Posts tagged ‘education’

TorrentFreak: UK ISPs and Copyright Holders Praise New Piracy Warning System

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

pirate-cardIn an effort to curb online piracy, earlier this year the movie and music industries reached agreement with the UK’s leading ISPs to send warnings to alleged copyright infringers.

As we previously revealed, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) will only apply to P2P file-sharing and will mainly focus on repeat infringers.

The monitoring will be carried out by a third-party company and unlike other warning systems there won’t be any punishments. The main purpose of the warnings is to alert and educate copyright infringers, in the hope they will move over to legal alternatives.

The program was officially announced today and received support from all parties involved, including the UK Government which is financially backing the measures. Without exception they all praise the warning system and the accompanying educational campaign.

“It is fantastic that the UK creative community and ISPs have come together in partnership to address online copyright infringement and raise awareness about the multitude of legitimate online services available to consumers. We are also grateful to the UK Government for backing this important new initiative,” the MPA’s Chris Marcich comments.

Thus far BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have agreed to send warnings to customers whose connections are being used for unauthorized file-sharing. Commenting on the collaboration, all four ISPs praised the educational nature of the VCAP program.

“BT is committed to supporting the creative industries by helping to tackle the problem of online piracy while ensuring the best possible experience for its customers. That’s why we’ve worked very hard with rights-holders and other leading ISPs to develop a voluntary programme based on consumer education and awareness which promotes the use of legal online content.” BT Consumer CEO John Petter says.

Lyssa McGowan, Director of Sky Broadband, is equally delighted by the anti-piracy agreement.

“As both a content creator and ISP, we understand how vital it is to tackle online copyright infringement in order to protect future investment in content. As a result, we’re pleased [...] to help make consumers aware of illegal downloading and point them towards the wide range of legitimate sites where they can enjoy great content,” she notes.

The comments from the other ISPs, copyright holder groups, and the Government, are all variations on the same theme. The parties praise the new awareness campaign and note that the main goal is to convert consumers to legal alternatives through education.

The question that remains, however, is how genuine all this positivity really is.

While the scheme is being overwhelmed with praise, the parties also announced that the first warning emails will not be sent out before next summer, possibly even later. These delays are a thorn in the side of both copyright holders and the Government, suggesting that negotiations behind the scenes are less uplifting.

This also shows in earlier comments from the Prime Minister’s IP advisor Mike Weatherly who said that it’s already time to think about VCAP’s potential failure. He suggested that the program needs to be followed by something more enforceable, including disconnections, fines and jail sentences.

More background and details on the planned piracy warning are available in our previous VCAP overview article.

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

Raspberry Pi: Ben’s Raspberry Pi US Tour – August 2014

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

Ben here: I’m on the education team at the Raspberry Pi Foundation in Cambridge, UK. As part of our outreach work I’m visiting the USA next month, where I could be visiting your school or hackspace.

Manchester Raspberry Jam

Standing in front of people talking about Raspberry Pi. I’ve been known to do it.

Calling all Pi-thusiasts! I’m visiting in August and if you’d like me to visit your hackspace, speak at your school or check out your community learning space, let me know and I’ll try to fit as many visits in to my trip as possible! Whether your group wants to find out how to get started with Raspberry Pi; or whether you’re seasoned Pi hackers, I’m looking forward to meeting you.

berlin

Once I gave a talk about Raspberry Pi community in a furniture showroom while on holiday in Berlin. True story.

I’ll be arriving in New York City on 4th August and travelling from there to Salt Lake City, visiting as many places as possible on the way in under three weeks. I depart on 21st August.

usa

I’ve set up a form where you can submit your request for a visit. Many US teachers have been asking us for a taste of the sort of things we do at Picademy, for example: now’s your chance. If you’re close to the blue line in the map above, submit the location of your suggested stop and I’ll get in touch if I can fit you into my trip. (If you’re not close to the blue line, get in touch anyway, and I’ll see what I can do.)

Stem-33

The Greater Manchester STEM Raspberry Jam team

I’m very conscious that I might have used words in this post or elsewhere which I know to be spelled incorrectly differently in U.S. English. I apologise.

TorrentFreak: 9% of French Internet Subscribers Accused of Piracy

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

warningFrance was one of the first countries in the world to consider implementing a “three strikes” style regime for dealing with online piracy. The system was implemented four years ago and ever since has been under scrutiny as both rightsholders and critics assess its efficacy.

Hadopi, the authority responsible for administering the scheme, has just published its latest report presenting its key figures to July 1 this year and they make interesting reading.

The cornerstone of the scheme is the warning system, with great importance attached to the first notices sent to subscribers. If the anti-infringement message can be successfully delivered at this stage, fewer follow-ups will be required.

Hadopi reveals that since it sent the very first warning notice in 2009, the agency has gone on to send 3,249,481 first warnings to Internet subscribers. It’s a sizable amount that represents almost 9% of all Internet users in France.

The big question, however, is how many took action to avoid receiving a second warning. According to Hadopi, during the same period it sent 333,723 second phase warnings by regular mail, a re-offending rate of just over 10%.

Those who receive first and second warnings but still don’t get the message go on to receive a third notice. Hadopi says that a total of 1,502 Internet subscribers received three warnings, just 0.45% of those who were sent a second.

The agency’s figures state that a large proportion of this group, 1,289 overall, had their cases examined by Hadopi’s committee. Of these, 116 cases went before a judge. Most received yet another warning.

Also of interest are the reactions of 31,379 subscribers who telephoned Hadopi after receiving an infringement notice.

According to the agency, 35% “spontaneously agreed” the accuracy of the facts set out in their warnings, with around 25% engaging or offering to take measures to avoid content being made available from their connections in the future. Reportedly less than 1% challenged the facts as laid out.

On the education front, over the past six months around 72,000 users have accessed an information video on the Hadopi website, while 49,000 sought information on what to do after receiving a warning.

The figures presented by Hadopi French, (pdf) clearly show a low re-offending rate, with an impressive gap between those receiving first and second warnings. Hadopi sees this as an indicator of the system’s success, although there is always the possibility that subscribers wised-up on security and safer methods of downloading after getting the first notice.

That being said, the agency counters this notion by citing figures from a small poll carried out among letter recipients which found that 73% of those who received a warning did not subsequently shift to another method of illegal downloading. However, that doesn’t mean they all jumped on the iTunes bandwagon either.

“Receiving a warning does not result in a massive shift towards legal offers,” Hadopi explains.

Overall, 23% of respondents who received a warning said they went on to use a legal service. That suggests that three quarters simply dropped off the media consumption radar altogether, which doesn’t sound like a realistic proposition.

Next year will see half a decade of graduated response in France. Will media sales have gone through the roof as a result? Time will tell, but it seems highly unlikely.

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

Raspberry Pi: Picademy 3. A report of some note: and how you can be at Picademy 4

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Clive Beale. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

On Monday and Tuesday this week we ran our third Picademy - two days of free teacher training (aka CPD – it really is free, and there aren’t any catches) - and it was better than ever.

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I told you it was fun! Picademy 3 cohort July 2014

We make Picademy available to attend for free: it’s part of our charitable mission. Teachers of all subjects – not just computing – who want to incorporate computing and electronics into their classroom, are given two days of what we think is some of the best CPD in the world. But don’t take our word for it – if you’re interested in applying for a place on the September course (you should), here’s what the Picademy 3 cohort had to say via Twitter:

Best two days of work based stuff EVER! Cannot recommend Picademy enough.

Picademy was amazing, superb CPD, networking, hands on projects, expert support when needed.

Thank you … for the best CPD, hospitality and the wonderful things we learnt.

Best goody bag ever! I feel like I’ve been to a party. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s session! I am buzzing from Picademy! Thank you to everyone for making it such an awesome experience.

Thanks … for an excellent #picademy. Great networking and workshops! Very inspiring!

I particularly liked the bit where Clive scooted around in a Little Tikes car shouting ‘Hodor!’ to himself.

All of these are completely not made up. Except one.

Lucky bags

Lots of the attendees arrived the night before and stayed in the same hotel, and it’s great to see the social side of Picademy. As well as encouraging collaboration and team work over the two days, it helps maintain the community and network of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators afterwards.

No night out would be complete without Sonic Pi leaflets

No night out would be complete without Sonic Pi leaflets

There’s always a great buzz in the Pi Towers classroom when the group first arrives and opens up their goody bags. (These bags have been certified by independent adjudicators Bag of Tricks Inc to be the best goody bags in the whole world.) But this time we had an ace up our sleeve (and B in our bonnet). Late on the previous Friday, Eben issued the command to replace the Raspberry Pi model Bs in the bags  with the as yet unreleased B+. There was much rejoicing! And this is why, one hour after the new model was announced, the good people of Picademy 3 were some of the first in the world to own and use the new model.

Lots of projects used the ever useful camera board

Lots of projects used the ever useful camera board

Day 1: filling brains with the good stuff

The first day is all about gaining experience and confidence. Workshops on Sonic Pi; physical computing; programming in Minecraft; and the Pi camera board show what can be achieved if you’re willing to have a go and to think differently, and this cohort did not disappoint. I overheard lots of comments like, “This would be perfect in the classroom…”, “The kids will love this…” and “YES! IT WORKS!” It’s an intensive but satisfying day. Teachers who had never used a Pi before were programming in Python, coding music and making LED traffic lights in Scratch. All of these new skills were preparation for the second day, or The Awesome Day of Messing About with Cool Stuff as we like to call it.

IMG_0231.resized

If it was my classroom they’d be sitting boy-girl-boy-girl. Alphabetically.

Dinner is really interesting. It’s a chance for the group to relax and chat, and to process and sort the vast amount of information that they’ve crammed into their heads during the day. So it’s an important part of the course, where ideas are shared and people start to talk about what they were going to make tomorrow. You could already see some of the projects taking shape. It’s an essential and productive hiatus, like letting meat rest after a blast in the oven or outgassing near the surface of the sea after a long dive. (I have just won a bet that I couldn’t mix cooking and diving metaphors in one sentence. Yes, Pulitzer Board: who’s laughing now?)

Day 2: TADOMAWCS

It's day 2 with Carrie Anne!

It’s day 2 with Carrie Anne!

On day 2 everyone split into groups, had a nice cup of tea, did a little happy dance of creativity and then made stuff. This is the favourite day for both the attendees and the education team. There’s no pressure to produce a specific product and everyone gets to work at their own pace and in their own comfort zone. The day is about building skills and confidence, and about sharing good practice.

