Know when to fold ’em. When to cut bait, cut your losses, quit while your ahead, etc.
This is a good skill to know in general but one that applies specifically to me with gadgets.
I heard about the Raspberry Pi from a friend in church. For those who are not aware, it’s a credit card sized computer with an HDMI out, 2 usb ports and a SD card slot for booting from linux. Basically you buy the thing to play media or access the internet through your TV without having to plug in a big laptop, or for dozens of other interesting projects. And best of all it’s only $35 ($39.99 at my local MicroCenter).
Except you need an HDMI cable, some kind of monitor, SD card, power adapter, enclosure (cause all you get for $40 is the board). All told the accessories tacked on another $30 (and only because I’m the kinda guy who already has a monitor, spare SD card, usb mouse and keyboard and a powered usb port lying around).
And it doesn’t work, at least not for me.
See the trick is the adapter. I encountered a problem that is actually quite common where my red power LED comes on and stays on and I basically get no other activity. You need a really consistent 5V and at least 700mA (but realistically 1A). To get the thing to (maybe) reliably run, I’d need a new adapter, and the official one would be another $10 (assuming I can get the $5 back for the first one I bought). This would bring my total cost into the neighborhood of $80, not all of which is easy to return since I had to buy some stuff online.
I’m returning everything today.
I’m not saying the Raspberry Pi is not a fine product, but it’s not for me. I’m a software oriented guy to begin with, and I’ve always been a little wary of directly handling circuit boards. But the bottom line is, this was a thing that cost one price and then started costing more and more and more. We have to determine the same line with cars, with washing machines, with couches, and hell even with people, when are we getting diminishing returns?
Bottom line, buy the Pi if you’re willing to take on more of the risk (or expense). It’s made a lot of people very happy. Me, I think I’ll go back to lusting after a Chromebook.