Review: Raspberry Pi for Dummies (4th Edition) by Sean McManus and Mike Cook
If you’re new to the world of Raspberry Pi (or even Linux computing), it can be quite daunting if you are trying to figure out how to get started. The Internet is full of information, much different to when I was studying IT in school (ah, those Acorn Archimedes or BBC Micro computers bring back memories…), but when you are trying to learn it can be quite challenging understanding what you need to do.
Where can I learn about Raspberry Pi?
When the Raspberry Pi was first launched almost 10 years ago to the day, the world of computing was a different place. Mention the words “Linux” or “Raspberry Pi” to anybody and you’d more than likely be greeted with a confused look, or sent to some text-heavy website like Stack Overflow where you’ll need to spend days reading through confusing (and often long-winded) answers typed out by people that generally preferred to assert their knowledge of everything Linux, rather than helping somebody who just doesn’t know where to start.
In fact, one of the reasons why I decided to set up Raspberry Coulis was because I was growing weary of the seemingly unhelpful
trolls people that lurked around the world of Stack Overflow who seemed more interested in showing how knowledgable they were than actually answering the question – and yes, I did “use Google” first which is how I ended up here – and I decided to start writing guides and tutorials that helped people in a step-by-step way.
The “for Dummies” range
Unless you have lived under a rock (maybe with those trolls that used to lurk online), you have probably seen “INSERT NAME for dummies” books all over the place. Designed to provide simple and step-by-step reference material for people trying to learn, Wiley’s “for dummies” has been a mainstay in the education world for some time, so it was only a matter of time before a Raspberry Pi version emerged.
Raspberry Pi for Dummies (1st Edition) was first launched back in 2013, written by Sean McManus and Mike Cook – now veterans of the Raspberry Pi world, and the book soon became a popular resource for those starting out with their new Raspberry Pi. Fast forward 8 years and their book would see the release of the 4th Edition to include updates along with guides that take into account the newer Raspberry Pi 4 boards.
Why a book? Everybody has heard of Google right…?
A perfectly good question and yes, you may well be able to get by with some Google-fu. However, having a book that you can reference is always useful not only because it’s often easier to follow, but also because you can make notes and highlight areas of interest to you. And with 488 pages of material, you’ll have plenty to get through and learn.
The 4th Edition of Raspberry Pi for Dummies covers all bases when it comes to getting to grips with your favourite single board computer, such as “Setting Up Your Raspberry Pi”, “Programming the Raspberry Pi” and the always interesting “Using the Raspberry Pi for Both Work and Play” covers a number of daily use cases that every beginner should try.
If you like something a little more interactive with the real-world, then you should check out the “Exploring Electronics with the Raspberry Pi” section as you start to familiarise yourself with building simple electronic circuits and using the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) pins. The chapter on “Old McDonald’s Farm and Other RFID Adventures” is particularly interesting as you start to see how a Raspberry Pi can be used in the real world. Fancy learning a new programming language? Then why not take a look at Chapter 9, “Introducing Programming with Scratch” which covers all you need to know in order to start programming right there on your very own Raspberry Pi.
Is “Raspberry Pi for Dummies (4th Edition)” worth buying?
Whilst the 488 page book might seem a little daunting to the beginner, don’t let that put you off investing in this book. Not only does the latest edition cover the basics, meaning somebody who has just picked up their first Raspberry Pi can get up and running in no time at all, thanks to Sean and Mike’s helpful and plain English approach to their guides, but it also delves deeper into other areas such as “Getting Started with Linux” (where I even picked up some helpful tips and tricks) so that you can really start exploring with confidence.
The book follows the “for dummies” tried-and-tested approach, which provides simple and helpful explainer sections along the way, and the steps are clearly outlined and written in an easy-to-follow way. This makes it an excellent investment to anybody starting out in the Raspberry Pi world. Not only does this take the hassle out of learning, but it makes the process more enjoyable as you start to learn more as you go. Oh and it’s also troll-free because it’s a good old-fashioned textbook!
I can definitely see this book fast becoming a popular choice for those entering the Raspberry Pi community. Pick up a copy (no affiliate links here by the way) over on Wiley (via Amazon) or via Sean’s website directly.