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The R2D2-‘O-Lantern Reddit Doesn’t Want You To See

unnamed The people here at Hackaday aren’t dedicating their entire lives to moderating comments and sending press releases to the circular file; some of us actually have jobs and hobbies. [James Hobson] works at a projector company that was having a pumpkin carving contest today. He came up with the best possible use of a pumpkin projector – a R2D2-‘o-lantern that plays the message from [Leia] to [Obi-Wan Kenobi]. [James] submitted this to reddit, but one of the mods deleted it. We’re much cooler than a few mods and their little empire, so we’re putting it up here.

Instead of a knife, [James] used a rather interesting method for carving a pumpkin – a laser cutter. By maxing out the Z height of his laser cutter, he was able to cut a perfect R2D2 graphic on the surface of a pumpkin. No, [James] isn’t removing any of the pumpkin’s skin after the lasering is done, but the result still looks great when backlit.

Inside the pumpkin is a projector playing the famous distress message made from the captured Tantive IV. It’s not entirely accurate – [James] put the projector behind R2’s radar eye and not the holographic projectors, and to project [Leia] in mid-air he would need something like this, Still, it’s a great project we expect to see cloned a year or so from now.

Filed under: Holiday Hacks, video hacks

A Field Of Medicine That Wants To Know Where You Live

Dr. Estella Geraghty, chief medical officer for Esri, explains how doctors can use mapping in health care.

Scare off Squirrels and Tweet about It with the Jack-O’-Lantern Warning System

Pumpkin with a motion detector to deter squirrels[Stephpalm] had carved a pumpkin for the first time in two decades. Unfortunately, the neighborhood squirrels were all too pleased with her work and devoured it. Her original goal for the jack-o’-lantern was to have its lights controlled over the internet. These hungry critters inspired another project instead – The Jack-’o’-Lantern Squirrel Early Warning System. There have been hacks that have dealt with pesky squirrels before, such as a trap and an automatic water turret, but they didn’t have the ability to post to social media like this system does.

The system consists of a Spark Core, a passive infrared (PIR) sensor, and a piezo buzzer. When the motion sensor is triggered the buzzer sounds, scaring away any peckish creatures lurking nearby. [Stephpalm] used an NPN transistor and 1k-Ohm resistor to provide enough current to drive the buzzer. All of these components were connected using jumper wires and a breadboard that sits on top of the pumpkin. As a nod to her original idea, [stephpalm] then created “Pumpkin Watch Code” and loaded it into the Core. It posts preset messages to a Twitter account every 45 minutes of inactivity or whenever a pesky squirrel is detected. The messages can be personalized for anyone who wants to make one of these themselves.

We wonder if it would be better to place the breadboard inside the jack-o’-lantern and carve out a couple of holes on top for the PIR sensor’s wires to come out of. That would offer some protection from the elements and prevent it from getting knocked over. We think this project could be adapted for many other uses. After the break, see a video of the system in action!

[via Instructables]

Filed under: Holiday Hacks

How Your Cell Phone Can Halt Ebola

GIS can be used to help medical providers map the spread of diseases like Ebola and other health risks.

Scientists Propose Existence and Interaction of Parallel Worlds

Griffith University academics just published a radical paper based on the existence of, and interactions between, parallel universes.

In a paper published in the journal Physical Review X, Professor Howard Wiseman and Dr Michael Hall from Griffith’s Centre for Quantum Dynamics, and Dr Dirk-Andre Deckert from the University of California, attempt to take interacting parallel worlds out of the realm of science fiction and into that of hard science.

The team proposes that parallel universes really exist, and that they interact. That is, rather than evolving independently, nearby worlds influence one another by a subtle force of repulsion. They show that such an interaction could explain everything that is bizarre about

Quantum theory is needed to explain how the universe works at the microscopic scale, and is believed to apply to all matter. But it is notoriously difficult to fathom, exhibiting weird phenomena which seem to violate the laws of cause and effect.

As the eminent American theoretical physicist Richard Feynman once noted: “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.” However, the “Many-Interacting Worlds” approach developed at Griffith University provides a new twist on this baffling field.

“The idea of parallel universes in quantum mechanics has been around since 1957,” says Professor Wiseman.

“In the well-known “Many-Worlds Interpretation”, each universe branches into a bunch of new universes every time a quantum measurement is made. All possibilities are therefore realised – in some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonised by the Portuguese.

