Embedded Systems Group Project – QuadCopter Initial Project Layout

Initial Project Requirements

Going into this project me and David were adamant that the quadcopter would meet the following requirements:

  • It would perform it’s fundamental task – Fly
  • It would be able to support a heavy payload in respect to it’s actual weight
  • It would be able to perform autonomous flight and navigate around a room
  • It would be controllable by an outside source

So far we’ve been able to spec parts which when put together correctly should provide us with a positive thrust of about 1.9KG after taking the weight of the frame + components off.

I’ve also had some balsa delivered to the house so I’ll be starting on a decent build for the frame as soon as I can find the time. Hopefully the weekend will give me ample time to develop a sturdy enough frame to house the 4 brushless motors and their respective power sources without falling over on itself.

We are taking huge leafs out of the design of this board featured in this video:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/-rxGMPcxf3w” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

If we manage to achieve the same success as the copter in the above video then I reckon we’ll be on track to get a decent mark. But I’ve also got a couple of stretch goals that I’m hoping to achieve should we find this a simple enough task!

 

Group Structure

So basically the group consists of:

  1. David Black
  2. Lucy Crombie
  3. Myself
  4. Sophie McDonald

Initially it was just myself and David but the girls ended up joining us as a group of 2 was deemed to be an insufficient size for the project at hand. Hopefully we’ll be able to hit some of the stretch goals I have in mind with the extra 2 sets of hands.

Deadlines

We’ve got our first deadline on the 29th of October before which we have to submit a project proposal but I’m hoping that by then we will have a few prototypes up and running for things like the RF module and the motor controllers. They should be delivered within the next few days so I’ll definitely have something to build upon and move the project forward.

Site Link:

http://gadget-edge.com

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Episode 4th Year – A New Hope

So today I’ve been caught by a contagion to beat all other contagions and as a result I’ve had to exempt myself from any academic forays into the University and instead struggle on with coursework in the comforts of my own dressing gown.

Having just completed the first week back of my 4th year I thought I’d craft a post dedicated to what my aims are for fourth year are with regards to both academia and outside of academia.

University Aims:

Personal Project

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to create an incredible project that is in with a chance of winning the top project presentation prize.

Embedded Systems Project

I’m hoping that throughout the course of this class me and David Black will be able to create a pretty awesome quadcopter that will blow last years quadcopter out of the window in regards to how it handles, it’s added functionality and the overall aesthetics.

This is going to be a pretty huge project for us and it’ll be incredible if we manage to pull it off to a level that we are hoping to. This could also help me secure a decent grad job at the end of the year as there are quite a few companies that come to the demonstrations to scout potential graduates.

Functional Programming

This looks like it could be a fun, yet challenging class and this will require a lot of on-going work to ensure that I get only the top marks for the coursework and hopefully get as close to 100% in this purely coursework based class as possible.

Non-Academic Aims:

My non-academic aims are a quite tame in comparison to last year as this year I’m going to be almost purely focusing on achieving all my academic aims.

Tutoring

So recently I’ve been trying to contact some of the people that have asked the Computer Science department for help with regards to tutoring and I’ve successfully managed to land one of them as a student. I have to admit this will be a challenge for me as well as for my pupil but I’m hoping that I can pull it off and hopefully land this guy top marks.

It’ll be interesting to see what it’s like to be on the other side of academia, doing the teaching rather than being taught, but I’m hoping I’ll still take several invaluable lessons away from this and come off all the better.

Stocks + Savings

I’ve been saving for quite a while now and all the money I can manage has been thrown into various stocks. My main goal for this is to build this up to over £5,000 and hopefully I’ll start earning some semi-decent annual income from the dividends + growth. If I manage to hit this saving goal then I’m incredibly tempted to buy a rental property and start my venture into property.

 

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Why WebPush is the Most Exciting New Way to Drive Traffic.

