Author: Tweeks (page 2 of 2)

Local Tech Companies Launch “Blacksburg Week of Code” STEM programming events in December

zach_arduino

Young Zach (9) and his dad drove down
from Lynchburg to Blacksburg to take one of
LCBB’s first Arduino workshops in 2013.

Local Blacksburg tech leaders Rackspace and Tech Pad have been separately bringing quality STEM coding classes to Blacksburg and the New River Valley for a while now.  My own company and Internet/cloud hoster Rackspace has been running monthly Let’s Code Blacksburg! (LCBB) programming & technology workshops since 2012. Local coworking space Tech Pad has been running nearly weekly programming series with their Blacksburg Coder DoJo group for over a year now, and other local tech experts from around town have been running the New River Valley 100 Girls of Code workshops since this past summer.    

The leaders of these STEM coding groups like to occasionally meet to discuss and assist each other with various community opportunities, but recently we huddled around the idea of coordinating efforts around a single “Blacksburg Week of Code“.  This focused, three day set of coding opportunities (from December 10-12th) is being offered in conjunction with the global “Computer Science Education Week”  (December 7-13) efforts being evangelized by the Hour of Code STEM programming movement.  The now global Hour of Code movement proclaims, “Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path.” Continue reading

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FIRST Lego League – It’s about more than just bots

IMG_7090_c

Duckies Boston Rosborough and Caleb Helsing preparing to
launch their bot at the FLL Chirstiansburg Middle School
competition.

In October and November of this year, Rackspace invested in spinning up several FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams in the New River Valley this fall. Working with the non-profit New River Robotics and local FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) group the Tuxedo Pandas, we spun up two FLL teams at Blacksburg Middle School, two at Christiansburg Middle School and two home school group teams. Other NRV area FLL teams and events were additionally funded by the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC) and overseen by the Roanoke Blacksburg FLL (rbfll.org).

One of these home school groups, Rackspace was personally involved with.  I stepped in as “Coach Tweeks” and helped start the “Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies“— mainly because my own 11yr old daughter was one of the prospective team members. The FBRDs (as we became known) ended up being comprised of nine 9-11yr old home school kids from within Blacksburg.

The FLL Big Picture:
FIRST Lego League is the robotics competition for middle schoolers, run by the FIRST organization, started by Segway inventor Dean Kamen. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, and is one of the leading world wide STEM organizations.
Continue reading

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Public Talk: Security for ‘Internet of Things’: Physical Attacks and Countermeasures

Abstract:
mobilelockchain+cutters

As our culture begins buying more and more Internet enabled devices for our person, in our cars, homes and office systems; we are  wading deeper and deeper into the vulnerable, untested waters of “Internet of Things” (IoT) security.  We are now seeing in the news that the safety of our embedded devices are at higher and higher risk of being “hacked”, and little is being with regards to IoT device security until after such systems are hacked and in the news.In this talk, we will cover several types of Physical Attacks that IoT hardware designers and users should all know about.

nest-p0wn3dIn this talk, we will cover several types of Physical Attacks that IoT hardware designers should know about. Physical attacks are a type of cryptanalysis, or the analysis of information systems in order to discover the hidden aspects of devices and systems using their implementation properties. Fault Injection is the force used to change the physical behavior of the running device to discover additional security information or ways into the system. Physical attack
and fault injection research is critical because it is a preferred low cost attack method used by both black hats to discover new IoT/hardware/software attack vectors, as well as by white hats to help discover and address these vulnerabilities early in the design cycle before the get to market.
The more physical attack research that is done on IoT devices, the safer we all will be.

Speaker Bio:
Nahid-photo
Nahid Farhady Ghalaty is a fourth year PhD. candidate at the Bradley department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Virginia Tech. Her research is mainly focused on physical cryptanalysis, secure embedded systems, new directions in hardware security, specifically fault attacks and side channel attacks and countermeasures. She received her BS degree in software engineering from Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, and her MS degree in computer architecture from Sharif University of Technology. Her MS research was on reliability and fault tolerant embedded system designs. She has been the recepient of the best paper in session award at SRC TECHcon 2015. She has been also the recipient of the best poster and presentation award in the Center for Embedded Systems for Critical Applications (CESCA) at 2014 and 2015. She is the author of several papers in international conferences including DATE, FDTC, HOST, COSADE, etc. She has also served as a reviewer to several conferences and journals including FDTC, DAC, CHES and DATE.

