Posts tagged ‘education’

Raspberry Pi: GPIO Zero: a friendly Python API for physical computing

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Ben Nuttall. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Physical computing is one of the most engaging classroom activities, and it’s at the heart of most projects we see in the community. From flashing lights to IoT smart homes, the Pi’s GPIO pins make programming objects in the real world accessible to everybody.

Some three years ago, Ben Croston created a Python library called RPi.GPIO, which he used as part of his beer brewing process. This allowed people to control GPIO pins from their Python programs, and became a hit both in education and in personal projects. We use it in many of our free learning resources.

However, recently I’ve been thinking of ways to make this code seem more accessible. I created some simple and obvious interfaces for a few of the components I had lying around on my desk – namely the brilliant CamJam EduKits. I added interfaces for LED, Button and Buzzer, and started to look at some more interesting components – sensors, motors and even a few simple add-on boards. I got some great help from Dave Jones, author of the excellent picamera library, who added some really clever aspects to the library. I decided to call it GPIO Zero as it shares the same philosophy as PyGame Zero, which requires minimal boilerplate code to get started.


This is how you flash an LED using GPIO Zero:

from gpiozero import LED
from time import sleep

led = LED(2)

while True:

(Also see the built-in blink method)

As well as controlling individual components in obvious ways, you can also connect multiple components together.


Here’s an example of controlling an LED with a push button:

from gpiozero import LED, Button
from signal import pause

led = LED(2)
button = Button(3)

button.when_pressed = led.on
button.when_released =


We’ve thought really hard to try to get the naming right, and hope people old and young will find the library intuitive once shown a few simple examples. The API has been designed with education in mind and I’ve been demoing it to teachers to get feedback and they love it! Another thing is the idea of minimal configuration – so to use a button you don’t have to think about pull-ups and pull-downs – all you need is the pin number it’s connected to. Of course you can specify this – but the default assumes the common pull-up circuit. For example:

button_1 = Button(4)  # connected to GPIO pin 4, pull-up

button_2 = Button(5, pull_up=False)  # connected to GPIO pin 5, pull-down

Normally, if you want to detect the button being pressed you have to think about the edge falling if it’s pulled up, or rising if it’s pulled down. With GPIO Zero, the edge is configured when you create the Button object, so things like when_pressed, when_released, wait_for_press, wait_for_release just work as expected. While understanding edges is important in electronics, I don’t think it should be essential for anyone who wants to

Here’s a list of devices which currently supported:

  • LED (also PWM LED allowing change of brightness)
  • Buzzer
  • Motor
  • Button
  • Motion Sensor
  • Light Sensor
  • Analogue-to-Digital converters MCP3004 and MCP3008
  • Robot

Also collections of components like LEDBoard (for any collection of LEDs), FishDish, Traffic HAT, generic traffic lights – and there are plenty more to come.

There’s a great feature Dave added which allows the value of output devices (like LEDs and motors) to be set to whatever the current value of an input device is, automatically, without having to poll in a loop. The following example allows the RGB values of an LED to be determined by three potentiometers for colour mixing:

from gpiozero import RGBLED, MCP3008
from signal import pause

led = RGBLED(red=2, green=3, blue=4)
red_pot = MCP3008(channel=0)
green_pot = MCP3008(channel=1)
blue_pot = MCP3008(channel=2) = red_pot.values = green_pot.values = blue_pot.values


Other wacky ways to set the brightness of an LED: from a Google spreadsheet – or according to the number of instances of the word “pies” on the BBC News homepage!

Alex Eames gave it a test drive and made a video of a security light project using a relay – coded in just 16 lines of code.

GPIO Zero Security Light in 16 lines of code

Using GPIO Zero Beta to make a security light in 16 lines of code. See blog article here… If you like the look of the RasPiO Portsplus port labels board I’m using to identify the ports, you can find that here

Yasmin Bey created a robot controlled by a Wii remote:

Yasmin Bey on Twitter

@ben_nuttall @RyanteckLTD

Version 1.0 is out now so the API will not change – but we will continue to add components and additional features. GPIO Zero is now pre-installed in the new Raspbian Jessie image available on the downloads page. It will also appear in the apt repo shortly.

Remember – since the release of Raspbian Jessie, you no longer need to run GPIO programs with sudo – so you can just run these programs directly from IDLE or the Python shell. GPIO Zero supports both Python 2 and Python 3. Python 3 is recommended!

Let me know your suggestions for additional components and interfaces in the comments below – and use the hashtag #gpiozero to share your project code and photos!

A huge thanks goes to Ben Croston, whose excellent RPi.GPIO library sits at the foundation of everything in GPIO Zero, and to Dave Jones whose contributions have made this new library quite special.

See the GPIO Zero documentation and recipes and check out the Getting Started with GPIO Zero resource – more coming soon.

The post GPIO Zero: a friendly Python API for physical computing appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

TorrentFreak: Operator of U.S. Music Piracy Sites Jailed For Three Years

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

In 2010, U.S. authorities launched Operation in Our Sites, an anti-piracy campaign aimed at taking copyright-infringing sites offline.

After targeting thousands of domains linked to counterfeit goods and making several arrests connected to file-sharing sites, renewed efforts last year saw the closure of two large music sites.

During October 2014, and were taken offline to be replaced by the ICE – Homeland Security Investigations seizure banner.

Founded in 2011, RockDizMusic had acted as an index for popular new music while RockDizFile was a file-storage site serving as a storage facility for the former.

During the period of quiet following their shutdown it transpired that their operator, Rocky P. Ouprasith of Charlotte, N.C., had been arrested following the execution of an HSI search warrant.

Papers filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia last August claimed that both sites had been operated for profit, with Ouprasith sourcing pirated content online, uploading it to RockDizFile, and offering it for download on RockDizMusic.

According to the RIAA, in 2013 RockDizFile emerged “as the second largest online file-sharing site in the reproduction and distribution of infringing copies of copyrighted music in the United States.” Court documents placed the market value of the content pirated by the site at more than $6 million.

In response, Ouprasith entered a guilty plea, admitting one count of criminal copyright infringement. In return he risked five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. Yesterday the 23-year-old was sentenced and it’s bad, but not as bad it could’ve been.

According to the Department of Justice, Ouprasith was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith of the Eastern District of Virginia to serve a total of 36 months in prison.

In addition, Ouprasith was sentenced to two years supervised release and was ordered to forfeit almost $51,000 and pay more than $45,000 in restitution. The latter will become payable 60 days after his release at the rate of $200.00 per month or 25% of net income, whichever is greater. No fines were imposed.

The DoJ said that Ouprasith admitted obtaining copyrighted songs and albums, some pre-release, and uploading them to RockDizFile while encouraging affiliates to do the same. Ouprasith further admitted that he paid those affiliates based on the number of times their content was downloaded from his websites.

Another apparently aggravating factor was how Ouprasith handled copyright complaints. Instead of taking down content as required, according to the DoJ he either ignored the requests or simply pretended to take remedial action.

Ouprasith’s attorney, Bobby Howlett Jr. of Norfolk, told the Washington Post that while he’s never happy with a custodial sentence, in this instance he’s satisfied with the conclusion of the case.

“I’m happy with the outcome — of course, I don’t want many of my clients to go jail and I hate that he’s a young kid with no criminal history facing this, but it could’ve been worse,” Howlett said.

The RIAA welcomed the sentence and said that Ouprasith’s incarceration should serve as a warning to others thinking of embarking on a similar venture.

“We congratulate the Department of Justice and Homeland Security Investigations and thank them for their diligence and hard work to bring to justice those who cause millions of dollars in damage to music creators,” said Brad Buckles, EVP of Anti-Piracy.

“This sentence should send a message that operating a flagrantly illegal business that steals from others by engaging in criminal activity online has real consequences.”

While three years is a long time inside for a young man, the Court did recommend that the Bureau of Prisons allow Ouprasith to “further his education towards obtaining his college degree” in a facility as “close as possible” to North Carolina.

The 23-year-old will also get time to put his affairs in order and spend Christmas with family and friends. His sentence is set to begin on January 4, 2016.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Raspberry Pi: The Digital Eagles have landed

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Marc Scott. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Like many institutions, Barclays Bank recognises that digital literacy is an essential component of modern life. It was for this reason that, back in 2013, the bank launched its Digital Eagles initiative. Branch volunteers offered to give up their time and skills to teach members of the community how to get online, perform web searches, use email and video chat, and of course how to use online banking.

The Digital Eagles have since expanded, and the project now includes an initiative to get kids coding, called Code Playground. This is more than just a website, however. Digital Eagles now run monthly sessions at branches and other venues, all over the country, where kids aged from seven to 17 can come along and learn the pleasures of coding.

So what has this to do with Raspberry Pi? Well, where there’s kids and code, the Raspberry Pi is sure to follow. Last week, the Foundation’s education team hauled themselves down to the marble-and-glass palaces of Canary Wharf to deliver workshops to a group of specially selected Digital Eagles, that they might then cascade the training down to their colleagues, and bring Raspberry Pi to Code Playgrounds all over the country.

jodie on Twitter

@Digitaleagles @Raspberry_Pi..looking forward to our training! RaspberryPi is coming to a code playground near you!

It was a spectacularly successful day, as we ripped through sessions on physical computing with Scratch, the new GPIO Zero library, hacking the world of Minecraft, and motion-triggered animations with the Sense HAT.

I should, by now, be accustomed to the excitement and sense of achievement that people get from blinking an LED with the touch of a button and a few lines of Python, yet each time I see it happen it brings a smile to my face and renewed enthusiasm for the Foundation’s educational mission.

Charlotte Snell on Twitter

Loving my @Raspberry_Pi training today just made my traffic light flash using Python & a button @Digitaleagles

The Sense HAT, in particular, went down a storm. The unique combination of sensors and the LED display means that you can jump right into physical computing with ease. Several of the Digital Eagles mentioned that they thought the little device would be a perfect addition to the Code Playgrounds, and couldn’t wait to get using it with the kids who attend.

Charlotte Snell on Twitter

So my bear gets angry when you shake him! @Raspberry_Pi training for @Digitaleagles #CodePlaygrounds

So now it’s over to the Digital Eagles! Soon, Raspberry Pis, Sense HATs, CamJam EduKits and a variety of other goodies will be wending their way to Barclays Bank branches the length and breadth of the country. There the Eagles will be able to pass on their new-found skills and spread the joys that the Raspberry Pi can bring to the next generation of eager coders. We’ll be sure to report back to you on their progress and successes in the near future, so keep checking the blog for updates, or maybe check out a Code Playground near you!

The post The Digital Eagles have landed appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi: Connecting educators: Raspberry Pi hosts a CAS hub

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: James Robinson. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

One of the challenges I always found in teaching is that at times it can be quite isolating, particularly when working in a small department. You spend most of the day with your classes, or planning for them. You catch up with your colleagues in weekly meetings, but opportunities to share and reflect can be limited.

During my time in teaching I’ve always sought to connect with other teachers and share ideas (and gain reassurance that I was doing it right), and this became increasingly important back around 2011-2012 when things were starting to change in computing education. Many ICT teachers who were concerned about the lack of computing and problem-solving skills in their subject started meeting up in local CAS (Computing at School) hubs. I attended a few meetings and got a chance to connect with others who shared my concerns and gather some great ideas for lessons.

In the past few years CAS hubs have spread all over the UK and beyond, and are an opportunity for educators, developers and industry experts to meet up regularly, share ideas and participate in workshops. Last week, we hosted a CAS hub at our office in Cambridge for the first time. This event was aimed at secondary teachers, and we were delighted to have over 20 educators attend.

Emma on Twitter

Physical Computing fun @Raspberry_Pi yesterday for Cambridge Secondary CASHub meeting.

