Posts tagged ‘education’

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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What a good idea! Thanks John!

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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.

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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.

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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…

Raspberry Pi: Forumula AllCode – robotics course

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Liz Upton. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Liz: Robotics is a really powerful way to get kids excited about programming and electronics, and a Kickstarter from Formula AllCode, with its integrated course, has all the elements you need to get a kid from zero to robot overlord. I asked Liam Walton from Matrix TSL, the people behind Formula AllCode, to write a few words for us about what they’re doing with the project. 

We think the Formula AllCode robotics course is great for makers to test their skills and capabilities; it’s also great for introducing learners to programming and robotics in a fun and motivating way.

Raspberry Pi is one of the hosts you can use for this neat little robot from Matrix TSL​, designed as part of a course in robotics that aims to cater for beginners and advanced users alike. It’s controlled over Bluetooth from any platform that can support the Bluetooth RFCOMM protocol, so you can program for it in just about anything (popular examples are provided).


Matrix TSL have also written a full tutorial about how users will talk to the Formula AllCode robot using the Raspberry Pi.


Kitted out with a variety of sensors, microphone, speakers and LCD display, and with capacity for expansion, it has plenty of appeal, and it’s on Kickstarter now with 16 days left to go. You can back the project by clicking here.

The project itself consists of:

  • The Formula AllCode robot
  • A FREE course in robotics
  • Accessories used to learn, including graphical mat and maze walls


The robot can be used with a number of hosts, including Raspberry Pi. A low cost robot buggy, the AllCode is great for makers to test their skills and capabilities using an interesting and diverse platform or for introducing younger school children to programming and robotics in a fun and motivating way with huge scope for further work and competitions.


The video below explains more about the vision for Formula AllCode and provides some examples of what the robot itself can achieve when used with Raspberry Pi and other devices.

The Formula AllCode Kickstarter campaign runs until 4th September. To back the campaign from as little as £5 click here.

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Raspberry Pi: Australia & Singapore Pioneering Education Tour

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

As an education pioneer for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, I’m on a mission to ensure that all children everywhere have some exposure to computing, whether this comes in the form of digital making, the arts, robotics or computer programming. Recently I’ve been on a brief tour to Australia and Singapore to spread the Raspberry Pi education ethos to as many people as possible.

Straight after Euro Python in Spain, where Ben Nuttall, James Robinson and I helped to kick start an Education Summit, I boarded a flight to Australia via Dubai. The months between June and September are often the busiest for the Foundation team with the northern hemisphere schools on summer break and southern hemisphere schools in the middle of the academic year. There are often lots of outreach opportunities alongside large conferences in the space of a single month.


After around 30 hours (with two stops) I arrived in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland and home to Pycon Australia 2015, where I was to give a talk as part of their first ever education mini conference and give a keynote at the main conference. Fellow Python Software Foundation (PSF) board member Nick Coghlan contacted me to attend the education mini conference way back in January, stating:

I would personally be particularly excited to have you attend, as I came up with the idea of the Python in Education miniconf after Dr James Curran’s presentation last year on the new Australian Digital Curriculum, and his hopes to have Python feature strongly in the implementation of that curriculum.

There are a number of countries around the world which are starting to address the digital skills gap through formal education. In England we have a new Computing curriculum being taught in both primary and secondary schools. In Australia a new Digital Curriculum has been developed, and in some states has already been adopted by forward thinking teachers. Here was an opportunity to work with industry professionals to highlight the changes, and with educators to collaborate and share best practice.

Nick had curated a brilliant day of talks as part of the education mini conference. This was one of the first Python conferences which was not only well attended by teachers, but where most of the talks were given by teachers! In fact you can watch all the talks which have helpfully be added to a playlist by the conference organisers. My favourite talk of the day was given by a nervous developer, Caleb Hattingh, to a room full of teachers about his experiences trying to teach Python to children at a coding club. It was brutally honest and I think sums up many of the problems educators also face in moving from visual programming languages like Scratch to text based languages like Python.

My other notable talk of the day was given by Katie Bell from Grok Learning in which she talks about her work with the Girls Programming Network in Sydney, the National Computer Science School (NCSS) Challenge, and the NCSS summer school where young people spend a few days rapidly prototyping heir own website or embedded electronic device. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Katie before at PyconUK last September and at ISTE this June in Philadelphia with Grok Learning co-founder Nicky Ringland. Their passion for computing education is phenomenal and can be witnessed in this talk:

I ended day 1 with my keynote on Raspberry Pi and physical computing, which included a live demo, and started day 2 with a keynote to the entire conference about lessons we’ve learned about teaching children how to program.

I’m grateful to Nick Coghlan and the other organisers of PyconAu for their hard work bring the event together.


A short flight from Brisbane brought me to Sydney where I accepted a challenge from new education team member Marc Scott to take a selfie in front of an iconic landmark before setting out on a series of talks and workshops.

I gave a brief demo to ICT educators of New South Wales  on the first evening at an event where teachers give up their free time to share ideas and practices around teaching ICT and computer science in a state where it is not a formal part of their curriculum. These were inspirational teachers, willing to push what is possible in their classrooms.

At the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences at the Powerhouse in Sydney I got the chance to speak to education specialists and teachers about our work at Raspberry Pi before leading a fruity physical computing workshop. I was able to share fun ideas and meet some fabulous STEM education enthusiasts.

The museum was truly a fabulous space with well equipped resources for schools. I was lucky enough to receive a brief tour of all the facilities like the Mars Lab, a recreation of the Martian surface, and robotics lab which is used to encourage students to use technology to search for life on Mars. Schools are able to connect to the lab and their rovers via the internet, allowing students to program the bots directly. Using the cameras, they can experience what it is like for space engineers. They test rovers there, and I got to meet one.

Whilst in Sydney I visited good friend Dan Bowen, a CAS #include committee member, and some Windows IoT Raspberry Pi developers at Microsoft, where they all showed me their latest work with the operating system and Physical computing on the Pi. I was invited to meet the Code Club Australia team who are working with schools across all the territories and training teachers in a bid to give children an opportunity to learn to code. I also found time to speak to girls at two different coding clubs and meet some fans!

There are clearly lots of initiatives in Sydney that parents and educators can tap into from online learning platforms like Grok Learning and the NCSS challenge, to free professional development and workshops from ICTENSW and the MAAS Museum.


