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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is a very nice introduction to the Raspberry Pi. The book is easy to read and the book is fairly short (180 pages). I was able to go through a chapter or 2 a night and finish off the book in less than a week.

Each chapter gives enough information to give the reader a basic understanding of the topic. The chapters are not complete references of the subject matter. At the end of each chapter are references that can be used to get more information. In the Kindle version of the book these are hyperlinks. Many of the references were free.

This book gives all the information needed to execute the example code. The examples were short and interesting.

I'm waiting to get a compatible webcam before completing chapter 9 and I didn't do all the examples in the chapter on Scratch but other than that I read the entire book and executed all the examples. I very much recommend this book and give it a rating of 5 stars.

I had a few problems but still stick with my 5 star rating.
Problem 1: Running Headless
Page 31 had a link to Raspberry Pi Hub. I couldn't get this to work. I found another example on the internet I had to modify and follow, [...]

Problem 2: NameError: name 'i' is not define
I was getting a compilation error with the sample code on page 42. I finally had to add an "i=0" before the while statement and an "i=i+1" inside the while statement.

Problem 3:Playing Video-pygame.mixer.quit location not clear
The text following the example on page 57 says that pygame.mixer.quit needs to be included "before you play". I thought this meant before the movie.play() command. However, I needed to include it before the movie = pygame.movie.Movie("foo.mpg") command or I would get video and no audio.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This succinct 161 page handbook gives a clear introduction and all features needed to setup and have fun with the vastly popular Raspberry Pi educational PC (over 500,000 have been sold by Farnell one of the two largest international distributors of the $35 Pi). Clear and complete descriptions are given of the setup and "gozinta's" of the Pi and SD-card, use of the Linux Operating System and programming in the Python and Scratch languages, as well as interfacing this hardware and use of web-based applications. While this excellent and compact treatment is among the best I have found for general use and hacking of the Pi--where this handbook clearly out-shined all other books for me was in the interfacing of the Pi's hardware with other devices, switches displays and chips. In particular, one problem I've had with the Pi and other Linux development boards up until now has been in obtaining the same sort of analog to digital interface and reading of analog input sources (such as sensors and biological signals) that is possible with the inexpensive but limited (no operating system) Arduino board. Appendix C of this excellent (and complete in a compact) handbook fully describes how to interface an analog to digital converter to the Raspberry Pi including use of the I2C serial interfacing protocol and programming of this interface in Python. This is the only manual I have seen to date that fully describes hardware interfacing and electronics hacking with the Pi (and similar Linux-based development boards like the Beaglebone). My complements to Matt Richardson and Shawn Wallace and O'Reilly publishers.

--Ira Laefsky MS Engineering/MBA Information Technology Consultant and Participant in the Philadelphia-based Hackerspace Hive 76
formerly on the Senior Consulting Staff of Arthur D. Little, Inc. and Digital Equipment Corporation
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Right off the bat: a lot of the graphics are pretty poor and this book has no index. There's still lots of excellent and very useful information, and I will be using this book in my own ongoing experiments with my fleet of Raspberry Pi's as well as recommending this book to advanced users of the Pi. But, the physical production of this publication is a hindrance.

Matt Richardson and Shawn Wallace do an excellent job with the content of the book. They range pretty far with what you can do with the credit card sized computer, the Raspberry Pi, from Unix cron jobs to the Python programming language to the Scratch graphical programming environment to interacting with the web. There are a lot of very good ideas which are explained well. Which is PRECISELY why it needs a decent index (and there is NO index). Looking up how to do something is very clunky when all you have is a table of contents.

The target reading level for the book appears to be for the slightly advanced user, though high level programming skills aren't required (low level programming skills ARE required). If you're a true beginner, or just really new to hobby programming in general, I'd recommend Eben Upton (co-creator of the Pi) and Gareth Halfacree's Raspberry Pi User Guide as a simpler and more accessible work (and it is better produced with very nice photos and a nice index). Heck, you should probably own BOTH this book and the Upton/Halfacree title.

On the quality of the graphics: I personally prefer photographs to sketches, especially when it comes to describing the Raspberry Pi board itself. I'll give a nod to the publishing decision preferring sketches over photos as a way to keep the publishing price down (and this is a VERY inexpensive book). But appendix B's reproduction (screen captures) of the complete Scratch script for the game Astral Trespassers is a disgrace. The Scratch screen captures printed in the body of the book are often (not always) much larger and clearer. Overall, the use of graphics in this book is highly uneven.

The real strength of this book is its coverage of the Python programming language. The specific examples of using Python to write your own Raspberry Pi programs are fascinating and excellent leaping off points for different projects. I personally recommend Chapter 10, Python and the Internet, as a great introduction to using the Python Requests library.

