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Raspberry Pi For Dummies Paperback – March 22, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1118554210 ISBN-10: 1118554213 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Q & A with Sean McManus, author of Raspberry Pi for Dummies

Sean McManus
Sean McManus
What was your first thought when you heard about the Raspberry Pi?

I felt a sense of wonder. Firstly, that the Raspberry Pi Foundation had managed to create such a powerful machine for such a cheap price. And secondly, wonder at the fantastic opportunities that it opens up for families, electronics hobbyists, and those who want to learn about technology.

Why do you think Raspberry Pi has become so popular so fast?

A lot of people have been waiting for exactly this kind of technology: something that makes programming and electronics accessible and affordable. A community has built up around the Raspberry Pi that inspires newcomers to want to get involved and learn about what they can do with the device.

The price is a big factor, too. It means that once you've thought of something you can do with the Raspberry Pi, it's a no-brainer to buy one. Some people want to build robots with it; some want to learn programming; some just want a high-definition media centre for playing their videos and music. It's incredibly versatile.

What makes the Raspberry Pi a great tool for getting younger people interested in programming?

The Raspberry Pi comes with the Python and Scratch programming languages in the recommended software version. Scratch is highly visual and is increasingly used in schools to teach younger children. It's well suited to making simple games and animations, but encapsulates a lot of the ideas that underpin most programming languages.

After that, young people can graduate to Python, which is more text-based. It is designed to make it easy to read program code, and it's widely used in the real world outside of education by companies including YouTube, Google, and Industrial Light & Magic.

The Raspberry Pi also makes it easy to use your programs to control your own electronic circuits, which is a lot of fun for people of all ages.

What is your favorite Raspberry Pi project?

There are so many out there in the community, that it's hard to choose. I think the one-button audiobook player Michael Clemens made for his wife's grandmother is my favourite, though. She is visually impaired and finds other audio players hard to use, so Michael made one that has just a single button to play and pause. She can hold down the button to go back one track. This is an example of the Raspberry Pi really improving the quality of someone's life. I love listening to audiobooks, so I can imagine how much this means to her.

Any advice for someone who just bought a Raspberry Pi and is ready to get started using it?

The Raspberry Pi comes as just a small circuit board and you have to connect your own keyboard, mouse and monitor. People sometimes experience problems because the keyboard and mouse they use aren't compatible with the Raspberry Pi, so it's worth doing a bit of online research to check compatibility before buying a new keyboard or mouse. I recommend keeping a stack of SD cards (clearly labeled!) so you can try out different versions of the operating system software, and keep one for Raspbmc, the media centre software.

Learn how to discover and install new software, too. There's a huge amount of free software you can install on your Raspberry Pi, and you can really personalize it by finding exactly the right software for your needs.

What's something you can do with a Raspberry Pi that might surprise people?

Most people know you can use the Raspberry Pi for programming, electronics, or as a media centre. So ironically, the most surprising thing is perhaps the most ordinary. You can also use it for creating documents and spreadsheets, doing basic photo editing, and browsing the Internet. The Raspberry Pi is not as fast as a modern PC, but it is still a great machine for younger family members to use for creative projects and homework.

Review

"Overall, the Raspberry Pi For Dummies book is an eclectic mix, just like anything Pi-related, of educational goodness which all but the most advanced of users will find something interesting within. Personally I've learned a handful of bits and bobs from it already, and am eager to let it guide me through some interesting things I might otherwise have passed up." (gadgetoid.com, April 2013) 'If you've been toying with the idea of finding out for yourself just what all the fuss surrounding the Raspberry Pi is about -- but are concerned that if you order one, you won't have a clue what to do with it when it arrives -- then this is absolutely the book you need.' (Tech Secondary, June 2013) 'If you have just purchased a Pi and are not sure where to begin, this book provides an excellent place to start.' (BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT, June 2013) "This book has personality and it's easy to like the style." (Raspberry Pi Pod, March 2014)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: For Dummies; 1 edition (March 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118554213
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118554210
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

For newcomers to Linux on the Raspberry Pi this is a great book.
Amazon Customer
The writing is very clear and easy to follow with plenty of details, tables, tips, illustrations and screen shots.
tonygo
For us older experienced folks, it's simply the start here manual, and nice desk reference to get us going.
Bryan D. Wood

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Let's Compare Options Preptorial TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I reverse engineer circuits from JTAG ports to check on proprietary algorithms, so am tearing apart electronics all day long. When you look at the skyrocketing Raspberry Pi sales stats, about 70% are from folks looking to "build an inexpensive PC" whereas the other 30 are hobbyists with a few pros thrown in to chain with Propeller and other heavy hitters for more advanced applications. A few of us use them to customize testing tools, but that's another topic for another day, and NOT in this book.

