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WILL THE RASPBERRY PI SPARKA PROGRAMMING REVOLUTION?


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he Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into any TV plus a keyboard which the makers – a Cambridge-based charity – want to see “being used by kids all over the world to learn programming”. The idea for a tiny and cheap computer for kids came in 2006, when Eben Upton and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory, became concerned about the year- on-year decline in the numbers and skills levels of the A Level students applying to read Computer Science. “From a situation in the 1990s where most of the kids applying were coming to interview as experienced hobbyist programmers, the landscape in the 2000s was very different; a typical applicant might only have done a little web design,” he commented.


The Cambridge colleagues observed that something had changed the way that kids were interacting with computers. A number of problems were identified: the colonisation of the ICT curriculum with lessons on using Word and Excel, or writing webpages; the end of the dot-com boom; and the rise of the home PC and games console to replace the Amigas, BBC Micros, Spectrum ZX and


Commodore 64 machines that people of an earlier generation learned to program on.


The makers describe the Raspberry Pi as “a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high- definition video.”


QA Systems buys Cantata++ business from IPL


the Testing Products Business Unit from UK IT services company IPL, thereby launching QA Systems Ltd. IPL’s Testing Products Business Unit, based in its head offices in Bath, was responsible for the development and worldwide partner network that distributed the C/C++ and Ada embedded systems unit and integration testing tools Cantata++ and AdaTEST.


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Having seen an increasing demand for testing products for business and safety-critical components and embedded systems, QA Systems says it saw an opportunity to combine IPL’s dynamic testing tools with its current portfolio of requirements engineering and static testing tools. In order to do so freely and determine the direction of research and development activities, QA Systems has purchased the entire Testing Products Business Unit from IPL and set up QA Systems as a result – an independent UK-based company with a global remit predominantly targeting the aerospace, defence, automotive, engineering and healthcare sectors. Andreas Sczepansky, CEO and president of QA Systems, comments, “A historical focus on static testing has limited our market reach. However,


TEST | April 2012


A Systems GmbH, a Stuttgart-based provider of software development solutions, says it has purchased


having seen the market potential of IPL’s dynamic testing software products, we were keen to be able to combine these product lines with our own so that we could go to market with an all- encompassing proposition. In order to maintain control over the ongoing development so that it would suit our needs and ambitions, we decided that the most practical option would be to offer to purchase the business unit from IPL and establish a new UK-based company from the existing resource.”


The employees, intellectual property and assets previously held within IPL’s Testing Products Business Unit are being transferred to the newly-established QA Systems Ltd, which will also be based in Bath. All existing customers of AdaTEST and Cantata++ products will continue to be supported by the new entity and will benefit from the greater resources of the overall QA Systems group. Existing partners already reselling the two product lines will also continue to be supported by QA Systems Ltd. Indeed, as part of its global strategy, QA Systems Ltd. is actively seeking out further additional partners to assist in territorial and vertical market reach.


As for the OS and programming language:


“We’ll be using Fedora as our recommended distribution. It’s straightforward to replace the root partition on the SD card with another ARM Linux distro if you want to use something else. The OS is stored on the SD card. By default, we’ll be supporting Python as the educational language. Any language which will compile for ARMv6 can be used with the Raspberry Pi, though; so you’re not limited to using Python.”


Computing at School is writing the user guide and programming manual, but others are already seeing the potential of the Raspberry Pi. “We’re aware of a few books being planned and written around the Raspberry Pi,” says the maker, “and others have already started to produce some excellent tutorials including video. We’re also working with partners to use it as a teaching platform for other subjects, including languages, maths and so on. Once we launch, we hope that the community will help bodies like Computing at School put together teaching material such as lesson plans and resources and push this into schools. In due course, the foundation hopes to provide a system of prizes to give young people something to work towards.”


Finland has the cleanest computers in the world


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tatistics recently published by forensics malware tools vendor Norman ASA show that Finland is the safest country in the world in terms of malware infections. The statistics are also backed up by a Microsoft regional threat assessment report from last year, as reported by MSNBC. According to the report, in general, Finland is thought to be ‘mostly harmless’ in terms of cyber security: thanks to a collaboration between security community, CERT-FIs and Finnish ISPs, there are relatively few attacks originating in Finland. CERT-FI and other similar actors handle vast volumes of incident report data information with AbuseHelper. Codenomicon has expanded the toolset to Abuse Situation Awareness, gaining fully automated sharing of actionable incident data and situational awareness over malicious activity. As a long-standing homeland for internationally acclaimed security companies, Finland has a strong cyber security culture which shows in the recent studies. Cyber threats are taken seriously, which has resulted in R&D efforts to create better security. This has ultimately led to the creation of many international companies working with cyber security software.


www.testmagazine.co.uk


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