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What I particularly enjoyed this week was watching and helping those teams that kept plugging away at problems, debugging software and troubleshooting hardware, until it worked (or nearly worked!) This problem solving, creativity and perseverance is at the heart of computing in the classroom and is what makes it special. We also had inspiring talks from Eben Upton, Lance Howarth and Rachel Rayns (Google them—it’s not as if they are called John Smith or nuffin’!)

Babbage being re-purposed. I actually saw Ben Nuttall with a pair of pliers up his bum at one point,.

Babbage being re-purposed. I actually saw Ben Nuttall with a pair of pliers up his bum at one point.

There were some fantastic projects. Twitter-enabled projects were well represented, perhaps because many of the group were keen social media users, and this type of project has a huge appeal to students. One team wanted to do some robotics, so we scavenged an old robot and they repurposed it using a Pibrella—cheap and cheerful but with huge learning potential. We’ll be getting in a variety of motor boards and roboty things for future Picademies. We like robots.

Creative mode

Creative mode

This cohort has already impressed us with their continued collaboration and engagement via Twitter, our forums and their blogs. We know that some of them have gone back to school and are already changing things for the better, for instance by running CPD events, writing resources and setting up their classrooms to teach computing effectively. Thanks to you all for coming, you have earned your Raspberry Pi Certified Educator badges!

Kelly receiving her RPCE badge from Eben. It was all downhill from here.

Kelly receiving her RPCE badge from Eben. It was all downhill from here.

Picademy 4 applications now open

So it was a fantastic couple of days again and although it’s tiring for the RasPi education team at the time we never get tired of doing it. The next Picademy is in September 2014  where you are guaranteed free, world class CPD; expert support; essential skills and practical ideas to take back to your classroom. And lots of fun. (We also guarantee that you will not get: encyclopaedic PowerPoint printouts; curly, mild cheddar butties; tedious talks; or role play (well, perhaps a tiny bit of the latter. It’s the CPD law.)

Picademy 4 will look favourably on applications from teachers in the South West of England. We’re very aware of regional accessibility to training and support, and so occasionally we will focus on specific regions. So if you are a teacher in the South West, we would love to have you here. This does not mean applications are open to teachers in the South West only! Please apply wherever you are.

I cannot believe that you are still here reading my brain-drool. Apply now – and good luck!

The Hacker Factor Blog: Dear Getty Images Legal Department

This post was syndicated from: The Hacker Factor Blog and was written by: The Hacker Factor Blog. Original post: at The Hacker Factor Blog

For the last few years, Getty Images has operated an aggressive anti-copyright infringement campaign. In 2011, they purchased PicScout to search the Internet for potential unlicensed uses of their pictures. Then they began sending out very scary-sounding takedown notices. These letters include a “cease and desist” paragraph as well as a bill for the unauthorized use.

I just received one of these letter. Here’s the 7-page (3.4 MB) letter: PDF. (The only thing I censored was the online access code for paying online.) They billed me $475 for a picture used on my blog. (If you log into their site, it’s $488 with tax.)

A number of news outlets as well as the blogosphere have begun reporting on these letters from Getty Images. For example:

  • International Business Times: “Getty Images Lawsuits: Enforcement Or Trolling? Fear Of Letters Dwindling, Stock-Photo Giant Hits Federal Courts”

  • The DG Group: “Image Copyright Infringement And Getty Images Scam Letter”
  • Extortion Letter Info: “Reporting on Getty Images & Stock Photo Settlement Demand Letters (Copyright Trolls, ‘Extortion’ Letters, ‘Shadown’ Letters)”
  • Women in Business: “Are You Being Set Up For Copyright Infringement? As Technology Becomes More Invasive Copyright Infringement Scams Flourish”
  • RyanHealy.com: “Getty Images Extortion Letter”
  • someguy72 @ Reddit: He states that he purchased the pictures legally from Getty and still received an infringement notice. His advice: if you purchase a picture from Getty, the “save your records FOREVER… they will come after you, years later and you might not have PROOF of PURCHASE, and then you will be screwed.”

As far as I can tell, this is an extortion racket. (I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a class-action lawsuit against Getty Images yet.) The basic premise is that they send out a threatening letter with a price tag. Some people will fear the strongly-worded letter and simply pay the amount. If you ignore it, then they send more letters with greater dollar amounts. If you call them up, the forums say that you can usually negotiate a lower amount. However, sometimes you may not actually owe anything at all.

Many people have reported that, if you just ignore it, then it goes away. However, Getty Images has sued a few people who ignored the letters. If you ignore it, then you place yourself at risk.

But here’s the thing… There are some situations where you can use the image without a license. It is in the Copyright law under the heading “Fair Use” (US Copyright Law Title 17 Section 107; in some countries, it’s called “Fair Dealing”). This is an exception from copyright enforcement. Basically, if you’re using the picture as art on your web site or to promote a product, then you are violating their copyright. (You should negotiate a lower rate.) However, if you use it for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, then you are allowed to use the picture.

For example, I have many blog entries where I forensically evaluate pictures. I do this to show techniques, criticize content, identify deceptive practices, etc. If Fair Use did not exist, then I would be unable to criticize or expose deception from media outlets. In effect, they would be censoring my freedom of speech by preventing me from directly addressing the subject.

Reply To Getty

The picture in question is one that is on an older blog entry: In The Flesh. This blog entry criticizes the media outlets Time and Salon for promoting misleading and hostile software. (It’s hostile because the demo software installs malware.) The software, False Flesh, claims to make people in any picture appear nude. The pictures in my blog entry are used to demonstrate some of the deceptive practices. Specifically, the pictures of nude women on the software’s web site did not come from their software.

I looked at the picture mentioned in Getty’s complaint and how it was being used in the blog entry. I really thought it was permitted under Copyright Fair Use. However, I’m not an attorney. So… I checked with an attorney about the Getty complaint and my use of the picture. I was actually surprised that he didn’t start his answer with “that depends…” (If you’ve every worked with an attorney, then you know any discussion about legality begins with them saying “that depends…”) Instead, he said outright “it’s clearly fair use.”

Personally, I’m offended that Getty Images made no attempt to look at the context in which the picture is used.

Rather than ignoring them, I sent them a letter:

Dr. Neal Krawetz
Hacker Factor
PO Box 270033
Fort Collins, CO
80527-0033

July 15, 2014

Legal Department
Getty Images
605 5th Ave S, Suite 400
Seattle, WA
98104

Dear Getty Images Legal Department,

I received your copyright infringement notification dated “7/10/2014 11:05:06 AM”, case number 371842247, on July 14, 2014. I have reviewed the image, the use of the picture on my web site, and discussed this situation with an attorney. It is my strong belief that I am clearly using the picture within the scope of Copyright Fair Use (Title 17 Section 107).

Specifically:

  • The blog entry, titled “In The Flesh”, criticizes the media outlets Time and Salon for promoting deceptive software. The software is called “False Flesh” and claims to turn any photo of a person into a nude. I point out that installing the False Flesh demo software will install malware.

  • The blog entry discloses research findings regarding the False Flesh software: there is no identified owner for the software and the sample pictures they use to demonstrate their software are not from their software. I specifically traced their sample images to pictures from sites such as Getty Images. I forensically evaluate the pictures and explicitly point out the misrepresentation created by these images on the False Flesh web site.
  • The picture is used on my web site to criticize the media reports by exposing fraud and misrepresentation associated with the product. It is also included as part of a demonstration for tracking and identifying potentially fraudulent products in general.
  • The blog entry reports on these findings to the public in order to educate people regarding the deceptive nature of False Flesh and the risks from using this software.
  • The image that you identified is not used is the blog entry to promote any products or services and is directly related to the comments, criticism, and research covered in the blog entry. The use is not commercial in nature. This goes toward the purpose and character, which is to identify fraud and misrepresentation in a product promoted by Time and Salon.
  • As described in the blog entry, I found sample images on the False Flesh web site and used TinEye and other forensic methods to identify the sources. This was used to prove that the False Flesh software did not generate any of their sample images.
  • I did not use the full-size version of this particular picture and it includes the Getty Images Image Bank watermark. The blog entry explicitly identifies that the source for the False Flesh picture was Getty Images and not False Flesh. I point out that False Flesh used the picture in a deceptive manner.
  • I believe that my use of this picture has no adverse effect on the potential market for the image.

I believe that this covers the Copyright Fair Use requirements for criticism, comment, teaching, research, and reporting.

Getty Images acknowledges Fair Use in their FAQ concerning license requirements:
http://company.gettyimages.com/license-compliance/faq/#are-there-limitations-on-a-copyright-owners-rights

Specifically, Getty Images calls out education and research. As a computer security and forensic researcher, I use this blog to describe tools and techniques, evaluate methodologies, and to identify deceptive practices. I believe that this specific blog entry, and my blog in general, clearly fit both of these areas.

As stated in this letter, the picture’s appearance on my blog is Fair Use and I have the right under copyright law to use the image without your consent. This letter serves as notice that any DMCA takedown or blocking notices to any third party would be in bad faith.

Sincerely,

/s/ Dr. Neal Krawetz

Chilling Effect

My blog in general reports on findings related to computer security and forensics. Many of these blog entries heavily focus on scams, fraud, and abuse from media outlets. Many of my blog entries (reports) have been repeated by news outlets, and some of my blog entries have had a direct effect on changing insecure and unethical practices. This includes a series of blog entries that exposed digital manipulation in World Press Photo’s annual contest (influencing changes in this year’s contest rules) and a paper on fundamental problems with credit card payment systems that lead to changes in the Visa security standards.

While this could be a wide-spread extortion racket, it could also be Getty’s way of testing the waters before going after some blog entries where I openly and explicitly criticize them for releasing digitally altered photos.

My primary concern is the chilling effect this could have. If I pay the extortion, then it opens me for more claims from Getty; I have previously criticized them for providing digitally altered photos and performed analysis to prove it. It also opens the way for similar claims from the Associated Press, Reuters, and every other media outlet that I have openly criticized. All of my blog entries that explicitly expose digital misrepresentation, report on media manipulation, and even those that disclose methods for evaluating content will be at risk.

In effect, bowing to this one threatening letter would force me to close my blog since I would no longer be allowed to freely write — report, comment, disclose research, and educate others — on topics related to media manipulation and digital photo analysis. I consider Getty’s attempt to censor my blog’s content to be an unacceptable attack on my freedom of speech.