I was lucky enough to be able to stop in Singapore on my way back to the UK during the nation’s 50th anniversary thanks to the Raspberry Pi team at Broadcom Singapore. I was asked to drop by the office to eat pizza and give a presentation to their engineers about the Raspberry Pi Foundation by Jeffery Chin who leads the Broadcom Singapore Raspberry Pi team, who provide Raspberry Pi outreach to teachers and students in their spare time.

I was then taken to Singapore’s Science Centre to meet their STEM education specialists and Ministry of Education representatives to discuss Raspberry Pi professional development for teachers and their computing outreach programmes. Before heading out for some of the best dumplings I’ve ever eaten!


Singapore Science Centre STEM educators, Ministry of Education representatives and  Broadcom’s Jeffery Chin & TK Tan

It is one of the many joys of working for the Raspberry Pi Foundation that I get to meet so many inspiring individuals across the globe and to forge partnerships with them as we all embark this movement to enrich children’s education.

The post Australia & Singapore Pioneering Education Tour appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

TorrentFreak: Legal Scholars Warn Against 10 Year Prison for Online Pirates

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

uk-flagThe UK Government plans to increase the maximum prison sentence for online copyright infringement to ten years.

The current maximum of two years is not enough to deter infringers, lawmakers argue.

The new proposal follows a suggestion put forward in a study commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) earlier this year.

The study concluded that the criminal sanctions for copyright infringement available under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) could be amended to bring them into line with related offenses, such as counterfeiting.

Before implementing the changes the Government launched a public consultation, asking for comments and advice. While the responses have yet to be made public, TF has heard from two prominent groups that are speaking out against an extension.

The British and Irish Law, Education and Technology Association (BILETA) shared a copy of their recommendations with TF. The group’s main conclusion is that changes to the current law are not needed.

According to the group the prison term extension is not acceptable because the punishment would be too harsh.

“…legitimate means to tackle large-scale commercial scale online copyright infringement are already available and currently being used, and the suggested sentence of 10 years seems disproportionate,” the group writes.

In addition, BILETA argues that the proposal is not affordable, not feasible and incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The freedom of expression may be interfered with if there is a ‘pressing social need’ and is proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued,” the group notes, adding that the standards for a pressing social need are often not met in piracy cases.

If the Government decides to move forward with a change of law, the legal scholars suggest limiting the sentence for both online and offline copyright infringement to four years maximum.

Another organization speaking out against the proposal is the Open Rights Group. Executive Director Jim Killock tells TF that the Government inaccurately suggests that only large scale commercial infringers will be affected by the change.

“The proposal wraps up businesses and people who ‘affect prejudicially’ a copyright owner,” Killock says.

“There is no requirement of intent to harm, merely that the user should have known that they were violating copyright law. This makes the offense a ‘strict liability’, which is rare.”

According to the Open Rights Group the vague “affect prejudicially” definition means that heavy Pirate Bay uploaders or even those who merely share files could potentially be targeted.

“We believe it creates scope to abuse the law. It is hard to know what ‘prejudicial affect’ is. It is hard to estimate damages from online sharing or access. The fact that someone did not seek to harm a copyright owner is no defense.

“The result is that people who are not really criminals, but are rather just naive users, may face punitive claims. At the very least, the risk of criminal claims means naive infringers can be pushed into accepting heavy punishments to remove the risk of long jail sentences,” Killock tells us.

Thus far we have not seen any comments from groups supporting the proposal, but UK entertainment industry organizations such as FACT and BPI are likely to weigh in later.

The consultation is open until this coming Monday and the Government will release the individual responses and publish a summary report afterwards.

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

Raspberry Pi: Education Summit Videos from EuroPython

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

At the end of July, a subset of our Education Team went to Bilbao in Spain for EuroPython. As well as giving a number of talks at the conference, we’d arranged with the organising committee to run an Education Summit and invite teachers along.

EuroPython Education Summit_Logo_FULL

On the Thursday of the conference, we had a day of Education talks lined up, starting with Carrie Anne who gave the opening keynote, ‘Education: A Python solution‘:

(see the slides)

We were lucky enough to meet the creator and BDFL of Python, Guido van Rossum, who also gave a keynote.


Watch my talk on ‘Physical Computing with Python and Raspberry Pi‘:

(see the slides)

Watch James’s first talk, ‘Raspberry Pi Weather Station‘:

(see the slides)

Watch James’s second talk, ‘Pycon – A teacher’s perspective‘:

(see the slides)

Alex Bradbury also gave a lightning talk on Pyland – a project he’s working on with a group of interns at the Cambridge Computer Lab. Pyland is a game designed for children to learn Python as a way to progress in the game. Watch out for more on Pyland next month!


The conference had two Raspberry Pi powered arcade machines and all the TV screens showing the talks schedule were running on Pis too!

At the weekend’s sprints we had a team of developers working on PyGame Zero, and as part of the Education Summit we ran an intro session for teachers.


The Pyjokes Society

The Pyjokes Society

This year, EuroPython was run by the organisers of PySS, a conference in San Sebastian, with a brilliant team of volunteers who helped make it all happen – they did a great job.


A huge thanks to the EuroPython team!

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Raspberry Pi: Welcome Marc – our new Head of Curriculum

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

Yesterday we welcomed a new member of staff to the Foundation’s growing Education Team. Marc Scott is a former teacher, joining as our new Head of Curriculum.


Marc used to run a Raspberry Pi and Minecraft club at his old school, where he taught Computer Science, and Systems and Control. Marc also used to write all his lesson resources in Markdown and host them on GitHub – which is exactly how we create our resources and projects on this website; we’re excited to see what he’ll contribute.

Originally, Marc started out as a Science teacher, and he’s keen to explore cross-curricular learning, looking at how things like Astro Pi and the Weather Station can be used in the KS3 Science and Geography curricula.

The first page in Marc’s notebook

We’re really excited to see Marc getting stuck into creating new learning resources, and aiding us to structure them into a curriculum.

Marc has a wife, three kids, two dogs and a double black belt in karate and taekwondo. He’s a member of the Open Rights Group, he’s an occasional blogger at (worth a browse!); he says he’s as comfortable with the terminal as he is in the classroom; and that he’s a dab hand with a soldering iron (let’s see if he passes Gordon’s test). On Monday I asked him to bring in a bootable USB stick if he wanted to install Linux on his laptop – he said “I tend to use a standard Ubuntu server install and build up from there – I use i3 as a windows manager anyway, and hate all the bloat that comes with Ubuntu Desktop.” – we think he’s going to fit in around here just fine.

