This new malware was discovered by researchers at Dutch cyber-security company Sansec that focuses on defending e-commerce websites from digital skimming (also known as Magecart) attacks.
The payment skimmer malware pulls its sleight of hand trick with the help of a double payload structure where the source code of the skimmer script that steals customers’ credit cards will be concealed in a social sharing icon loaded as an HTML ‘svg’ element with a ‘path’ element as a container.
The syntax for hiding the skimmer’s source code as a social media button perfectly mimics an ‘svg’ element named using social media platform names (e.g., facebook_full, twitter_full, instagram_full, youtube_full, pinterest_full, and google_full).
A separate decoder deployed separately somewhere on the e-commerce site’s server is used to extract and execute the code of the hidden credit card stealer.
This tactic increases the chances of avoiding detection even if one of the two malware components is found since the malware loader is not necessarily stored within the same location as the skimmer payload and their true purpose might evade superficial analysis.
Yesterday, we asked you to share your Raspberry Pi builds on social media using the hashtag #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor. The result was amazing, with so many of you sharing some really interesting projects, inspiring both us, and others, to get creative.
Live digital audio effects processing with @blokaslabs MODEP #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor https://t.co/7HVhxns2p1
We see a lot of music-based Raspberry Pi projects, from guitar pedals to radios, soundboards, and capacitive-touch fruit baskets. This effects processor for Daniel Kraft’s drum kit will have many of the musically inclined members of Raspberry Pi Towers getting code-happy in no time.
IUseMyRaspberryPiFor building autonomous robots, securing our house Internet access, picturing wildlife in our garden, but mostly to introduce IT to my daughter and how much can be accomplished and learned through it (creativity, patience,…), all thanks to the community 🙂 !
Pierre-Yves Baloche uses his Raspberry Pi for a multitude of tasks, including as a tool to introduce his daughter to technology, and to the technical and non-technical skills that come with learning to make stuff.
RT:(@Raspberry_Pi) RT @sarru1291: I’m using raspberry pi for building a visual guide for visually impaired people. It is portable and fully voice-controlled. It can be used for most of the daily life activities. #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor #RaspberryPi https://t.co/QMhBYxzpKJ #don…
This project from Gabriel Cruz is a great example of how Raspberry Pi can be used to create low-cost accessibility aids.
This is how planespotters use their TVs. Log and monitor the planes approaching and landing to an airport with @Raspberry_Pi #IUseMyRaspberryPiFor #AI #flightradar24 Source here: https://t.co/1t5Lau2bt9
Our colleagues at the Raspberry Pi North America office have a similar setup for plane spotting.
IUseMyRaspberryPiFor Loads of things! Everything from home automation with Node-RED, HA touch screens, sensor monitoring with InfluxDB/Grafana, VoIP PBX, Octoprint, fixed & pan/tilt cameras, control of a Cambridge Audio amp, UniFi controller, PiHole, probably missed loads!
Nathan uses a Raspberry Pi for just about everything! Great work!
Sometimes we come across a project that just scores a perfect 10 on all fronts. This is one of them: an art installation using Raspberry Pi that has something interesting to say, does it elegantly, and is implemented beautifully (nothing presses our buttons like a make that’s got a professionally glossy finish like this).
Quick Fix is a vending machine (and art installation) that sells social media likes and followers. Drop in a coin, enter your social media account name, and an army of fake accounts will like or follow you. I’ll leave the social commentary to you. Here’s a video from the maker, Dries Depoorter:
Quick Fix in an interactive installation by Dries Depoorter. The artwork makes it possible to buy followers or likes in just a few seconds. For a few euros you already have 200 of likes on Instagram. “Quick Fix “is easy to use. Choose your product, pay and fill in your social media username.
There’s a Raspberry Pi 3B+ in there, along with an Arduino, powering a coin acceptor and some I2C LCD screens. Then there’s a stainless steel heavy-duty keyboard, which we’re lusting after (a spot of Googling unearthed this, which appears to be the same thing, if you’re in the market for a panel-mounted beast of a keyboard).
This piece was commissioned by Pixelache, a cultural association from Helsinki, whose work looks absolutely fascinating if you’ve got a few minutes to browse. Thanks to them and to Dries Depoorter — I have a feeling this won’t be the last of his projects we’re going to feature here.
Bringing the digital photo frame into an even more modern age than the modern age it already resides in, Sean Tracey uses image recognition and social media to update his mother on the day-to-day happenings of her grandkids.
Sharing social media content
“Like every grandmother, my mum dotes on her grandchildren (the daughter and son of my sister, Grace and Freddie),” Sean explains in his tutorial for the project, “but they don’t live nearby, so she doesn’t get to see them as much as she might like.”
Sean tells of his mother’s lack of interest in social media platforms (they’re too complex), and of the anxiety he feels whenever she picks up his phone to catch up on the latest images of Grace and Freddie.
So I thought: “I know! Why don’t I make my mum a picture frame that filters my Instagram feed to show only pictures of my niece and nephew!”
Image recognition and Instagram
Sean’s Instaframe project uses a Watson Visual Recognition model to recognise photos of his niece and nephew posted to his Instagram account, all via a Chrome extension. Then, via a series of smaller functions, these images are saved to a folder and displayed on a screen connected to a Raspberry Pi 3B+.
Do you like photos and Raspberry Pi? Then check out these other photo-focused Pi projects that we’re sure you’ll love (because they’re awesome) and will want to make yourself (because they’re awesome).
FlipFrame, the rotating picture frame, rotates according to the orientation of the image on display.
In this tutorial from HackSpace magazine issue 9, Paul Freeman-Powell shows you how to keep track of your social media followers, and encourage subscribers, by building a live follower counter. Get your copy of HackSpace magazine in stores now, or download it as a free PDF here.
Issues 10 of HackSpace magazine is available online and in stores from tomorrow!
The finished build with all components connected, working, and installed in the frame ready for hanging on the wall
If you run a local business like an electronics shop or a café, or if you just want to grow your online following and influence, this project is a fun way to help you keep track of your progress. A counter could also help contribute to growing your following if you hang it on the wall and actively ask your customers to like/follow you to see the numbers go up!
You’ve probably seen those social media follower counters that feature mechanical splitflap displays. In this project we’ll build a counter powered by RGB LEDs that scrolls through four social profiles, using APIs to pull the number of followers for each account. I’m using YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; you can, of course, tailor the project to your needs.
This project involves a bit of electronics, a bit of software coding, and a bit of woodwork, as well as some fairly advanced display work as we transfer a small portion of the Raspberry Pi’s HDMI output onto the LED matrices.