This book covers ALL the big questions, especially for those just opening the package. It will save you a LOT of money by:

1. Showing you how to get the OS working without having to buy pre-packaged cards, which are themselves only downloads from the free sites anyway

2. Not having to buy the 12 other books either out or coming out that show you (with varying quality) piece-by-piece what either the hardware, software, assembly, Linux, OS, or other levels do one by one.

I'd recommend this to anyone planning to use this as an inexpensive PC, or planning on more advanced hobby work, because after you get all the pins, access, media vs. primary OS, etc. done you can then move on to more advanced, specialized applications from home automation to games, robotics, and much more.

Most of the younger, most advanced programmers on the planet (I work with a LOT of them) don't have a clue about some of the older assembly-level memory tricks, etc. and when you're using an SD card instead of a big drive, the discipline is a great eye opener even for old hacks like me. This beast is nearly 500 pages, compared to a lot of "specialty" Pi books at twice the price and 1/3 the page count, and every page is packed with great stuff for beginning and intermediate users. For reference and review, at this price, I'd also recommend it to seasoned old folks too if you really want to maximize your RP skill quickly, and save money re: above.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By tonygo on April 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
I started teaching Computer Science in the UK for more than 40 years ago (11 to 19 years olds) and since retirement have been 'playing with' Arduinos and RPis. I am interested in home robotics, electronics, computing and photography. I am still learning Linux and Python.

This is the third manual for the Raspberry Pi that I have bought and is by far the best. It is bigger, 412 pages, packed with all the details a novice needs to get started but goes on much farther than the others in providing detailed hardware and software projects to a high level. It is also very competitively priced.

The writing is very clear and easy to follow with plenty of details, tables, tips, illustrations and screen shots. It explains how to keep your RPi computer up to date, download and install a wide range of free software for tasks such as word-processing, spreadsheets, photo editing, building a website and playing video/audio. The sections on programming include introductions to Linux, Scratch, Python and Pygame. The website associated with the has several useful items to download.

Where this book really scores with me is the last third, written by 'Grumpy' Mile Cook, well known in Arduino and RPi forums for his hardware projects stretching back to the early days of the BBC micro. Mike has lost none of his enthusiasm for building electronic add-ons for the computer to control. The projects are very well explained, with easy to follow instructions on obtaining parts and building the hardware. The necessary software to complete the project is fully explained in easy to understand instructions. He also explains how to add analogue to digital converters and how to use them.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Paul Damron on August 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I got the kindle edition. I've not read a lot of long works on my Kindle but this worked well for me. I especially like being able to jump to the section I want by using the table of contents. It inspired me to go ahead and order my own Raspberry Pi and start my own learning. I am very familiar with PC's and use one every day at home and at work but have never learned any programming. At age 65, I still want to learn new things!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. Martin on May 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found the book to be well written and great explanations. Projects were good. I am 70 years old and find the Dummies series of books to be a great help in getting started in something new.
The Raspberry Pi is a great little computer and the book compliments it.
I am sure there are those who have more experience in using the Raspberry Pi for them the book may not be the one to get. If you are starting out or want to find out what this little computer can do I think the book would be a great help.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By zerolagtime on October 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
By the time anything on the Raspberry Pi can get in paperback, it's going to be out of date or missing the newest thing. Still, six months after publication, this book is still relevant. I bought it for my 12 year old niece who has expressed an interest in the Pi and this book will cover all of the essentials, from just using the Pi as a computer, to programming it, to building circuits around it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David J. Crosby on August 9, 2013
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This Dummies edition is far superior to several other Raspberry Pi user manuals I looked at. Answered all my questions!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Herburger on August 5, 2013
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The book is packed full of useful information and how-tos. The authors explain everything from the ground up. It's easy to follow, easy to understand, and provides plenty of useful and interesting information. I particularly enjoyed the sections of projects like how to program a simple game with Scratch, how to program with Python, etc.

Overall, highly recommend to anyone new to Pi, new to Linux, or wanting to expand their use/knowledge of a Pi.

Great book!
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Raspberry Pi For Dummies + CanaKit Raspberry Pi B+ Ultimate Starter Kit (Over 40 Components: Raspberry Pi B Plus + WiFi Dongle + 8GB SD Card + Case + Power Supply and many more) + Getting Started with Raspberry Pi (Make: Projects)
Price for all three: $96.94

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