Често се чудя – къде точно е границата между поезия и проза.
Има ли я изобщо? Или поезията е проза с настроение, а пък прозата – поезия, дето си е загубила настроението?… Или пък прозата е пораснала поезия с костюм и достойнство за пазене, а пък поезията си е забравила някъде костюма с все достойнството и е щастлива да е просто себе си, онова отвътре? Дето няма защо да се пази, понеже е по детски неуязвимо и безсмъртно?
А може би пък прозата е деловит чиновник, който носи на раменете си света, и не може да си позволи да го остави, защото кой го знае къде ще се търколи безстопанствен? А пък поезията е този свят, който мечтае чиновникът да го остави по погрешка и забрави някъде, за да може да се търкаля накъдето го поведе кой знае какво?
И може би понякога си разменят ролите, като цар и шут – прозата се разсмива и прескача съседската ограда, за да краде зрели круши, а пък поезията нахлупва фуражка и слага пагони, и изкомандва сърцата да поведат умовете на бой в името на същия този свят, без право на страх и почивка?
Кой знае?… Мисля си – може би има такива. Срещам ги от време на време. Често потайни и срамежливи, неизвестни за мнозинството като езотерични жреци. А толкова нужни на всички нас.
Днес искам да пиша за един такъв. Всъщност, не искам да пиша за него, той и сам умее да напише за себе си. И за още много други неща. Бъдете му гости. И каквото научите за поезията и прозата, моля ви, върнете се тук да го споделите. Защото сигурно ще е различно от това, което аз съм могъл да науча. И ще ви благодаря.
Backblaze is hiring a Director of Sales. This is a critical role for Backblaze as we continue to grow the team. We need a strong leader who has experience in scaling a sales team and who has an excellent track record for exceeding goals by selling Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. In addition, this leader will need to be highly motivated, as well as able to create and develop a highly-motivated, success oriented sales team that has fun and enjoys what they do.
The History of Backblaze from our CEO
In 2007, after a friend’s computer crash caused her some suffering, we realized that with every photo, video, song, and document going digital, everyone would eventually lose all of their information. Five of us quit our jobs to start a company with the goal of making it easy for people to back up their data.
Like many startups, for a while we worked out of a co-founder’s one-bedroom apartment. Unlike most startups, we made an explicit agreement not to raise funding during the first year. We would then touch base every six months and decide whether to raise or not. We wanted to focus on building the company and the product, not on pitching and slide decks. And critically, we wanted to build a culture that understood money comes from customers, not the magical VC giving tree. Over the course of 5 years we built a profitable, multi-million dollar revenue business — and only then did we raise a VC round.
Fast forward 10 years later and our world looks quite different. You’ll have some fantastic assets to work with:
A brand millions recognize for openness, ease-of-use, and affordability.
A computer backup service that stores over 500 petabytes of data, has recovered over 30 billion files for hundreds of thousands of paying customers — most of whom self-identify as being the people that find and recommend technology products to their friends.
Our B2 service that provides the lowest cost cloud storage on the planet at 1/4th the price Amazon, Google or Microsoft charges. While being a newer product on the market, it already has over 100,000 IT and developers signed up as well as an ecosystem building up around it.
A growing, profitable and cash-flow positive company.
And last, but most definitely not least: a great sales team.
You might be saying, “sounds like you’ve got this under control — why do you need me?” Don’t be misled. We need you. Here’s why:
We have a great team, but we are in the process of expanding and we need to develop a structure that will easily scale and provide the most success to drive revenue.
We just launched our outbound sales efforts and we need someone to help develop that into a fully successful program that’s building a strong pipeline and closing business.
We need someone to work with the marketing department and figure out how to generate more inbound opportunities that the sales team can follow up on and close.
We need someone who will work closely in developing the skills of our current sales team and build a path for career growth and advancement.
We want someone to manage our Customer Success program.
So that’s a bit about us. What are we looking for in you?
Experience: As a sales leader, you will strategically build and drive the territory’s sales pipeline by assembling and leading a skilled team of sales professionals. This leader should be familiar with generating, developing and closing software subscription (SaaS) opportunities. We are looking for a self-starter who can manage a team and make an immediate impact of selling our Backup and Cloud Storage solutions. In this role, the sales leader will work closely with the VP of Sales, marketing staff, and service staff to develop and implement specific strategic plans to achieve and exceed revenue targets, including new business acquisition as well as build out our customer success program.
Leadership: We have an experienced team who’s brought us to where we are today. You need to have the people and management skills to get them excited about working with you. You need to be a strong leader and compassionate about developing and supporting your team.
Data driven and creative: The data has to show something makes sense before we scale it up. However, without creativity, it’s easy to say “the data shows it’s impossible” or to find a local maximum. Whether it’s deciding how to scale the team, figuring out what our outbound sales efforts should look like or putting a plan in place to develop the team for career growth, we’ve seen a bit of creativity get us places a few extra dollars couldn’t.
Jive with our culture: Strong leaders affect culture and the person we hire for this role may well shape, not only fit into, ours. But to shape the culture you have to be accepted by the organism, which means a certain set of shared values. We default to openness with our team, our customers, and everyone if possible. We love initiative — without arrogance or dictatorship. We work to create a place people enjoy showing up to work. That doesn’t mean ping pong tables and foosball (though we do try to have perks & fun), but it means people are friendly, non-political, working to build a good service but also a good place to work.
Do the work: Ideas and strategy are critical, but good execution makes them happen. We’re looking for someone who can help the team execute both from the perspective of being capable of guiding and organizing, but also someone who is hands-on themselves.
Additional Responsibilities needed for this role:
Recruit, coach, mentor, manage and lead a team of sales professionals to achieve yearly sales targets. This includes closing new business and expanding upon existing clientele.
Expand the customer success program to provide the best customer experience possible resulting in upsell opportunities and a high retention rate.
Develop effective sales strategies and deliver compelling product demonstrations and sales pitches.
Acquire and develop the appropriate sales tools to make the team efficient in their daily work flow.
Apply a thorough understanding of the marketplace, industry trends, funding developments, and products to all management activities and strategic sales decisions.
Ensure that sales department operations function smoothly, with the goal of facilitating sales and/or closings; operational responsibilities include accurate pipeline reporting and sales forecasts.
This position will report directly to the VP of Sales and will be staffed in our headquarters in San Mateo, CA.
7 – 10+ years of successful sales leadership experience as measured by sales performance against goals.
Experience in developing skill sets and providing career growth and opportunities through advancement of team members.
Background in selling SaaS technologies with a strong track record of success.
Strong presentation and communication skills.
Must be able to travel occasionally nationwide.
BA/BS degree required
Think you want to join us on this adventure?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Director of Sales.” (Recruiters and agencies, please don’t email us.) Include a resume and answer these two questions:
How would you approach evaluating the current sales team and what is your process for developing a growth strategy to scale the team?
What are the goals you would set for yourself in the 3 month and 1-year timeframes?
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope that this sounds like the opportunity for which you’ve been waiting.
Over the past several years, anyone looking for a piracy-configured set-top box could do worse than search for one on Amazon or eBay.
Historically, people deploying search terms including “Kodi” or “fully-loaded” were greeted by page after page of Android-type boxes, each ready for illicit plug-and-play entertainment consumption following delivery.
Although the problem persists on both platforms, people are now much less likely to find infringing devices than they were 12 to 24 months ago. Under pressure from entertainment industry groups, both Amazon and eBay have tightened the screws on sellers of such devices. Now, however, both companies have received requests to stem sales from a completetey different direction.