Push notifications on your phone are an incredible powerful way to let users of certain sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc… know that they’ve got a new notification and this is an incredibly powerful way to drive these users of Social Media sites back onto them to check what exactly the notification refers too.

hero-safari-push-notification_2xWhat is it?

WebPush is a new concept that will look to effectively transform your one-time visitors into valuable repeat readers and more importantly, it will be able to instantly notify these readers every time you publish a new post.

Now this is incredibly valuable to anyone in the blogging/web publishing industry and it’s quickly becoming one of the best go-to tools for high-profile bloggers to drive traffic to their sites.

Users of your site will be given a one-time pop-up asking them if they’d like to receive push notifications from your site. This will not require any email or input other than a click of the ‘Yes’ button from your users and because of this we’ve already seen much higher rates of conversion when compared to building a mailing list.

The conversion figures are around 15% which is almost 10 times higher than what we’ve seen with mailing lists.

How Can I Get it?

Currently this new technology is only available on the Safari web browser but it’s soon to available on both Chrome and Firefox.

You can visit Apple’s site on it here: Safari Push Notifications

WordPress:

WordPress users are in luck as there is currently a plugin for this sort of thing but it’s still only available for Safari.

Link: Roost Web Push for Safari

The Impact?

Driving traffic to your websites is about to drastically change. This new technology is not only supported by the desktop versions of these browsers but also the mobile versions. Now imagine this: You post a new blog post and instantly a thousand people are notified wherever they are, whatever they are doing. You should already see the sort of power this technology will give to bloggers and the sort of impact it will have on traffic.

This will quickly become one of the best methods for driving traffic to your site and you can guarantee you’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the near future.

m4s0n501

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The ShellShock Bug Explained – What is it and how can you protect yourself?

I first read about this on HN and I was incredibly interested to see exactly how this bug works and what could potentially be done with this bug. So I thought I’d try and research the bug a bit more and try and provide a small breakdown of what it is and how a server admin could protect themselves against it.

What is it?

From my understanding the ShellShock bug is essentially a bug that allows you to remotely execute some seriously damaging pieces of code that could bring down your entire server. This is incredibly bad news for *nix system administrators and anyone running a *nix device based off of the Bash CLI.

The bug has been sitting in these systems for roughly 22 years since the 1.13 version of the Bash shell was released and allows anyone with a POV access to perform a wide range of attacks such as Forkbombs, DDOS attacks and it can even be used to steal passwords and other sensitive data.

The bug is incredibly easy to get past and even an unskilled hacker can have full control over a system by just piecing together the bits of code already on the web. The more experienced hackers managed to exploit this vulnerability in just about an hour after it had been announced so the damage that could have been done already is frightening.

How Dangerous is it?

The new Shellshock vulnerability makes heartbleed look quite harmless as the potential attack surface for Shellshock is incredible. Already we are seeing reports that hackers have been orchestrating botnet attacks using this newfound vulnerability.

The difference between Heartbleed and Shellshock is that the heartbleed bug would try and scan for private keys and then once these were found you could decrpyt any traffic as you would have both keys necessary for decrpytion. This would allow you to retrieve sensitive information such as passwords and bank details but wouldn’t let you do any serious damage to the server that data was sitting on.

The Shellshock vulnerability is a whole different ball game in the sense that it allows you to have almost full control over any system running an unpatched version of Bash. The potential avenues a hacker could then take after gaining access to a server is unlimited and this is raising serious alarms right now to all system admins.

Protecting Yourself:

In order to check if your systems are vulnerable ssh into your servers and paste the following line in:

env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable' bash -c 'echo hello'

If you are able to see the following then your system will be at risk:

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 08.56.13

In order to protect yourself from these threats you should immediately patch Bashe

Ubuntu + Debian Builds:

Use the following command to patch Bash:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install –only-upgrade bash

CentOS, Fedora, Red Hat etc..

yum -y update bash

Once you have performed these commands check again to see if the word ‘vulnerable’ appears and if it doesn’t you should be all clear.

