The Free Software Foundation (FSF) announced the winners of the 2017 Free Software Awards during LibrePlanet. “Public Lab is a community and non-profit organization with the goal of democratizing science to address environmental issues. Their community-created tools and techniques utilize free software and low-cost devices to enable people at any level of technical skill to investigate environmental concerns.” The organization received the Award for Projects of Social Benefit. Karen Sandler, the Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, received the Award for the Advancement of Free Software.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the Raspberry Pi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?
We had a total of 212 Mission Space Lab entries from 22 countries. Of these, a 114 fantastic projects have been given flight status, and the teams’ project code will run in space!
But they’re not winners yet. In April, the code will be sent to the ISS, and then the teams will receive back their experimental data. Next, to get deeper insight into the process of scientific endeavour, they will need produce a final report analysing their findings. Winners will be chosen based on the merit of their final report, and the winning teams will get exclusive prizes. Check the list below to see if your team got flight status.
Flight status achieved:
Team De Vesten, Campus De Vesten, Antwerpen
Ursa Major, CoderDojo Belgium, West-Vlaanderen
Special operations STEM, Sint-Claracollege, Antwerpen
Flight status achieved:
Let It Grow, Branksome Hall, Toronto
The Dark Side of Light, Branksome Hall, Toronto
Genie On The ISS, Branksome Hall, Toronto
Byte by PIthons, Youth Tech Education Society & Kid Code Jeunesse, Edmonton
The Broadviewnauts, Broadview, Ottawa
Flight status achieved:
BLEK, Střední Odborná Škola Blatná, Strakonice
Flight status achieved:
2y Infotek, Nærum Gymnasium, Nærum
Equation Quotation, Allerød Gymnasium, Lillerød
Team Weather Watchers, Allerød Gymnasium, Allerød
Space Gardners, Nærum Gymnasium, Nærum
Flight status achieved:
Team Aurora, Hyvinkään yhteiskoulun lukio, Hyvinkää
Flight status achieved:
INC2, Lycée Raoul Follereau, Bourgogne
Space Project SP4, Lycée Saint-Paul IV, Reunion Island
Dresseurs2Python, clg Albert CAMUS, essonne
Lazos, Lycée Aux Lazaristes, Rhone
The space nerds, Lycée Saint André Colmar, Alsace
Les Spationautes Valériquais, lycée de la Côte d’Albâtre, Normandie
This column is from The MagPi issue 58. 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.
Dr Lucy Rogers calls herself a Transformer. “I transform simple electronics into cool gadgets, I transform science into plain English, I transform problems into opportunities. I am also a catalyst. I am interested in everything around me, and can often see ways of putting two ideas from very different fields together into one package. If I cannot do this myself, I connect the people who can.”
Among many other projects, Dr Lucy Rogers currently focuses much of her attention on reducing the damage from space debris
It’s a pretty wide range of interests and skills for sure. But it only takes a brief look at Lucy’s résumé to realise that she means it. When she says she’s interested in everything around her, this interest reaches from electronics to engineering, wearable tech, space, robotics, and robotic dinosaurs. And she can be seen talking about all of these things across various companies’ social media, such as IBM, websites including the Women’s Engineering Society, and books, including her own.
With her bright LED boots, Lucy was one of the wonderful Pi community members invited to join us and HRH The Duke of York at St James’s Palace just over a year ago
When not attending conferences as guest speaker, tinkering with electronics, or creating engaging IoT tutorials, she can be found retrofitting Raspberry Pis into the aforementioned robotic dinosaurs at Blackgang Chine Land of Imagination, writing, and judging battling bots for the BBC’s Robot Wars.
First broadcast in the UK between 1998 and 2004, Robot Wars was revived in 2016 with a new look and new judges, including Dr Lucy Rogers. Competitors battle their home-brew robots, and Lucy, together with the other two judges, awards victories among the carnage of robotic remains
Lucy graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After that, she spent seven years at Rolls-Royce Industrial Power Group as a graduate trainee before becoming a chartered engineer and earning her PhD in bubbles.
“Foam formation in low‑expansion fire-fighting equipment. I investigated the equipment to determine how the bubbles were formed,” she explains. Obviously. Bubbles!
Lucy graduated from the Singularity University Graduate Studies Program in 2011, focusing on how robotics, nanotech, medicine, and various technologies can tackle the challenges facing the world
She then went on to become a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in 2005 and, later, a fellow of both the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and British Interplanetary Society. As a member of the Association of British Science Writers, Lucy wrote It’s ONLY Rocket Science: an Introduction in Plain English.
In It’s Only Rocket Science: An Introduction in Plain English Lucy explains that ‘hard to understand’ isn’t the same as ‘impossible to understand’, and takes her readers through the journey of building a rocket, leaving Earth, and travelling the cosmos
As a standout member of the industry, and all-round fun person to be around, Lucy has quickly established herself as a valued member of the Pi community.
In 2014, with the help of Neil Ford and Andy Stanford-Clark, Lucy worked with the UK’s oldest amusement park, Blackgang Chine Land of Imagination, on the Isle of Wight, with the aim of updating its animatronic dinosaurs. The original Blackgang Chine dinosaurs had a limited range of behaviour: able to roar, move their heads, and stomp a foot in a somewhat repetitive action.
Lucy, Neil Ford, and Andy Stanford-Clark used several Raspberry Pis and Node-RED to visualise flows of events when updating the robotic dinosaurs at Blackgang Chine. They went on to create the successful WightPi Raspberry Jam event, where visitors could join in with the unique hacking opportunity.