In a letter to eBay CEO Devin Wenig and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first spotted by Ars, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly calls on the platforms to take action against piracy-configured boxes that fail to comply with FCC equipment authorization requirements or falsely display FCC logos, contrary to United States law.
“Disturbingly, some rogue set-top box manufacturers and distributors are exploiting the FCC’s trusted logo by fraudulently placing it on devices that have not been approved via the Commission’s equipment authorization process,” O’Rielly’s letter reads.
“Specifically, nine set-top box distributors were referred to the FCC in October for enabling the unlawful streaming of copyrighted material, seven of which displayed the FCC logo, although there was no record of such compliance.”
While O’Rielly admits that the copyright infringement aspects fall outside the jurisdiction of the FCC, he says it’s troubling that many of these devices are used to stream infringing content, “exacerbating the theft of billions of dollars in American innovation and creativity.”
As noted above, both Amazon and eBay have taken steps to reduce sales of pirate boxes on their respective platforms on copyright infringement grounds, something which is duly noted by O’Rielly. However, he points out that devices continue to be sold to members of the public who may believe that the devices are legal since they’re available for sale from legitimate companies.
“For these reasons, I am seeking your further cooperation in assisting the FCC in taking steps to eliminate the non-FCC compliant devices or devices that fraudulently bear the FCC logo,” the Commissioner writes (pdf).
“Moreover, if your company is made aware by the Commission, with supporting evidence, that a particular device is using a fraudulent FCC label or has not been appropriately certified and labeled with a valid FCC logo, I respectfully request that you commit to swiftly removing these products from your sites.”
In the event that Amazon and eBay take action under this request, O’Rielly asks both platforms to hand over information they hold on offending manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers.
Amazon was quick to respond to the FCC. In a letter published by Ars, Amazon’s Public Policy Vice President Brian Huseman assured O’Rielly that the company is not only dedicated to tackling rogue devices on copyright-infringement grounds but also when there is fraudulent use of the FCC’s logos.
Noting that Amazon is a key member of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) – a group that has been taking legal action against sellers of infringing streaming devices (ISDs) and those who make infringing addons for Kodi-type systems – Huseman says that dealing with the problem is a top priority.
“Our goal is to prevent the sale of ISDs anywhere, as we seek to protect our customers from the risks posed by these devices, in addition to our interest in protecting Amazon Studios content,” Huseman writes.
“In 2017, Amazon became the first online marketplace to prohibit the sale of streaming media players that promote or facilitate piracy. To prevent the sale of these devices, we proactively scan product listings for signs of potentially infringing products, and we also invest heavily in sophisticated, automated real-time tools to review a variety of data sources and signals to identify inauthentic goods.
“These automated tools are supplemented by human reviewers that conduct manual investigations. When we suspect infringement, we take immediate action to remove suspected listings, and we also take enforcement action against sellers’ entire accounts when appropriate.”
Huseman also reveals that since implementing a proactive policy against such devices, “tens of thousands” of listings have been blocked from Amazon. In addition, the platform has been making criminal referrals to law enforcement as well as taking civil action (1,2,3) as part of ACE.
“As noted in your letter, we would also appreciate the opportunity to collaborate further with the FCC to remove non-compliant devices that improperly use the FCC logo or falsely claim FCC certification. If any FCC non-compliant devices are identified, we seek to work with you to ensure they are not offered for sale,” Huseman concludes.
As Internet-capable set-top boxes pour into homes across all populated continents, authorities seem almost powerless to come up with a significant response to the growing threat.
In standard form these devices, which are often Android-based, are entirely legal. However, when configured with specialist software they become piracy powerhouses providing access to all content imaginable, often at copyright holders’ expense.
A large proportion of these devices come from Asia, China in particular, but it’s relatively rare to hear of enforcement action in that part of the world. That changed this week with an announcement from Hong Kong customs detailing a series of raids in the areas of Sham Shui Po and Wan Chai.
After conducting an in-depth investigation with the assistance of copyright holders, on May 25 and 26 Customs and Excise officers launched Operation Trojan Horse, carrying out a series of raids on four premises selling suspected piracy-configured set-top boxes.
During the operation, officers arrested seven men and one woman aged between 18 and 45. Four of them were shop owners and the other four were salespeople. Around 354 suspected ‘pirate’ boxes were seized with an estimated market value of HK$320,000 (US$40,700).
“In the past few months, the department has stepped up inspections of hotspots for TV set-top boxes,” a statement from authorities reads.
“We have discovered that some shops have sold suspected illegal set-top boxes that bypass the copyright protection measures imposed by copyright holders of pay television programs allowing people to watch pay television programs for free.”
Some of the devices seized by Hong Kong Customs
During a press conference yesterday, a representative from the Customs Copyright and Trademark Investigations (Action) Division said that in the run up to the World Cup in 2018, measures against copyright infringement will be strengthened both on and online.
The announcement was welcomed by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia’s (CASBAA) Coalition Against Piracy, which is back by industry heavyweights including Disney, Fox, HBO Asia, NBCUniversal, Premier League, Turner Asia-Pacific, A&E Networks, Astro, BBC Worldwide, National Basketball Association, TV5MONDE, Viacom International, and others.
“We commend the great work of Hong Kong Customs in clamping down on syndicates who profit from the sale of Illicit Streaming Devices,” said General Manager Neil Gane.
“The prevalence of ISDs in Hong Kong and across South East Asia is staggering. The criminals who sell ISDs, as well as those who operate the ISD networks and pirate websites, are profiting from the hard work of talented creators, seriously damaging the legitimate content ecosystem as well as exposing consumers to dangerous malware.”
Malware warnings are very prevalent these days but it’s not something the majority of set-top box owners have a problem with. Indeed, a study carried by Sycamore Research found that pirates aren’t easily deterred by such warnings.
Nevertheless, there are definite risks for individuals selling devices when they’re configured for piracy.
Recent cases, particularly in the UK, have shown that hefty jail sentences can hit offenders while over in the United States (1,2,3), lawsuits filed by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) have the potential to end in unfavorable rulings for multiple defendants.
Although rarely reported, offenders in Hong Kong also face stiff sentences for this kind of infringement including large fines and custodial sentences of up to four years.
In January, a coalition of Canadian companies called on local telecoms regulator CRTC to implement a website-blocking regime in Canada.
The coalition, Fairplay Canada, is a collection of organizations and companies with ties to the entertainment industries and includes Bell, Cineplex, Directors Guild of Canada, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Movie Theatre Association of Canada, and Rogers Media. Its stated aim is to address Canada’s online piracy problems.
While CTRC reviews FairPlay Canada’s plans, the coalition has been seeking to drum up support for the blocking regime, encouraging a diverse range of supporters to send submissions endorsing the project. Of course, building a united front among like-minded groups is nothing out of the ordinary but a situation just uncovered by Canadian law Professor Micheal Geist, one of the most vocal opponents of the proposed scheme, is bound to raise eyebrows.
Geist discovered a submission by Brian Hutchings, who works as Vice-President, Administration at Brock University in Ontario. Dated March 22, 2018, it notes that one of the university’s most sought-after programs is Sports Management, which helps Brock’s students to become “the lifeblood” of Canada’s sport and entertainment industries.
“Our University is deeply alarmed at how piracy is eroding an industry that employs so many of our co-op students and graduates. Piracy is a serious, pervasive threat that steals creativity, undermines investment in content development and threatens the survival of an industry that is also part of our national identity,” the submission reads.
