Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/3b-plus-aftermath/
Unless you’ve been AFK for the last two days, you’ll no doubt be aware of the release of the brand-spanking-new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. With faster connectivity, more computing power, Power over Ethernet (PoE) pins, and the same $35 price point, the new board has been a hit across all our social media accounts! So while we wind down from launch week, let’s all pull up a chair, make yet another cup of coffee, and look through some of our favourite reactions from the last 48 hours.
Our Twitter mentions were refreshing at hyperspeed on Wednesday, as you all began to hear the news and spread the word about the newest member to the Raspberry Pi family.
Happy Pi Day, people! New @Raspberry_Pi 3B+ is out.
News outlets, maker sites, and hobbyists published posts and articles about the new Pi’s spec upgrades and their plans for the device.
This sort of attention to detail work is exactly what I love about being involved with @Raspberry_Pi. We’re squeezing the last drops of performance out of the 40nm process node, and perfecting Pi 3 in the same way that the original B+ perfected Pi 1.” https://t.co/hEj7JZOGeZ
And I think we counted about 150 uses of this GIF on Twitter alone:
Is something going on with the @Raspberry_Pi today? You’d never guess from my YouTube subscriptions page… 😀
A few members of our community were lucky enough to get their hands on a 3B+ early, and sat eagerly by the YouTube publish button, waiting to release their impressions of our new board to the world. Others, with no new Pi in hand yet, posted reaction vids to the launch, discussing their plans for the upgraded Pi and comparing statistics against its predecessors.
Happy Pi Day World! There is a new Raspberry Pi 3, the B+! In this video I will review the new Pi 3 B+ and do some speed tests. Let me know in the comments if you are getting one and what you are planning on making with it!
Long-standing community members such as The Raspberry Pi Guy, Alex “RasPi.TV” Eames, and Michael Horne joined Adafruit, element14, and RS Components (whose team produced the most epic 3B+ video we’ve seen so far), and makers Tinkernut and Estefannie Explains It All in sharing their thoughts, performance tests, and baked goods on the big day.
It’s Pi day! Sorry, wondrous Mathematical constant, this day is no longer about you. The Raspberry Pi foundation just released a new version of the Raspberry Pi called the Rapsberry Pi B+.
If you have a YouTube or Vimeo channel, or if you create videos for other social media channels, and have published your impressions of the new Raspberry Pi, be sure to share a link with us so we can see what you think!
We shared a few photos and videos on Instagram, and over 30000 of you checked out our Instagram Story on the day.
Some glamour shots of the latest member of the #RaspberryPi family – the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ . Will you be getting one? What are your plans for our newest Pi?
5,609 Likes, 103 Comments – Raspberry Pi (@raspberrypifoundation) on Instagram: “Some glamour shots of the latest member of the #RaspberryPi family – the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ ….”
As hot off the press (out of the oven? out of the solder bath?) Pi 3B+ boards start to make their way to eager makers’ homes, they are all broadcasting their excitement, and we love seeing what they plan to get up to with it.
The new #raspberrypi 3B+ suits the industrial setting. Check out my website for #RPI3B Vs RPI3BPlus network speed test. #NotEnoughTECH #network #test #internet
8 Likes, 1 Comments – Mat (@notenoughtech) on Instagram: “The new #raspberrypi 3B+ suits the industrial setting. Check out my website for #RPI3B Vs RPI3BPlus…”
The new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is here and will be used for our Python staging server for our APIs #raspberrypi #pythoncode #googleadwords #shopify #datalayer
16 Likes, 3 Comments – Rob Edlin (@niddocks) on Instagram: “The new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is here and will be used for our Python staging server for our APIs…”
In the news
Eben made an appearance on ITV Anglia on Wednesday, talking live on Facebook about the new Raspberry Pi.
As the latest version of the Raspberry Pi computer is launched in Cambridge, Dr Eben Upton talks about the inspiration of Professor Stephen Hawking and his legacy to science. Add your questions in…
He was also fortunate enough to spend the morning with some Sixth Form students from the local area.
On a day where science is making the headlines, lovely to see the scientists of the future in our office – getting tips from fab @Raspberry_Pi founder @EbenUpton #scientists #RaspberryPi #PiDay2018 @sirissac6thform
Principal Hardware Engineer Roger Thornton will also make a live appearance online this week: he is co-hosting Hack Chat later today. And of course, you can see more of Roger and Eben in the video where they discuss the new 3B+.
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ is now on sale now for $35.
It’s been a supremely busy week here at Pi Towers and across the globe in the offices of our Approved Resellers, and seeing your wonderful comments and sharing in your excitement has made it all worth it. Please keep it up, and be sure to share the arrival of your 3B+ as well as the projects into which you’ll be integrating them.
If you’d like to order a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, you can do so via our product page. And if you have any questions at all regarding the 3B+, the conversation is still taking place in the comments of Wednesday’s launch post, so head on over.
Post Syndicated from Andrew Gregory original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/hackspace-4-wearables/
Big things are afoot in the world of HackSpace magazine! This month we’re running our first special issue, with wearables projects throughout the magazine. Moreover, we’re giving away our first subscription gift free to all 12-month print subscribers. Lastly, and most importantly, we’ve made the cover EXTRA SHINY!
In this issue, we’re taking an in-depth look at wearable tech. Not Fitbits or Apple Watches — we’re talking stuff you can make yourself, from projects that take a couple of hours to put together, to the huge, inspiring builds that are bringing technology to the runway. If you like wearing clothes and you like using your brain to make things better, then you’ll love this feature.
We’re continuing our obsession with Nixie tubes, with the brilliant Time-To-Go-Clock – Trump edition. This ingenious bit of kit uses obsolete Russian electronics to count down the time until the end of the 45th president’s term in office. However, you can also program it to tell the time left to any predictable event, such as the deadline for your tax return or essay submission, or the date England gets knocked out of the World Cup.
We’re also talking to Dr Lucy Rogers — NASA alumna, Robot Wars judge, and fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers — about the difference between making as a hobby and as a job, and about why we need the Guild of Makers. Plus, issue 4 has a teeny boat, the most beautiful Raspberry Pi cases you’ve ever seen, and it explores the results of what happens when you put a bunch of hardware hackers together in a French chateau — sacré bleu!
As always, we’ve got more how-tos than you can shake a soldering iron at. Fittingly for the current climate here in the UK, there’s a hot water monitor, which shows you how long you have before your morning shower turns cold, and an Internet of Tea project to summon a cuppa from your kettle via the web. Perhaps not so fittingly, there’s also an ESP8266 project for monitoring a solar power station online. Readers in the southern hemisphere, we’ll leave that one for you — we haven’t seen the sun here for months!
And there’s more!
We’re super happy to say that all our 12-month print subscribers have been sent an Adafruit Circuit Playground Express with this new issue:
This gadget was developed primarily with wearables in mind and comes with all sorts of in-built functionality, so subscribers can get cracking with their latest wearable project today! If you’re not a 12-month print subscriber, you’ll miss out, so subscribe here to get your magazine and your device, and let us know what you’ll make.
Post Syndicated from Gleb Budman original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/all-in-on-unlimited-backup/
The cloud backup industry has seen its share of tumultuousness. BitCasa, Dell DataSafe, Xdrive, and a dozen others have closed up shop. Mozy, Amazon, and Microsoft offered, but later canceled, their unlimited offerings. Recently, CrashPlan for Home customers were notified that their service was being end-of-lifed. Then today we’ve heard from Carbonite customers who are frustrated by this morning’s announcement of a price increase from Carbonite.
We believe that the fundamental goal of a cloud backup is having peace-of-mind: knowing your data — all of it — is safe. For over 10 years Backblaze has been providing that peace-of-mind by offering completely unlimited cloud backup to our customers. And we continue to be committed to that. Knowing that your cloud backup vendor is not going to disappear or fundamentally change their service is an essential element in achieving that peace-of-mind.
Committed to Unlimited Backup
When Mozy discontinued their unlimited backup on Jan 31, 2011, a lot of people asked, “Does this mean Backblaze will discontinue theirs as well?” At that time I wrote the blog post Backblaze is committed to unlimited backup. That was seven years ago. Since then we’ve continued to make Backblaze cloud backup better: dramatically speeding up backups and restores, offering the unique and very popular Restore Return Refund program, enabling direct access and sharing of any file in your backup, and more. We also introduced Backblaze Groups to enable businesses and families to manage backups — all at no additional cost.
How That’s Possible
I’d like to answer the question of “How have you been able to do this when others haven’t?
First, commitment. It’s not impossible to offer unlimited cloud backup, but it’s not easy. The Backblaze team has been committed to unlimited as a core tenet.
Second, we have pursued the technical, business, and cultural steps required to make it happen. We’ve designed our own servers, written our cloud storage software, run our own operations, and been continually focused on every place we could optimize a penny out of the cost of storage. We’ve built a culture at Backblaze that cares deeply about that.
Price increases and plan changes happen in our industry, but Backblaze has consistently been the low price leader, and continues to stand by the foundational element of our service — truly unlimited backup storage. Carbonite just announced a price increase from $60 to $72/year, and while that’s not an astronomical increase, it’s important to keep in mind the service that they are providing at that rate. The basic Carbonite plan provides a service that doesn’t back up videos or external hard drives by default. We think that’s dangerous. No one wants to discover that their videos weren’t backed up after their computer dies, or have to worry about the safety and durability of their data. That is why we have continued to build on our foundation of unlimited, as well as making our service faster and more accessible. All of these serve the goal of ensuring peace-of-mind for our customers.
3 Months Free For You & A Friend
As part of our commitment to unlimited, refer your friends to receive three months of Backblaze service through March 15, 2018. When you Refer-a-Friend with your personal referral link, and they subscribe, both of you will receive three months of service added to your account. See promotion details on our Refer-a-Friend page.
Want A Reminder When Your Carbonite Subscription Runs Out?
If you’re considering switching from Carbonite, we’d love to be your new backup provider. Enter your email and the date you’d like to be reminded in the form below and you’ll get a friendly reminder email from us to start a new backup plan with Backblaze. Or, you could start a free trial today.
We think you’ll be glad you switched, and you’ll have a chance to experience some of that Backblaze peace-of-mind for your data.
Please Send Me a Reminder When I Need a New Backup Provider
Kuhu Shukla (bottom center) and team at the 2017 DataWorks Summit
By Kuhu Shukla
This post first appeared here on the Apache Software Foundation blog as part of ASF’s “Success at Apache” monthly blog series.
As I sit at my desk on a rather frosty morning with my coffee, looking up new JIRAs from the previous day in the Apache Tez project, I feel rather pleased. The latest community release vote is complete, the bug fixes that we so badly needed are in and the new release that we tested out internally on our many thousand strong cluster is looking good. Today I am looking at a new stack trace from a different Apache project process and it is hard to miss how much of the exceptional code I get to look at every day comes from people all around the globe. A contributor leaves a JIRA comment before he goes on to pick up his kid from soccer practice while someone else wakes up to find that her effort on a bug fix for the past two months has finally come to fruition through a binding +1.
Yahoo – which joined AOL, HuffPost, Tumblr, Engadget, and many more brands to form the Verizon subsidiary Oath last year – has been at the frontier of open source adoption and contribution since before I was in high school. So while I have no historical trajectories to share, I do have a story on how I found myself in an epic journey of migrating all of Yahoo jobs from Apache MapReduce to Apache Tez, a then-new DAG based execution engine.
Oath grid infrastructure is through and through driven by Apache technologies be it storage through HDFS, resource management through YARN, job execution frameworks with Tez and user interface engines such as Hive, Hue, Pig, Sqoop, Spark, Storm. Our grid solution is specifically tailored to Oath’s business-critical data pipeline needs using the polymorphic technologies hosted, developed and maintained by the Apache community.
On the third day of my job at Yahoo in 2015, I received a YouTube link on An Introduction to Apache Tez. I watched it carefully trying to keep up with all the questions I had and recognized a few names from my academic readings of Yarn ACM papers. I continued to ramp up on YARN and HDFS, the foundational Apache technologies Oath heavily contributes to even today. For the first few weeks I spent time picking out my favorite (necessary) mailing lists to subscribe to and getting started on setting up on a pseudo-distributed Hadoop cluster. I continued to find my footing with newbie contributions and being ever more careful with whitespaces in my patches. One thing was clear – Tez was the next big thing for us. By the time I could truly call myself a contributor in the Hadoop community nearly 80-90% of the Yahoo jobs were now running with Tez. But just like hiking up the Grand Canyon, the last 20% is where all the pain was. Being a part of the solution to this challenge was a happy prospect and thankfully contributing to Tez became a goal in my next quarter.
The next sprint planning meeting ended with me getting my first major Tez assignment – progress reporting. The progress reporting in Tez was non-existent – “Just needs an API fix,” I thought. Like almost all bugs in this ecosystem, it was not easy. How do you define progress? How is it different for different kinds of outputs in a graph? The questions were many.