Our first meeting focused on physical computing, something we’re really passionate about here. Teachers shared their experiences of physical computing, we discussed hardware options including Raspberry Pi and others, and we ran a hands-on workshop with our Sense HAT add-on – topical at the moment, because two Raspberry Pis with Sense HATs are soon to fly to the International Space Station as part of British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s Principia mission.

Astro Pi poster: Your Code in Space!

To find your nearest CAS hub, training event or CAS Master Teacher you can use the CAS interactive map, by clicking the image below.

Map of CAS hubs in England and Wales

We had a really great session with teachers, and we’re looking forward to hosting future hub meetings as well as other events.

If you’re a teacher, educator, IT professional or just interested in computing education, visit the CAS community site and take part. You could attend or host a hub meeting, or see what training events are going on in your area. Let’s help support our educators who are teaching the next generations of engineers and developers.

The post Connecting educators: Raspberry Pi hosts a CAS hub appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Krebs on Security: Ransomware Now Gunning for Your Web Sites

This post was syndicated from: Krebs on Security and was written by: BrianKrebs. Original post: at Krebs on Security

One of the more common and destructive computer crimes to emerge over the past few years involves ransomware — malicious code that quietly scrambles all of the infected user’s documents and files with very strong encryption.  A ransom, to be paid in Bitcon, is demanded in exchange for a key to unlock the files. Well, now it appears fraudsters are developing ransomware that does the same but for Web sites — essentially holding the site’s files, pages and images for ransom.

Image: Kaspersky Lab

Image: Kaspersky Lab

This latest criminal innovation, innocuously dubbed “Linux.Encoder.1” by Russian antivirus and security firm Dr.Web, targets sites powered by the Linux operating system. The file currently has almost zero detection when scrutinized by antivirus products at Google’s, a free tool for scanning suspicious files against dozens of popular antivirus products.

Typically, the malware is injected into Web sites via known vulnerabilities in site plugins or third-party software — such shopping cart programs. Once on a host machine, the malware will encrypt all of the files in the “home” directories on the system, as well backup directories and most of the system folders typically associated with Web site files, images, pages, code libraries and scripts.

The ransomware problem is costly, hugely disruptive, and growing. In June, the FBI said said it received 992 CryptoWall-related complaints in the preceding year, with losses totaling more than $18 million. And that’s just from those victims who reported the crimes to the U.S. government; a huge percentage of cybercrimes never get reported at all.


On Nov. 4, the Linux Website ramsomware infected a server used professional Web site designer Daniel Macadar. The ransom message was inside a plain text file called “instructions to decrypt” that was included in every file directory with encrypted files:

“To obtain the private key and php script for this computer, which will automatically decrypt files, you need to pay 1 bitcoin(s) (~420 USD),” the warning read. “Without this key, you will never be able to get your original files back.”

Macadar said the malware struck a development Web server of his that also hosted Web sites for a couple of longtime friends. Macadar was behind on backing up the site and the server, and the attack had rendered those sites unusable. He said he had little choice but to pay the ransom. But it took him some time before he was able to figure out how to open and fund a Bitcoin account.

“I didn’t have any Bitcoins at that point, and I was never planning to do anything with Bitcoin in my life,” he said.

According to Macadar, the instructions worked as described, and about three hours later his server was fully decrypted. However, not everything worked the way it should have.

“There’s a  decryption script that puts the data back, but somehow it ate some characters in a few files, adding like a comma or an extra space or something to the files,” he said.

Macadar said he hired Thomas Raef — 0wner of Web site security service — to help secure his server after the attack, and to figure out how the attackers got in. Raef told me his customer’s site was infected via an unpatched vulnerability in Magento, a shopping cart software that many Web sites use to handle ecommerce payments.

CheckPoint detailed this vulnerability back in April 2015 and Magento issued a fix yet many smaller ecommerce sites fall behind on critical updates for third-party applications like shopping cart software. Also, there are likely other exploits published recently that can expose a Linux host and any associated Web services to attackers and to site-based ransomware.


This new Linux Encoder malware is just one of several recent innovations in ransomware. As described by Romanian security firm Bitdefender, the latest version of the CryptoWall crimeware package (yes, it is actually named CryptoWall 4.0) displays a redesigned ransom message that also now encrypts the names of files along with each file’s data! Each encrypted file has a name made up of random numbers and letters.

Traditional ransomware attacks also are getting more expensive, at least for new threats that currently are focusing on European (not American) banks. According to security education firm KnowBe4, a new ransomware attack targeting Windows computers starts as a “normal” ransomware infection, encrypting both local and network files and throwing up a ransom note for 2.5 Bitcoin (currently almost USD $1,000). Here’s the kicker: In the ransom note that pops up on the victim’s screen, the attackers claim that if they are not paid, they will publish the files on the Internet.



Well,  that’s one way of getting your files back. This is the reality that dawns on countless people for the first time each day: Fail to securely back up your files — whether on your computer or Web site — and the bad guys may eventually back them up for you! ‘

Oh, the backup won’t be secure, and you probably won’t be able to remove the information from the Internet if they follow through with such threats.

The tools for securely backing up computers, Web sites, data, and even entire hard drives have never been more affordable and ubiquitous. So there is zero excuse for not developing and sticking with a good backup strategy, whether you’re a home user or a Web site administrator.

PC World last year published a decent guide for Windows users who wish to take advantage of the the OS’s built-in backup capabilities. I’ve personally used Acronis and Macrium products, and find both do a good job making it easy to back up your rig. The main thing is to get into a habit of doing regular backups.

There are good guides all over the Internet showing users how to securely back up Linux systems (here’s one). Others tutorials are more OS-specific. For example, here’s a sensible backup approach for Debian servers. I’d like to hear from readers about their backup strategies — what works — particularly from those who maintain Linux-based Web servers like Apache and Nginx.

It’s worth noting that the malware requires the compromised user account on the Linux system to be an administrator; operating Web servers and Web services as administrator is generally considered poor security form, and threats like this one just reinforce why.

Also, most ransomware will search for other network or file shares that are attached or networked to the infected machine. If it can access those files, it will attempt to encrypt them as well. It’s a good idea to either leave your backup medium disconnected from the system unless and until you are backing up or restoring files.

For his part, Macadar said he is rebuilding the compromised server and now backing up his server in two places at once — using local, on-site backup drives as well as remote (web-based) backup services.

Raspberry Pi: Astro Pi website launch

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Ben Nuttall. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

In a month’s time we’re sending two Raspberry Pis to the International Space Station as part of two Astro Pi flight units. We’ve all been beavering away for the last 12 months in preparation, and the launch date is almost upon us.

Tim Peake is currently doing his final press conference in the UK before he embarks on his six-month mission, during which he will be operating the Astro Pi devices and running the experiments and applications designed and coded by children in primary and secondary schools.

The new Astro Pi website

The new Astro Pi website

We’ve just relaunched the Astro Pi website which now contains not only information about the competition we ran this year, but also a whole host of information surrounding the whole mission, including a storyline of project updates, events and other ways to get involved, downloads, and a growing number of resources in Scratch and Python for learning about space and experimenting with the Sense HAT. There are plenty of exercises for use in the classroom, at home or with your Code Club or CoderDojo!

Check out the winning entries page – you can download the code for each project on GitHub, and run the code on your own Sense HAT. Some of the projects will be collecting data while running in space, and when we have the data from ESA we’ll make it available to download from the website so you can compare the data to your own. I know, super cool.

An Astro Pi displaying the icon for the 'Flags' application

The Astro Pis will display icons representing the winning applications

The Astro Pi units are made up of a Raspberry Pi B+, a Sense HAT, a camera module each (one normal and one infra-red), and a space-grade aluminium flight case (not for sale, unfortunately). You can read about the Astro Pi hardware and buy everything you need to build your own Astro Pi. Some people have 3D-printed their own Astro Pi cases, or even made them out of Lego!

Once you have your Pi and Sense HAT set up, you can follow the programming guides, go through the resources and come up with your own ideas. What would you do if you had the chance to run your code in space?

Thanks to Sam, Dave and Laura for their help in putting the website together, and to Carrie Anne, Marc and James for contributing the brilliant resources.

The post Astro Pi website launch appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Krebs on Security: How Carders Can Use eBay as a Virtual ATM

This post was syndicated from: Krebs on Security and was written by: BrianKrebs. Original post: at Krebs on Security

How do fraudsters “cash out” stolen credit card data? Increasingly, they are selling in-demand but underpriced products on eBay that they don’t yet own. Once the auction is over, the auction fraudster uses stolen credit card data to buy the merchandise from an e-commerce store and have it shipped to the auction winner. Because the auction winners actually get what they bid on and unwittingly pay the fraudster, very often the only party left to dispute the charge is the legitimate cardholder.

So-called “triangulation fraud” — scammers using stolen cards to buy merchandise won at auction by other eBay members — is not a new scam. But it’s a crime that’s getting more sophisticated and automated, at least according to a victim retailer who reached out to KrebsOnSecurity recently after he was walloped in one such fraud scheme.

The victim company — which spoke on condition of anonymity — has a fairly strong e-commerce presence, and is growing rapidly. For the past two years, it was among the Top 500 online retailers as ranked by

The company was hit with over 40 orders across three weeks for products that later traced back to stolen credit card data. The victimized retailer said it was able to stop a few of the fraudulent transactions before the items shipped, but most of the sales were losses that the victim firm had to absorb.

Triangulation fraud. Image: eBay Enterprise.

Triangulation fraud. Image: eBay Enterprise.

The scheme works like this: An auction fraudster sets up one (or multiple) eBay accounts and sells legitimate products.  A customer buys the item from the seller (fraudster) on eBay and the money gets deposited in the fraudster’s PayPal account.

The fraudster then takes the eBay order information to another online retailer which sells the same item, buys the item using stolen credit card data, and has the item shipped to the address of the eBay customer that is expecting the item. The fraudster then walks away with the money.

One reason this scheme is so sneaky is that the eBay customers are happy because they got their product, so they never complain or question the company that sent them the product. For the retailer, the order looks normal: The customer contact info in the order form is partially accurate: It has the customer’s correct shipping address and name, but may list a phone number that goes somewhere else — perhaps to a voicemail owned and controlled by the fraudster.

“For the retailer who ships thousands of orders every day, this fraudulent activity really doesn’t raise any red flags,” my source — we’ll call him “Bill,” — told me. “The only way they eventually find out is with a sophisticated fraud screening program, or when the ‘chargeback’ from Visa or MasterCard finally comes to them from the owner of the stolen card.”

In an emailed statement, eBay said the use of stolen or fraudulent credit card numbers to purchase goods on eBay is by no means unique to eBay.

“We believe collaboration and cooperation is the best way to combat fraud and organized retail crime of this nature, working in partnership with retailers and law enforcement,” wrote Ryan Moore, eBay’s senior manager of global corporate affairs. Detecting this type of fraud, Moore said, “relies heavily on the tools that merchants use themselves, which includes understanding their customers and implementing the correct credit card authorization protocols.”

Moore declined to discuss the technology and approaches the eBay uses to fight triangulation fraud — saying eBay doesn’t want tip its hand to cybercriminals. But he said the company uses internal tools and risk models to identify suspicious activity on its platform, and that it trains hundreds of retailers and law enforcement on various types of fraud, including triangulation fraud.


Moore pointed to one education campaign on eBay’s site, which adds another wrinkle to this fraud scheme: Very often the people listing the item for sale on eBay are existing, long-time eBay members with good standing who get recruited to sell items via work-at-home job scams. These schemes typically advertise that the seller gets to keep a significant cut of the sale price — typically 30 percent.

