Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop: Upgrades and Updates

By Jim Shimabukuro

The more time I spend with the Raspberry Pi 4, the more I’m convinced that it could stand in for a desktop for many uses. For light users and perhaps for schools and colleges, the savings would be astronomical. I decided to add a small monitor to make the unit less cumbersome and more portable. School and college faculty, techs, and administrators ought to look into this tiny computer as a possible replacement or substitute for expensive desktops for class or lab use. Experiment with it. Can it cover the functions that are needed?

Added a lightweight, portable 1920×1080 HDMI monitor1 and some updates.

Tweaks abound. Enthusiasts and pros are sharing, via YouTube, new and exciting updates and upgrades. Here are a few that I completed in the last hour:

A. Raised the CPU speed to 512 MHz2

  1. Click Raspberry Pi 4 logo on left corner of the top menu bar.
  2. Click Preferences.
  3. Click Raspberry Pi Configuration.
  4. In the Configuration window, click the Performance tab and use the up-down arrow keys to raise (or lower) the speed. Click OK. Reboot to activate the new setting.

B. Updated/Upgraded the Raspbian OS (operating system)2. One of the improvements is a cooler running temperature.

  1. Click Terminal icon on left corner of the top menu bar.
  2. At the prompt, type: sudo apt-get update
  3. Next, when prompted, type: sudo apt-get upgrade

C. Added a CPU Temperature Gauge3 on the far right corner of the top menu bar.

  1. Right click an empty spot on the top menu bar.
  2. In the drop-down menu, click Add/Remove Panel Items.
  3. In the new window, click Add in the right sidebar.
  4. Select CPU Temperature Monitor.
  5. Click Add to finish up.

D. Added a photo editing app, Gimp 42

  1. Click Terminal icon on left corner of the top menu bar.
  2. At the prompt, type: sudo apt-get install gimp

See related posts:
Raspberry Pi 4 Is the Future of Desktop Computers (8/2/19)
A Palm-sized Desktop Computer for $35 – Raspberry Pi 4 (7/24/19)

1 SunFounder Raspberry Pi Display 13.3 Inch IPS Portable 2 HDMI Monitor 1920×1080 (Amazon $125.99 USD).
2 ETA Prime, “Getting Started With The Raspberry Pi 4 – Use It As A Linux PC,” YouTube, 5 July 2019.
3 leepspvideo, “Live Temperature monitor Raspberry Pi 4 Raspbian Overclocked 2.0Ghz,” YouTube, 29 July 2019.

Raspberry Pi 4 Is the Future of Desktop Computers

By Jim Shimabukuro

Update: 4 Aug. 2019

The CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 Complete Starter Kit arrived yesterday evening. I got it up and running before turning in and did more extensive testing today. My overall early impression is “Wow!” Pi4 has all the earmarks of a desktop disruptor. Its tiny size and outrageousy low price is a dramatic departure from clunky and expensive desktops. I’ve always wondered why desktop computers have changed so little in the last ten to twenty years. Laptops, notebooks, tablets, and other computing devices are shrinking in size and price every year or so, but desktops seem to remain the same.

It was only a matter of time before a breakthrough like the Pi4 would occur. Earlier Pi versions didn’t have enough power to replace desktops. The Pi4 is a tipping point, marking the beginning of an era that might eventually see the decline of today’s major desktop producers as well as Microsoft’s monopoly on operating systems. For approximately $150, I have a desktop that can do almost everything my $1500 desktop can do1.

The Raspberry Pi 4 is the tiny box to the right of the keyboard. I have it set up for two monitors. The screen on the right is running a 1080p YouTube video. The screen on the left is running four apps: a webpage, an email page, a word processor, and a spreadsheet. The keyboard, mouse, and power supply are official Raspberry accessories. The two mini-HDMI and power cable with in-line power button are CanaKit products.