“Brock ardently supports the FairPlay Canada coalition of more than 25 organizations involved in every aspect of Canada’s film, TV, radio, sports entertainment and music industries. Specifically, we support the coalition’s request that the CRTC introduce rules that would disable access in Canada to the most egregious piracy sites, similar to measures that have been taken in the UK, France and Australia. We are committed to assist the members of the coalition and the CRTC in eliminating the theft of digital content.”
The letter leaves no doubt that Brock University as a whole stands side-by-side with Fairplay Canada but according to a subsequent submission signed by Michelle Webber, President, Brock University Faculty Association (BUFA), nothing could be further from the truth.
Noting that BUFA unanimously supports the position of the Canadian Association of University Teachers which opposes the FairPlay proposal, Webber adds that BUFA stands in opposition to the submission by Brian Hutchings on behalf of Brock University.
“Vice President Hutching’s intervention was undertaken without consultation with the wider Brock University community, including faculty, librarians, and Senate; therefore, his submission should not be seen as indicative of the views of Brock University as a whole.”
BUFA goes on to stress the importance of an open Internet to researchers and educators while raising concerns that the blocking proposals could threaten the principles of net neutrality in Canada.
While the undermining of Hutching’s position is embarrassing enough, via access to information laws Geist has also been able to reveal the chain of events that prompted the Vice-President to write a letter of support on behalf of the whole university.
It began with an email sent by former Brock professor Cheri Bradish to Mark Milliere, TSN’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, with Hutchings copied in. The idea was to connect the pair, with the suggestion that supporting the site-blocking plan would help to mitigate the threat to “future work options” for students.
What followed was a direct email from Mark Milliere to Brian Hutchings, in which the former laid out the contributions his company makes to the university, while again suggesting that support for site-blocking would be in the long-term interests of students seeking employment in the industry.
On March 23, Milliere wrote to Hutchings again, thanking him for “a terrific letter” and stating that “If you need anything from TSN, just ask.”
This isn’t the first time that Bell has asked those beholden to the company to support its site-blocking plans.
Back in February it was revealed that the company had asked its own employees to participate in the site-blocking submission process, without necessarily revealing their affiliations with the company.
The Backblaze web team is growing! As we add more features and work on our website we need more hands to get things done. Enter Steven, who joins us as an Associate Front End Developer. Steven is going to be getting his hands dirty and diving in to the fun-filled world of web development. Lets learn a bit more about Steven shall we?
What is your Backblaze Title?
Associate Front End Developer.
Where are you originally from?
The Bronx, New York born and raised.
What attracted you to Backblaze?
The team behind Backblaze made me feel like family from the moment I stepped in the door. The level of respect and dedication they showed me is the same respect and dedication they show their customers. Those qualities made wanting to be a part of Backblaze a no brainer!
What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze?
I expect to grow as a software developer and human being by absorbing as much as I can from the immensely talented people I’ll be surrounded by.
Where else have you worked?
I previously worked at The Greenwich Hotel where I was a front desk concierge and bellman. If the team at Backblaze is anything like the team I was a part of there then this is going to be a fun ride.
Where did you go to school?
I studied at Baruch College and Bloc.
What’s your dream job?
My dream job is one where I’m able to express 100% of my creativity.
Favorite place you’ve traveled?
Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Watching my Yankees, Knicks or Jets play.
Of what achievement are you most proud?
Becoming a Software Developer…
Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars! May the force be with you…
Coke or Pepsi?
… Water. Black iced tea? One of god’s finer creations.
Mangu con Los Tres Golpes (Mashed Plantains with Fried Salami, Eggs & Cheese).
Why do you like certain things?
I like things that give me good vibes.
Anything else you’d like you’d like to tell us?
If you break any complex concept down into to its simplest parts you’ll have an easier time trying to fully grasp it.
Those are some serious words of wisdom from Steven. We look forward to him helping us get cool stuff out the door!
Най-сетне! Хип-хип-ура! Любо Николов пусна поредната част от невероятния си разказ!
Тези, които са го прочели, сигурно си спомнят как нещастният Николай Светлев бе замесен въпреки волята си в доста странен (както и другите събития около него) побой, и попадна в ръцете на архонтската полиция – каквото и да е тя. Е, сега ще прочетете какво се случва с него след това – и ще откриете и малко намеци какви всъщност са толкова странните му спътници.
… А аз въздишам с тонове завист. Да, напоследък не съм имал време да пиша, но и всичкото ми време да отиваше за писане, нямаше да доближа на светлинни години до таланта на Любо Николов, докато съм жив. Колкото и да чопля паметта си – а в нея има немалко четива! – той е единственият, който е не само весел поне колкото Тери Пратчет, но и пише с повече финес и по-добър стил от него.
А от това може да има само една по-голяма приказка – че не е преувеличение. И наистина не е.
Благодаря ти от сърце, Любо! Нямам търпение да прочета и следващите части! И не само аз – сигурно още хиляди читатели го нямат! Благодаря ти, че ни подари възможността да се повеселим от сърце и душа – с една мъдра, блага и весела история.
After several high-profile years at the helm of the movie industry’s most powerful lobbying group, last year saw the departure of Chris Dodd from the role of Chairman and CEO at the MPAA.
The former Senator, who earned more than $3.5m a year championing the causes of the major Hollywood studios since 2011, was immediately replaced by another political heavyweight.
Charles Rivkin, who took up his new role September 5, 2017, previously served as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs in the Obama administration. With an underperforming domestic box office year behind him fortunately overshadowed by massive successes globally, this week he spoke before US movie exhibitors for the first time at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.
“Globally, we hit a record high of $40.6 billion at the box office. Domestically, our $11.1 billion box office was slightly down from the 2016 record. But it exactly matched the previous high from 2015. And it was the second highest total in the past decade,” Rivkin said.
“But it exactly matched the previous high from 2015. And it was the second highest total in the past decade.”
Rivkin, who spent time as President and CEO of The Jim Henson Company, told those in attendance that he shares a deep passion for the movie industry and looks forward optimistically to the future, a future in which content is secured from those who intend on sharing it for free.
“Making sure our creative works are valued and protected is one of the most important things we can do to keep that industry heartbeat strong. At the Henson Company, and WildBrain, I learned just how much intellectual property affects everyone. Our entire business model depended on our ability to license Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the Muppets and distribute them across the globe,” Rivkin said.
“I understand, on a visceral level, how important copyright is to any creative business and in particular our country’s small and medium enterprises – which are the backbone of the American economy. As Chairman and CEO of the MPAA, I guarantee you that fighting piracy in all forms remains our top priority.”
That tackling piracy is high on the MPAA’s agenda won’t comes as a surprise but at least in terms of the numbers of headlines plastered over the media, high-profile anti-piracy action has been somewhat lacking in recent years.
With lawsuits against torrent sites seemingly a thing of the past and a faltering Megaupload case that will conclude who-knows-when, the MPAA has taken a broader view, seeking partnerships with sometimes rival content creators and distributors, each with a shared desire to curtail illicit media.
“One of the ways that we’re already doing that is through the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment – or ACE as we call it,” Rivkin said.
“This is a coalition of 30 leading global content creators, including the MPAA’s six member studios as well as Netflix, and Amazon. We work together as a powerful team to ensure our stories are seen as they were intended to be, and that their creators are rewarded for their hard work.”
Announced in June 2017, ACE has become a united anti-piracy powerhouse for a huge range of entertainment industry groups, encompassing the likes of CBS, HBO, BBC, Sky, Bell Canada, CBS, Hulu, Lionsgate, Foxtel and Village Roadshow, to name a few.
The coalition was announced by former MPAA Chief Chris Dodd and now, with serious financial input from all companies involved, appears to be picking its fights carefully, focusing on the growing problem of streaming piracy centered around misuse of Kodi and similar platforms.
