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Heston, we have a potato.

Raspberry Pi -

Heston Blumenthal’s production team got in touch last year to talk to us about an idea they’d had for his new series, the first episode of which was going to be based around pies. Given that we are a well-known British manufacturer of something that sounds a lot like pie, they thought we might like to get involved; we had a chat about what they might be able to do with a Raspberry Pi, and after having discounted sous-vide cooking as being insufficiently visual, we put them in touch with someone I thought might be able to help do something that’d look spectacular on TV.

The Pie episode of Heston’s Great British Food aired two weeks ago on the UK’s Channel 4, and we did manage to get a Raspberry Pi on it; sadly, you didn’t see it or hear it mentioned, but you did get to see what it was doing. Namely, this:

Slightly shonky photo a result of taking snaps of the TV with my phone.

I’ll let our friend Dave Akerman, high-altitude balloon record holder and immoderately scary driver, explain what was going on. You can read this post where it was first published, and learn much, much more about high-altitude ballooning with the Raspberry Pi and how to get started yourself, at Dave’s website.

This fun project started with a call from a TV production company who were working on a series for Heston Blumenthal. They’d heard that I fly the Raspberry Pi and wanted to include it in their Pie episode. The idea was to fly a potato as that was the first vegetable to be grown in space.

Fast forward a few weeks, we had the challenge of finding a day that had good wind predictions and good weather, and would fit in with the filming schedule and Heston’s diary. Not easy, as you can imagine. However we did find such a day, with Heston available throughout, and I prepared a payload to fly. That needed to contain 3 GoPro cameras, including one looking down and one out sideways, plus a Raspberry Pi to send telemetry and live images from the flight:


On top of this I placed some foam blocks to hold everything in place, then a further camera to record the balloon burst:


On launch day, the first to arrive was Jon who’d made this wonderful retro-styled rocket, piloted by a King Edward with a familiar face:


We worked together to mount his rocket to my payload, using a shaped piece of balsa wood fixed to the underside of each:


With the main payload finished, plus a spare back tracker, we waited for everyone else to arrive. Julie served bacon butties to all. Heston was a bit late, and his bacon was sad and solid by then, but he still ate it :-). Here he is posing next to my BaCoN shirt 


… and with Julie …


After this it was time to go and launch. The film crew were very unobtrusive so I found it easy to just get on with the launch, chatting with Heston and explaining how it all works.


There was little wind so the launch was easy. After feeding up the balloon and payload …


… I just stood back to let Heston do that to camera:


Next job of course was to chase the flight. The prediction had it going from Berkshire to Essex, so there would be little chance of getting there before it landed even without a film crew so slow things down!

We saw some great images throughout the flight from the SSDV system, and had good telemetry also. Here’s an image (from a GoPro) during the flight:


When we got to the area, some time after the flight landed, we got a very strong signal from near the road, and my direction-finder swung round rapidly as we passed the landing spot. Someone in one of the other chase cars saw it in a field as we passed! We then stopped to check maps and find the easiest way to get close to the payload. It was then a short drive to get to the field, where we donned wellies and made our way to the potato before it took root!


Heston had gotten more and more attached to the potato during the day, and he genuinely seemed unwilling to mash the thing up by the time it was recovered!

This was all back in October 2013, and the show didn’t go out until May 2014! If you missed it, watch for repeats on Channel 4 or 4Seven, or watch it on 4oD.

Here’s the flight video from the show:

And here’s Heston talking about the potato on Alan Carr’s Chatty Man.

Secret Service staff left White House to attend to director’s friend

RT -

The former director, Mark Sullivan, was reportedly concerned his friend, Lisa Chopey, who is also his assistant, was being hassled by a neighbor. Instead of guarding the White House, secret service officials were diverted almost an hour away from Washington to La Plata, Maryland, to check on Chopey’s wellbeing in an assignment known as ‘Operation Moonlight,’ the Washington Post reports.

However, agents almost immediately began to question the validity of the operation, believing it to be a potentially illegal use of government resources, as well as putting the safety of President Barack Obama at risk. Two agents were sent twice a day to monitor Chopey, beginning June 30, 2011, instead of carrying out their usual task of patrolling the White House grounds and responding to reported problems.

