I’m writing this on an Ubuntu Linux machine. The machine is a Raspberry Pi 4. I had heard about the Raspberry Pi machines a while ago, but I didn’t really get interested until recently. I’ve been picking up more and more little projects to do during downtime since the weather has been getting colder and the pandemic restrictions make it harder to go out and do stuff like museums and public places with the toddler. I still get my workouts in — swimming in the morning before the sun comes out — and I still write and do other creative things. However, I’ve decided to take that creativity into technology.
Setting up Ubuntu Linux on the Raspberry, and wiring it all so I can access it while working on other stuff on my desk and so it can share the screen with my Xbox. One flip of a switch, and I can go from playing video games to editing code on the Raspberry (or writing a blog post). And I have my Mac monitor on a floating arm, so the desk is completely free. To top it all off, my writing desk is completely free for me to sit and read, write, and catch up on stuff.
This is not the first time I’ve started technology projects like these, of course. When I was a kid, mom bought me an old Commodore computer. She saw it at a Goodwill store, and she bought it for me to play with. It came with a phone modem, some game cartridges and some books. After trying out a few things, I was able to hook it up to our television and play a few games. Then I took out the books and read up on some coding. There was BASIC, and C++, most of which I’ve lost by now. I do remember how to decipher the syntax and understand it. Now, I’m not shy about taking on some coding project, even if I don’t know the language.
Google helps a lot, too.
As I see my daughter grow up, I wonder how she will relate with technology since it permeates her entire life. There are a lot of gadgets and gizmos all around her, and she loves sitting and watching cartoons on the television or the iPhone or the iPad. I have no doubt that she is going to be coding soon, way sooner than I ever did. And I hope she comes to see technology as a tool to be mastered, not a master to rule over us. (Easier said than done, given how much I see children and teens getting addicted to their devices… Or, rather, addicted to the interactions and “experiences” their devices bring.)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to figure out how to refurbish an old radio with a music streaming Raspberry Pi project.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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