TorrentFreak: Copyright Education Needed in Every School, Parliament Hears

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

The idea that the copyright wars can be won through education is nothing new, but it’s a notion that’s likely to gain more traction in the coming years.

Suing the hell out of file-sharers might currently be popular with trolls, but the mainstream entertainment companies are increasingly opting to “educate” consumers via emailed warnings instead.

However, getting into the hearts and minds of young people before they become budding adult pirates is also an option, some believe.

The likes of the RIAA and MPAA have been dabbling in this area for many years and just last year it was revealed that the group behind the U.S. “six-strikes” program had developed a curriculum targeted at kids from kindergarten through sixth grade.

Yesterday ideas along the same lines were put forward by UK authors during a debate in the House of Commons. Bemoaning the state of renumeration for writers and authors in the UK, Joanne Harris MBE, the author of the Oscar-winning movie Chocolat starring Johnny Depp, said that downloading literature from the Internet was not “sticking it to the man”.

If children could understand that not everyone is as lucky or rich as J.K. Rowling, and that “real” people are behind these works, progress might be made, Harris said.

“Authors and creators should go into schools. Let children see what an author is like, let them go out into the community and talk to people, let them understand that we have children, we have mortgages; we do not simply get showered with Hollywood money because we happened to write a little story about wizards one day,” Harris said.

Award-winning poet Wendy Cope OBE was in agreement, noting that a general failure to do anything effective against illegal downloading meant that educating children about copyright is the only solution left.

“There is a need of education, because so many people are so completely ignorant of the basic fact of copyright. It seems to me it would take five minutes to explain, once a year in assembly, that there is such a thing as the law of copyright,” Cope said.

“Assemblies in every school in the country that such a thing of copyright exists – so these people who tell me I have photocopied your poem and sent it to all my friends know that they are breaking the law.”

And herein lies a problem.

While Cope undoubtedly works very hard to produce her poetry, one might think that the sharing culture facilitated by today’s social media phenomenon would be a useful ally, not a foe, when it comes to getting her noticed by young people. But Cope was born in the 1940s and clearly still views photocopying (Xeroxing) as something to be concerned about, so there’s a bit of a disconnect here.

Also, when one compares Cope’s views with those of Paulo Coelho, one of the most widely read authors in the world, who loves BitTorrent and people pirating his books, it becomes clear that the failure of an author to gain an audience won’t be overcome by talking about copyright in a classroom once a year.

Finally, Cope’s idea of informing children that illegal downloading is the same as stealing sweets or candy presumes that children can not only tell the difference between a legal and illegal copy of her poems, but also between a purchased Paulo Coehlo book and a ‘pirated’ one – and all the shades of fair-use gray in between.

Whether copyright proponents and anti-piracy outfits will care about those subtle shades once they’re allowed inside a classroom is another matter entirely – especially if they only get five minutes.

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

TorrentFreak: ‘Failed’ Piracy Letters Should Escalate to Fines & Jail, MP Says

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

Proponents of the Digital Economy Act 2010 believed it had the solutions to deter consumer file-sharing, but four years on and the relevant measures remain dormant. This inactivity led to a new and recently announced solution, the so-called Voluntary Copyright Alerts Program.

VCAP is an agreement between the music and movie industries and several of the UK’s leading ISPs. The idea is that the entertainment companies monitor P2P networks (such as BitTorrent) and identify IP addresses connected to the illegal sharing of infringing content. That data is passed to the ISPs, the IP addresses are linked to customer accounts, and errant subscribers are sent a warning.

The idea behind VCAP is to educate the casual file-sharer about legal alternatives in the hope he will change his ways, but the softly-softly approach has its limitations. A reliable source close to the program told TorrentFreak that the focus of VCAP is the repeat infringer. However, after a customer receives four warnings he will receive no more.

On some level there appears to be some kind of acceptance that little can be done about hardcore file-sharers, an approach mirrored in the U.S. with its Copyright Alerts Scheme. But while there are suggestions that the worst-of-the-worst can simply do whatever they like under the UK program, consideration is already being given to what happens should VCAP fail following its 2015 introduction.

Aside from the Digital Economy Act sitting in the wings, Prime Minister David Cameron’s IP advisor believes that the carrot needs to be backed up by a stick. In a report published yesterday largely detailing the “Follow the Money” approach to dealing with pirate sites, Mike Weatherley MP says now is the time to think about VCAP’s potential failure.

“The Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) is welcomed and will be a good step forward once it is hopefully in operation in 2015, although it is primarily an education tool,” Weatherley says.

“However, we need to start thinking now what to do if these notices are ignored by infringers – will VCAP be followed by something more enforceable?”

Weatherley says that while the IP enforcement “stick” is a “last resort option”, being able to show “teeth” is important. Unsurprisingly, those measures involve hitting persistent pirates harder and harder each time they show defiance.

“It should be a graduated enforcement response,” Weatherley explains.

“Warnings and fines are obvious first steps, with internet access blocking and custodial sentencing for persistent and damaging infringers not to be ruled out in my
opinion.”

These suggestions aren’t new, but this is the second time in a matter of months that the Prime Minister’s closest advisor on IP matters has spoken publicly about the possibility of putting persistent file-sharers in jail.

Earlier this year we reported on comments Weatherley made in the House of Commons on the prison option. Although he never denied using those words, the MP did attempt to dismiss the tone of the ensuing debate as containing “misinformation”.

Not to say though, that jail will be immediately on the cards for pirates. Weatherley says that education has to come first, with an emphasis placed on informing consumers that “piracy and similar illegal activities are not in their best long-term interests and are not socially acceptable.” The second phase will see the onus placed on industry “to get their product right and attractive” to consumers.

“[The third stage] once we have won the ‘hearts and minds’ of consumers and provided suitable content, keeps the option of enforcement of copyright law on the table when all else has been exhausted,” the MP says.

Given Weatherley’s suggested plan for preparing now for VCAP’s failure, the ISPs involved in the scheme (BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media) must be considering the kind of road they’re being led down. While sending out warnings with no mitigation measures sounds reasonable enough today, if that transforms into a cash fine, disconnections and jail sentence model in future, the whole thing could turn into a PR disaster.

Update: Prime Minister David Cameron says he will “closely consider” Weatherley’s report.

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

Raspberry Pi: PyConUK Education Track for Teachers

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

The Raspberry Pi Education team have really hit the ground running over the past few months, creating resources for the new website, running teacher training courses, and attending conferences and events all over the world! We even employed a Minecraft expert in our efforts to reach more young people and teachers. For the first time this year, we get the opportunity to combine our teacher training efforts with a conference and even a Raspberry Jam thanks to our friends in the UK Python community, who run a volunteer-organised annual conference called PyconUK. This year it runs from the 19th-22nd September in Coventry with a special education track created just for teachers and young people!

PyConUK Education Track Logo

On the first day, Friday 19th, there will be a professional development day for educators. Teachers will have an opportunity to learn Python, collaborate with programmers to produce educational resources, network with other conference attendees and generally have fun exploring technology that will inspire students. The Raspberry Pi education team will be contributing along with other teaching colleagues and an international group of expert Python developers will be on hand to help teachers get the most out of the day. Teachers’ tickets cost only £47 for the whole four day conference including Saturday evening’s conference meal (they’re usually £150 or more) and thanks to some very generous sponsorship, the first twenty teachers who book also qualify for a £200 bursary to cover their school’s cost for a supply teacher on the Friday.

PyConUK 2012 Teacher Track

Recognise any of the people in this picture from PyConUK 2012?

On Saturday 20th, PyConUK opens its doors to up to 60 kids and accompanying adults for a day of inspiring adventures in code, something akin to a Raspberry Jam event. There will be Raspberry Pi, robots, workshops, games programming and lots of other fun stuff. Tickets cost £5 per child and accompanying adults get in for free. They’ll even provide you with lunch! Once again, the Raspberry Pi edu team will be there along with expert teachers and hordes of Python developers who’ll probably be just as excited and enthusiastic as the kids who attend.

Children having fun with RPi at PyConUK 2013

Children at PyConUK last year having fun with Raspberry Pi

If you would like to meet the team, learn more about Raspberry Pi in education and get hands on with computing then get your tickets here.

Raspberry Pi: Creating Resources on GitHub Guide from Picademy 2

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

This week started with the second run of Picademy – our free CPD course for teachers. Two days at Pi Towers learning interesting and engaging ways to use Raspberry Pi in the classroom, led by Carrie Anne and supported by our education team. Picademy went fantastically well! We’re holding the next one in July and we’ll be opening applications up for future events once we’ve set a date.

As part of my preparation for Picademy, I started to create a guide for the teachers to help them create learning resources the way we do – for their own use, and for them to submit to us for inclusion on the website. I gave a presentation explaining how we use GitHub (and how much I love GitHub) and explained our process of creating resources with markdown. I showed them how people report issues when they find an error, and how people can fix errors themselves. This was followed by a demonstration of GitHub for Education by Picademy delegate James Robinson who’s been using it to set work for his classes.

Following the event I proceeded to expand upon the notes I’d made on creating resources and published them for general consumption. We’re all working hard on some new material ourselves, including single exercises and full schemes of work – and we look forward to seeing some community contributions too. Whether it’s new or re-purposed, we’d love to see it.

Head along to GitHub to check out the guide – it’s at github.com/raspberrypilearning/creating-resources - and read up on how we write the learning resources on our website, how to use GitHub, how to report issues, how to request changes and how to submit to us. Using GitHub in this way is very easy – don’t be put off, just take a look at the guide and follow the instructions – you can do it all from GitHub’s web interface. Be sure to read the guidelines on style as well as the technical details.

Here are some photographs from Picademy #2:

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And a video of one of the team’s projects on day two:

Teachers: remember to keep an eye on the blog and twitter for the announcement of Picademy #4 applications.

Raspberry Pi: James Bond villain-style alarm clock for the deaf

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

A quick post today: I’m in a tearing hurry trying to get our display for today’s UK Technology Industry reception at Buckingham Palace ready, in the face a few awkwardnesses. We’ve got an entire education team and half an engineering team that’s off sick with something we’re calling the Raspberry Flu, and an SD card that corrupted when someone who will not be named yanked the power cable at an awkward moment. Frustrated weeping commenced about thirty minutes ago, but I think we’re going to get everything sorted in time.