Examples of ShellShock:

These are a few of the examples of Shellshock I’ve been able to find on the web so far:

Examples of Forkbombs, DDOS, Theft of data: StackExchange

A Proof of concept Article: TrustedSec

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Last of the Summer Wine

So it’s been about a week and a half since I’ve gotten back from London and I’ve certainly missed the constant excitement and action that working down there brought me but at the same time I’m glad to be up and to have seen my family and friends again.

Working for Barclays taught me a great many things and it’s incredible how much I feel I’ve grown as a developer. I’m now incredibly excited to see how this will help me in the coming months as I start my 4th and final year of Uni.

Anyway here are some of the photos from the last few days down in London and a couple of holiday photos. More holiday photos will be added once I find the camera!

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Barclays Internship – Half Way Point

So I’ve been down here for just over 5 weeks now and I’m definitely settling in to the busy London life and getting to grips with all the finer details of living independently with no support. It’s been tough but it’s certainly been very rewarding and I’m incredibly excited to see if some of the trials and tribulations will pay off with an offer of a graduate position at the end of my time down here.

This will be quite a short and sweet post of some of the pictures I’ve taken in my last week down here as well as some of the photos from the previous weekend out with my girlfriend.

Hopefully I’ll have updates on some of my more technical projects some time soon.

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Moving to London – What I’ve Learned Over My First 3 Weeks

It’s been almost 3 weeks now since I made the huge jump of moving from my old home town of Glasgow down to London and I’ve definitely learned a lot over the past few weeks and picked up a few skills that will definitely come in handy through the years.

Domestic God – The Evolution

It’s been a huge change of pace for me over the last few weeks as I’ve been learning everything it takes to successfully run your own household and making sure everything runs smoothly so I can concentrate on my internship. During our short time here we’ve had to learn a bit of plumbing due to a blocked kitchen sink as well as a bit of sewing for all the buttons that I keep losing from my shirts and trousers (not because I’ve been eating too much).

I’m going to be honest and say that before I moved down here I had never actually washed my own clothes before. Learning how to do all this has been challenging and I’m now secretly worried my mum will have me doing the washing when I get back up to Glasgow…

The Internship

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The internship has been incredible so far and I’m really enjoying all of the people I’ve met during my time down here as well as the work that my managers have lined up for me. I’ve got a pretty sizeable amount of people I’d now consider my friends down here and it’s been incredible being able to just chill out with them after work for a drink or two. It’s been incredible how easy it’s felt to adjust to the way of life down here, although I am missing a lot of faces from back in Scotland. On the bright side, my girlfriend will be coming down this Thursday for a long weekend down here so I’ll be able to explore the sights and sounds of London with her whilst having a nice wee break from work for a couple of days.

The Work

My working day usually consists of me learning the intricacies of how the banking system works as well as getting to grips with SQL and the huge systems they have in place to support the incredible amount of data and transactions that passes through their systems every day.

From the start I’ve felt like I’ve been thrown in at the deep end due to the fact I knew a very minimal amount of SQL and even less about the current underlying systems supporting the software I’m working on. That’s not to say it hasn’t been fun though, I’ve been incredibly pleased with how far I’ve been able to come over the past few weeks as a developer and learning the ins and outs of what my chosen career path will entail. Although because I’ve had to spend so much time learning the intricacies of a new language, this has meant I’ve not actually been able to contribute the same amount of work that I would have ideally thought I could have. But I was pleased to learn that I can still quite easily attain a 5/5 for all my objectives should I finish the tasks that I’ve been working on in the next 2 weeks and this will put me on track for getting that incredible graduate offer at the end of my time down here.

Extra-Curricular Activities

At Barclays there is an incredible selection of activities that you can take part in outside of work with your new colleagues and I’ve really enjoyed trying to take on as many of these as possible.