With good graphics and an index, this would get an easy 5 out of 5 stars. But the poor execution in those two cases really brought this book down to 3 stars for me. Still recommended.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
This O'Reilly book comes from the same folks who produce Make magazine, which has lots of fun and informative projects for folks who want to dabble with devices of all sorts.

From the first chapter (only 17 pages), it provides warnings to save your from frying your Pi, breaking the board, and offers suggestions to build a durable assembly. I love the drawing, they're detailed and well labelled. If you have the parts needed to get the Raspberry Pi going (including USB power supply, HDMI cable, powered USB hub, and an SD card with an image of the operating system) then you should have a running system by the end of that chapter.

To use the Raspberry you'll need to know about Linux, the operating system, and Python, a programming language to create Pi software. The next two chapters give you enough to get going with lots of pointers to Further Reading and websites.

I really like the books readability, and it's 150 page size means that it won't overwhelm someone who has never dabbled with circuit boards. If you gave one of your kids this book and a Raspberry Pi, you could have a future computer genius on your hands.

The editing of the book is a little rough, with some repeated paragraphs and missing illustration labeling. These won't get in your way.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The Raspberry Pi is a hot new computer system, approximately the size of a credit card and costing $25-$35 (plus a $5 markup depending on where you buy one - my preferred source is Sparkfun Electronics in Boulder). The Pi is a system on a chip that includes a 700Mhz processor and separate GPU, plus up to half a gig of RAM; the model B comes with several USB ports, an ethernet port, and HDMI output. They can be used from everything to learning to program under Linux to streaming HD video to your television.

With so many possibilities, though, it can be hard to know where to start, especially if you're not accustomed to using Linux - which is why I picked up a copy of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi. This is a fairly short book that doesn't go into any topic in depth, but it gives you a good starting point and links to more information. It's a quick way of getting going and figuring out what you want to do with your Raspberry Pi.

Chapter one covers obtaining a Pi and getting it set up. The technical information is more detailed than the actual setup instructions, but extra setup help is available in the first appendix. What I like about this chapter is that it has nice diagrams showing were everything is on the Pi.

Chapter two is an introduction to Linux, the free operating system you'll use on the Pi. While there are several distributions that will work, the officially recommended official distribution is a variant of Debian called Raspbian. This chapter will get you going with using the command line and maneuvering through the Linux filesystem.

In chapter three, we start our first programming language: Python! Raspbian has both Python 2.7 and Python 3 included, so you're ready to go with whichever version you prefer. Python is a high-level language with the design philosophy that there should be one obvious way to do things (as opposed to Perl's "more than one way to do it" approach). This chapter has you writing a simple program and ends with a list of resources for learning the language, such as the online Learn Python the Hard Way book. Once you've learned the basics, chapter four moves into doing animation and multimedia using the Pygame framework.

One of the reasons for creating the Raspberry Pi was for kids to be able to learn to program, without the worry of damage to the household computer. Accordingly, the Pi comes with MIT's Scratch, which is a graphical programming language that can be used to learn the basics of programming without actually having to code; you can easily drag commands around to make simple animations and games. Chapter five covers Scratch.

Prior to the release of the Pi, the Arduino was the go-to component for embedded systems hobbyists. Many of the components used with the Arduino, as well as the Arduino itself, can be used with the Raspberry Pi. Chapters six through eight have you doing physical things with your Pi, like turning LEDs (or lamps) on and off and reading in input from buttons. (The Pi can handle a number of digital inputs, appendix C covers converting analog inputs) Chapter nine takes that a step farther, using a webcam with the Pi (which, after all, uses a chip meant for cell phones, which generally have cameras). The Pi can even handle simple face detection.

Finally, chapter ten discusses creating internet-connected projects, such as using the Pi as a web server.

I found this book to be a nice, quick read; typos were minimal and it gives a good overview of the different things you can do with the Pi. So far it's inspired me to start learning Python, which seems like a nice little scripting language, and I'm considering eventually turning my Pi into a DVR. What will you do with yours?

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this ebook for Vulcan Ears Book Reviews (vulcanears.com), where this review originally appeared.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
Great, great book! I had gotten a Raspberry Pi, and I just kept it on a shelf doing nothing because I wasn't exactly sure how to get started with it. This book took me through the setup process, step by step, and showed how to use the GPIO pins and how to connect a USB device. Thanks in part to this book, I've now got a Raspberry Pi that emails a picture from a webcam every time I send it a tweet telling to do so!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 20, 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I rate this book 4 stars for ease of understanding and being a great intro to the Raspberry Pi. The title "Getting Started" is exactly what it delivers. It touches on many aspects of this small, inexpensive computer, but you will need to refer to other resources in order to go much further.

The Raspberry Pi can be many different things to different people. Some may want to use it as a Linux file, printer, or web server. Some may want to use it as a desktop machine. Some may want to use it to learn programming. Some may want to run a voice over IP PBX, or a home media server (the book does not talk about Asterix, Raspbmc, or similar projects). Others may want to use it as a platform for hardware projects. The Raspberry Pi can do all this, and more, and the book will help.