“But critics question the reality of these other universes, since they do not influence our universe at all. On this score, our ‘Many Interacting Worlds’ approach is completely different, as its name implies.”

Professor Wiseman and his colleagues propose that:

  • The universe we experience is just one of a gigantic number of worlds. Some are almost identical to ours while most are very different;
  • All of these worlds are equally real, exist continuously through time, and possess precisely defined properties;
  • All quantum phenomena arise from a universal force of repulsion between ‘nearby’ (i.e. similar) worlds which tends to make them more dissimilar.

Dr Hall says the “Many-Interacting Worlds” theory may even create the extraordinary possibility of testing for the existence of other worlds. “The beauty of our approach is that if there is just one world our theory reduces to Newtonian mechanics, while if there is a gigantic number of worlds it reproduces quantum mechanics,” he says.

In between it predicts something new that is neither Newton’s theory nor quantum theory.

From the Abstract:

We investigate whether quantum theory can be understood as the continuum limit of a mechanical theory, in which there is a huge, but finite, number of classical “worlds,” and quantum effects arise solely from a universal interaction between these worlds, without reference to any wave function. Here, a “world” means an entire universe with well-defined properties, determined by the classical configuration of its particles and fields. In our approach, each world evolves deterministically, probabilities arise due to ignorance as to which world a given observer occupies, and we argue that in the limit of infinitely many worlds the wave function can be recovered (as a secondary object) from the motion of these worlds. We introduce a simple model of such a “many interacting worlds” approach and show that it can reproduce some generic quantum phenomena—such as Ehrenfest’s theorem, wave packet spreading, barrier tunneling, and zero-point energy—as a direct consequence of mutual repulsion between worlds. Finally, we perform numerical simulations using our approach. We demonstrate, first, that it can be used to calculate quantum ground states, and second, that it is capable of reproducing, at least qualitatively, the double-slit interference phenomenon.

“We also believe that, in providing a new mental picture of quantum effects, it will be useful in planning experiments to test and exploit quantum phenomena.” The ability to approximate quantum evolution using a finite number of worlds could have significant ramifications in molecular dynamics, which is important for understanding chemical reactions and the action of drugs.

Professor Bill Poirier, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Texas Tech University, has observed: “These are great ideas, not only conceptually, but also with regard to the new numerical breakthroughs they are almost certain to engender.”

Of course, and this really should go without saying, it must be emphasized that this is just a new proposal that could lead to other interesting and fruitful conclusions.


Provided by Griffith University.  Journal access.

The post Scientists Propose Existence and Interaction of Parallel Worlds appeared first on From Quarks to Quasars.

Reverse Engineering the D-Link WPS Pin Algorithm


A router with WPS requires a PIN to allow other devices to connect, and this PIN should be unique to every router and not derived from other easily accessible data found on the router. When [Craig] took a look at the firmware of a D-Link DIR-810L 802.11ac router, he found exactly the opposite; the WPS PIN was easily decipherable because it was generated entirely from the router’s MAC address and could be reverse engineered by sniffing WiFi.

When [Craig] was taking a look at the disassembled firmware from his router, he noticed a bit of code that accessed the NVRAM used for storing device-specific information like a serial number. This bit of code wasn’t retrieving a WPS pin, but the WAN MAC address instead. Instead of being unique to each device and opaque to every other bit of data on the router, the WPS pin was simply generated (with a bit of math) from the MAC address. This means anyone upstream of the router can easily derive the WPS pin of the router, and essentially gives everyone the keys to the castle of this router.

A few years ago, it was discovered the WPS pin was extremely insecure anyway, able to be brute-forced in a matter of minutes. There are patches router manufacturers could apply to detect these brute force attacks, closing that vulnerability. [Craig]‘s code, though, demonstrates that a very large number of D-Link routers effectively broadcast their WPS PIN to the world. To make things even worse, the BSSID found in every wireless frame is also derived from the WAN MAC address. [Craig] has literally broken WPS on a huge number of D-Link routers, thanks to a single engineer that decided to generate the WPS PIN from the MAC address.

[Craig] has an incomplete list of routers that are confirmed affected on his site, along with a list of confirmed unaffected routers.

Filed under: security hacks

Ipswich hospital improves healthcare service with Esri data visualization

Working with geospatial data provider Esri, Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust (IHT) found a location analytics solution to meet its needs.