I, however, did not have to go far to get answers. The Tez community actively came to a newbie’s rescue, finding answers and posing important questions. I started attending the bi-weekly Tez community sync up calls and asking existing contributors and committers for course correction. Suddenly the team was much bigger, the goals much more chiseled. This was new to anyone like me who came from the networking industry, where the most open part of the code are the RFCs and the implementation details are often hidden. These meetings served as a clean room for our coding ideas and experiments. Ideas were shared, to the extent of which data structure we should pick and what a future user of Tez would take from it. In between the usual status updates and extensive knowledge transfers were made.
Oath uses Apache Pig and Apache Hive extensively and most of the urgent requirements and requests came from Pig and Hive developers and users. Each issue led to a community JIRA and as we started running Tez at Oath scale, new feature ideas and bugs around performance and resource utilization materialized. Every year most of the Hadoop team at Oath travels to the Hadoop Summit where we meet our cohorts from the Apache community and we stand for hours discussing the state of the art and what is next for the project. One such discussion set the course for the next year and a half for me.
We needed an innovative way to shuffle data. Frameworks like MapReduce and Tez have a shuffle phase in their processing lifecycle wherein the data from upstream producers is made available to downstream consumers. Even though Apache Tez was designed with a feature set corresponding to optimization requirements in Pig and Hive, the Shuffle Handler Service was retrofitted from MapReduce at the time of the project’s inception. With several thousands of jobs on our clusters leveraging these features in Tez, the Shuffle Handler Service became a clear performance bottleneck. So as we stood talking about our experience with Tez with our friends from the community, we decided to implement a new Shuffle Handler for Tez. All the conversation points were tracked now through an umbrella JIRA TEZ-3334 and the to-do list was long. I picked a few JIRAs and as I started reading through I realized, this is all new code I get to contribute to and review. There might be a better way to put this, but to be honest it was just a lot of fun! All the whiteboards were full, the team took walks post lunch and discussed how to go about defining the API. Countless hours were spent debugging hangs while fetching data and looking at stack traces and Wireshark captures from our test runs. Six months in and we had the feature on our sandbox clusters. There were moments ranging from sheer frustration to absolute exhilaration with high fives as we continued to address review comments and fixing big and small issues with this evolving feature.
As much as owning your code is valued everywhere in the software community, I would never go on to say “I did this!” In fact, “we did!” It is this strong sense of shared ownership and fluid team structure that makes the open source experience at Apache truly rewarding. This is just one example. A lot of the work that was done in Tez was leveraged by the Hive and Pig community and cross Apache product community interaction made the work ever more interesting and challenging. Triaging and fixing issues with the Tez rollout led us to hit a 100% migration score last year and we also rolled the Tez Shuffle Handler Service out to our research clusters. As of last year we have run around 100 million Tez DAGs with a total of 50 billion tasks over almost 38,000 nodes.
In 2018 as I move on to explore Hadoop 3.0 as our future release, I hope that if someone outside the Apache community is reading this, it will inspire and intrigue them to contribute to a project of their choice. As an astronomy aficionado, going from a newbie Apache contributor to a newbie Apache committer was very much like looking through my telescope － it has endless possibilities and challenges you to be your best.
About the Author:
Kuhu Shukla is a software engineer at Oath and did her Masters in Computer Science at North Carolina State University. She works on the Big Data Platforms team on Apache Tez, YARN and HDFS with a lot of talented Apache PMCs and Committers in Champaign, Illinois. A recent Apache Tez Committer herself she continues to contribute to YARN and HDFS and spoke at the 2017 Dataworks Hadoop Summit on “Tez Shuffle Handler: Shuffling At Scale With Apache Hadoop”. Prior to that she worked on Juniper Networks’ router and switch configuration APIs. She likes to participate in open source conferences and women in tech events. In her spare time she loves singing Indian classical and jazz, laughing, whale watching, hiking and peering through her Dobsonian telescope.
Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/thank-you-for-my-new-raspberry-pi-santa-what-next/
Note: the Pi Towers team have peeled away from their desks to spend time with their families over the festive season, and this blog will be quiet for a while as a result. We’ll be back in the New Year with a bushel of amazing projects, awesome resources, and much merriment and fun times. Happy holidays to all!
Now back to the matter at hand. Your brand new Christmas Raspberry Pi.
Your new Raspberry Pi
Did you wake up this morning to find a new Raspberry Pi under the tree? Congratulations, and welcome to the Raspberry Pi community! You’re one of us now, and we’re happy to have you on board.
But what if you’ve never seen a Raspberry Pi before? What are you supposed to do with it? What’s all the fuss about, and why does your new computer look so naked?
Setting up your Raspberry Pi
Are you comfy? Good. Then let us begin.
Download our free operating system
First of all, you need to make sure you have an operating system on your micro SD card: we suggest Raspbian, the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s official supported operating system. If your Pi is part of a starter kit, you might find that it comes with a micro SD card that already has Raspbian preinstalled. If not, you can download Raspbian for free from our website.
An easy way to get Raspbian onto your SD card is to use a free tool called Etcher. Watch The MagPi’s Lucy Hattersley show you what you need to do. You can also use NOOBS to install Raspbian on your SD card, and our Getting Started guide explains how to do that.
Plug it in and turn it on
Your new Raspberry Pi 3 comes with four USB ports and an HDMI port. These allow you to plug in a keyboard, a mouse, and a television or monitor. If you have a Raspberry Pi Zero, you may need adapters to connect your devices to its micro USB and micro HDMI ports. Both the Raspberry Pi 3 and the Raspberry Pi Zero W have onboard wireless LAN, so you can connect to your home network, and you can also plug an Ethernet cable into the Pi 3.
Make sure to plug the power cable in last. There’s no ‘on’ switch, so your Pi will turn on as soon as you connect the power. Raspberry Pi uses a micro USB power supply, so you can use a phone charger if you didn’t receive one as part of a kit.
Learn with our free projects
If you’ve never used a Raspberry Pi before, or you’re new to the world of coding, the best place to start is our projects site. It’s packed with free projects that will guide you through the basics of coding and digital making. You can create projects right on your screen using Scratch and Python, connect a speaker to make music with Sonic Pi, and upgrade your skills to physical making using items from around your house.
Here’s James to show you how to build a whoopee cushion using a Raspberry Pi, paper plates, tin foil and a sponge:
Explore the world of Raspberry Pi physical computing with our free FutureLearn courses: http://rpf.io/futurelearn Free make your own Whoopi Cushion resource: http://rpf.io/whoopi For more information on Raspberry Pi and the charitable work of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, including Code Club and CoderDojo, visit http://rpf.io Our resources are free to use in schools, clubs, at home and at events.
You’ve plundered our projects, you’ve successfully rigged every chair in the house to make rude noises, and now you want to dive deeper into digital making. Good! While you’re digesting your Christmas dinner, take a moment to skim through the Raspberry Pi blog for inspiration. You’ll find projects from across our worldwide community, with everything from home automation projects and retrofit upgrades, to robots, gaming systems, and cameras.
You’ll also find bucketloads of ideas in The MagPi magazine, the official monthly Raspberry Pi publication, available in both print and digital format. You can download every issue for free. If you subscribe, you’ll get a Raspberry Pi Zero W to add to your new collection. HackSpace magazine is another fantastic place to turn for Raspberry Pi projects, along with other maker projects and tutorials.
And, of course, simply typing “Raspberry Pi projects” into your preferred search engine will find thousands of ideas. Sites like Hackster, Hackaday, Instructables, Pimoroni, and Adafruit all have plenty of fab Raspberry Pi tutorials that they’ve devised themselves and that community members like you have created.
If you make something marvellous with your new Raspberry Pi – and we know you will – don’t forget to share it with us! Our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+ accounts are brimming with chatter, projects, and events. And our forums are a great place to visit if you have questions about your Raspberry Pi or if you need some help.
It’s good to get together with like-minded folks, so check out the growing Raspberry Jam movement. Raspberry Jams are community-run events where makers and enthusiasts can meet other makers, show off their projects, and join in with workshops and discussions. Find your nearest Jam here.
Have a great festive holiday and welcome to the community. We’ll see you in 2018!
The post Thank you for my new Raspberry Pi, Santa! What next? appeared first on Raspberry Pi.
Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/christmas-shopping-list-2017/
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for a beloved maker in your life? Maybe you’d like to give a relative or friend a taste of the world of coding and Raspberry Pi? Whatever you’re looking for, the Raspberry Pi Christmas shopping list will point you in the right direction.
For those getting started
Thinking about introducing someone special to the wonders of Raspberry Pi during the holidays? Although you can set up your Pi with peripherals from around your home, such as a mobile phone charger, your PC’s keyboard, and the old mouse dwelling in an office drawer, a starter kit is a nice all-in-one package for the budding coder.
Check out the starter kits from Raspberry Pi Approved Resellers such as Pimoroni, The Pi Hut, ModMyPi, Adafruit, CanaKit…the list is pretty long. Our products page will direct you to your closest reseller, or you can head to element14 to pick up the official Raspberry Pi Starter Kit.
You can also buy the Raspberry Pi Press’s brand-new Raspberry Pi Beginners Book, which includes a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a case, a ready-made SD card, and adapter cables.
Once you’ve presented a lucky person with their first Raspberry Pi, it’s time for them to spread their maker wings and learn some new skills.
To help them along, you could pick your favourite from among the Official Projects Book volume 3, The MagPi Essentials guides, and the brand-new third edition of Carrie Anne Philbin’s Adventures in Raspberry Pi. (She is super excited about this new edition!)
And you can always add a link to our free resources on the gift tag.
For the maker in your life
If you’re looking for something for a confident digital maker, you can’t go wrong with adding to their arsenal of electric and electronic bits and bobs that are no doubt cluttering drawers and boxes throughout their house.
Components such as servomotors, displays, and sensors are staples of the maker world. And when it comes to jumper wires, buttons, and LEDs, one can never have enough.
You could also consider getting your person a soldering iron, some helpings hands, or small tools such as a Dremel or screwdriver set.
And to make their life a little less messy, pop it all inside a Really Useful Box…because they’re really useful.
For kit makers
While some people like to dive into making head-first and to build whatever comes to mind, others enjoy working with kits.
The Naturebytes kit allows you to record the animal visitors of your garden with the help of a camera and a motion sensor. Footage of your local badgers, birds, deer, and more will be saved to an SD card, or tweeted or emailed to you if it’s in range of WiFi.
Coretec’s Tiny 4WD is a kit for assembling a Pi Zero–powered remote-controlled robot at home. Not only is the robot adorable, building it also a great introduction to motors and wireless control.
Bare Conductive’s Touch Board Pro Kit offers everything you need to create interactive electronics projects using conductive paint.
Finally, why not help your favourite maker create their own gaming arcade using the Arcade Building Kit from The Pi Hut?
For the reader
For those who like to curl up with a good read, or spend too much of their day on public transport, a book or magazine subscription is the perfect treat.
For makers, hackers, and those interested in new technologies, our brand-new HackSpace magazine and the ever popular community magazine The MagPi are ideal. Both are available via a physical or digital subscription, and new subscribers to The MagPi also receive a free Raspberry Pi Zero W plus case.
You can also check out other publications from the Raspberry Pi family, including CoderDojo’s new CoderDojo Nano: Make Your Own Game, Eben Upton and Gareth Halfacree’s Raspberry Pi User Guide, and Marc Scott’s A Beginner’s Guide to Coding. And have I mentioned Carrie Anne’s Adventures in Raspberry Pi yet?
Stocking fillers for everyone
Looking for something small to keep your loved ones occupied on Christmas morning? Or do you have to buy a Secret Santa gift for the office tech? Here are some wonderful stocking fillers to fill your boots with this season.
The Pi Hut 3D Xmas Tree: available as both a pre-soldered and a DIY version, this gadget will work with any 40-pin Raspberry Pi and allows you to create your own mini light show.
Google AIY Voice kit: build your own home assistant using a Raspberry Pi, the MagPi Essentials guide, and this brand-new kit. “Google, play Mariah Carey again…”
Pimoroni’s Raspberry Pi Zero W Project Kits offer everything you need, including the Pi, to make your own time-lapse cameras, music players, and more.
STEAM gifts that everyone will love
LEGO Idea’s bought out this amazing ‘Women of NASA’ set, and I thought it would be fun to build, play and learn from these inspiring women! First up, let’s discover a little more about Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, two AWESOME ASTRONAUTS!
Treat the kids, and big kids, in your life to the newest LEGO Ideas set, the Women of NASA — starring Nancy Grace Roman, Margaret Hamilton, Sally Ride, and Mae Jemison!
Explore the world of wearables with Pimoroni’s sewable, hackable, wearable, adorable Bearables kits.
Add lights and motors to paper creations with the Activating Origami Kit, available from The Pi Hut.
We all loved Hidden Figures, and the STEAM enthusiast you know will do too. The film’s available on DVD, and you can also buy the original book, along with other fascinating non-fiction such as Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rachel Ignotofsky’s Women in Science, and Sydney Padua’s (mostly true) The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.