A recruitment email from a work-at-home job scam that involves respondents in triangulation fraud. Source: eBay

A recruitment email from a work-at-home job scam that involves respondents in triangulation fraud. Source: eBay

Interesting, the guy selling carded goods stolen from Bill’s company has been on eBay for more than a decade and has a near-perfect customer feedback score. That seller is not being referenced in this story because his feedback page directly links to transactions from Bill’s company.

Bill said he believes fraudsters targeted his company because it is relatively small, and is less likely to rely on sophisticated fraud tools that can sort out fraudulent orders. In his company’s case, it wasn’t spending any money on such fraud prevention tools until all this eBay fraud started.

“It wasn’t a huge order size, just random products we sell,” Bill said. “They’re going after us as a medium-sized retailer because we’re not yet to the size where we have all the fraud software built-in.”


According to Bill, the company thought it had figured out a fraud pattern to help block future phony charges, which it found all came from different Internet addresses at Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service. But he said the fraud didn’t stop until the company started blocking purchases made from servers hosted at Amazon’s EC2 service. After that block was put in place, visitors coming from EC2 servers could still browse the site, but they would be blocked from placing orders.

Bill said he believes the orders may have been placed by automated “bot” programs running on instances of Amazon’s EC2 platform (instances that were also likely paid for with stolen card data).

“The fraud kept going until we put in some things that blocked his bots at Amazon EC2 from transacting with our site,” Bill said. 

Bill allowed that he can’t prove it wasn’t just a human manually transacting from all those EC2 systems. However, another security measure that Bill’s company established to fight triangulation fraud lends credence to the theory that some sort of automated EC2-based bots may indeed be involved in placing the unauthorized product orders. Bill’s firm put new data fields in the part of the checkout process where customers type in their name and address. This trick uses data fields that are hidden from regular Web site visitors but that are still visible on the site to computers and Web crawlers.

The idea is to separate orders made by humans from those entered by automated bots. Although the latter may dutifully supply some phony requested data in the new data fields, legitimate, human customers would never input data into those extra fields because they can’t see the information being requested in the first place.

‘Blocking EC2 purchases and the data fields have worked really well blocking this fraudster’s bots from spamming our email forms,” Bill said.

Bill’s company also just signed up with MaxMind, a company that gives retailers multiple clues about potentially fraudulent orders based on the geography of the order. For example, was the order placed from an Internet address that is located near the shipping address?

For its part, eBay says merchants can fight triangulation fraud by focusing on the products being sold by suspect eBay accounts. “Collaborate with auction and marketplaces that are known to have fraudulent sellers,” the company said in its tri-fraud primer. “Together, you may be able to uncover additional orders that may be part of the scam to help identify fraudulent sellers and/or employers.”

Has your company or credit card been victimized by triangulation fraud? Sound off in the comments below about your experience.

Raspberry Pi: Putting a Code Club in every community

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Philip Colligan. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi Foundation and Code Club join forces

I am delighted to announce that Raspberry Pi Foundation and Code Club are joining forces in a merger that will give many more young people the opportunity to learn how to make things with computers.

Raspberry Pi Foundation and Code Club were both created as responses to the collective failure to prepare young people for life and work in a world that is shaped by digital technologies.

We’re part of a growing worldwide movement that is trying to solve that problem by equipping people with the knowledge and confidence to be digital makers, not just consumers.

Children at a Code Club

We’ve made a good start.

Since launching our first product in 2012, we have sold 7 million Raspberry Pi computers and reached hundreds of thousands of young people through our educational programmes, resources, open source software, and teacher training.

Since its launch in 2012, Code Club has helped establish over 3,800 clubs in the UK and over 1,000 clubs in 70 other countries. Run by volunteers, Code Clubs focus on giving 9-11 year olds the opportunity to make things with computers. Right now over 44,000 young people regularly attend Code Clubs in the UK alone, around 40% of whom are girls.

But we’ve got much more to do.

Research by Nesta shows that in the UK, many young people who want to get involved in digital making lack the opportunity to do so. We want to solve that problem, ensuring that there is a Code Club in every community in the UK and, ultimately, across the world.

A child absorbed in a task at a Code Club

In many ways, the decision to join forces was an obvious step. We share a common mission and values, we hugely respect each other’s work, and there are clear benefits from combining our capabilities, particularly if we want to have impact at a serious scale.

Code Club and Raspberry Pi share one other important characteristic: we’re both, at heart, community efforts, only possible thanks to the huge numbers of volunteers and educators who share our passion to get kids involved in digital making. One of our main goals is to support that community to grow.

Code Club – volunteer with us!

Code Club is building a network of coding clubs for children aged 9-11 across the UK. Can you help us inspire the next generation to get excited about digital making? Find out more about how to get involved at

The other critical part of Code Club’s success has been the generous philanthropic partners who have provided the resources and practical support that have enabled it to grow quickly, while being free for kids. ARM, Google, Cabinet Office, Nesta, Samsung and many other organisations have been brilliant partners already, and they will be just as important to the next stage of Code Club’s growth.

So what does this all mean in practice?

Technically, Code Club will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Importantly, its brand and approach will continue unchanged. It’s a proven model that works incredibly well and we don’t want to change it.

For the teachers and volunteers who run Code Clubs, nothing will change. Code Club HQ will continue to create awesome projects that you can use in your clubs. You will still use whatever hardware and software works best for your kids. We’ll still be working hard to match volunteers and schools to set up new clubs across the country, and developing partnerships that launch Code Clubs in other countries around the world.

For Raspberry Pi Foundation, this is an important step in diversifying our educational programmes. Of course, a lot of our work focuses on the Raspberry Pi computer as a tool for education (and it always will), but our mission and activities are much broader than that, and many of our programmes, like Code Club, are designed to be platform-neutral.

Code Club robot and Raspberry Pi robot: high five!

Personally, I’m really excited about working more closely with Code Club and helping them grow. I’ve been a big fan of their work for a long time, and over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to visit Code Clubs across the country. I’ve been blown away by the energy and enthusiasm of the teachers, volunteers and young people involved.

If you don’t know them already, check them out at and, if you can, get involved. I know that many people in the Raspberry Pi community already volunteer at their local Code Club. I’d love to see that number grow!

The post Putting a Code Club in every community appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi: MozFest YouthZone Workshops

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: David Honess. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

This year Mozilla Festival is taking place at Ravensbourne College in London (next to the O2 arena) on 6-8 November. Map here.

Kids' activities at MozFest 2014

Kids’ activities at MozFest 2014 | Original photo by Mozilla in Europe / CC BY 2.0

This is Mozilla’s annual hands-on festival (affectionately known as MozFest) and is dedicated to forging the future of the open Web. It’s where passionate technologists, educators and creators unite to hack on innovative solutions for the Web’s most pressing issues. And this year, it’s packed with a wide variety of excellent Raspberry Pi workshops for young people, not to mention a whole host of other activities, from virtual reality to sumobots to algorithms with crayons!


The festival is divided up into spaces, with each space running different sessions that you can sign up for in advance. Read more about them here.

The MozFest YouthZone is a space dedicated to reconciling the conflicts that occur between adults and young people online. In previous years this was only a few rooms, but this year, it’s going to be an entire floor with 30 sessions! Thanks to the efforts of Raspberry Pi Creative Technologist Andrew Mulholland there will be a significant Raspberry Pi presence along with a dedicated Raspberry Pi Zone.

Andrew Mulholland

Andrew at the BBC Blackstaff studios in Belfast

Of the 30 sessions, 17 are being run by Andrew and the Raspberry Pi Foundation education team. These include:

  • Astro Pi: Your Code in Space (by our own Carrie Anne)
  • Musical fruit with the Explorer HAT (by Jim Darby)
  • Hacking Minecraft Pi with Python (by Yasmin Bey)
  • Scratch-ing the Surface with GPIO (by Cat Lamin)

All of the workshops are aimed at complete beginners, perfect if you know nothing about programming or even what a Raspberry Pi is!

A full list of the YouthZone workshops can be found online here.


An Astro Pi at ESA EAC in Germany – Image credit: ESA

Official leak: there will be an Astro Pi flight unit at the event. If you want to see it (or test your code on it) then make sure you go to Carrie Anne’s workshop!

On top of the 17 workshops in the main Raspberry Pi Zone, there will also be two other satellite Raspberry Pi programming zones. One will be in the music zone with a focus on making music with code (specifically using Sonic Pi), and the other will involve the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s DOTS boards, add-on boards for Raspberry Pi that allow you to make circuits using conductive paint.

Okay, I want to go!

Tickets are only £3 for young people. For adults, tickets are £45; these are full weekend passes and include lunch for both days.

Buy tickets here.

Join us for MozFest 2015

MozFest is an annual celebration of the world’s most valuable public resource: the open Web. Participants are diverse — there are engineers and artists, activists and educators. But everyone shares a common belief: the Web can make lives better. Learn more at:

The post MozFest YouthZone Workshops appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi: Teach, learn and make with our free learning resources

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Helen Lynn. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Part of the background to my day-to-day life at work is the steady flow of emails showing me which of our learning resources my colleagues in Raspberry Pi’s education team are developing, discussing or updating at the moment. We use GitHub to manage our content and collaborate, and I get notifications that tell me about new resources, discussions around existing ones, and suggestions for improvements made by members of the Raspberry Pi community.

I get a lot of them: James, Dave, Carrie Anne, Clive, Marc and Ben are constantly creating new learning resources and making sure existing resources are up-to-date. You’ll find everything from worksheets to help you get up and running with Raspberry Pi, to physical computing activities to try at home, to whole schemes of work for teachers to use with their students.

Resources – Teach, Learn, and Make with Raspberry Pi

Free resources to teach, learn and make with Raspberry Pi, a tiny and affordable computer. Created by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

To make it easier to find the kind of resource you want, we’ve grouped our resources under the headings of Teach, Learn and Make. In our Teach resources you’ll find individual lesson plans, complete schemes of work and teachers’ guides, including a teachers’ guide to using Raspberry Pi in the classroom to give educators who are new to the device the information they need to get started.

Resources for teaching

Schemes of work, lesson plans and teachers’ guides in our resources for teaching

Our Learn resources guide learners through independent activities. One of the newest is Gravity Simulator, in which students learn about the effects of gravity and how to simulate them in Scratch with Mooncake, the official Raspberry Pi Foundation Cat. It’s one of a number of resources that support activities linked to British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s upcoming mission aboard the International Space Station.

Gravity simulator, one of Raspberry Pi's free learning resources

Mooncake the Raspberry Pi Cat discovers what she weighs on alien worlds

Our Make resources support physical computing projects. They range from “getting started” activities for beginners and more in-depth standalone projects to fairly substantial, satisfying builds that you might complete over several sessions. One of these resources is a guide to making a Raspberry Pi marble maze using a Sense HAT. A Sense HAT is at the heart of each of the two Astro Pi flight units that will soon be flying to the International Space Station; on board the ISS its gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer will be able to detect how the station is moving, and this activity uses the same sensors to work out which way a virtual marble will roll.

Illustration of pitch, roll and yaw in the "Sense HAT marble maze" learning resource

A Raspberry Pi and a Sense HAT can detect pitch, roll and yaw to simulate a marble maze

Millions of educators worldwide use TES Resources to access materials to support their classroom practice, and now they can find a selection of Raspberry Pi Foundation resources on TES too, as PDFs (registration with TES is required to download them).

All our learning resources are available for free under a Creative Commons licence, so you can print, copy, share, modify and do anything you like with the materials. You can also use GitHub to suggest changes to help us improve them – our guide to getting started with GitHub is written particularly with educators in mind. Check them out, share them and tell us what you like best!

The post Teach, learn and make with our free learning resources appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi: Skycademy – Balloons Everywhere!