This Site Will Describe Your Entire Life in One Perfect Paragraph Using Only Your Zip Code

A site called ZIP Code lookup by Esri is one of those places where data is beautiful.

Hubble Spies Faint Light From “Ghost” Galaxies

Abell 2744, also known as Pandora's Cluster, takes on a haunting look with artificially starlight Image Credit: NASA/ESA/IAC/HFF Team, STScI

Abell 2744, also known as Pandora’s Cluster, takes on a haunting look with artificially starlight
Image Credit: NASA/ESA/IAC/HFF Team, STScI

Tonight, all hallows eve, take comfort in the fact that not all ghosts are spirits of the dead that walk among us. Some “ghosts” come from galaxies that are so distant, they teeter between our realm and the netherworld—the line that separates what we can see and measure from the completely unknown (also known as the “unobservable” universe).  Then, we have another kind of cosmic “ghost”: The shattered remnant of a galaxy that no longer exists.

Now, using the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA has seen the haunting light from the latter kind of “ghost” galaxy, and they’ve imaged it with as much clarity as one could possibly expect from a galaxy cluster, called Abell 2744 (or “Pandora’s Cluster”), situated more than 4 billion light-years from Earth.

The galaxies located here aren’t traditional in any sense of the word. Rather, they were completely ripped apart following some kind of a cataclysmic gravitational event a very long time ago. During this event, their remaining star, gas, and dust content were flung outward and given free reign over the intergalactic medium, separating them from the galaxies that remained intact.

 Unsurprisingly, such “galaxies” are remarkably difficult to piece back together, but NASA has done just that. As they put it, “Hubble astronomers have assembled forensic evidence that suggests as many as six galaxies were torn to pieces inside the cluster over a stretch of 6 billion years.” They expand,

“Computer modeling of the gravitational dynamics among galaxies in a cluster suggests that galaxies as big as our Milky Way Galaxy are the likely candidates as the source of the stars. The doomed galaxies would have been pulled apart like taffy if they plunged through the center of a galaxy cluster where gravitational tidal forces are strongest. Astronomers have long hypothesized that the light from scattered stars should be detectable after such galaxies are disassembled. However, the predicted “intracluster” glow of stars is very faint and was therefore a challenge to identify.”

“The Hubble data revealing the ghost light are important steps forward in understanding the evolution of galaxy clusters,” said Ignacio Trujillo of The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain. “It is also amazingly beautiful in that we found the telltale glow by utilizing Hubble’s unique capabilities.”

“The team estimates that the combined light of about 200 billion outcast stars contributes approximately 10 percent of the cluster’s brightness.”

“The results are in good agreement with what has been predicted to happen inside massive galaxy clusters,” said Mireia Montes of the IAC, lead author of the paper published in the Oct. 1 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.

[Reference: "Hubble Sees 'Ghost Light' From Dead Galaxies"]

So, how exactly would we image such faint pinpoints of light? Usually, it’s borderline impossible, but thankfully, Hubble’s specialized near-infrared tools are extremely well-suited for the job. “Hubble measurements determined that the phantom stars are rich in heavier elements like oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen. This means the scattered stars must be second or third-generation stars enriched with the elements forged in the hearts of the universe’s first-generation stars. Spiral galaxies — like the ones believed to be torn apart — can sustain ongoing star formation that creates chemically-enriched stars,” NASA explained.

Prior to this, Montes’ team, along with other experts from NASA and the ESA, have spent the last three years finding suitable targets for the kind of deep-space probing that’s only possible using gravitational lensing, a phenomenon that sees giant galaxy clusters become huge magnifying glasses. They allow us to see remote reaches of the universe, places where the light we are currently seeing traveled billions of years before reaching Earth.

Through the endeavor — called the Frontier Fields program — they were also able to single out five other areas of interest within the foreground cluster itself. They plan to look for the ‘ghost light’ emanating from them too.

The post Hubble Spies Faint Light From “Ghost” Galaxies appeared first on From Quarks to Quasars.

ZIP code demographics map

Bay News 9 features Esri's Tapestry Zip code map to find demographic and lifestyle information about Tampa, FL.

Who is buried around Chicago

The Chicago Tribune maps the final resting places of some of Chicago's most notable figures.