From threatening relatively small-time producers and distributors of third-party addons and builds (1,2,3), ACE is also attempting to make its mark among the profiteers.
The group now has several lawsuits underway in the United States against people selling piracy-enabled IPTV boxes including Tickbox, Dragon Box, and during the last week, Set TV.
With these important cases pending, Rivkin offered assurances that his organization remains committed to anti-piracy enforcement and he thanked exhibitors for their efforts to prevent people quickly running away with copies of the latest releases.
“I am grateful to all of you for recognizing what is at stake, and for working with us to protect creativity, such as fighting the use of illegal camcorders in theaters,” he said.
“Protecting our creativity isn’t only a fundamental right. It’s an economic necessity, for us and all creative economies. Film and television are among the most valuable – and most impactful – exports we have.
Thus far at least, Rivkin has a noticeably less aggressive tone on piracy than his predecessor Chris Dodd but it’s unlikely that will be mistaken for weakness among pirates, nor should it. The MPAA isn’t known for going soft on pirates and it certainly won’t be changing course anytime soon.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation loves to celebrate people who use technology to solve problems and express themselves creatively, so we’re proud to expand the incredibly successful event Coolest Projects to North America. This free event will be held on Sunday 23 September 2018 at the Discovery Cube Orange County in Santa Ana, California.
What is Coolest Projects?
Coolest Projects is a world-leading showcase that empowers and inspires the next generation of digital creators, innovators, changemakers, and entrepreneurs. The event is both a competition and an exhibition to give young digital makers aged 7 to 17 a platform to celebrate their successes, creativity, and ingenuity.
In 2012, Coolest Projects was conceived as an opportunity for CoderDojo Ninjas to showcase their work and for supporters to acknowledge these achievements. Week after week, Ninjas would meet up to work diligently on their projects, hacks, and code; however, it can be difficult for them to see their long-term progress on a project when they’re concentrating on its details on a weekly basis. Coolest Projects became a dedicated time each year for Ninjas and supporters to reflect, celebrate, and share both the achievements and challenges of the maker’s journey.
Coolest Projects North America
Not only is Coolest Projects expanding to North America, it’s also expanding its participant pool! Members of our team have met so many amazing young people creating in all areas of the world, that it simply made sense to widen our outreach to include Code Clubs, students of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, and members of the Raspberry Jam community at large as well as CoderDojo attendees.
Exhibit and attend Coolest Projects
Coolest Projects is a free, family- and educator-friendly event. Young people can apply to exhibit their projects, and the general public can register to attend this one-day event. Be sure to register today, because you make Coolest Projects what it is: the coolest.
In some way, shape or form, Internet piracy has always been carried out through some kind of application. Whether that’s a peer-to-peer client utilizing BitTorrent or eD2K, or a Usenet or FTP tool taking things back to their roots, software has always played a crucial role.
Of course, the nature of the Internet beast means that software usage is unavoidable but in recent years piracy has swung more towards the regular web browser, meaning that sites and services offering pirated content are largely easy to locate, identify and block, if authorities so choose.
As revealed this week by the MPA, thousands of platforms around the world are now targeted for blocking, with 1,800 sites and 5,300 domains blocked in Europe alone.
However, as the Kodi phenomenon has shown, web-based content doesn’t always have to be accessed via a standard web browser. Clever but potentially illegal addons and third-party apps are able to scrape web-based resources and present links to content on a wide range of devices, from mobile phones and tablets to set-top boxes.
While it’s still possible to block the resources upon which these addons rely, the scattered nature of the content makes the process much more difficult. One can’t simply block a whole platform because a few movies are illegally hosted there and even Google has found itself hosting thousands of infringing titles, a situation that’s ruthlessly exploited by addon and app developers alike.
Needless to say, the situation hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment has spent the last year (1,2,3) targeting many people involved in the addon and app scene, hoping they’ll take their tools and run, rather than further develop a rapidly evolving piracy ecosystem.
Over in Russia, a country that will happily block hundreds or millions of IP addresses if it suits them, the topic of infringing apps was raised this week. It happened during the International Strategic Forum on Intellectual Property, a gathering of 500 experts from more than 30 countries. There were strong calls for yet more tools and measures to deal with films and music being made available via ‘pirate’ apps.
The forum heard that in response to widespread website blocking, people behind pirate sites have begun creating applications for mobile devices to achieve the same ends – the provision of illegal content. This, key players in the music industry say, means that the law needs to be further tightened to tackle the rising threat.
“Consumption of content is now going into the mobile sector and due to this we plan to prevent mass migration of ‘pirates’ to the mobile sector,” said Leonid Agronov, general director of the National Federation of the Music Industry.
The same concerns were echoed by Alexander Blinov, CEO of Warner Music Russia. According to TASS, the powerful industry player said that while recent revenues had been positively affected by site-blocking, it’s now time to start taking more action against apps.
“I agree with all speakers that we can not stop at what has been achieved so far. The music industry has a fight against illegal content in mobile applications on the agenda,” Blinov said.
And if Blinov is to be believed, music in Russia is doing particularly well at the moment. Attributing successes to efforts by parliament, the Ministry of Communications, and copyright holders, Blinov said the local music market has doubled in the past two years.
“We are now in the top three fastest growing markets in the world, behind only China and South Korea,” Blinov said.
While some apps can work in the same manner as a basic web interface, others rely on more complex mechanisms, ‘scraping’ content from diverse sources that can be easily and readily changed if mitigation measures kick in. It will be very interesting to see how Russia deals with this threat and whether it will opt for highly technical solutions or the nuclear options demonstrated recently.
Две обяви, насочени към всички любители на фантастиката:
НА ВАШЕТО ВНИМАНИЕ – „ФАНТАSTIKA 2017“
Излезе от печат осмият пореден алманах „ФантАstika“. Негов съставител, както винаги досега, е Атанас П. Славов – председател на Дружеството на българските фантасти „Тера Фантазия“.
Алманахът е интересен не само за читателите, запознати с предишните ежегодници, но и за ценителите на супержанра (във всичките му форми), които за пръв път ще вземат това издание в ръцете си.
Преводните автори са застъпени с оригинална новела на аржентинката Тереса Мира де Ечеверия, класически разказ на американеца Томас Шеред и една творба от македонския фантаст Никола Суботич, наскоро отличена в конкурса „Агоп Мелконян“.
В големия раздел на родните фантасти ще се срещнете както с доайена Христо Пощаков, представен като майстор на научната фантастика, фентъзито и хумора, така и с нови произведения от Ценка Бакърджиева, Валентин Д. Иванов, Мартин Петков, Янчо Чолаков, а също и с приказка от дебютната книга на Мел.
И сега разделът „Фантастология“ е посветен на обзори и тенденции в развитието на нашата и световната фантастика, плюс задочни срещи с класици като Светослав Минков и Елин Пелин, видени през погледа на Боряна Владимирова и Александър Карапанчев. Няколко статии разглеждат испаноезични писателки, руски тематични направления в модерната НФ, българската фантастика в нова аудио форма и последния брой на списание „Тера фантастика“.
В раздела „Съзвездие Кинотавър“ ще се запознаете с някои от актуалните екранизации на фантастични романи, с англичанина, създал сценария на „Изкуствен интелект“, и с шеговит комикс (за това как на Кубрик му е изглеждало бъдещето през 2019 година).
Броят обявява уникалния по темата си конкурс „Изгревът на следващото“ – за разкази, посветени на едно желаемо бъдеще. Разделът „Футурум“ включва статии за новите информационни религии, несъстояли се финали на света и особено любопитна фаКтастика.