Welcome Marc!

The post Welcome Marc – our new Head of Curriculum appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

TorrentFreak: Spanish Government Claims Success in Internet Piracy Fight

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

piracydownFor many years Spain was regarded as somewhat of a piracy safe-haven but in recent times the country has taken steps to repair its fractured relationship with the entertainment industries.

Since 2012, Spain has implemented a series of changes and adjustments to local copyright law, each aimed at clamping down on the online distribution of copyrighted content. January 1, 2015 saw the most notable development, with the introduction of tough new legislation aimed at quickly shutting down pirate sites.

Now the country’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports is reporting success in its battle with the Internet pirates in a new report highlighting achievements since the beginning of legislative change three years ago.

According to the Ministry, more than 95% of the 444 complaints filed with the Intellectual Property Commission by creators and rightsholders have been resolved.

In total, 252 websites were ordered by the Commission to remove illegal content with 247 (98%) responding positively to the demands. According to the Ministry, 31 ‘pirate’ sites chose to shut down completely.

Last December and following a complaint filed by 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, Disney, Universal, Paramount and Sony, police also raided two of the country’s leading video streaming sites. Two men were arrested.

In addition to these voluntary and forced shutdowns, Spanish courts have recently ordered local ISPs to block several sites after rightsholders took advantage of a recent change in the law. Unsurprisingly The Pirate Bay was the first site to be targeted

In its report the Ministry reports that a total of five websites have now been ordered to be blocked in this manner following two High Court judgments. They include Goear, the first unlicensed music site to be tackled by the legislation.

Given the scale of the problem the gains being reported by the Spanish government seem relatively modest. Nevertheless, the Ministry insists that progress is definitely being made.

Citing figures from Alexa showing that three years ago 30 ‘pirate’ sites were among the top 250 most-visited sites in Spain, the Ministry says that now just 13 are present. Furthermore, those 13 are lower placed than they were before.

“It is clear from this data that pirate websites are losing their share of total Internet traffic in Spain,” the Ministry reports.

But while the claimed shuttering of dozens of sites and the removal of copyright content following complaints is being portrayed as a success story, the real test is whether Spaniards are buying more content.

According to figures published this week by local music industry group Promusicae, they are. Music sales in Spain totaled €70.6 million ($78 million) in the first half of 2015, an increase of almost 11%.

However, rather than solely attributing the successes to anti-piracy measures, Promusicae praised streaming as the industry’s savior. According to the group, streaming revenues increased 40% in the first six months of 2015 when compared to the same period last year.

With music industry successes ringing in their ears, later this year the TV and movie industries will learn whether Spaniards have a similar appetite for their products ‘on demand’. After a seemingly endless wait, Netflix will launch locally in the second half of 2015.

Beating piracy in Spain will be a tall order, but Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is upbeat.

“We can think of this as the bottled water business,” Hastings said. “Tap water can be drunk and is free, but there is still a public that demands bottled water.”

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

TorrentFreak: UK Anti-Piracy ‘Education’ Campaign Starts This Summer

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

uk-flagIn an effort to curb online piracy, early last year the movie and music industries reached agreement with the UK’s leading ISPs to send ‘warnings’ to alleged pirates.

As we previously revealed, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) will monitor illegal P2P file-sharing with a strong focus on repeat infringers.

The alerts program is part of the larger Creative Content UK (CCUK) initiative, which will kick off with a broad anti-piracy PR campaign targeted at the general public.

This education part is nearly ready for launch and TF is informed that it will officially kick off this summer.

“…work has started on the education component of the campaign, which helps to lay the ground and is designed to inform and raise consumer awareness and to engage with people around their love of content. The first activities are scheduled to start later this summer,” ” a Creative Content UK spokesperson tells TF.

The education part is aimed at steering people away from piracy sites by pointing out how convenient and accessible legal services are.

The associated alerts campaign has no hard start date yet but is also being finalized and will begin at a later date.

“The education campaign will show consumers how to easily access content – such as music, film, TV, books, games, magazines and sport – from authorized online sources which provide a superior user experience. So it makes sense for this to happen before the alerts program starts,” CCUK informs us.

Both programs are supported by the UK Government with millions in funding. The Government justifies this contribution with an expected increase in sales, and thus tax revenue.

The ultimate goal is to bring down local piracy rates and during the months following the rollout the file-sharing habits of UK Internet users will be frequently polled to measure the impact of the campaign.

“The aim of Creative Content UK is to encourage greater use of legal content services and to reduce online copyright infringement. There will be regular measurements of legal and illegal consumption of content throughout the duration of the initiative, which will be compared with levels before the launch of the program,” CCUK tells TF.

To what degree the PR campaign and alerts will convert pirates into paying customers has yet to be seen. In any case, it won’t go by unnoticed.

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

Errata Security: Software and the bogeyman

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

This post about the July 8 glitches (United, NYSE, WSJ failed) keeps popping up in my Twitter timeline. It’s complete nonsense.

What’s being argued here is that these glitches were due to some sort of “moral weakness”, like laziness, politics, or stupidity. It’s a facile and appealing argument, so scoundrels make it often — to great applause from the audience. But it’s not true.


Layers and legacies exist because working systems are precious. More than half of big software projects are abandoned, because getting new things to work is a hard task. We place so much value on legacy, working old systems, because the new replacements usually fail.

An example of this is the failed BIND10 project. BIND, the Berkeley Internet Name Daemon, is the oldest and most popular DNS server. It is the de facto reference standard for how DNS works, more so than the actual RFCs. Version 9 of the project is 15 years old. Therefore, the consortium that maintains it funded development for version 10. They completed the project, then effectively abandoned it, as it was worse in almost every way than the previous version.

The reason legacy works well is the enormous regression testing that goes on. In robust projects, every time there is a bug, engineers create one or more tests to exercise the bug, then add that to the automated testing, so that from now on, that bug (or something similar) can never happen again. You can look at a project like BIND9 and point to the thousands of bugs it’s had over the last decade. So many bugs might make you think it’s bad, but the opposite is true: it means that it’s got an enormous regression test system that stresses the system in peculiar ways. A new replacement will have just as many bugs — but no robust test that will find them.

A regression test is often more important than the actual code. If you want to build a replacement project, start with the old regression test. If you are a software company and want to steal your competitors intellectual property, ignore their source, steal their regression test instead.