Here is Kim Wall’s rather magnificent giant deaf alarm. It’s very feature-heavy, with a fire alert, an IRC interface, and the ability to hook up to other things around the house like the doorbell and phone. I’ve spent ages using my Google-fu to try to find out more information about it, but sadly all we’ve been able to come up with is this video, and the explanatory text next to it on YouTube:

Over at YouTube, Kim says:

Control is via the LCD and buttons, and also over the network via an IRC bot interface. Fire alerter and vibrating pad are FireAngel Wi-Safe2, which continues to operate if the clock fails.

The clock is also a GPS-based Stratum 1 network time server, and is able to maintain accurate time without a working network connection.

The clock will connect with other modules over the network for doorbell, telephone alerter, central heating control and various other features.

Power is supplied at 48V in a IEEE 802.3af style, but as the Raspberry Pi lacks POE breakout, the passive POE dongle is required.

We’d love to learn more about your setup, Kim; if you’re reading this, please drop us an email!

Raspberry Pi: Welcome Craig!

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

Eagle-eyed followers of all things Pi will have noticed that Craig Richardson, Minecraft savant (here’s his free book on teaching with Minecraft, which should be required reading for all teachers – and here are some recipe cards he’s produced to get your kids started) and all-round lovely chap, has been popping up a lot in photos of the office on Twitter recently. Craig’s been hanging out here a lot, not least because he started a full-time role with the education team here at Pi Towers yesterday.

Craig Richardson

When asked what his outside interests were for the purposes of this blog post, Craig had a think and said “Raspberry Pi and Minecraft”.

Craig will be working on resources, outreach, Picademy, and, says Carrie Anne, “all the Minecraft things”. Welcome to Pi Towers, Craig! We’re really pleased you’ve been able to join us.

Raspberry Pi: UNICEF Pi Project to Educate Syrian Children in Lebanon

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

Ben: here’s a guest post from one of our great community members, Alex Eames, who’s providing his Kickstarter-funded HDMIPi screens to a UNICEF education project in Lebanon.

At the end of December 2013 James Cranwell-Ward (@jcranwellward) a Technologist working for UNICEF Lebanon emailed us about HDMIPi. In case you don’t know, HDMIPi is a 9″ low cost, High Definition (1280×800) HDMI screen for the Raspberry Pi, which was crowdfunded on KickStarter in November 2013.

James was only going to be in the UK for another couple of days and wanted to talk to us about our screen. It looked like exactly what he needed for a large Raspberry Pi based project to help educate displaced Syrian children in Lebanon.

The idea is to have a low-cost computer, containing educational materials, such as Khan Academy Lite, to help get these Syrian children, whose lives have been so drastically disrupted, back into learning.

James is a technologist in the Innovation section of UNICEF, where they use private sector knowledge to assist UNICEF with their projects. He had a couple of Raspberry Pis on his desk and one day his boss walked by and asked about them. James gave a demo and a plan was hatched. But they needed an inexpensive screen. That’s where HDMIPi came in, freshly out of crowd-funding.

At the time, we had our two KickStarter prototypes and just one other working screen, which we gave him (uncased) when Dave Mellor (@Cyntech1) went to meet him in London. He took it back off to Beiruit and made an initial prototype, which he blogged about in February.

Fast forward a couple of months and James is getting ready for a large Raspberry Jam to kick off the Raspberry Pi for Learning (Pi4L) project. He needed 50 units, but we’re not quite into production yet because we’re implementing several new Pi-specific features on the driver board. So our supplier found us a similar but different (more expensive 10″) option that could meet the interim need. But could we handle the case too? Eek!

Dave scooted off up the M1 to the Pirates of Pimoroni in Sheffield and spent a day with Paul, Jon and Rory cooking up this lovely design, with integral stand and the Pi hangs on the back…

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HDMIPi UNICEF edition prototype 2

Jon then worked double-time at the weekend to get these laser cut (big thanks and much kudos). Paul took a couple with him to the San Francisco Maker Faire last week. He said they generated a lot of interest.

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Nice colours

Over the summer, the plan is that the Pi4L project will go into refugee camps for a pilot test. I’ll let James describe it…

What I am most excited about going forward is a new project which will see the launch of an e-learning initiative in refugee camps, which will be piloted for 3 months this summer. It’s untapped ground and it will be really interesting to see what e-learning can do in a context where schools are drastically overrun and there are just not enough school places for children.

The e-learning programme consists of 3-4 courses delivered on a new cheap computer called a Raspberry Pi. There will be basic literacy, numeracy and science, content based on Khan Academy produced by the Foundation for Learning Equality. We are also going to run a programme called ‘learning to code and coding to learn’. Children will be able to explore how to make games whilst also learning about their rights as a child. It’s a learning activity and it is also fun. There will be another course for teachers, so they can support the children as they start using these tools.

In every location the summer school is running – from schools to refugee camps, we are going to leave the lab in place once the summer school is over so it will be a permanent installation. This will mean that beyond the summer programme children can continue to learn and develop using these tools.

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Integral stand

We are very excited and delighted to be able to be involved in a project that could actually “make a difference” for large numbers of children. Who would have thought, when we started the HDMIPi project a year ago (I’ve just renewed the domain) that a small, portable, inexpensive screen for the Raspberry Pi might find its way into a UNICEF project like this? But now I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see lots of ‘developing country’ projects involving the Raspberry Pi in the next couple of years. It’s a very good fit.

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Round the back

The 9″ HDMIPi should be in production soon. We hope to ship KickStarter rewards towards the end of June. We’d like to emphasise, to those who backed HDMIPi on KickStarter, that this UNICEF project has not and will not delay fulfilment of their rewards. To pre-empt the question, as I will be away on holiday when this article goes live, the case shown here in the UNICEF prototypes is different from the standard HDMIPi case. But, no doubt, if there is demand, alternative case(s) will spring up in due course.

Raspberry Pi: ‘Educating with Raspberry Pi’ at Maker Faire

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

You may have noticed on Twitter (or from their absence) that some of our team were away in San Francisco last week for Maker Faire. Clive, Carrie Anne and Alex Bradbury joined forces with Pimoroni and ran a stall promoting Raspberry Pi and its use in education.

Here’s a video MAKE put out, featuring Clive talking about some of our recent developments such as the free educational material for everyone to teachlearn and make with Raspberry Pi:

The team spoke to a lot of people at Maker Faire, gave talks, visited hackspaces and crammed a lot of outreach in to the trip – so once they’ve recovered we’ll be sharing their experiences and adventures in further blog posts.

I’ve just booked a trip to America myself – I’ll be doing a tour of the States this summer, from 4th – 21st August starting and ending in New York City. We’ll put out a post about this later, but I’ll be looking to visit as many hackspaces, schools and communities as possible while I’m out there – particularly areas the team hasn’t covered before (I quite fancy a taste of Albuquerque for some reason…) – so watch this space for the call for visit requests! Or whet my appetite in the comments below.

Raspberry Pi: Cambridge Jam: focus on education

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

Liz: Last week’s Cambridge Raspberry Jam was one of the biggest yet. I asked the organisers, Michael Horne (whom you might know as Recantha: he has a brilliant Raspberry Pi blog, which you should check out) and Tim Richardson, whether they’d be prepared to write a guest post for us about the event. They’ve done so in spades. Thanks both!

We (Michael Horne and Tim Richardson) have been asked to write an account of the Cambridge Raspberry Jam that took place on Saturday, 10th May 2014. Thanks to Jarle TeiglandDarren Christie and Alan O’Donohoe for some of the photos and thanks to Andy Batey for arranging the streaming and recording of the talks. Think of this as a Virtual Raspberry Jam!

Introduction

This was a very special Jam. We had decided after the December 2013 event that we wanted to try and make each Jam different to the previous one. We had already introduced programming workshops for kids and planned to continue that into the February Jam. So, what could we do for the event after that to make it special, to make it unique? The answer lay in the aims of the Raspberry Pi Foundation: Education! We decided that for the May Jam we would have our focus on education; we just had to make the concept for the event fit the resources and space we had available.

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The Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

At our current venue, the Institute of Astronomy (above), we’re fortunate to have the following available: a 180-seat lecture theatre; a large foyer; a small 30-person meeting room and a small mezzanine with a couple of levels. It would be fair to say we went through quite a few ideas before finally settling on the concept: We would turn the lecture theatre over to presentations for educators (calling it ‘Focus on Education’) and hold workshops in the meeting room and foyer. We would also have projects on display on the mezzanine (we call it ‘Show and Tell’) and a cut-down version of our normal marketplace around the edges of the foyer with a slant towards education where possible.

Preparation… or “What does it take to make Jam for 200 people?”

We’ve held three previous Jams at the Institute of Astronomy and have sold out each time. Normally, we sell about 180 tickets and this time we were going to be inviting educators to the party, so we knew we had to be very prepared and very organised. We simply didn’t want to let anyone down, especially the teachers!

Normally we meet once every week or two for a two-hour meeting to discuss progress on the various tasks that need doing. Sometimes, we meet at the pub (if you’re ever in Potton, Bedfordshire, visit The Rising Sun where we meet!) and sometimes we meet round Tim’s house. We realised with an event of this size and importance that we would definitely need to meet every week in the three months after the February Jam, just to make sure that everything was done.

Rising Sun Potton

The Rising Sun, Potton – place of many-a-meeting

An idea that we had been thinking about for some time was having ‘maker tables’, where people could bring their kit along and experts would help them out with building them, or they could buy kits at the event and make them then and there.  We decided that this would be hard to plan for as we would not know what kits were coming and therefore who could help.  However, the idea of making things stayed with us, so we started to plan for a number of workshops instead of the usual one.

Eventually we fixed on workshops in which the Pi would detect and control the outside world: flashing LEDs (everybody likes those!), making sound, detecting temperature, light and movement, using a line follower and distance sensor, and controlling motors.  On top of that, we added in using the Raspberry Pi Camera module, Minecraft and using the Pibrella add-on board.

In the end we had nine hands-on workshops to sort out.  Yes, nine – we must have been out of our minds! Actually, make that ten, because some bright spark had the idea of running a soldering workshop throughout the day!

One of the things we wanted from the workshops was to develop a set of worksheets and kits that we could sell at close-to-cost to the people attending, which they could then take away with them. This meant ordering a lot of individual components from China and sorting them out into the kits. Tim ordered dozens of mini breadboards, hundreds of LEDs and resistors and lots and lots of sensors, along with motors, wheels and jumper cables. Which all needed to be sorted into bags. And our SD cards needed sorting out with all the software that would be required. And we also needed to find people to lead and assist in the workshops. Fortunately we’d built up an ideas-and-assistance group of about 20 people, and many of them were willing to give their time and energy to preparing the workshop material and teaching it.