И още по страниците на този алманах: подбрани картини от художника Андриан Бекяров… пристрастен репортаж за Еврокон 2017 в Дортмунд… поезия… и много други събития от неизчерпаемата сфера на въображението.
Дружество на българските фантасти „Тера Фантазия“ и фондация „Човешката библиотека“ канят всички автори да участват в първия Конкурс „Изгревът на следващото“.
В момента се провежда не един конкурс за български художествени текстове, но този е единственият, който има за тема възможното движение към позитивно бъдеще. Днес, в епохата на ширещи се антиутопии и безкритично катастрофично мислене, се изисква истинска интелектуална смелост, за да потърсим формите за Изхода. Смелост да допуснем, че Човешкият дух е в състояние да намери пътя си към по-високото ниво, интелект да си го представим и талант да го защитим художествено.
Какво е решението на задачата, наречена „Кризисно съвремие“?
Какво е решението, което води до по-висше състояние на ЧоВечността и Човечеството, към бъдеще, в което ЧоВечният Разум е надрасъл безчовечното невежество?
Какво е решението, което ще създаде свят, в който науките и технологиите ще се развиват, за да расте качеството на Човека, а не богатствата на единици?
Какво е решението, което ще избегне застиналите утопиянства, където позьорис бели хитони рецитират един на друг надути речи?
Конкурсът „Изгревът на следващото“ ще бъде мястото, където ще се публикуват истории, посветени на това търсене. Произведения, които с художествен талант и моделираща сила ще защитават нови светове от този вид по един от следните два начина:
По спиралата към следващото: Съдби на индивиди и общества, търсещи изхода от съвременното кризисно състояние на света ни; образи на учени, мислители и обикновени хора, напипващи в мрака на неизвестното пътищата към тази цел; приключения на личности, въвлечени в такъв спирален процес и постепенно осъзнаващи смисъла му.
Визии на следващото: Изграждане на образи, възникнали в нашето съвремие, но носещи белезите на новото, притежаващи вътрешната свобода, въпреки че са затворени в клетката на настоящата социална несвобода; образи на групи и общества, постигнали белези на следващото, без ескейпизъм, фанатизъм и аскетизъм. Хуманитарни технологии, водещи до освобождаване от опредметяването, разкриващи етическите и интелектуалните ресурси на ЧоВечното. Непротиворечиви и реалистично обрисувани общества на бъдещето, в които всяка личност е пълноценно разгърната и осъществена, без да зависи или да бъде притежавана от друга.
Приемливи са всички жанрове – достатъчно е разказите да засягат поне една от горните две теми.
Крайният срок за участие е 1 юни 2018 г.
Трите най-високо класирани разказа ще получат награди по 200 лв. и заедно с други подбрани заглавия от конкурса ще бъдат публикувани в следващите издания на алманаха „ФантАstika“.
Piracy configured set-top boxes are the next big thing, today. Millions have been sold around the world and anti-piracy groups are scrambling to rein them in.
Many strategies are being tested, from pressurizing developers of allegedly infringing addons to filing aggressive lawsuits against sites such as TVAddons, a Kodi addon repository now facing civil action in both the United States and Canada.
Also under fire are companies that sell set-top boxes that come ready configured for piracy. Both Tickbox TV and Dragon Media Inc are being sued by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) in the US. At this stage, neither case looks promising for the defendants.
However, civil action isn’t the only way to deal with defendants in the United States, as a man and woman team from Tampa, Florida, have just discovered after being arrested by local police.
Mickael Cantrell and Nancy Major were allegedly the brains behind NBEETV, a company promising to supply set-top boxes that deliver “every movie, every tv show that’s ever been made, plus live sports with no blackouts” with “no monthly fees ever.”
As similar cases have shown, this kind of marketing spiel rarely ends well for defendants but the people behind NBEE TV (also known as FreeTVForLife Inc.) were either oblivious or simply didn’t care about the consequences.
A company press release dated April 2017 advertising the company’s NBPro 3+ box and tracked down by TF this week reveals the extent of the boasts.
“NBPRO 3+ is a TV box that offers instant access to watch every episode of any TV show without paying any monthly bill. One just must attach the loaded box to his TV and stream whatever they want, with no commercials,” the company wrote.
But while “Free TV for Life” was the slogan, that wasn’t the reality at the outset.
NBEETV’s Kodi-powered Android boxes were hellishly expensive with the NBPRO 1, NBPRO 3, NBPRO 5 costing $199.00, $279.00 and $359.00 respectively. This, however, was presented as a bargain alongside a claim that the “average [monthly] cable bill across the country is approximately $198.00” per month.
On top of the base product, NBEETV offered an 800 number for customer support and from their physical premises, they ran “training classes every Tuesday and Thursdays at 11:00” for people to better understand their products.
The location of that building isn’t mentioned in local media but a WHOIS on the company’s FreeTVForLife domain yields a confirmed address. It’s one that’s also been complained about in the past by an unhappy customer.
“Free TV for LIFE [redacted]..(next to K-Mart) Hudson, Fl.. 34667. We bought the Little black box costing $277.00. The pictures were not clear,” Rita S. wrote.
“The screen froze up on us all the time, even after hooking straight into the router. When we took the unit back they kept $80 of our money….were very rude, using the ************* word and we will not get the remainder of our money for 14-28 days according to the employee at the store. Buyers beware and I am telling everyone!!!”
While this customer was clearly unhappy, NBEETV claimed to be a “movement which is spreading across the country.” Unfortunately, that movement reached the eyes of the police, who didn’t think that the content being offered on the devices should have been presented for free.
“We saw [the boxes] had Black Panther, The Shape Of Water, Jumanji was on there as well,” said Detective Darren Hill.
“This is someone blatantly on the side of the road just selling them, with signage, a store front; advertising on the internet with a website.”
Detective Hill worked on the case with the MPAA but even from TorrentFreak’s limited investigations this week, the couple were incredibly easy to identify.
Aside from providing accurate and non-hidden address data in WHOIS records, Mickael Cantrell (also known as Michael Cantrell) put in his real name too. The listed email address is also easily traced back to a company called Nanny Bees Corporation which was operated by Cantrell and partner Nancy Major, who was also arrested in the NBEETV case.
Unfortunately for the couple, the blundering didn’t stop there. Their company YouTube channel, which is packed with tutorials, is also in Cantrell’s real name. Indeed, the photograph supplied to YouTube even matches the mugshot published by ABC Action News.
The publication reports that the Sheriff’s Office found the couple with around 50 ‘pirate’ boxes. The store operated by the couple has also been shutdown.
Finally, another curious aspect of NBEETV’s self-promotion comes via a blog post/press release dated August 2017 in which Cantrell suddenly ups the ante by becoming Michael W. Cantrell, Ph. D alongside some bold and unusual claims.
“Dr. Cantrell unleashes his latest innovation, a Smart TV Box that literally updates every ten minutes. Not only does the content (what you can view) but the whole platform updates automatically. If the Company changes an icon you receive the change in real time,” the release reads.
“Thanks to the Overlay Processor that Dr. Cantrell created, this processor named B-D.A.D (Binary Data Acceleration Dump) which enhances an Android unit’s operating power 5 times than the original bench test, has set a new industry standard around the world.”
Sounds epic….perhaps it powered the following video clip.
For the past several years most of the world has been waking up to the streaming piracy phenomenon, with pre-configured set-top boxes making inroads into millions of homes.