 

 

 

 

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Public Talk: Multiplayer Games in the Cloud

titanfall1

Jon Shiring of Respawn Entertainment is going to be talking about online game servers and system design, as well as what it took to create a popular (scalable) online multiplayer game in the cloud with Titanfall. He will be covering:

  • Client vs datacenter hosted servers, bandwidth, server CPU, and why it matters
  • Cloud vs “bare metal” hosting for games
  • How Titanfall used the Azure cloud and Xbox Live Compute to exclusively power a AAA online game
  • How Respawn’s custom backend allows cloud servers to fluidly scale up and down
  • How Titanfall’s matchmaking works
  • The value of speed in updating an online game
  • Patching a live game with no scheduled downtime
  • How game certification on patches can create worse experiences, and how you can benefit by sidestepping certification

Where: (map) https://goo.gl/pauYMi 

When: 6-8pm

Cost: Free

 

About Jon:
jon_headshot_belgiumAfter graduating from Virginia Tech in 2000, Jon started working in games in 2001. Fairly in-over-his-head, he managed to ship a multiplayer-only game called Savage: The Battle for Newerth in 2003 at S2 Games, and then joined Infinity Ward in 2004. At Infinity Ward he worked almost exclusively on multiplayer and shipped Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and Modern Warfare 2. In 2010, Jon and large group of Infinity Ward employees started Respawn Entertainment, where he is now a Lead Programmer. He shipped Titanfall in 2014 on Xbox One and PC, which used a massive amount of Azure cloud-based servers to host the game servers. He is eager to talk about Titanfall’s online tech and ready to answer your meanest questions as best as he can.

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Racksburg Helps Host International Entrepreneurship Competition

Every year, Racksburg (Rackspace Backsburg) sponsors the Virginia Tech Knowledge Works (incubator/entrepreneurial) Global Challenge and hosts one of the teams. In their words:

vtkw-lunch

(L to R) Adrian Armijos & Richard Condor
(Team LifeBooks), with Rackers Brad Gignac,
Dan Shain and Tweeks

“The Sixth Annual VT KnowledgeWorks Global Partnership Week, August 16-22, 2015, offers student teams and faculty from all over the world a chance to collaborate and initiate their personal global networks through learning, socialization, and friendly competition. During this week-long celebration, 55 international students and faculty members from 13 universities around the world visit the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. Three finalist teams are awarded $45,000 in cash prizes to encourage their entrepreneurial endeavors.”

vtkw-at-rack

Ricky at Adrian, hanging out at Racksburg

This year, the Racksburg office hosted the Ecuadorian team, “Team LifeBook” (Adrian and Richard) refine their pitch for their interactive book/iPad product (see video).

Continue reading

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Racksburg is Getting Girls Interested in Tech – And You Can Too!

One thing I love about Rackspace Blacksburg (aka “Racksburg”) is how we support our local STEM community through both sponsorships as well as Racker volunteerism. But besides sponsoring (and teaching) classes on programming robotics or rocket science, there’s another lesser known need in the STEM community. If you look around most of today’s leading tech companies you’ll notice a pretty significant imbalance of women in tech jobs. Only 18% of today’s Computer Science grads are women (compared to 37% in the 1980s!).[1]  A problem you would think should be getting getting better in the 21st century, not worse.

STEM Diversity Movement Helps The American Tech Sectorblog-series-image
In a day where more and more tech companies are outsourcing critical Dev and Engineering jobs, even pushing congress for more H1B (overseas tech sector) workers — it’s more important than ever that we build up and make use of our own domestic, female, tech work force. A work force that actually helped create the computer industry in the first place back in the 40s.[2] Continue reading

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By Spencer Martin (14yrs old!)
Sponsors: RBTC and Rackspace
RSVP here

In this class, Spencer will take you through the basics of programming the RaspberryPi (2B+), a very popular, credit card sized,  single-board Linux computer system. First we will get our laptops to connect to this tiny computer’s graphical desktop over wireless, then step you through the basics of programming on it in python. After the basics are out of the way, then the fun really begins.  We will show how to attach and blink a LED, then attach and read a temperature probe, then hook up and display the temperature on a dedicated seven-segment LED display hooked to the unit’s GPIO port. If we get all that working, then start doing even cooler things by connecting it to the internet!

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Community STEM Outreach,
“Just Do It!”

BLOG_STEMAll corporations have an impact on the communities in which they exist. Whether this impact is positive or negative, a company’s local impact extends far beyond simply who they employ or their specific product or service. This local impact is more real (and critical) than ever today, especially for tech sector companies.

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Racksburg, The Rackspace Developer Office

Racksburg = Rackspace + Blacksburg.BBurg-kayakingBBurg-Clouds_r

Racksburg is the Rackspace Developer office located next to Virginia Tech campus, nestled in the lush hills of Appalachia in south western Virginia.

In Racksburg, we work hard and play hard. Blacksburg has some of the best work/life balance in the US, as documented in reports like  “Best Place In The US To Raise Kids” (2012) and in the top 10 “Best College Towns to Live In”.  With all the outdoor activities and stellar blue ridge vistas, Blacksburg is not only a really nice place settleBBurg-Devs2_rdown and raise a family, but it is also a technology rich environment where you can regularly reach out with other like minded technologists and cutting edge academia.  Our location literally allows Rackers to live on the side of a mountain and still have a picturesque 10 minute commute time —  that is, unless you prefer just officing from home.  Combine the awesome outdoor living  with a nice low cost of living and thriving local tech community, and you can see why Rackers love the higher quality of life we experience here in “Racksburg”.

For more information on Racksburg Developer, Engineering, Project Management  and other job openings we have here, visit our Blacksburg career page.

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