Idiot thinks Raspberry Pi Unsuitable for Education
Tuesday, 2nd October 2012, 15:24
So, a while ago there was an idiot who wrote a stupid article about how Node.js is Cancer, and then proceeded to write a whole load of stupid things about how it was the opposite of the Holy Grail when it came to client/server network applications.
Putting aside the fact equating something like computer software with an illness that kills rather a lot of people through no fault of their own, the biggest problem with Ted Dziuba's article was his total misunderstanding of the entire technology and its uses.
He'd clearly taken an instant dislike to Node.js for some reason or another, and then raged about it in a blog post that has since been deleted. But there is no point attacking an article published so long ago and since removed, by a person who confesses to have been a total troll but now wants to be a reformed man. Good luck to him I say.
Well now perhaps we have a whole new troll, this time a chap called Peter Zotov, who has written a laughable piece entitled "Why Raspberry Pi Is Unsuitable for Education" and then littered it with meaningless drivel that does nothing to support his point.
Sympathy with the Devil
I hate lots of things to do with computers, I hate the way Windows is so badly written, consumes far too much memory, and despite computer speeds increasing every single year, the version I use (Windows 7 for the record) seems to run just as slowly as the OS did all those years ago on a 486.
Sure, it is so much prettier now, it has way more features, but seriously when you use a tablet (iPad 3 in my case) for a bit, you start to wonder what the hell Microsoft do with all that CPU power and memory. Tablets are so responsive, quick to load applications, switch between them, and so on.
So I sympathise with Mr Zotov, when it comes to raging against something which drives you despair. I think the difference between us though, is part of me is self-doubting, part of me says hold on, unless you are really sure you know what you are talking about, keep that rage close.
This is why I don't post massive rants about how much of an abomination C# is, or why nobody should use .NET. I dislike them both, and nothing I ever see does any harm to that belief, but I haven't really used C# or .NET enough to pick wholes in it, likewise with PHP. I've touched upon both of them enough to despise them, but not enough to attempt converting others to my belief system.
Zotov's Root Point
So, the official Raspberry Pi site says the following:
Simple enough? That last line is the main driving force behind the whole project. What does Zotov say about this?
I could quote more, but really he just spends many, many, many paragraphs saying the same thing in different ways. Because the hardware in the Pi is not open and contains patented parts, it is too closed a platform for the education sectors to consider.
Forget about the fact that the software on it is Linux, which is completely open. That it includes the Python programming language as part of the standard build, which is also open, actually I think all the software on it is open source?
Where do you start with an assertion like that? I'm writing this article in the same commercial text editor (UltraEdit) I code with, which is not open source, on an operating system (Windows) which is also not either, running on hardware that is very much definitely not open source.
I would say 99.9% of other programmers are all doing the same, to varying degrees, though maybe more use open source editors and some will be coding on Linux systems. I'm pretty sure a very tiny percentage of us will be doing it on this mystical open hardware that I hear about but have never seen first hand.
What Raspberry Pi Was Designed For
Maybe Zotov is a really nerdy geek obsessed with things like OpenGL, technologies that are beyond the likes of me. That's fine, rant about how closed the graphics chipset of the Pi is when it comes to OpenGL, you'll have a great point to make there.
But I suspect he is a young man, and does not remember what it was like growing up in the 80s during the golden age of home computing. When BBC Micros, Commodore 64s and ZX Spectrums ruled the waves, and every computer you got literally did nothing when you turned it on but demand you program it somehow.
In those days to even use a computer you had to learn at least one or two BASIC commands, so having this level of accessibility straight away steered anyone with an interest in the things towards coding on them. That doesn't happen now, I can't remember the last major OS that shipped with any sort of focus on actually coding it.
I know that Linux comes with GCC, and if you don't install a GUI on it you get a command prompt, but that is just not the same.
No, what the Pi was designed for, was to recreate that sense of wonder when you were a child. Here is a piece of hardware that does very little, it's not for playing solitaire unless you sit down and write that for it. Sure people are doing other things with it, like media centres, but the main official point is making coding accessible again.
What's Really Wrong with the Raspberry Pi
You can expand what you learn and use it in web browsers, coding for Windows 8, or take things a step further and learn more complex languages with similar structures like C/C++, Java and dare I say it even C#.
But, like the old saying goes, we can fix it in the software. :)