I’m a computer nerd. I retain my nerd credentials by keeping my knowledge current. Sometimes, something new comes along, something I have to understand. The ‘something new’ that’s coming along now is the Internet of Things, computers so small & cheap they’re finding their way into everyday objects. I need to explore.
A device good for exploring the Internet of Things is the well–known Raspberry Pi. For the last few months I’ve been trying to buy a Pi, with corresponding bits and pieces. My requirements have always been:
- Buy two boards, so if one misbehaves I’ve still got another;
- Buy everything necessary to make it go, including power supplies;
- Buy a Pi display, so if I can’t get a Pi to go, I can see what it says the problem is;
- Buy a couple of pi–hats, as the add–ons are called, so I can experiment with the Things part of the Internet of Things;
- Buy everything from the same supplier, so if two components don’t work together, I avoid the the lazy suppliers’ excuse that it must be the other guy’s part that’s at fault;
- Have everything shipped to where I live in Lux.
It ’s been extremely difficult to achieve this.
- Many suppliers didn’t stock all the components I wanted;
- Some suppliers, when out of stock of one component, refuse to accept an order at all, even though I’d be willing to wait, or have parts shipped separately (getting the kit slowly is better than not getting it at all);
- Some suppliers seem to consider politics more important than business, by not bothering to work out how to ship beyond Little England;
- Some suppliers ship to big EU countries, but not to the smaller ones, apparently deciding the cost of Copy Paste & changing the name on their billing system was not worth the opportunities of trading with the world’s richest country (nominal GDP per capital, latest (2014) figures);
- Some suppliers websites didn’t work, or wanted me to check details they should be checking themselves, such as whether they had the item in stock;
- Some suppliers wouldn’t ship to people, only companies.
Then, yesterday, the Raspberry Pi three was launched. I bit the bullet, and tried all the UK suppliers I could find. None of them, that’s right, none of them, could fulfil my order. With one exception, the problem was the supplier’s malign attitude, not a lack of parts.
So I ended up trying Amazon France, and found bizarrely that they would ship everything but a power supply to Luxembourg. Eventually, I switched to Amazon Germany, found this time all the items were available, so placed my order. I hope my German doesn’t fail me when it comes to reading information (things like the invoice and supplier’s guarantee will be monolingual German).
It should not be so sodding difficult to buy a popular product like this.