways to establish a learning environment that enables us to experience the joy of learning. The first is to establish the right mindset and that all begins with the right setting. When I play with my Raspberry Pi, I am alone and in a quiet setting. As a business guy, I travel so it may be after work in my hotel room. The Raspberry Pi is very compact and transportable, so take it along with me on business trips. To prepare for playful learning, I have a nice cup of tea and perhaps some music streaming from my iPhone into my earbuds. The environment can greatly influence effective learning. So, find a time and a place for yourself to learn. I build learning into every day. Even writing these blog posts is a great way to learn new things.
An alternate idea that holds equal merit is to program your Raspberry Pi with other like-minded individuals and collaborate within a group on your project. Some people like to work alone, and others thrive in group-work. Once I worked with three other pilots to build an aviation device based up a Raspberry Pi 2 called an ADS-B. It provides pilots with information while flying related to real-time location of other air traffic and 15-minute delayed weather information. We did it as a group. We all built our own projects but were able to help each other when one of us got stuck. We met once a week for coffee and brought our Pi kits along for ‘show and tell’. In between the Saturday morning gatherings, we text messaged or emailed each other for collaboration. It worked brilliantly. The diversity of skills and experiences in this group complimented the members and filled gaps and capabilities. We all completed our ADS-B projects. So, great success from a team approach too.
There are communities online to help you succeed. You can post questions when you get stuck and the world wide web will rush to rescue you and put you back on track. So, you are not alone, even when you are alone in a hotel room.
So, get busy learning to learn. It is doable and valuable, arguably the most valuable thing you can do with your life and your time. Leaving it to chance is leaving money on the table, limits your personal and professional growth, and stymies your life and ability to better interact with others. A learning life is a far richer life.
For me, the Raspberry Pi is more than a technical thing. It drives my own creativity and invention. It allows me to use parts of my brain that I do not normally use in my daily work. It expands my horizons. The most beautiful thing in the world is, precisely, the conjunction of learning and inspiration. It drives the passion for research and the joy of discovery. So, do you want to be an innovator? Do you want to be an elite technologist? Do you want to comprehend innovation and participate in innovative work? It is easy. You can do it too. First, you must become a lifelong learner.
Kaufman, S.B. (2012). 10 Insights to Enhance the Joy of Learning. Retrieved on May 3, 2018 from, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/beautiful-minds/201208/10-insights-enhance-the-joy-learning
Unknown. (2018). About Us. Raspberry Pi Foundation. Retrieved on May 3, 2018 from, https://www.raspberrypi.org/about/
About the Author:
Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless and digital communications technologies.
He is a Senior Executive with IBM Canada’s GTS Network Services Group. Over the past 13 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He was previously a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).
Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).
He serves as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.
He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has diplomas and certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology.