David Cameron talks Pi at Davos

We’ve just seen this: Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech to the World Economic Forum at Davos, where he’s been talking about reshoring. And it got us very excited, because at 1m 03s he talks about Raspberry Pi.

It is deeply weird to hear your company being namechecked by the PM.

It’s all BBC all the time for us here at Raspberry Pi today: at 3pm Eben will be live on Tech Tent on the BBC World Service with Rory Cellan-Jones, talking about tech, toys and education; and at some time after 5pm Pete Lomas will be responding to the talk in the video above on PM on Radio. Pete’s slot’s just been bumped for another bit of breaking news. Boo, we say!


IrishFramboise (AlanMc) avatar

Well done….again!

Patel avatar

Haha Nice! :)

Carfin33 avatar

Well Done! I just dont like him ….

Neil avatar

I can’t stand Cameron either. I guess we have to put up with him for a wee bit longer. *sigh*

Dutch_Master avatar

Regrettably the video isn’t visible for foreign visitors. Any chance of hosting it to your own server perhaps?

liz avatar

Afraid not: it’s a BBC video.

Dutch_Master avatar

Yes, that’s why I’d like it on the RPi server instead… Anyway, I’ve googled and found a YT clip of it. Mr Cameron starts at ca. 2:20 in:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_pLvK4I2v4 (copy/paste if required)

Dutch_Master avatar

D*rn, that was the 2013 speech. Please remove the above post as it’s not relevant. Sorry!

jiri avatar

Here it is:

Raspberry Pi mentioned at 09:30.

Andrew Edwards avatar

The video works for me in the netherlands.

Ben Shamsian avatar

I wish we do the same in US, but for some reason,we (US) still think that offshoring will save us money and that is not true if you add up the cost of the quality

liz avatar

I think there are plenty of people in the UK who also think offshoring saves money; it’s kind of ingrained in people’s minds, although it’s not necessarily the case at all. Moving production was wonderful for us from a patriotic point of view, but it was a pragmatic move above all: the Sony factory in Wales could match the prices we were seeing in China (and have since improved on them because of their lean approach and their focus on continuous improvement, or kaizen); and they are also much easier to work with because we all speak the same language and are only separated by a four-hour drive. We’d have been mad not to go with them.

Plus they feed us Welshcakes when we visit.

Seth avatar

What’s a Welshcake.

liz avatar

One of these. They are bloody lovely.

David Thomas avatar

Wikipedia calls them Welsh (speaking) cakes. Cymraeg rather than Cymreig.

Jim Manley avatar

We are, in fact, “reshoring” (oh, to have the job of the folks who get to make up such verbiage!) jobs back to the U.S. from overseas, particularly where language and accents affect service adversely. Dell found this out the hard way when the “Steves” and “Thomases” in India couldn’t communicate effectively to solve customers’ problems in parts of the U.S. not populated with the relatives of the “Steves” and “Thomases”, or those with enough time on their hands to learn about different cultures instead of needing to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. The second category of jobs returning to the U.S. in droves is in repetitive, labor-intensive manufacturing, where robotic systems can now perform well-defined physical manipulations. Of course, it’s not the manufacturing jobs that have returned – those are for the robots. It’s the jobs associated with installing, configuring, maintaining, repairing, upgrading, and replacing the robots that are growing beyond the supply of qualified technicians and engineers needed to perform such jobs.

In addition, manufacturing that requires higher precision or more complex processes than robots can (currently) carry out efficiently and effectively has tended to remain here and is growing. This includes well-paying jobs in welding specialized materials, troubleshooting and repairing systems with substantial mechanical components that can’t just be fixed via an on-line connection, facilities in remote areas such as for mineral and energy production and distribution as well as military-associated work, etc. There are currently tens of thousands of such jobs going begging on every continent and the gap is growing. There are 200,000 computing-related jobs in the U.S. alone that are not being filled by qualified people today, and the gap is going to grow to over a million such positions by the year 2020. In addition to the plethora of new positions being created due to innovative products and services that didn’t exist even a few years ago, Baby Boomers continue to retire who can’t be replaced by later generations because the younger folks lack the educational and experiential background needed to perform required work.

One of the reasons this is happening is the same as just prior to Y2K – it wasn’t until managers realized that they were going to run the ship aground on their watch if they didn’t do something drastic that action was taken. In that case it was the three years leading up to Y2K that were critical and money was finally spent then to solve the problem (at least ten times more costly than if started a decade earlier). The current problem is much worse than Y2K because you can’t grow educated, experienced engineers and technicians (and especially leaders with those backgrounds) in less than a few decades from their birth.

“The more things change, the more they remain the same.”, said the new boss, same as the old boss, and we will get fooled again if we don’t get some competent leaders in place to make the hard decisions.

Dutch_Master avatar

No offence Jim, but I’m missing an important reason for “re-shoring” jobs back to the US: unbridled and overzealous patriotism. If it’s not made in the USA, many Americans won’t buy it. Unless it’s so cheap over US products the difference is too much to ignore. Which is where US protectionism comes in: it has a law that prescribes Americans to buy American goods unless there’s no alternative (OK, taking a short cut here, but you get the zest) So, for companies trading in the US it’s easier (read as: cheaper) to have a manufacturing plant inside US borders, if only to circumvent said laws. US Protectionism (and accompanying Isolationism) is about a century old, but really kicked off after the horrors of the Great War became apparent to the American voters. A pity, as it lead to December 7, 1941, when it bit America in the n*ts… :-\

OK, rant over ;)

Jim Manley avatar

Hi Dutch_Master, I had posted a very long and detailed response refuting the above, but it was mysteriously “lost” during the server flummox. Suffice it to say that the protectionism you refer to hasn’t existed since large corporations discovered globalism in the 1970s, and isolationism is a relic of the pre-WW-II period more than 70 years ago. I challenge you to find a single product sold in the U.S. these days that doesn’t have a majority of its raw material or subassembly content shipped in from overseas. The “Buy America Act” you may be thinking of only applied to things purchased by the federal government in certain categories (e.g., defen(s/c)e), and has been essentially neutered over the last few decades with the help of deep-pocketed foreign and transnational U.S. companies “lobbying” for its demise (aka bribing with campaign donations, lovely “campaign workers”, etc.).

BTW, I’m a direct descendant of the Van Sauns of McCormick Spice fame in New Amsterdam … er … York, and my father parachuted into Normandy with the 101st Airborne Division on D-Day. After that and defeating the SS at Remagen and Bastogne, he helped liberate places you may have heard of such as Eindhoven, Nijmegen, and Arnhem, en route being shot through both legs by a Panzer machine gun and taken POW at the Battle of the Bulge. He lost 60 of his 180 pounds in a few months, but is still alive and kickin’ at 92, although he’s never been able to eat normally since then. I spent 22 years of my life in the U.S. Navy, including 10 years at sea in the middle of godforsaken oceans and another eight years living in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. There have been millions of other Americans being just as “isolationist” over the last seven decades, with hundreds of thousands of them buried over there (of the 600 men in my Dad’s battalion he jumped with on D-Day, only 25 aren’t buried in Europe), and a bit of appreciation for our sacrifices on your behalf is more than due.

I’m not directing this at you personally, so please don’t take this the wrong way, I think you’re just misinformed/disinformed by others with an anti-U.S. agenda, as are many of your neighbors. The rest of the world seems content to let us expend our treasure and the lives of our sons and daughters while they get a free ride being defended from truly evil regimes. In many cases, Europeans see fit to not only fail to defend themselves against such troublemakers, but actually fund their nefarious activities by conducting commerce with them. We’re not perfect here by any means, but at least we try really hard and could use some help instead of the typical criticism by jealous elitists. When the Chinese recently decided to effectively annex a huge chunk of international airspace and ocean, guess who immediately responded by exercising aerial and nautical navigation rights without support from any of the critics?