Let’s get social
First, you need to get your Raspberry Pi all set up and talking to the social networks that you’re going to display. Usually, it’s advisable to install Raspbian without any graphical user interface (GUI) for most electronics projects, but in this case you’ll be actively using that GUI, so make sure you start with a fresh and up-to-date installation of full-fat Raspbian.
phpMyAdmin gives you an easy web interface to allow you to access and edit the device’s settings – for example, speed and direction of scrolling, API credentials, and the social network accounts to monitor
You start by turning your humble little Raspberry Pi into your very own mini web server, which will gather your credentials, talk to the social networks, and display the follower counts. To do this, you need to install a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack. Start by installing the Apache web server by opening a Terminal and typing:
sudo apt-get install apache2 -y
Then, open the web browser on your Pi and type http://localhost — you will see a default page telling you that Apache is working. The page on our little ‘website’ will use code written in the PHP language, so install that by returning to your Terminal and typing:
sudo apt-get install php -y
Once that’s complete, restart Apache:
sudo service apache2 restart
Next, you’ll install the database to store your credentials, settings, and the handles of the social accounts to track. This is done with the following command in your Terminal:
sudo apt-get install mysql-server php-mysql -y
To set a root password for your database, type the following command and follow the on-screen instructions:
Restart Apache again. Then, for easier management of the database, I recommend installing phpMyAdmin:
sudo apt-get install phpMyAdmin -y
At this point, it’s a good idea to connect your Pi to a WiFi network, unless you’re going to be running a network cable to it. Either way, it’s useful to have SSH enabled and to know its IP address so we can access it remotely. Type the following to access Pi settings and enable SSH:
To determine your Pi’s IP address (which will likely be something like 192.168.0.xxx), type either of the following two commands:
ifconfig # this gives you lots of extra info hostname -I # this gives you less info, but all we need in this case
Now that SSH is enabled and you know the LAN IP address of the Pi, you can use PuTTY to connect to it from another computer for the rest of your work. The keyboard, mouse, and monitor can now be unplugged from the Raspberry Pi.
Social media monitor
To set up the database, type http://XXX/ phpmyadmin (where XXX is your Pi’s IP address) and log in as root with the password you set previously. Head to the User Accounts section and create a new user called socialCounter.
You can now download the first bit of code for this project by running this in your Terminal window:
Next, open up the db.php script and edit it to include the password you set when creating the socialCounter user:
sudo nano db.php
The database, including tables and settings, is contained in the socialCounter.sql file; this can be imported either via the Terminal or via phpMyAdmin, then open up the credentials table. To retrieve the subscriber count, YouTube requires a Google API key, so go to console.cloud.google.com and create a new Project (call it anything you like). From the left-hand menu, select ‘APIs & Services’, followed by ‘Library’ and search for the YouTube Data API and enable it. Then go to the ‘Credentials’ tab and create an API key that you can then paste into the ‘googleApiKey’ database field.
Facebook requires you to create an app at developers.facebook.com, after which you can paste the details into the facebookAppId and facebookSecret fields. Unfortunately, due to recent scandals surrounding clandestine misuse of personal data on Facebook, you’ll need to submit your app for review and approval before it will work.
The ‘social_accounts’ table is where you enter the user names for the social networks you want to monitor, so replace those with your own and then open a new tab and navigate to http://XXX/socialmedia-counter. You should now see a black page with a tiny carousel showing the social media icons plus follower counts next to each one. The reason it’s so small is because it’s a 64×16 pixel portion of the screen that we’ll be displaying on our 64×16 LED boards.
GPIO pins to LED display
Now that you have your social network follower counts being grabbed and displayed, it’s time to get that to display on our screens. The first step is to wire them up with the DuPont jumper cables from the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins to the connection on the first board. This is quite fiddly, but there’s an excellent guide and diagram on GitHub within Henner Zeller’s library that we’ll be using later, so head to hsmag.cc/PLyRcK and refer to wiring.md.
The Raspberry Pi connects to the RGB LED screens with 14 jumper cables, and the screens are daisy-chained together with a ribbon cable
The second screen is daisy-chained to the first one with the ribbon cable, and the power connector that comes with the screens will plug into both panels. Once you’re done, your setup should look just like the picture on this page.
To display the Pi’s HDMI output on the LED screens, install Adafruit’s rpi-fb-matrix library (which in turn uses Henner Zeller’s library to address the panels) by typing the following commands:
Next, you must define your wiring as regular. Type the following to edit the Makefile:
Look for the HARDWARE_DESC= property and ensure the line looks like this: export HARDWARE_DESC=regular before saving and exiting nano. You’re now ready to compile the code, so type this and then sit back and watch the output:
make clean all
Once that’s done, there are a few more settings to change in the matrix configuration file, so open that up:
You need to make several changes in here, depending on your setup:
Change display_width to 64 and display_height to 16
Uncomment the crop_origin = (0, 0) line to tell the tool that we don’t want to squish the entire display onto our screens, just an equivalent portion starting right in the top left of the display. Press CTRL+X, then Y, then ENTER to save and exit.
It ain’t pretty…but it’s out of sight. The Raspberry Pi plus the power supply for the screens fit nice and neatly behind the screens. I left each end open to allow airflow
Finally, before you can test the output, there are some other important settings you need to change first, so open up the Raspberry Pi’s boot configuration as follows:
sudo nano /boot/config.txt
First, disable the on-board sound (as it uses hardware that the screens rely on) by looking for the line that says dtparam=audio=on and changing it to off. Also, uncomment the line that says hdmi_force_hotplug=1, to ensure that an HDMI signal is still generated even with no HDMI monitor plugged in. Save and then reboot your Raspberry Pi.
Now run the program using the config you just set:
sudo ./rpi-fb-matrix matrix.cfg
You should now see the top 64×16 pixels of your Pi’s display represented on your RGB LED panels! This probably consists of the Raspberry Pi icon and the rest of the top portion of the display bar.
At this point it’s important to ensure that there’s no screensaver or screen blanking enabled on the Pi, as you want this to display all the time. To disable screen blanking, first install the xscreensaver tool:
sudo apt-get install xscreensaver
That will add a screensaver option to the Pi’s GUI menus, allowing you to disable it completely. Finally, you need to tell the Raspberry Pi to do two things each time it loads:
Run the rpi-fb-matrix program (like we did manually just now)
Open the web browser in fullscreen (‘kiosk’ mode), pointed to the Social Counter web page
To do so, edit the Pi’s autostart configuration file:
Disconnect any keyboard, monitor, or mouse from the Pi and reboot it one more time. Once it’s started up again, you should have a fully working display cycling through each enabled social network, showing up-to-date follower counts for each.
It’s now time to make a surround to hold all the components together and allow you to wall-mount your display. The styling you go for is up to you — you could even go all out and design and 3D print a custom package.
The finished product, in pride of place on the wall of our office. Now I just need some more subscribers…!
For my surround, I went for the more rustic and homemade look, and used some spare bits of wood from an internal door frame lining. This worked really well due to the pre-cut recess. With a plywood back, you can screw everything together so that the wood holds the screens tightly enough to not require any extra fitting or gluing, making for easier future maintenance. To improve the look and readability of the display (as well as soften the light and reduce the brightness), you can use a reflective diffuser from an old broken LED TV if you can lay your hands on one from eBay or a TV repair shop, or just any other bit of translucent material. I found that two layers stapled on worked and looked great. Add some hooks to the back and — Bob’s your uncle — a finished, wall-mounted display!
Phew — that was quite an advanced build, but you now have a sophisticated display that can be used for any number of things and should delight your customers whilst helping to build your social following as well. Don’t forget to tweet us a picture of yours!
This blog post was co-authored by Ujjwal Ratan, a senior AI/ML solutions architect on the global life sciences team.
Healthcare data is generated at an ever-increasing rate and is predicted to reach 35 zettabytes by 2020. Being able to cost-effectively and securely manage this data whether for patient care, research or legal reasons is increasingly important for healthcare providers.
Healthcare providers must have the ability to ingest, store and protect large volumes of data including clinical, genomic, device, financial, supply chain, and claims. AWS is well-suited to this data deluge with a wide variety of ingestion, storage and security services (e.g. AWS Direct Connect, Amazon Kinesis Streams, Amazon S3, Amazon Macie) for customers to handle their healthcare data. In a recent Healthcare IT News article, healthcare thought-leader, John Halamka, noted, “I predict that five years from now none of us will have datacenters. We’re going to go out to the cloud to find EHRs, clinical decision support, analytics.”
