Robots and Drones – Runaway

MachineThere have been lots of comparisons to TV Programmes and Films made years ago showing technology of the future and where we are today. The prime example of this is Star Trek and communicators, Holodecks vs Hololens. Terminator and AI, etc..

Whilst looking at the latest drone technology I recalled a film I watched in my youth in 1984 called “Runaway” directed by Michael Crichton and stared Tom Selleck about a Police Officer that specialises in malfunctioning robots.

In the film he uses a drone to enter a house and search for people before the drone is shot by another robot. It depicts a near future where a lot of robots are used for everday tasks in farming, construction, housework etc. Most of which are in use today.

The interesting factor in the film though is a law enforcement agent with a specific purpose of dealing with malfunctioning robots, (with the added bad guy in programming them of course). We are not that far away from such an agency in reality with current agencies investigating drones causing issues. Drones being developed for search and rescue and technology that can knock them out of the sky. As the technology grows we may well see such specialised officers in the future.


Boiling Frogs


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GrowIf you haven’t read “Boiling Frogs” by the GCHQ, its is well worth a read. The paper has been made available on GitHub – this is their research paper on software development and organisational change in the face of disruption.

To quote the Exec Summary:

This paper identifies and examines critical business characteristics that promote business and technical agility describing how organisations need “less of” some characteristics and “more of” others. Rather than changing one of these characteristics in isolation, we believe that organisations need to improve holistically, not in terms of a binary step change, but in terms of force-multiplying cohesive change. For each characteristic, we propose a direction of change covering:
• Operating Model (including structure and interaction styles)
• Organisational cultures
• Use of accommodation
• Approach to measurement
• Skills management
• Use of commercial suppliers
• Leveraging Big Data
• Approach to architecture
• Use of processes and techniques
• Approach to Security
• Approach to HR
Finally, this paper includes some of the background reasoning collated from internal blogs related to organisational structuring, types of jobs and the effects of Conway’s Law on business change.

Source: GCHQ Boiling Frog

Conways law states:

organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these

The law is based on the reasoning that in order for a software module to function, multiple authors must communicate frequently with each other. Therefore, the software interfaces structure of a system will reflect the social boundaries of the organization(s) that produced it, across which communication is more difficult. Conway’s law was intended as a valid sociological observation, although sometimes it’s taken in a humorous context.

Source: Wikipedia

The paper can be found at

Raspberry Pi and New Starter Kit


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PIRaspberry Pi has reached a staggering 10 Million Pi devices.

It’s a long way from the reports back in May 2012 that 20,000 units had been shipped.

Moving from their bare bone boards and then buying a starter kit from 3rd parties to get you going on a Pi Adventure. Raspberry Pi are now producing  their own Starter Kit which includes the following:

  • A Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
  • An 8GB NOOBS SD card
  • An official case
  • An official 2.5A multi-region power supply
  • An official 1m HDMI cable
  • An optical mouse and a keyboard with high-quality scissor-switch action
  • A copy of Adventures in Raspberry Pi Foundation Edition

For me the best project that I have undertaken yet is the Amazon Alexa on the Pi3. However there are some others that I want to get round to such as

Jarvis Home Automation

Multi Room Music Player

Gamer Coffee Table

If your stuck for project ideas with your Pi, here is a link to 682 projects from Hackerday

Social Media Identity Security



GoldThe use of Social Media Identities, have been used for a while now as an alternative to the usual username and passwords traditionally used.

When signing up for a web based service you are presented with a dialogue box asking you to sign in with one of a number of Social Media Identities, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google or another service. Usually near the bottom of the dialogue box is an option to set up a user id and password.

Its common place now for users to just click one of their identities, to gain immediate access to that site. But how often do they stop and think about what the effect of that is.

Why is this important. Here is a good example:

Recently Spotify have been informing users to change their passwords:

Hi Spotify User

To protect your Spotify account, we’ve reset your password. This is because we believe it may have been compromised during a leak on another service with which you use the same password.

Don’t worry! This is purely a preventative security measure. Nobody has accessed your Spotify account, and your data is secure.

What is happening is that your data is being checked against a  hack list and a cross check against their system. This is based more on the email than password.

The bit of information that is missing though is what is the other leak? Is it a recent leak and is this a published or unpublished hack list?

You can use a service such as to see if your email address is in a known published list, however it cant check those lists that haven’t been published.

If your Social Account is hacked does that compromise and open up all of those linked services. Most probably.