Sensor man

Nice sensors, man! Just a small part of the huge amount of kit ordered for the workshops.

Meanwhile, Mike started sorting out a programme for the Focus on Education and asking people to the Show and Tell, doing a lot of the Jam & EventBrite admin and communications along the way. So, as you can tell, weekly meetings were a must!

On the day

So, there we were, and suddenly it was three months later: the 10th of May had swung around. We had even managed to find time to hold a social Jam (Potton Pi and Pints) in the meantime just to keep in touch with everyone.

At 8.30am on the morning of the 10th, we hit our first snag. Normally, we can get everything in Tim’s estate car (which is, basically, a huge cavern) for the trip to Cambridge. This time, however, we had a lot more to transport: we’d bought some tables plus all the kit for the workshops meant that we just couldn’t fit everything in. So, in two cars, we set out for the Institute.

The get-in for a Jam is always a bit chaotic, and damned hard work, and this time was no exception. The Institute looks very different on our arrival but, thanks to Andy Batey, (who works at the Institute, arranged the venue in the first place and is just an all-round helpful chap) we (including half-a-dozen volunteers, known as Jam Makers) manage to transform it into the configuration visitors see when they arrive. The most ‘fun’ task this time was to move a big marquee about 50 metres from one end of the quad to the other. Much mud was encountered!

Foyer workshop area (foreground), Marketplace (left) and Show and Tell mezzanine (top right)

Foyer workshop area (foreground), Marketplace (left) and Show and Tell mezzanine (top right)

If you want to get a feel for the day overall, Mathew and Leo have put together this brilliant video. You can even spot Tim (getting interviewed at the beginning) and Mike (with the loudhailer):

You might also want to listen to this podcast from Alan O’Donohoe which was recorded at the Jam.

Our first activity started at 11.10am and it was a Minecraft workshop led by Craig RichardsonMatt Timmons-Brown and Clare Macrae. This workshop had sold out within 1 hour of the free tickets becoming available. We’d had to cancel another workshop that we had been planning and replace it with a repeat of the Minecraft workshop, and that one sold out as well! We ended up with a waiting list big enough that we could have held another one! Minecraft is a major draw for kids.

Craig Richardson Minecraft workshop

Minecraft workshop number 1: Craig attempts the impossible by trying to reach into the big screen

Once we’d got that workshop going, it was all hands on deck to get the rest of the venue ready. Matt Manning, Andrew Scheller and Tim were our welcome team, and attempted the near-impossible task of checking tickets and ticking names off the registration list. With the teachers beginning to arrive, it got very busy, very quickly!

Mike and Tim had decided to split up so that Tim was outside managing the workshop preparations while Mike hosted the Focus on Education in the lecture theatre. We swapped halfway through the day.

Mike and Tim kicked off Focus on Education with a quick intro and then handed over to Clive Beale from the Foundation who was delivering the keynote: “Computing in Education and the new Curriculum”.

After Clive, Elizabeth Crilly from STEMNET and David Whale talked about the STEM Ambassador programme and what they can do for schools.

We then had a more practical presentation from Dr Sam Aaron, the developer of Sonic Pi. Sam’s a real rock star when it comes to live demos!

At the same time, in the meeting room we had a PiCamera workshop run by Jarle TeiglandMatt Manning and Andrew Scheller and in the foyer we had a beginners electronics/breadboarding workshop run by Alex EamesSway Grantham and Andrew Gale.

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Sway and Andrew watch over the basic electronics workshop

Back in the lecture theatre, we continued our presentation with Sophie Deen talking about Code Club and Code Club Pro (video not available) and then two live demo-style talks from Gordon Henderson (who covered FUZE and Return to BASIC):

and Darren Christie (who talked about the Pibrella and how simple it is to use):

At the same time as all of this, of course, we had our soldering workshop going on. Over 30 people took advantage of the free lessons given by Gee Bartlett (from Pimoroni) and Andrew Gale. They took place outside under a tent (so we didn’t set the fire alarms inside off!). We should mention at this point that we had a lot of generosity from the community with the soldering – Gee brought a load of stuff with him, including some kits that lit up; David Whale donated an entire box of oddments; Tom Hartley donated a batch of old AirPi boards.

soldering workshop

Andrew Gale teaches Sidney the finer points of not touching the hot end

We also had our Show and Tell area in full swing. We had projects from Brian CorteilRussell BarnesRyan WalmsleyIpswich SchoolWayne KeenanStewards Academy and Zach IgielmanAlex Eames was also to be found here showing off the latest prototype of the HDMIPi.

Brian Corteil

Brian Corteil and his naughty-and-nice machine (right) and egg-dispensing Easter bunny (left)

Ipswich School kids

Kids from Ipswich School showing off their automatic greenhouse watering system

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Joseph from Stewards Academy shows off his robotic arm controlled by his real arm

We should also mention the exhibitors in the marketplace – we had the FUZE team, a group from the Little British Robot CompanyCyntechThe Pi HutGPIO.co.uk and Seven Segments of Pi. These guys really helped to give the Foyer a buzz!

Concurrently with the talks, soldering and Show and Tell, Tim had in the meantime started off a further two sessions: temperature, light and movement sensors in the Foyer (led by Matt Manning & Clare Macrae) and our second Minecraft workshop in the meeting room (Craig Richardson and Matt Timmons-Brown again).

Matt Manning

Matt Manning holds court in the sensors workshop

It was half-time in the lecture theatre so Tim and Mike swapped. We hit a slight snag at this point because the entire lecture theatre emptied and it became a little difficult to hear in the Foyer workshop… lesson learnt for next time!

With Tim now in charge in the lecture theatre, next up was Matthew Timmons-Brown giving his talk on how to make computing exciting for kids:

In the meantime, outside we had started off another two workshops: distance sensors and line followers (a vital robotics skill) led by Zach IgielmanRyan Walmsley and Jarle Teigland in the Foyer and a Pibrella workshop in the meeting room (led by Darren Christie, our in-house Pibrella expert!).

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Young and old alike getting to know distance sensors and line followers in a workshop led by Zach Igielman (standing, in the green t-shirt)

In the lecture theatre, Alan O’Donohoe was up next: Engage and Inspire the Digital Creators of Tomorrow:

…followed by Craig Richardson giving a talk on using Minecraft in the classroom:

Out in the Foyer, Ryan Walmsley started off his workshop on controlling motors with the Pi, whilst in the meeting room Phil Howard and Jim Darby began their session on creating an Arduino and programming it with the Pi (we’re supporters of the school of thought that these devices can work together rather than in competition with one another!).

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Ryan and Zach at the motor controller workshop, soldering workshop in the background outside

Back in the lecture theatre, Nevil Hunt talked about his invention, the Seven Segments of Pi, and how it can be used in schools:

Then, we had a talk from James Robinson from Computing at School:

And finally… we had a panel session that involved some of the Picademy graduates and was chaired by David Whale:

Then the big get-out began. This was a mammoth task at the end of a very long day. Many, many thanks to those who helped with both the get-in and, especially, the get-out. Without you guys we’d probably still be there!

All that was left to do was to drive home and… oh yeah… empty out both cars. Argh!!!

Aftermath

And so, the May Cambridge Raspberry Jam was over. It would be fair to say that neither Mike nor Tim could form a coherent sentence the next day, but it was worth it! We sent feedback forms out to attendees and, judging by the response, people were, on the whole, very happy with the way the day went. We certainly felt as though it had been a success, both in Focus on Education and in the activities in the Foyer/Meeting room.

What’s next? Well, we have a fair amount of work still to do for this Jam. We need to analyse all the feedback and come up with a list of ‘lessons learnt’. We also need to resort all the equipment we hurriedly packed and brought back from the Jam into the correct boxes.

And then there’s the small matter of the Jam on 5th July… and possibly a Potton Pi & Pints in June!

Right then… to the pub!

If you want to find out more about the Cambridge Raspberry Jam, visit our website at http://camjam.me or come and watch some more videos on the YouTube channel.

The Hacker Factor Blog: We don’t need no education

This post was syndicated from: The Hacker Factor Blog and was written by: The Hacker Factor Blog. Original post: at The Hacker Factor Blog

At what point does a trend become an annual event? Shortly after starting FotoForensics, we noticed an odd trend in specific content being uploaded to the site. A year later, we saw a rise in the same type of content. And this year? We’re seeing that same type of content ramp up again.

What kind of content are we seeing this time of year, every year? Fake diplomas.

Wish You Were Here

It isn’t like these fake diplomas are coming from one specific country. It’s really from schools all over the world. The only consistency seems to be the person listed on the diploma: he or she is usually a foreign student. That is, foreign with regards to where the school is located. For example, he may be Canadian and getting a degree from a school in Germany. Or he’s from Saudi Arabia, attending a school in the Philippines, or she’s from China and attending a school in France.

One clever friend of mine wasn’t surprised when I first told him about this trend. He explained to me a scam that had been going on for decades. (How naïve of me to have not known about it!) It goes something like this:

Mom and Dad send Junior to a foreign school for a good education. After a semester or two, Junior drops out and decides to just live off of the “tuition” his parents keep sending.

After about four years of living the easy life, it’s time to “graduate”. Junior mocks up a fake diploma and sends it to Mom and Dad. Since the parents cannot attend the graduation, Junior returns home and nobody questions his new degree.

There’s actually an entire underground industry based on providing fake diplomas. For a fee, Junior can buy a paper diploma that looks like it came from his school of choice. For more money, Junior can get a real diploma that has been whitewashed and the name has been changed. For a lesser fee, Junior can just pay someone to make a fake JPEG of a diploma that he can email to his parents. And if Junior is really cheap, he can make the forgery himself.

All of this works well for Junior, as long as:

  • Mom and Dad don’t try to attend the graduation. (“I’m sorry mother, but the school ran out of tickets to the graduation ceremony.”)