I realize simply storing this data is challenging enough. Magnifying the problem is the fact that healthcare data is increasingly attractive to cyber attackers, making security a top priority. According to Mariya Yao in her Forbes column, it is estimated that individual medical records can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the black market.
In this first of a 2-part post, I will address the value that AWS can bring to customers for ingesting, storing and protecting provider’s healthcare data. I will describe key components of any cloud-based healthcare workload and the services AWS provides to meet these requirements. In part 2 of this post we will dive deep into the AWS services used for advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The data tsunami is upon us
So where is this data coming from? In addition to the ubiquitous electronic health record (EHR), the sources of this data include:
devices such as MRIs, x-rays and ultrasounds
sensors and wearables for patients
medical equipment telemetry
Additional sources of data come from non-clinical, operational systems such as:
claims and billing
Data from these sources can be structured (e.g., claims data) as well as unstructured (e.g., clinician notes). Some data comes across in streams such as that taken from patient monitors, while some comes in batch form. Still other data comes in near-real time such as HL7 messages. All of this data has retention policies dictating how long it must be stored. Much of this data is stored in perpetuity as many systems in use today have no purge mechanism. AWS has services to manage all these data types as well as their retention, security and access policies.
Imaging is a significant contributor to this data tsunami. Increasing demand for early-stage diagnoses along with aging populations drive increasing demand for images from CT, PET, MRI, ultrasound, digital pathology, X-ray and fluoroscopy. For example, a thin-slice CT image can be hundreds of megabytes. Increasing demand and strict retention policies make storage costly.
Due to the plummeting cost of gene sequencing, molecular diagnostics (including liquid biopsy) is a large contributor to this data deluge. Many predict that as the value of molecular testing becomes more identifiable, the reimbursement models will change and it will increasingly become the standard of care. According to the Washington Post article “Sequencing the Genome Creates so Much Data We Don’t Know What to do with It,”
“Some researchers predict that up to one billion people will have their genome sequenced by 2025 generating up to 40 exabytes of data per year.”
Although genomics is primarily used for oncology diagnostics today, it’s also used for other purposes, pharmacogenomics — used to understand how an individual will metabolize a medication.
It is increasingly challenging for the typical hospital, clinic or physician practice to securely store, process and manage this data without cloud adoption.
Amazon has a variety of ingestion techniques depending on the nature of the data including size, frequency and structure. AWS Snowball and AWS Snowmachine are appropriate for extremely-large, secure data transfers whether one time or episodic. AWS Glue is a fully-managed ETL service for securely moving data from on-premise to AWS and Amazon Kinesis can be used for ingesting streaming data.
Amazon S3, Amazon S3 IA, and Amazon Glacier are economical, data-storage services with a pay-as-you-go pricing model that expand (or shrink) with the customer’s requirements.
The above architecture has four distinct components – ingestion, storage, security, and analytics. In this post I will dive deeper into the first three components, namely ingestion, storage and security. In part 2, I will look at how to use AWS’ analytics services to draw value on, and optimize, your healthcare data.
A typical provider data center will consist of many systems with varied datasets. AWS provides multiple tools and services to effectively and securely connect to these data sources and ingest data in various formats. The customers can choose from a range of services and use them in accordance with the use case.
For use cases involving one-time (or periodic), very large data migrations into AWS, customers can take advantage of AWS Snowball devices. These devices come in two sizes, 50 TB and 80 TB and can be combined together to create a petabyte scale data transfer solution.
The devices are easy to connect and load and they are shipped to AWS avoiding the network bottlenecks associated with such large-scale data migrations. The devices are extremely secure supporting 256-bit encryption and come in a tamper-resistant enclosure. AWS Snowball imports data in Amazon S3 which can then interface with other AWS compute services to process that data in a scalable manner.
For use cases involving a need to store a portion of datasets on premises for active use and offload the rest on AWS, the Amazon storage gateway service can be used. The service allows you to seamlessly integrate on premises applications via standard storage protocols like iSCSI or NFS mounted on a gateway appliance. It supports a file interface, a volume interface and a tape interface which can be utilized for a range of use cases like disaster recovery, backup and archiving, cloud bursting, storage tiering and migration.
By using the AWS proposed reference architecture for disaster recovery, healthcare providers can ensure their data assets are securely stored on the cloud and are easily accessible in the event of a disaster. The “AWS Disaster Recovery” whitepaper includes details on options available to customers based on their desired recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO).
AWS is an ideal destination for offloading large volumes of less-frequently-accessed data. These datasets are rarely used in active compute operations but are exceedingly important to retain for reasons like compliance. By storing these datasets on AWS, customers can take advantage of the highly-durable platform to securely store their data and also retrieve them easily when they need to. For more details on how AWS enables customers to run back and archival use cases on AWS, please refer to the following set of whitepapers.
A healthcare provider may have a variety of databases spread throughout the hospital system supporting critical applications such as EHR, PACS, finance and many more. These datasets often need to be aggregated to derive information and calculate metrics to optimize business processes. AWS Glue is a fully-managed Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) service that can read data from a JDBC-enabled, on-premise database and transfer the datasets into AWS services like Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift and Amazon RDS. This allows customers to create transformation workflows that integrate smaller datasets from multiple sources and aggregates them on AWS.
Healthcare providers deal with a variety of streaming datasets which often have to be analyzed in near real time. These datasets come from a variety of sources such as sensors, messaging buses and social media, and often do not adhere to an industry standard. The Amazon Kinesis suite of services, that includes Amazon Kinesis Streams, Amazon Kinesis Firehose, and Amazon Kinesis Analytics, are the ideal set of services to accomplish the task of deriving value from streaming data.
Example: Using AWS Glue to de-identify and ingest healthcare data into S3 Let’s consider a scenario in which a provider maintains patient records in a database they want to ingest into S3. The provider also wants to de-identify the data by stripping personally- identifiable attributes and store the non-identifiable information in an S3 bucket. This bucket is different from the one that contains identifiable information. Doing this allows the healthcare provider to separate sensitive information with more restrictions set up via S3 bucket policies.
To ingest records into S3, we create a Glue job that reads from the source database using a Glue connection. The connection is also used by a Glue crawler to populate the Glue data catalog with the schema of the source database. We will use the Glue development endpoint and a zeppelin notebook server on EC2 to develop and execute the job.
Step 1: Import the necessary libraries and also set a glue context which is a wrapper on the spark context:
Step 2: Create a dataframe from the source data. I call the dataframe “readmissionsdata”. Here is what the schema would look like:
Step 3: Now select the columns that contains indentifiable information and store it in a new dataframe. Call the new dataframe “phi”.
Step 4: Non-PHI columns are stored in a separate dataframe. Call this dataframe “nonphi”.
Step 5: Write the two dataframes into two separate S3 buckets
Once successfully executed, the PHI and non-PHI attributes are stored in two separate files in two separate buckets that can be individually maintained.
In 2016, 327 healthcare providers reported a protected health information (PHI) breach, affecting 16.4m patient records. There have been 342 data breaches reported in 2017 — involving 3.2 million patient records.
To date, AWS has released 51 HIPAA-eligible services to help customers address security challenges and is in the process of making many more services HIPAA-eligible. These HIPAA-eligible services (along with all other AWS services) help customers build solutions that comply with HIPAA security and auditing requirements. A catalogue of HIPAA-enabled services can be found at AWS HIPAA-eligible services. It is important to note that AWS manages physical and logical access controls for the AWS boundary. However, the overall security of your workloads is a shared responsibility, where you are responsible for controlling user access to content on your AWS accounts.