While other countries, notably the UK, arrested many individuals while warning of a grave and looming danger, complaints from the United States remained relatively low-key. It was almost as if the stampede towards convenient yet illegal streaming had caught the MPAA and friends by surprise.
In October 2017, things quickly began to change. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment sued Georgia-based Tickbox TV, a company selling “fully-loaded” Kodi boxes. In January 2018, the same anti-piracy group targeted Dragon Media, a company in the same line of business.
With this growing type of piracy now firmly on the radar, momentum seems to be building. Yesterday, a panel discussion on the challenges associated with piracy from streaming media boxes took place on Capitol Hill.
Hosted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), ‘Unboxing the Piracy Threat of Streaming Media Boxes’ went ahead with some big name speakers in attendance, not least Neil Fried, Senior Vice President, Federal Advocacy and Regulatory Affairs at the MPAA.
ITIF and various industry groups tweeted many interesting comments throughout the event. Kevin Madigan from Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property told the panel that torrent-based content “is becoming obsolete” in an on-demand digital environment that’s switching to streaming-based piracy.
While there’s certainly a transition taking place, 150 million worldwide torrent users would probably argue against the term “obsolete”. Nevertheless, the same terms used to describe torrent sites are now being used to describe players in the streaming field.
“There’s a criminal enterprise going on here that’s stealing content and making a profit,” Fried told those in attendance.
“The piracy activity out there is bad, it’s hurting a lot of economic activity & creators aren’t being compensated for their work,” he added.
Tom Galvin, Executive Director at the Digital Citizens Alliance, was also on the panel. Unsurprisingly, given the organization’s focus on the supposed dangers of piracy, Galvin took the opportunity to underline that position.
“If you go down the piracy road, those boxes aren’t following proper security protocols, there are many malware risks,” he said. It’s a position shared by Fried, who told the panel that “video piracy is the leading source of malware.”
Similar claims were made recently on Safer Internet Day but the facts don’t seem to back up the scare stories. Still, with the “Piracy is Dangerous” strategy already out in the open, the claims aren’t really unexpected.
What might also not come as a surprise is that ACE’s lawsuits against Tickbox and Dragon Media could be just a warm-up for bigger things to come. In the tweet embedded below, Fried can be seen holding a hexagonal-shaped streaming box, warning that the Department of Justice is now looking for candidates for criminal action.
Neil Fried of @MPAA with one of the streaming Kodi boxes leading to big piracy problems during Capitol Hill panel talk. Says DOJ looking at ‘variety of candidates’ for criminal action. @Comm_Dailypic.twitter.com/aYIRA4wgTC
What form this action will take when it arrives isn’t clear but when the DoJ hits targets on home soil, it tends to cherry-pick the most blatant of infringers in order to set an example with reasonably cut-and-dried cases.
Of course, every case can be argued but with hundreds of so-called “Kodi box” sellers active all over the United States, many of them clearly breaking the law as they, in turn, invite their customers to break the law, picking a sitting duck shouldn’t be too difficult.
And then, of course, we come to President Trump. Not usually that vocal on matters of intellectual property and piracy, yesterday – perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not – he suddenly delivered one of his “something is coming” tweets.
The U.S. is acting swiftly on Intellectual Property theft. We cannot allow this to happen as it has for many years!
Fstoppers is an online community that produces extremely high-quality photographic tutorials. One of its most popular series is called Photographing the World which sees photographer Elia Locardi travel to exotic locations to demonstrate landscape and cityscape photography.
These tutorials sell for almost $300, with two or three versions in a pack selling for up $700. Of course, like any other media they get pirated so when Fstoppers were ready to release Photographing the World 3, they released it themselves on torrent sites a few days before retail.
Well, that’s what they wanted the world to believe.
“I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all downloaded ‘something’ illegally in the past. Whether it’s an MP3 years ago or a movie or a TV show, and occasionally you download something and it turns out it was kinda like a Rick Roll,” says Locardi.
“So we kept talking and we thought it would be a good idea to create this dummy lesson or shadow tutorial that was actually a fake and then seed it on BitTorrent.”
Where Fstoppers normally go to beautiful and exotic international locations, for their fake they decided to go to an Olive Garden in Charleston, South Carolina. Yet despite the clear change of location, they wanted people to believe the tutorial was legitimate.
“We wanted to ride this constant line of ‘Is this for real? Could this possibly be real? Is Elia [Locardi] joking right now? I don’t think he’s joking, he’s being totally serious’,” says Lee Morris, one of the co-owners of Fstoppers.
People really have to watch the tutorial to see what a fantastic job Fstoppers did in achieving that goal. For anyone unfamiliar with their work, the tutorial is initially hard to spot as a fake and even for veterans the level of ambiguity is really impressive.
However, when the tutorial heads back to the studio, where the post-processing lesson gets underway, there can be no doubt that something is amiss.
Things start off normally with serious teaching, then over time, the tutorial gets more and more ridiculous. Then, when the camera cuts away to show Locardi forming a ‘mask’ on an Olive Garden image, there can be no confusion.
That’s a cool mask….wait..
In order to get the tutorial out to the world, the site created its own torrent. They had never done anything like it before so got some associates to upload the huge 25GB+ package to The Pirate Bay and have their friends seed it. Then, in order to get past more savvy users on the site, they had other people come in and give the torrent good (but fake) reviews.
The fake torrent on The Pirate Bay (as of yesterday)
Screenshots provided by Fstoppers taken months ago reveal hundreds of downloaders. And, according to Morris, the fake became the most-downloaded Photographing the World 3 torrent online, meaning that the “majority of downloaders” got the comedy version.
Also of interest is the feedback Fstoppers got following their special release. Emails flooded in from pirates, some of whom were confused while others were upset at the ‘quality’ of the tutorial.
“The whole time we were thinking: ‘This isn’t even on the market yet! You guys are totally stealing this and emailing us and complaining about it,” says Fstoppers co-owner Patrick Hall.
While the tutorial itself is brilliant, Fstoppers points to a certain hypocrisy within its target audience of photographers, who themselves have to put up with a lot of online piracy of their work. Yet, clearly, many are happy to pirate the work of other photographers in order to make their own art better.
All that being said, the exercise is certainly an interesting one and the creativity behind the hoax puts it head and shoulders above more aggressive anti-piracy campaigns. However, when TF tracked down the torrent on The Pirate Bay last evening, it’s popularity had nosedived.
While it was initially downloaded by a lot of eager photographers, probably encouraged by the fake comments placed on the site by Fstoppers, the torrent is now only being shared by less than 10 people. As usual, the Pirate Bay users appear to have caught on, flagging the torrent as a fake. The moderators, it seems, have also deleted the fake comments.
While most people won’t want to download a 25GB torrent to see what Fstoppers came up with, the site has uploaded the fake tutorial to YouTube. It’s best viewed alongside their other work, which is sensational, but people should get a good idea by watching the explanation below.
The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) is a coalition of 30 companies that reads like a who’s who of the global entertainment market.
All of the major Hollywood studios are members, plus Amazon, Netflix, BBC, Hulu, and Village Roadshow, to name a few.
ACE was launched last year to present a united front against online infringement and since then has been involved in various anti-piracy actions.
ACE has made the third-party Kodi addon scene one of its early priorities, targeting developers with home visits and lengthy letters demanding that they cease and desist their activities. This has led to several pulling back from the scene but in some instances, this doesn’t appear to have been enough for ACE.
The letters received by the developers also include a requirement for them to sign a settlement agreement which binds them to a particular course of future behavior set out by ACE. It’s unclear how many developers have signed but TorrentFreak is aware that several have not.