JPMorgan Corporate Challenge – 5.6k Battersea Park Race

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This was an incredible event that I was incredibly lucky to take part in and I honestly can’t wait to try and get involved in more of these races both down here and up in Glasgow. The Chase Challenge was basically a 5.6k Race around Battersea park that thousands of people from the corporate world were taking part in.

I had honestly not expected to take part in this at all as me and a few others had tried to sign up for the event a few months prior to the Internship and been told only a select few would get to take part. It wasn’t until the day of the race, approximately 3 hours before it started, that I was told there was a free space and that someone had pulled out.

I wasn’t the fastest there but having had 3 hours race preparation I wasn’t expecting to be. I’d been running the night before and wasn’t fully rested but still managed to run a sub-30 minute 5k which was my quickly set goal.

5/7/11-a-side Football

On top of the running I’ve been doing recently I’ve also managed to work my way into 5, 7 and 11 a side weekly games of football and have already had my first taste of the 5 a side. Work has incredible changing/shower rooms which are brilliant if you are wanting to refrain from smelling like sweaty socks after a game of football.

Overall

It’s been an incredible learning experience so far and it’s almost felt like a holiday staying in a new city and being able to explore every weekend. It’s been incredible working down here and it’s weird that I’m now going into my 4th week as it seems like time is flying by. I’m going to start using this as a base for updating everyone as best I can whilst I’m down here.

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My Goals for 2014

2013 has been an absolutely phenomenal year for me so far and I am incredibly excited about what’s to come in 2014 if the current trend stays the same.

In terms of what I accomplished there isn’t much in the way of definitive achievements which is exactly what I expected of this year. While that may be the case I did happen to learn an absolute tonne of new stuff which will hopefully steer me in good stead for what 2014 should hopefully bring!

So what did I accomplish in 2013:

  • I was awarded a Barclays Summer Internship for 2014
  • Joint winners of the Barclays/ Openminds Hackathon
  • Attained my first clients as a budding freelancer
  • Gained my first hosting clients
  • Moved all my existing sites over to my own dedicated servers and learned the basics of server administration

So what are my goals that I’m looking to achieve in 2014?

  • Firstly I am going to be concentrating on my studies at the start of the year and continuing to grow and develop at the phenomenal rate that I’ve been developing over the last few months.
  • Get my grades up to that of a first and hopefully get on the Dean’s list.
  • Hopefully attain my first 100 web hosting clients and set up my own automated web hosting system
  • See at least 2 big commercial projects through to the ends and market them like there is no tomorrow.
  • Increase the traffic to this site and hopefully start to build a good reputation for myself as a decent web developer
  • Hopefully register my own company name and start building that up
  • Learn Spanish – I’m constantly getting better at it everyday but I’m going to make sure that I see it through until I can talk to my Spanish friends fluently.
  • Enjoy my 21st in style!

So as you can see it’s quite a big list of goals that I’ve set myself for 2014 and I reckon most of them are very doable and if I do achieve most of them then I will be delighted. If I continue to grow at the rate that I’m currently growing and make sure that I keep the growth going then in a years time I’ll hopefully be looking back at these posts and be delighted at the growth.

Anyway Happy Holidays!

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Brilliant Posts That Every Budding Freelancer Should Read!

So with my latest foray into the world of freelance development I’ve been reading up a lot of different articles on how to improve myself as a freelancer and acquire more clients and thus become more successful! Whilst I’ve read a few brilliant articles(and some not so brilliant), I’ve found that what seems to be missing is a list of brilliant articles that I feel every budding freelancer (like myself) should read.

So what I thought I would do because I’m so kind (read: looking to gain exposure) is build an incredible list of posts that I’ve thought have helped me the most and thus the posts that I feel would be most beneficial to other budding freelancers.