Hacklet 21 – Halloween Hacks Part 2


We asked, you listened! Last weeks Hacklet ended with a call for more Halloween themed projects on Some great hackers uploaded awesome projects, and this week’s Hacklet is all about featuring them. Every one of our featured projects was uploaded to within the last 7 days.

masseffect2Mass Effect meets Daft Punk in [TwystNeko's] 5-Day SpeedBuild Mass Effect Armor.  As the name implies, [TwystNeko] built the armor in just 5 days. Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam was used to make most of the costume. Usually EVA foam needs to be sealed. To save time, [TwystNeko] skipped that step, and just brushed on some gold acrylic paint.  The actual cuts were based on an online template [TwystNeko] found. To top the armor off, [TwystNeko] used a custom built Daft Punk Guy Manuel helmet. Nice!


rat[Griff] wins for the creepiest project this week with Rat Bristlebot. Taking a page from the Evil Mad Scientist Labs book, [Griff] built a standard bristlebot based on a toothbrush and a vibrating pager motor. He topped off the bristlebot with a small rubber rat body from the party store. The rat did make the ‘bot move a bit slower, but it still was plenty entertaining for his son. [Griff] plans to use a CdS cell to make the rat appear to scamper when room lights are turned on. Scurrying rats will have us running for the hills for sure!

pumpkin[MagicWolfi] was created Pumpkin-O-Chain to light up Halloween around the house. This build was inspired by [Jeri Ellsworth's] motion sensing barbot dress from 2011. Pumpkin-O-Chain uses the a similar RC delay line with 74HC14 inverters to make the LEDs switch on in sequence. He wanted the delay to be a bit longer than [Jeri's] though, so he switched to 100K ohm resistors in this build. The result is a nice effect which is triggered when someone passes the PIR motion sensor.

pumpkinlite[Petri] got tired of his Jack-o’-lantern candles burning out, so he built his own Pumpkin Light. The light made its debut last year with a Teensy 2.0++ running the show. This year, [Petri] decided to go low power and switched to an MSP430 processor on one of TI’s launchpad boards. With plenty of outputs available on the Teensy and the MSP430, [Petri] figured he might as well use and RGB LED. The new improved Jack-o’-lantern can run for hours with no risk of fire.

We ccuth2an’t end this week without mentioning [Griff's] updated Crochet Cthulhu Mask. We featured the mask in last week’s Hacklet, and called  [Griff] out for an update. Well, the final project is up, and it looks great! We’re sure [Griff's] son will be raking in the candy this year!

It’s time for trick-or-treating, which means we have to end this episode of The Hacklet. As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of!

Google to kill off SSL 3.0 in Chrome 40

Google plans to remove support for the aging Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) version 3.0 protocol in Google Chrome 40, which is expected to ship in about two months.

The decision comes after Google security researchers recently discovered a dangerous design flaw in SSL 3.0. Dubbed "POODLE," the vulnerability allows a man-in-the-middle attacker to recover sensitive, plain text information like authentication cookies, from a HTTPS (HTTP Secure) connection encrypted with SSLv3.

Even though POODLE is the biggest security issue found in SSL 3.0 so far, it is not the protocol's only weakness. SSL version 3 was designed in the mid-1990s and supports outdated cipher suites that are now considered insecure from a cryptographic standpoint.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Guess the Spooky Science Photo

sunThis picture was taken by astronomers of a solar analemma, though at first glance it looks like an overexposed mistake. However, specialists know how very unique and hard these images are to capture.

Maciej Zapiór and Łukasz Fajfrowski have been taking photos of the Sun every day of the year using a primitive camera and elements from an old printer. They took three (yes, only three) photos. One was published by NASA. The technique they used is called “solargraphy.”

What is solargraphy?

Solargraphy is a technique which uses a fixed camera with a pinhole in order to expose photographic paper for a very long time – usually at least six months, but sometimes more than year. It is most often used to show the Sun’s path across our sky over the course of the year.

The equipment used to take the pictures is extraordinary (and extraordinarily simple). Scientist take a can and, using a small needle, they make hole in It which functions like a lens. Inside the can they put one page of photo paper, protect the “camera” with black adhesive tape, and then mount it on tree or pole. Then they have to wait a few months in order to capture the entire image, but it’s certainly worth waiting, because the effect takes one’s breath away.

The picture that is created over the course of this period of time shows the exact movement of Earth around Sun each day, and it looks a little like a figure 8 (the two solid lines that you see at the lower left occurred due to a timer switch failure that left the pinhole shutter open).