People look at the problems of legacy and believe that we’d be better off without it, if only we had the will (the moral strength) to do the right thing and replace old system. That’s rarely true. Legacy is what’s reliable and working — it’s new stuff that ultimately is untrustworthy and likely to break. You should worship legacy, not fear it.

Technical debt

Almost all uses of the phrase “technical debt” call it a bad thing. The opposite is true. The word was coined to refer to a good thing.
The analogy is financial debt. That, too, is used incorrectly as a pejorative. People focus on the negatives, the tiny percentage of bankruptcies. They don’t focus on the positives, what that debt finances, like factories, roads, education, and so on. Our economic system is “capitalism”, where “capital” just means “debt”. The dollar bills in your wallet are a form of debt. When you contribute to society, they are indebted to you, so give you a marker, which you can then redeem by giving back to society in exchange something that you want, like a beer at your local bar.
The same is true of technical debt. It’s a good thing, a necessary thing. The reason we talk about technical debt isn’t so that we can get rid of it, but so that we can keep track of it and exploit it.
The Medium story claims:

A lot of new code is written very very fast, because that’s what the intersection of the current wave of software development (and the angel investor / venture capital model of funding) in Silicon Valley compels people to do.

This is nonsense. Every software project of every type has technical debt. Indeed, it’s open-source that overwhelmingly has the most technical debt. Most open-source software starts as somebody wanting to solve a small problem now. If people like the project, then it survives, and more code and features are added. If people don’t like it, the project disappears. By sheer evolution, that which survives has technical debt. Sure, some projects are better than others at going back and cleaning up their debt, but it’s something intrinsic to all software engineering.
Figuring out what user’s want is 90% of the problem, how the code works is only 10%. Most software fails because nobody wants to use it. Focusing on removing technical debt, investing many times more effort in creating the code, just magnifies the cost of failure when your code still doesn’t do what users want. The overwhelmingly correct development methodology is to incur lots of technical debt at the start of every project.
Technical debt isn’t about bugs. People like to equate the two, as both are seen as symptoms of moral weakness. Instead, technical debt is about the fact that fixing bugs (or adding features) is more expensive the more technical debt you have. If a section of the code is bug-free, and unlikely to be extended to the future, then there will be no payback for cleaning up the technical debt. On the other hand, if you are constantly struggling with a core piece of code, making lots of changes to it, then you should refactor it, cleaning up the technical debt so that you can make changes to it.
In summary, technical debt is not some sort of weakness in code that needs to be fought, but merely an aspect of code that needs to be managed.


More and more, software ends up interacting with other software. This causes unexpected things to happen.
That’s true, but the alternative is worse. As a software engineer building a system, you can either link together existing bits of code, or try to “reinvent the wheel” and write those bits yourself. Reinventing is sometimes good, because you get something tailored for your purpose without all the unnecessary complexity. But more often you experience the rewriting problem I describe above: your new code is untested and buggy, as opposed to the well-tested, robust, albeit complex module that you avoided.
The reality of complexity is that we demand it of software. We all want Internet-connected lightbulbs in our homes that we can turn on/off with a smartphone app while vacationing in Mongolia. This demands a certain level of complexity. We like such complexity — arguing that we should get rid of it and go back to a simpler time of banging rocks together is unacceptable.
When you look at why glitches at United, NYSE, and WSJ happen, it because once they’ve got a nice robust system working, they can’t resist adding more features to it. It’s like bridges. Over decades, bridge builders get more creative and less conservative. Then a bridge fails, because builders were to aggressive, and the entire industry moves back into becoming more conservative, overbuilding bridges, and being less creative about new designs. It’s been like that for millennia. It’s a good thing, have you even seen the new bridges lately? Sure, it has a long term cost, but the thing is, this approach also has benefits that more than make up for the costs. Yes, NYSE will go down for a few hours every couple years because of a bug they’ve introduced into their system, but the new features are worth it.
By the way, I want to focus on the author’s quote:

Getting rid of errors in code (or debugging) is a beast of a job

There are two types of software engineers. One type avoids debugging, finding it an unpleasant aspect of their job. The other kind thinks debugging is their job — that writing code is just that brief interlude before you start debugging. The first kind often gives up on bugs, finding them to be unsolveable. The second type quickly finds every bug they encountered, even the most finicky kind. Every large organization is split between these two camps: those busy writing code causing bugs, and the other camp fixing them. You can tell which camp the author of this Medium story falls into. As you can tell, I have enormous disrespect for such people.

“Lack of interest in fixing the actual problem”

The NYSE already agrees that uptime and reliability is the problem, above all others, that they have to solve. If they have a failure, it doesn’t mean they aren’t focused on failures as the problem.
But in truth, it’s not as big a problem as they think. The stock market doesn’t actually need to be that robust. It’s more likely to “fail” for other reasons. For example, every time a former President dies (as in the case of Ford, Nixon, and Reagan), the markets close for a day in mourning. Likewise, wild market swings caused by economic conditions will automatically shut down the market, as they did in China recently.
Insisting that code be perfect is absurd, and impossible. Instead, the only level of perfection the NYSE needs is so that glitches in code shut down the market less often than dead presidents or economic crashes.
The same is true of United Airlines. Sure, a glitch grounded their planes, but weather and strikes are a bigger problem. If you think grounded airplanes is such an unthinkable event, then the first thing you need to do is ban all unions. I’m not sure I disagree with you, since it seems every flight I’ve had through Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris has been delayed by a strike (seriously, what is wrong with the French?). But that’s the sort of thing you are effectively demanding.
The only people who think that reliability and uptime are “the problem” that needs to be fixed are fascists. They made trains “run on time” by imposing huge taxes on the people to overbuild the train system, then putting guns to the heads of the conductors, making them indentured servants. The reality is that “glitches” are not “the problem” — making systems people want to use is the problem. Nobody likes it when software fails, of course, but that’s like saying nobody likes losing money when playing poker. It’s a risk vs. reward, we can make software more reliable but at such a huge cost that it would, overall, make software less desirable.


Security and reliability are tradeoffs. Problems happen not because engineers are morally weak (political, stupid, lazy), but because small gains in security/reliability would require enormous sacrifices in other areas, such as features, cost, performance, and usability. But “tradeoffs” are a complex answer, requiring people to thinki. “Moral weakness” is a much easier, and more attractive answer that doesn’t require much thought, since everyone is convinced everyone else (but them) is morally weak. This is why so many people in my Twitter timeline keep mentioning that stupid Medium article.

