Learning Computing

Back when there were several book store chains and plenty of stores I spent a fair amount of time in them and in particular looking through the computer magazine section. Magazines were a big part of my formative computing years, and I looked forward to each month’s issue of Byte. The magazines were not only a source of news about the latest hardware and software, they were also a means of software distribution containing pages of source code available to manually enter on a variety of computer platforms.

Physical book stores are nearly extinct and computer magazines shrank in to oblivion, replaced by the Internet, but I have found one corner of the Internet where computer magazines still live. You may have heard of the Raspberry Pi, which is an inexpensive “computer on a chip” popular amongst makers. What you might not know is that raspberrypi.org is more than just the computer hardware, it’s a foundation dedicated towards computer education. The foundation publishes tutorials and lesson plans for teachers and it has a publishing arm for books and magazines.

Four different magazines are published: HackSpace, Custom PC, Wireframe, and The MagPi, which you can subscribe to and purchase online and in stores in the United Kingdom. Better yet, the magazines and books are free to download in PDF format.

If you own a Raspberry Pi and have the full desktop version of the operating system installed you will find a Bookshelf app in the Help menu of the desktop’s application launcher. Bookshelf has tabs for each magazine and books that you can download and read on the Pi. If you don’t have a Pi you can browse through and download the PDFS using the web browser on your computer.

If you are not familiar with Raspberry Pi you will find everything you need to know about it on their web site, raspberrypi.org. Another great source for information is the Official Raspberry Pi Handbook, and the 2022 version has been just released and available to download.

If you are looking for an inexpensive starter computer for yourself or a child, I recommend the Raspberry Pi 400, which is an “all-in-one” computer you can buy for $70. I also think anyone considering a future in computing, or just interested to learn more, should buy a Raspberry Pi 4 kit, which you can assemble and use to learn more about computer hardware and software.

Frank McPherson @frankm
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