“It’s not very complicated, but it requires a lot of patience,” notes Fajfrowski.

Breaking down the technology:

In astronomy the analemma is really just the curve that represents the changing angular offset of the Sun (or other celestial bodies) from a certain point of view (Earth, in this case). The solar analemma has a shape of the number eight, thanks to connection between the Earth’s movement around the Sun and the slope of our planet’s axis to the plane.

To achieve the effect seen above, the exposure has to be done each day of the year at the same exact time of day. The exposure only lasts one minute.

To ensure the Sun’s light gets inside the can at the same time, scientists needed to create a special module. They connected a small engine from an old printer, a micro-controller, and a processor in order to develop a simple system to open and close the pin. They had a lot of problems on their way to success, such as few seconds delay in the system, but fortunately they managed to deal with them and capture the desired shot.

“We decided not to take many pictures and then superimpose them one on another, like people have been doing up till now. We used one piece of photographic paper for a whole year. That’s why the picture has such an intense effect” explained Fajfrowski.

Analemma can be taken from other planets as well. The Martian lander “Opportunity” was taking photos of the Martian sky for the whole year, creating analemma which shows the Sun’s movement from the Red Planet. It looks like this:

Image credit: NASA

Image credit: NASA

Not many people around the world have taken this kind of photo – sometimes the Sun hides behind clouds, sometimes the equipment doesn’t work in the desired way. If you have a lot of patience (and a lot of free time) maybe give solargraphy a try.

To see all photos and read more about the project, visit ANALEMMA.

Written by Mateusz Radziwonowicz. Mateusz is a Biotechnologist from Poland, interested in astrophysics, quantum physics, light and its features.


The post Guess the Spooky Science Photo appeared first on From Quarks to Quasars.

The number of Keyless cars thefts is rising

According to a UK motoring industry group and authorities keyless cars ‘increasingly targeted by thieves, which are using computers e dedicated equipment.

According to a UK motoring industry group, criminal organizations are increasingly targeting high-end cars with keyless security systems.  The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) confirmed that car thieves are using dedicated equipment to access the cars and circumvent security designed by manufactures.

While car theft has fallen from 318,000 in 2002 to 77,500 in the last twelve months (source:UK Office for National Statistics), thefts involving computer equipment are rising.

Modern cars allow keyless entry and ignition using a fob that the driver carries with it, keyless systems represent the unique obstacle to steal a car. In response criminals have been using equipment that is able to re-programme remote-entry keys.

“The criminal act of stealing vehicles through the re-programming of remote-entry keys is an on-going industry-wide problem,” said Jaguar Land Rover. “Our line-up continues to meet the insurance industry requirements as tested and agreed with relevant insurance bodies.””Nevertheless we are taking this issue very seriously and our engineering teams are actively working in collaboration with insurance bodies and police forces to solve this continuously evolving problem.”

Modern vehicles are equivalent to complex networks that connects different control units used to control modern cars, for this reason criminals are exploring hacking techniques to bypass security measures.

The number of thefts that exploit technological means is increasing and according to the news reported by the BBC several London-based owners of Range Rovers have been denied insurance over the issue.

“High-end motor insurers are refusing to cover new Range Rovers in London after a series of thefts. In what could be a serious blow to Jaguar Land Rover, underwriters are declining to insure Range Rovers unless the owners have underground or secure parking. The problem has grown so rapidly in the past three months that insurers and insurance brokers have asked to meet Jaguar Land Rover to discuss the issue.” states a post published by The Times.

Keyless cars thefts is rising 1

The US National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) confirmed the increase in the number of keyless car thefts operated with computers and other high-tech equipment. The Times reported the position of insurers AIG which refused insurance cover  to a motorist, explaining that every case must be analyzed singularly.

“We do not have a blanket policy to exclude certain vehicles from cover.” “Given the increasing likelihood that replacement vehicles may be a target for thieves we may ask for additional security measures such as secure off-road parking.”

The insurance companies require customers the availability of a secure private garaging or the installation of mechanically removable bollards.

“Whilst BMWs and Audis appeared to be the early targets, it’s fair to say that this was largely associated with their desirability across Europe, rather than any specific security lapse.”