Some simple steps to follow:

  • Don’t link everything to one Social Media Account
  • Think about using the traditional username and passwords for some services
  • Dont use the same passwords across your Social Media Identities
  • Change your passwords on a regular basis
  • Follow a good password length and characters (Alpha, Numeric, Special Characters)
  • Use an additional layer of security, see: Are you using 2 step logins


Social Norms: Credit and Loyalty Cards

wallet-908569_960_720A round the watercooler discussion with a collegue this morning (Graham Chastney) sparked an interesting discussion about one of lifes Social Norms. Credit and Loyalty Cards and their uses and sizes. The conversation came about as we were discussing paying for a coffee and the merits of cards vs mobile pay systems.

As a society we have over a number of years been enticed with small bits of plastic containing chips and tags for Debit/Credit Cards and Loyalty Cards.

But why is it the size it is?

Forbes have an article that looks at “How Was The Standard Size Of A Credit Card Or A Business Card Established?” The post says:

The credit card was just the business card juxtaposed to the size of the standard business card, for ease of use in the wallet.

Faisal Khan, Forbes

and goes into some of the history behind this as well as a useful infographic on the subject.

Its size has been adopted into many things such as a typical pass to get you through doors at your place of work and past Security/Reception in the morning.

In the main these have stayed the same size with a recent change to keyfob versions of Loyalty Cards, being approx a third in size to the normal cards. I have seen a few dropped and discarded keyfob versions around supermarket car parks as they have fallen off a set of keys through wear and tear.

The standard size of the card has allowed us to secure them in ways that make us comfortable such as wallets, purses, card holders.

With the move to contactless payments there has now been an increase in the variety of RFID blocking wallets availble in the marketplace to help prevent accidental contactless payments and broadcasting of your data.

We also expect to see a standard sized card when someone transacts with us as second nature.

But what is next for the card. Are cards still needed?

One could argue that the card size has changed a lot going to digital payments and not needing the card, but there is something about having that piece of plastic to make a payment with.

There are applications now available that replace your plastic loyalty cards with an barcode on your mobile device that can be scanned at the till.

Going outside of the norm and showing innovation one lady has taken the chip out of her Oyster Card (used around London to pay for and gain access to travel/tube/bus etc) and embedded them into a set of false finger nails.

One company has a single card that can replace up to eight of your cards in your wallet storing the data on a chip in the card and allowing you to select the card you want to use via a simple button.

The card size is an integeral part of society and whilst there are many devices built to accept the size of the card (tills, cashpoints, wallets, etc….) it will continue to be the norm. A move to the next generation of Digital Solutions will help reduce the number of cards we carry, however it will still remain as the size of card thats easliy recognisable throughout the world.





Are you using 2 step logins?


Another report today of data being sold for sale on the Dark Web. This time O2 have had data stolen and put up for sale according to a BBC News report.

cameraSo usual changing of passwords are key to ensure that its not the same as on a list. Typically any logins and passwords for sale will be used/tested on multiple sites by hackers to check if you have used the same password on multiple sites. Good practice should be that you use different passwords on different sites to avoid anyone trying this technique, however the management of such a practice often inhibits this from being done. People may decide to install a password manager to help them navigate the miriad of logins and passwords.

Alof of sites now accept authentication via Google, Facebook or other services. However how many people take advantage of the additional security offerings by these companies.

Google and Facebook do offer a two step authentication process for any new devices that are logged into with the Google/Facebook account. This can use the same Google Authenticator application on your mobile that provides a verification code that refreshes every minute.

The service can be used for other applications such as wordpress.

If you use application verification, you should spend the short time to set up 2 step authentication to add the extra layer of security to your account.


Pen Based Productivity Tools – The Chronodex 2016 part 2


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ChronodexThe second half of the year has been released for the Chronodex by Patrick Ng.

Available at:

There is still a place for journalling using a pen rather than a blog post as discussed here No Batteries Required: My Personal Journal. I am now on my 17th Journal and still going strong.

BBC Micro:Bit available for the masses


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MicroBitIts been a while now since the launch of the BBC Micro:Bit and its mission to provide year 7’s with the platform.  It is only recently being made available to the general public in batches of 90 , however this has now shifted to being able to purchase single units and development kits are also being produced/made available for pin outs and expansions. I’ve seen several dates for availability in several online shops from end of June to end of July. Most places have the Micro:Bit on pre-order only at the moment, but peripherals are available to ship.