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‘Buzzy’s Adventures in Online Privacy’ — A Review

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

Buzzy’s Adventures in Online Privacy, by Bilal Soylu & Paritica Aluskewicz, illustrations by Olga Pietraszek. XcooBee LLC. Printed by Amazon. 61 p. ISBN 9781095474815.

This book is designed for parents and other caregivers to read with children around five years old, kindergarten age. It’s a cautionary tale about the dangers that lurk online, which is a relevant topic for today’s young learners. The book aims to educate young children about the importance of privacy when online, such as not sharing information with strangers. The characters are animals, some representing children, others adults, and the cartoon-like illustrations would probably appeal to a child this age.

A  page from Buzzy’s Adventures in Online Privacy.

However, I’m not convinced the book would be effective. It seems to have a dual personality, each of which is directed at a separate audience. The story that is directed at children addresses various issues at their level. It shows young animals on the Internet playing online games and using various apps being approached by strangers obtaining personal information in the guise of friendship.  Continue reading

Repurposing Gaming Keyboards and Desktops for Multimedia Work

By Jim Shimabukuro

After nearly ten years, I decided to upgrade my desktop computer. It was being overwhelmed by the multimedia tasks that I’ve been throwing at it. After reviewing the available options, I ended up getting a gaming PC. I’m not a gamer and never have been, but the features that I need happen to be in gaming machines. I got the HP OMEN Obelisk Desktop1 with an Intel Core i7-9700 processor and 16 GB system memory.2 (See the details below.) For serious gamers, this is a modest system.

I completed the purchase online and drove to the store, which is about four miles away. While waiting for the order to be filled, I browsed the keyboard section. I decided it was time to get a new one with backlit keys. The search led me to gaming keyboards, and the best for my needs was the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro mechanical gaming keyboard. It was compact and felt substantial. It didn’t have a numeric keypad. I never use a keypad, so I welcomed the smaller size.

HyperX Alloy FPS Pro mechanical gaming keyboard with backlit keys. All of the photos in this article can be enlarged by left-clicking the photo.

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Memories of Computers Past

Harry Keller 80By Harry Keller
Former ETCJ Science Editor
& President of SmartScience

When Jim wrote about 5-1/4″ disks, it triggered a cascade of memories from my half-century of computer experiences. Today, it’s all miniature flash memories.

Seriously, I remember 8″ floppy disks. I had a bunch of them, now long gone to the landfill. I worked in the computer industry before ANY floppy disks existed. Oh, we had removable disks and were careful not to drop them on our toes.

8-inch, ​5 1⁄4-inch, and ​3 1⁄2-inch floppy disks. Wikipedia photo and caption by George Chernilevsky, 6 June 2009.

It gets worse. I remember working with punched cards — myself! I even edited the binary cards returned to you after a compilation to save time. Woe betide the person who dropped their cards if they were not sequenced. If they were, then you had access to a card sorting machine. Old movies showed them as though THEY were the computer. Ha ha ha.  Continue reading

Remember Floppy Disks?

By Jim Shimabukuro

The message on this tanktop is a reminder of how far we’ve come in a very “short” period of time. I got it as a gift this past Father’s Day and catch myself smiling whenever I wear it.

My first personal computer, in the early-1980s, was a Kaypro 2 that came with two single-sided, double-density 5.25″ floppy drives. For all practical purposes, we needed two drives back then: one for the program and the other for our files. Wikipedia photo by Autopilot, 19 Mar. 2015.

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A Palm-sized Desktop Computer for $35 – Raspberry Pi 4

By Jim Shimabukuro

Officially released today, 24 June 2019, is the Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer that fits in the palm of your hand. It’s made by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK-based charity (nonprofit) that works to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world. They do this so that more people are able to harness the power of computing and digital technologies for work, to solve problems that matter to them, and to express themselves creatively.

The foundation provides low-cost, high-performance computers that people use to learn, solve problems and have fun. They provide outreach and education to help more people access computing and digital making. They develop free resources to help people learn about computing and how to make things with computers, and train educators who can guide other people to learn.

For more on this palm-sized computer, click here.

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