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: James Robinson. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

It’s been a while since we blogged about Skycademy, the High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) CPD event we ran back in August. However, six weeks on, we have a lot to talk about!

Skycademy CPD – August

We started back in February with the idea that we’d like to train 24 educators to launch a HAB flight with their students. We wanted to engage and inspire those that attended and through them reach young people across the UK and set them the challenge of reaching near space.

Here’s a short (and, we think, appropriately dramatic) video to give you a flavour of the three days.

Private Video on Vimeo

Join the web’s most supportive community of creators and get high-quality tools for hosting, sharing, and streaming videos in gorgeous HD with no ads.

During their time with us our educators received some intensive training from both Dave Akerman and myself, and in teams were provided with all the kit they’d need for their flight. The plan was for each of our four teams to launch and recover a flight the following day.

Leading up to the day we were a little nervous. With strong easterly winds, there was a high risk of us losing payloads – if we were even able to get them off the ground!

James Robinson on Twitter

Come on nearly there, bit more west would be great! #skycademy

However, thanks to an slight easing of the weather conditions and us finding a more westerly launch site, we were thankfully able to launch five flights in quick succession, starting with a demo launch by Dave and me. We packed our flight with a GoPro camera to capture some amazing footage.

Richard Hayler ☀ on Twitter

First balloon away! #skycademy

David Akerman M0RPI on Twitter

Quick take-off from the #skycademy launch pads

Almost as soon as we’d released our balloon, the teams quickly got to work readying their flights. We (like the balloons) were blown away by the confidence on the teams; the first two teams were ready so quickly that we launched them simultaneously.

Andy Batey on Twitter

Simultaneous balloon launch #skycademy

Something we were a little nervous about doing again….

Teams then leapt into their cars and sped away to intercept their payload at their predicted landing site. Back at HQ we watched with equal amounts of excitement and anxiety as our first-time HAB trainees gave chase!

We received a whole host of amazing images from our flights as they rose to 33km


Giving our starting point of being concerned about whether launches would be possible, we were over the moon to launch all five payloads and recover…four.

Our penultimate payload, RPF-A2, was sadly under-filled with helium, which, whilst giving it a nice gentle climb to an impressive 32km, also extended its flight path out to sea. We’re hoping that one day it might be washed up on a beach and returned to us.

Helen Lynn on Twitter

Nnnoooooooooo #skycademy

Steven Jenkinson on Twitter

RIP #TeamAlto #skycademy Lost at sea :( Raiding a toast…

Our final day saw our teams tasked with evaluating their first launch and planning their next. Over the course of the next year we will be support and funding each teacher to carry out their own independent launch with young people back in their schools and clubs.

We were so impressed by their presentations, with ideas for student engagement, plans for testing, kite flights, collaborative launches and more.

David Akerman M0RPI on Twitter

Watching #skycademy presentations

We are incredibly proud to have certified our first Skycademy cohort, and are excited to see what they accomplish over the next year.

jonathanfurness on Twitter

I’ve passed #Skycademy !! Special thanks to @daveake @jrobinson_uk & all at @Raspberry_Pi for a brilliant HAB course.

If you want to find out more about our Skycademy CPD event, then you should check out the following:

  • Visit Twitter and look back over our #skycademy hashtag
  • Richard Hayler has written up a blog post about his experience
  • Nic Hughes has also written about Skycademy in his blog
  • You can hear all about it in a piece that the BBC’s The Naked Scientists recorded about the changing nature of science education.

Pycon UK Launches

A few weeks after our Skycademy event, the Raspberry Pi Education Team attended Pycon UK in Coventry, where we met up with lots of our Certified Educators and several of our Skycademy graduates. We’ve previously blogged about our Pycon activities, but it’s worth talking a little more about the flights we launched there.

On the kids’ day, a group of our Skycademy cohort launched an independent flight from the nearby National Space Centre (which is awesome, btw). They carried out their launch like seasoned pros, and chased down their balloon, recovering it a few hours later.

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 12.33.42
Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 22.27.20

The following day, Marc and I launched the first Sense-HAT on a HAB flight, again from the National Space Centre.

BensRpi on Twitter

Good to see #PyConUk PyCon1 Balloon is up and away. @andybateypi Track it here!mt=roadmap&mz=9&qm=1_day&mc=52.51372,-0.58792&f=PYCON1 … #skycademy

We had a couple of technical issues on the morning, which meant we struggled to receive data once our flight had taken off. However, the fantastic UKHAS community were on hand as usual to help out and ensure our balloon wasn’t lost. Our flight reached a whopping 36km; along with recorded data using all the Sense-HAT sensor resulting in 200,000 lines of data, which I’m yet to analyse.

Thankfully our payload landed 20m from a little single track road, from where we were able to spot it – having narrowly avoided a parachuting centre and some wind turbines.

James Robinson on Twitter

Done! #pyconuk #skycademy #pycon1 #ukhas

School Launches

Since PyconUK we’re had our first two school launches both in the East Anglia area and on consecutive days. I’ll leave it to them to tell you more about their experience.

Bourne Grammar School – 9th October

3_looking at the Wash from 26km

On the 9th October, a group of budding computer scientists and systems and control engineers from Bourne Grammar School launched a helium balloon and payload 26km into the air in order to capture incredible images of the earth using a self-programmed Raspberry Pi hardware.

Systems Engineer Team Leader, Iyanu Abioye, told us, “It was our job was to create the housing for the payload which had the camera, the GPS and it would also have the parachute and balloon. The housing for the payload was a polystyrene box with a smaller one as a lid, to keep everything safe. On launch day, Sohayl Tobaria, Marco Lytle and Wojciech Marek held the balloon whilst it was being filled, added the cable ties and cut the balloon from the helium tank.

The computer science team, consisting of Andrew Ellingford, Jacob Wilson, Fabio Valerio and Josiah Gyamfi, had the job of programming two Raspberry Pi computers so that data could be sent and received from space. Andrew explains, “If this job had not have been done right, we would have lost all of our photos, data and the balloon itself. That would have been a rather expensive mistake, so, the pressure was on. At first the task seemed a bit daunting. None of us had much experience with some of the equipment like the LoRa board”, which enabled us to send and receive our data from space. However, working as a team and with the help of Mr Brown (Bourne Grammar School Assistant Headteacher and Digital Strategy & Director ICT), we found solutions to all our technological problems. Not only did we learn a lot about computing, we learnt how to use these skills as a team. In the end, it was great to watch the pictures come through online and track its position in real-time and we are proud to have contributed to this project.”

Students Alex Williams, Ben Rockliffe, Alex Wray and Luc Schoutsen were assigned as part of the chase team. It was their job to track the flight of the balloon using the GPS and radio technology on board. The chase team were then able to receive this data to learn the location, altitude, speed and temperature of the payload.

Back at school the flight analyst team, Holly Brown and Toby Pawlett were able to see the data from the balloon and see an extrapolated flight-plan which predicted where the balloon would eventually land. By calling the chase team on a regular basis, they were able to guide them to the final landing site of the balloon to help ensure a successful recovery.

Talking about the experienced, Holly told us, “We had to make sure the balloon would not land in the sea by making flight-path predictions in the weeks running up to the launch, which included where it would pop and were it would land.  In the days leading up to the launch window, we had to double-check everything to ensure the flight went well and that the weather would be suitable too, without too much wind.

The project seems to have inspired the students. Holly Brown said, “We both thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and hope to participate in any future space missions that are run at school.” The computer science team added, “We are proud to have contributed to this project”. Systems Engineer, Iyanu Abioye told us, “I feel very privileged to have been able to be a part of this and I want to say a huge thanks to Mr Brown and Mr Scott (Head of Curriculum Development for The Raspberry Pi Foundation) for putting this together for us.”

Glebe House School – 10 October

Google_earth_main (1)

Bill Robinson from the Glebe House School in Hunstanton has written an excellent post on their website which you can read here; it’s full of beautiful images and data that they gathered.

The year ahead

In the next ten months, expect to see a further 20+ launches taking place across the UK, led by educators and their students. If you want to get involved with our Skycademy activities there are several ways you can do so:

  • Follow our launches by checking our #skycademy hashtag and looking out for news about flights. During flights you can track using the habhub tracker
  • Help track our flights. If you’re in (or near) the UK you ought to be able to help receive data from payloads during and help keep tabs on them. To do this you’ll need some kit to build a what’s called “lora gateway”
    • A Raspberry Pi & SD card
    • A Lora Board
    • A suitable aerial
  • All of the above can be found at the HAB Supplies website, and a guide to setting up you’re gateway can be found here.
  • One of the challenges of launching a HAB flight is finding a suitable location which isn’t too near major airports, has some open space, has easy access and permission from the owner. If you think you might have a suitable site from which to launch, please get in touch.

Finally, getting Skycademy off the ground has been hard work, but a fantastic experience, and I’d like to say a huge thank you to all those individuals and organisations who’ve had a hand in getting us where we are.

Screenshot from 2015-10-12 14:53:45






The post Skycademy – Balloons Everywhere! appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Errata Security: Infosec is good people

This post was syndicated from: Errata Security and was written by: Robert Graham. Original post: at Errata Security

For all that we complain about drama in our community, we are actually good people. At a small conference yesterday, I met “Kath”. She just got her degree in advertising, but has become disillusioned. Her classes in web development and app development have shown her how exploitative online advertising can be. (“PHP has made me cry” — yes, it’s made all of us cry at some point).
She’s felt alone, as if it were only her who that those feelings, then she discovered the EFF, and privacy activists like Yan (@bcrypt) who have been fighting for privacy. Kath grew up in the middle of nowhere in Texas, and went to college in another middle-of-nowhere place in Texas. Being a muggle, she’s never heard of infosec before — but she got a ticket and flew to New York to attend this little infosec conference where Yan was speaking. (Well, that and also to apply for the NYU graduate program in media).
She found things she didn’t expect. She found, for example, how she can contribute, using her skills in usability to make crypto and privacy better for users. She also found a community that was accepting and approachable. Advertising is a hierarchy, with those on top unapproachable from those on the bottom. In infosec, you can just go up and talk to anybody — and she did.
The conference, “SecretCon”, was put on by Elissa Shevinsky (@elissabeth). Elissa didn’t focus on the infosec community as such, but instead marketed the conference to otherwise outsiders. It was a highly diverse set of people. I met “Dave” who is building an Android app that needs better authentication, so gets drawn into this community. I met “Kacie”, who does sysadmin for a startup education company, who has to secure her systems. While many attendees were outsiders, the speakers were still insiders. No, they weren’t there to discuss their latest 0day. The talks were more like TEDx where experts discuss the things they are expert in. I’d actually never seen Jon Callas and Yan speak before — they are actually great speakers.
My point is this. They all found a nice community. While we spend a lot of time discussing what’s wrong with our community, we really rock. So there.

PS: TED sucks, TEDx is less bad — I don’t mean to disparage SecretCon by comparison. I’m just pointing out that it’s not the “latest 0day” style insider talks :).

Raspberry Pi: Maker Faire Berlin 2015

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Helen Lynn. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

James Mitchell, who for the past year and a bit has been organising a mean Raspberry Jam Berlin, kindly agreed to represent Raspberry Pi at Maker Faire Berlin 2015 last weekend. It was the first continental European Maker Faire that Raspberry Pi has been to, and it was a fantastic event! Here is James’ round-up of a really busy and very worthwhile weekend.

Last weekend, 3-4 October, Berlin saw its first Maker Faire! As the organiser of the Raspberry Jam here in Berlin I got really excited to hear that finally Maker Faire was coming to town so, I jumped at the chance to represent Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Jam Berlin.

Maker Faire Berlin 2015

The goal was to let people know what the Raspberry Pi is and what it can do. And maybe also to sneak in that there is a Raspberry Jam in Berlin for those looking for support and community.

