Yes, I own a Raspberry Pi

Many years ago I owned an Atari 1200XL and I wrote some BASIC on it. Not a lot, but enough to prove I could do it. I wasn’t much cop at copy typing games out of Atari XL users or whatever the magazine was, but we got small programmes to run in between the interminable Jet Boot Jack and Fort Apocalypse tournaments.

And this is why I bought a Raspberry Pi. I’d already bought it 10 days ago so it was just a really nice bonus that Wolfram came to an arrangement about Mathematica with the Raspberry Pi Foundation and now I have that two.

I only have the one little Pi at the moment although I have a couple of cards so I can do different things with it. I want to get it working as an internet radio and media station and to that end, OpenElec went on one of the cards today. It works very nicely. I just need to organise the media which is basically small fry if a little time consuming.

I think every child in the country should have a Raspberry Pi in addition to (or instead of) pushing iPads or tablets out to all of them. I’m yet to be convinced by the value of handing them a locked down device with few options to explore.

I have beside me me the Raspberry Pi guide for kids. It’s dead handy because it’s written in straight terms, and allows kids to do all sorts of interesting things, from running Minecraft on it, to building a media server with BBC iPlayer for the television and some basic games programming. With Mathematica now they have access to a terrific knowledge engine as well. For that alone, I really do think every house should have one.

I also think that any one should get one and learn how to configure it. Get the kids bookazine thingie I mentioned above as it’s well written and pretty accessible. Or Raspberry Pi for Dummies – these are also generally clearly written.

The future of the world will be technology driven. A lot of this stuff isn’t that hard and it’s worth ensuring that you are technologically independent as far as possible. This should be a little bit past “switching the damn thing on”. This, in itself is handy but if you get caught with the bug, there is also the possibility of setting up your own video intercom (one of my projects for the paltry amount of spare time I have at the moment), customised doorbells, timers for any number of things. It’s a voyage of exploration.

 

on interests and judging them

Shane Hegarty has written a piece in today’s Irish Times which you can, if you’re so inclined, read here.

but it did hint at a key point about the modern foodie industry, which is that its chief product isn’t delicious meals, artfully presented: it is waste

He’s talking in the context of waste of time buying cookbooks, waste of time taking pleasure in your cooking, waste of time in taking instagram photographs of your food, waste of paper in printing cook books which will never be used.

I think he’s wrong.

I own about 100 cookbooks. Pretty sure it’s in that zone because they were recently counted and this does not include myriad copies of Delicious, Donna Hay, Tesco and Superquinn magazines. I also have an A4 notebook into which I glue oddball stuff cut out of magazines, newspapers, the backs of ingredients containers and such like. All of it gives me very great pleasure even if I do not cook.

I’ve always taken the view that if it’s feeding yourself is all it’s about, then you really only need one cookbook, be that either Nigella Lawson’s first one – How to Eat, or, possibly better, one of the Good Housekeeping ones. But that’s really not what it’s all about. There is something beautiful about opening a cookbook, looking at the pictures, and considering whether you will cook this or that.

It’s a pleasure to read cookbooks; not just cook from them. And sometimes you will cook from them and get things right, or sometimes you might not. It is ultimately a voyage of discovery.

In that respect, you cannot possibly consider the acquisition of books – of any type – which give you pleasure as a waste. Effort in cooking, likewise, is not a waste.

I swim because…

Four mornings a week I now go swimming before having breakfast and heading into whatever morning activity I have lined up. I’m not the world’s greatest swimmer – far from it – but I do it because it sets me nicely up for the day.l

Sometime ago there was a hooha over obesity and the Minister for Health in this country, and some journalist or other mentioned that she suffered, between gym membership and going running and stuff.

I was thinking about that word suffered the next day and it occurred to me – to some extent – that there seems, occasionally, to be this idea that life is some sort of penance.

You’d think with the pushing back against the Catholic Church that this whole concept of penance and suffering just to behave properly inline with society’s expectations might have gone the way of the snow a few years ago but no. It lives on.

I don’t run. And when I swim, I don’t feel like I am suffering. I enjoy it.

There are generalised health issues around the western lifestyle. The whole desk-lifestyle isn’t exactly great, and most people don’t get enough exercise. People’s eating habits have changed too. SO one of the things that I know to my cost is sometimes it’s very hard to get exercise.

And exercise is important. If you’re doing it right, and if you’re doing something you like, you feel great after it. It brings other benefits. I mean, I get up at 6.30 and drive to UCD and am in a swimming pool at 7.20 every morning and I really, really enjoy it. I couldn’t do it if it were a sufferance or a penance. I’d just find something else I like doing. While it will not really enable me to run away from a bad guy very fast, per se, it does have helpful things like a) making me fitter and b) having me more prepared for other stuff I like doing, like surfing, and kitesurfing. I get more confident in the water.

I have a couple of targets a) swim 1500m again and b) swim 400m in 8 minutes. I’m a long way off both of those. Currently I’m touching 500m in the mornings. Given the time available to me, that’s going to reach maybe 800m, maximum 900m. But that’s okay – it’s four times a week.

There is this moment – it’s not a measurable moment and it’s not even guaranteed to happen – when I am swimming, when everything just fits together and I feel great.

I swim for that.