Always On Applications, personal style

Almost a year ago I wrote a bit about wanting “Always on” applications. I started out just sort of complaining about the difficultly with current computing devices, and then looked to the future with cloud computing and the price points to enable those sorts of applications.

This morning, I found a link that adds a new dimension into place: Raspberry Pi. Wikipedia has a good description of the details of the device, and there’s a BBC interview that shows it and gets into a nice overview.

It’s the price point of this device with the capabilities that changes the game a bit. It’s a computer the size of a tin of mints, with a processor capable of easily running higher level languages – python, ruby, java, whatever. There’s a lot out there now (Arduino) that is a roughly similar cost and form factor, but programming it requires working in C or C-like languages and some tools to get it all together.

Raspberry Pi BBC Interview:

While the interview and foundation talk to making low-cost computers available to kids, I think this kind of device has a much broader potential in personal computing. The tech specs of this device make it very similar to the computing power available in the iPad or iPhones. And while the first generation of this device is missing some things I’d like to see default (a networking port), it’s easily added with a USB hub. The device is also incredibly low power – so I could imagine a shoe-box sized container of these running a 10x the amount of compute, and generating less heat (using less power) than your average dell desktop.

For an always-on application, I want something that’s not drawing a lot of power and could conceivably run unattended in the closet all day and night. This enables it at a new, lower price point (~$25 compared to a Hawkboard SBC at ~$90). Now that’s cheaper (for the moment), than running an instance up on a cloud server…

Published by heckj

Developer, author, and life-long student. Writes online at

One thought on “Always On Applications, personal style

  1. Thanks for the tip! I hope they are able to pull this off well, as I’ve been looking for hardware of this class for exactly the purpose you describe — a “personal cloud” server that’s always running CouchDB and whatnot out of a power strip on the floor.


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