So to begin:

Acquiring New Clients

  1. How to Land More Clients With Persuasive Fees
  2. Stop Freelancing
  3. How to guarantee more clients for your freelance business
  4. How to avoid problem clients
  5. Hacking Elance -The Step by Step Guide to How I Made $23,700 in 4 Weeks

General Freelance Articles

  1.  How to become a freelance web developer
  2. 6 Not-So-Obvious Mistakes Freelance Web Developers Make
  3. 10 Resources to Help you become more attractive in the web design community
  4. How to become a successful freelance web developer (and not kill your career)
  5. Making the Leap to Freelancing

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Essential Web Developer Tools

Long gone are the days where you could just throw up a new website and watch the traffic roll in with little to no other work needed. These days generating traffic from the likes of Google and Bing takes a bit of hard graft and elbow grease in order to get your website ranking high up on the search engine rankings.

This list of essential web developer tools will hopefully help make that elbow grease and hard graft that little bit easier. These tools will hopefully help you revolutionise the way you do your work and help you towards success.

Google Analytics

Of course this is going to be at the top of my list. Google analytics is an analytical tool that has become the corner stone of every web developers arsenal thanks to the power that it bestows upon the user! Not to mention the fact that it is, in fact, 100% free and nothing can really get better than that!

Use Google Analytics to analyse how traffic is currently being directed to your websites and use this information to better optimize for these keywords. Discover keywords that you have ranked for and have gained a little bit of traffic from and then optimize your web page or post to try and boost your rankings for that keyword and gain yet more traffic.

Google and Bing Webmaster Tools

Another set of invaluable tools courtesy of our friends Google and Bing! Google and Bing’s Webmaster tools are a great way to see how the two giants see your website and they both allow you to submit sitemaps that help the two search engines index your web pages quicker. This is definitely a great tool if you are just starting a new site and are wanting to get your site visible online as soon as possible.

Another great thing about both of these tools is that they, like Google Analytics are completely free. So you can enjoy the benefits of utilizing such powerful tools without spending a penny!

WordPress

This has got to be one of the best content management systems out when it comes to creating arrays of different websites then using WordPress means that you can get your sites up and running in a matter of minutes. It handles absolutely everything so all you have to do is find a theme or build your own custom theme in order to make your site look individual.

The learning curve for WordPress is minimal as it hides most of the complexities of running a website and handles pretty much everything for you whilst still giving you the option to start working on the more complex side of things at your own pace.

Coupling a WordPress site with a decent SEO plugin can pretty much guarantee you that your on-page SEO performance will be almost as good as it can get! All you would have to worry about after that is making sure the content you put up on your sites is up to scratch and that you constantly keep working on your off-page SEO!

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 WooRank Site Analysis

This is an excellent tool for tightening up your websites performance and can show you numerous areas in which you can improve upon. Site analysis tools are excellent for testing whether everything on your site is in check and WooRank is one of the best free ones on the market right now.

Testing my own blog I was able to see several different things that could be improved upon and I have already taken action against as many of the faults as possible in order to make this blog as fast as possible!woorank

 

Inform.ly

This isn’t exactly a great web developer tool but it’s certainly a great tool that all web developers should know about. This is an incredibly useful tool when it comes to keeping clients updated with monthly reports about how well their site is doing. The reports are generated from all sorts of sources and the cost of using it is roughly $1/month per client. If this makes you seem even a little bit more professional when dealing with clients and it keeps the client that wee bit happier with your services then it is most definitely worth it.

Google Webmaster Help Videos

The collection of Google webmaster videos on Youtube is an incredible resource which all web developer should take a look at if they are wanting their websites to fully comply with Google’s white hat techniques and thus rank highly.

 JsFiddle.com

Javascript is one of the biggest languages in web development and JsFiddle is one of the best simple and free tool to help you with your javascript development. If you haven’t already used it then I would definitely guarantee checking it out.

 WhatFontIs.com

This is an absolutely excellent site for finding out what font is used in images for things like logo images etc. This is perfect if you are looking to find the name of a good looking font for one of your newest projects or maybe even a redesign.

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