Have we missed anything?
With so many amazing kits, HATs, and books available from members of the Raspberry Pi community, it’s hard to only pick a few. Have you found something splendid for the maker in your life? Maybe you’ve created your own kit that uses the Raspberry Pi? Share your favourites with us in the comments below or via our social media accounts.
Most malware tries to compromise your systems by using a known vulnerability that the maker of the operating system has already patched. To help prevent malware from affecting your systems, two security best practices are to apply all operating system patches to your systems and actively monitor your systems for missing patches. In case you do need to recover from a malware attack, you should make regular backups of your data.
In today’s blog post (Part 1 of a two-part post), I show how to keep your Amazon EC2 instances that run Microsoft Windows up to date with the latest security patches by using Amazon EC2 Systems Manager. Tomorrow in Part 2, I show how to take regular snapshots of your data by using Amazon EBS Snapshot Scheduler and how to use Amazon Inspector to check if your EC2 instances running Microsoft Windows contain any common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs).
What you should know first
To follow along with the solution in this post, you need one or more EC2 instances. You may use existing instances or create new instances. For the blog post, I assume this is an EC2 for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 instance installed from the Amazon Machine Images (AMIs). If you are not familiar with how to launch an EC2 instance, see Launching an Instance. I also assume you launched or will launch your instance in a private subnet. A private subnet is not directly accessible via the internet, and access to it requires either a VPN connection to your on-premises network or a jump host in a public subnet (a subnet with access to the internet). You must make sure that the EC2 instance can connect to the internet using a network address translation (NAT) instance or NAT gateway to communicate with Systems Manager and Amazon Inspector. The following diagram shows how you should structure your Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). You should also be familiar with Restoring an Amazon EBS Volume from a Snapshot and Attaching an Amazon EBS Volume to an Instance.
Later on, you will assign tasks to a maintenance window to patch your instances with Systems Manager. To do this, the AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) user you are using for this post must have the iam:PassRole permission. This permission allows this IAM user to assign tasks to pass their own IAM permissions to the AWS service. In this example, when you assign a task to a maintenance window, IAM passes your credentials to Systems Manager. This safeguard ensures that the user cannot use the creation of tasks to elevate their IAM privileges because their own IAM privileges limit which tasks they can run against an EC2 instance. You should also authorize your IAM user to use EC2, Amazon Inspector, Amazon CloudWatch, and Systems Manager. You can achieve this by attaching the following AWS managed policies to the IAM user you are using for this example:
The following diagram illustrates the components of this solution’s architecture.
For this blog post, Microsoft Windows EC2 is Amazon EC2 for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 instances with attached Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) volumes, which are running in your VPC. These instances may be standalone Windows instances running your Windows workloads, or you may have joined them to an Active Directory domain controller. For instances joined to a domain, you can be using Active Directory running on an EC2 for Windows instance, or you can use AWS Directory Service for Microsoft Active Directory.
Amazon EC2 Systems Manager is a scalable tool for remote management of your EC2 instances. You will use the Systems Manager Run Command to install the Amazon Inspector agent. The agent enables EC2 instances to communicate with the Amazon Inspector service and run assessments, which I explain in detail later in this blog post. You also will create a Systems Manager association to keep your EC2 instances up to date with the latest security patches.
You can use the EBS Snapshot Scheduler to schedule automated snapshots at regular intervals. You will use it to set up regular snapshots of your Amazon EBS volumes. EBS Snapshot Scheduler is a prebuilt solution by AWS that you will deploy in your AWS account. With Amazon EBS snapshots, you pay only for the actual data you store. Snapshots save only the data that has changed since the previous snapshot, which minimizes your cost.
You will use Amazon Inspector to run security assessments on your EC2 for Windows Server instance. In this post, I show how to assess if your EC2 for Windows Server instance is vulnerable to any of the more than 50,000 CVEs registered with Amazon Inspector.
In today’s and tomorrow’s posts, I show you how to:
- Launch an EC2 instance with an IAM role, Amazon EBS volume, and tags that Systems Manager and Amazon Inspector will use.
- Configure Systems Manager to install the Amazon Inspector agent and patch your EC2 instances.
- Take EBS snapshots by using EBS Snapshot Scheduler to automate snapshots based on instance tags.
- Use Amazon Inspector to check if your EC2 instances running Microsoft Windows contain any common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs).
Step 1: Launch an EC2 instance
In this section, I show you how to launch your EC2 instances so that you can use Systems Manager with the instances and use instance tags with EBS Snapshot Scheduler to automate snapshots. This requires three things:
- Create an IAM role for Systems Manager before launching your EC2 instance.
- Launch your EC2 instance with Amazon EBS and the IAM role for Systems Manager.
- Add tags to instances so that you can automate policies for which instances you take snapshots of and when.
Create an IAM role for Systems Manager
Before launching your EC2 instance, I recommend that you first create an IAM role for Systems Manager, which you will use to update the EC2 instance you will launch. AWS already provides a preconfigured policy that you can use for your new role, and it is called
- Sign in to the IAM console and choose Roles in the navigation pane. Choose Create new role.
- In the role-creation workflow, choose AWS service > EC2 > EC2 to create a role for an EC2 instance.
- Choose the AmazonEC2RoleforSSM policy to attach it to the new role you are creating.
- Give the role a meaningful name (I chose
EC2SSM) and description, and choose Create role.
Launch your EC2 instance
To follow along, you need an EC2 instance that is running Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 and that has an Amazon EBS volume attached. You can use any existing instance you may have or create a new instance.
When launching your new EC2 instance, be sure that:
- The operating system is Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2.
- You attach at least one Amazon EBS volume to the EC2 instance.
- You attach the newly created IAM role (
- The EC2 instance can connect to the internet through a network address translation (NAT) gateway or a NAT instance.
- You create the tags shown in the following screenshot (you will use them later).
If you are using an already launched EC2 instance, you can attach the newly created role as described in Easily Replace or Attach an IAM Role to an Existing EC2 Instance by Using the EC2 Console.
The final step of configuring your EC2 instances is to add tags. You will use these tags to configure Systems Manager in Step 2 of this blog post and to configure Amazon Inspector in Part 2. For this example, I add a tag key,
Patch Group, and set the value to
Windows Servers. I could have other groups of EC2 instances that I treat differently by having the same tag key but a different tag value. For example, I might have a collection of other servers with the
Patch Group tag key with a value of
Note: You must wait a few minutes until the EC2 instance becomes available before you can proceed to the next section.
At this point, you now have at least one EC2 instance you can use to configure Systems Manager, use EBS Snapshot Scheduler, and use Amazon Inspector.
Note: If you have a large number of EC2 instances to tag, you may want to use the EC2 CreateTags API rather than manually apply tags to each instance.
Step 2: Configure Systems Manager
In this section, I show you how to use Systems Manager to apply operating system patches to your EC2 instances, and how to manage patch compliance.
To start, I will provide some background information about Systems Manager. Then, I will cover how to:
- Create the Systems Manager IAM role so that Systems Manager is able to perform patch operations.
- Associate a Systems Manager patch baseline with your instance to define which patches Systems Manager should apply.
- Define a maintenance window to make sure Systems Manager patches your instance when you tell it to.
- Monitor patch compliance to verify the patch state of your instances.
Systems Manager is a collection of capabilities that helps you automate management tasks for AWS-hosted instances on EC2 and your on-premises servers. In this post, I use Systems Manager for two purposes: to run remote commands and apply operating system patches. To learn about the full capabilities of Systems Manager, see What Is Amazon EC2 Systems Manager?
Patch management is an important measure to prevent malware from infecting your systems. Most malware attacks look for vulnerabilities that are publicly known and in most cases are already patched by the maker of the operating system. These publicly known vulnerabilities are well documented and therefore easier for an attacker to exploit than having to discover a new vulnerability.
Patches for these new vulnerabilities are available through Systems Manager within hours after Microsoft releases them. There are two prerequisites to use Systems Manager to apply operating system patches. First, you must attach the IAM role you created in the previous section,
EC2SSM, to your EC2 instance. Second, you must install the Systems Manager agent on your EC2 instance. If you have used a recent Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 AMI published by AWS, Amazon has already installed the Systems Manager agent on your EC2 instance. You can confirm this by logging in to an EC2 instance and looking for Amazon SSM Agent under Programs and Features in Windows. To install the Systems Manager agent on an instance that does not have the agent preinstalled or if you want to use the Systems Manager agent on your on-premises servers, see the documentation about installing the Systems Manager agent. If you forgot to attach the newly created role when launching your EC2 instance or if you want to attach the role to already running EC2 instances, see Attach an AWS IAM Role to an Existing Amazon EC2 Instance by Using the AWS CLI or use the AWS Management Console.
To make sure your EC2 instance receives operating system patches from Systems Manager, you will use the default patch baseline provided and maintained by AWS, and you will define a maintenance window so that you control when your EC2 instances should receive patches. For the maintenance window to be able to run any tasks, you also must create a new role for Systems Manager. This role is a different kind of role than the one you created earlier: Systems Manager will use this role instead of EC2. Earlier we created the
EC2SSM role with the
AmazonEC2RoleforSSM policy, which allowed the Systems Manager agent on our instance to communicate with the Systems Manager service. Here we need a new role with the policy
AmazonSSMMaintenanceWindowRole to make sure the Systems Manager service is able to execute commands on our instance.
Create the Systems Manager IAM role
To create the new IAM role for Systems Manager, follow the same procedure as in the previous section, but in Step 3, choose the AmazonSSMMaintenanceWindowRole policy instead of the previously selected AmazonEC2RoleforSSM policy.
Finish the wizard and give your new role a recognizable name. For example, I named my role
By default, only EC2 instances can assume this new role. You must update the trust policy to enable Systems Manager to assume this role.
To update the trust policy associated with this new role:
- Navigate to the IAM console and choose Roles in the navigation pane.
- Choose MaintenanceWindowRole and choose the Trust relationships tab. Then choose Edit trust relationship.
- Update the policy document by copying the following policy and pasting it in the Policy Document box. As you can see, I have added the
ssm.amazonaws.comservice to the list of allowed Principals that can assume this role. Choose Update Trust Policy.
Associate a Systems Manager patch baseline with your instance
Next, you are going to associate a Systems Manager patch baseline with your EC2 instance. A patch baseline defines which patches Systems Manager should apply. You will use the default patch baseline that AWS manages and maintains. Before you can associate the patch baseline with your instance, though, you must determine if Systems Manager recognizes your EC2 instance.
Navigate to the EC2 console, scroll down to Systems Manager Shared Resources in the navigation pane, and choose Managed Instances. Your new EC2 instance should be available there. If your instance is missing from the list, verify the following:
- Go to the EC2 console and verify your instance is running.
- Select your instance and confirm you attached the Systems Manager IAM role,
- Make sure that you deployed a NAT gateway in your public subnet to ensure your VPC reflects the diagram at the start of this post so that the Systems Manager agent can connect to the Systems Manager internet endpoint.
- Check the Systems Manager Agent logs for any errors.
Now that you have confirmed that Systems Manager can manage your EC2 instance, it is time to associate the AWS maintained patch baseline with your EC2 instance:
- Choose Patch Baselines under Systems Manager Services in the navigation pane of the EC2 console.
- Choose the default patch baseline as highlighted in the following screenshot, and choose Modify Patch Groups in the Actions drop-down.
- In the Patch group box, enter the same value you entered under the
Patch Grouptag of your EC2 instance in “Step 1: Configure your EC2 instance.” In this example, the value I enter is
Windows Servers. Choose the check mark icon next to the patch group and choose Close.
Define a maintenance window
Now that you have successfully set up a role and have associated a patch baseline with your EC2 instance, you will define a maintenance window so that you can control when your EC2 instances should receive patches. By creating multiple maintenance windows and assigning them to different patch groups, you can make sure your EC2 instances do not all reboot at the same time. The
Patch Group resource tag you defined earlier will determine to which patch group an instance belongs.
To define a maintenance window:
- Navigate to the EC2 console, scroll down to Systems Manager Shared Resources in the navigation pane, and choose Maintenance Windows. Choose Create a Maintenance Window.
- Select the Cron schedule builder to define the schedule for the maintenance window. In the example in the following screenshot, the maintenance window will start every Saturday at 10:00 P.M. UTC.
- To specify when your maintenance window will end, specify the duration. In this example, the four-hour maintenance window will end on the following Sunday morning at 2:00 A.M. UTC (in other words, four hours after it started).
- Systems manager completes all tasks that are in process, even if the maintenance window ends. In my example, I am choosing to prevent new tasks from starting within one hour of the end of my maintenance window because I estimated my patch operations might take longer than one hour to complete. Confirm the creation of the maintenance window by choosing Create maintenance window.
- After creating the maintenance window, you must register the EC2 instance to the maintenance window so that Systems Manager knows which EC2 instance it should patch in this maintenance window. To do so, choose Register new targets on the Targets tab of your newly created maintenance window. You can register your targets by using the same
Patch Grouptag you used before to associate the EC2 instance with the AWS-provided patch baseline.
