The Joy of Hardware

Last year Jfokus ran an embedded systems track alongside the main conference, and this was met with considerable enthusiasm. It was a friendly refuge from corporate keynotes and enterprise bloatware seminars, a place where you could escape the buzzwords and marketing people. I discovered that the Raspberry Pi was an actual thing that existed and could be ordered from the internet, and within 60 minutes I had done just that.

Apart from putting together the odd PC back in the late 90’s, I’m generally clueless about hardware. I don’t know what the state of the art for RAM or CPUs are nowadays; in fact I don’t even know how many cores the MacBook I’m typing this on is running. Hardware is a nuisance; the problems that interest me all lie deep into software country.

However, the Raspberry Pi has awakened my curiosity for circuit boards, ports and capacitors. I want to learn about microcontrollers, I want to find out how GPIO works. God help me, I want to solder.

Karin from r-pi.se had a table at the conference, and seemed to be doing a brisk trade. This photo was taken during a lull in traffic, but usually it was so crowded you couldn’t even see the table.

I couldn’t resist getting a PiFace board; I’ve been wanting to add a display to my pi as I tend to run it headless and it would be nice to have some way of displaying status information. And adding a wi-fi dongle seemed like a good idea for a machine like this.

Admittedly, these are toys. Pure indulgence, a guilty pleasure, as I still don’t know what I will do with the Pi. It will be interesting finding out, though.