We do appreciate Queen Juliana deciding the Netherlands should be the only country to reimburse the U.S. for every penny spent to liberate and rebuild your country after WW-II, albeit using the coffers of Royal Dutch Shell, of which we are its largest customer. We genuinely look forward to the world’s acknowledgement of reality and finally doing something about it.

another dave avatar

Lookz like Scone to me.

another dave avatar

Sorry subsitute an s for the accidental z (phone keyboard).

John Wallace avatar

You got your slot on R4 PM, just after the 5:30 news, at 30:30 into the audio.

Immediately followed by some rather sad news re war between Bletchley Park (codebreakers) and The National Museum of Computing.


Jim Manley avatar

I was able to listen to Tech Tent here in Sunny, Warm, Dry (well, extra super dry, and I don’t mean as in vermouth) California – sorry, LEast Coast friends freezing their fannies off ;) I disagree about there being no evidence that tablets add no value in education vs. other delivery platforms position that some espoused (including some lout named “Evan” or “Ephraim” or something like that ;) ). The correct answer is “E, All of the Above” (unless you’re in the attention deficit disorder capital of the world, the U.S., where we have to limit the choices to A through D :D ) because people currently assume we have to pay a current-generation iPad Air retail price for tablets. However, Apple is still manufacturing plenty of iPad second-gen models and selling them for quite reasonable prices outside the wealthy first-world markets (which includes the mostly-rural U.S., BTW, for those unfamiliar with the 3,000 x 1,000 miles of Flyover States between the Coasts where the other half of the population lives). Apple has always given the educational market a big break, which is part of the reason why they charge so much for current-gen products to the retail market that gladly bears the price to have what is unarguably the best of the best for average, mass-market users (not power users who insist on being able to tweak every twidget to the nth degree).

Despite the low cost of the Pi board, a Pi system still costs North of $200 if you have to equip it with new peripherals and accessories. HDMI/DVI displays are not common in classrooms (VGA is still the norm, and composite is pretty much gone), which is half the cost of even a minimal Pi-based system. A decent keyboard and touchpad/mouse by themselves are nearly the cost of a Model A, and cases aren’t freely available, short of a fold-up Mylar or cardboard DIYer. I haven’t even included network infrastructure and other miscellany costs in my numbers, which must include some level of training materials, especially for younger students who do better with heavily-fortified (e.g., plastic-laminated) spiral-bound instructional material, at least until they’re up-and-running on technology for information foraging adventures.

If you’re able to scrounge corporate loading docks, recycling centers, FreeCycle.org, etc., for hardware effluent then you can reduce the cost substantially, but not all educators are qualified Olympic class dumpster divers who wear gold around their necks as some of us do. If tablets are already in classrooms or on their way (even if they’re the least expensive Android 4.x capable units), all you need to get for even just a Pi Model A is a suitable power supply and a USB WiFi dongle if you don’t need HDMI-quality video output. The tablets can log into the Pii remotely, either one-to-one, or many-to-one, thanks to multi-user *n*x running on the Pii, with ssh for just a command line, or ssh+X-forwarding/VNC/RDP/etc., for GUI access. Post-holiday prices for lower-end 7-inch Android 4.x tablets are dropping below $100, which is the cost of a minimal HDMI desktop display that doesn’t include a touchscreen. Uninformed tech weenies are also unaware of the 40+ pounds of textbooks that a tablet can replace, and its content can be updated nearly instantly for very low cost, whether stored internally or accessed over a WiFi connection. We haven’t even touched on the interactive capabilities a tablet provides that is completely missing from the paper-and-whiteboard-based classroom.