With a lot of help from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, community leaders like Les Pounder, Jam members and Jam sponsors, plus a whole lot of understanding from my wife, I set about building the booth and the little displays and demos:

  • Motorised spinning flower
  • Jedi or Sith detector
  • Conway’s Game of Life demo
  • Sense HAT demo
  • Internet Connected Goal: with camera, thermal printer and Twitter
  • Tweeting Photobooth
  • Robots: Line-following and Wiimote-controlled
  • Workstations with Minecraft, Scratch and Sonic Pi
  • Timelapse Cameras
  • Cheer Light Demo

Phew – that was a lot of work to set up!

It was extremely important to keep things simple but still show off the potential of the Raspberry Pi. The spinning flower, for example, might not look like much to veteran Pi users, but to someone new it’s showing the start of robotics. It’s showing that with a couple of wires and a motor you can make things move. Each display showed a key feature found in most Raspberry Pi projects: interface, data collection, connectivity and feedback.

Jedi OrSith detector at Maker Faire Berlin 2015

A Raspberry Pi-based Jedi Or Sith detector

A child explains something to an adult at the Raspberry Pi booth at Maker Faire Berlin 2015

A child explains what it’s all about to an adult

To avoid just having a mess of Pi’s on the table I made some display plates (painted 4mm MDF with a lot of holes, held up by sticks). Thanks also goes to Pimoroni for making acrylic versions for me! This kept things neat and also at eye level for kids who would be coming to the booth.

James Mitchell’s post on Vine

Watch James Mitchell’s Vine taken on 4 October 2015. It has 0 likes. Vine is the best way to see and share life in motion. Create short, beautiful, looping videos in a simple and fun way for your friends and family to see.

Both days got really busy!

Crowd at Maker Faire Berlin 2015

There was a constant stream of people interested in the Pi. Special thanks go to my great team who helped out at the booth: Richard Ruston, Dr. Nana Schön and Florian Merz. Without their help and sunny disposition I don’t think our booth at the Faire would have run nearly as smoothly as it did.

Cannybots at Maker Faire Berlin 2015

Cannybots are programmable robots that you can control with your Pi

Visitors to the Raspberry Pi/Raspberry Jam Berlin booth at Maker Faire Berlin 2015

I did mention further up that we had timelapse cameras running…

Raspberry Pi at Maker Faire Berlin 2015

Raspberry Pi booth timelapse for Maker Faire Berlin October 2015 Music:

We also won a Maker of Merit ribbon. How awesome is that?

Maker of Merit ribbon at Maker Faire Berlin 2015

What I can take away from the Maker Faire and the people I met is that education is very important to parents in Germany. They are looking for the resources and platforms to equip their kids for today’s technological world, and there are lots of choices out there. But it is all a little fragmented and maybe not always easy to learn. I found appreciation for the Raspberry Pi and what the Foundation is out to achieve. I found kids with wide eyes willing to learn, teachers desperate to teach and makers willing to share. This honestly validates the work that is going into the Raspberry Jam Berlin and makes it clear that I am on the right track.

If you want to help, just get out there, go to your Jams, help out at your Maker Faires, volunteer at your local schools. Keep things simple but awesome. Engage with people and spread the word!

Enormous thanks to James and his team for all the hard work that we know went into representing us at Maker Faire Berlin and showing people what they can do with Raspberry Pi. Everything we’ve seen tells us that it was a great first European Faire, and we’re sure there’ll be more to come!

The post Maker Faire Berlin 2015 appeared first on Raspberry Pi. CC BY-SA 4.0 now one-way compatible with GPLv3

This post was syndicated from: and was written by: corbet. Original post: at

The Creative Commons has announced that a
” has determined that materials licensed under BY-SA 4.0
license may be distributed under the terms of GPLv3. “But if your
use case calls for or requires (in the case of remixing CC BY-SA 4.0 and
GPLv3 material to make a single adaptation) releasing a CC BY-SA 4.0
adaptation under GPLv3, now you can: copyright in the guise of incompatible
copyleft licenses is no longer a barrier to growing the part of the commons
you’re working in. We hope that this new compatibility not only removes a
barrier, but helps inspire new and creative combinations of software and
culture, design, education, and science, and the adoption of software best
practices such as source control (e.g., through “git”) in these

Raspberry Pi: Astro Pi: Mission Update 6 – Payload Handover

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: David Honess. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Those of you who regularly read our blog will know all about Astro Pi. If not then, to briefly recap, two specially augmented Raspberry Pis (called Astro Pis) are being launched to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s mission starting in December. The launch date is December the 15th.

Britsh ESA Astronaut Tim Peake with Astro Pi

British ESA astronaut Tim Peake with Astro Pi – Image credit ESA

The Astro Pi competition

Last year we joined forces with the UK Space Agency, ESA and the UK Space Trade Association to run a competition that gave school-age students in the UK the chance to devise computer science experiments for Tim to run aboard the ISS.

Here is our competition video voiced by Tim Peake himself:

Astro Pi

This is “Astro Pi” by Raspberry Pi Foundation on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.

This ran from December 2014 to July 2015 and produced seven winning programs that will be run on the ISS by Tim. You can read about those in a previous blog post here. They range from fun reaction-time games to real science experiments looking at the radiation environment in space. The results will be downloaded back to Earth and made available online for all to see.

During the competition we saw kids with little or no coding experience become so motivated by the possibility of having their code run in space that they learned programming from scratch and grew proficient enough to submit an entry.

Flight safety testing and laser etching

Meanwhile we were working with ESA and a number of the UK space companies to get the Astro Pi flight hardware (below) certified for space.

An Astro Pi unit in its flight case

An Astro Pi unit in its space-grade aluminium flight case

This was a very long process which began in September 2014 and is only now coming to an end. Read all about it in the blog entry here.

The final step in this process was to get some laser engraving done. This is to label every port and every feature that the crew can interact with. Their time is heavily scheduled up there and they use step-by-step scripts to explicitly coordinate everything from getting the Astro Pis out and setting them up, to getting data off the SD cards and packing them away again.


So this labelling (known within ESA as Ops Noms) allows the features of the flight cases to exactly match what is written in those ISS deployment scripts. There can be no doubt about anything this way.


In order to do this we asked our CAD guy, Jonathan Wells, to produce updated drawings of the flight cases showing the labels. We then took those to a company called Cut Tec up in Barnsley to do the work.

They have a machine, rather like a plotter, which laser etches according to the CAD file provided. The process actually involves melting the metal of the cases to leave a permanent, hard wearing, burn mark.

They engraved four of our ground Astro Pi units (used for training and verification purposes) followed by the two precious flight units that went through all the safety testing. Here is a video:

Private Video on Vimeo

Join the web’s most supportive community of creators and get high-quality tools for hosting, sharing, and streaming videos in gorgeous HD with no ads.

After many months of hard work the only thing left to do was to package up the payload and ship it to ESA! This was done on Friday of last week.

Raspberry Pi on Twitter

The final flight @astro_pi payload has left the building! @gsholling @astro_timpeake @spacegovuk @esa

The payload is now with a space contractor company in Italy called ALTEC. They will be cleaning the units, applying special ISS bar codes, and packaging them into Nomex pouch bags for launch. After that the payload will be shipped to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to be loaded onto the same launch vehicle that Tim Peake will use to get into space: the Soyuz 45S.

This is not the last you’ll hear of Astro Pi!

We have a range of new Astro Pi educational resources coming up. There will be opportunities to examine the results of the winning competition experiments, and a data analysis activity where you can obtain a CSV file full of time-stamped sensor readings direct from Tim.

Tim has also said that, during the flight, he wants to use some of his free time on Saturday afternoons to do educational outreach. While we can’t confirm anything at this stage we are hopeful that some kind of interactive Astro Pi activities will take place. There could yet be more opportunities to get your code running on the ISS!

If you want to participate in this we recommend that you prepare by obtaining a Sense HAT and maybe even building a mock-up of the Astro Pi flight unit like the students of Cranmere Primary School did to test their competition entry.

Richard Hayler ☀ on Twitter

We’ve built a Lego version of the @astro_pi flight case to make sweaty-astronaut testing as realistic as possible.

It’s been about 25 years since we last had a British Astronaut (Helen Sharman in 1991) and we all feel that this is a hugely historic and aspirational moment for Great Britain. To be so intimately involved thus far has been an honour and a privilege for us. We’ve made some great friends at the UK Space Agency, ESA, CGI, Airbus Defence & Space and Surrey Satellite Technology to name a few.

We wish Tim Peake all the best for what remains of his training and for the mission ahead. Thanks for reading, and please watch this short video if you want to find out a bit more about the man himself:

Tim Peake: How to be an Astronaut – Preview – BBC Two

Programme website: An intimate portrait of the man behind the visor – British astronaut Tim Peake. Follow Tim Peake @BBCScienceClub, as he prepares for take off. #BritInSpace

The Astro Pis are staying on the ISS until 2022 when the coin cell batteries in their real time clocks reach end of life. So we sincerely hope that other crew members flying to the ISS will use them in the future.


Columbus ISS Training Module in Germany – Image credit ESA

The post Astro Pi: Mission Update 6 – Payload Handover appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi: Kids! Teachers! Developers! PyConUK was a blast!

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Ben Nuttall. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

PyConUK is one of the Education Team’s favourite events of the year. We love the fact that as well as being a great community developer event, they also run an Education track for kids and teachers to learn and share.


It started with one of the organisers, Zeth, humorously holding up a wall clock saying “This is not a bomb” referencing the recent case of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed clock incident, and it ended with evacuation from the building due to the discovery of an unexploded WWII bomb.

On the Friday, teachers were invited to the Education Track (bursaries to get teachers out of school sponsored by the Bank of America) to participate in workshops and discussion sessions. A teachmeet took place to give teachers a chance to give a short talk, presentation or demonstration of a great idea or teaching tool.

2015-09-18 10.35.08
2015-09-18 10.41.10
2015-09-18 09.42.12

Saturday was the kids’ day. Our big interest at the moment is Astro Pi – we’re keen to see what people can do with the Sense HAT, the hardware that’s going to the International Space Station this December. Carrie Anne and Marc led workshops giving kids the chance to experiment with the board and learn about the physical world through activities using the sensors and LED display with Python.



Nicholas interviewed a few kids and parents about their experience at the event:

PyCon UK Education Track 2015 – a Mum’s perspective

Uploaded by Nicholas Tollervey on 2015-09-21.

As well as our Sense HAT workshops there were other activities for the kids – Minecraft Pi with Martin O’Hanlon, and the Internet of Toys with Alan O’Donahoe. Meanwhile, a group of teachers from Skycademy did their own high altitude Pi balloon launch and James tethered a balloon at the venue to take birds-eye-view photos:


At the end of the day some of the the kids were asked to present what they’d done on the conference’s main track:

PYCON UK 2015: Lightning PyKids

PYCON UK 2015: Saturday 19th September 2015

Also on the main track I gave a talk on Physical Computing with Python and Raspberry Pi:

PYCON UK 2015: Python Projects on the Raspberry Pi

Talk by Ben Nuttall PYCON UK 2015: Friday 18th September 2015

(see the slides)

The next day I gave a lightning talk on the story of pyjokes. There was also a talk on teaching using PyGame Zero by Tim Golden. Read about his experiences on his blog.


Nicholas Tollervey launched the Education track and it’s grown over the last few years, reaching hundreds of teachers and kids

On Sunday, James and Marc drove to the National Space Centre in Leicester to do a balloon launch with a Sense HAT collecting data throughout the flight. You can download the data as a CSV file – see if you can do anything interesting with it and let us know in the comments!

