My Raspberry Pi So Far.

Another year, another failure.

I bought the Raspberry Pi. Sometime between the entry of credit card details and the ripping open of a cardboard box, a project presented itself. I will mine Dogecoins. 30 years from now my children will ask what Bitcoin was, and I’ll be forced to explain. They’ll ask if I, myself, was involved in mining Bitcoin. And I’ll say no, I mined Dogecoin, because it was funnier. They’ll stare at me with blank teenage contempt. It’ll be hilarious.

The Raspberry Pi is a green bit of plastic with some electrical components soldered to it. It advertises itself as a computer, and technically it is. It has more horsepower than the original Commodore 64, but probably not much more than the Furby I had at age eleven. The first mention I heard of it was from my deskmate in the summer of 2011. “Mine’s in the mail,” he said, clipping his toenails. “I’m going to make a media server.” I silently wondered when he was going to put his socks back on, and turned back to the water-damaged laptop I was tearing apart.

I wish sometimes that I was a kinder person. If I was, maybe I’d make friends more easily instead of being forced to embark on projects for the sake of earning attention. The Pi itself is the foundation of many excellent projects, but the way I approach it is less admirable. I whip out the credit card and have soon paid 70 dollars for a piece of kit that actually costs 35. That is with shipping, since I ordered it from England instead of a Canadian outlet; an enclosure, which I realize soon after opening it, is far from the best on the market, and not especially well priced; and a usb power plug, which I already have several of in my drawer.

And all this still isn’t enough to get started. I need a keyboard. There are plenty at work available to be stolen. For weeks I write reminders on the palm of my hand and forget. Finally I ask my cousin for a keyboard for Christmas. One thing off the list. A memory card… I assumed that there were several in my drawer. There are, but they are all under 2GB. Age catches up with all of us. I could have ordered a cheap one with the other components, but that would have been intelligent, can’t have that. I purchase a 4GB for full price at the Future Shop, trying to ignore the Chinese toddler blood on my hands.

Finally, if one is going to compute, one needs to be able to read the letters on a screen of some sort. The Pi was made with Americans in mind – most of them own TVs. I don’t. A nerd friend quickly offered a VGA monitor, but the ports did not line up. I bought a DVI monitor from Value Village and an adapter from the Source. The ports lined up, but no video appears on the screen. I feel that I’ve betrayed the punk rock ethos that I was raised on. 35 dollars for the board itself is fine – but I’m close to a hundred dollars into peripherals now, with nothing to show for it. I feel so white, I cut myself and don’t bleed. I should have borrowed and scrounged better. I should have… dammit. The same cousin from before has an old TV that I’ll go see tomorrow. If it works, I’ll be redeemed. If it doesn’t, I’ll be yet another middle-class dilettante…. if you want to do computers, go to university. Leave the tinkering for children much cleverer than yourself.

 

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Shannon Graham

Shannon has been writing brief essays and occasional how-to articles at Rocketships, Unaffiliated (.ca) whenever inspiration strikes, since 2012. She is interested in your opinion.

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