One of those is JSergio123 who last November announced he would be discontinuing development of several Kodi addons after being targeted by ACE.
“Sorry to say but I am stopping all development of the urlresolver, metahandler, and my other addons,” he said.
JSergio123’s reluctance to sign an agreement with ACE hasn’t gone unnoticed by the anti-piracy group. In a letter dated March 5, 2018 and signed by Kelly Klaus of US-based lawfirm Munger, Tolles & Olson, the developer is reminded of what transpired last year and what is expected of him moving forward.
“I understand that ACE counsel have discussed with you various of your “Addon” software applications and related software and services, including URLResolver (collectively, the “[redacted] Addons”) and other actions you have undertaken to induce and contribute to the mass infringement of the ACE members’ copyrighted works,” Klaus writes.
“I also understand that ACE counsel have provided you with a proposed settlement agreement, pursuant to which you would end your infringing activities and provide cooperation and other consideration in exchange for ACE agreeing not to pursue legal action against you arising out of your infringing activities. To date, you have not signed the settlement agreement.”
JSergio123’s precise reasons for not signing the settlement agreement aren’t being made public. However, TorrentFreak understands that some of the terms presented to addon developers last year have caused considerable concern. In some cases they are difficult to meet, not to mention unpalatable to the people involved.
They include promises to ensure that specified addons and indeed any developed in the future can no longer infringe copyright. For those that scrape third-party sources, this could prove impossible to absolutely guarantee. This could effectively put developers out of the addon game – legitimate or otherwise – for good.
TF is also informed that ACE demanded a high-level of cooperation, including that the developers should supply what amounts to a full confession, detailing all the projects they’ve been involved in, past and present.
Furthermore, the ACE agreement reportedly requires developers to inform on their colleagues by providing personal information such as identities and contact details. There’s also a requirement to indicate whether and how developers been making money from their activities.
The new letter from ACE, which is shown below after being published by JSergio, refers to a “most recent draft of the settlement agreement that ACE members would be willing to sign.”
Whether this contains any amendments from the settlement agreements sent out last year isn’t clear but Mr Klaus, who is a veteran of several large infringement lawsuits in the US, says that JSergio should take the offer seriously.
“I strongly urge you to consider the gravity of this situation and sign the agreement,” the lawyer concludes.
Last November, following a year of upheaval for third-party addon creators and distributors, yet more turmoil hit the community in the form of threats from the world’s most powerful anti-piracy coalition – the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE).
Comprised of 30 companies including the studios of the MPAA, Amazon, Netflix, CBS, HBO, BBC, Sky, Bell Canada, CBS, Hulu, Lionsgate, Foxtel, Village Roadshow, and many more, ACE warned several developers to shut down – or else.
The letter: shut down – or else
Now it appears that ACE is on the warpath again, this time targeting a broader range of individuals involved in the Kodi addon scene, from developers and distributors to those involved in the production of how-to videos on YouTube.
The first report of action came from TVAddons, who noted that the lead developer at the Noobs and Nerds repository had been targeted with a cease-and-desist notice, adding that people from the site had been “visited at their homes.”
As seen in the image below, the Noobs and Nerds website is currently down. The site’s Twitter account has also been disabled.
Noobs and Nerds – gone
While TVAddons couldn’t precisely confirm the source of the threat, information gathered from individuals involved in the addon scene all point to the involvement of ACE.
In particular, a man known online as Teverz, who develops his own builds, runs a repo, and creates Kodi-themed YouTube videos, confirmed that ACE had been in touch.
An apparently unconcerned Teverz….
“I am not a dev so they really don’t scare me lmao,” he added.
Teverz claims to be from Canada and it appears that others in the country are also facing cease and desist notices. An individual known as Doggmatic, who also identifies as Canadian and has Kodi builds under his belt, says he too was targeted.
Another target in Canada
Doggmatic, who appears to be part of the Illuminati repo, says he had someone call the people who sent the cease-and-desist but like Teverz, he doesn’t seem overly concerned, at least for now.
“I have a legal representative calling them. The letters they sent aren’t legal documents. No lawyer signed them and no law firm mentioned,” Doggmatic said.
But the threats don’t stop there. Blamo, the developer of the Neptune Rising addon accessible from the Blamo repo, also claims to have been threatened.
SpinzTV, who offers unofficial Kodi builds and an associated repository, is also under the spotlight. Unlike his Canadian counterparts, he has already thrown in the towel, according to a short announcement on Twitter.
For SpinzTV it’s all over…
TorrentFreak contacted the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, asking them if they could confirm the actions and provide any additional details. At the time of publication they had no information for us but we’ll update if and when that comes in.
Cue the lights! Cue the music! Picademy is back for another year stateside. We’re excited to bring our free computer science and digital making professional development program for educators to four new cities this summer — you can apply right now.
We’re thrilled to kick off our 2018 season! Before we get started, let’s take a look back at our community’s accomplishments in the 2017 Picademy North America season.
Picademy 2017 highlights
Last year, we partnered with four awesome venues to host eight Picademy events in the United States. At every event across the country, we met incredibly talented educators passionate about bringing digital making to their learners. Whether it was at Ann Arbor District Library’s makerspace, UC Irvine’s College of Engineering, or a creative community center in Boise, Idaho, we were truly inspired by all our Picademy attendees and were thrilled to welcome them to the Raspberry Pi Certified Educator community.
JWU Providence’s College of Engineering & Design recently partnered with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to host Picademy, a free training session designed to give educators the tools to teach computer skills with confidence and creativity. | http://www.jwu.edu
The 2017 Picademy cohorts were a diverse bunch with a lot of experience in their field. We welcomed more than 300 educators from 32 U.S. states and 10 countries. They were a mix of high school, middle school, and elementary classroom teachers, librarians, museum staff, university lecturers, and teacher trainers. More than half of our attendees were teaching computer science or technology already, and over 90% were specifically interested in incorporating physical computing into their work.
Picademy has a strong and lasting impact on educators. Over 80% of graduates said they felt confident using Raspberry Pi after attending, and 88% said they were now interested in leading a digital making event in their community. To showcase two wonderful examples of this success: Chantel Mason led a Raspberry Pi workshop for families and educators in her community in St. Louis, Missouri this fall, and Dean Palmer led a digital making station at the Computer Science for Rhode Island Summit in December.
Picademy 2018 dates
This year, we’re partnering with four new venues to host our Picademy season.
It’s not often that movies escape being pirated online but last weekend was a pretty miserable one for the people behind Thor:Ragnarok.
Just four months after the superhero movie’s theatrical debut, the Marvel hit was due to be released on disc February 26th, with digital distribution on iTunes planned for February 19th.
However, due to what appeared to be some kind of pre-order blunder, the $180 million movie was leaked online, resulting in a pirate frenzy that’s still ongoing.
But with the accidental early release of Thor:Ragnarok making waves within the torrent system and beyond, it seems ironic that its talented director actually has another relationship with piracy that most people aren’t aware of.
In an interview for ‘Q’, a show broadcast on Canada’s CBC radio, Taika Waititi noted that Thor: Ragnarok might be a “career ender” for him, something that was previously highlighted in the media.
However, the softly-spoken New Zealander also said some other things that flew completely under the radar but given recent developments, now have new significance.
Speaking with broadcaster Tom Power, Waititi revealed that when putting together his promotional showreel for Thor: Ragnarok, he obtained its source material from illegal sources.
Explaining the process used to acquire clips to create his ‘sizzle reel’ (a short video highlighting a director’s vision and tone for a proposed movie), Waititi revealed his less-than-official approach.