Given her love for tinkering with tech, and a love for stand-up comedy that can be uncovered via a quick YouTube search, it’s no wonder that Lucy was asked to help judge the first round of the ‘Make us laugh’ Pioneers challenge for Raspberry Pi. Alongside comedian Bec Hill, Code Club UK director Maria Quevedo, and the face of the first challenge, Owen Daughtery, Lucy lent her expertise to help name winners in the various categories of the teens event, and offered her support to future Pioneers.
Andre Miron’s Pinewood Derby Instant Replay System (sorry, not sorry for the pun in the title) uses a Raspberry Pi to monitor the finishing line and play back a slow-motion instant replay, putting an end to “No, I won!” squabbles once and for all.
This is the same system I demo in this video (https://youtu.be/-QyMxKfBaAE), but on our actual track with real pinewood derby cars. Glad to report that it works great!
For those unfamiliar with the term, the Pinewood Derby is a racing event for Cub Scouts in the USA. Cub Scouts, often with the help of a guardian, build race cars out of wood according to rules regarding weight, size, materials, etc.
The Cubs then race their cars in heats, with the winners advancing to district and council races.
Andre’s Instant Replay System registers the race cars as they cross the finishing line, and it plays back slow-motion video of the crossing on a monitor. As he explains on YouTube:
The Pi is recording a constant stream of video, and when the replay is triggered, it records another half-second of video, then takes the last second and a half and saves it in slow motion (recording is done at 90 fps), before replaying.
The build also uses an attached Arduino, connected to GPIO pin 5, to trigger the recording and playback as it registers the passing cars via a voltage splitter. Additionally, the system announces the finishing places on a rather attractive-looking display above the finishing line.
The result? No more debate about whose car crossed the line first in neck-and-neck races.
Build your own
Andre takes us through the physical setup of the build in the video below, and you’ll find the complete code pasted in the description of the video here. Thanks, Andre!
See the system on our actual track here: https://youtu.be/B3lcQHWGq88 Raspberry Pi based instant replay system, triggered by Arduino Pinewood Derby Timer. The Pi uses GPIO pin 5 attached to a voltage splitter on Arduino output 11 (and ground-ground) to detect when a car crosses the finish line, which triggers the replay.
Digital making in your club
If you’re a member of an various after-school association such as the Scouts or Guides, then using the Raspberry Pi and our free project resources, or visiting a Code Club or CoderDojo, are excellent ways to work towards various badges and awards. So talk to your club leader to discover all the ways in which you can incorporate digital making into your club!
Wu builds a big manifesto about how real-world institutions can’t be trusted. Certainly, this reflects the rhetoric from a vocal wing of Bitcoin fanatics, but it’s not the Bitcoin manifesto.
Instead, the word “trust” in the Bitcoin paper is much narrower, referring to how online merchants can’t trust credit-cards (for example). When I bought school supplies for my niece when she studied in Canada, the online site wouldn’t accept my U.S. credit card. They didn’t trust my credit card. However, they trusted my Bitcoin, so I used that payment method instead, and succeeded in the purchase.
Real-world currencies like dollars are tethered to the real-world, which means no single transaction can be trusted, because “they” (the credit-card company, the courts, etc.) may decide to reverse the transaction. The manifesto behind Bitcoin is that a transaction cannot be reversed — and thus, can always be trusted.
Deliberately confusing the micro-trust in a transaction and macro-trust in banks and governments is a sort of bait-and-switch.
The wrong inspiration
“It was, after all, a carnival of human errors and misfeasance that inspired the invention of Bitcoin in 2009, namely, the financial crisis.”
Not true. Bitcoin did not appear fully formed out of the void, but was instead based upon a series of innovations that predate the financial crisis by a decade. Moreover, the financial crisis had little to do with “currency”. The value of the dollar and other major currencies were essentially unscathed by the crisis. Certainly, enthusiasts looking backward like to cherry pick the financial crisis as yet one more reason why the offline world sucks, but it had little to do with Bitcoin.
In crypto we trust
It’s not in code that Bitcoin trusts, but in crypto. Satoshi makes that clear in one of his posts on the subject:
A generation ago, multi-user time-sharing computer systems had a similar problem. Before strong encryption, users had to rely on password protection to secure their files, placing trust in the system administrator to keep their information private. Privacy could always be overridden by the admin based on his judgment call weighing the principle of privacy against other concerns, or at the behest of his superiors. Then strong encryption became available to the masses, and trust was no longer required. Data could be secured in a way that was physically impossible for others to access, no matter for what reason, no matter how good the excuse, no matter what.
You don’t possess Bitcoins. Instead, all the coins are on the public blockchain under your “address”. What you possess is the secret, private key that matches the address. Transferring Bitcoin means using your private key to unlock your coins and transfer them to another. If you print out your private key on paper, and delete it from the computer, it can never be hacked.
Trust is in this crypto operation. Trust is in your private crypto key.
We don’t trust the code
The manifesto “in code we trust” has been proven wrong again and again. We don’t trust computer code (software) in the cryptocurrency world.
The most profound example is something known as the “DAO” on top of Ethereum, Bitcoin’s major competitor. Ethereum allows “smart contracts” containing code. The quasi-religious manifesto of the DAO smart-contract is that the “code is the contract”, that all the terms and conditions are specified within the smart-contract code, completely untethered from real-world terms-and-conditions.
Then a hacker found a bug in the DAO smart-contract and stole most of the money.
In principle, this is perfectly legal, because “the code is the contract”, and the hacker just used the code. In practice, the system didn’t live up to this. The Ethereum core developers, acting as central bankers, rewrote the Ethereum code to fix this one contract, returning the money back to its original owners. They did this because those core developers were themselves heavily invested in the DAO and got their money back.