If a lot of typing is going to be done, then a keyboard is going to be more than nice, but light typing can be done on a tablet just fine, especially for young fingers that don’t know how to type yet, and for whom an adult-size keyboard is too big, anyway. Younger students sometimes have trouble with fine-grain eye-hand coordination needed to successfully navigate a GUI with a mouse, while pointing with their finger is easy-peasy. These are the sorts of issues that tech-heads don’t have the foggiest notion about, other than those of us who have been in the deep end of the classroom at all age and ability levels. Don’t forget about the physically and mentally different kids (I don’t even like the word “challenged”) – you don’t forget in California if you don’t want to get sued out of a job. There is plenty of evidence that such kids get especially good use out of tablet technology – for some, it’s the first time they’re able to communicate with the outside world. The emotionally sensitive autistic and Asperger’s afflicted, which may number as many as one in eighty kids, seem to absolutely love the control a tablet gives them in their closely self-focused world.

It would be reeeeally nice if the Foundation could get something GPU-accelerated that’s at least 10 inches across diagonally, priced closer to $50 than $100, strapped into that still-empty Display Serial Interface connector on the Pi boards much sooner than any later, with as inexpensive a touchscreen as possible on the other end (modulo how the touch signals get to the Pi via GPIO/SPI/USB/etc.). I would have done that way before populating the Camera Serial Interface port, but that’s just me as I hadn’t planned on pushing a poor, wittew, defensewess teddy beah 130,000+ feet to his death. Well, OK, he wasn’t alive to begin with, but does a working Pi for a brain count as consciousness? We have established evidence that he was heard screaming the entire time down (both times, IIRC), according to a source who was also insane enough to loft the bear in the first place :lol:

Well, it could have been worse, you could have picked a topic about which I’m reeeeally passionate and excessively exercised! :D

Ajith avatar

Pi has shown that you run a main stream os like linux on very cheap hardware. The total cost is high but there are < $50 7" tablets that can run linux, that can be modified to have good use in education. (Jim, if you like send me a mail ajith at iuac.res.in)

Richard avatar

You guys have done more for education around the world in the last two years than any politician has done in twenty and for the fraction of the cost!

ozybard avatar

I agree with Richard. Kudos to all in the Rpi community for driving change in education.

Stick avatar

Full marks to Sony for making UK production viable. If my memory is correct, they came looking for the work.

liz avatar

They did indeed: we’d investigated a lot of UK manufacturers, but hadn’t been aware that they were in Wales or that they offered contract manufacture. They got in touch the day after we launched, and the rest is history! (Pete Lomas and Mike Buffham from Farnell did a HUGE amount of heavy lifting to enable us to move to a more automated system in the UK; we couldn’t have done it without them.)

JBeale avatar

Not related to the topic, but I note this morning I cannot login to the R-Pi forum, and all 1700+ of my posts are missing. I can create a new username, but not login with it: “Incorrect key file for table ‘./eben/phpbb_login_attempts.MYI’; try to repair it [126]”

liz avatar

Should be OK now – sod’s law, but this stuff *always* seems to happen at the weekend, in the middle of the night, or on a bank holiday…can you let me know if your posts are all back, please?

JBeale avatar

Thanks for checking into it! All my posts are still missing, and I still cannot login as jbeale. “You have specified an incorrect username. Please check your username and try again. If you continue to have problems please contact the Board Administrator.”

liz avatar

Thanks for that. There’s a chunk of corruption in the database: if there’s nothing we can do to fix it, we’ll have to roll back 24 hours (which will, annoyingly, make it appear as if today never happened on the forums). We’ve just opened a ticket with Mythic to see if Pete S has any good ideas.

JBeale avatar

As an update, I can now login to a new account I created ‘jbeale1’ which I couldn’t before, so something was reset. Any post from the new account must be approved by an admin, apparently. Google remembers the posts of ‘jbeale’ on raspberrypi.org but so far today the forum has no memory of him.

edwinj85 avatar

It’s nice to have a computer designed and built in the UK again after so many years.

Everybody has already made this joke already but to heck with it –

Forward the Foundation!

clive avatar

“It’s all BBC all the time for us here at Raspberry Pi today”

And indeed this week. At BETT on Wednesday, Gove praised OCR’s MOOC “in collaboration with the brilliant British tech business, Raspberry Pi” and I got to address his comments about five-year olds learning to “code and program” on BBC News 24 that evening. Hurrah!

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