How to get started setting up your Raspberry Pi

The problem with most teachers is quite frankly:  They know too much. I know that’s paradoxical but nonetheless, also true.  Most teachers are subject matter experts and often when it comes to describing processes, they assume knowledge their students don’t have.

When it comes to learning new skills, there are two general classes of newbies: 1) the complete Newbie and 2) the Newbie with related experience.  Using the Raspberry Pi as an example, all Newbies know little to nothing about a Raspberry Pi. But then there are those who come to the table with related experience.  For example, there may be newbies who have programming experience; some who even have Python programming experience.  These people would be at an advantage. There may be others who are familiar with the Linux operating system.  They too will have a slight edge on grasping the concepts of using and programming the Raspberry Pi.

Knowing what I do at this point (which is not that far from the time when I knew nothing) I still remember how frustrated I felt when I got my first Raspberry Pi and thought I had everything I needed to set up and start using it only to discover I needed one more thing, and then one more thing and etc.

If you are just beginning, save yourself some frustration and get all the stuff you need now before trying to hook up your Raspberry Pi to anything.  You will need more than the Raspberry Pi as part of your hardware array to get started.  In short you will need:  a micro SD card loaded with NOOBS; a power supply for the Raspberry Pi; a couple of heat sinks; an HDMI cable; a case for your Raspberry Pi; an HDMI monitor; a USB mouse; and a USB keyboard.

The video that accompanies this post recommends a kit.  Had I known what I know now, I can assure you I would have ordered this kit. (It doesn’t include the monitor, mouse or keyboard; but it does include all the rest.)   Forget all about Noobs installation on the Micro SD card and use a micro card like the one in this kit that has it already installed. [By the way I didn’t even know what a micro SD card was when I began this learning adventure, much less what Noobs is.  Consequently, it took me a day and a half of frustration to muddle through just that to get the micro card installed in my Raspberry Pi 3 B.  How wonderful it would have been to have had a micro card all ready to put into my Raspberry Pi.]

My first Raspberry Pi project was to install a Voice User Interface using an AIY Google Voice Box kit.  That project took me over 40 hours.  If I knew then what I know now, my first Raspberry Pi Project would have been to set up my Raspberry Pi 3 B to run as a desktop computer with Raspbian Operating/Linux based system.  That would have taken me about 2 hours at the most.  I recommend that you do this if you think you want to continue learning more about Python programming, the Raspberry Pi and Linux.  Keep your other computer (Windows or Mac) for doing what you do with it now.

By the way here is another difference of opinion:  Don’t listen to the hotshots on YouTube who tell you that the Raspberry Pi  3 B or 4 are not desktop replacements. It’s a matter of opinion.  I have a Raspberry Pi 3B running as a desktop computer and as far as I’m concerned, it works plenty fast enough.  Will I be watching Netflixs on it?     Probably not.  But it’s plenty fast enough at accessing information on the Internet and using as a platform to develop programs in Python.  You Tube on my Pi 3B breaks up once in a while but it’s still usable.

Perhaps it’s just a generation thing. I was already an adult when telephone dialup connectivity to the Internet was first established.  No doubt, the notion of “slow” is definitely relative.


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