Similar things happen with the original Bitcoin code. A disagreement has arisen about how to expand Bitcoin to handle more transactions. One group wants smaller and “off-chain” transactions. Another group wants a “large blocksize”. This caused a “fork” in Bitcoin with two versions, “Bitcoin” and “Bitcoin Cash”. The fork championed by the core developers (central bankers) is worth around $20,000 right now, while the other fork is worth around $2,000.
So it’s still “in central bankers we trust”, it’s just that now these central bankers are mostly online instead of offline institutions. They have proven to be even more corrupt than real-world central bankers. It’s certainly not the code that is trusted.
Wu repeats the well-known reference to Amazon during the dot-com bubble. If you bought Amazon’s stock for $107 right before the dot-com crash, it still would be one of wisest investments you could’ve made. Amazon shares are now worth around $1,200 each.
The implication is that Bitcoin, too, may have such long term value. Even if you buy it today and it crashes tomorrow, it may still be worth ten-times its current value in another decade or two.
This is a poor analogy, for three reasons.
The first reason is that we knew the Internet had fundamentally transformed commerce. We knew there were going to be winners in the long run, it was just a matter of picking who would win (Amazon) and who would lose (Pets.com). We have yet to prove Bitcoin will be similarly transformative.
The second reason is that businesses are real, they generate real income. While the stock price may include some irrational exuberance, it’s ultimately still based on the rational expectations of how much the business will earn. With Bitcoin, it’s almost entirely irrational exuberance — there are no long term returns.
The third flaw in the analogy is that there are an essentially infinite number of cryptocurrencies. We saw this today as Coinbase started trading Bitcoin Cash, a fork of Bitcoin. The two are nearly identical, so there’s little reason one should be so much valuable than another. It’s only a fickle fad that makes one more valuable than another, not business fundamentals. The successful future cryptocurrency is unlikely to exist today, but will be invented in the future.
The lessons of the dot-com bubble is not that Bitcoin will have long term value, but that cryptocurrency companies like Coinbase and BitPay will have long term value. Or, the lesson is that “old” companies like JPMorgan that are early adopters of the technology will grow faster than their competitors.
The point of Wu’s paper is to distinguish trust in traditional real-world institutions and trust in computer software code. This is an inaccurate reading of the situation.
Bitcoin is not about replacing real-world institutions but about untethering online transactions.
The trust in Bitcoin is in crypto — the power crypto gives individuals instead of third-parties.
The trust is not in the code. Bitcoin is a “cryptocurrency” not a “codecurrency”.
I need your help. This is a call out for those between 11- and 16-years-old in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Something has gone very, very wrong and only you can save us. I’ve collected together as much information for you as I can. You’ll find it at http://www.raspberrypi.org/pioneers.
In August we intercepted an emergency communication from a lonesome survivor. She seemed to be in quite a bit of trouble, and asked all you young people aged 11 to 16 to come up with something to help tackle the oncoming crisis, using whatever technology you had to hand. You had ten weeks to work in teams of two to five with an adult mentor to fulfil your mission.
We received your world-saving ideas, and our savvy survivor pulled together a ragtag bunch of apocalyptic experts to help us judge which ones would be the winning entries.
Dr Shini Somara is an advocate for STEM education and a mechanical engineer. She was host of The Health Show and has appeared in documentaries for the BBC, PBS Digital, and Sky. You can check out her work hosting Crash Course Physics on YouTube.
Prof Lewis Dartnell is an astrobiologist and author of the book The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch.
Emma Stephenson has a background in aeronautical engineering and currently works in the Shell Foundation’s Access to Energy and Sustainable Mobility portfolio.
151 Likes, 3 Comments – Shini Somara (@drshinisomara) on Instagram: “Currently sifting through the entries with the other judges of #makeyourideas with…”
Our survivor is currently putting your entries to good use repairing, rebuilding, and defending her base. Our judges chose the following projects as outstanding examples of world-saving digital making.
This is our entry to the pioneers ‘Only you can save us’ competition. Our team name is Computatrum. Hope you enjoy!
Are you facing an unknown enemy whose only weakness is Nerf bullets? Then this is the robot for you! We loved the especially apocalyptic feel of the Computatron’s cleverly hacked and repurposed elements. The team even used an old floppy disc mechanism to help fire their bullets!
Thousands of lines of code… Many sheets of acrylic… A camera, touchscreen and fingerprint scanner… This is our entry into the Raspberry Pi Pioneers2017 ‘Only YOU can Save Us’ theme. When zombies or other survivors break into your base, you want a secure way of storing your crackers.
The Robot Apocalypse Committee is back, and this time they’ve brought cheese! The crew designed a cheese- and cracker-dispensing machine complete with face and fingerprint recognition to ensure those rations last until the next supply drop.
Hi! We are PiChasers and we entered the Raspberry Pi Pionners challenge last time when the theme was “Make it Outdoors!” but now we’ve been faced with another theme “Apocolypse”. We spent a while thinking of an original thing that would help in an apocolypse and decided upon a ‘text-only phone’ which uses local radio communication rather than cellular.
This text-based communication device encased in a tupperware container could be a lifesaver in a crisis! And luckily, the Pi Chasers produced an excellent video and amazing GitHub repo, ensuring that any and all survivors will be able to build their own in the safety of their base.
Pioneers Entry Team Name: The Three Musketeers Team Participants: James, Zach and Tom
We all know that zombies are terrible at geometry, and the Three Musketeers used this fact to their advantage when building their zombie security system. We were impressed to see the team working together to overcome the roadblocks they faced along the way.
We appreciate what you’re trying to do: Zombie Trolls
Playing piggy in the middle with zombies sure is a unique way of saving humankind from total extinction! We loved this project idea, and although the Zombie Trolls had a little trouble with their motors, we’re sure with a little more tinkering this zombie-fooling contraption could save us all.