Carrie Anne was part of a panel discussing the state of Python and its future before the closing of the main event, and James presented some photos taken by the Pi he sent up that morning:



On the final day we joined in with the sprints, where we invited developers to help work on some education focused projects. We had teams working on PyGame Zero, GPIO Zero and porting PITS (Pi in the Sky) software to Python.

Humongous thanks go out to the organising team, and particularly to Nicholas Tollervey who took on the running of the conference part way through the year when the long-standing chairman John Pinner sadly passed away.

2015-10-01 14.05.02

What a good idea! Thanks John!

The post Kids! Teachers! Developers! PyConUK was a blast! appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi: Jessie Is Here

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Simon Long. Original post: at Raspberry Pi


Jessie is here? Who’s Jessie? Wasn’t she the cowgirl doll in “Toy Story 2” – you know, the one who got abandoned in a park to that Sarah McLachlan song, resulting in at least one software engineer finding he had something in his eye at that point…?

Yes, it is that Jessie, but not in that context. The Raspbian operating system is based on Debian Linux, and the different versions of Debian are named after characters from the “Toy Story” films. Recent versions of Raspbian have been based on Debian Wheezy (the penguin who’s lost his squeaker in “Toy Story 2”), but Raspbian has now been updated to the new stable version of Debian, which is called Jessie.

So what’s new?

Many of the changes between Wheezy and Jessie are invisible to the end-user. There are modifications to the underlying system to improve performance and flexibility, particularly as regards the control of system processes, and as with any update, there are numerous bug fixes and tweaks. And at the same time as the upgrade to Jessie, we’ve added a bunch of changes and improvements to the desktop user interface.

Look and feel

The first thing anyone starting the new Jessie image from scratch will notice is that the default behaviour is to boot straight to the desktop GUI, not to the Linux command line. This was a decision taken because this is the expected behaviour for all modern computers; the default interface for a personal computer in 2015 is a desktop GUI, not just text on a screen. It is still possible to set the Pi to boot to the command line for people who prefer that – just toggle the relevant setting in the Raspberry Pi Configuration application described below.

When the desktop launches, you might notice some slight tweaks to the appearance of things like menus, check boxes and radio buttons. This is because the appearance of Raspbian is now based on version 3 of GTK+, the user interface toolkit used for the LXDE desktop environment. The older version 2 of GTK+ is slowly being replaced with version 3 in many applications, so this change was inevitable at some point – the new appearance isn’t a huge change, but does look slightly more modern. Many of the applications in Raspbian are still using GTK+ version 2, but the PiX theme for GTK+2 has been changed to bring it into line with that for GTK+3.

You’ll notice on the menu bar that there is now an eject icon at the top right – this is a new plug-in that allows USB drives and the like to be safely ejected without the risk of losing data. It’s slightly risky to just pull out a USB drive, particularly if you have just copied a file to it, as the system manages the write to a drive in the background, and the write takes a finite amount of time. If you pull the drive out before the write has finished, you’ll corrupt the file and lose data – clicking the eject icon and then selecting the drive to remove waits for any pending writes to complete and then prompts that it is safe to remove the drive.

Office applications

One of our main aims with regard to Raspberry Pi is not just to make it a great cheap computer for education, but also to make it a great cheap computer in its own right. To this end, we want to make it possible to use a Pi to do the sort of things you’d do on a Mac or a PC, so we’re including some more applications that we think people will find useful. In this release, we have added the LibreOffice suite and Claws Mail.



LibreOffice is a full-featured office suite which is compatible with Microsoft Office files – it includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation graphics, vector drawing and database programs, all of which should feel familiar to anyone used to using Office. It has had some optimisation for Pi, and runs pretty well, particularly on Pi 2.

Claws Mail is an email client for those of us who are old-fashioned enough to prefer not to do email through a browser – it supports all common email protocols, and offers all the functionality of a standalone mail client like Windows Mail or Thunderbird.

Java tools


There are also two new applications in the Programming category – these are two new environments for writing Java applications, called BlueJ and Greenfoot (from the University of Kent and Oracle). If you’re interested in learning Java, or already a Java programmer, have a look at them. There are some sample projects for both in the /home/pi/Documents directory.

Settings and configuration

There are a couple of new settings dialogs in this release, found under the Preferences entry in the main menu. The first is Raspberry Pi Configuration – this is a GUI version of the old raspi-config command-line application, which provides all the same functionality in a nicer interface. (The old raspi-config is still on the system and can be accessed from the command line by typing “sudo raspi-config”, but it shouldn’t be necessary to do so any more.)


The new Raspberry Pi Configuration allows you to enable and disable interfaces, tweak performance and configure internationalisation options, such as timezone and keyboard. It also allows some more control over boot options than was available in the past, with the option to automatically log in as the “pi” user available when booting to both CLI and desktop.


There is a new keyboard setting dialog, accessed from the Localisation tab, but hopefully many people won’t need this – the system will detect some common keyboards sold for use with Pi and set up the GUI keyboard driver correctly. If that doesn’t happen, it’s now easy to choose the right country and keyboard type in this dialog.


The other new setting dialog is the Main Menu Editor. This is a Pi version of a menu editor called Alacarte, written in Python – this should make it easier for people to add or remove items to the main menu. (And, by popular demand, the Other menu is back on the system – but it will now only appear if applications are installed that don’t appear in any other categories…)

Updated applications

There are updates to several of the applications that used to come with Raspbian. There are new versions of Scratch, Sonic Pi, and the Epiphany web browser; none of these have changed fundamentally in operation, but they all include bug fixes and performance improvements.

Support has been added for some of the new Pi peripherals that have been released recently, including the Sense HAT as used in Astro Pi – this is now supported under Scratch and Python.

Python users used to have to launch Python with sudo in order to allow access to the GPIO lines – Python can now access GPIOs as a standard user. Also for Python, the Pygame Zero game environment is installed by default – have a look at for information on what it can do.

One final small thing – if you want to get a screenshot of your Pi, just press the Print Screen button on your keyboard. A PNG file will be put in your home directory, thanks to the (slightly strangely named) scrot utility.

Where can I get it?

This is a major version upgrade – due to the large number of changes to the underlying operating system, we strongly recommend using Jessie from a clean image, so you’ll need to download a new Jessie image from the downloads page on our site.

Starting with a clean image is the recommended way to move to Jessie. If you really need to update a Wheezy image, we have tried an unsupported upgrade path which is documented on the forums here. This has been shown to work on a vanilla Wheezy image, but we can’t predict what effect it may have on any packages or data that you have installed, so this is very much at your own risk. Feel free to add your experiences and improvements to the upgrade process to the forum so others can benefit.

As ever, your feedback on the release is very much welcome – do add a comment below, and I’ll try to respond to as many as I can.

The post Jessie Is Here appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green: Making our users unlearn what we taught them, (Wed, Sep 23rd)

This post was syndicated from: SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green and was written by: SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green. Original post: at SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green

Remember back in the ancient days, when macro viruses were rampant, and we security geeks instructed our flock of virus scared users to never click on a .DOC attachment in an email, but that a .PDF was perfectly fine? Fast forward a couple years, and we had to tell the users, yes, .DOCs are still somewhat bad, but .PDFs are WAY worse.

It took a while to get that message across. What we call security education or user awareness training is hard enough, but nothing in it is more difficult than to make users unlearn an earlier awareness message, once it finally stuck with them.

Another example is WiFi. It looks like we were successful in bringing the point across that open, unencrypted public WiFi is dangerous, because you have no idea who is listening in. This message stuck, to the extent that the average person today seems to firmly believe that a WiFi access point that requires a WPA2 password is not open, and hence must be secure. It is, but only if youre the only one who has the password. But in a public setting, like an airport lounge or hotel, where the password is nicely displayed at the front desk, there is obviously nothing stopping an impostor to run his very own WiFi with the same SSID and the same password. And if that impostor has a strong signal, this is the Access Point that guests will connect to. Hence, in a public setting, a WPA protected access point only offers marginally more security than an open one. Both are equally exposed to a man in the middle impostor.

It looks though like most of us security professionals forgot to tell our users this when we originally instructed them to be careful with public WiFi. Et voila, we have on our hands another instilled behavior that we need to make them unlearn again.

Theres plenty other examples like this, where our earlier advice comes back to bite us. Kicking myself in annoyance whenever I notice such a situation, I have started to look at security awareness campaigns with a different set of eyes. Awareness campaigns need a risk analysis of their own. For every message that we, as security professionals, push onto our users, we should ask ourselves:

1. Is this indeed the best (applicable, accurate and useful) lesson that we can teach
2. What would need to happen, in technology, process or behavior changes, to make this lesson useless or even harmful?
3. How likely is this to occur?
4. What is our mitigation when it happens?

There isnt always a good solution, but we at least need to start asking these questions, lest we just continue to teach our users the next future bad security behavior.

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

AWS Official Blog: Announcing the AWS Pop-up Loft in Berlin

This post was syndicated from: AWS Official Blog and was written by: Jeff Barr. Original post: at AWS Official Blog

The AWS Pop-up Lofts in San Francisco and New York have become hubs and working spaces for developers, entrepreneurs, students, and others who are interested in working with and learning more about AWS. They come to learn, code, meet, collaborate, ask questions, and to hang out with other like-minded folks. I expect the newly opened London Loft to serve as the same type of resource for the UK.

I’m happy to be able to announce that we will be popping up a fourth loft, this one in Berlin. Once again, we have created a unique space and assembled a full calendar of events, with the continued help from our friends at Intel. We look forward to using the Loft to meet and to connect with our customers, and expect that it will be a place that they visit on a regular basis.

Startups and established businesses have been making great use of our new Europe (Frankfurt) region; in fact, it is currently growing even faster than all of our other international regions! While this growth has been driven by many factors, we do know that startups in Berlin have been early adopters of the AWS cloud, with some going all the way back to 2006. Since then some of the most well-known startups in Germany, and across Europe, have adopted AWS including SoundCloud, Foodpanda, and Zalando.

With a high concentration of talented, ambitious entrepreneurs, Berlin is a great location for the newest Pop-up Loft. Startups and other AWS customers in the area have asked for access to more local technical resources and expertise in order to help them to continue to grow and to succeed with AWS.

Near Berlin Stadtmitte Station
This loft is located on the 5 floor of Krausenstrasse 38 in Berlin, close to Stadtmitte Station and convenient to Spittelmarkt. The opening party will take place on October 14th and the Loft will open for business on the morning of October 15th. After that it will be open from 10 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday, with special events in the evening.

During the day, you will have access to the Ask an Architect Bar, daily education sessions, Wi-Fi, a co-working space, and snacks, all at no charge. There will also be resources to help you to create, run, and grow your startup including educational sessions from local AWS partners, accelerators, and incubators including Axel Springer’s Plug & Play and Deutsche Telecom’s Hub:Raum.

Ask an Architect
Step up to the Ask an Architect Bar with your code, architecture diagrams, and your AWS questions at the ready! Simply walk in. You will have access to deep technical expertise and will be able to get guidance on AWS architecture, usage of specific AWS services and features, cost optimization, and more.

Echo Hackathon
My colleague David Isbitski will be running an Alexa Hackathon at the Loft. After providing an introduction to the Amazon Echo, David will show you how to build your first Alexa Skill using either AWS Lambda or AWS Elastic Beanstalk (your choice). He will show you how to monitor it using Amazon CloudWatch and will walk you through the process of certifying the Skill as a prerequisite to making it available to customers later this year. The event will conclude with an open hackathon.

AWS Education Sessions
During the day, AWS Solution Architects, Product Managers, and Evangelists will be leading 60-minute educational sessions designed to help you to learn more about specific AWS services and use cases. You can attend these sessions to learn about Mobile & Gaming, Databases, Big Data, Compute & Networking, Architecture, Operations, Security, Machine Learning, and more, all at no charge. Hot startups such as EyeEm, Zalando, and Stormforger will talk about how they use AWS.