  • Mom and Dad don’t contact the school and ask for verification that Junior graduated. (Seriously, if his parents trust him enough to go to a foreign school, why would they ever question the diploma?)
  • None of Junior’s friends do something stupid that tips off the parents. (“Text to Billy: So did your parents fall for the fake diploma?” Let’s hope Mom isn’t looking at Billy’s phone as she snoops around for details about his new “girlfriend”.)
  • Junior has a run-in with the local law and gets deported before graduation for violating his expired education visa.
  • Mom and Dad receive an email with the JPEG. For fun, they upload it to FotoForensics. Suddenly, Junior has some explaining to do…

The same type of scam can work with employers. For example, you need a degree to get a good job. So… you claim that your degree is from some foreign school and you provide a fake JPEG of your diploma. It would be costly for the employer to contact a foreign school. (Most schools require a fee to verify a student’s graduation status), so employers just assume that the JPEG represents a real degree.

In The Flesh?

Some of the fake diplomas are clearly being uploaded by people involved in the manufacturing process. A few people have uploaded multiple revisions in an effort to evade detection. In other cases, the date on the fake diploma is still a few weeks away. (If only Junior put this type of advanced planning effort into getting the actual degree…)

However, I think that parents and employers are also uploading suspicious diplomas that they receive. These documents are past the graduation date and the users only uploads one file. Also, I have seen some JPEGs that I believe represent real diplomas. However, “real” is a definite minority compared to the flood of fakes that we are seeing.

Most of the fakes are for technical degrees: computers, engineering, “science”. I have only seen a few diplomas for medical degrees, and most of those appear to be real. Ironically, I haven’t seen anyone try to get a fake degree in Art History or Ethnomusicology.

Signs of Life

I really wanted to post a couple of fake diplomas along with this blog entry. Unfortunately, the diplomas contain the names of real people. And in every instance I checked, I could easily find the person online — on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Seriously, I just typed their name and the school’s name into Google, and the specific people come right up! So for their privacy, I won’t post links to their fake diplomas. While FotoForensics is a public site, pictures don’t make the trending page unless they go viral. Unless someone publicly posts the fake diploma, I won’t be posting it.

(However, I will mention one person that I saw. I really liked this guy’s bravado. His public Facebook page had comments from his friends like, “I’m sorry you couldn’t attend the graduation” and “We’ll come back to visit when you graduate!” Yeah… there’s a doctored up diploma for a fake master’s degree with his name on it. According to that JPEG, he graduated with everyone else.)

This trend is not just with diplomas. Every semester I see a short burst of elementary school, high school and college transcripts. Usually it’s something simple, like changing a “C” to an “A” or a “3″ to a “5″. But other times, the grades are all correct — just the name has been changed.

For all of these aspiring graduates, I have some words of advice:

  1. If you’re going to change a grade, then be sure to also recompute the GPA. (And if you don’t know how to recompute the GPA, then maybe there is a reason you got that math grade.)

  2. If you’re going to claim to have a degree from a school, then make sure that the school actually offers that degree!
  3. Graduations happen on specific dates. Get the date right.
  4. Spell-check. Use it.
  5. Those people who signed the diploma are not just random names. Make sure the name is correct. (I’ve seen fake diplomas where the University’s President was wrong, or even reflected a guy who had been dead for years.)
  6. Match the font! (Sorry, but this is just a big pet peeve with me. Comic Sans is only used at clown schools — no offense to any real clowns who read my blog.)

You get what you pay for. A $20 diploma will only work if you have extremely trusting and gullible parents. For the cost and effort to make a perfect forgery, you might as well get the actual degree.

And for those people who are offended at this easy way to get a higher education… Watch out for your friends who ask for a picture of your diploma. “I just want to see it” is a big clue.

Raspberry Pi: Raspberry Pi Compute Module: new product!

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

As regular readers will know, it’s been a busy time here at Pi Towers recently with the launch of our new website, free educational materials and £1m education fund.

On the engineering side of things we’ve also been very busy over the past year, and not to be outdone by the education team, we are ready to take the wraps off something special, this time aimed at business and industrial users.

What's this little thing? Read on to find out.

What’s this little thing? Read on to find out.

From humble beginnings, the Raspberry Pi platform has grown and matured: the software is now full-featured and stable, and is still constantly improving thanks to the continuing hard work of our heroic community of volunteers; as well as targeted injections of funding to solve some specific issues. The Pi, and the Broadcom BCM2835 SoC at its heart, are also steadily becoming more open.

We love hearing about what users are doing with their Raspberry Pis, and are constantly amazed at the range of projects, as well as the inventiveness and creativeness of the community. We are also aware that there are a very significant number of users out there who are embedding the Raspberry Pi into systems and even commercial products. We think there needs to be a better way to allow people to get their hands on this great technology in a more flexible form factor, but still keep things at a sensible price.

Like proud parents, we want to free the core technology of the Raspberry Pi to go forth and become an integral part of new and exciting products and devices, and so today we are announcing the forthcoming Raspberry Pi Compute Module.

CM_and_pi-small

Compute Module on the left. What does it do? Read on to find out.

The compute module contains the guts of a Raspberry Pi (the BCM2835 processor and 512Mbyte of RAM) as well as a 4Gbyte eMMC Flash device (which is the equivalent of the SD card in the Pi). This is all integrated on to a small 67.6x30mm board which fits into a standard DDR2 SODIMM connector (the same type of connector as used for laptop memory*). The Flash memory is connected directly to the processor on the board, but the remaining processor interfaces are available to the user via the connector pins. You get the full flexibility of the BCM2835 SoC (which means that many more GPIOs and interfaces are available as compared to the Raspberry Pi), and designing the module into a custom system should be relatively straightforward as we’ve put all the tricky bits onto the module itself.

So what you are seeing here is a Raspberry Pi shrunk down to fit on a SODIMM with onboard memory, whose connectors you can customise for your own needs.

The Compute Module is primarily designed for those who are going to create their own PCB. However, we are also launching something called the Compute Module IO Board to help designers get started.

Empty IO board on the left: Compute Module snapped into place on the right.

Empty IO Board on the left: Compute Module snapped into place on the right.

The Compute Module IO Board is a simple, open-source breakout board that you can plug a Compute Module into. It provides the necessary power to the module, and gives you the ability to program the module’s Flash memory, access the processor interfaces in a slightly more friendly fashion (pin headers and flexi connectors, much like the Pi) and provides the necessary HDMI and USB connectors so that you have an entire system that can boot Raspbian (or the OS of your choice). This board provides both a starting template for those who want to design with the Compute Module, and a quick way to start experimenting with the hardware and building and testing a system before going to the expense of fabricating a custom board.

IO Board

IO Board

Initially, the Compute Module and IO Board will be available to buy together as the Raspberry Pi Compute Module Development Kit.

These kits will be available from RS and element14 some time in June. Shortly after that the Compute Module will be available to buy separately, with a unit cost of around $30 in batches of 100; you will also be able to buy them individually, but the price will be slightly higher. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity, and as with everything we make here, all profits are pushed straight back into educating kids in computing.

I’m sure people will be keen to get their design process started; initially we are releasing just the schematics for both the Compute Module and IO Board, but we will be adding plenty more documentation over the coming days and weeks.

Happy creating!

*But don’t go plugging the Compute Module into your laptop – the pins assignments aren’t even remotely the same!

Raspberry Pi: PA Consulting Raspberry Pi Competition

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

The PA Raspberry Pi competition challenges young people to use the Raspberry Pi to make the world a better place. Last year I helped judge the competition and was amazed by the creativity and innovation of the entries (the excellent AirPi was one of last year’s winners). This year’s event was held in the Science Museum, and I went along to judge the Year 4-6 and Year 7-11 categories, and to run some workshops along the way.

The Sonic Pi workshops were fantastic—they almost ran themselves, with the students continually trying out new things in quest to make the best music or silliest sounds (the exploding farmyard was a particular favourite). I’ve said it before, but Sonic Pi is genius.

In the afternoon I joined my fellow judges: Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s technology correspondent, and Claire Sutcliffe, co-founder of Code Club. We spent 15 minutes talking to each of the seven teams.  The winning projects had to have the potential to benefit the world in some way and we were also looking for things like innovation, creativity and originality. What really stood out was the energy of the teams — they all talked passionately and knowledgeably about their projects and how they had used the Raspberry Pi to solve real world problems.

stmarys

St Mary’s CE Primary, with Pi ‘n’ Mighty, their recycling robot

The year 4-6 category was won by St Mary’s CE Primary School with their recycling robot Pi ‘n’ Mighty. The robot scans packaging barcodes and then tells you if it can be recycled and which bin to put it in. The team was bursting with energy and falling over themselves to explain how they’d made it and what it did. I’d love to see a Pi ‘n’ Mighty in every school canteen, encouraging recycling and helping children learn about the topic. And it looks fantastic, exactly how a robot should look!

plantpi

Frome Community College won the year 7-11 category prize with their prodigious Plant Pi, a system to care for plants and monitor their environment. The team had covered every aspect including hardware and web monitoring, and they had even created an app. It really is a brilliantly designed and engineered solution that already has the makings of a commercial product. The project is open source and includes code, instructions, parts list and documentation.

It was a great day and it was a real pleasure to speak to the finalists and to see young people doing remarkable and useful things with the Raspberry Pi. If I could bottle the innovation, enthusiasm, creativity and technical skills in that room then I would have a Phial of Awesome +10. (I would carry it around with me in a belt holster and open it for the occasional sniff when feeling uninspired.) Best of all, I know that we’ll be seeing some of these finalists again: skills like computational thinking stay with you for life and will serve these kids in whatever they do in the future.

Raspberry Pi: Announcing our million-pound education charity fund

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Lance Howarth. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

It’s been a busy month for us here at Pi towers, and after the recent announcement of Picademy and the launch of the new website with an increased focus on educational resources, you may be wondering what’s next for our educational mission.

Without disappearing too far down the rabbit-hole of superlatives, I can say we are all super-excited to announce the launch of the Raspberry Pi Foundation Education Fund. Thanks to the support of the community over the past two years through buying Raspberry Pis and building inspiring, innovative projects, we’ve been able to build up a bag of funds to spend on our education mission. So today we are announcing a £1 million education fund.

cashcase

Emma has been busy getting artistic with the folding stuff this morning.

This fund is in support of our core charitable mission, so we are looking to fund innovative and exciting projects that enhance understanding of and education in computing for children aged between 5 and 18.  The fund does not exclusively target Computing as a subject; we are also interested in supporting projects that demonstrate and promote the use of computing technology in other subjects, particularly STEM and the creative arts.