Our judges also wanted to give a special commendation to the following teams for their equally awesome apocalypse-averting ideas:
PiRates, for their multifaceted zombie-proofing defence system and the high production value of their video
Byte them Pis, for their beautiful zombie-detecting doormat
Unatecxon, for their impressive bunker security system
Team Crompton, for their pressure-activated door system
Think you can create a really spooky Halloween video?
We’re giving out $100 Visa gift cards just in time for the holidays. Want a chance to win? You’ll need to make a spooky 30-second Halloween-themed video. We had a lot of fun with this the last time we did it a few years back so we’re doing it again this year.
Here’s How to Enter
Prepare a short, 30 seconds or less, video recreating your favorite horror movie scene using your computer or hard drive as the victim — or make something original!
Insert the following image at the end of the video (right-click and save as):
Upload your video to YouTube
Post a link to your video on the Backblaze Facebook wall or on Twitter with the hashtag #Backblaze so we can see it and enter it into the contest. Or, link to it in the comments below!
Share your video with friends
Common Questions Q: How many people can be in the video? A: However many you need in order to recreate the scene! Q: Can I make it longer than 30 seconds? A: Maybe 32 seconds, but that’s it. If you want to make a longer “director’s cut,” we’d love to see it, but the contest video should be close to 30 seconds. Please keep it short and spooky. Q: Can I record it on an iPhone, Android, iPad, Camera, etc? A: You can use whatever device you wish to record your video. Q: Can I submit multiple videos? A: If you have multiple favorite scenes, make a vignette! But please submit only one video. Q: How many winners will there be? A: We will select up to three winners total.
To upload the video to YouTube, you must have a valid YouTube account and comply with all YouTube rules for age, content, copyright, etc.
To post a link to your video on the Backblaze Facebook wall, you must use a valid Facebook account and comply with all Facebook rules for age, content, copyrights, etc.
We reserve the right to remove and/or not consider as a valid entry, any videos which we deem inappropriate. We reserve the exclusive right to determine what is inappropriate.
Backblaze reserves the right to use your video for promotional purposes.
The contest will end on October 29, 2017 at 11:59:59 PM Pacific Daylight Time. The winners (up to three) will be selected by Backblaze and will be announced on October 31, 2017.
We will be giving away gift cards to the top winners. The prize will be mailed to the winner in a timely manner.
Please keep the content of the post PG rated — no cursing or extreme gore/violence.
By submitting a video you agree to all of these rules.
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!
Well, maybe I can just…don’t tell anyone, but here’s a sneek peak at part of the logo. Shhhh…
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.
A couple of months ago on the blog, I announced the AWS Chatbot Challenge in conjunction with Slack. The AWS Chatbot Challenge was an opportunity to build a unique chatbot that helped to solve a problem or that would add value for its prospective users. The mission was to build a conversational, natural language chatbot using Amazon Lex and leverage Lex’s integration with AWS Lambda to execute logic or data processing on the backend.
I know that you all have been anxiously waiting to hear announcements of who were the winners of the AWS Chatbot Challenge as much as I was. Well wait no longer, the winners of the AWS Chatbot Challenge have been decided.
May I have the Envelope Please?(The Trumpets sound)
The winners of the AWS Chatbot Challenge are:
First Place:BuildFax Counts by Joe Emison
Second Place:Hubsy by Andrew Riess, Andrew Puch, and John Wetzel
Third Place:PFMBot by Benny Leong and his team from MoneyLion.
Large Organization Winner:ADP Payroll Innovation Bot by Eric Liu, Jiaxing Yan, and Fan Yang
Diving into the Winning Chatbot Projects
Let’s take a walkthrough of the details for each of the winning projects to get a view of what made these chatbots distinctive, as well as, learn more about the technologies used to implement the chatbot solution.
BuildFax Counts by Joe Emison
The BuildFax Counts bot was created as a real solution for the BuildFax company to decrease the amount the time that sales and marketing teams can get answers on permits or properties with permits meet certain criteria.
BuildFax, a company co-founded by bot developer Joe Emison, has the only national database of building permits, which updates data from approximately half of the United States on a monthly basis. In order to accommodate the many requests that come in from the sales and marketing team regarding permit information, BuildFax has a technical sales support team that fulfills these requests sent to a ticketing system by manually writing SQL queries that run across the shards of the BuildFax databases. Since there are a large number of requests received by the internal sales support team and due to the manual nature of setting up the queries, it may take several days for getting the sales and marketing teams to receive an answer.
The BuildFax Counts chatbot solves this problem by taking the permit inquiry that would normally be sent into a ticket from the sales and marketing team, as input from Slack to the chatbot. Once the inquiry is submitted into Slack, a query executes and the inquiry results are returned immediately.
The BuildFax Counts bot is used today for the BuildFax sales and marketing team to get back data on inquiries immediately that previously took up to a week to receive results.
Not only is BuildFax Counts bot our 1st place winner and wonderful solution, but its creator, Joe Emison, is a great guy. Joe has opted to donate his prize; the $5,000 cash, the $2,500 in AWS Credits, and one re:Invent ticket to the Black Girls Code organization. I must say, you rock Joe for helping these kids get access and exposure to technology.
Hubsy by Andrew Riess, Andrew Puch, and John Wetzel
Hubsy bot was created to redefine and personalize the way users traditionally manage their HubSpot account. HubSpot is a SaaS system providing marketing, sales, and CRM software. Hubsy allows users of HubSpot to create engagements and log engagements with customers, provide sales teams with deals status, and retrieves client contact information quickly. Hubsy uses Amazon Lex’s conversational interface to execute commands from the HubSpot API so that users can gain insights, store and retrieve data, and manage tasks directly from Facebook, Slack, or Alexa.