TorrentFreak: Researcher Receives Copyright Threat After Exposing Security Hole

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

imperothreatLast month researcher Zammis Clark (known online as ‘Slipstream’) discovered a security flaw in Impero Education Pro (IEP), a not insignificant find given the software’s application.

IEP is widely used in UK schools to monitor and restrict students’ Internet activities. According to Slipstream, the flaw had the potential to expose the personal details of thousands of users’ to hackers.

Early last month the researcher announced his find on Twitter while noting that it would allow for remote code execution on all Windows clients. Within the tweet he posted a link to his proof-of-concept code.


“[Impero] had a booth at BETT back in January. They gave out donuts. Those were nice,” Slipstream wrote

“Unfortunately, when I asked about their security, nobody answered me. Some reversing later, looks like Impero is completely pwned amirite.”

While Slipstream ultimately advised against using Impero’s product, he says he didn’t immediately inform the company of the vulnerability.

“Not being a customer, I wouldn’t have known where to send it, or whether they’d even reply to me,” the researcher told TF. “And, given the severity of the issue, I figured that full disclosure would cause some sort of fix pretty quickly.”

In fact, that prediction proved correct, with Impero issuing a temporary security patch to fix the flaw.

“We immediately released a hot fix, as a short-term measure, to address the issue and since then we have been working closely with our customers and penetration testers to develop a solid long-term solution,” the company said.

“All schools will have the new version, including the long-term fix, installed in time for the new school term.”

However, Slipstream claims the patch wasn’t effective.

“Of course, their fix turned out to be inadequate. After speaking to Impero users on a forum who advised me to email Impero support, I did just that, responsibly disclosing to them exactly how their fix was inadequate and that I had an updated PoC that worked against it,” he told us.

At this point it appears that relations between Slipstream and Impero had already taken a turn for the worse. After disclosing the issues with the patch almost a week ago, this week he received a legal threat from the company.

“In breach of the license terms, you have modified the software without our client’s authority, you have decompiled the software for purposes otherwise than to achieve interoperability and you have published confidential information about our client’s software,” Impero’s legal team state.

“By publicising the encryption key on the internet and on social media and other confidential information, you have enabled anyone to breach the security of our client’s software program and write destructive files to disrupt numerous software systems throughout the UK.”


Impero’s lawyers say that Slipstream’s actions have caused “direct loss and damage” in addition to “reputational damage” and “potential damage” to numerous IT systems used by schools throughout the UK.

“The loss and damage to our clients caused by your activities is significant and will in any legal action taken in the civil courts be the subject of applications to the court for restraining orders to restrict you from further copyright infringement and breach of confidence as well as court orders for monetary compensation,” the letter adds.

After advising Slipstream to seek legal advice and setting a deadline of July 17, Impero’s lawyers suggest that the damage to their clients could be mitigated if the Github posting and all associated Tweets are taken down. That has not yet happened.

Slipstream is disappointed by the threats and informs TF that taking action against researchers like himself could even prove counter-productive.

“Legal threats here would just be ‘shooting the messenger’ so to speak, and would discourage security researchers from actively reporting any issues,” he explains.

“Such legal threats to security researchers would certainly not prevent any malicious individuals from finding issues themselves, and using them for malicious purposes.”

Indeed, this last point is particularly relevant. Slipstream says that he knows someone who has found two other security issues in Impero’s software. Whether they will be tempted to speak to the company considering its aggressive legal response will remain to be seen.

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

Raspberry Pi: Astro Pi: Mission Update 4

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


Just over a week ago now we closed the Secondary School phase of the Astro Pi competition after a one week extension to the deadline. Students from all over the UK have uploaded their code hoping that British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake win run it on the ISS later this year!

Last week folks from the leading UK Space companies, the UK Space Agency and ESERO UK met with us at Pi Towers in Cambridge to do the judging. We used the actual flight Astro Pi units to test run the submitted code. You can see one of them on the table in the picture below:

The standard of entries was incredibly high and we were blown away by how clever some of them were!

Doug Liddle of SSTL said:

“We are delighted that the competition has reached so many school children and we hope that this inspires them to continue coding and look to Space for great career opportunities”

British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake - photo provided by UK Space Agency under CC BY-ND

British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake – photo provided by UK Space Agency under CC BY-ND

Jeremy Curtis, Head of Education at the UK Space Agency, said:

“We’re incredibly impressed with the exciting and innovative Astro Pi proposals we’ve received and look forward to seeing them in action aboard the International Space Station.

Not only will these students be learning incredibly useful coding skills, but will get the chance to translate those skills into real experiments that will take place in the unique environment of space.”

When Tim Peake flies to the ISS in December he will have the two Astro Pis in his personal cargo allowance. He’ll also have 10 especially prepared SD cards which will contain the winning applications. Time is booked into his operations schedule to deploy the Astro Pis and set the code running and afterwards he will recover any output files created. These will then be returned to their respective owners and made available online for everyone to see.

Code was received for all secondary school key stages and we even have several from key stage 2 primary schools. These were judged along with the key stage 3 entries. So without further adieu here comes a breakdown of who won and what their code does:

Each of these programs have been assigned an operational code name that will be used when talking about them over the space to ground radio. These are essentially arbitrary so don’t read into them too much!

Ops name: FLAGS

  • School: Thirsk School
  • Team name: Space-Byrds
  • Key stage: 3
  • Teacher: Dan Aldred
  • The judges had a lot of fun with this. Their program uses telemetry data provided by NORAD along with the Real Time Clock on the Astro Pi to computationally predict the location of the ISS (so it doesn’t need to be online). It then works out what country that location is within and shows its flag on the LED matrix along with a short phrase in the local language.


  • School: Cottenham Village College
  • Team name: Kieran Wand
  • Key stage: 3
  • Teacher: Christopher Butcher
  • Kieran’s program is an environmental system monitor and could be used to cross check the ISS’s own life support system. It continually measures the temperature, pressure and humidity and displays these in a cycling split-screen heads up display. It has the ability to raise alarms if these measurements move outside of acceptable parameters. We were especially impressed that code had been written to compensate for thermal transfer between the Pi CPU and Astro Pi sensors.