Our aim is to support a range of projects: from those that increase participation, to those that target excellence. Given our charitable status, priority will be given to organisations that have a not-for-profit ethos. The fund will operate through match funding, so not only are we wanting to hear from people with potential projects ideas; we are also wanting to hear from industry and third-sector partners who’d be interested in co-funding some of the projects.

If you’d like to know more about the fund, how it will operate and how to make an application, you can find out more on our Education Fund page.

 

Raspberry Pi: Welcome to our new website

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

You’ll notice that things round here don’t look like they used to. This website has had a comprehensive overhaul: we hope you like what you see. (That stuff from yesterday? April Fool’s. Sorry.)

We are treating this new website as a Beta. There are a few things we won’t be able to move across until this morning, when everything on the server is properly migrated; and we’re sure there are some snags we haven’t spotted. If you find a navigation problem or something that you think is an obvious error, please let us know in the comments below. You’ll notice the nice new friendly URLs for blog posts (/welcome-to-our-new-website/ rather than /archives/6754) but don’t worry – all the old links will still work. And URLs of any pages that aren’t where they used to be should point at their new home. If you spot any 404s let us know in the comments or in the forum.

Everything that you’re used to from our old website is still here: the blog, help pages, forums (which we’ve yet to overhaul and bring in line with the new look – that’s coming in the next couple of months) and Swag Store are all available as usual through the navigation bar you can see at the top of the page. I’m not linking to them here, so you have a reason to start experimenting by clicking around. But there are also some new areas which you might like to spend some time exploring today, and some new ways in which we’re presenting old information.

Teach, Learn, Make

We’re launching a new area of the site for teachers, learners and makers, full of free resources and projects. Teachers will find entire schemes of work, complete with lesson plans, linked to the UK’s new Computing curriculum. Those of you who want to learn on your own will also find materials you can use to find your way around a Raspberry Pi, and what you can do with it; and people who want a step-by-step guide to make their own Raspberry Pi projects will find just what they’re looking for.

All of our materials are Creative Commons licensed. The licence we use is CC BY-SA (attribution and share-alike), which is the licence used by Wikipedia.

cc-by-sa

We welcome your contributions to our materials. What you see here today is only the start: we will be adding more materials very regularly in all three categories: Teach, Learn and Make. Keep checking back; we’ll also flag up on this blog and on Twitter whenever new resources are available.

Documentation

We have made a big change to the way we deal with documentation. A bit of background is necessary here. Until now, we’ve relied on the third-party, crowd-sourced wiki at eLinux. This was set up in 2012 when we had absolutely no staff, and we asked the community to help populate it, because we didn’t have the resources ourselves. We at the Foundation have no oversight over that wiki, and we’ve noticed that it’s become a bit out of date.

So we’ve taken the decision to move all of our documentation in-house, but we’ve done so in a way that means that you can make additions and alterations if you think we’ve missed something – with our oversight. All of our documentation is written in Markdown, and lives on GitHub. It’s not an open wiki, but if you want to make a change, please open an issue on GitHub. (Learn more here.) We’ll consider all issues which are opened, and if we accept yours, you can file a pull request with your change. It’s a way to keep things lean, consistent and accurate. Everything gets looked over by the team of people who make the Raspberry Pi to be checked for accuracy: at the same time, it allows you to pull us up on anything you think we should expand on.

Some of what we have here now is based around a kernel of documentation from the old eLinux wiki, and we are very, very grateful to everyone who contributed materials to it that we have been able to use here. The new documentation also covers all the stuff we used to host here separately: datasheets, hardware specs and so on. We’ve still got some editorial work to do on some of what we’ve pulled in to the new documentation, but it should be usable from today.

Thanks

I’d like to thank the education and web folks here at Pi Towers, especially Carrie Anne Philbin, who has written more top-quality resources in the last two months than we thought it was possible for one human being to produce, all while running workshops and organising Picademy; and Ben Nuttall, who has been stumbling around the office muttering and tugging at his hair for the last fortnight, sent three-quarters mad by a mixture of insufficient sleep, ignorant requests from his boss (me) and too much staring at a terminal window. His wild eyes and trembling lip are making me feel guilty, and I have been worried that he might die of overwork or run away and retrain as a sponge diver before we got everything finished. (I think you’ll agree that he’s done a simply amazing job in a very short time. Most of what you see here is down to Ben; despite appearances to the contrary, he’s a bundle of joy, and we’re very lucky to have him on the team.)

This is what not enough sleep and too much coffee looks like.

This is what not enough sleep and too much coffee looks like.

Thanks to Laura for the exceptionally smooth and painless editorial ride she’s given us. Thanks to Dave and Clive for the resources and the cakes; thanks to Lance for his oversight (we couldn’t manage without you, Lance); thanks to Emma for keeping us all in line; thanks to Rachel for the photos; thanks to the team at Du.st for the design work – and no thanks at all to Gordon, who ate all our jelly babies, drank most of the coffee and laughed at us when we asked him what hdmi_ignore_edid=0xa5000080 does.

We hope you like what you see. As for me and the team, we’re going to go and sit very quietly on a lawn somewhere, read the newspaper and drink tea for the rest of the day.

Raspberry Pi: Glock around the clockenspiel

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

Are you a primary or secondary teacher in the UK? Do you want some free CPD? Apply to join our free Raspberry Picademy here at Pi Towers in Cambridge with our amazing education team: closing date for applications is March 28. 

Ivan Roulson from RPi Kitchen (really worth some of your time this afternoon if you fancy browsing your way around some rather excellent Pi projects) was at the local recycling centre earlier this year, when he came upon an abandoned glockenspiel.

There are so many places this story could go from here, but you’ve probably already guessed what happened next.

Ivan took that sad glockenspiel home and gave it a Pi for brains. He designed and built some hammers, and hooked up a motor mechanism and some rubber bands to make the hammers snap back up once they’d made contact. Ivan then proceeded to make the whole apparatus dingle-dongle its way through some sweet, sweet music using Python.

The motors are hooked up to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins using two ULN2803 Darlington driver ICs – Ivan’s plan is to build a dedicated PCB to do the job.

This is not the first glockenspiel project we’ve seen (Mike Cook produced one a couple of years ago, with instructions you can follow to reproduce the project at home), but we very much liked the mechanism Ivan built to make his setup work. We’re dying to see a project where someone adapts Sonic Pi to interface with GPIO: seeing some of you replace the pretty-bell command with an honest-to-god real-world bell would make our day. Any takers?

Raspberry Pi: Picademy – Free CPD for Teachers

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

**Update 28 March: Entries are now closed. Thanks to everyone who applied, you’ll be hearing from us very soon.**

I am very pleased to announce the first ever Raspberry Pi Academy for Educators!

The Raspberry Picademy will be a free professional development experience for primary and secondary teachers, initially for those here in the UK. Over the course of two days, (14th – 15th April 2014), 24 applicants will get hands-on experience here at Pi Towers, and discover the many ways in which the Raspberry Pi can be used in the classroom, working with our team of experts.

Raspberry Pi robotics at Kimbolton School

We will be looking to select 24 teachers for this program who meet our criteria and demonstrate a passion for education and for sharing practice, whatever their level of computing experience. In particular we are looking for teachers who:

  • can demonstrate experience of leading inset training sessions or running workshops – we would like our teachers to be able to train others
  • can reach large numbers of educators – through Twitter, teachmeets, blog posts, jams, CAS hubs etc. to spread the love
  • can demonstrate experience in using technology in the classroom – does not have to be Raspberry Pi!
  • are positive role models to young people
  • love challenges and overcoming problems.

We want to build a wider community of pioneering educators through this program, and it would make us all really happy if after the two day event, they go on to:

  • create a scheme of work for the Raspberry Pi Educational Resources section of our new website (coming soon!) that meets the new Computing curriculum programme of study
  • have a positive impact on their community with Raspberry Pi
  • take an active role in the Raspberry Pi Education Forum to help inspire others.

As well as training, educators will have access to a forum to share ideas, get some Raspberry Pi goodies and a special badge.

If you think you might be one of our superteachers, then you can apply by filling out this application form. Please note that although this training is provided free of charge and we will provide your meals, you will have to make your own transport and accommodation plans (we’ll be making information about where you can stay and how to get here available to the people who take part). The deadline for applications is Friday 28th March.

Raspberry Pi: A GCSE lesson

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

Ben Llewellyn Smith is Head of Computing and ECDL manager at AKS in Lytham St Annes. He showed us this video just before last week’s Jamboree, to demonstrate his newly installed classroom Debian server being used by a class of GCSE students who all use Raspberry Pis.

Ben’s pupils each own a Raspberry Pi: we’re convinced that there’s enormous learning value in the sense of ownership and ability to customise that having your own Raspberry Pi, rather than a borrowed school unit, gives you. It’s one of the reasons we worked so hard at getting the cost of the Raspberry Pi down so low. This also means that the pupils can carry on working with their Pis at home in the evenings.

You’ll see the pupils being given a very simple Scratch task to test Ben’s new system in this video, and get a feel for what a teaching environment can be like. Ben’s aiming towards getting the class’s GCSE coursework done as a Minecraft hack, using Python on the Pi: he’s the kind of teacher I wish I’d had. (True story: my own Miss Lyons had to keep a picture of a floppy disk being inserted on her desk so she could remember which way up it fitted in the slot.)

The investigation that Ben’s class will be doing for the GCSE can be done on a Pi as well. We’re very pleased that Ben’s been able to be able to share this video with us all: I hope it’ll be of some help to other teachers out there. You’ll find a lot more from Ben at his YouTube channel: enjoy!

Raspberry Pi: The Hour of Code and all things educational

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

There’s been a media brouhaha about coding recently**. The Hour of Code puts this into perspective—it’s all about demystifying what coding is, having a play and realising that it isn’t as arcane or difficult as you thought. Of course at one end of the scale, computer science can be as challenging as it gets. But at the other end you can dip your toe in and start to appreciate that Computing as a subject, and programming specifically, can be creative, purposeful and lots of fun.

And if you’d like to try some Raspberry Pi based activities as part of the Hour of Code week here’s a small taster of the teaching and learning materials that we’re writing and collating for our new website (launching end of March). It includes Sonic Pi, Minecraft Pi, Google Coder and, of course, a screaming jelly baby. Enjoy :)

Carrie Anne and Ben from the Raspberry Pi Education Team are telling me to shut up now as they would like to say stuff. So I’ll leave them to it…

Carrie Anne

During the Jamboree at the EICE conference last week, Ben and I spoke about our work at the foundation on the new website and our vision to produce educational Raspberry Pi resources for teachers and learners. Since this talk we have been inundated with offers of support and want to know more. (This is the best community!)