AWS storage services allow you to store data efficiently while maintaining high durability and scalability. By using Amazon S3 as the central storage layer, you can take advantage of the Amazon S3 storage management features to get operational metrics on your data sets and transition them between various storage classes to save costs. By tagging objects on Amazon S3, you can build a governance layer on Amazon S3 to grant role based access to objects using Amazon IAM and Amazon S3 bucket policies.
To learn more about the Amazon S3 storage management features, see the following link.
In the example above, we are storing the PHI information in a bucket named “phi.” Now, we want to protect this information to make sure its encrypted, does not have unauthorized access, and all access requests to the data are logged.
Encryption: S3 provides settings to enable default encryption on a bucket. This ensures any object in the bucket is encrypted by default.
Logging: S3 provides object level logging that can be used to capture all API calls to the object. The API calls are logged in cloudtrail for easy access and consolidation. Moreover, it also supports events to proactively alert customers of read and write operations.
Access control: Customers can use S3 bucket policies and IAM policies to restrict access to the phi bucket. It can also put a restriction to enforce multi-factor authentication on the bucket. For example, the following policy enforces multi-factor authentication on the phi bucket:
In Part 1 of this blog, we detailed the ingestion, storage, security and management of healthcare data on AWS. Stay tuned for part two where we are going to dive deep into optimizing the data for analytics and machine learning.
For some organizations, the idea of “going serverless” can be daunting. But with an understanding of best practices – and the right tools — many serverless applications can be fully functional with only a few lines of code and little else.
Examples of fully-serverless-application use cases include:
Web or mobile backends – Create fully-serverless, mobile applications or websites by creating user-facing content in a native mobile application or static web content in an S3 bucket. Then have your front-end content integrate with Amazon API Gateway as a backend service API. Lambda functions will then execute the business logic you’ve written for each of the API Gateway methods in your backend API.
Chatbots and virtual assistants – Build new serverless ways to interact with your customers, like customer support assistants and bots ready to engage customers on your company-run social media pages. The Amazon Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Amazon Lex have the ability to apply natural-language understanding to user-voice and freeform-text input so that a Lambda function you write can intelligently respond and engage with them.
Internet of Things (IoT) backends – AWS IoT has direct-integration for device messages to be routed to and processed by Lambda functions. That means you can implement serverless backends for highly secure, scalable IoT applications for uses like connected consumer appliances and intelligent manufacturing facilities.
Using AWS Lambda as the logic layer of a serverless application can enable faster development speed and greater experimentation – and innovation — than in a traditional, server-based environment.
Andrew Baird is a Sr. Solutions Architect for AWS. Prior to becoming a Solutions Architect, Andrew was a developer, including time as an SDE with Amazon.com. He has worked on large-scale distributed systems, public-facing APIs, and operations automation.
Today we’re launching AWS Secrets Manager which makes it easy to store and retrieve your secrets via API or the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) and rotate your credentials with built-in or custom AWS Lambda functions. Managing application secrets like database credentials, passwords, or API Keys is easy when you’re working locally with one machine and one application. As you grow and scale to many distributed microservices, it becomes a daunting task to securely store, distribute, rotate, and consume secrets. Previously, customers needed to provision and maintain additional infrastructure solely for secrets management which could incur costs and introduce unneeded complexity into systems.
AWS Secrets Manager
Imagine that I have an application that takes incoming tweets from Twitter and stores them in an Amazon Aurora database. Previously, I would have had to request a username and password from my database administrator and embed those credentials in environment variables or, in my race to production, even in the application itself. I would also need to have our social media manager create the Twitter API credentials and figure out how to store those. This is a fairly manual process, involving multiple people, that I have to restart every time I want to rotate these credentials. With Secrets Manager my database administrator can provide the credentials in secrets manager once and subsequently rely on a Secrets Manager provided Lambda function to automatically update and rotate those credentials. My social media manager can put the Twitter API keys in Secrets Manager which I can then access with a simple API call and I can even rotate these programmatically with a custom lambda function calling out to the Twitter API. My secrets are encrypted with the KMS key of my choice, and each of these administrators can explicitly grant access to these secrets with with granular IAM policies for individual roles or users.
Let’s take a look at how I would store a secret using the AWS Secrets Manager console. First, I’ll click Store a new secret to get to the new secrets wizard. For my RDS Aurora instance it’s straightforward to simply select the instance and provide the initial username and password to connect to the database.
Next, I’ll fill in a quick description and a name to access my secret by. You can use whatever naming scheme you want here.
Next, we’ll configure rotation to use the Secrets Manager-provided Lambda function to rotate our password every 10 days.
Finally, we’ll review all the details and check out our sample code for storing and retrieving our secret!
Finally I can review the secrets in the console.
Now, if I needed to access these secrets I’d simply call the API.
AWS Secrets Manager works for more than just passwords. I can store OAuth credentials, binary data, and more. Let’s look at storing my Twitter OAuth application keys.
Now, I can define the rotation for these third-party OAuth credentials with a custom AWS Lambda function that can call out to Twitter whenever we need to rotate our credentials.
One of the niftiest features of AWS Secrets Manager is custom AWS Lambda functions for credential rotation. This allows you to define completely custom workflows for credentials. Secrets Manager will call your lambda with a payload that includes a Step which specifies which step of the rotation you’re in, a SecretId which specifies which secret the rotation is for, and importantly a ClientRequestToken which is used to ensure idempotency in any changes to the underlying secret.
When you’re rotating secrets you go through a few different steps:
The advantage of these steps is that you can add any kind of approval steps you want for each phase of the rotation. For more details on custom rotation check out the documentation.
Available Now AWS Secrets Manager is available today in US East (N. Virginia), US East (Ohio), US West (N. California), US West (Oregon), Asia Pacific (Mumbai), Asia Pacific (Seoul), Asia Pacific (Singapore), Asia Pacific (Sydney), Asia Pacific (Tokyo), Canada (Central), EU (Frankfurt), EU (Ireland), EU (London), and South America (São Paulo). Secrets are priced at $0.40 per month per secret and $0.05 per 10,000 API calls. I’m looking forward to seeing more users adopt rotating credentials to secure their applications!
Looking to incorporate some digital making into your Easter weekend? You’ve come to the right place! With a Raspberry Pi, a few wires, and some simple code, you can take your festivities to the next level — here’s how!
If you logged in to watch our Instagram live-stream yesterday, you’ll have seen me put together a simple egg carton and some wires to create circuits. These circuits, when closed by way of a foil-wrapped chocolate egg, instruct a Raspberry Pi to reveal the whereabouts of a larger chocolate egg!
You’ll need an egg carton, two male-to-female jumper wire, and two crocodile leads for each egg you use.
Connect your leads together in pairs: one end of a crocodile lead to the male end of one jumper wire. Attach the free crocodile clips of two leads to each corner of the egg carton (as shown up top). Then hook up the female ends to GPIO pins: one numbered pin and one ground pin per egg. I recommend pins 3, 4, 18 and 24, as they all have adjacent GND pins.
Your foil-wrapped Easter egg will complete the circuit — make sure it’s touching both the GPIO- and GND-connected clips when resting in the carton.
For your convenience (and our sweet tooth), we tested several foil-wrapped eggs (Easter and otherwise) to see which are conductive.