Andy Powell of the Knowledge Transfer Network said:

“All of the judges were impressed by the quality of work and the effort that had gone into the winning KS3 projects and they produced useful, well thought through and entertaining results”

Ops name: TREES

  • School: Westminster School
  • Team name: EnviroPi
  • Key stage: 4 (and equivalent)
  • Teacher: Sam Page
  • This entry will be run in the cupola module of the ISS with the Astro Pi NoIR camera pointing out of the window. The aim is to take pictures of the ground and to later analyse them using false colour image processing. This will produce a Normalised Differentiated Vegetation Index (NDVI) for each image which is a measure of plant health. They have one piece of code which will run on the ISS to capture the images and another that will run on the ground after the mission to post process and analyse the images captured. They even tested their code by going up in a light aircraft to take pictures of the ground!


  • School: Lincoln UTC
  • Team name: Team Terminal
  • Key stage: 4 (and equivalent)
  • Teacher: Mark Hall
  • These students have made a whole suite of various reaction games complete with a nice little menu system to let the user choose. The games also record your response times with the eventual goal to investigate how crew reaction time changes over the course of a long term space flight. This entry caused all work to cease during the judging for about half an hour!

Lincoln UTC have also won the prize for the best overall submission in the Secondary School completion. This earns them a photograph of their school taken from space by an Airbus or SSTL satellite. Go and make a giant space invader please!


  • School: Magdalen College School
  • Team name: Arthur, Alexander and Kiran
  • Key stage: 5 (and equivalent)
  • Teacher: Dr Jesse Petersen
  • This team have successfully made a radiation detector using the Raspberry Pi camera module, the possibility of which was hinted at during our Astro Pi animation video from a few months ago. The camera lens is blanked off to prevent light from getting in but this still allows high energy space radiation to get through. Due to the design of the camera the sensor sees the impacts of these particles as tiny specks of light. The code then uses OpenCV to measure the intensity of these specks and produces an overall measurement of the level of radiation happening.

What blew us away was that they had taken their Astro Pi and camera module along to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and fired a neutron cannon at it to test it was working!!!

The code can even compensate for dead pixels in the camera sensor. I am wondering if they killed some pixels with the neutron cannon and then had to add that code out of necessity? Brilliant.

These winning programs will be joined on the ISS by the winners of the Primary School Competition which closed in April:


  • School: Cumnor House Girl’s School
  • Team name: Hannah Belshaw
  • Key stage: 2
  • Teacher: Peter Kelly
  • Hannah’s entry is to log data from the Astro Pi sensors but to visualise it later using structures in a Minecraft world. So columns of blocks are used to represent environmental measurements and a giant blocky model of the ISS itself (that moves) is used to represent movement and orientation. The code was written, under Hannah’s guidance, by Martin O’Hanlon who runs Stuff About Code. The data logging program that will run on the ISS produces a CSV file that can be consumed later by the visualisation code to play back what happened when Tim Peak was running it in space. The code is already online here.


  • School: Cranmere Primary School
  • Team name: Cranmere Code Club
  • Key stage: 2
  • Teacher: Richard Hayler
  • Although they were entitled to have their entry coded by us at Raspberry Pi the kids of the Cranmere Code Club are collectively writing their program themselves. The aim is to try and detect the presence of a crew member by monitoring the environmental sensors of the Astro Pi. Particularly humidity. If a fluctuation is detected it will scroll a message asking if someone is there. They even made a Lego replica of the Astro Pi flight case for their testing!

Obviously the main winning prize is to have your code flown and run on the ISS. However the UK Space companies also offered a number of thematic prizes which were awarded independently of those that have been chosen to fly. Some cross over with the other winners was expected here.

  • Space Sensors
    Hannah Belshaw, from Cumnor House Girl’s School with her idea for Minecraft data visualisation.
  • Space Measurements
    Kieran Wand from Cottenham Village College for his ISS environment monitoring system.
  • Imaging and Remote Sensing
    The EnviroPi team from Westminster School with their experiment to measure plant health from space using NDVI images.
  • Space Radiation
    Magdalen College, Oxford with their Space Radiation Detector.
  • Data Fusion
    Nicole Ashworth, from Reading, for her weather reporting system; comparing historical weather data from the UK with the environment on the ISS.
  • Coding Excellence
    Sarah and Charlie Maclean for their multiplayer Labyrinth game.

Pat Norris of CGI said:

“It has been great to see so many schools getting involved in coding and we hope that this competition has inspired the next generation to take up coding, space systems or any of the many other opportunities the UK space sector offers. We were particularly impressed by the way Charlie structured his code, added explanatory comments and used best practice in developing the functionality”

We’re aiming to have all the code that was submitted to the competition on one of the ten SD cards that will fly. So your code will still fly even if it won’t be scheduled to be run in space. The hope is that, during periods of downtime, Tim may have a look through some of the other entries and run them manually. But this depends on a lot of factors outside of our control and so we can’t promise anything.

But wait, there’s more?

There is still opportunity for all schools to get involved with Astro Pi!

There will be an on-orbit activity during the mission (probably in January or February) that you can all do at the same time as Tim. After the competition winning programs have all finished the Astro Pi will enter a phase of flight data recording. Just like the black box on an aircraft.

This will make the Astro Pi continually record everything from all its sensors and save the data into a file that you can get! If you set your Astro Pi up in the same way (the software will be provided by us) then you can compare his measurements with yours taken on the ground.

There is then a lot of educational value in looking at the differences and understanding why they occur. For instance you could look at the accelerometer data to find out when ISS reboosts occurred or study the magnetometer data to find out how the earth’s magnetic field changes as they orbit the earth. A number of free educational resources will be provided that will help you to leverage the value of this exercise.

The general public can also get involved when the Sense HAT goes on general sale in a few weeks time.

Libby Jackson of the UK Space Agency said:

“Although the competition is over, the really exciting part of the project is just beginning. All of the winning entries will get see their code run in space and thousands more can take part in real life space experiments through the Flight Data phase”


The post Astro Pi: Mission Update 4 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

TorrentFreak: Bogus “Copyright Trademark” Complaint Fails to Censor the BBC

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

censorshipGoogle receives millions of requests every week to have links delisted from its search results, largely following claims from third parties that the referenced content infringes their rights.

While it’s difficult to say what proportion of these claims are erroneous or duplicate, it’s likely to run into thousands per month. Other claims, like the one we’re highlighting today, underline why we absolutely need Google’s Transparency Report and the DMCA notice archive maintained by Chilling Effects.

The episode began on July 1, 2015 when an individual contacted Google with a complaint about a page hosted by the BBC. Found here, the page carries a news report from 2009 which reveals how a man called Kevin Collinson with two failed disability scooter businesses behind him was allegedly (and potentially illegally) running a third.