The book starts with an introduction of the hardware, tells you what else you need in addition to the Raspberry Pi, and how to create your first SD card image. It then goes on to introduce simple Linux commands and how to do common tasks in Linux. Then the reader is introduced to Python with a few simple programs, and to the programming language Scratch. One chapter I didn't expect to see in this book is how to use the Pi with an Arduino. There are only a few pages in that chapter, which describes how to install the Arduino IDE on Raspberry Pi, and how to communicate between the two. If the reader is not already experienced with Arduino, this chapter is of limited use.

The most interesting chapter of the book, to me, is about hardware projects. The examples are simple - how to blink a LED, and how to read button inputs. A short section describes how to control AC appliances (for example, a lamp) with additional hardware. For those who want to experiment with analog input, Appendix C covers that in a fair bit of detail.

Finally, there's a chapter covering webcams, and another one on using Python to retrieve data from the Internet.

The nice thing about the book is the breadth of topics it covers. The limitation of the book is that, there is not quite enough information in there for a novice to complete a serious project. But then again, no book is going to be able to do that.

If your emphasis is not so heavily on hardware, I find the book Raspberry Pi: A Quick-Start Guide to be a better book. It is very well organized and easy to read, perhaps even easier to read than this book.

The problem with all books is how quickly the information inside becomes outdated due to new developments. You can get all the information in these books online, of course. And if there is something specific you'd like to do (for example, set up your Raspberry Pi as a VPN server) you will definitely need to look for that information online. Should you get this book? It all depends on your preferred way of acquiring knowledge. Some people prefer a book, others prefer to go online and see where it leads to.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought this to go with my son's new RasPi that I bought him for Christmas. I found myself really enjoying the depth of information and number of projects in this book. Highly recommended.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Getting started with Raspberry Pi is useful for a quick start with Pi but it's not without some minor flaws. I'm reviewing the 1st Ed.(Dec2012). The book first talks about the Pi and gives general background. It mentions some peripherals that are supposed to come out in 2013: 5 megapixel camera (attaches to dedicated port), LCDs that use the DSI port. Since these haven't been released yet you wouldn't find any info in the book.

THE GOOD:
+ This is a thin small book which will not cause "I have to read and understand all that?" anxiety.
+ Shows a fairly broad range of uses for Pi, including installing Raspbian Linux OS, a brief intro to Python, using the PyGame frameworks for graphics/sounds/input, hardware interfacing with the Pi's GPIO port pins, working with Arduino, and more.
+ Each chapter has a list of books/links to additional resources for you to explore. It's nothing you couldn't already find but it saves you time instead of searching and getting distracted online.

THE BAD:
- For some strange reason there are no "grayscale photos" as to be expected - instead there are handdrawn(!) line drawings. This is kind of silly to look at, especially on Pages 3/4/5 when the Pi hardware is discussed. Why no "proper" photos, especially when there are proper screenshots?
- Slight typo on Page 9, some section header text is not formatted correctly
- Page 11 has two paragraphs with very similar sentences, reads almost like an unintended repeat to me.
- The "Intro to Linux" is really short. If you are not familiar with Linux and shell commands you will need another reference. To be fair the book does have a list of suggested books/websites at the end of each chapter, but I feel a couple more pages on Linux would have been helpful.
- The section on using GPIO could have elaborated on electronic fundamentals, particularly the dangers of overvoltage/overcurrent through a GPIO pin. This also applies to Arduino, but the thing is if you screw up and damage Arduino (Uno) you can generally replace a cheap socketed chip and be back in business. Pi's hardware is all surface mounted chips that cannot be user repaired so you need to be careful with hardware interfacing. For beginners I would recommend the Pi-face interface board unless you know what you are doing.

OVERALL if you want to get up to speed quickly using Pi it's a useful book. However note that you may need additional hand-holding or resources for Linux/Python if you are not familiar with these.
SUGGESTIONS:
For Python a very gentle introduction is Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming for readers with no programming experience. Don't be misled by the "kids" title, the book is suitable for older readers.
A nice python reference (useful for programmers who want to pick up Python by reading about the language rather than read a "tutorial" type book) is The Quick Python Book, Second Edition
If you are a hardware hacker and want to build your own interface circuitry then you might want to look at Adafruit Raspberry Pi Prototyping Plate Kit for a ready-for-use PCB that will help implement your circuitry faster.
I hope this has been helpful!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I gave as a gift to my grandson who loves to configure the Raspberry for many different applications. He is into coding and is writing code for various applications. I feel it is a great gift for the "geek" in the family and I also feel it is preparing him for problem solving and the pleasure of having the device perform as expected. We now browse yard sales for patch cords etc.
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