We’re egg-sperimenting with Easter deliciousness to find which treat is the most conductive. Why? All will be revealed in our Instagram Easter live-stream tomorrow.
The result? None of them are! But if you unwrap an egg and rewrap it with the non-decorative foil side outward, this tends to work. You could also use aluminium foil or copper tape to create a conductive layer.
Next, you’ll need to create the code for your hunt. The script below contains the bare bones needed to make the project work — you can embellish it however you wish using GUIs, flashing LEDs, music, etc.
Open Thonny or IDLE on Raspbian and create a new file called egghunt.py. Then enter the following code:
We’re using ButtonBoard from the gpiozero library. This allows us to link several buttons together as an object and set an action for when any number of the buttons are pressed. Here, the script waits for all four circuits to be completed before printing the location of the prize in the Python shell.
And that’s it! Now you just need to hide your small foil eggs around the house and challenge your kids/friends/neighbours to find them. Then, once every circuit is completed with an egg, the great prize will be revealed.
Give it a go this weekend! And if you do, be sure to let us know on social media.
(Thank you to Lauren Hyams for suggesting we “do something for Easter” and Ben ‘gpiozero’ Nuttall for introducing me to ButtonBoard.)
For those moments when you wish the cast of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was real, only to realise what a nightmare that would be, here’s Paul-Louis Ageneau’s robotic teapot!
See what I mean?
Tale as old as time…
It’s the classic story of guy meets digital killer teapot, digital killer teapot inspires him to 3D print his own. Loosely based on a boss level of the video game Alice: Madness Returns, Paul-Louis’s creation is a one-eyed walking teapot robot with a (possible) thirst for blood.
Kill Build the beast
“My new robot is based on a Raspberry Pi Zero W with a camera.” Paul-Louis explains in his blog. “It is connected via a serial link to an Arduino Pro Mini board, which drives servos.”
Each leg has two points of articulation, one for the knee and one for the ankle. In order to move each of the joints, the teapot uses eight servo motor in total.
Paul-Louis designed and 3D printed the body of the teapot to fit the components needed. So if you’re considering this build as a means of acquiring tea on your laziest of days, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the most you’ll get from your pour will be jumper leads and Pi.
While the Arduino board controls the legs, it’s the Raspberry Pi’s job to receive user commands and tell the board how to direct the servos. The protocol for moving the servos is simple, with short lines of characters specifying instructions. First a digit from 0 to 7 selects a servo; next the angle of movement, such as 45 or 90, is input; and finally, the use of C commits the instruction.
Typing in commands is great for debugging, but you don’t want to be glued to a keyboard. Therefore, Paul-Louis continued to work on the code in order to string together several lines to create larger movements.
The final control system of the teapot runs on a web browser as a standard four-axis arrow pad, with two extra arrows for turning.
Something there that wasn’t there before
Jean-Paul also included an ‘eye’ in the side of the pot to fit the Raspberry Pi Camera Module as another nod to the walking teapot from the video game, but with a purpose other than evil and wrong-doing. As you can see from the image above, the camera live-streams footage, allowing for remote control of the monster teapot regardless of your location.
If you like it all that much, it’s yours
In case you fancy yourself as an inventor, Paul-Louis has provided the entire build process and the code on his blog, documenting how to bring your own teapot to life. And if you’ve created any robotic household items or any props from video games or movies, we’d love to see them, so leave a link in the comments or share it with us across social media using the hashtag #IBuiltThisAndNowIThinkItIsTryingToKillMe.
Each year we take stock at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, looking back at what we’ve achieved over the previous twelve months. We’ve just published our Annual Review for 2017, reflecting on the progress we’ve made as a foundation and a community towards putting the power of digital making in the hands of people all over the world.
In the review, you can find out about all the different education programmes we run. Moreover, you can hear from people who have taken part, learned through making, and discovered they can do things with technology that they never thought they could.
Growing our reach
Our reach grew hugely in 2017, and the numbers tell this story.
By the end of 2017, we’d sold over 17 million Raspberry Pi computers, bringing tools for learning programming and physical computing to people all over the world.
Vibrant learning and making communities
Code Club grew by 2964 clubs in 2017, to over 10000 clubs across the world reaching over 150000 9- to 13-year-olds.
“The best moment is seeing a child discover something for the first time. It is amazing.” – Code Club volunteer
In 2017 CoderDojo became part of the Raspberry Pi family. Over the year, it grew by 41% to 1556 active Dojos, involving nearly 40000 7- to 17-year-olds in creating with code and collaborating to learn about technology.
Raspberry Jams continued to grow, with 18700 people attending events organised by our amazing community members.
Supporting teaching and learning
We reached 208 projects in our online resources in 2017, and 8.5 million people visited these to get making.
“I like coding because it’s like a whole other language that you have to learn, and it creates something very interesting in the end.” – Betty, Year 10 student
2017 was also the year we began offering online training courses. 19000 people joined us to learn about programming, physical computing, and running a Code Club.
Over 6800 young people entered Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab, 2017’s two Astro Pi challenges. They created code that ran on board the International Space Station or will run soon.
More than 600 educators joined our face-to-face Picademy training last year. Our community of Raspberry Pi Certified Educators grew to 1500, all leading digital making across schools, libraries, and other settings where young people learn.
Well over a million people follow us on social media, and in 2017 we’ve seen big increases in our YouTube and Instagram followings. We have been creating much more video content to share what we do with audiences on these and other social networks.
It’s been a big year, as we continue to reach even more people. This wouldn’t be possible without the amazing work of volunteers and community members who do so much to create opportunities for others to get involved. Behind each of these numbers is a person discovering digital making for the first time, learning new skills, or succeeding with a project that makes a difference to something they care about.
You can read our 2017 Annual Review in full over on our About Us page.
The AWS Community Heroes program helps shine a spotlight on some of the innovative work being done by rockstar AWS developers around the globe. Marrying cloud expertise with a passion for community building and education, these Heroes share their time and knowledge across social media and in-person events. Heroes also actively help drive content at Meetups, workshops, and conferences.
This March, we have five Heroes that we’re happy to welcome to our network of cloud innovators:
Peter Sbarski is VP of Engineering at A Cloud Guru and the organizer of Serverlessconf, the world’s first conference dedicated entirely to serverless architectures and technologies. His work at A Cloud Guru allows him to work with, talk and write about serverless architectures, cloud computing, and AWS. He has written a book called Serverless Architectures on AWS and is currently collaborating on another book called Serverless Design Patterns with Tim Wagner and Yochay Kiriaty.
Peter is always happy to talk about cloud computing and AWS, and can be found at conferences and meetups throughout the year. He helps to organize Serverless Meetups in Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, and is always keen to share his experience working on interesting and innovative cloud projects.
Peter’s passions include serverless technologies, event-driven programming, back end architecture, microservices, and orchestration of systems. Peter holds a PhD in Computer Science from Monash University, Australia and can be followed on Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, and GitHub.
In close collaboration with his brother Andreas Wittig, the Wittig brothers are actively creating AWS related content. Their book Amazon Web Services in Action (Manning) introduces AWS with a strong focus on automation. Andreas and Michael run the blog cloudonaut.io where they share their knowledge about AWS with the community. The Wittig brothers also published a bunch of video courses with O’Reilly, Manning, Pluralsight, and A Cloud Guru. You can also find them speaking at conferences and user groups in Europe. Both brothers are co-organizing the AWS user group in Stuttgart.
