Life of Raspberry Pi

A soul searching journey by  a New Yorker

When I heard about the RaspberryPi Jam, I had no idea what to expect. Sure, I remembered programming from my days as a Java Programmer. But what is physical computing? Growing up, I always felt this cringe dealing with hardware. I could debug codes but hardware to me was endless trial and error. Hardware was about reading a lot of jibberish written by people on bulletin boards or running an enormous risk of erasing everything on my hard disk and completely ruining my computer. Besides, I felt like dealing with hardware was like a man’s job. It was too manual. The desktops are heavy. You need tools – like screw drivers.  I found every excuse in the book to not touch hardware.

My tech days were over before I knew it.  I went to a business school and transformed myself into a “banker” back when it was considered – somewhat respectable. Obviously this was many years ago.
Raspberry Pi Jam
 I live in New York, you can say that it’s the heart of finance – where all the masters of universe or shall we say, modern alchemists perform their magic (a.k.a financial engineering) in their small kingdom called Wall Street. It’s going through major changes right now. We have this new regulation called Dodd – Frank and it’s kicking every bank’s ass. It all started with Libor.  People are let go left and right. Blood baths all over again.

So I went to Manchester to look for something new. Something creative.  Something that will give me inspiration. What exactly is going on across the pond?  I did not expect it but I think found what I had wished for.

I had originally wanted to take a beginner class in WordPress but I was disappointed that there was no WordPress classes during the week I was there. I saw the Raspberry Pi Jam and I cringed thinking about all the hardware frustrations I had in the past. Sure, it’s supposed to be easy. It’s designed for kids. But is it really? I was skeptical. I mean looking at the pictures of Raspberry Pi, it looks pretty intimidating already. I just wanted to close my eyes and make it go away. But I had no choice. After all, I had spent thousand bucks on the plane ticket . That is like half the cost of a Chanel bag. A very small one but still. And I felt my quest for inspiration was destined. I was determined to overcome my fear.  So I did what any scared, powerless worker bee would do before going to a scary meeting with bunch of grumpy old men that asked scary questions.

I prepared. I did my due diligence. I read articles. They didn’t give me a lot of hope. It seemed complicated. Lots of accessories to buy.  I read them over and over, and after hours of pouring my energy into amazon reviews, I bought my Pi and a green case (my favorite color),  pulled out the HDMI cable from my TV and I was ready! (I also bought a cheap USB keyboard/mouse combo, a sd card, Rasberry Pi user guide)  Or so I thought.
Raspberry Pi Jam
The Jam was sort of a free format. I felt a bit intimidated by all the cables and wires and monitors. But quickly the feeling vanished as I was introduced to my 11 year old teacher, Alex who patiently guided me through each step.

Six hours went by quickly. We had pizza. I played Scratch games that my teacher created. I created mini programs in Scratch. I learned a little bit of Python. And I saw a toy dog bark – all through Scratch!

I will not forget the moment when my Raspberry Pi came alive for the first time, I felt alive! And my 11 year old teacher was absolutely amazing. I think if I learned one thing out of this experience – it’s that, when it comes to learning, age doesn’t really matter. You can LEARN from anybody. No matter what age. And that sometimes you do have to get over the fear and get out of your comfort zone.

Once I came back to New York, I decided to look up Lady Ada and where she lived. I’m kidding. I looked up where she set up her crazy operation in New York. I was surprised to find that it was a plain-looking office building in Soho with no signs. What did I expect? Hmm…I don’t know, may be to meet her and ask her to sign my Raspberry Pi book? Or tell her, “Hey, I think your product is cool! Keep up the good work!” Well, since they don’t let visitors in according to Ada fruit website and the security guard peeked her head out with a “who is that crazy girl?” look on her face, I left the premises.  I decided to just get some Raspberry Pi stickers from the website to celebrate my victory over my fear and call it a day.

Written by Jina Kim
View more photos of the event.

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