- Assign a task to the maintenance window that will install the operating system patches on your EC2 instance:
- Open Maintenance Windows in the EC2 console, select your previously created maintenance window, choose the Tasks tab, and choose Register run command task from the Register new task drop-down.
- Choose the AWS-RunPatchBaseline document from the list of available documents.
- For Parameters:
- For Role, choose the role you created previously (called
- For Execute on, specify how many EC2 instances Systems Manager should patch at the same time. If you have a large number of EC2 instances and want to patch all EC2 instances within the defined time, make sure this number is not too low. For example, if you have 1,000 EC2 instances, a maintenance window of 4 hours, and 2 hours’ time for patching, make this number at least 500.
- For Stop after, specify after how many errors Systems Manager should stop.
- For Operation, choose Install to make sure to install the patches.
- For Role, choose the role you created previously (called
Now, you must wait for the maintenance window to run at least once according to the schedule you defined earlier. Note that if you don’t want to wait, you can adjust the schedule to run sooner by choosing Edit maintenance window on the Maintenance Windows page of Systems Manager. If your maintenance window has expired, you can check the status of any maintenance tasks Systems Manager has performed on the Maintenance Windows page of Systems Manager and select your maintenance window.
Monitor patch compliance
You also can see the overall patch compliance of all EC2 instances that are part of defined patch groups by choosing Patch Compliance under Systems Manager Services in the navigation pane of the EC2 console. You can filter by Patch Group to see how many EC2 instances within the selected patch group are up to date, how many EC2 instances are missing updates, and how many EC2 instances are in an error state.
In this section, you have set everything up for patch management on your instance. Now you know how to patch your EC2 instance in a controlled manner and how to check if your EC2 instance is compliant with the patch baseline you have defined. Of course, I recommend that you apply these steps to all EC2 instances you manage.
In Part 1 of this blog post, I have shown how to configure EC2 instances for use with Systems Manager, EBS Snapshot Scheduler, and Amazon Inspector. I also have shown how to use Systems Manager to keep your Microsoft Windows–based EC2 instances up to date. In Part 2 of this blog post tomorrow, I will show how to take regular snapshots of your data by using EBS Snapshot Scheduler and how to use Amazon Inspector to check if your EC2 instances running Microsoft Windows contain any CVEs.
If you have comments about this post, submit them in the “Comments” section below. If you have questions about or issues implementing this solution, start a new thread on the EC2 forum or the Amazon Inspector forum, or contact AWS Support.
Post Syndicated from Janina Ander original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/halloween-projects-2017/
Come with us on a journey to discover the 2017 Raspberry Pi Halloween projects that caught our eye, raised our hair, or sent us screaming into the night.
Whether you’re easily scared or practically unshakeable, you can celebrate Halloween with Pi projects of any level of creepiness.
Even makers of a delicate constitution will enjoy making this Code Club Ghostbusters game, or building an interactive board game using Halloween lights with this MagPi tutorial by Mike Cook. And how about a wearable, cheerily LED-enhanced pumpkin created with the help of this CoderDojo resource? Cute, no?
Speaking of wearables, Derek Woodroffe’s be-tentacled hat may writhe disconcertingly, but at least it won’t reach out for you. Although, you could make it do that, if you were a terrible person.
Slightly queasy Halloween
Your decorations don’t have to be terrifying: this carved Pumpkin Pi and the Poplawskis’ Halloween decorations are controlled remotely via the web, but they’re more likely to give you happy goosebumps than cold sweats.
The Snake Eyes Bonnet pumpkin and the monster-face projection controlled by Pis that we showed you in our Halloween Twitter round-up look fairly friendly. Even the 3D-printed jack-o’-lantern by wermy, creator of mintyPi, is kind of adorable, if you ignore the teeth. And who knows, that AlexaPi-powered talking skull that’s staring at you could be an affable fellow who just fancies a chat, right? Right?
OK, fine. You’re after something properly frightening. How about the haunted magic mirror by Kapitein Haak, or this one, with added Philips Hue effects, by Ben Eagan. As if your face first thing in the morning wasn’t shocking enough.
If you find those rigid-faced, bow-lipped, plastic dolls more sinister than sweet – and you’re right to do so: they’re horrible – you won’t like this evil toy. Possessed by an unquiet shade, it’s straight out of my nightmares.
Why not add some motion-triggered ghost projections to your Halloween setup? They’ll go nicely with the face-tracking, self-winding, hair-raising jack-in-the-box you can make thanks to Sean Hodgins’ YouTube tutorial.
And then, last of all, there’s this.
This recreation of Billy the Puppet from the Saw franchise is Pi-powered, it’s mobile, and it talks. You can remotely control it, and I am not even remotely OK with it. That being said, if you’re keen to have one of your own, be my guest. Just follow the guide on Instructables. It’s your funeral.
Make your Halloween
It’s been a great year for scary Raspberry Pi makes, and we hope you have a blast using your Pi to get into the Halloween spirit.
And speaking of spirits, Matt Reed of RedPepper has created a Pi-based ghost detector! It uses Google’s Speech Neural Network AI to listen for voices in the ether, and it’s live-streaming tonight. Perfect for watching while you’re waiting for the trick-or-treaters to show up.
Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pioneers-summer-camp-2017/
In July, winners of the first two Pioneers challenges came together at Google HQ at Kings Cross in London for the Pioneers Summer Camp. This event was a special day to celebrate their awesomeness, and to give them access to some really cool stuff.
In July this year, winners of the first two Pioneers challenges came to Google HQ in London’s Kings Cross to meet, make and have an awesome time.
The lucky Pioneers
The summer camp was organised specifically for the winners of the two Pioneers challenges Make us laugh and Make it outdoors. Invitations went out to every team that won an award, including the Theme winners, winners in categories such as Best Explanation or Inspiring Journey, and those teams that received a Judges’ Recognition. We also allowed their mentors to attend, because they earned it too.
Excited about @Raspberry_Pi Pioneers day at @Google today with @jm_paterson and The Frontier Team #makeyourideas https://t.co/wZqfqqgZuL
With teams of excited Pioneers arriving from all over the UK, the day was bound to be a great success and a fun experience for all.
The Pioneers Summer Camp
The event took place at the rather impressive Google HQ in King’s Cross, London. Given that YouTube Space London is attached to this building, everyone, including the mentors and the Raspberry Pi team, was immediately eager to explore.
In rooms designed around David-Bowie-associated themes, e.g. Major Tom and Aladdin Sane, our intrepid Pioneers spent the morning building robots and using the Google AIY Projects kit to control their builds. Every attendee got to keep their robot and AIY kits, to be able to continue their tech experiments at home. They also each received their own Raspberry Pi, as well as some Google goodies and a one-of-a-kind Raspberry Pi hoody…much to the jealousy of many of our Twitter followers.
Meanwhile, mentors were invited to play with their own AIY kits, and the team from pi-top took accompanying parents aside to introduce them to the world of Scratch. This in itself was wonderful to witness: nervous parents started the day anxiously prodding at their pi-top screens, and they ended it with a new understanding of why code and digital making makes their kids tick.
After the making funtimes, the Pioneers got to learn about career opportunities within the field of digital making from some of the best in the industry. Representatives from Google, YouTube, and the Shell Scholarship Fund offered insights into their day-to-day work and some of their teams’ cool projects.
And to top off the day, our Pioneers winners went on a tour of the YouTube studios, a space to which only YouTube Creators have access. Lucky bunch!
When the evening rolled around, Pioneers got to work setting up their winning projects. From singing potatoes to sun-powered instruments and builds for plant maintenance, the array of ideas and creations showcased the incredible imagination these young makers have displayed throughout the first two seasons of Pioneers.
As well as a time for showing off winning makes, the evening was also an opportunity for Pioneers, mentors, and parents to mingle, chat, swap Twitter usernames, and get to know others as interested in making and changing the world as they are.
The Pioneers Summer Camp came to a close with a great Q&A by some eager Pioneers, followed by praise from Raspberry Pi Foundation CEO Philip Colligan, Mike Warriner of Google UK, and Make it outdoors judge Georgina Asmah from the Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund.
Become a Pioneer
We’ll be announcing the next Pioneers challenge on Monday 18 September, and we’re so excited to see what our makers do with the next theme. We’ve put a lot of brain power into coming up with the ultimate challenge, and it’s taking everything we have not to let it slip!
One thing we can tell you: this season of Pioneers will include makers from the Republic of Ireland, thanks in part to the incredible support from our team at CoderDojo. Woohoo!
We’ll announce the challenge via the Raspberry Pi blog, but make sure to sign up for the Pioneers newsletter to get all the latest information directly to your inbox.
Post Syndicated from guru original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pimoroni-is-5-now/
Long read written by Pimoroni’s Paul Beech, best enjoyed over a cup o’ grog.
Every couple of years, I’ve done a “State of the Fleet” update here on the Raspberry Pi blog to tell everyone how the Sheffield Pirates are doing. Half a decade has gone by in a blink, but reading back over the previous posts shows that a lot has happened in that time!
TL;DR We’re an increasingly medium-sized design/manufacturing/e-commerce business with workshops in Sheffield, UK, and Essen, Germany, and we employ almost 40 people. We’re totally lovely. Thanks for supporting us!
We’ve come a long way, baby
I’m sitting looking out the window at Sheffield-on-Sea and feeling pretty lucky about how things are going. In the morning, I’ll be flying east for Maker Faire Tokyo with Niko (more on him later), and to say hi to some amazing people in Shenzhen (and to visit Huaqiangbei, of course). This is after I’ve already visited this year’s Maker Faires in New York, San Francisco, and Berlin.
Pimoroni started out small, but we’ve grown like weeds, and we’re steadily sauntering towards becoming a medium-sized business. That’s thanks to fantastic support from the people who buy our stuff and spread the word. In return, we try to be nice, friendly, and human in everything we do, and to make exciting things, ideally with our own hands here in Sheffield.
We’ve made it onto a few ‘fastest-growing’ lists, and we’re in the top 500 of the Inc. 5000 Europe list. Adafruit did it first a few years back, and we’ve never gone wrong when we’ve followed in their footsteps.
The slightly weird nature of Pimoroni means we get listed as either a manufacturing or e-commerce business. In reality, we’re about four or five companies in one shell, which is very much against the conventions of “how business is done”. However, having seen what Adafruit, SparkFun, and Seeed do, we’re more than happy to design, manufacture, and sell our stuff in-house, as well as stocking the best stuff from across the maker community.
Product and process
The whole process of expansion has not been without its growing pains. We’re just under 40 people strong now, and have an outpost in Germany (also hilariously far from the sea for piratical activities). This means we’ve had to change things quickly to improve and automate processes, so that the wheels won’t fall off as things get bigger. Process optimization is incredibly interesting to a geek, especially the making sure that things are done well, that mistakes are easy to spot and to fix, and that nothing is missed.
At the end of 2015, we had a step change in how busy we were, and our post room and support started to suffer. As a consequence, we implemented measures to become more efficient, including small but important things like checking in parcels with a barcode scanner attached to a Raspberry Pi. That Pi has been happily running on the same SD card for a couple of years now without problems 😀
We also hired a full-time support ninja, Matt, to keep the experience of getting stuff from us light and breezy and to ensure that any problems are sorted. He’s had hugely positive impact already by making the emails and replies you see more friendly. Of course, he’s also started using the laser cutters for tinkering projects. It’d be a shame to work at Pimoroni and not get to use all the wonderful toys, right?
Employing all the people
You can see some of the motley crew we employ here and there on the Pimoroni website. And if you drop by at the Raspberry Pi Birthday Party, Pi Wars, Maker Faires, Deer Shed Festival, or New Scientist Live in September, you’ll be seeing new Pimoroni faces as we start to engage with people more about what we do. On top of that, we’re starting to make proper videos (like Sandy’s soldering guide), as opposed to the 101 episodes of Bilge Tank we recorded in a rather off-the-cuff and haphazard fashion. Although that’s the beauty of Bilge Tank, right?
As Emma, Sandy, Lydia, and Tanya gel as a super creative team, we’re starting to create more formal educational resources, and to make kits that are suitable for a wider audience. Things like our Pi Zero W kits are products of their talents.
Emma is our new Head of Marketing. She’s really ‘The Only Marketing Person Who Would Ever Fit In At Pimoroni’, having been a core part of the Sheffield maker scene since we hung around with one Ben Nuttall, in the dark days before Raspberry Pi was a thing.
Through a series of fortunate coincidences, Niko and his equally talented wife Mena were there when we cut the first Pibow in 2012. They immediately pitched in to help us buy our second laser cutter so we could keep up with demand. They have been supporting Pimoroni with sourcing in East Asia, and now Niko has become a member of the Pirates’ Council and the Head of Engineering as we’re increasing the sophistication and scale of the things we do. The Unicorn HAT HD is one of his masterpieces.