Fernando is an experienced Infrastructure Solutions Leader, holding 5 AWS Certifications, with extensive IT Architecture and Management experience in a variety of market sectors. Working as a Cloud Architect Consultant in United Kingdom since 2014, Fernando built an online community for Hispanic speakers worldwide.
Fernando founded a LinkedIn Group, a Slack Community and a YouTube channel all of them named “AWS en Español”, and started to run a monthly webinar via YouTube streaming where different leaders discuss aspects and challenges around AWS Cloud.
During the last 18 months he’s been helping to run and coach AWS User Group leaders across LATAM and Spain, and 10 new User Groups were founded during this time.
Anders is a consultant and cloud evangelist at Webstep AS in Norway. He finished his degree in Computer Science at the Norwegian Institute of Technology at about the same time the Internet emerged as a public service. Since then he has been an IT consultant and a passionate advocate of knowledge-sharing.
He architected and implemented his first customer solution on AWS back in 2010, and is essential in building Webstep’s core cloud team. Anders applies his broad expert knowledge across all layers of the organizational stack. He engages with developers on technology and architectures and with top management where he advises about cloud strategies and new business models.
Anders enjoys helping people increase their understanding of AWS and cloud in general, and holds several AWS certifications. He co-founded and co-organizes the AWS User Groups in the largest cities in Norway (Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger), and also uses any opportunity to engage in events related to AWS and cloud wherever he is.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Germany-based Andreas Rottach’s multi-purpose LED table is an impressive build within a gorgeous-looking body. Play games, view (heavily pixelated) images, and become hypnotised by flashy lights, once you’ve built your own using his newly released tutorial.
This is a short presentation of my LED-Matrix Table. The table is controlled by a raspberry pi computer that executes a control engine, written in c++. It supports input from keyboards or custom made game controllers. A full list of all features as well as the source code is available on GitHub (https://github.com/rottaca/LEDTableEngine).
Andreas uploaded a video of his LED Matrix Table to YouTube back in February, with the promise of publishing a complete write-up within the coming weeks. And so the members of Pi Towers sat, eagerly waiting and watching. Now the write-up has arrived, to our cheers of acclaim for this beautful, shiny, flashy, LED-based wonderment.
Andreas created the table’s impressive light matrix using a strip of 300 LEDs, chained together and connected to the Raspberry Pi via an LED controller.
The LEDs are set out in zigzags
For the code, he used several open-source tools, such as SDL for image and audio support, and CMake for building the project software.
Anyone planning to recreate Andreas’ table can compile its engine by downloading the project repository from GitHub. Again, find full instructions for this on his GitHub.
The table boasts multiple cool features, including games and visualisation tools. Using the controllers, you can play simplified versions of Flappy Bird and Minesweeper, or go on a nostalgia trip with Tetris, Pong, and Snake.
There’s also a version of Conway’s Game of Life. Andreas explains: “The lifespan of each cell is color-coded. If the game field gets static, the animation is automatically reset to a new random cell population.”
The table can also display downsampled Bitmap images, or show clear static images such as a chess board, atop of which you can place physical game pieces.
Find all the 3D-printable aspects of the LED table on Thingiverse here and here, and the full GitHub tutorial and repository here. If you build your own, or have already dabbled in LED tables and displays, be sure to share your project with us, either in the comments below or via our social media accounts. What other functions would you integrate into this awesome build?
Според прессъобщението на ЕК, мерките включват оперативни мерки, с които се осигурява по-бързото откриване и премахване на незаконното онлайн съдържание, за да се укрепи сътрудничеството между предприятията, доверените податели на сигнали и правоприлагащите органи, и да се предоставят повече прозрачност и предпазни механизми за гражданите:
По-ясни процедури за уведомяване и предприемане на действия: предприятията следва да определят лесни и прозрачни правила за уведомяване за незаконно съдържание, включително ускорени процедури за „доверени податели на сигнали“. За да се избегне неволното премахване на съдържание, което не е незаконно, доставчиците на съдържание следва да бъдат информирани за такива решения и да имат възможност да ги оспорят.
По-ефективни инструменти и проактивни технологии: предприятията следва да определят ясни системи за уведомления от потребители. Те трябва да имат проактивни инструменти за откриване и премахване на незаконно съдържание, по-специално за терористично съдържание и за съдържание, което е незаконно независимо от контекста, материали, показващи сексуално насилие над деца или фалшифицираните стоки.
По-добри предпазни механизми за гарантиране на основните права: за да се гарантира, че решенията за премахване на съдържание са точни и добре обосновани, особено когато се използват автоматизирани инструменти, предприятията трябва да въведат ефективни и подходящи предпазни механизми, включително човешки контрол и проверка, като спазват изцяло основните права, свободата на изразяване на мнение и правилата за защита на данните.
Специално внимание се отделя на малките предприятия: чрез доброволни договорености в отрасъла трябва да се установи сътрудничество и споделяне на опит, най-добри практики и технологични решения, включително инструменти за автоматично откриване. Тази споделена отговорност ще бъде от полза особено за по-малките платформи с по-ограничени ресурси и експертен опит.
По-тясно сътрудничество с органите: при доказателства за тежко криминално престъпление или съмнение, че незаконното съдържание представлява заплаха за живота или безопасността, предприятията трябва незабавно да информират правоприлагащите органи. Държавите членки се насърчават да въведат съответните правни задължения.
Тези мерки могат да се различават в зависимост от естеството на незаконното съдържание и препоръката насърчава предприятията да следват принципа на пропорционалност при премахването на такова съдържание.
Memo: Често задавани въпроси: Препоръка на Комисията относно мерки за ефективна борба с незаконното онлайн съдържание
Some things don’t get the credit they deserve. For one of our engineers, Billy, the Locate My Computer feature is near and dear to his heart. It took him a while to build it, and it requires some regular updates, even after all these years. Billy loves the Locate My Computer feature, but really loves knowing how it’s helped customers over the years. One recent story made us decide to write a bit of a greatest hits post as an ode to one of our favorite features — Locate My Computer.
What is it?
Locate My Computer, as you’ll read in the stories below, came about because some of our users had their computers stolen and were trying to find a way to retrieve their devices. They realized that while some of their programs and services like Find My Mac were wiped, in some cases, Backblaze was still running in the background. That created the ability to use our software to figure out where the computer was contacting us from. After manually helping some of the individuals that wrote in, we decided to build it in as a feature. Little did we know the incredible stories it would lead to. We’ll get into that, but first, a little background on why the whole thing came about.
Identifying the Customer Need
“My friend’s laptop was stolen. He tracked the thief via @Backblaze for weeks & finally identified him on Facebook & Twitter. Digital 007.”
Mat — In December 2010, we saw a tweet from @DigitalRoyalty which read: “My friend’s laptop was stolen. He tracked the thief via @Backblaze for weeks & finally identified him on Facebook & Twitter. Digital 007.” Our CEO was manning Twitter at the time and reached out for the whole story. It turns out that Mat Miller had his laptop stolen, and while he was creating some restores a few days later, he noticed a new user was created on his computer and was backing up data. He restored some of those files, saw some information that could help identify the thief, and filed a police report. Read the whole story: Digital 007 — Outwitting The Thief.
Mark — Following Mat Miller’s story we heard from Mark Bao, an 18-year old entrepreneur and student at Bentley University who had his laptop stolen. The laptop was stolen out of Mark’s dorm room and the thief started using it in a variety of ways, including audition practice for Dancing with the Stars. Once Mark logged in to Backblaze and saw that there were new files being uploaded, including a dance practice video, he was able to reach out to campus police and got his laptop back. You can read more about the story on: 18 Year Old Catches Thief Using Backblaze.