Coming in at around £13.00 for a board its more expensive than the Pi Zero at £5.00. I was expecting something of a similar price bracket. There are some interesting projects already appearing on the web.

(Other online outlets are available) One outlet stocking the Micro:Bit shortly

I have placed a pre-order for one to have a go with, so will post some more about it once received. Im looking to use the Micro:Bit and Pi Zero to help my Scout Group with their Digital Maker and Digital Citizen badges.


In the meantime here is an example of use from Chris Swan programming a game of Simon on it.


State of DevOps Report 2016



GrowPuppet have released their latest “State of DevOps Report for 2016“.

Having read the previous couple of years these reports give a good level of what is going on across the industries and effeminately worth downloading and reading.

Highlights from the latest reports are:

  • High-performing IT organizations deploy 200 times more frequently than low performers, with 2,555 times faster lead times.
  • They have 24 times faster recovery times and three times lower change failure rates.
  • High-performing IT teams spend 50 percent less time remediating security issues.
  • And they spend 22 percent less time on unplanned work and rework.
  • Employees in high-performing teams were 2.2 times more likely to recommend their organization as a great place to work.
  • Taking a lean approach to product development (for example, splitting work into small batches and implementing customer feedback) predicts higher IT performance and less deployment pain.


Configuring the Raspberry PI with Ansible and AWSCLI


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PII wanted to set up my Raspberry Pi with Ansible and the AWSCLI package to allow the creation of AWS servers from the Pi.

As I was recycling a card I no longer needed reformatting the card and installing Raspbian on it seemed sensible start.

I use the SD Formatter programme to ensure that the SD Card is formatted correctly.

Then downloaded the latest image of Raspbian and used Win32DiskImager to install the OS onto the card.

I have been caught out before with errors of “No space left on device” or similar so the first command I run is

 sudo raspi-config

Then select the Expand Filesystem menu option. This ensures that all the SD card is used.

A reboot is required for the changes to take effect.

The Pi is now ready to begin downloading packages.

The next task is to update and upgrade the software on the Pi using

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade –y


sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

The below will help with explaining what is the difference between upgrade and dist-upgrade

    upgrade is used to install the newest versions of all packages
    currently installed on the system from the sources enumerated in
    /etc/apt/sources.list. Packages currently installed with new
    versions available are retrieved and upgraded; under no
    circumstances are currently installed packages removed, or packages
    not already installed retrieved and installed. New versions of
    currently installed packages that cannot be upgraded without
    changing the install status of another package will be left at
    their current version. An update must be performed first so that
    apt-get knows that new versions of packages are available.

    dist-upgrade in addition to performing the function of upgrade,
    also intelligently handles changing dependencies with new versions
    of packages; apt-get has a "smart" conflict resolution system, and
    it will attempt to upgrade the most important packages at the
    expense of less important ones if necessary. So, dist-upgrade
    command may remove some packages. The /etc/apt/sources.list file
    contains a list of locations from which to retrieve desired package
    files. See also apt_preferences(5) for a mechanism for overriding
    the general settings for individual packages.

If you want to clean up the build and remove any package files the following command can be used. This can also help save space if you have a small card.

sudo apt-get clean

After some Googling I found a good set of instructions on installing Ansible onto the Pi. As this Article says it needs some extra bits to make it work.

There are a couple of steps missing below this site which I have added in below in bold.

sudo apt-get install python-dev -y

sudo apt-get install libffi-dev libssl-dev -y

cd ~

wget -O - | sudo python


tar –xvzf pyasn1-0.1.9.tar.gz

cd pyasn1-0.1.9

python install

cd ~


tar zxvf ansible-

cd ansible-


sudo make install

cd ~

It is always worth checking to see if there is a later version of the packages available and making the necessary changes to the lines above.

Next install the boto package

pip install --user boto

Next install the awscli package

sudo pip install awscli

more information on installing awscli can be found at

once installed you can then use the

aws help

command to check the installation has worked.

To configure the awscli follow the instructions at

assuming that you have an AWS account already.

Using the

aws configure 

command you can enter your keys. The keys below are examples only

$ aws configure
AWS Secret Access Key [None]: wJalrXUtnFEMI/K7MDENG/bPxRfiCYEXAMPLEKEY
Default region name [None]: us-west-2
Default output format [None]: ENTER

You should now be able to use Ansible and the AWSCLI on your Raspberry PI.