The article is a typical “rogue trader” affair, with tales of aggressive sales techniques, broken promises, faulty goods, out-of-pocket customers and companies that dissolve only to reappear debt-free shortly after. Unpleasant to say the least.

So what prompted the complaint to Google that was subsequently published on Chilling Effects? Well, it was sent to the search giant by a gentleman calling himself (you guessed it) Kevin Collinson. Nevertheless, the important thing is this – has the BBC infringed his rights? Collinson thinks so.

The notice sent to Google by Collinson


As highlighted by the image above, when asked for the source of the infringed material, Kevin Collinson links to a page on his domain It contains the image below which apparently proves that Collinson owns a “copyright name trademark” to his own name, whatever one of those might be.


Reading between the lines, Collinson seems to suggest that since he has a trademark on his name (searches in UK databases draw a blank incidentally), outlets such as the BBC aren’t allowed to report news containing his name. Complete nonsense of course, and Google hasn’t removed the page either.

That said, under UK law people are indeed allowed to trademark their names.

Perhaps surprisingly, trademark UK00002572177 (EU009734096) is registered to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and protects him in the areas of public speaking, news reporting, journalism, publication of texts, education and entertainment services.

Professor Stephen Hawking also has a couple of trademarks protecting his name. Coincidentally (and possibly of interest to Mr Collinson) one of those covers mobility scooters and wheelchairs.

KEVIN JOSEPH COLLINSON did not respond to TorrentFreak’s request for comment.

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

Backblaze Blog | The Life of a Cloud Backup Company: What You Would Do With a Storage Pod

This post was syndicated from: Backblaze Blog | The Life of a Cloud Backup Company and was written by: Andy Klein. Original post: at Backblaze Blog | The Life of a Cloud Backup Company


A few weeks ago, we held a contest offering a free Storage Pod chassis as a prize to people who came up with creative ways to use/reuse a Backblaze Storage Pod chassis. The response was outstanding! We reviewed all the submissions and selected 20 we thought the most deserving – it was hard work. Here are some of the winning entries with all the winners listed at the end.

Storage Pods in education

Over the years, students have built Storage Pods to store data for research projects and similar data intensive activities. Here are a couple of submissions where the students most likely will not be using the Storage Pods to store data – and that’s just fine with us.

    “I have three kids ages 9, 7 and 5. What would we do with these? They would immediately be incorporated into their ongoing quasi-engineering to build various things out of parts of all kinds, both indoors and outdoors, as they continue to develop their imagination, creativity and engineering ability.”

    “We are building a Makerspace and Tinkering lab at our SF school and are trying to use as much up-cycled and repurposed material as possible. Our students would love to think of creative and innovative uses for the pods in their new spaces.”

A second career for the Storage Pods

The Storage Pods being retired have worked 24/7 for the last six years. That’s equivalent to working 40 hours a week for 26 years. While these Storage Pod chassis are technically in retirement, some of them want to continue to work. Several of the contest winners suggested excellent second careers.

    Magician’s Assistant – “I am a magician. The storage pods would be easily convertible into a mini sword box, where I could put something inside and stick swords though the item, then open it up and see the item is still in one piece with no holes.”

    Roadie – “I would use it for storage for all my musical equipment and I will be able to route cables and ports through the holes so that way I can make it a one stop shop for all my outboard gear for recording.”

    Senior Roadie – A sturdy box to put cables and other material for guitar gigs and then place the box under my 2×12 guitar cabinet to elevate it. A metal box is sturdy as well as has a good connection to the ground as it’s important that the cab rests on a sturdy environment so the cab won’t move around and has a good connection so the low-end guitar sound is propagated through the floor.

    Skydiving Assistant – I would make it in to a skydiving gear box including a monitor to playback the action after each jump. So many skydivers are geeky enough that they would immediately recognize and be envious of this unique and awesome piece of history.


Courtesy of Angel

A leisurely Storage Pod life

A full time second career may not be what every retiring Storage Pod wants. Here are some suggestions from our contest winners that would let Storage Pods leisurely pass the time.

    Popcorn Dispenser – Design a Storage Pod to “distribute popcorn to 3 cups at once.”

    Boombox – “A sweet boombox to turn my famous server room parties up to 11.”

    Bookshelf – Repurpose the Storage Pod into a little free library in front of my historic New Orleans home. Use solar power to charge batteries to illuminate it at night.

Fish and zombies

Of course there are some Storage Pods looking for something a little different in their retirement. Here are a couple of suggestions that have an interesting twist…

    A wagon – Construct a wagon from a Storage Pod so “I can take my pet fish, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, out for walks. She always complains we never take her anywhere.”

    A doll house – Build a doll house out of a Storage Pod so it can be used as safe place for dolls during a zombie apocalypse. Playful, yet practical.


Courtesy of Kirk (left) and Bret (right)

What’s next?

Over the next few days, we’ll match each Storage Pod chassis to their appropriate retirement opportunity. Each Pod is different, so this could take a while. Then, we’ll ship out the Storage Pods to their new owners. That will be a happy yet sad day here at Backblaze.

The Winners

The people below have been contacted and we will be shipping out their Storage Pods shortly.

    Wayne, Kent, Frank, Nicholas, Tristan, Bret, Nathan, Paul, Jorge, Yon, Franz, Angel, Kirk, and Alan.

The following people are winners, but we’ve been unable to reach them. If your name is below and you’re interested in receiving a Storage Pod chassis, contact us at (andy at and let us know. If we don’t hear from you by July 15th, we’ll select another winner.

    Nepal, Don, Samantha, Michael, Alan, Gaëtan, and Marius.

No losers

If you didn’t win a Storage Pod this time, don’t fret there will be more Storage Pod chassis coming available over the next few months. We’ll post updates to our Facebook page as they become available and let you know how you can scoop one up!

Thanks to everyone that sent in a submission, we appreciate each of your very creative and entertaining ideas.

The post What You Would Do With a Storage Pod appeared first on Backblaze Blog | The Life of a Cloud Backup Company.

lcamtuf's blog: Poland vs the United States: immigration

This post was syndicated from: lcamtuf's blog and was written by: Michal Zalewski. Original post: at lcamtuf's blog

This is the eleventh article in a short series about Poland, Europe, and the United States. To explore the entire series, start here.