We see ourselves as a wonderful island of misfit toys, and it feels good to have the best toy shop ever, and to support so many lovely people. Business is about more than just profits.
Where do we go to, me hearties?
So what are our plans? At the moment we’re still working absolutely flat-out as demand from wholesalers, retailers, and customers increases. We thought Raspberry Pi was big, but it turns out it’s just getting started. Near the end of 2016, it seemed to reach a whole new level of popularity—and still we continue to meet people to whom we have to explain what a Pi is. It’s a good problem to have.
We need a bigger space, but it’s been hard to find somewhere suitable in Sheffield that won’t mean we’re stuck on an industrial estate miles from civilisation. That would be bad for the crew—we like having world-class burritos on our doorstep.
The good news is, it looks like our search is at an end! Just in time for the arrival of our ‘Super-Turbo-Death-Star’ new production line, which will enable to make devices in a bigger, better, faster, more ‘Now now now!’ fashion \o/
We’ve got lots of treasure in the pipeline, but we want to pick up the pace of development even more and create many new HATs, pHATs, and SHIMs, e.g. for environmental sensing and audio applications. Picade will also be getting some love to make it slicker and more hackable.
We’re also starting to flirt with adding more engineering and production capabilities in-house. The plan is to try our hand at anodising, powder-coating, and maybe even injection-moulding if we get the space and find the right machine. Learning how to do things is amazing, and we love having an idea and being able to bring it to life in almost no time at all.
There are so many people involved in supporting our success, and some people we love for just existing and doing wonderful things that make us want to do better. The biggest shout-outs go to Liz, Eben, Gordon, James, all the Raspberry Pi crew, and Limor and pt from Adafruit, for being the most supportive guiding lights a young maker company could ever need.
A note from us
It is amazing for us to witness the growth of businesses within the Raspberry Pi ecosystem. Pimoroni is a wonderful example of an organisation that is creating opportunities for makers within its local community, and the company is helping to reinvigorate Sheffield as the heart of making in the UK.
If you’d like to take advantage of the great products built by the Pirates, Monkeys, Robots, and Ninjas of Sheffield, you should do it soon: Pimoroni are giving everyone 20% off their homemade tech until 6 August.
Pimoroni, from all of us here at Pi Towers (both in the UK and USA), have a wonderful birthday, and many a grog on us!
Post Syndicated from Gleb Budman original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-to-get-your-first-1000-customers/
If you launch your startup and no one knows, did you actually launch? As mentioned in my last post, our initial launch target was to get a 1,000 people to use our service. But how do you get even 1,000 people to sign up for your service when no one knows who you are?
There are a variety of methods to attract your first 1,000 customers, but launching with the press is my favorite. I’ll explain why and how to do it below.
Paths to Attract Your First 1,000 Customers
Social following: If you have a massive social following, those people are a reasonable target for what you’re offering. In particular if your relationship with them is one where they would buy something you recommend, this can be one of the easiest ways to get your initial customers. However, building this type of following is non-trivial and often is done over several years.
Paid advertising: The advantage of paid ads is you have control over when they are presented and what they say. The primary disadvantage is they tend to be expensive, especially before you have your positioning, messaging, and funnel nailed.
Viral: There are certainly examples of companies that launched with a hugely viral video, blog post, or promotion. While fantastic if it happens, even if you do everything right, the likelihood of massive virality is miniscule and the conversion rate is often low.
Press: As I said, this is my favorite. You don’t need to pay a PR agency and can go from nothing to launched in a couple weeks. Press not only provides awareness and customers, but credibility and SEO benefits as well.
How to Pitch the Press
It’s easy: Have a compelling story, find the right journalists, make their life easy, pitch and follow-up. Of course, each one of those has some nuance, so let’s dig in.
Have a compelling story
The basics of your story
Ask yourself the following questions, and write down the answers:
- What are we doing? What product service are we offering?
- Why? What problem are we solving?
- What is interesting or unique? Either about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, or for who we’re doing it.
“But my story isn’t that exciting”
Neither was announcing a data backup company, believe me. Look for angles that make it compelling. Here are some:
- Did someone on your team do something major before? (build a successful company/product, create some innovation, market something we all know, etc.)
- Do you have an interesting investor or board member?
- Is there a personal story that drove you to start this company?
- Are you starting it in a unique place?
- Did you come upon the idea in a unique way?
- Can you share something people want to know that’s not usually shared?
- Are you partnered with a well-known company?
- …is there something interesting/entertaining/odd/shocking/touching/etc.?
It doesn’t get much less exciting than, “We’re launching a company that will backup your data.” But there were still a lot of compelling stories:
- Founded by serial entrepreneurs, bootstrapped a capital-intensive company, committed to each other for a year without salary.
- Challenging the way that every backup company before was set up by not asking customers to pick and choose files to backup.
- Designing our own storage system.
- Etc. etc.
For the initial launch, we focused on “unlimited for $5/month” and statistics from a survey we ran with Harris Interactive that said that 94% of people did not regularly backup their data.
It’s an old adage that “Everyone has a story.” Regardless of what you’re doing, there is always something interesting to share. Dig for that.
Once you’ve captured what you think the interesting story is, you’ve got to boil it down. Yes, you need the elevator pitch, but this is shorter…it’s the headline pitch. Write the headline that you would love to see a journalist write.
Now comes the part where you have to be really honest with yourself: if you weren’t involved, would you care?
The “Techmeme Test”
One way I try to ground myself is what I call the “Techmeme Test”. Techmeme lists the top tech articles. Read the headlines. Imagine the headline you wrote in the middle of the page. If you weren’t involved, would you click on it? Is it more or less compelling than the others. Much of tech news is dominated by the largest companies. If you want to get written about, your story should be more compelling. If not, go back above and explore your story some more.
Embargoes, exclusives and calls-to-action
Journalists write about news. Thus, if you’ve already announced something and are then pitching a journalist to cover it, unless you’re giving her something significant that hasn’t been said, it’s no longer news. As a result, there are ‘embargoes’ and ‘exclusives’.
- : An embargo simply means that you are sharing news with a journalist that they need to keep private until a certain date and time.
If you’re Apple, this may be a formal and legal document. In our case, it’s as simple as saying, “Please keep embargoed until 4/13/17 at 8am California time.” in the pitch. Some sites explicitly will not keep embargoes; for example The Information will only break news. If you want to launch something later, do not share information with journalists at these sites. If you are only working with a single journalist for a story, and your announcement time is flexible, you can jointly work out a date and time to announce. However, if you have a fixed launch time or are working with a few journalists, embargoes are key.
Exclusives: An exclusive means you’re giving something specifically to that journalist. Most journalists love an exclusive as it means readers have to come to them for the story. One option is to give a journalist an exclusive on the entire story. If it is your dream journalist, this may make sense. Another option, however, is to give exclusivity on certain pieces. For example, for your launch you could give an exclusive on funding detail & a VC interview to a more finance-focused journalist and insight into the tech & a CTO interview to a more tech-focused journalist.
Call-to-Action: With our launch we gave TechCrunch, Ars Technica, and SimplyHelp URLs that gave the first few hundred of their readers access to the private beta. Once those first few hundred users from each site downloaded, the beta would be turned off.
Thus, we used a combination of embargoes, exclusives, and a call-to-action during our initial launch to be able to brief journalists on the news before it went live, give them something they could announce as exclusive, and provide a time-sensitive call-to-action to the readers so that they would actually sign up and not just read and go away.
How to Find the Most Authoritative Sites / Authors
“If a press release is published and no one sees it, was it published?” Perhaps the time existed when sending a press release out over the wire meant journalists would read it and write about it. That time has long been forgotten. Over 1,000 unread press releases are published every day. If you want your compelling story to be covered, you need to find the handful of journalists that will care.
Determine the publications
Find the publications that cover the type of story you want to share. If you’re in tech, Techmeme has a leaderboard of publications ranked by leadership and presence. This list will tell you which publications are likely to have influence. Visit the sites and see if your type of story appears on their site. But, once you’ve determined the publication do NOT send a pitch their “[email protected]” or “[email protected]” email addresses. In all the times I’ve done that, I have never had a single response. Those email addresses are likely on every PR, press release, and spam list and unlikely to get read. Instead…
Determine the journalists
Once you’ve determined which publications cover your area, check which journalists are doing the writing. Skim the articles and search for keywords and competitor names.
Identify one primary journalist at the publication that you would love to have cover you, and secondary ones if there are a few good options. If you’re not sure which one should be the primary, consider a few tests:
- Do they truly seem to care about the space?
- Do they write interesting/compelling stories that ‘get it’?
- Do they appear on the Techmeme leaderboard?
- Do their articles get liked/tweeted/shared and commented on?
- Do they have a significant social presence?
In addition to Techmeme or if you aren’t in the tech space Google will become a must have tool for finding the right journalists to pitch. Below the search box you will find a number of tabs. Click on Tools and change the Any time setting to Custom range. I like to use the past six months to ensure I find authors that are actively writing about my market. I start with the All results. This will return a combination of product sites and articles depending upon your search term.
Scan for articles and click on the link to see if the article is on topic. If it is find the author’s name. Often if you click on the author name it will take you to a bio page that includes their Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Facebook profile. Many times you will find their email address in the bio. You should collect all the information and add it to your outreach spreadsheet. Click here to get a copy. It’s always a good idea to comment on the article to start building awareness of your name. Another good idea is to Tweet or Like the article.
Next click on the News tab and set the same search parameters. You will get a different set of results. Repeat the same steps. Between the two searches you will have a list of authors that actively write for the websites that Google considers the most authoritative on your market.
How to find the most socially shared authors
Your next step is to find the writers whose articles get shared the most socially. Go to Buzzsumo and click on the Most Shared tab. Enter search terms for your market as well as competitor names. Again I like to use the past 6 months as the time range. You will get a list of articles that have been shared the most across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. In addition to finding the most shared articles and their authors you can also see some of the Twitter users that shared the article. Many of those Twitter users are big influencers in your market so it’s smart to start following and interacting with them as well as the authors.
How to Find Author Email Addresses
Some journalists publish their contact info right on the stories. For those that don’t, a bit of googling will often get you the email. For example, TechCrunch wrote a story a few years ago where they published all of their email addresses, which was in response to this new service that charges a small fee to provide journalist email addresses. Sometimes visiting their twitter pages will link to a personal site, upon which they will share an email address.
Of course all is not lost if you don’t find an email in the bio. There are two good services for finding emails, https://app.voilanorbert.com/ and https://hunter.io/. For Voila Norbert enter the author name and the website you found their article on. The majority of the time you search for an author on a major publication Norbert will return an accurate email address. If it doesn’t try Hunter.io.
On Hunter.io enter the domain name and click on Personal Only. Then scroll through the results to find the author’s email. I’ve found Norbert to be more accurate overall but between the two you will find most major author’s email addresses.
Email, by the way, is not necessarily the best way to engage a journalist. Many are avid Twitter users. Follow them and engage – that means read/retweet/favorite their tweets; reply to their questions, and generally be helpful BEFORE you pitch them. Later when you email them, you won’t be just a random email address.
Now that you have all these email addresses (possibly thousands if you purchased a list) – do NOT spam. It is incredibly tempting to think “I could try to figure out which of these folks would be interested, but if I just email all of them, I’ll save myself time and be more likely to get some of them to respond.” Don’t do it.
First, you’ll want to tailor your pitch to the individual. Second, it’s a small world and you’ll be known as someone who spams – reputation is golden. Also, don’t call journalists. Unless you know them or they’ve said they’re open to calls, you’re most likely to just annoy them.
Build a relationship
|Play the long game. You may be focusing just on the launch and hoping to get this one story covered, but if you don’t quickly flame-out, you will have many more opportunities to tell interesting stories that you’ll want the press to cover. Be honest and don’t exaggerate.|
|When you have 500 users it’s tempting to say, “We’ve got thousands!” Don’t. The good journalists will see through it and it’ll likely come back to bite you later. If you don’t know something, say “I don’t know but let me find out for you.” Most journalists want to write interesting stories that their readers will appreciate. Help them do that. Build deeper relationships with 5 – 10 journalists, rather than spamming thousands.|
It doesn’t need to be complicated, but keep a spreadsheet that includes the name, publication, and contact info of the journalists you care about. Then, use it to keep track of who you’ve pitched, who’s responded, whether you’ve sent them the materials they need, and whether they intend to write/have written.
Make their life easy
Journalists have a million PR people emailing them, are actively engaging with readers on Twitter and in the comments, are tracking their metrics, are working their sources…and all the while needing to publish new articles. They’re busy. Make their life easy and they’re more likely to engage with yours.
Get to know them
Before sending them a pitch, know what they’ve written in the space. If you tell them how your story relates to ones they’ve written, it’ll help them put the story in context, and enable them to possibly link back to a story they wrote before.