“Recently we’ve seen evidence of a range of makes and models being affected, including the Ford Fiesta and Focus, Range Rover Evoque and also now including light commercial vehicles such as the volume-selling Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter.” reports a Thatcham Research confirming the scale of the phenomenon.

The main problem to persecute the criminals is that equipment used is anyway licit and it is ordinarily used by specialized repair shops and by car dealerships for maintanance.

“The challenge remains that the equipment being used to steal a vehicle in this way is legitimately used by workshops to carry out routine maintenance,” a The Supporting & promoting the UK automotive industry (SMMT) spokesman said. “As part of the need for open access to technical information to enable a flourishing after-market, this equipment is available to independent technicians. However a minority of individuals are exploiting this to obtain the equipment to access vehicles fraudulently.” “We need better safeguards within the regulatory framework to make sure this equipment does not fall into unlawful hands and, if it does, that the law provides severe penalties to act as an effective deterrent.”

Will the experts find an answer to the problem?

Pierluigi Paganini

Security Affairs –  (cars, cybercrime)

The post The number of Keyless cars thefts is rising appeared first on Security Affairs.

Dual-mode Avalanche and RF Random Number Generator

OneRNG Open-Source Random Number Generator

[Paul] designed a new open-hardware RNG (random number generator) that includes two sources of entropy in a small package. The first source of entropy is a typical avalanche diode circuit, which is formed by a pair of transistors. This circuit creates high-speed random pulses which are sampled by the onboard microcontroller.

What makes this design unique is a second entropy source: a CC2531 RF receiver. The RF receiver continuously skips around channels in the 2.5Ghz band and measures the RF signal level. The least-significant bit of the signal level is captured and used as a source of entropy. The firmware can be configured to use either source of entropy individually, or to combine both. The firmware also supports optionally whitening the entropy byte stream, which evens out the number of 1’s and 0’s without reducing entropy.

The OneRNG uses the USB-CDC profile, so it shows up as a virtual serial port in most modern operating systems. With the rngd daemon and a bit of configuration, the OneRNG can feed the system entropy source in Linux. [Paul] also has a good writeup about the theory behind the entropy generator which includes images of his schematic. Firmware, drivers, and hardware design files are open-source and are available for download.

Filed under: hardware

Astronomy Photo of the Day (APotD): 10/31/14 — Jack-o-Lantern Sun

Composite of sunspots (Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO)

Composite of sunspots (Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO)

The Sun was clearly in a festive mood when it flared up earlier this month, allowing NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory to capture images that, when combined, turn the Sun into an immensely large (and equally hot) jack-o’-lantern.

“The active regions in this image appear brighter because those are areas that emit more light and energy.  They are markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona. This image blends together two sets of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths at 171 and 193 Ångströms, typically colorized in gold and yellow, to create a particularly Halloween-like appearance,” according to NASA.

Yes, we know the image has made rounds over the last few weeks, but we can’t think of a single image that’s more appropriate than this on Halloween.

See spooky Halloween nebulae here.


The post Astronomy Photo of the Day (APotD): 10/31/14 — Jack-o-Lantern Sun appeared first on From Quarks to Quasars.

Raspberry Pi Brings New Life to Some Old Dinosaurs


Reprogramming the behaviors of a person-sized animatronic dinosaur would have to be among the coolest opportunities to be presented with… This is exactly what [Dr. Lucy Rogers] and a group of fellow techies were tasked to accomplish for the Backgang Chine park located on the Isle of Wight in the UK.

dino1Before the group arrived, the native dinos didn’t do much else than run a preprogrammed routine when triggered by someone’s presence… which needless to say, lacks the appropriate prehistoric dynamism. Seeing that their dated wag, wiggle, and roar response could use a fresh breath of flare, the park’s technical projects coordinator [Mark Butler] began adapting one of the dinosaur’s control boxes to work with a Raspberry Pi. This is when [Lucy] and her group were called upon for a two-day long excursion of play and development. With help and guidance from Raspberry Pi expert, [Neil Ford], the group learned how to use a ‘drag and build’ programing environment called node-RED in order to choreograph new movement sequences for two of the smaller dinosaurs provided for use. The visual nature of node-RED helped those of the Blackgang staff with little programming experience understand the code at work, which aided in their training. Now they can reprogram the dinosaurs with new actions on the fly if needed.

The Pi in the end turned out to be a cost-effective solution which will give the robot dinosaurs a longer, more fulfilling lifespan to roar and folic on their island home. Check out this video by [Debbie Davies] to see more…

Thanks Ed, for spotting this one!