There are quite a few corners of the world where the ratio of immigrants to native-born citizens is remarkably high. Many of these places are small or rapidly growing countries – say, Monaco or Qatar. Some others, including several European states, just happen to be on the receiving end of transient, regional demographic shifts; for example, in the past decade, over 500,000 people moved from Poland to the UK. But on the list of foreigner-friendly destinations, the US deserves a special spot: it is an enduring home to by far the largest, most diverse, and quite possibly best-assimilated migrant population in the world.

The inner workings of the American immigration system are a fascinating mess – a tangle of complex regulation, of multiple overlapping bureaucracies, and of quite a few unique social norms. The bureaucratic machine itself is ruthlessly efficient, issuing several million non-tourist visas and processing over 700,000 naturalization applications every year. But the system is also marred by puzzling dysfunction: for example, it allows highly skilled foreign students to attend US universities, sometimes granting them scholarships – only to show many of them the door the day they graduate. It runs a restrictive H-1B visa program that ties foreign workers to their petitioning employers, preventing them from seeking better wages – thus artificially depressing the salaries of some citizen and permanent resident employees who now have to compete with H-1B captives. It also neglects the countless illegal immigrants who, with the tacit approval of legislators and business owners, prop up many facets of the economy – but are denied the ability to join the society even after decades of staying out of trouble and doing honest work.

Despite being fairly picky about the people it admits into its borders, in many ways, the United States is still an exceptionally welcoming country: very few other developed nations unconditionally bestow citizenship onto all children born on their soil, run immigration lotteries, or allow newly-naturalized citizens to invite their parents, siblings, and adult children over, no questions asked. At the same time, the US immigration system has a shameful history of giving credence to populist fears about alien cultures – and of implementing exclusionary policies that, at one time or another, targeted anyone from the Irish, to Poles, to Arabs, to people from many parts of Asia or Africa. Some pundits still find this sort of scaremongering fashionable, now seeing Mexico as the new threat to the national identity and to the American way of life. The claim made very little sense 15 years ago – and makes even less of it today, as the migration from the region has dropped precipitously and has been eclipsed by the inflow from other parts of the world.

The contradictions, the dysfunction, and the occasional prejudice aside, what always struck me about the United States is that immigration is simply a part of the nation’s identity; the principle of welcoming people from all over the world and giving them a fair chance is an axiom that is seldom questioned in any serious way. When surveyed, around 80% Americans can identify their own foreign ancestry – and they often do this with enthusiasm and pride. Europe is very different, with national identity being a more binary affair; I always felt that over there, accepting foreigners is seen as a humanitarian duty, not an act of nation-building – and that this attitude makes it harder for the newcomers to truly integrate into the society.

In the US, as a consequence of treating contemporary immigrants as equals, many newcomers face a strong social pressure to make it on their own, to accept American values, and to adopt the American way of life; it is a powerful, implicit social contract that very few dare to willingly renege on. In contrast to this, post-war Europe approaches the matter differently, seeing greater moral value in letting the immigrants preserve their cultural identity and customs, with the state stepping in to help them jumpstart their new lives through a variety of education programs and financial benefits. It is a noble concept, although I’m not sure if the compassionate European approach always worked better than the more ruthless and pragmatic American method: in France and in the United Kingdom, massive migrant populations have been condemned to a life of exclusion and hopelessness, giving rise to social unrest and – in response – to powerful anti-immigrant sentiments and policies. I think this hasn’t happened to nearly the same extent in the US, perhaps simply because the social contract is structured in a different way – but then, I know eminently reasonable folks who would disagree.

As for my own country of origin, it occupies an interesting spot. Historically a cosmopolitan nation, Poland has lost much of its foreign population and ethnic minorities to the horrors of World War II and to the policies implemented within the Soviet Bloc – eventually becoming one of the most culturally and ethnically homogeneous nations on the continent. Today, migrants comprise less than 1% of its populace, and most of them come from the neighboring, culturally similar Slavic states. Various flavors of xenophobia run deep in the society, playing right into the recent pan-European anti-immigration sentiments. As I’m writing this, Poland is fighting the European Commission tooth and nail not to take three thousand asylum seekers from Syria; many politicians and pundits want to first make sure that all the refugees are of Christian faith.

For the next article in the series, click here.

TorrentFreak: Police Let Seized ‘Pirate’ Domains Expire, Some Up For Sale

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

cityoflondonpoliceFor the past several years the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has been at the forefront of Internet-focused anti-piracy activity in the UK. The government-funded unit has been responsible for several high-profile operations and has been praised by a broad range of entertainment industry companies.

After carrying out raids against the operators of dozens of sites, PIPCU likes to take control of their domains. They do this for two key reasons – one, so that the sites can no longer operate as they did before and two, so they can be used to ‘educate’ former users of the downed sites.

That ‘education’ takes place when visitors to the now-seized ‘pirate’ domains are confronted not with a torrent, proxy, streaming or links site, but a banner published by PIPCU themselves. It’s aim is to send a message that sites offering copyrighted content will be dealt with under the law and to suggest that their visitors have been noted.

Earlier comments by PIPCU suggest that its banner has been seen millions of times by people who tried to access a ‘pirate’ site but subsequently discovered that it no longer exists. Last month in an announcement on Twitter, the unit revealed that since Jul 2015 it has diverted more than 11m ‘pirate’ site visits.

While the hits continue to mount for many domains PIPCU has seized (or gained control over by forcing site operators or registrars into compliance), it’s now likely that the group’s educational efforts will reach a smaller audience. Tests carried out by TorrentFreak reveal that PIPCU has somehow lost influence over several previously controlled domains.

Instead of the now-familiar PIPCU ‘busted’ banner, visitors to a range of defunct sites are now greeted with expired, advert-laden or ‘for sale’ domains., for example, currently displays ads/affiliate links. The same goes for, a domain that was linked to a high-profile PIPCU raid in 2014. Former proxies and, plus former streaming links site complete the batch.


Other domains don’t carry ads but are instead listed for sale. They include former anti-censorship tool site, proxy index and H33T proxy

The fate of the final set of domains is much less glamorous.,,,, and all appear to have simply expired.

Whether these domains will be snapped up at the first opportunity or left to die will largely hinge on whether people believe they can make a profit from them. Some have already changed hands and are now being touted for a couple of thousand dollars each but others are lying in limbo.

In any event, none of these domains seem destined to display PIPCU’s banner in the future. Whether or not the unit cares right now is up for debate, but if any of the domains spring back into life with a ‘pirate’ mission, that could soon change.

Unlike Megaupload’s old domains they don’t appear linked to obvious scams, so that’s probably the main thing.

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