Prepare your materials
Journalists will need somewhere to get more info (prepare a fact sheet), a URL to link to, and at least one image (ideally a few to choose from.) A fact sheet gives bite-sized snippets of information they may need about your startup or product: what it is, how big the market is, what’s the pricing, who’s on the team, etc. The URL is where their reader will get the product or more information from you. It doesn’t have to be live when you’re pitching, but you should be able to tell what the URL will be. The images are ones that they could embed in the article: a product screenshot, a CEO or team photo, an infographic. Scan the types of images included in their articles. Don’t send any of these in your pitch, but have them ready. Studies, stats, customer/partner/investor quotes are also good to have.
A pitch has to be short and compelling.
Think back to the headline you want. Is it really compelling? Can you shorten it to a subject line? Include what’s happening and when. For Mike Arrington at Techcrunch, our first subject line was “Startup doing an ‘online time machine’”. Later I would include, “launching June 6th”.
For John Timmer at ArsTechnica, it was “Demographics data re: your 4/17 article”. Why? Because he wrote an article titled “WiFi popular with the young people; backups, not so much”. Since we had run a demographics survey on backups, I figured as a science editor he’d be interested in this additional data.
A few key things about the body of the email. It should be short and to the point, no more than a few sentences. Here was my actual, original pitch email to John:
We’re launching Backblaze next week which provides a Time Machine-online type of service. As part of doing some research I read your article about backups not being popular with young people and that you had wished Accenture would have given you demographics. In prep for our invite-only launch I sponsored Harris Interactive to get demographic data on who’s doing backups and if all goes well, I should have that data on Friday.
Next week starts Backup Awareness Month (and yes, probably Clean Your House Month and Brush Your Teeth Month)…but nonetheless…good time to remind readers to backup with a bit of data?
Would you be interested in seeing/talking about the data when I get it?
Would you be interested in getting a sneak peak at Backblaze? (I could give you some invite codes for your readers as well.)
CEO and Co-Founder
Automatic, Secure, High-Performance Online Backup
The Good: It said what we’re doing, why this relates to him and his readers, provides him information he had asked for in an article, ties to something timely, is clearly tailored for him, is pitched by the CEO and Co-Founder, and provides my cell.
The Bad: It’s too long.
I got better later. Here’s an example:
Subject: Does temperature affect hard drive life?
Hi Peter, there has been much debate about whether temperature affects how long a hard drive lasts. Following up on the Backblaze analyses of how long do drives last & which drives last the longest (that you wrote about) we’ve now analyzed the impact of heat on the nearly 40,000 hard drives we have and found that…
We’re going to publish the results this Monday, 5/12 at 5am California-time. Want a sneak peak of the analysis?
A common question is “When should I launch?” What day, what time? I prefer to launch on Tuesday at 8am California-time. Launching earlier in the week gives breathing room for the news to live longer. While your launch may be a single article posted and that’s that, if it ends up a larger success, earlier in the week allows other journalists (including ones who are in other countries) to build on the story. Monday announcements can be tough because the journalists generally need to have their stories finished by Friday, and while ideally everything is buttoned up beforehand, startups sometimes use the weekend as overflow before a launch.
The 8am California-time is because it allows articles to be published at the beginning of the day West Coast and around lunch-time East Coast. Later and you risk it being past publishing time for the day. We used to launch at 5am in order to be morning for the East Coast, but it did not seem to have a significant benefit in coverage or impact, but did mean that the entire internal team needed to be up at 3am or 4am. Sometimes that’s critical, but I prefer to not burn the team out when it’s not.
Finally, try to stay clear of holidays, major announcements and large conferences. If Apple is coming out with their next iPhone, many of the tech journalists will be busy at least a couple days prior and possibly a week after. Not always obvious, but if you can, find times that are otherwise going to be slow for news.
There is a fine line between persistence and annoyance. I once had a journalist write me after we had an announcement that was covered by the press, “Why didn’t you let me know?! I would have written about that!” I had sent him three emails about the upcoming announcement to which he never responded.
Ugh. However, my takeaway from this isn’t that I should send 10 emails to every journalist. It’s that sometimes these things happen.
My general rule is 3 emails. If I’ve identified a specific journalist that I think would be interested and have a pitch crafted for her, I’ll send her the email ideally 2 weeks prior to the announcement. I’ll follow-up a week later, and one more time 2 days prior. If she ever says, “I’m not interested in this topic,” I note it and don’t email her on that topic again.
If a journalist wrote, I read the article and engage in the comments (or someone on our team, such as our social guy, @YevP does). We’ll often promote the story through our social channels and email our employees who may choose to share the story as well. This helps us, but also helps the journalist get their story broader reach. Again, the goal is to build a relationship with the journalists your space. If there’s something relevant to your customers that the journalist wrote, you’re providing a service to your customers AND helping the journalist get the word out about the article.
At times the stories also end up shared on sites such as Hacker News, Reddit, Slashdot, or become active conversations on Twitter. Again, we try to engage there and respond to questions (when we do, we are always clear that we’re from Backblaze.)
And finally, I’ll often send a short thank you to the journalist.
Getting Your First 1,000 Customers With Press
As I mentioned at the beginning, there is more than one way to get your first 1,000 customers. My favorite is working with the press to share your story. If you figure out your compelling story, find the right journalists, make their life easy, pitch and follow-up, you stand a high likelyhood of getting coverage and customers. Better yet, that coverage will provide credibility for your company, and if done right, will establish you as a resource for the press for the future.
Like any muscle, this process takes working out. The first time may feel a bit daunting, but just take the steps one at a time. As you do this a few times, the process will be easier and you’ll know who to reach out and quickly determine what stories will be compelling.
Post Syndicated from Janina Ander original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/public-transport-vasttrapi/
I get impatient quickly when I’m looking up information on my phone. There’s just something about it that makes me jittery – especially when the information is time-sensitive, like timetables for public transport. If you’re like me, then Dimitris Platis‘s newest build is for you. He has created the VästtraPi, a Pi-powered departure time screen for your home!
Never miss the bus again with VästtraPi
Let me set the scene: it’s a weekday morning, and you’ve finally woken up enough to think about taking the bus to work. How much time do you have to catch it, though? You pick up your phone, unlock it, choose the right app, wait for it to update – and realise this took so much time that you’ll probably miss the next bus! Grrrrrr!
Now picture this: instead of using your phone, you can glance at a personalized real-time bus schedule monitor while sipping your tea at breakfast.
Such a device is exactly what Dimitris has created with the VästtraPi, and he has provided instructions so you can make your own. One less stress factor for your morning commute!
Setting up the VästtraPi
The main pieces of hardware making up the VästtraPi are a Raspberry Pi Zero W, an LCD screen, and a power control board designed by Dimitris which switches the device on and off. He explains where to buy the board’s components, as well as all the other parts of the build, and how to put them together. He’s also 3D-printed a simple case.
On the software side, a Python script accesses the API provided by Dimitris’s local public transportation company, Västtrafik, and repeatedly fetches information about his favourite bus stop. It displays the information using neat graphics, generated with the help of Tkinter, the standard GUI package for Python. The device is set up so that pressing the ‘on’ button starts up the Pi. The script then runs automatically for ten minutes before safely shutting everything down. Very economical!
Dimitris has even foreseen what you’re likely to be thinking right now:
So, is this faster than the mobile app solution? Yes and no. The Raspberry Pi Zero W needs around 30 seconds to boot up and display the GUI. Without any optimizations it is naturally slower than my phone. VästtraPi’s biggest advantage is that it allows me to multitask while it is loading.
Build your own live bus schedule monitor
All the schematics and code are available via Dimitris’s write-up. He says that, for the moment, “the bus station, selected platform and bus line destinations that are displayed are hard-coded” in his script, but that it would be easy to amend for your own purposes. Of course, when recreating this build, you’ll want to use your own local public transport provider’s API, so some tweaking of his code will be required anyway.
What do you think – will this improve your morning routine? Are you up to the challenge of adapting it? Or do you envision modifying the build to display other live information? Let us know how you get on in the comments.
The post VästtraPi: your personal bus stop schedule monitor appeared first on Raspberry Pi.
Post Syndicated from Andy Klein original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/data-center-design/
We are pleased to announce that Backblaze is now storing some of our customers’ data in our newest data center in Phoenix. Our Sacramento facility was slated to store about 500 petabytes of data and was starting to fill up so it was time to expand. After visiting multiple locations in the US and Canada, we selected Phoenix as it had the right combination of power, networking, price and more that we were seeking. Let’s take you through the process of getting the Phoenix data center up and running.
Day 0 – Designing the Data Center
After we selected the Phoenix location as our next DC (data center), we had to negotiate the contract. We’re going to skip that part of the process because, unless you’re a lawyer, it’s a long, boring process. Let’s just say we wanted to be ready to move in once the contract was signed. That meant we had to gather up everything we needed and order a bunch of other things like networking equipment, racks, storage pods, cables, etc. We decided to use our Sacramento DC as the staging point and started gathering what was going to be needed in Phoenix.
In actuality, for some items we started the process several months ago as lead times for things like network switches, Storage Pods, and even hard drives can be measured in months and delays are normal. For example, depending on our move in date, the network providers we wanted would only be able to provide limited bandwidth, so we had to prepare for that possibility. It helps to have a procurement person who knows what they are doing, can work the schedule, and is creatively flexible – thanks Amanda.
So by Day 0, we had amassed multiple pallets of cabinets, network gear, PDUs, tools, hard drives, carts, Guido, and more. And yes, for all you Guido fans he is still with us and he now resides in Phoenix. Everything was wrapped and loaded into a 53-foot semi-truck that was driven the 755 miles (1,215 km) from Sacramento, California to Phoenix, Arizona.
Day 1 – Move In Day
We sent a crew of 5 people to Phoenix with the goal of going from empty space to being ready to accept data in one week. The truck from Sacramento arrived mid-morning and work started unloading and marshaling the pallets and boxes into one area, while the racks were placed near their permanent location on the DC floor.
Day 2 – Building the Racks
Day 2 was spent primarily working with the racks. First they were positioned to their precise location on the data center floor. They were then anchored down and tied together. We started with 2 rows of twenty-two racks each, with twenty being for storage pods and two being for networking equipment. By the end of the week there will be 4 rows of racks installed.
Day 3 – Networking and Power, Part 1
While one team continued to work on the racks, another team began the process a getting the racks connected to the electricty and running the network cables to the network distribution racks. Once that was done, networking gear and rack-based PDUs (Power Distribution Units) were installed in the racks.
Day 4 – Rack Storage Pods
The truck from Sacramento brought 100 Storage Pods, a combination of 45 drive and 60 drive systems. Why did we use 45 drives units here? It has to do with the size (in racks and power) of the initial installation commitment and the ramp (increase) of installations over time. Contract stuff: boring yes, important yes. Basically to optimize our spend we wanted to use as much of the initial space we were allotted as possible. Since we had a number of empty 45 drive chassis available in Sacramento we decided to put them to use.
Day 5 – Drive Day
Our initial set-up goal was to build out five Backblaze Vaults. Each Vault is comprised of twenty Storage Pods. Four of the Vaults were filled with 45 drive Storage Pods and one was filled with 60 drive Storage Pods. That’s 4,800 hard drives to install – thank goodness we don’t use those rubber bands around the drives anymore.
Day 6 – Networking and Power, Part 2
With the storage pods in place, Day 6 was spent routing network and power cables to the individual pods. A critical part of the process is to label every wire so you know where it comes from and where it goes too. Once labeled, wires are bundled together and secured to the racks in a standard pattern. Not only does this make things look neat, it standardizes where you’ll find each cable across the hundreds of racks that are in the DC.
Day 7 – Test, Repair, Test, Ready
With all the power and networking finished, it was time to test the installation. Most of the Storage Pods light up with no problem, but there were a few that failed. These failures are quickly dealt with, and one by one each Backblaze Vault is registered into our monitoring and administration systems. By the end of the day, all five Vaults were ready.
The Phoenix data center was ready for operation except that the network carriers we wanted to use could only provide a limited amount of bandwidth to start. It would take a few more weeks before the final network lines would be provisioned and operational. Even with the limited bandwidth we kicked off the migration of customer data from Sacramento to Phoenix to help balance out the workload. A few weeks later, once the networking was sorted out, we started accepting external customer data.
We’d like to thank our data center build team for documenting their work in pictures and allowing us to share some of them with our readers.
Questions About Our New Data Center
Now that we have a second DC, you might have a few questions, such as can you store your data there and so on. Here’s the status of things today…
|Q:||Does the new DC mean Backblaze has multi-region storage?||A:||Not yet. Right now we consider the Phoenix DC and the Sacramento DC to be in the same region.|
|Q:||Will you ever provide multi-region support?|
|A:||Yes, we expect to provide multi-region support in the future, but we don’t have a date for that capability yet.|
|Q:||Can I pick which data center will store my data?|
|A:||Not yet. This capability is part of our plans when we provide multi-region support.|
|Q:||Which data center is my data being stored in?|
|A:||Chances are that your data is in the Sacramento data center given it currently stores about 90% of our customer’s data.|
|Q:||Will my data be split across the two data centers?|
|A:||It is possible that one portion of your data will be stored in the Sacramento DC and another portion of your data will be stored in the Phoenix DC. This will be completely invisible to you and you should see no difference in storage or data retrieval times.|
|Q:||Can my data be replicated from one DC to the other?|
|A:||Not today. As noted above, your data will be in one DC or the other. That said files uploaded to the Backblaze Vaults in either DC are stored redundantly across 20 Backblaze Storage Pods within that DC. This translates to 99.999999% durability for the data stored this way.|
|Q:||Do you plan on opening more data centers?|
|A:||Yes. We are actively looking for new locations.|
If you have any additional questions, please let us know in the comments or on social media. Thanks.
