A freelance Qualicum Beach programmer is organizing an event this week celebrating the Raspberry Pi — a tiny piece of technology that's making waves around the world.
"It's a very cheap, simple computer board," Tim Rowledge told The NEWS, explaining it's a tool for teaching people how to program.
Essentially, the Rasperry Pi is an operating system made out of an SD card powered by a USB phone charger.
The credit-card sized computer can plug into a computer monitor or television and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. It’s capable of doing everything you’d expect a desktop computer to do, from browsing the internet and playing high-definition video, to making spreadsheets, word-processing and playing games.
Originally, Rowledge said the device was created for students applying for Cambridge's computer engineering program.
"These days a lot of people think a pretty Facebook page makes you an excellent computer programmer," said Rowledge. "So one way of finding out who was really into computers was the idea that we make a cheap computer and your entrance exam is to make something out of it … it was a wild idea."
Rob Bishop's talk about the Raspberry Pi: past, present and future. — Wikimedia Commons
But since then, the popularity of the Raspberry Pi has flourished.
According to Rowledge, millions have been sold worldwide to-date — thousands from a Nanaimo-based tech company called B.C. Robotics Inc.
"Computers are usually really boring and we use them to browse the web and to make boring documents with Microsoft Word and we've just lost excitement," he said, adding the Raspberry Pi shakes things up in the tech world.
"You can plug things into it and make things go wee and buzz and flash and occasionally boom."
Rowledge said there is a wide age range of people interested in the Raspberry Pi from youngsters drawn to creative programming, to those looking to get into a burgeoning tech industry to seniors "who want an interesting hobby that isn't fishing or golfing or gardening."
What has become ubiquitously known to computational insiders as a Raspberry Jam, will be hosted on Sunday, Dec. 7 at Maker-Space in Nanaimo from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The primary purpose of the event is to inspire interest in the Raspberry Pi, bring together likeminded individuals and to showcase what the tiny little device is capable of doing.
For more information about the Raspberry Jam visit www.raspberrypi.org/jam.