Raspberry Pi: too much interface!

Raspberry Pi: too much interface!

Summary: I have enjoyed a veritable deluge of technology over the past week. My laptop died, to be replaced with a shiny triple-boot MacBook.

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I have enjoyed a veritable deluge of technology over the past week. My laptop died, to be replaced with a shiny triple-boot MacBook. My groaning, creaking Sony Xperia mobile croaked, swiftly forgotten in the reflected light of the HTC One V.

And, most excitingly of all, my Raspberry Pi mini-computer-of-the-future arrived!

Unfortunately, with all the other configuration shenanigans going on, the Pi is sat in an anti-static sleeve, blu-tacked to the desk to prevent it from being wafted skywards by a passing breeze. It is small.

What is most noticeable amongst the smallness is the sheer size of the interfaces -- the chunky ethernet, the double USB ports, an audio and a video port (I think) and even the HDMI video output. All of them dwarf the actual computer itself. Which is amazing.

Too much interface
Too much interface: the ports on the Raspberry Pi

This led me to thinking of an analagous digital parallel: the miniaturizationism of the interface in software. I’ve just installed Google Chrome beta on the HTC. It is so minimal it makes De Stijl movement look like a bunch of gothic Victorian interior decorators. “I am so out of your way, I am hardly here”, it declares, unobtrusively.

And this is the same for other software too Sublime Text, my editor of choice, uses a Heads Up Display type fuzzy finder, and the Firefox browser menus have shrunk to an almost indecent extent.

This is all very well for software but poor old hardware is lumbered with USB and ethernet for a while longer, until which point everything runs over wireless and/or mind melding.

@growdigital

Topic: Software Development

Jake Rayson

About Jake Rayson

A web designer since the 20th century, I am a pragmatic advocate of Free Software and I use proprietary software when appropriate. I made the full-time switch to Linux back in 2007, and my desktop tools of choice are Linux Mint, Inkscape, GIMP and Sublime Text.

As a Front End Developer, my core skills are HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery, and my working life reflects my commitment to open standards and accessible websites (ie accessible by everyone, regardless of browser, platform, ability or technology).

For web publishing platforms, I use WordPress for ease of use and Drupal for more complex solutions.

I am also learning about Ruby, Rails, Sinatra and CoffeeScript. I like the minimalist Ruby Way. To this end, my personal portfolio website is built with NestaCMS.

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7 comments
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  • USB plugs on devices have shrunk from the old square plug, to mini, to micro (not to mention a whole host of incompatible, proprietary plugs for digital cameras), but at the PC end, we still have the original plug. Isn't it time we had a Mini version at the PC end?
    anonymous
  • I prefer the big 'un actually. It's much more robust and they can take a pounding over the years...
    Manek Dubash
  • @David Moore > Isn't it time we had a Mini version at the PC end?

    Had never thought of that, not sure why no-one else has either, as would make for super slimline PCs.
    Jake Rayson
  • No need to shrink them - remove them

    There could (and should) be a version of the Pi without ethernet (I am using mine for a robot).

    It should not have a composite port (who is using that?)

    I also don't need the hdmi - although that at least is better than composite, DVI or VGA.

    They could use the micro USB power port to support MHL (usb -> hdmi) which would allow the user who wants it to supply their own adapter.

    In short - my prefered configuration would have:

    Micro USB in (supporting MHL) doubling as power in.
    2 USB out ports (or even just one).
    Built in WiFi (optional)
    Audio out (optional)

    That's it. Nothing else needed - anything else can be added - and it would even reduce the cost of the board.
    dimonic
    • Nice ideas, but...

      The whole idea of the project is teaching children to program, and not just children in 1st world countries.

      By putting things such as Composite video (which allows an older television to be used as a monitor), or ethernet (which is generally more cheaply available in poorer countries), they are making it a more universal device.

      The Model A will not have ethernet and will only have one USB port, perhaps you should wait for that to be released. Plus, if WIFI is necessary, you can always use an USB adapter+USB hub.

      I think that, in consideration of their project goals, plus making the Pi as affordable as possible, they have succeded. If they were going to add what you suggest, it would probably have raised the price a good bit, and realistically, if they are foregoing things like 555 timers and the like because of price, why put in onboard WIFI?
      JohnFrank88
  • Nice ideas, but...

    The whole idea of the project is teaching children to program, and not just children in 1st world countries.

    By putting things such as Composite video (which allows an older television to be used as a monitor), or ethernet (which is generally more cheaply available in poorer countries), they are making it a more universal device.

    The Model A will not have ethernet and will only have one USB port, perhaps you should wait for that to be released. Plus, if WIFI is necessary, you can always use an USB adapter+USB hub.

    I think that, in consideration of their project goals, plus making the Pi as affordable as possible, they have succeded. If they were going to add what you suggest, it would probably have raised the price a good bit, and realistically, if they are foregoing things like 555 timers and the like because of price, why put in onboard WIFI?
    JohnFrank88
    • Mods delete, please?

      Comment above was meant as a reply.
      JohnFrank88