On the first day of the operation, the unit called out to keep watch on Sullivan’s friend should have been patrolling the southern grounds, but were told to leave minutes before President Barack Obama was about to leave the White House by helicopter – a particularly sensitive security moment for the Secret Service.

The agents involved were concerned enough to keep records of their movements as well as their superiors’ instructions, while some of them also contacted the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security.

In a statement, Secret Service director Julia Pierson said her agency and the inspector general's office were committed to completing a full investigation into the allegations.

"Director Pierson will ensure the Secret Service responds to any findings from this investigation and implements any recommendations or corrective actions identified by the DHS OIG as appropriate," the statement said.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirmed an "investigative" vehicle was sent to check on the physical safety of Chopey, an employee, but said that only occurred on the July 4 weekend in 2011.

"These checks were conducted over a holiday weekend and ended once the employee was able to contact the local court once it reopened," Donovan said in a statement, noting that President Obama and his family were at Camp David in Maryland at the time.

Sullivan is no longer working with the secret service, having left his position 10 months ago after members of the security team designated to protect the president hired prostitutes ahead of Obama’s visit to Colombia.

However, the former director said that he did not personally order the checks on his assistant’s home, which was approved by a superior.

“The US Secret Service always has taken seriously threats made against employees and responds as appropriate,” Sullivan said in a statement through a spokesman. “In this case, the employee followed protocol in reporting concerns about her safety to a supervisor who took action consistent with the seriousness of the situation. I was informed later of those actions.”

Security has been increased during Obama’s presidency, due to concerns that he may face racially-motivated attacks as the US’s first black president.

In November 2011, just five months after ‘Operation Moonlight’ was authorized, a man who said that Obama need to be stopped fired shots from a road overlooking the White House, which hit the wall of the building.

Last week, two people were charged after allegedly throwing objects over the fence in front of the White House. The Secret Service said that one man was believed to have thrown a cassette tape over the fence on the north side, while in a second incident a man threw papers over the fence on the south side of the building.

On May 6, the White House suffered another security breach and was briefly put into lockdown after a car managed to get into a restricted area of Pennsylvania Avenue. The street was closed down in the early evening after a Honda sedan trailed a motorcade that was taking Obama’s daughters to the White House.

The car was stopped outside the northwest gate of the White House and the driver, Matthew Evan Goldstein, had a pass to get into the Treasury Department, which is next to the presidential residence. He was arrested for entering a restricted area.

Leaked Screenshots Suggest New Gmail Interface Coming Soon

The Hacker News -

Google is reportedly testing out some new UI changes for its popular email service, Gmail on the desktop browser that would redesign your inbox in totally different Interface. So, the traditional Gmail we all know may soon get a new makeover and we hope users will definitely love it. Google has invited a selected team of users to test a completely new user friendly interface for the

Fake Digital Certificates Found in the Wild While Observing Facebook SSL Connections

The Hacker News -

Visiting a website certified with an SSL certificate doesn’t mean that the website is not bogus. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protect the web users in two ways, it uses public key encryption to encrypt sensitive information between a user’s computer and a website, such as usernames, passwords, or credit card numbers and also verify the identity of websites. Today hackers and cyber criminals

The Perfect Server - OpenSUSE 13.1 x86_64 (Apache2, MySQL, PHP, Postfix, Dovecot and ISPConfig 3)

HowtoForge - Linux Howtos and Tutorials -

The Perfect Server - OpenSUSE 13.1 x86_64 (Apache2, Dovecot, ISPConfig 3)

This is a detailed description about how to set up an OpenSUSE 13.1 64bit (x86_64) server that offers all services needed by ISPs and hosters: Apache web server (SSL-capable) with PHP, CGI and SSI support, Postfix mail server with SMTP-AUTH, TLS and virtual mail users, BIND DNS server, Pureftpd FTP server, MySQL server, Dovecot POP3/IMAP, Quota, Firewall, Mailman, etc. Since version 3.0.4, ISPConfig comes with full support for the nginx web server in addition to Apache; this tutorial covers the setup of a server that uses Apache, not nginx.


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