The post Desert To Data in 7 Days – Our New Phoenix Data Center appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.
Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/new-auto-scaling-for-amazon-dynamodb/
Amazon DynamoDB has more than one hundred thousand customers, spanning a wide range of industries and use cases. These customers depend on DynamoDB’s consistent performance at any scale and presence in 16 geographic regions around the world. A recent trend we’ve been observing is customers using DynamoDB to power their serverless applications. This is a good match: with DynamoDB, you don’t have to think about things like provisioning servers, performing OS and database software patching, or configuring replication across availability zones to ensure high availability – you can simply create tables and start adding data, and let DynamoDB handle the rest.
DynamoDB provides a provisioned capacity model that lets you set the amount of read and write capacity required by your applications. While this frees you from thinking about servers and enables you to change provisioning for your table with a simple API call or button click in the AWS Management Console, customers have asked us how we can make managing capacity for DynamoDB even easier.
Today we are introducing Auto Scaling for DynamoDB to help automate capacity management for your tables and global secondary indexes. You simply specify the desired target utilization and provide upper and lower bounds for read and write capacity. DynamoDB will then monitor throughput consumption using Amazon CloudWatch alarms and then will adjust provisioned capacity up or down as needed. Auto Scaling will be on by default for all new tables and indexes, and you can also configure it for existing ones.
Even if you’re not around, DynamoDB Auto Scaling will be monitoring your tables and indexes to automatically adjust throughput in response to changes in application traffic. This can make it easier to administer your DynamoDB data, help you maximize availability for your applications, and help you reduce your DynamoDB costs.
Let’s see how it works…
Using Auto Scaling
The DynamoDB Console now proposes a comfortable set of default parameters when you create a new table. You can accept them as-is or you can uncheck Use default settings and enter your own parameters:
Here’s how you enter your own parameters:
Target utilization is expressed in terms of the ratio of consumed capacity to provisioned capacity. The parameters above would allow for sufficient headroom to allow consumed capacity to double due to a burst in read or write requests (read Capacity Unit Calculations to learn more about the relationship between DynamoDB read and write operations and provisioned capacity). Changes in provisioned capacity take place in the background.
Auto Scaling in Action
In order to see this important new feature in action, I followed the directions in the Getting Started Guide. I launched a fresh EC2 instance, installed (
sudo pip install boto3) and configured (
aws configure) the AWS SDK for Python. Then I used the code in the Python and DynamoDB section to create and populate a table with some data, and manually configured the table for 5 units each of read and write capacity.
I took a quick break in order to have clean, straight lines for the CloudWatch metrics so that I could show the effect of Auto Scaling. Here’s what the metrics look like before I started to apply a load:
I modified the code in Step 3 to continually issue queries for random years in the range of 1920 to 2007, ran a single copy of the code, and checked the read metrics a minute or two later:
The consumed capacity is higher than the provisioned capacity, resulting in a large number of throttled reads. Time for Auto Scaling!
I returned to the console and clicked on the Capacity tab for my table. Then I clicked on Read capacity, accepted the default values, and clicked on Save:
DynamoDB created a new IAM role (DynamoDBAutoscaleRole) and a pair of CloudWatch alarms to manage the Auto Scaling of read capacity:
DynamoDB Auto Scaling will manage the thresholds for the alarms, moving them up and down as part of the scaling process. The first alarm was triggered and the table state changed to Updating while additional read capacity was provisioned:
The change was visible in the read metrics within minutes:
I started a couple of additional copies of my modified query script and watched as additional capacity was provisioned, as indicated by the red line:
I killed all of the scripts and turned my attention to other things while waiting for the scale-down alarm to trigger. Here’s what I saw when I came back:
The next morning I checked my Scaling activities and saw that the alarm had triggered several more times overnight:
This was also visible in the metrics:
Until now, you would prepare for this situation by setting your read capacity well about your expected usage, and pay for the excess capacity (the space between the blue line and the red line). Or, you might set it too low, forget to monitor it, and run out of capacity when traffic picked up. With Auto Scaling you can get the best of both worlds: an automatic response when an increase in demand suggests that more capacity is needed, and another automated response when the capacity is no longer needed.
Things to Know
DynamoDB Auto Scaling is designed to accommodate request rates that vary in a somewhat predictable, generally periodic fashion. If you need to accommodate unpredictable bursts of read activity, you should use Auto Scaling in combination with DAX (read Amazon DynamoDB Accelerator (DAX) – In-Memory Caching for Read-Intensive Workloads to learn more). Also, the AWS SDKs will detect throttled read and write requests and retry them after a suitable delay.
I mentioned the DynamoDBAutoscaleRole earlier. This role provides Auto Scaling with the privileges that it needs to have in order for it to be able to scale your tables and indexes up and down. To learn more about this role and the permissions that it uses, read Grant User Permissions for DynamoDB Auto Scaling.
Auto Scaling has complete CLI and API support, including the ability to enable and disable the Auto Scaling policies. If you have some predictable, time-bound spikes in traffic, you can programmatically disable an Auto Scaling policy, provision higher throughput for a set period of time, and then enable Auto Scaling again later.
As noted on the Limits in DynamoDB page, you can increase provisioned capacity as often as you would like and as high as you need (subject to per-account limits that we can increase on request). You can decrease capacity up to nine times per day for each table or global secondary index.
This feature is available now in all regions and you can start using it today!
Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original http://blog.erratasec.com/2017/06/more-notes-on-us-certs-iocs.html
Yet another Russian attack against the power grid, and yet more bad IOCs from the DHS US-CERT.
IOCs are “indicators of compromise“, things you can look for in order to order to see if you, too, have been hacked by the same perpetrators. There are several types of IOCs, ranging from the highly specific to the uselessly generic.
A uselessly generic IOC would be like trying to identify bank robbers by the fact that their getaway car was “white” in color. It’s worth documenting, so that if the police ever show up in a suspected cabin in the woods, they can note that there’s a “white” car parked in front.
But if you work bank security, that doesn’t mean you should be on the lookout for “white” cars. That would be silly.
This is what happens with US-CERT’s IOCs. They list some potentially useful things, but they also list a lot of junk that waste’s people’s times, with little ability to distinguish between the useful and the useless.
An example: a few months ago was the GRIZZLEYBEAR report published by US-CERT. Among other things, it listed IP addresses used by hackers. There was no description which would be useful IP addresses to watch for, and which would be useless.
Some of these IP addresses were useful, pointing to servers the group has been using a long time as command-and-control servers. Other IP addresses are more dubious, such as Tor exit nodes. You aren’t concerned about any specific Tor exit IP address, because it changes randomly, so has no relationship to the attackers. Instead, if you cared about those Tor IP addresses, what you should be looking for is a dynamically updated list of Tor nodes updated daily.
And finally, they listed IP addresses of Yahoo, because attackers passed data through Yahoo servers. No, it wasn’t because those Yahoo servers had been compromised, it’s just that everyone passes things though them, like email.
A Vermont power-plant blindly dumped all those IP addresses into their sensors. As a consequence, the next morning when an employee checked their Yahoo email, the sensors triggered. This resulted in national headlines about the Russians hacking the Vermont power grid.
Today, the US-CERT made similar mistakes with CRASHOVERRIDE. They took a report from Dragos Security, then mutilated it. Dragos’s own IOCs focused on things like hostile strings and file hashes of the hostile files. They also included filenames, but similar to the reason you’d noticed a white car — because it happened, not because you should be on the lookout for it. In context, there’s nothing wrong with noting the file name.
But the US-CERT pulled the filenames out of context. One of those filenames was, humorously, “svchost.exe”. It’s the name of an essential Windows service. Every Windows computer is running multiple copies of “svchost.exe”. It’s like saying “be on the lookout for Windows”.
Yes, it’s true that viruses use the same filenames as essential Windows files like “svchost.exe”. That’s, generally, something you should be aware of. But that CRASHOVERRIDE did this is wholly meaningless.
What Dragos Security was actually reporting was that a “svchost.exe” with the file hash of 79ca89711cdaedb16b0ccccfdcfbd6aa7e57120a was the virus — it’s the hash that’s the important IOC. Pulling the filename out of context is just silly.
Luckily, the DHS also provides some of the raw information provided by Dragos. But even then, there’s problems: they provide it in formatted form, for HTML, PDF, or Excel documents. This corrupts the original data so that it’s no longer machine readable. For example, from their webpage, they have the following:
Among the problems are the fact that the quote marks have been altered, probably by Word’s “smart quotes” feature. In other cases, I’ve seen PDF documents get confused by the number 0 and the letter O, as if the raw data had been scanned in from a printed document and OCRed.
If this were a “threat intel” company, we’d call this snake oil. The US-CERT is using Dragos Security’s reports to promote itself, but ultimate providing negative value, mutilating the content.
This, ultimately, causes a lot of harm. The press trusted their content. So does the network of downstream entities, like municipal power grids. There are tens of thousands of such consumers of these reports, often with less expertise than even US-CERT. There are sprinklings of smart people in these organizations, I meet them at hacker cons, and am fascinated by their stories. But institutionally, they are dumbed down the same level as these US-CERT reports, with the smart people marginalized.
There are two solutions to this problem. The first is that when the stupidity of what you do causes everyone to laugh at you, stop doing it. The second is to value technical expertise, empowering those who know what they are doing. Examples of what not to do are giving power to people like Obama’s cyberczar, Michael Daniels, who once claimed his lack of technical knowledge was a bonus, because it allowed him to see the strategic picture instead of getting distracted by details.
Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/12-months-raspberry-pi/
This weekend saw my first anniversary at Raspberry Pi, and this blog marks my 100th post written for the company. It would have been easy to let one milestone or the other slide had they not come along hand in hand, begging for some sort of acknowledgement.
So here it is!
Joining the crew
Prior to my position in the Comms team as Social Media Editor, my employment history was largely made up of retail sales roles and, before that, bit parts in theatrical backstage crews. I never thought I would work for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, despite its firm position on my Top Five Awesome Places I’d Love to Work list. How could I work for a tech company when my knowledge of tech stretched as far as dismantling my Game Boy when I was a kid to see how the insides worked, or being the one friend everyone went to when their phone didn’t do what it was meant to do? I never thought about the other side of the Foundation coin, or how I could find my place within the hidden workings that turned the cogs that brought everything together.
… when suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a new job with a dream company. #raspberrypi #positive #change #dosomething
12 Likes, 1 Comments – Alex J’rassic (@thealexjrassic) on Instagram: “… when suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a new job with a dream company. #raspberrypi #positive…”
A little luck, a well-written though humorous resumé, and a meeting with Liz and Helen later, I found myself the newest member of the growing team at Pi Towers.
Ticking items off the Bucket List
I thought it would be fun to point out some of the chances I’ve had over the last twelve months and explain how they fit within the world of Raspberry Pi. After all, we’re about more than just a $35 credit card-sized computer. We’re a charitable Foundation made up of some wonderful and exciting projects, people, and goals.
High altitude ballooning (HAB)
Skycademy offers educators in the UK the chance to come to Pi Towers Cambridge to learn how to plan a balloon launch, build a payload with onboard Raspberry Pi and Camera Module, and provide teachers with the skills needed to take their students on an adventure to near space, with photographic evidence to prove it.
All the screens you need to hunt balloons. . We have our landing point and are now rushing to Therford to find the payload in a field. . #HAB #RasppberryPi
332 Likes, 5 Comments – Raspberry Pi (@raspberrypifoundation) on Instagram: “All the screens you need to hunt balloons. . We have our landing point and are now rushing to…”
I was fortunate enough to join Sky Captain James, along with Dan Fisher, Dave Akerman, and Steve Randell on a test launch back in August last year. Testing out new kit that James had still been tinkering with that morning, we headed to a field in Elsworth, near Cambridge, and provided Facebook Live footage of the process from payload build to launch…to the moment when our balloon landed in an RAF shooting range some hours later.
Having enjoyed watching Blue Peter presenters send up a HAB when I was a child, I marked off the event on my bucket list with a bold tick, and I continue to show off the photographs from our Raspberry Pi as it reached near space.
