Geeks meet in Luxembourg for Pi and More 4

Onion Pi

In the next lecture, members of the Luxembourg Chaos Computer Club [7] (CCC) discussed recent revelations on the NSA's spying activities. The members advised that an Onion Pi router allows the user to cloak surfing activities. Because of time constraints, they were not able to provide installation instructions. Instead, they directed interested listeners to the CCC booth that the club had set up at the conference (Figure 4). There, club members were available to provide more information about Onion Pi configurations.

Figure 4: The booth of the Chaos Computer Club of Luxembourg.

The presentation included general information about Tor, as well as some of the speakers' experiences in operating Tor servers. As a follow-up, the speakers informed the audience about a non-profit organization they had founded, which operates Tor servers in six countries. The organization is named "Frënn vun der Ënn" [8] or "Friends of the Onion" – a word play on the so-called onion routing system used by Tor.

In the meantime, the organization is working with a lawyer regarding running Tor exit nodes. The speakers reported that having the input of an attorney makes it easier to deal with complaints that arise from a lack of understanding about the principle of anonymization in onion routing. Additionally, the lawyer provides the members with much needed legal assistance when dealing with requests for divulging the IP addresses of particular Tor users.

The speakers explained their observations that far fewer inconveniences arise in renting servers for Tor exit nodes when a non-profit organization is the renting party compared with when a private individual attempts to rent the servers. They indicated that an active and involved individual can easily come to the attention of officials even if there is no good cause. The Friends of the Onion finance their activities with membership fees, crowdfunding, contributions, and sponsors.

Retro Gaming

Shortly before the last presentation, several of the original Pi and More founders briefly provided information about a non-profit organization they had formed just a few days before the event. This organization is called "CMD – Computer, Menschen, Dinge" (Computers, People, Things) and will provide support for organizing events like Jams in the future. (See also the "Behind the Scenes" box.)

Behind the Scenes

At the event, François-Xavier Flotterer and Kijamet Kenan, who are representatives of the organizing team, explained how the Germany/Luxembourg cooperation had begun.

Several members of CEST [10], the student body that represents the technology department at the University of Luxembourg, wanted to put on a local Jam event, but because the country is so small, the students doubted they would be able to find enough speakers and participants to make holding a conference worthwhile. Thus, they sought to connect with like-minded people with experience organizing Rasp Pi Jams. The students found some of these people in the German border city of Trier, which is only about 35 miles away from their university.

Their Trier neighbors were willing to make the name and homepage of Pi and More available to the students. They also organized a number of the presentations and workshops for the Jam and arranged for a shuttle bus to run from the German side of the border between the two countries to the conference location in Luxemburg. Because of the international makeup of the participants, all of the presentations were given in English.

The hosts in Luxembourg expended considerable effort in creating a good environment for the Jam. For example, participants uninitiated in the use of Rasp Pis were given the opportunity to purchase a breadboard and a selection of electronic components right at the conference location. Additionally, the organizers arranged for the newer Raspberry Pi Model B to be offered for sale for about EUR 30 (~US$ 40).

According to the representatives, participants in the Jam were mainly from Germany and Luxembourg. In the future, they say that CEST would like to attract more participants from France. They hope a convenient border location would create a good opportunity for people from three countries to get together and exchange ideas.

Then, the last speaker took the podium and explained his experiences in putting together the best possible retro-gaming environment with the help of a Raspberry Pi. He said that function, feel, and appearance are the three main factors common to all successful environments.

The notion behind the term "function" is that the simulation must run fast enough to provide a satisfying experience. To guarantee this kind of speed, the emulators must use the SDL libraries instead of those from OpenGL, because then the Pi can use the hardware acceleration of the GPU. This setup can be configured by hand or more easily by using a prepared image like RetroPie [9].

With regard to the "feel" factor, the speaker talked about using the most authentic game pads possible. The "appearance" factor comes up when choosing a housing for the game. The presenter pointed out that some vendors offer copies of housings that were used for classic video arcade games. However, given the "do it yourself" mentality behind the Rasp Pi, users may prefer to concoct their own retro housing. At the end of the presentation, several different emulators running on the Pi were demonstrated.

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