Filed under: Raspberry Pi, robots hacks

Family Fireplace

We wrap up Firewood Week with this nice picture of a family from 1939. The family is staying warm around an old brick fireplace. Looks very warm and cozy.

What is the CyberEurope2014 and why is it so important?

Which is the importance of the CyberEurope2014 organized by the ENISA? It is the largest and most comprehensive EU cyber-security exercise to date.

Cyber security is considered today a pillar for the stability of any government, a growing number of cyber attacks every day hit private companies, government entities and critical infrastructure, these offensive appear even more sophisticated and need a prompts and efficient response.

More than 200 organizations and 400 cyber-security professionals from 29 European countries have been involved in the biggest ever cyber security exercise in Europe, the participant was engaged in a day-long simulation, organized by the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), which intend to evaluate the quality of the response to the cyber threats and the capabilities to mitigate them.

As a part of Cyber Europe 2014, ENISA and all the participant will coordinate their efforts to test the resilience of IT infrastructure and response capacity at various levels in case of a major cyber attack.

Cyber Europe 2014 (CyberEurope2014) this is the name of the exercise organized by ENISA, involved experts from the public and private sectors including cyber security agencies, national CERTs (Computer Emergency Response Teams),  telecoms companies, energy companies, ministries, financial institutions and internet service providers. The CyberEurope2014 exercise was distributed across different countries in Europe, which is coordinated by a central exercise control center.

#CyberEurope2014 is a bi-annual, large scale cyber security exercise. It is organised every two years by ENISA, and this year counts 29 European countries (26 EU and 3 from EFTA) plus EU Institutions. It takes place in 3 phases throughout the year: technical, which involves the incident detection, investigation, mitigation and information exchanges (completed in April); operational/tactical, dealing with alerting, crisis assessment, cooperation, coordination, tactical analysis, advice and information exchanges at operational level (today) and early 2015; strategic, which examines decision making, political impact and public affairs. ” states ENISA on the exercise.

The cyber security experts know that the above categories are always involved with different roles in large-scale attack campaign, for this reason the ENISA decided to test their procedures and capabilities in a simulation that stressed them.


The exercise is very complex, the experts which organized the #CyberEurope2014 simulated the concurrence of more than 2000 separate cyber-incidents. The casuistry is wide and includes different categories of attacks, including denial of service attacks against online services, cyber espionage campaigns, and attack against critical infrastructure.

A similar initiative was already arranged five years ago, as explained by the Executive Director of ENISA, Professor Udo Helmbrecht, commented:

“Five years ago there were no procedures to drive cooperation during a cyber-crisis between EU Member States. Today we have the procedures in place collectively to mitigate a cyber-crisis on European level. The outcome of today’s exercise will tell us where we stand and identify the next steps to take in order to keep improving.”
Critical infrastructure protection is one of the element of major concerns for governments, recently the number of cyber attacks against these architectures is increased and long-term cyber operations are targeting their systems, in many cases going under the radar for years.
“The sophistication and volume of cyber-attacks are increasing every day. They cannot be countered if individual states work alone or just a handful of them act together. I’m pleased that EU and EFTA Member States are working with the EU institutions with ENISA bringing them together. Only this kind of common effort will help keep today’s economy and society protected.” said The European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes.

The #CyberEurope2014 has a crucial importance to test the capabilities of the team on cyber-crisis in Europe, in particular the exercise on the capability to share operational information between the various entities involved. Information sharing and threat intelligence are essential activities to respond to any incident avoiding the propagation of the effects across multiple sectors.

“The #CyberEurope2014 exercise will, among others, test procedures to share operational information on cyber-crisis in Europe; enhance national capabilities to tackle cyber crises; explore the effect of multiple and parallel information exchanges between private-public, private-private at national and international level. The exercise also tests out the EU-Standard Operational Procedures (EU-SOPs), a set of guidelines to share operational information on cyber crisis.” stated the ENISA in an official announcement.

The kind of exercise has a great importance to exchange best practice in procedures and expertise to incentive the growth of a stronger community that is able to tackle transnational cyber-crises.

The CyberEurope2014 is a three phase exercise, and its results will be presented at the end of the year … let’s wait for them.

Pierluigi Paganini

Security Affairs –  (CyberEurope2014, ENISA)

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