In order to implement the Hubsy chatbot, Andrew and the team members used AWS Lambda to create a Lambda function with Node.js to parse the users request and call the HubSpot API, which will fulfill the initial request or return back to the user asking for more information. Terraform was used to automatically setup and update Lambda, CloudWatch logs, as well as, IAM profiles. Amazon Lex was used to build the conversational piece of the bot, which creates the utterances that a person on a sales team would likely say when seeking information from HubSpot. To integrate with Alexa, the Amazon Alexa skill builder was used to create an Alexa skill which was tested on an Echo Dot. Cloudwatch Logs are used to log the Lambda function information to CloudWatch in order to debug different parts of the Lex intents. In order to validate the code before the Terraform deployment, ESLint was additionally used to ensure the code was linted and proper development standards were followed.
PFMBot by Benny Leong and his team from MoneyLion
PFMBot, Personal Finance Management Bot, is a bot to be used with the MoneyLionfinance group which offers customers online financial products; loans, credit monitoring, and free credit score service to improve the financial health of their customers. Once a user signs up an account on the MoneyLion app or website, the user has the option to link their bank accounts with the MoneyLion APIs. Once the bank account is linked to the APIs, the user will be able to login to their MoneyLion account and start having a conversation with the PFMBot based on their bank account information.
ADP Payroll Innovation Bot by Eric Liu, Jiaxing Yan, and Fan Yang
ADP PI (Payroll Innovation) bot is designed to help employees of ADP customers easily review their own payroll details and compare different payroll data by just asking the bot for results. The ADP PI Bot additionally offers issue reporting functionality for employees to report payroll issues and aids HR managers in quickly receiving and organizing any reported payroll issues.
The ADP Payroll Innovation bot is an ecosystem for the ADP payroll consisting of two chatbots, which includes ADP PI Bot for external clients (employees and HR managers), and ADP PI DevOps Bot for internal ADP DevOps team.
The architecture for the ADPPI DevOps bot is different architecture from the ADPPI bot shown above as it is deployed internally to ADP. The ADP PI DevOps bot allows input from both Slack and Alexa. When input comes into Slack, Slack sends the request to Lex for it to process the utterance. Lex then calls the Lambda backend, which obtains ADP data sitting in the ADP VPC running within an Amazon VPC. When input comes in from Alexa, a Lambda function is called that also obtains data from the ADP VPC running on AWS.
The architecture for the ADP PI bot consists of users entering in requests and/or entering issues via Slack. When requests/issues are entered via Slack, the Slack APIs communicate via Amazon API Gateway to AWS Lambda. The Lambda function either writes data into one of the Amazon DynamoDB databases for recording issues and/or sending issues or it sends the request to Lex. When sending issues, DynamoDB integrates with Trello to keep HR Managers abreast of the escalated issues. Once the request data is sent from Lambda to Lex, Lex processes the utterance and calls another Lambda function that integrates with the ADP API and it calls ADP data from within the ADP VPC, which runs on Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC).
Python and Node.js were the chosen languages for the development of the bots.
The ADP PI bot ecosystem has the following functional groupings:
Evolve PI Bot
HR Manager Functionality
Audit and Feedback
Reduce call volume in service centers (ADP PI Bot).
Track issues and generate reports (ADP PI Bot).
Monitor jobs for various environment (ADP PI DevOps Bot)
View job dashboards (ADP PI DevOps Bot)
Query job details (ADP PI DevOps Bot)
Let’s all wish all the winners of the AWS Chatbot Challenge hearty congratulations on their excellent projects.
To everyone’s surprise, the sun has actually managed to show its face this summer in Britain! So we’re not feeling too guilty for having asked the newest crop of Pioneers to Make it outdoors. In fact, the 11- to 16-year-olds that took part in our second digital making challenge not only made things that celebrate the outdoors – some of them actually carted their entire coding setup into the garden. Epic!
We asked you to make it outdoors with tech, challenging all our Pioneers to code and build awesome projects that celebrate the outside world. And we were not disappointed! Congratulations to everyone who took part. Every entry was great and we loved them all.
We set the challenge to Make it outdoors, and our theme winners HH Squared really delivered! You best captured the spirit of what our challenge was asking with your fabulous, fun-looking project which used the outdoors to make it a success. HH Squared, we loved Pi Spy so much that we may have to make our own for Pi Towers! Congratulations on winning this award.
Watching all the entry videos, our judges had the tricky task of picking the top of the pops from among the projects. In additon to ‘theme winner’, we had a number of other categories to help make their job a little bit easier:
We appreciate what you’re trying to do: We know that when tackling a digital making project, time and tech sometimes aren’t in your favour. But we still want to see what you’ve got up to, and this award category recognises that even though you haven’t fully realised your ambition yet, you’ve made a great start. *And*, when you do finish, we think it’s going to be awesome. Congratulations to the UTC Bullfrogs for winning this award – we can’t wait to see the final project!
Inspiring journey: This category recognises that getting from where you’ve started to where you want to go isn’t always smooth sailing. Maybe teams had tech problems, maybe they had logistical problems, but the winners of this award did a great job of sharing the trials and tribulations they encountered along the way! Coding Doughnuts, your project was a little outside the box IN a box. We loved it.
Technically brilliant: This award is in recognition of some serious digital making chops. Robot Apocalypse Committee, you owned this award. Get in!
Best explanation: Digital making is an endeavour that involves making a thing, and then sharing that thing. The winners of this category did a great job of showing us exactly what they made, and how they made it. They also get bonus points for making a highly watchable, entertaining video. Uniteam, we got it. We totally got it! What a great explanation of such a wonderful project – and it made us laugh too. Well done!
