Apr 15

Raspberry Pi and First World Problems

And now, dear reader, a brief intercalary segue…..

Stating the obvious, I’ve been doing a lot of work recently with the Raspberry Pi. In truth, I’ve been trying to discern and/or work around its limitations. Consequently, I’ve caught myself wishing for just a little bit more bandwidth — thus far I/O is the limiting factor for me and the types of work I’ve been doing with the Pi.

Limiting as in 30MB/s disk read/writes. ~13MB/s MicroSD read/writes. ~7MB/s network I/O over ethernet — I wonder if I went with wireless I could squeeze out a little bit more… See? I’m doing it again.

I can remember not terribly long ago that I’d have killed for such performance. For that matter, I’ve (only) got 30Mb/s (note the lowercase ‘b’) coming into the house. The Pi could consume the entire bandwidth into the house.

And then I think back a decade where I thought that dedicated 768Kbs up and down was quite nice. Two and a half decades and I thought that transferring files from White Sands to CMU at 9600 baud was quite impressive.

Then I start to think about all that I now take for granted in the Day-to-Day which not terribly long ago would have been considered a “hard problem” if not Magick. I told my daughter about a year ago that I had a magick mirror which would allow me to see and talk to people on the other side of the world. She didn’t believe me, so I pulled out my phone. “Dad, that’s not Magick, that’s Technology.” Out of the mouths of babes and innocents, I am reminded of Arthur C. Clarke:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Magic

Frankly, a decade ago the idea that I could have a computer with 4 cores was not something I’d contemplated. In 2001 I purchased a laptop with a single core 1000MHz processor and a Gigabyte of ram for over $1700. At the time I thought it was something quite nice. Go back further a bit and I had a computer with 1MHz processor and 64K ram. In the mid 90’s I was running systems with hundreds of users on 60MHz processors and 128MB ram.

Yet I’m complaining about limitations of I/O on a machine which is considerably more powerful.

And then I think about all of the regions in the world where there isn’t good, stable electricity. Or internet access. Or libraries and books.

Or Food.

Or Water.

Or stable government. Of being able to walk outside my house with a reasonable expectation that I won’t be kidnapped or killed. My daughter can leave the house and go to school without worrying that she’ll be shot or stolen.

Suddenly I’m ashamed to be complaining about I/O constraints. First World problems, indeed.

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