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Behind The Scenes of Robert Scoble’s Tour of Blacksburg Tech Companies

Our regional tech community was honored to recently have internet blogger and technology futurist Robert Scoble come to town. While here he gave a “Beyond Mobile” technology talk for the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council and toured several of our region’s many technology success stories – or success stories in the making.
Aeroprobe Logo-01

First up in our technology tour was Aeroprobe, the well established aeronautical instrumentation and materials research lab located in the Falling Branch Corporate Park in Christiansburg. The company CEO Nanci Hardwick was our host and showed us the two hot areas of technical innovation that her company invented:

Aeroprobe_omniprobe0

  • Unique air flow measurement instrumentation for aerospace, automotive, and other airflow test industries
  • 3D deposition metal printing (using Additive Friction Stir Deposition technology)

IMG_20160125_101237_404_cAeroprobe is already well known in the industry for their cutting edge aerospace and innovative  air speed and turbulence detection probes, however their new innovative 3D additive metal printing technology yields almost all the advantages of caste and milled metal parts without all the time and expense of tooling parts out of block stock materials. Additionally, their technology can now also print very large custom parts that previously would have been unfeasible or impossible.  These advantages not only bring together a huge savings in time, costs and a new level of custom parts flexibility, but also introduces new areas of mixed metals research that could not even be explored until now. Continue reading

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Using the Cloud Office Control Panel API from PowerShell — 2016 Edition

PowerShell CloudIn a post from last year, Steven Swenson explained how to use the Invoke-RestMethod cmdlet in PowerShell to query the Cloud Office REST API.

Since that time, I published Invoke-RsCloudOfficeRequest, a PowerShell module that takes all the work out of interacting with the Rackspace Cloud Office REST API.  It handles:

  • Passing the authentication header
  • Encoding PowerShell input into the expected body format
  • Parsing error responses into a meaningful format
  • Unpaginating paged responses
  • Storing API credentials so you don’t have to type them in every time (Optional)

But enough talk, let’s learn how to use it. Continue reading

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RBTC and Rackspace Present Robert Scoble, “Beyond Mobile” Talk, Jan 25th

scoble_BW

Talk Summary:

Over the next decade we will look at our smartphone screens less and less as we use things like Magic Leap more and more. Augmented Reality is coming. Virtual Reality will take entertainment minutes away. Even if you use your mobile phone’s screen to watch a virtual reality event, it will be quite a different experience than staring down at a mobile phone in your hands.

Plus, you will look at, and interact with your world quite differently thanks to beacons, Internet of Things, new kinds of sensors and artificial intelligence systems to fuse data, analyze it, and present it in new ways.

Think this is science fiction? I’ll bring you a number of companies that are bringing futuristic technologies to you today, including in airports, football stadiums, and shopping malls.

We will talk about how cloud is everywhere in this new world and the trends that are soon to be hitting us, whether in self driving cars or augmented reality glasses, and how our businesses need to prepare now.

Continue reading

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titanfall1Last month Jon Shiring of Respawn Entertainment gave a Public Tech Talk 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. Among the topics he covered:

  • 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

Please enjoy this video replay of the event and stay tuned to the Racksburg blog for news of upcoming events!

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Choosing an HTTP Status Code — Stop Making It Hard

What could be simpler than returning HTTP status codes? Did the page render? Great, return 200. Does the page not exist? That’s a 404. Do I want to redirect the user to another page? 302, or maybe 301.

Life is bliss, well… until someone tells you you’re not doing this REST thing. Next thing you know, you can’t sleep at night because you need to know if your new resource returns the RFC-compliant, Roy-Fielding-approved status code. Is it just a 200 here? Or should it really be a 204 No Content? No, definitely a 202 Accepted… or is that a 201 Created?

What complicates matters is that the official HTTP/1.1 guidelines — the RFC — was originally written in 1997. That’s the year you went surfing the cyberweb in Netscape Navigator on your 33.6kbps modem. It’s a little like trying to apply Sun Tzu’s Art of War to modern business strategy. Timeless advice, to be sure, but I haven’t yet figured out how The Five Ways to Attack With Fire are going to help me do market validation. Continue reading

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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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