Startup Education Sessions
AWS startup community representatives, Berlin-based incubators & accelerators, startup scene influencers & hot startup customers of AWS will share best-practices, entrepreneurial know-how and lessons learned. Pop in to learn the art of pitching, customer validation & profiling, PR for startups & corporations. Get to know Axel Springer’s accelerator Plug & Play and the Hub:Raum incubator of the Deutsche Telekom.

The Intel Perspective
AWS and Intel share a passion for innovation and a history of helping startups to succeed. Intel will bring their newest technologies to Berlin, with talks and training that focus on the Internet of Things and the latest Intel Xeon processors.

On the Calendar
Here are some of the events that we have scheduled for October and November.

Tech Sessions:

  • October 15 – Processing streams of data with Amazon Kinesis and Other Tools (10 AM – 11 AM).
  • October 15 – STUPS – A Cloud Infrastructure for Autonomous Teams (Zalando) (5 PM – 6 PM).
  • October 19 – Building a global real-time discovery platform on AWS (Rocket Internet) (6 PM – 7 PM).
  • October 23 – Amazon Echo hackathon (10 AM – 4 PM).
  • October 27 – DevOps at Amazon: A Look at Our Tools and Processes (9 – 10 AM).
  • October 27 – Automating Software Deployments with AWS CodeDeploy (10 AM – 11 AM).
  • October 30 – Redshift Deep Dive (5 PM – 6 PM).
  • November 3 – Cost Optimization Workshop (5 PM – 6 PM).
  • November 3 – Amazon Aurora (6 PM – 7 PM).
  • November 6 – Introduction to Amazon Machine Learning (9 AM – 10 AM).
  • November 10 – Security Master Class (6 PM – 7 PM).

Business Sessions:

  • October 23 – Lessons Learned from 7 Accelerator Programs (6 PM – 7 PM).
  • October 26 – Funding cycles and Term Sheets (5 PM – 6 PM).
  • November 9 – Things to consider when PR-ing your startup (6 PM – 7 PM).

Get-Togethers & Networking:

  • October 22 – Berlin’s Godfather of Tech (6 PM – 7 PM).
  • November 11 – Watch out: The Bavarians are in town! (6 8 PM).

If you would like to learn more about a topic that’s not on this list, please let us know (you can stop by the Loft in person or you can leave a comment on this post).

Come in and Say Hello
Please feel free to stop in and say hello to my colleagues at the Berlin Loft if you happen to find yourself in Berlin!


Raspberry Pi: Raspberry Pi in Estonia project launch

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Ben Nuttall. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

If you follow us on Twitter, you may have seen some pictures of me standing next to important looking people in suits, handing out Raspberry Pi kits on Tuesday. This was the launch event for an educational project we’ve been working on with the British Embassy in Tallinn over the last few months.


Back in February of this year, just after the Raspberry Pi 2 launch, we were invited to mentor at the Garage48 Hardware & Arts Hackathon at the University of Tartu in Estonia. Rachel and I attended, and were amazed by the projects the teams were coming up with – some of which used Raspberry Pi. We were there to offer technical advice as well as help prepare teams for their pitch presentations. The event was a serious competition with teams thinking about creating businesses off the back of the projects, rather than throwaway apps you might expect from regular hackathons.

Somewhat casually, it was announced that the Prime Minister would be attending the presentations and awards ceremony. At age 35, Taavi Rõivas is the youngest government leader in the European Union. It wasn’t just a fleeting visit – he stuck around all day and took notes throughout the presentations. We were introduced to him and he knew of Raspberry Pi (he has one but hasn’t got around to using it yet). He said that he’d visited the Pi factory in Pencoed and I took the opportunity to have my photo taken with him.


The winning team was from the Estonian Army, who used a Pi to provide feedback during target practice. Read about this project and the runners up at

After the hackathon we had meetings with some Education organisations and the British Embassy and we ended up kicking off a project to get Raspberry Pis into schools across Estonia. We offered to fund half of the kits, and Transferwise kindly provided match funding to cover the rest.

We were also involved in HITSA‘s Informatics Teachers Summer School which took place in August – as well as providing match funding for 60 Pi 2s and the excellent CamJam Sensor Kits, I gave a webinar to introduce the Pi and the Foundation’s mission to the teachers. We also granted two Estonian teachers a place on Picademy North in May.


We were then invited to an event marking the opening of the hubs, which took place earlier this week, and the Embassy had arranged for the British Ambassador and the Prime Minister to attend.

The day started with me giving seminars to two groups of children from the school (a very large school combining what we’d call Primary and Secondary); then after lunch we set up the room which soon filled with more children, teachers and the press. Transferwise handed out t-shirts they had made for the occasion and the room was coated in Raspberry Pi flyers and balloons. There was even Raspberry Pie on offer!


The Prime Minister arrived and the event began with the Ambassador Chris giving a speech saying how proud he was to be involved in the project; followed by the Prime Minister saying a few words, thanking the Foundation and Transferwise. Then I spoke of the Foundation’s original goal to create a computer the price of a textbook to make it accessible to all, and of the great opportunities created for children all over Estonia. The three of us then joined up with Transferwise to hand out the kits to a representative of each of the 20 schools.



The Picademy trained teachers also presented. Birgy Lorenz showed what the Raspberry Pi could do, including a demo of Sonic Pi from the kids accompanied by Birgy on a real piano; and Maria Malozjomov explained the possibilities of using the Raspberry Pi with young children, and showed a video of her children unboxing and setting up:

There was then some time for demonstrations of the Raspberry Pis we’d set up – ones for Scratch, Minecraft, Sonic Pi, Python & Picamera and one with the Sense HAT. The Prime Minister managed to get himself a seat at the Minecraft table and was seen playing with it between speeches:


Even Prime Ministers like to play Minecraft: Pi Edition

I also happened to have an Astro Pi Flight kit running a copy of the actual flight SD card with the Astro Pi competition code with me:


The Astro Pi flight kit running the MCP

The launch event ended with a mega Picamera selfie! I set up a push button stop motion loop in Python and triggered it to take a few photos with the crowd behind me:


The mega selfie moment captured

The British Ambassador Chris Holtby said:

Today has been a very exciting day, and an important day for technology in Estonian schools.  We have now equipped 20 schools and other centres all across Estonia with Raspberry Pi kits, and further schools and centres will become Raspberry Pi hubs in the next phases. Many young (and not so young) people in Estonia want to learn to program, but often the equipment and know-how is not available. This programme is aimed to help fix those gaps.

Today’s launch of the RaspberryPiEstonia programme was only possible through the hard work and commitment of great partners in the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Transferwise and Vaata Maailma Sihtasutus, and the dedication and inspiration of Information Technology teachers and professionals across Estonia. I am grateful to them all, and proud to have been able to work with them.

I am also very honoured that Prime Minister Taavi Roivas was able to join us today, and to be the one handing over the equipment.  It is important to have the support of the Government in giving this project maximum impact and making it sustainable.

Chris Holtby

After the event I gave a seminar to the Tallinn Informatics Teachers Group to follow on from the webinar at the Summer School.

See this storify of all the day’s tweets; check out the British Embassy’s photo album on Facebook; and you can watch the full video of the event on YouTube.

A great big thanks to the Krislin and the team at the British Embassy in Tallinn, the Ambassador Chris Holtby, lead teachers Birgy Lorenz and Maria Malozjomov, Mari-Liis at HITSA, all the team at Transferwise, and of course Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.

The post Raspberry Pi in Estonia project launch appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Errata Security: Helping refugees would enrich ourselves

This post was syndicated from: Errata Security and was written by: Robert Graham. Original post: at Errata Security

This website is for those who want to share their apartment with a refuge. You don’t even have to pay — refugee organizations will pay their share of the rent. This is frankly awesome.

I grew up around refugees. Our neighbors were refugees from south Vietnam. They flew out with the fleeing American troops as the South Vietnamese government collapsed. They got onto an overloaded helicopter that had barely enough fuel to reach the aircraft carrier off the coast. That helicopter was then dumped overboard, to make room for more arriving refugees and American troops.

Because my father was a journalist reporting on El Salvadoran refugees, we became life-long friends with one of those families. She was a former education minister, he was a former businessman. It was “suggested” that she resign from government. One night, while driving home, a paramilitary roadblock stopped them. Men surrounded the car and pointed guns at them. The leader then said “wait, they’ve got children in the back”, at which point the men put down their guns and fled. In other words, they should be dead. They fled to the United States soon after, and hid in a church basement. Since El Salvador was on America’s side in the Cold War, by definition, there could be no political oppression, and hence, they could not be refugees.

Working in Silicon Valley, a fellow engineer related her story. She and a friend fled from Vietnam on an old boat that broke down in the middle of the ocean. After a couple days, with no food and water, they were picked up by a Greek ship. The captain gave the two girls his cabin, so that they wouldn’t get raped. Alone without family in the United States, she still got into college, and got a degree in software engineering.

I’m not trying to make a political statement here. Germany is being overloaded with refugees. Where births number 600,000 a year, they are getting 300,000 refugees. Their leaders are suggesting accepting more, like 500,000 a year. This is going to have a huge impact on their society. It’s not (necessarily) racist to push back.

But on the other hand, Germany shouldn’t shoulder the burden alone. The United States currently gives billions of aid to countries neighboring Syria to ease their refugee burden. We should be bringing more of those refugees here. Even Lindsay Graham, and otherwise fascist presidential candidate, thinks we need more of those Syrian refugees coming to America. Yes, we’ll get the occasional Tsarnaev (a refugee). But at the same time, we’ll get some Steve Jobs (adopted baby of a Syrian migrant).

Helping refugees will certainly help them, but my point is this: it will also enrich ourselves.

Raspberry Pi: DJ MistaJam and Sam Aaron compose using code

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Carrie Anne Philbin. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Live coder, researcher, MagPi contributor and creator of the music live coding platform Sonic Pi, Sam Aaron has recently found the time to teach BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra DJ MistaJam how to code music.

Sam and MistaJam look at Bizet’s Carmen before working their magic on updating it and creating a new arrangement through live coding. If you are based in the UK then you can watch their session on the BBC website here.

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 17.46.00

Live coding masterclass for DJ MistaJam from Sam Aaron with Sonic Pi

If you are unable to watch the video there is no need to feel left out, Sam has provided the code from the session for you to play in Sonic Pi and experiment with yourself.

This session is part of the BBC’s Ten Pieces initiative for schools which aims to open up the world of classical music to children and inspire them to develop their own creative responses to the pieces through music, dance, digital art and performance poetry. It includes teaching resources for both primary and secondary and officially launches in October 2015 with free screenings of a brand new cinematic film featuring stunning footage of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra performing a new selection of orchestral music, representing a wide range of styles and eras relevant to the Key Stage 3/3rd Level music curriculum.

Benton Park Primary have featured on our blog for their Sonic Pi Orchestra and were in fact one of last year’s Ten Pieces finalists!


Sam is a regular at Picademy helping to train and inspire teachers

Teaching music and teaching computer science have been at the heart of Sonic Pi development over the past few years. We have an entire Key Stage 3 Sonic Pi scheme of work containing lesson plans for computing in our free resources and as part of the Sonic Pi Live and Coding Project there is a scheme of work for teaching Key Stage 3 Music too. Sam often speaks about Sonic Pi in education as well as seeing programming as a performance like in his TEDxNewcastle talk:

Outside of the curriculum, Sonic Pi is a fantastic way to unleash your creativity and learn how to code. We always include the latest version of Sonic Pi on our operating system Raspbian, and we have resources to get you started dropping your first beats. Sam is also a regular contributor to The MagPi, our official Raspberry Pi magazine. In issue 37 Sam introduces us to beat stretching, filtering and slicing with Sonic Pi v2.6 as he continues to push the boundaries of music creation with his free and open source software.