“I cut together little clips and shots – I basically illegally torrented and, erm, you know, ripped clips from the Internet,” Waititi said.
“Of a bunch of different things?” Power asked.
“I don’t mind saying that…erm…on the radio,” Waititi added, unconvincingly.
With Power quickly assuring the director that admitting doing something illegal was OK on air, Waititi perhaps realized it probably wasn’t.
“You can cut that out,” he suggested.
That Waititi took the ‘pirate’ approach to obtaining source material for his ‘sizzle reel’ isn’t really a surprise. Content is freely accessible online, crucially in easier to consume and edit formats than even Waititi has access to on short notice. And, since every film in memory is just a few clicks away, it’d be counter-intuitive not to use the resource in the name of creativity.
Overall then, it’s extremely unlikely that Waititi’s pirate confession will come to much. Two of his previous feature films, ‘Boy’ and ‘Hunt For The Wilderpeople’, held titles for the highest-grossing New Zealand film, the latter achieving the accolade in 2017.
Also in 2017, Waititi was named New Zealander of the Year in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to the well being of the nation.” Praise doesn’t come much higher than that.
How many torrent swarms he helped to keep healthy is destined remain a secret forever though, but as an emerging movie hero in his own right, people will forgive him that.
Anti-piracy campaigns come in all shapes and sizes, from oppressive and scary to the optimistically educational. It is rare for any to be labeled ‘brilliant’ but a campaign just revealed in Belgium hits really close to the mark.
According to an announcement by the Belgian Entertainment Association (BEA), Belgian Federation of Cinemas, together with film producers and distributors, cinemas and directors, a brand new campaign has been targeting those who download content from illegal sources. It is particularly innovative and manages to hit pirates in a way they can’t easily avoid.
Working on the premise that many locals download English language movies and then augment them with local language subtitles, a fiendish plot was hatched. Instead of a generic preaching video on YouTube or elsewhere, the movie companies decided to ‘infect’ pirate subtitles with messages of their own.
“Suddenly the story gets a surprising turn. With a playful wink it suddenly seems as if Samuel L. Jackson in The Hitman’s Bodyguard directly appeals to the illegal viewer and says that you should not download,” the group explains.
Samuel is watching…..
“I do not need any research to see that these are bad subtitles,” Jackson informs the viewer.
In another scene with Ryan Reynolds, Jackson notes that illegal downloading can have a negative effect on a person.
“And you wanted to become a policeman, until you started downloading,” he says.
The movie groups say that they also planted edited subtitles in The Bridge, with police officers in the show noting they’re on the trail of illegal downloaders. The movies Logan Lucky and The Foreigner got similar treatment.
It’s not clear on which sites these modified subtitles were distributed but according to the companies involved, they’ve been downloaded 10,000 times already.
“The viewer not only feels caught but immediately realizes that you do not necessarily get a real quality product through illegal sources,” the companies say.
The campaign is the work of advertising agency TBWA, which appropriately bills itself as the Disruption Company.
“We are not a traditional ad agency network — we are a radically open creative collective. We look at what everyone else is doing and strive to do something completely new,” the company says.
Coincidentally, the company refers to its staff as pirates who rewrite rules and have ideas to take on “conventionally-steered ships.”
“As creative director of communication agency TBWA, protecting creative work is very important to us,” says TBWA Creative Director Gert Pauwels. “That is precisely why we came up with the subtle prank to work together with the sector to tackle illegal downloading.”
Although framed as a joke, one which may even raise a wry smile and a nod of respect from some pirates, there’s an underlying serious message from the companies involved.
“Maybe many think that everything is possible on the internet and that downloading will remain without consequences,” says Pieter Swaelens, Managing Director of BEA. “That is not the case. Here too, many jobs are being challenged in Belgium and we have to tackle this behavior.”
It’s also worth noting that while this campaign is both innovative and light-hearted, at least one of the companies involved is also a supporter of much tougher action.
Dutch Filmworks recently obtained permission from the Dutch Data Authority to begin monitoring pirates. Once it has their IP addresses it will attempt to make contact, offering a cash settlement agreement to make a potential lawsuit disappear.
“We are pleased with the extra attention to the problem of downloading from illegal sources,” says René van Turnhout, COO Dutch FilmWorks. “Too many jobs in our sector have been lost. Moreover, piracy endangers the creativity and quality of the legal offer.”
Coolest Projects is a world-leading annual showcase that empowers and inspires the next generation of digital creators, innovators, changemakers, and entrepreneurs. Young people come to the event to exhibit the cool ideas they have been working on throughout the year. And from 2018, Coolest Projects is open to young people across the Raspberry Pi community.
Coolest Projects is a world leading showcase that empowers and inspires the next generation of digital creators, innovators, changemakers and entrepreneurs! Find out more at: http://coolestprojects.org/
A huge fair for digital making
When Raspberry Pi’s Philip and Ben first visited Coolest Projects, they were blown away by the scope of the event, the number of children and young people who had travelled to Dublin to share their work, and the commitment they demonstrated to work ranging from Scratch projects to home-made hovercraft.
Coolest Projects International 2018 will be held in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday 26 May. Participants will travel from all over the world to take part in a festival of creativity and tech. We hope you’ll be among them!
“It’s a huge fair especially for coding and digital tech – it’s massive and it’s amazing!“
Coolest Projects International and Coolest Projects UK
As well as the flagship international event in Dublin, Ireland, there are regional events in other countries. All these events are now open to makers and creators across the Raspberry Pi community, from Dojos, Code Clubs, and Raspberry Jams.
This year, for the first time, we are bringing Coolest Projects to the UK for a spectacular regional event! Coolest Projects UK will be held at Here East in London on Saturday 28 April. We’re looking forward to discovering over 100 projects that young people have designed and built, and seeing them share their ideas and their passion for technology, make new friends, and learn from one another.
Fierce focus at Coolest Projects
Who can take part?
If you’re up to 18 years of age and you’re in primary, secondary, or further education, you can join in. You can work as an individual or as part of a team of up to five. All projects are welcome, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert.
You must be able to attend the event that you’re entering, whether Coolest Projects International or a regional event. Getting together with other makers and their fantastic projects is a really important and exciting part of the event, so you can’t take part with an online-only or video-only entry. There are a few rules to make sure everything runs smoothly and fairly, and you can read them here.
Wiktoria Jarymowicz from Poland presents the rocket she built at Coolest Projects
How do I join in?
Your project should fit into one of six broad categories, covering everything from Scratch to hardware projects. If you’ve made something with tech, or you’ve got a project idea, it will probably fit into one of them! Once you’ve picked your project, you need to register it and apply for your space at the event. You can register for Coolest Projects International 2018 right now, and registration for Coolest Projects UK 2018 will open on Wednesday: join our email list to get an update when it does.
How will you choose who gets a place?
There are places available for 750 projects, and our goal is to have enough room for everyone who wants to come. If more makers want to bring their projects than there are places available, we’ll select entries to show a balance of projects from different regions and different parts of our communities, from groups and individuals, and from girls and boys, as well as a good mixture of projects across different categories.
I need help to get started, or help to get there
To help get your ideas flowing and guide you through your project, we’ve prepared a set of How to build a project worksheets. And if you’d like to attend Coolest Projects International, but the cost of travel is a problem, you can apply for a travel bursary by 31 January.
Coolest Projects is about rewarding creativity, and we know the Raspberry Pi community has that in spades. It’s about having an idea and making it a reality using the skills you have, whether this is your first project or your fifteenth. We can’t wait to see you at Coolest Projects UK or Coolest Projects International this year!
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