There are many ways in which you can help us:

  • Firstly by taking an active role in the education section of our forum. If you have created a great resource, ran a good workshop session, or created a video tutorial, then post it here. Let’s get this section of the community talking.
  • Submit your resources to be used on the new website (leave a comment below to get in touch, and we’ll email you). In the not too distant future we would like to create a form for you to submit your resources to be considered for use. We are writing our resources in markdown, so if you already have stuff on GitHub for example it would be easy for us to point to them or fork them for reuse. You may wish to write up your mega cool resources in a similar way.
  • We need testers! Before many of our resources go live, especially those intended for the classroom, we would like them to get feedback from our audience and suggestions. We’d also like to make sure they work! Again, leave a comment if you’d like to help.
  • Run a Jam in your area. Why not start a Jam or attend a jam in your area to support young people and invite teachers from local schools to attend?

The Hour of Code resources are a taster of what is to come on the website, and we would be interested in hearing your feedback on them. Please test, check, and give us productive pointers.

Ben

Introducing Raspberry Pi Learning on GitHub! We set up a new GitHub organisation to host our learning resources and educational material. Each resource will have its own repository here, and we’ll be using git to manage changes in the team and from the community. Within hours of these being live (even before we announced it) we had our
Ctrl+Click to follow link” href=”https://twitter.com/raspitv”>Alex Eames – who fixed some typos and cleaned up some Python GPIO code with better practices (thanks, Alex!).

Our resources are written in Markdown, which is really easy to use and to manage. The links in the Hour of Code page show the markdown rendered by GitHub, and when we launch our new website they will be rendered nicely in the site template, which work beautifully on screen. We’ll also provide printer-friendly alternatives. (We’re not showing you what things will look like in the new site template yet because we don’t want to spoil the surprise!)

If you’re writing any resources or documentation (or anything, really) I’d recommend you look at using Markdown – you can pick it up quite quickly with this issue to alert us of it, or even fork the repository, fix it and open a

Errata Security: C programming: you are teaching it wrong

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

It’s been three decades. There is no longer an excuse for the fail way colleges teach “C programming”. Let me help.


Chapter 1: the debugger

C programming starts and ends with the debugger. Before they write a line of code of their own, students need to be comfortable single stepping line-by-line through source, viewing local variables, and dumping memory.

A good first assignment is run the following program, and have the student report the values for ‘a’ and ‘b’, which can only be gotten by stepping through the code in a debugger.

int main() {
    int a = rand();
    int b = rand();
    printf(“a + b = %d\n”, a + b);
    return 0;
}

The “printf()” function is not a debugger. If that’s how you debug your code most of the time, you are doing it wrong.

GDB is not an adequate debugger. The reason people rely upon “printf()” is because GDB is too difficult. Even the “TUI” interface is inadequate.

The debugger is not your “last resort”, the thing your struggle with when there is no other way to fix a bug. Instead, the debugger is the “first resort”: even when your program works correctly, you still use the debugger to step through your code line-by-line, double checking variables, making sure that it’s behaving the way you expect.

Microsoft’s VisualStudio and Apple’s XCode both have excellent debuggers. I haven’t used Eclipse much, but it looks adequate. The problem with these is that they also require you to create a complicated “project” that manages everything. That’s a big hurdle for small one-file programs (like the example above), but students have to learn to deal with the overhead of these “projects”.

To repeat: unless you have an adequate, easy-to-use source-level debugger, you really shouldn’t be programming in C. Any course on C needs to start with the debugger, before even teaching students to code.

Chapter 2: smashing the stack for fun and profit

C is an inherently dangerous language. When a bug writes outside it’s buffer, it’s not immediately caught, as it would be in Java or other high-level languages. Instead, memory gets corrupted. It’s only later in the program, sometimes much later, when that corrupted memory gets used, that the program crashes. This teaches students that bugs happen by magic, and are deep impenetrable mysteries that no mortal can understand.

Students need to be taught that they have no training wheels, that C will happily corrupt memory with no error indication (until later). They need to be told upfront that, unlike Java, when the program crashes, the line-number in the code is usually not the code that’s at fault.

In particular, students need to learn the “stack frame” and “heap” structures to the same level of detail in the document “Smashing the Stack for Fun and Profit” [*]. Before even teaching students the syntax for calling a function, students need to learn that there is a structure of data for every function call. When a function crashes on return, they need to be able to dump the stack memory and find out what happened. They need to be familiar with how parameters are pushed on the stack, then return address, then local variables. The need to watch, in a debugger, as this happens. Students need to learn that memory corruption isn’t a mystery, but something deterministic that they can trace back and solve.

Teachers of C avoid these difficult technical details, but that does a disservice to the student. The student’s first bug is going to be stack/heap corruption crashing on the wrong line of code, and they’ll learn that solving bugs in C is hopeless.

This would also be a good time to teach students bounds-checkers like Valgrind. It adds the training wheels missing from other languages.

Chapter 3: strcpy_s()/strlcpy()

A decade after “buffer-overflow” worms ravaged the Internet, professors are still telling their students to use the functions that caused the worms, like strcpy() and sprintf(). This needs to stop.

We have safer replacement functions. Microsoft has created standard safe functions, like  strcpy_s()and sprintf_s() that have been adopted by the standards committee. Or, since GCC doesn’t really support this standard yet, you can teach functions like strlcpy() and snprintf() instead.

Students should be taught that using the old, non-bounds-checking functions, shouldn’t be even an option when writing code. C is an inherently dangerous language — the early students learn to program as if C were dangerous, the better.

Chapter N+1: internal vs. external data

What makes C different from other languages is that it allows you to access raw memory. Just because you can do this doesn’t mean you should.

Typical C paradigm is to have a point ‘p’, then do arithmetic on the pointer, such as incrementing it in order to enumerate objects in an array, something like this:

    for (p=start; p<end; p++)
        printf(“foo = %s\n”, p->foo);

This is bad. In general, C should be programmed like any other language, where an index variable enumerates an array:

    for (i=0; i<count; i++)
        printf(“foo = %s\n”, p[i].foo);
 
When parsing a two-byte integer from external input, a C programmer is taught to the do the following:

    x = *(short*)p;

This is bad. Historically, it has meant that RISC processor crashes unexpected on unaligned data. On Intel processors, teaching this method has led to unending confusion about “byte-order” (aka. “endianess”). The correct method to teach students is the following:

    x = p[0]*256 + p[1];
It’s the same way that you’d extract an integer using any other language, and it doesn’t need those pesky “noths()” macros to swap bytes.

Even though C doesn’t enforce it, students still need to learn that “internal” data should be kept separate from “external” data. They have to be aware of what C is doing internally, but they should mess with it. They shouldn’t “cast” data structures on top of external data, and they shouldn’t use pointer arithmetic for everything. When quickly glancing at the code, it should look similar to Java or JavaScript.

Conclusion

In other engineering disciplines, you learn failure first. If you are engineering bridges, you learn why the Tacoma Narrows failed. If you are architecting skyscrapers, you learn why the World Trade Center fell. If you are building ships, you learned why the Titanic sank.
Only in the discipline of software engineering is failure completely ignored. Even after more than a decade of failure, students are still taught to write software as if failure is unlikely to be a threat they ever face. This is wrong in general, but especially wrong with the C programming language. It’s not that students need to “take security seriously” and spend all their time learning every rare hacking technique in code, but their education should include the basics, like those outlined above.

By the way, this post comes from me spending some time on a college campus this week. Travis Goodspeed, Sergey Bratus, and I were watching a student struggle with a bug in C. For example, the student knew what line was crashing because she put a “printf()” right before that point. I want to strangle whichever professor was teaching the class that didn’t teach the students to use a debugger. Some of this post reflects some of their comments in our discussion.

Raspberry Pi: Get Carrie Anne’s book for six quid! (And a competition!)

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

A lot of you have had huge success in the last few months using our very own Carrie Anne Philbin’s Adventures in Raspberry Pi as a resource for kids of all ages. It’s engaging, friendly and works really well in getting kids excited and confident about using their Raspberry Pi. So much so that we’ve found schools are ordering classroom sets; so are after-school clubs, and we’ve had amazing feedback from kids and their parents.

Carrie Anne (whose job title here at Pi Towers is Education Pioneer) says:

“I’m totally stunned by the success of Adventures in Raspberry Pi so far. I’m  amazed that teachers and after school club mentors are buying it and using it to teach programming.”

We aren’t amazed at all – the book’s brilliant.

Shortly after taking this picture, Carrie Anne tried to saw Ben’s ear off.

We wanted to make Adventures in Raspberry Pi easier for schools to buy (at full price, with shipping, a classroom set can be expensive). So we’ve bought a pallet full here at Pi Towers so we can sell them to you at a much reduced price compared to other vendors (we’ve reduced the margin we take by selling these to almost nothing), with very low shipping costs for bulk orders. If you only buy one book, shipping is £4 (which works out cheaper than buying it on Amazon even if you have Amazon Prime): but it becomes an amazing bargain when you buy more than one, with P&P at only £6 for between 2 and 10 books, so if you’re ordering them for a class or club, or for all your tiny relatives, then you end up paying much less. Here’s a table of prices:

Units Unit cost including P&P
1 £10
2 £9
5 £7.20
10 £6.60

We are also celebrating the addition of Pimoroni’s PiHUB to the Swag Store – it’s a really handy, super-reliable, powered USB hub for your Pi that works with every USB device we’ve tested on it. If you would like to win a bundle including one of five copies of Adventures in Raspberry Pi, some Raspberry Pi stickers and your very own PiHUB, please leave a comment below telling us what you would like to see us stock in the Swag Store. We’ll pick the five ideas that made us laugh the most or that made little lightbulbs go off in our heads as the winners. The competition is open worldwide to people of all ages, and closes on February 26. Make sure that you use a genuine email address when you comment so we can get in touch with you if you win.

Here is a bonus video of Carrie Anne at the last Cambridge Raspberry Jam. She’s planning on visiting Alex from RasPi.TV with the Minecraft sword unless he adds the bit where she later got the highest score of the day…

(If you’d like a go yourself, you can buy the Seven Segments of Pi kit you need to make this and other games, which comes with some great tutorial materials, from Cyntech. Some soldering required.)