After Mat and Mark’s story we thought we were onto something. In addition to those stories that had garnered some media attention, we would occasionally get requests from users that said something along the lines of, “Hey, my laptop was stolen, but I had Backblaze installed. Could you please let me know if it’s still running, and if so, what the IP address is so that I can go to the authorities?” We would help them where we could, but knew that there was probably a much more efficient method of helping individuals and businesses keep track of their computers.
Some of the Greatest Hits, and the Mafia Story
In May of 2011, we launched “Locate My Computer.” This was our way of adding a feature to our already-popular backup client that would allow users to see a rough representation of where their computer was located, and the IP address associated with its last known transmission. After speaking to law enforcement, we learned that those two things were usually enough for the authorities to subpoena an ISP and get the physical address of the last known place the computer phoned home from. From there, they could investigate and, if the device was still there, return it to its rightful owner.
Bridgette — Once the feature went live the stories got even more interesting. Almost immediately after we launched Locate My Computer, we were contacted by Bridgette, who told us of a break-in at her house. Luckily no one was home at the time, but the thief was able to get away with her iMac, DSLR, and a few other prized possessions. As soon as she reported the robbery to the police, they were able to use the Locate My Computer feature to find the thief’s location and recover her missing items. We even made a case study out of Bridgette’s experience. You can read it at: Backblaze And The Stolen iMac.
“Joe” — The crazy recovery stories didn’t end there. Shortly after Bridgette’s story, we received an email from a user (“Joe” — to protect the innocent) who was traveling to Argentina from the United States and had his laptop stolen. After he contacted the police department in Buenos Aires, and explained to them that he was using Backblaze (which the authorities thought was a computer tracking service, and in this case, we were), they were able to get the location of the computer from an ISP in Argentina. When they went to investigate, they realized that the perpetrators were foreign nationals connected to the mafia, and that in addition to a handful of stolen laptops, they were also in the possession of over $1,000,000 in counterfeit currency! Read the whole story about “Joe” and how: Backblaze Found $1 Million in Counterfeit Cash!
The Maker — After “Joe,” we thought that our part in high-profile “busts was over, but we were wrong. About a year later we received word from a “maker” who told us that he was able to act as an “internet super-sleuth” and worked hard to find his stolen computer. After a Maker Faire in Detroit, the maker’s car was broken into while they were getting BBQ following a successful show. While some of the computers were locked and encrypted, others were in hibernation mode and wide open to prying eyes. After the police report was filed, the maker went to Backblaze to retrieve his lost files and remembered seeing the little Locate My Computer button. That’s when the story gets really interesting. The victim used a combination of ingenuity, Craigslist, Backblaze, and the local police department to get his computer back, and make a drug bust along the way. Head over to Makezine.com to read about how:How Tracking Down My Stolen Computer Triggered a Drug Bust.
Una — While we kept hearing praise and thanks from our customers who were able to recover their data and find their computers, a little while passed before we would hear a story that was as incredible as the ones above. In July of 2016, we received an email from Una who told us one of the most amazing stories of perseverance that we’d ever heard. With the help of Backblaze and a sympathetic constable in Australia, Una tracked her stolen computer’s journey across 6 countries. She got her computer back and we wrote up the whole story: How Una Found Her Stolen Laptop.
And the Hits Keep on Coming
The most recent story came from “J,” and we’ll share the whole thing with you because it has a really nice conclusion:
Back in September of 2017, I brought my laptop to work to finish up some administrative work before I took off for a vacation. I work in a mall where traffic [is] plenty and more specifically I work at a kiosk in the middle of the mall. This allows for a high amount of traffic passing by every few seconds. I turned my back for about a minute to put away some paperwork. At the time I didn’t notice my laptop missing. About an hour later when I was gathering my belongings for the day I noticed it was gone. I was devastated. This was a high end MacBook Pro that I just purchased. So we are not talking about a little bit of money here. This was a major investment.
Time [went] on. When I got back from my vacation I reached out to my LP (Loss Prevention) team to get images from our security to submit to the police with some thread of hope that they would find whomever stole it. December approached and I did not hear anything. I gave up hope and assumed that the laptop was scrapped. I put an iCloud lock on it and my Find My Mac feature was saying that laptop was “offline.” I just assumed that they opened it, saw it was locked, and tried to scrap it for parts.
Towards the end of January I got an email from Backblaze saying that the computer was successfully backed up. This came as a shock to me as I thought it was wiped. But I guess however they wiped it didn’t remove Backblaze from the SSD. None the less, I was very happy. I sifted through the backup and found the person’s name via the search history. Then, using the Locate my Computer feature I saw where it came online. I reached out on social media to the person in question and updated the police. I finally got ahold of the person who stated she bought it online a few weeks backs. We made arrangements and I’m happy to say that I am typing this email on my computer right now.
J finished by writing: “Not only did I want to share this story with you but also wanted to say thanks! Apple’s find my computer system failed. The police failed to find it. But Backblaze saved the day. This has been the best $5 a month I have ever spent. Not only that but I got all my stuff back. Which made the deal even better! It was like it was never gone.”
Have a Story of Your Own?
We’re more than thrilled to have helped all of these people restore their lost data using Backblaze. Recovering the actual machine using Locate My Computer though, that’s the icing on the cake. We’re proud of what we’ve been able to build here at Backblaze, and we really enjoy hearing stories from people who have used our service to successfully get back up and running, whether that meant restoring their data or recovering their actual computer.
If you have any interesting data recovery or computer recovery stories that you’d like to share with us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share it with Billy and the rest of the Backblaze team. We love hearing them!
This column is from The MagPi issue 59. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition through your letterbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve our charitable goals.
“Hey, world!” Estefannie exclaims, a wide grin across her face as the camera begins to roll for another YouTube tutorial video. With a growing number of followers and wonderful support from her fans, Estefannie is building a solid reputation as an online maker, creating unique, fun content accessible to all.
It’s as if she was born into performing and making for an audience, but this fun, enjoyable journey to social media stardom came not from a desire to be in front of the camera, but rather as a unique approach to her own learning. While studying, Estefannie decided the best way to confirm her knowledge of a subject was to create an educational video explaining it. If she could teach a topic successfully, she knew she’d retained the information. And so her YouTube channel, Estefannie Explains It All, came into being.
Her first videos featured pages of notes with voice-over explanations of data structure and algorithm analysis. Then she moved in front of the camera, and expanded her skills in the process.
But YouTube isn’t her only outlet. With nearly 50000 followers, Estefannie’s Instagram game is strong, adding to an increasing number of female coders taking to the platform. Across her Instagram grid, you’ll find insights into her daily routine, from programming on location for work to behind-the-scenes troubleshooting as she begins to create another tutorial video. It’s hard work, with content creation for both Instagram and YouTube forever on her mind as she continues to work and progress successfully as a software engineer.
As a thank you to her Instagram fans for helping her reach 10000 followers, Estefannie created a free game for Android and iOS called Gravitris — imagine Tetris with balance issues!
Estefannie was born and raised in Mexico, with ambitions to become a graphic designer and animator. However, a documentary on coding at Pixar, and the beauty of Merida’s hair in Brave, opened her mind to the opportunities of software engineering in animation. She altered her career path, moved to the United States, and switched to a Computer Science course.