The Judges’ Special Recognition Awards
Because we found it so hard to just pick five winners, the following teams will receive our Judges’ Special Recognition Award:
PiChasers with their project Auqa (yes, the spelling is intentional!)
Sunscreen Superstars, making sure we’re all protected in the glorious British sunshine
Off The Shelf and their ingenious Underwater Canal Scanner
Glassbox, who made us all want Nerf guns thanks to their project Tin Can Alley
Turtle Tamers, ensuring the well-being of LEGO turtles around the world with their project Umbrella Empire
Winners from both our Make us laugh and Make it outdoors challenges will be joining us at Google HQ for a Pioneers summer camp full of making funtimes! They’ll also receive some amazing prizes to help them continue in their digital making adventures.
Massive thanks go to our judges for helping to pick the winners!
And for your next Pioneers challenge…
Ha, as if we’re going to tell you just yet – we’re still recovering from this challenge! We’ll be back in September to announce the theme of the next cycle – so make sure to sign up for our newsletter to be reminded closer to the time.
When I heard we were merging with CoderDojo, I was delighted. CoderDojo is a wonderful organisation with a spectacular community, and it’s going to be great to join forces with the team and work towards our common goal: making a difference to the lives of young people by making technology accessible to them.
You may remember that last year Philip and I went along to Coolest Projects, CoderDojo’s annual event at which their global community showcase their best makes. It was awesome! This year a whole bunch of us from the Raspberry Pi Foundation attended Coolest Projects with our new Irish colleagues, and as expected, the projects on show were as cool as can be.
This year’s coolest projects!
Young maker Benjamin demoed his brilliant RGB LED table tennis ball display for us, and showed off his brilliant project tutorial website codemakerbuddy.com, which he built with Python and Flask. [Click on any of the images to enlarge them.]
Next up, Aimee showed us a recipes app she’d made with the MIT App Inventor. It was a really impressive and well thought-out project.
This very successful OpenCV face detection program with hardware installed in a teddy bear was great as well:
Helen’s and Oly’s favourite project involved…live bees!
Its creator, 12-year-old Amy, said she wanted to do something to help the Earth. Her project uses various sensors to record data on the bee population in the hive. An adjacent monitor displays the data in a web interface:
I enjoyed seeing lots of GPIO Zero projects out in the wild, including this robotic lawnmower made by Kevin and Zach:
This is extraordinary. Laura from @CoderDojo Romania has programmed a mind controlled robot using @Raspberry_Pi @coolestprojects
And here are some pictures of even more cool robots we saw:
Games, toys, activities
Oly and I were massively impressed with the work of Mogamad, Daniel, and Basheerah, who programmed a (borrowed) Amazon Echo to make a voice-controlled text-adventure game using Java and the Alexa API. They’ve inspired me to try something similar using the AIY projects kit and adventurelib!
Christopher Hill did a brilliant job with his Home Alone LEGO house. He used sensors to trigger lights and sounds to make it look like someone’s at home, like in the film. I should have taken a video – seeing it in action was great!
We really enjoyed seeing so many young people collaborating, experimenting, and taking full advantage of the opportunity to make real projects. And we loved how huge the range of technologies in use was: people employed all manner of hardware and software to bring their ideas to life.
Wow! Look at that room full of awesome young people. @coolestprojects #coolestprojects @CoderDojo
Congratulations to the Coolest Projects 2017 prize winners, and to all participants. Here are some of the teams that won in the different categories:
Take a look at the gallery of all winners over on Flickr.
The wow factor
Raspberry Pi co-founder and Foundation trustee Pete Lomas came along to the event as well. Here’s what he had to say:
It’s hard to describe the scale of the event, and photos just don’t do it justice. The first thing that hit me was the sheer excitement of the CoderDojo ninjas [the children attending Dojos]. Everyone was setting up for their time with the project judges, and their pure delight at being able to show off their creations was evident in both halls. Time and time again I saw the ninjas apply their creativity to help save the planet or make someone’s life better, and it’s truly exciting that we are going to help that continue and expand.
Even after 8 hours, enthusiasm wasn’t flagging – the awards ceremony was just brilliant, with ninjas high-fiving the winners on the way to the stage. This speaks volumes about the ethos and vision of the CoderDojo founders, where everyone is a winner just by being part of a community of worldwide friends. It was a brilliant introduction, and if this weekend was anything to go by, our merger certainly is a marriage made in Heaven.
Join this awesome community!
If all this inspires you as much as it did us, consider looking for a CoderDojo near you – and sign up as a volunteer! There’s plenty of time for young people to build up skills and start working on a project for next year’s event. Check out coolestprojects.com for more information.
In October last year, with the European Space Agency and CNES, we launched the first ever European Astro Pi challenge. We asked students from all across Europe to write code for the flight of French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Proxima mission.
The winners were announced back in March, and since then their code has been uploaded to the ISS and run in space!
French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet with the Astro Pi units. Image credit ESA.
Code from 64 student teams ran between 28 April and 10 May, supervised by Thomas, in the European Columbus module.
On vient de recevoir les données enregistrées par nos codes #python depuis l’ #iss @CNES @astro_pi @Thom_astro . Reste à analyser tout ça!
We’ve looked at the results, and we can see that many of the teams have been successful in their missions: congratulations to all of you! We look forward to reading your write-ups and blogs.
In a surprise turn of events, we learnt that Thomas set up a camera to take regular pictures of the Astro Pi units for one afternoon. This was entirely voluntary on his part and was not scheduled as part of the mission. Thank you so much, Thomas!
