SANTA CLARA, CA--(Marketwire - March 26, 2013) - With a conference theme of "Change the Future," as seen in the logo and marketing materials for the event, PyCon 2013 made good on its bet on the future by providing all 2,500 attendees with their own Raspberry Pi personal computer. The device, a fully functional computer about the size of a deck of cards, is a popular teaching tool used to get children interested in computers. At the center of it all is Python.
Raspberry Pi Foundation founder and trustee Eben Upton delivered a keynote speech to open the conference, explaining Python's place on the computer, including its use in developing the processor at Broadcom. "The wonderful thing for us about Python as a teaching language is it gives us a story that we can tell children. We can say, learn this language in which 'hello world' is 'print 'hello world,''" said Upton.
"This puts a space program in the budgetary reach of every primary school in the world," said Upton of the $35 computer, shown in an example of photography from a weather balloon.
The conference hosted two days of free tutorials for children in a lab full of monitors, keyboards, mice, and Raspberry Pis. Taught by Katie Cunningham and Barbara Shaurette, children were introduced to basic programming concepts in Python using the tiny computer in a course called "Young Coder: Let's Learn Python." At the end of the day, each child was given their own Raspberry Pi to take home.
The lab, which was stocked with hardware thanks to SparkFun, remained open throughout the weekend for the 2,500 conference attendees to get acquainted with their devices. Each day it was open, people took great advantage of the available hardware and personnel to tinker with their Raspberry Pi.
When it came time for the four days of development sprints that follow the conference talks, the lab rental equipment had to be packed up, but the organizers went out and obtained hardware to create a mini-lab for sprinters. Mathieu Virbel of the Kivy project, a user-interface library with support for multi-touch applications, participated in the development sprints and demoed tilt-sensor support for Kivy on the Raspberry Pi.
"There's so much more we can do to teach, to share -- but there's only so much we can do alone, without all of the community," said conference chairman Jesse Noller. "By doing this, we want your help to inspire the next generation of hackers," he said of the move to give out 2,500 of the devices. The Python Software Foundation purchased the computers for PyCon, and has arranged to donate Raspberry Pis which went unclaimed at the conference, or were explicitly left for donation.
During his opening address, Noller also announced the launch of http://raspberry.io/, a new website created by the Caktus Group to host user-submitted project plans for the device. One of the first projects to be uploaded was a step-by-step tutorial for creating a jukebox that runs off of a USB drive filled with music files. Other projects include integration with the Arduino, reading and writing data via the device's GPIO ports, and creating a lightweight home media server.