With a constant desire to make and to learn, Estefannie combines her software engineering profession with her hobby to create fun, exciting content for YouTube.
While studying, Estefannie started a Computer Science Girls Club at the University of Houston, Texas, and she found herself eager to put more time and effort into the movement to increase the percentage of women in the industry. The club was a success, and still is to this day. While Estefannie has handed over the reins, she’s still very involved in the cause.
Through her YouTube videos, Estefannie continues the theme of inclusion, with every project offering a warm sense of approachability for all, regardless of age, gender, or skill. From exploring Scratch and Makey Makey with her young niece and nephew to creating her own Disney ‘Made with Magic’ backpack for a trip to Disney World, Florida, Estefannie’s videos are essentially a documentary of her own learning process, produced so viewers can learn with her — and learn from her mistakes — to create their own tech wonders.
Estefannie’s automated gingerbread house project was a labour of love, with electronics, wires, and candy strewn across both her living room and kitchen for weeks before completion. While she already was a skilled programmer, the world of physical digital making was still fairly new for Estefannie. Having ditched her hot glue gun in favour of a soldering iron in a previous video, she continued to experiment and try out new, interesting techniques that are now second nature to many members of the maker community. With the gingerbread house, Estefannie was able to research and apply techniques such as light controls, servos, and app making, although the latter was already firmly within her skill set. The result? A fun video of ups and downs that resulted in a wonderful, festive treat. She even gave her holiday home its own solar panel!
1,910 Likes, 43 Comments – Estefannie Explains It All (@estefanniegg) on Instagram: “A DAY AT RASPBERRY PI TOWERS!! LINK IN BIO @raspberrypifoundation”
And that’s just the beginning of her adventures with Pi…but we won’t spoil her future plans by telling you what’s coming next. Sorry! However, since this article was written last year, Estefannie has released a few more Pi-based project videos, plus some awesome interviews and live-streams with other members of the maker community such as Simone Giertz. She even made us an awesome video for our Raspberry Pi YouTube channel! So be sure to check out her latest releases.
2,264 Likes, 56 Comments – Estefannie Explains It All (@estefanniegg) on Instagram: “Best day yet!! I got to hangout, play Jenga with a huge arm robot, and have afternoon tea with…”
While many wonderful maker videos show off a project without much explanation, or expect a certain level of skill from viewers hoping to recreate the project, Estefannie’s videos exist almost within their own category. We can’t wait to see where Estefannie Explains It All goes next!
Today I’m back with an update on the Pi Plug I made a while back. This prototype is still in the works, and is much more modular than the previous version. https://N-O-D-E.net/piplug2.html https://github.com/N-O-D-E/piplug —————- Shop: http://N-O-D-E.net/shop/ Patreon: http://patreon.com/N_O_D_E_ BTC: 17HqC7ZzmpE7E8Liuyb5WRbpwswBUgKRGZ Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ceA-nL Music: https://archive.org/details/Fwawn-FromManToGod
The Pi Zero Power Case
In a video early last year, YouTuber N-O-D-E revealed his Pi Zero Power Case, an all-in-one always-on networked computer that fits snugly against a wall power socket.
The project uses an official Raspberry Pi power supply, a Zero4U USB hub, and a Raspberry Pi Zero W, and it allows completely wireless connection to a network. N-O-D-E cut the power cord and soldered its wires directly to the power input of the USB hub. The hub powers the Zero via pogo pins that connect directly to the test pads beneath.
The Power Case is a neat project, but it may be a little daunting for anyone not keen on cutting and soldering the power supply wires.
Pi Plug 2
In his overhaul of the design, N-O-D-E has created a modular reimagining of the previous always-on networked computer that fits more streamlined to the wall socket and requires absolutely no soldering or hacking of physical hardware.
The Pi Plug 2 uses a USB power supply alongside two custom PCBs and a Zero W. While one PCB houses a USB connector that slots directly into the power supply, two blobs of solder on the second PCB press against the test pads beneath the Zero W. When connected, the PCBs run power directly from the wall socket to the Raspberry Pi Zero W. Neat!
While N-O-D-E isn’t currently selling these PCBs in his online store, all files are available on GitHub, so have a look if you want to recreate the Pi Plug.
Besides simply SSH’ing into the Pi, you could also easily install a remote desktop client and use the GUI. You can share your computer’s internet connection with the Pi and use it just like you would normally, but now without the need for a monitor, chargers, adapters, cables, or peripherals.
We’re keen to see how our community is hacking their Zeros and Zero Ws in order to take full advantage of the small footprint of the computer, so be sure to share your projects and ideas with us, either in the comments below or via social media.
See how we built it, including our materials, code, and supplemental instructions, on Hackster.io: https://www.hackster.io/hackerhouse/automated-indoor-gardener-a90907 With how busy our lives are, it’s sometimes easy to forget to pay a little attention to your thirsty indoor plants until it’s too late and you are left with a crusty pile of yellow carcasses.
Building an automated gardener
Tired of their plants looking a little too ‘crispy’, Hacker House have created an automated gardener using a Raspberry Pi Zero W alongside some 3D-printed parts, a 5v USB grow light, and a peristaltic pump.
They designed and 3D printed a PLA casing for the project, allowing enough space within for the Raspberry Pi Zero W, the pump, and the added electronics including soldered wiring and two N-channel power MOSFETs. The MOSFETs serve to switch the light and the pump on and off.
Due to the amount of power the light and pump need, the team replaced the Pi’s standard micro USB power supply with a 12v switching supply.
Raspberry Pis make great babysitters for your favourite plants, both inside and outside your home. Here at Pi Towers, we have Bert, our Slack- and Twitter-connected potted plant who reminds us when he’s thirsty and in need of water.
Note to readers! Starting next month, we will be publishing our monthly Hot Startups blog post on the AWS Startup Blog. Please come check us out.
As visual communication—whether through social media channels like Instagram or white space-heavy product pages—becomes a central part of everyone’s life, accessible design platforms and tools become more and more important in the world of tech. This trend is why we have chosen to spotlight three design-related startups—namely Canva, Figma, and InVision—as our hot startups for the month of February. Please read on to learn more about these design-savvy companies and be sure to check out our full post here.
Canva (Sydney, Australia)
For a long time, creating designs required expensive software, extensive studying, and time spent waiting for feedback from clients or colleagues. With Canva, a graphic design tool that makes creating designs much simpler and accessible, users have the opportunity to design anything and publish anywhere. The platform—which integrates professional design elements, including stock photography, graphic elements, and fonts for users to build designs either entirely from scratch or from thousands of free templates—is available on desktop, iOS, and Android, making it possible to spin up an invitation, poster, or graphic on a smartphone at any time.
Figma is a cloud-based design platform that empowers designers to communicate and collaborate more effectively. Using recent advancements in WebGL, Figma offers a design tool that doesn’t require users to install any software or special operating systems. It also allows multiple people to work in a file at the same time—a crucial feature.
As the need for new design talent increases, the industry will need plenty of junior designers to keep up with the demand. Figma is prepared to help students by offering their platform for free. Through this, they “hope to give young designers the resources necessary to kick-start their education and eventually, their careers.”
Founded in 2011 with the goal of helping improve every digital experience in the world, digital product design platform InVision helps users create a streamlined and scalable product design process, build and iterate on prototypes, and collaborate across organizations. The company, which raised a $100 million series E last November, bringing the company’s total funding to $235 million, currently powers the digital product design process at more than 80 percent of the Fortune 100 and brands like Airbnb, HBO, Netflix, and Uber.
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