Some lucky teams have some very nice souvenirs from the ISS. Here are a couple of them:
Juvara team – Italy (left) and South London Raspberry Jam – UK (right). Image credit ESA.
Astro Team – Italy (left) and AstroShot – Greece (right). Image credit ESA.
Until next time…
This brings the 2016/17 European Astro Pi challenge to a close. We would like to thank all the students and teachers who participated; the ESA Education, Integration and Implementation, Ground Systems, and Flight Control teams; BioTesc (ESA’s user operations control centre for Astro Pi); and especially Thomas Pesquet himself.
Thomas and Russian Soyuz commander Oleg Novitskiy return to Earth today, concluding their six-month stay on the ISS. After a three-hour journey in their Soyuz spacecraft, they will land in the Kazakh steppe at approximately 15:09 this afternoon. You can watch coverage of the departure, re-entry, and landing on NASA TV.
Astro Pi has been a hugely enjoyable project to work on, and we hope to be back in the new school year (2017-18) with brand-new challenges for teachers and students.
If you’re looking at all of these projects and thinking that you don’t know where to start, never fear! Our free resources offer a great starting point for any new project, and can help you to build on your existing skills and widen your scope for creating greatness.
We really want to see your creativity and ingenuity though, so we’d recommend using these projects as starting points rather than just working through the instructions. To help us out, the wonderful Pimoroni are offering 15 percent off kit for our Getting started with wearables and Getting started with picamera resources. You should also check out our new Poo near you resource for an example of a completely code-based project.
For this cycle of Pioneers, thanks to our friends at the Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund, we are making bursaries available to teams to cover the cost of these basic kits (one per team). This is for teens who haven’t taken part in digital making activities before, and for whom the financial commitment would be a barrier to taking part. Details about the bursaries and the discount will be sent to you when you register.
Your Pioneers team
We’ve introduced a few new things for this round of Pioneers, so pay special attention if you took part last time round!
We’re looking for UK-based teams of between two and five people, aged between 11 and 16, to work together to create something related to the outdoors. We’ve found that in our experience there are three main ways to run a Pioneers team. It’s up to you to decide how you’ll proceed when it comes to your participation in Pioneers.
You could organise a Group that meets once or twice a week. We find this method works well for school-based teams that can meet at the end of a school day for an hour or two every week.
You could mentor a Squad that is largely informal, where the members probably already have a good idea of what they’re doing. A Squad tends to be more independent, and meetings may be sporadic, informal or online only. This option isn’t recommended if it’s your first competition like this, or if you’re not a techie yourself.
You could join a local Event at a technology hub near you. We’re hoping to run more and more of these events around the country as Pioneers evolves and grows. If you think you’d like to help us run a Pioneers Event, get in touch! We love to hear from people who want to spread their love of making, and we’ll support you as much as we possibly can to get your event rocking along. If you want to run a Pioneers Event, you will need to preregister on the Pioneers website so that we can get you all the support you need well before you open your doors.
As always, we’re excited to watch the progress of your projects via social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. As you work on your build, make sure to share the ‘making of…’ stages with us using #MakeYourIdeas.
For inspiration from previous entries, here’s the winner announcement video for the last Pioneers challenge:
After months of planning and making, the first round of Pioneers is over! We laid down the epic challenge of making us laugh. And boy, did the teams deliver. We can honestly say that my face hurt from all the laughing on judging day. Congratulations to everyone who took part.
Once you’ve picked a project, the first step is to register. What are you waiting for? Head to the Pioneers website to get started!
If you have been checking out the launches and announcements from the AWS 2017 San Francisco Summit, you may be aware that the Amazon Lex service is now Generally Available, and you can use the service today. Amazon Lex is a fully managed AI service that enables developers to build conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text. Lex uses the same deep learning technologies of Amazon Alexa-powered devices like Amazon Echo. With the release of Amazon Lex, developers can build highly engaging lifelike user experiences and natural language interactions within their own applications. Amazon Lex supports Slack, Facebook Messenger, and Twilio SMS enabling you to easily publish your voice or text chatbots using these popular chat services. There is no better time to try out the Amazon Lex service to add the gift of gab to your applications, and now you have a great reason to get started.
May I have a Drumroll please?
I am thrilled to announce the AWS Chatbot Challenge! The AWS Chatbot Challenge is your opportunity to build a unique chatbot that helps solves a problem or adds value for prospective users. The AWS Chatbot Challenge is brought to you by Amazon Web Services in partnership with Slack.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it is to build a conversational, natural language chatbot using Amazon Lex and leverage Lex’s integration with AWS Lambda to execute logic or data processing on the backend. Your submission can be a new or existing bot, however, if your bot is an existing one it must have been updated to use Amazon Lex and AWS Lambda within the challenge submission period.
You are only limited by your own imagination when building your solution. Therefore, I will share some recommendations to help you to get your creative juices flowing when creating or deploying your bot. Some suggestions that can help you make your chatbot more distinctive are:
Deploy your bot to Slack, Facebook Messenger, or Twilio SMS
Take advantage of other AWS services when building your bot solution.
Incorporate Text-To-speech capabilities using a service like Amazon Polly
Utilize other third-party APIs, SDKs, and services
Leverage Amazon Lex pre-built enterprise connectors and add services like Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, Microsoft Dynamics, Zendesk, and QuickBooks as data sources.
There are cost effective ways to build your bot using AWS Lambda. Lambda includes a free tier of one million requests and 400,000 GB-seconds of compute time per month. This free, per month usage, is for all customers and does not expire at the end of the 12 month Free Tier Term. Furthermore, new Amazon Lex customers can process up to 10,000 text requests and 5,000 speech requests per month free during the first year. You can find details here.