Spend the day launching/chasing a high-altitude balloon. Look how high it went!!! #HAB #ballooning #space #wellspacekinda #ish #photography #uk #highaltitude
13 Likes, 2 Comments – Alex J’rassic (@thealexjrassic) on Instagram: “Spend the day launching/chasing a high-altitude balloon. Look how high it went!!! #HAB #ballooning…”
Dear Raspberry Pi Friends…
My desk is slowly filling with stuff: notes, mementoes, and trinkets that find their way to me from members of the community, both established and new to the life of Pi. There are thank you notes, updates, and more from people I’ve chatted to online as they explore their way around the world of Pi.
By plugging myself into social media on a daily basis, I often find hidden treasures that go unnoticed due to the high volume of tags we receive on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. Kids jumping off chairs in delight as they complete their first Scratch project, newcomers to the Raspberry Pi shedding a tear as they make an LED blink on their kitchen table, and seasoned makers turning their hobby into something positive to aid others.
It’s wonderful to join in the excitement of people discovering a new skill and exploring the community of Raspberry Pi makers: I’ve been known to shed a tear as a result.
Meeting educators at Bett, chatting to teen makers at makerspaces, and sharing a cupcake or three at the birthday party have been incredible opportunities to get to know you all.
You’re all brilliant.
The Queens of Robots, both shoddy and otherwise
Last year we welcomed the Queen of Shoddy Robots, Simone Giertz to Pi Towers, where we chatted about making, charity, and space while wandering the colleges of Cambridge and hanging out with flat Tim Peake.
Queen of Robots @simonegiertz came to visit #PiTowers today. We hung out with cardboard @astro_timpeake and ate chelsea buns at @fitzbillies #Cambridge. . We also had a great talk about the educational projects of the #RaspberryPi team, #AstroPi and how not enough people realise we’re a #charity. . If you’d like to learn more about the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the work we do with #teachers and #education, check out our website – www.raspberrypi.org. . How was your day? Get up to anything fun?
597 Likes, 3 Comments – Raspberry Pi (@raspberrypifoundation) on Instagram: “Queen of Robots @simonegiertz came to visit #PiTowers today. We hung out with cardboard…”
And last month, the wonderful Estefannie ‘Explains it All’ de La Garza came to hang out, make things, and discuss our educational projects.
Ahhhh!!! I still can’t believe I got to hang out and make stuff at the @Raspberry_Pi towers!! Thank you thank you!!
Meeting such wonderful, exciting, and innovative YouTubers was a fantastic inspiration to work on my own projects and to try to do more to help others discover ways to connect with tech through their own interests.
Those ‘wow’ moments
Every Raspberry Pi project I see on a daily basis is awesome. The moment someone takes an idea and does something with it is, in my book, always worthy of awe and appreciation. Whether it be the aforementioned flashing LED, or sending Raspberry Pis to the International Space Station, if you have turned your idea into reality, I applaud you.
Some of my favourite projects over the last twelve months have not only made me say “Wow!”, they’ve also inspired me to want to do more with myself, my time, and my growing maker skill.
Great to meet @alexjrassic today and nerd out about @Raspberry_Pi and weather balloons and @Space_Station and all things #edtech ⛅🛰🤖
Projects such as Museum in a Box, a wonderful hands-on learning aid that brings the world to the hands of children across the globe, honestly made me tear up as I placed a miniaturised 3D-printed Virginia Woolf onto a wooden box and gasped as she started to speak to me.
Jill Ogle’s Let’s Robot project had me in awe as Twitch-controlled Pi robots tackled mazes, attempted to cut birthday cake, or swung to slap Jill in the face over webcam.
@SryAbtYourCats @tekn0rebel @Beam Lol speaking of faces… https://t.co/1tqFlMNS31
Every day I discover new, wonderful builds that both make me wish I’d thought of them first, and leave me wondering how they manage to make them work in the first place.
We have Raspberry Pis in space. SPACE. Actually space.
New post: Mission accomplished for the European @astro_pi challenge and @esa @Thom_astro is on his way home https://t.co/ycTSDR1h1Q
Twelve months later, this still blows my mind.
And let’s not forget…
- The chance to visit both the Houses of Parliment and St James’s Palace
- Going to a Doctor Who pre-screening and meeting Peter Capaldi, thanks to Clare Sutcliffe
13 Likes, 2 Comments – Alex J’rassic (@thealexjrassic) on Instagram: “There’s no need to smile when you’re #DoctorWho.”
- Going to VidCon!
We’re here. Where are you? . . . . . #raspberrypi #vidconeu #vidcon #pizero #zerow #travel #explore #adventure #youtube
1,944 Likes, 30 Comments – Raspberry Pi (@raspberrypifoundation) on Instagram: “We’re here. Where are you? . . . . . #raspberrypi #vidconeu #vidcon #pizero #zerow #travel #explore…”
- Making a GIF Cam and other builds, and sharing them with you all via the blog
Made a Gif Cam using a Raspberry Pi, Pi camera, button and a couple LEDs. . When you press the button, it takes 8 images and stitches them into a gif file. The files then appear on my MacBook. . Check out our Twitter feed (Raspberry_Pi) for examples! . Next step is to fit it inside a better camera body. . #DigitalMaking #Photography #Making #Camera #Gif #MakersGonnaMake #LED #Creating #PhotosofInstagram #RaspberryPi
19 Likes, 1 Comments – Alex J’rassic (@thealexjrassic) on Instagram: “Made a Gif Cam using a Raspberry Pi, Pi camera, button and a couple LEDs. . When you press the…”
The next twelve months
Despite Eben jokingly firing me near-weekly across Twitter, or Philip giving me the ‘Dad glare’ when I pull wires and buttons out of a box under my desk to start yet another project, I don’t plan on going anywhere. Over the next twelve months, I hope to continue discovering awesome Pi builds, expanding on my own skills, and curating some wonderful projects for you via the Raspberry Pi blog, the Raspberry Pi Weekly newsletter, my submissions to The MagPi Magazine, and the occasional video interview or two.
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for joining me on the ride!
The post “Only a year? It’s felt like forever”: a twelve-month retrospective appeared first on Raspberry Pi.
Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/03/congress_remove.html
Think about all of the websites you visit every day. Now imagine if the likes of Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon collected all of your browsing history and sold it on to the highest bidder. That’s what will probably happen if Congress has its way.
This week, lawmakers voted to allow Internet service providers to violate your privacy for their own profit. Not only have they voted to repeal a rule that protects your privacy, they are also trying to make it illegal for the Federal Communications Commission to enact other rules to protect your privacy online.
That this is not provoking greater outcry illustrates how much we’ve ceded any willingness to shape our technological future to for-profit companies and are allowing them to do it for us.
There are a lot of reasons to be worried about this. Because your Internet service provider controls your connection to the Internet, it is in a position to see everything you do on the Internet. Unlike a search engine or social networking platform or news site, you can’t easily switch to a competitor. And there’s not a lot of competition in the market, either. If you have a choice between two high-speed providers in the US, consider yourself lucky.
What can telecom companies do with this newly granted power to spy on everything you’re doing? Of course they can sell your data to marketers — and the inevitable criminals and foreign governments who also line up to buy it. But they can do more creepy things as well.
They can snoop through your traffic and insert their own ads. They can deploy systems that remove encryption so they can better eavesdrop. They can redirect your searches to other sites. They can install surveillance software on your computers and phones. None of these are hypothetical.
They’re all things Internet service providers have done before, and they are some of the reasons the FCC tried to protect your privacy in the first place. And now they’ll be able to do all of these things in secret, without your knowledge or consent. And, of course, governments worldwide will have access to these powers. And all of that data will be at risk of hacking, either by criminals and other governments.
Telecom companies have argued that other Internet players already have these creepy powers — although they didn’t use the word “creepy” — so why should they not have them as well? It’s a valid point.
Surveillance is already the business model of the Internet, and literally hundreds of companies spy on your Internet activity against your interests and for their own profit.
Your e-mail provider already knows everything you write to your family, friends, and colleagues. Google already knows our hopes, fears, and interests, because that’s what we search for.
Your cellular provider already tracks your physical location at all times: it knows where you live, where you work, when you go to sleep at night, when you wake up in the morning, and — because everyone has a smartphone — who you spend time with and who you sleep with.
And some of the things these companies do with that power is no less creepy. Facebook has run experiments in manipulating your mood by changing what you see on your news feed. Uber used its ride data to identify one-night stands. Even Sony once installed spyware on customers’ computers to try and detect if they copied music files.
Aside from spying for profit, companies can spy for other purposes. Uber has already considered using data it collects to intimidate a journalist. Imagine what an Internet service provider can do with the data it collects: against politicians, against the media, against rivals.
Of course the telecom companies want a piece of the surveillance capitalism pie. Despite dwindling revenues, increasing use of ad blockers, and increases in clickfraud, violating our privacy is still a profitable business — especially if it’s done in secret.
The bigger question is: why do we allow for-profit corporations to create our technological future in ways that are optimized for their profits and anathema to our own interests?
When markets work well, different companies compete on price and features, and society collectively rewards better products by purchasing them. This mechanism fails if there is no competition, or if rival companies choose not to compete on a particular feature. It fails when customers are unable to switch to competitors. And it fails when what companies do remains secret.
Unlike service providers like Google and Facebook, telecom companies are infrastructure that requires government involvement and regulation. The practical impossibility of consumers learning the extent of surveillance by their Internet service providers, combined with the difficulty of switching them, means that the decision about whether to be spied on should be with the consumer and not a telecom giant. That this new bill reverses that is both wrong and harmful.
Today, technology is changing the fabric of our society faster than at any other time in history. We have big questions that we need to tackle: not just privacy, but questions of freedom, fairness, and liberty. Algorithms are making decisions about policing, healthcare.
Driverless vehicles are making decisions about traffic and safety. Warfare is increasingly being fought remotely and autonomously. Censorship is on the rise globally. Propaganda is being promulgated more efficiently than ever. These problems won’t go away. If anything, the Internet of things and the computerization of every aspect of our lives will make it worse.
In today’s political climate, it seems impossible that Congress would legislate these things to our benefit. Right now, regulatory agencies such as the FTC and FCC are our best hope to protect our privacy and security against rampant corporate power. That Congress has decided to reduce that power leaves us at enormous risk.
It’s too late to do anything about this bill — Trump will certainly sign it — but we need to be alert to future bills that reduce our privacy and security.
This post previously appeared on the Guardian.
In a morning plenary session on the first day of the 2017 Linux Storage,
Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit, Jérôme Glisse led a discussion on
memory that cannot be addressed by the CPU because it lives in devices like
GPUs or FPGAs. There is often a substantial pile of memory on these
devices and it can be accessed much more quickly by the devices than the
system RAM can be. Making it easier for user-space programmers to use that
memory transparently is the goal of the heterogeneous memory management (HMM) patches
that Glisse has been working on.
Back when home television sets were thin on the ground and programmes were monochrome, TV maintained a magical aura, a ‘how do they fit the people in that little box’ wonder which has been lost now that sets are common and almost everyone has their own video camera or recording device. Many older shows were filmed specifically to be watched in black and white, and, in much the same way that plugging your SNES into an HD monitor doesn’t quite look right, old classics just don’t look the same when viewed on the modern screen.
Wellington Duraes, Senior Program Manager for Microsoft and proud owner of one of the best names I’ve ever seen, has used a Raspberry Pi and some readily available television content to build a TV Time Machine that draws us back to the days of classic, monochrome viewing the best way he can.
He may not be able to utilise the exact technology of the old screen, but he can trick our mind with the set’s retro aesthetics.
You can see more information about this project here: https://www.hackster.io/wellington-duraes/tv-time-machine-d11b5f
As explained in his hackster.io project page, Wellington joined his local Maker community, the Snohomish County Makers in Everett, WA, who helped him to build the wooden enclosure for the television. By purchasing turquoise speaker grille fabric online, he was able to give a gorgeous retro feeling to the outer shell.
For the innards, Wellington used a cannibalised thrift store Dell monitor, hooking it up to a Raspberry Pi 2 and some second-hand speakers. After the addition of Adafruit’s video looper code to loop free content downloaded from the Internet Archive, plus some 3D-printed channel and volume knobs, the TV Time Machine was complete.
“Electronics are the easiest part,” explains Wellington. “This is basically a Raspberry Pi 2 playing videos in an infinite loop from a flash drive, a monitor, and a PC speaker.”
On a personal note, my first – and favourite – television was a black-and-white set, the remote long since lost. A hand-me-down from my parents’ bedroom, I remember watching the launch of Euro Disney on its tiny screen, imagining what the fireworks and parade would look like in colour. Of course, I could have just gone downstairs and watched it on the colour television in the living room, but there was something special about having my own screen whose content I could dictate.
On weekend mornings, I would wake and give up my rights to colour content in order to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Defenders of the Earth, and The Wuzzles (my favourite) on that black-and-white screen, knowing that no one would ask for the channel to be changed – what eight-year-old child wanted to watch boring things like the news and weather?
I think that’s why I love this project so much, and why, despite now owning a ridiculously large smart TV with all the bells and whistles of modern technology, I want to build this for the nostalgia kick.