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 18.01.35

So what are you waiting for? Why not use Sonic Pi to create your own creative responses to one of the Ten Pieces and let us know how you get on.

The post DJ MistaJam and Sam Aaron compose using code appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

TorrentFreak: ISPs and Rightsholders Extend “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Scheme

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate-runningDuring the summer of 2011 the MPAA and RIAA teamed up with five major Internet providers in the United States, announcing their a plan to “educate” BitTorrent pirates.

The parties launched the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) and agreed on a system through which Internet account holders are warned if their connections are used to download pirated content. After five or six warnings ISPs take a variety of repressive measures, including bandwidth throttling and temporary disconnections.

Initially the first ISPs were expected to start sending out “Copyright Alerts” by the end of 2011, but due to several delaying factors it took until 2013 before the system went live.

A few weeks ago the original agreement (pdf) quietly expired, but that doesn’t mean that warnings are off the table. Behind the scenes, copyright holders and ISPs have agreed to extend the original agreement for four more months while they work on several changes and improvements.

According to a document seen by TF the parties opted for the short extension because more time is needed to reach a new agreement. The yearly volume of notices is likely to be one of the key issues up for discussion.

An insider informed TF that CCI is committed to keeping the flagship Copyright Alert program alive. In addition, the group is working on an expansion of its consumer education efforts in an effort to direct people to legal services.

While warnings are at the center of the Copyright Alert System, the ultimate goal of CCI is to “shift social norms and behavior.”

At the moment it remains unclear how effective the alerts have been thus far. Some initial statistics were released early 2014 but TF was told that no new figures will be made public before next year.

While CCI remains positive about the program, there has also been critique from copyright holders. A few months ago several independent movies studios called for an end to the “six strikes” scheme, describing it as an ineffective “sham”.

According to the movie studios the copyright alerts are highly ineffective because only a small fraction of the piracy notices are forwarded to the Internet providers.

Time will tell whether any of the upcoming changes will address these concerns.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Raspberry Pi: Astro Pi: Mission Update 5 – flight safety testing

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: David Honess. Original post: at Raspberry Pi


The road to space is long and winding, but the two Astro Pi flight units are almost there! The next thing for us after this is to hand over the final payload to the European Space Agency so it can be loaded onto the Soyuz-45S rocket for launch on December 15th with British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake.

To be allowed on the rocket, you need a flight safety certificate for your device, and these can only be obtained by presenting a whole host of measurements and test results to a panel of experts at ESA ESTEC in Holland.

The expertise and equipment to carry out many of these tests is well outside the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and without the facilities and personnel available through our UK Space partners this would not have been possible – we’ve had to use facilities and partners all over Europe to get the work done.

I’ll list below the tests that were done approximately in chronological order starting from March.

Power integration test

AIRBUS Defence and Space, Bremen, Germany >

Once in orbit, the Astro Pi will have two ways of getting power. It can use an AC inverter (above) that allows the crew to use all kinds of standard domestic appliances (like a normal USB power block); it’s also able to get power from any laptop USB port.

It is likely that when the Astro Pi is deployed in the Columbus module we will run from an AC inverter, but when we’re in the Cupola module we’ll just draw power from one of the laptops which is also there.

To gain permission to draw power from a laptop like this we needed to do a power integration test, to evaluate that the electrical load doesn’t have any adverse effect on the laptop.


The most common laptop on the ISS is the IBM Thinkpad T61P (circa 2007 from before Lenovo acquired them – Eben also uses one of these). Pictured above is an identical ground laptop with a special USB current probe connected to an oscilloscope. Note that this was done before we had the aluminium flight case, so you’re just seeing the Sense HAT, Raspberry Pi and camera parts of the whole Astro Pi unit.

The flight hardware was then powered up through the current probe so the oscilloscope could measure current inrush as well as maximum current when using the Astro Pi at max performance. Some diagnostic software was then used to check that there were no adverse affects experienced by the laptop.

Coin Cell Battery

Surrey Satellite Technology, Guildford, UK >

Since the Astro Pi will not be connected to the LAN on the ISS the only means it has of keeping the correct time is with a Real Time Clock (RTC) and a backup battery.

The flight stack up for Astro Pi is as follows:

  1. Raspberry Pi B+
  2. Custom RTC Board (has coin cell holder and push button contacts)
  3. Sense HAT

Batteries on the ISS have a whole host of possible hazards associated with them, and so any battery flown is subject to a stringent set of batch tests.

Astro Pi has a batch of eight Panasonic BR-1225 coin cells which were all tested together. Here is number 5, which is one of the ones that will fly:


The test procedure involved visually inspecting the coin cells, measuring their width and size with callipers, testing their voltage output during open circuit and under load followed by exposing them to a vacuum of about 0.6 bar (~450 mmHg) for two hours.

Afterwards the measurements were redone to see if the coin cells had leaked, deformed or become unable to provide power.

Conformal Coating

Surrey Satellite Technology, Guildford, UK >

One of the safety requirements for circuit boards in space flight is that they are coated in a protective layer, rather like nail varnish, called conformal coating. This is a space grade silicone-based liquid that dries to form a hard barrier. In microgravity a metallurgical phenomenon called tin whiskers occurs. These are tiny hairs of metal that grow spontaneously from any metallic surface, especially solder joints.

The hazard here is that these little whiskers break off, float off and become lodged somewhere causing a short circuit. So the conformal coat has two purposes. One is to protect the PCB from any invading whiskers, and the other is to arrest any tin whiskers that may grow, and prevent them breaking free.


For the Sense HAT (above) we needed to define a number of keep out zones for the coating so as not to compromise the pressure and humidity sensors. The surfaces of the LEDs were not coated to avoid dulling their light too. If you look closely you can see the shiny coating on the HAT; in particular, see the joystick bottom right.

It’s much easier to see on two camera modules:




AIRBUS Defence and Space, Portsmouth, UK >

Vibe testing is not actually required for safety, but we undertook it anyway as insurance that the payload would survive the vibration environment of launch. The testing involved placing an Astro Pi into some flight equivalent packaging and strapping it down onto a vibe table.

The vibe table is then programmed to simulate the severity of launch conditions on a Soyuz rocket.

The tests needed to be done in x, y and z axes. To accomplish this two different vibe tables were employed, one for up and down (z, see above) and one for back and forth (x and y, see below).

After the vibration sequence the Astro Pi was tested to ensure the vibration had not caused any issues, the case was also opened and the interior was inspected to ensure no connections had become loose.

Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)

AIRBUS Defence and Space, Portsmouth, UK >

EMC is the study and measurement of unintended electromagnetic signals that could interfere with other electronics. Almost all electronic devices these days undergo EMC testing in order to get CE or FCC markings. The Raspberry Pi B+ and Sense HAT both carry these markings; however their test results were obtained in a home-user setup, with a keyboard, mouse, HDMI monitor and Ethernet all connected.

The Astro Pi flight unit will be used without all of those. So these tests were required to ensure that, when used in this way, the Astro Pi doesn’t cause any problems to other systems on board the ISS (like life support).

The tests were conducted in a special EMC test chamber. The walls are lined with super-absorbent foam spikes that exclude all electromagnetic signals from coming into the room from the outside.

That way, any electromagnetic signal measured must have originated inside the room.

A test script was run on the Astro Pi to stress it to maximum performance while a series of antennae were used to examine different ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum.

A set of electromagnetic susceptibility tests was also conducted to evaluate how the Astro Pi would behave when experiencing strong magnetic fields.

No issues were found, and all tests passed.

Off Gassing

ESA ESTEC, Noordwijk, Holland >

The off-gassing test is done to ensure the payload does not give off any dangerous fumes that might be harmful to the crew.

The test involves placing the payload into a bell jar and pumping out all of the air. Synthetic air of known properties is then pumped in, and the whole jar is held at 50 degrees Celsius for 72 hours. Afterwards the synthetic air, plus any gasses released by the payload, are pumped out and analysed using a mass spectrometer.


If you look closely, you can also see some Raspberry Pi SD cards in there. The test needed to be representative of the entire payload, so it’s one of the flight units plus five SD cards. The resulting measurements were then just doubled to account for two Astro Pi units with ten SD cards.

Thermal Capacity

Raspberry Pi, Cambridge, UK

This test needed to demonstrate that no touchable surface of the Astro Pi flight case would ever reach or exceed 45 degrees Celsius.

In microgravity the process of convection doesn’t occur, so the case was designed with thermal conduction in mind. Each of the square pins on the base can dissipate about 0.1 watts of heat. We also wanted to avoid any fans as these cause EMC headaches and other problems for safety (moving parts).

We used five temperature probes connected to another Raspberry Pi for the data logging. Four of the probes were placed in contact with the surface of the aluminium case using small thermal pads and kapton tape (HDMI side, base by the camera, SD card slot side and top side). One was used to monitor ambient temperature some distance away. The Astro Pi was then placed inside a small box to simulate the reduced airflow on board the ISS and was then stressed to maximum performance for four days.

The results showed that an equilibrium was reached fairly quickly where the only input into the system was the fluctuation of ambient temperature.

Sharp edges inspection

ESA ESTEC, Noordwijk, Holland >

This test was almost a formality, but was done so ESA could verify there were no sharp edges that could cause harm to the crew. The test was done using a special piece of fabric that was dragged over the surface of the flight case. If it snags then the test is failed, but thankfully we passed without issue first time.

The test is important because a crew member with a cut or infected hand is a serious problem on orbit.

Experiment Sequence Test

ESA-EAC, European Astronaut Centre, Cologne, Germany >

The experiment sequence test is a full end-to-end reproduction of everything that Tim Peake will do on orbit. It was done in a replica of the ISS Columbus module on the ground.

On orbit they have step by step procedures that the crew follow and these tests are an opportunity to improve and refine them. There is a procedure for deploying the Astro Pi, one for powering it from the ISS mains, and another for powering via laptop power. There is one for fault finding and diagnostics and also one for getting files off the Astro Pi for downlink to Earth.

The tests used a surrogate crew to play the role of Tim Peake. Each procedure was run, and any anomalies or problems that caused a deviation from the procedure were noted.

The Astro Pi will run a Python program called the MCP (master control program*) and this oversees the running of the competition winning code from the students. It is designed to monitor how long each has run for, and ensures that each receives the allotted run time, despite the Astro Pi being, potentially, rebooted multiple times from single event upsets due to the radiation environment on the ISS.

There were a couple of minor issues found, and we’re required to repeat one of the tests again in September. But otherwise everything worked successfully.

All the test reports are then combined into a Flight Safety Data Pack (FSDP). This also includes a flammability assessment which is an examination of all materials used in the payload and their risk of being a flame propagation path on the ISS. The main heavy lifting with the FSDP documentation was done by Surrey Satellite Technology, whom we’re eternally grateful to.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! Next mission update will be after we’ve handed over the final payload.

The post Astro Pi: Mission Update 5 – flight safety testing appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Lauren Weinstein's Blog: Why “Godwin’s Law” Doesn’t Apply to Donald Trump

This post was syndicated from: Lauren Weinstein's Blog and was written by: Lauren. Original post: at Lauren Weinstein's Blog

Let’s get this straight once and for all: Comparisons between Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump do not invoke Godwin’s Law. Godwin’s Law applies to discussions where Nazi analogies make no sense. Comparing a strict physical education teacher with Hitler, for example, is an obvious invocation of Godwin’s Law. However, Godwin’s Law explicitly does not apply when actual Nazi parallels are…