Remember, the AWS Free Tier includes services with a free tier available for 12 months following your AWS sign-up date, as well as additional service offers that do not automatically expire at the end of your 12 month term. You can review the details about the AWS Free Tier and related services by going to the AWS Free Tier Details page.
Can We Talk – How It Works
The AWS Chatbot Challenge is open to individuals, and teams of individuals, who have reached the age of majority in their eligible area of residence at the time of competition entry. Organizations that employ 50 or fewer people are also eligible to compete as long at the time of entry they are duly organized or incorporated and validly exist in an eligible area. Large organizations-employing more than 50-in eligible areas can participate but will only be eligible for a non-cash recognition prize.
Chatbot Submissions are judged using the following criteria:
Customer Value: The problem or painpoint the bot solves and the extent it adds value for users
Bot Quality: The unique way the bot solves users’ problems, and the originality, creativity, and differentiation of the bot solution
Bot Implementation: Determination of how well the bot was built and executed by the developer. Also, consideration of bot functionality such as if the bot functions as intended and recognizes and responds to most common phrases asked of it
The AWS Chatbot Challenge is awarding prizes for your hard work!
$2,500 AWS Credits
Two (2) tickets to AWS re:Invent
30 minute virtual meeting with the Amazon Lex team
Winning submission featured on the AWS AI blog
$1,500 AWS Credits
One (1) ticket to AWS re:Invent
30 minute virtual meeting with the Amazon Lex team
Winning submission featured on the AWS AI blog
$1,000 AWS Credits
30 minute virtual meeting with the Amazon Lex team
Winning submission featured on the AWS AI blog
Submissions Start: April 19, 2017 at 12:00pm PDT
Submissions End:July 18, 2017 at 5:00pm PDT
Winners Announced: August 11, 2017 at 9:00am PDT
Up to the Challenge – Get Started
Are ready to get started on your chatbot and dive into the challenge? Here is how to get started:
Shoot your demo video that demonstrates your bot in action. Prepare a written summary of your bot and what it does.
Provide a way to access your bot for judging and testing by including a link to your GitHub repo hosting the bot code and all deployment files and testing instructions needed for testing your bot.
Submit your bot on AWSChatbot2017.Devpost.com before July 18, 2017at 5 pm ET and share access to your bot, its Github repo and its deployment files.
With Amazon Lex you can build conversation into web and mobile applications, as well as use it to build chatbots that control IoT devices, provide customer support, give transaction updates or perform operations for DevOps workloads (ChatOps). Amazon Lex provides built-in integration with AWS Lambda, AWS Mobile Hub, and Amazon CloudWatch and allows for easy integrate with other AWS services so you can use the AWS platform for to build security, monitoring, user authentication, business logic, and storage into your chatbot or application. You can make additional enhancements to your voice or text chatbot by taking advantage of Amazon Lex’s support of chat services like Slack, Facebook Messenger, and Twilio SMS.
Dive into building chatbots and conversational interfaces with Amazon Lex and AWS Lambda with the AWS Chatbot Challenge for a chance to win some cool prizes. Some recent resources and online tech talks about creating bots with Amazon Lex and AWS Lambda that may help you in your bot building journey are:
Maria Quevedo is the director of Code Club UK. She’s amazing at yoga, cooks a mean Spanish tortilla, and originally hails from Argentina. She was also raised in a stationery shop, which is pretty much my dream. According to members of the Code Club team, Maria is delightfully calm under pressure…though she did fail to keep her cool when faced with judging the Pioneers winners.
After months of planning and making, the first round of Pioneers is over! We laid down the epic challenge of making us laugh. And boy, did the teams deliver. We can honestly say that my face hurt from all the laughing on judging day. Congratulations to everyone who took part.
Congratulations to the theme-winning team The Technological Tricksters and their project, Singing Potato. As Bec explained in the video, this project made us laugh…a lot. And through our tears of laughter, we were pleased to see the use of several different skills, along with a killer Gollum impression.
Alongside the overall theme winner, we also awarded prizes for the following five categories:
Inspiring Journey: the winners of this award experimented with a range of technologies, learned new skills and produced a final project that worked perfectly. Congratulations to Heritage Hackers and their Water Pistol Trap for winning this award.
Best Explanation: the team that hit the perfect balance of detail about what they made and how they made it were Black Thunder. We loved the explanation you gave for building your Living Joke Robot. Well done!
Technically Brilliant: the team that used the most impressive combination of technologies were the Shady Hackers with their Scare Chair Rig. Great use of a fire alarm hack…though we hope you didn’t use the home one.
We appreciate what you’re trying to do: making is a hobby which involves mistakes along the way, and it’s best to carry on without getting discouraged. Just because you haven’t finished, it doesn’t mean that you can’t submit your work to Pioneers and explain what you wanted to do and how. PiCymru‘s We Shall Overcomb did exactly that. We hope you manage to complete your project as we’d love to see it working!
Everyone was completely blown away by the projects we saw. And though we couldn’t award every entry a prize, the judges agreed that the following four projects deserved special recognition rewards for their teams:
Our mean boss wouldn’t let this one win (to be fair, we did say not to hurt anyone), but it genuinely made all the Raspberry Pi staff laugh which wins it a dishonourable mention from me. It was also a great hack of an electric fly trap. Well done Team Spark Wire…but maaaaybe try to be a little less lethal with your next submission.
To everyone who took part in the first Pioneers challenge, thank you so much for your contributions, and congratulations on everything you achieved. You thrilled us with your tweets, emails, and final submissions, and we hope you also learned some great new skills and possibly made some new friends along the way. Massive thanks to our friends at the Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund for making Pioneers possible. Find out about their awesome work here.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.