A Slice of Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi - single board computer

Raspberry Pi – single board computer

Not a dessert, or a bad math pun, Raspberry Pi is one of many the many single board computers available on the market today. The device was created by the Raspberry Pi Foundation – a UK based charity founded in 2009 and dedicated to promoting the study of basic computer programming in children. Their ideal is to start from the bottom up. If children are given tools to learn to program early on, they spend less time learning basic programming techniques in college and can move on to acquiring skills that will help them efficiently work in the computer industry. To all the CST majors, think of how much easier Java or C++ would be to pick up if you’d at least touched on the subject in grade school.

That’s not to say the Raspberry Pi is limited to just kiddie stuff. While it was developed to work with Scratch, an educational programming language, the Pi is capable of running operating systems including Debian, Arch Linux, and a custom made OS optimized for use with the Raspberry Pi known as ‘Raspbian’. Various programming tools are available from the ‘Pi Store’ with everything from apps and games to development tool. Programmers who can write in Python, C and Perl will feel right at home here.

Despite being the size of a credit card, the Raspberry Pi boasts some decent specs.

Model A Model B
CPU 700 MHz ARM1176JZF-S
GPU 250 MHz Broadcom VideoCore IV
Memory 256 MB 512 MB
USB 2.0 Ports 1 2
Video Input CSI input connector
Video Output Composite RCA, HDMI, DSI
Audio Output 3.5 mm jack, HDMI
Onboard Storage SD / MMC / SDIO
Onboard Network None 10/100 Ethernet adapter
Power Rating 300mA (1.5 W) 700 mA(3.5 W)
Power Source 5 volt (via MicroUSB or GPIO header)
Operating Systems Arch Linux ARM, Debian, Fedora, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Plan 9, Raspbian OS, RISC OS, Slackware Linux, Firefox OS, Android 4.0, Haiku, Unix

* Both cards are 3.4 x 2.2 inches and weigh 1.6 oz.

Raspberry Pi also has a wide range of uses. One such use was creating a homemade, networked, motion sensitive, HD surveillance system. British native Christoph Buenger used a model B Raspberry Pi, a Raspberry Pi camera module, a housing for the camera, a power supply, an SD card and a Wi-Fi USB adapter (around $100 worth of equipment) to create a system just as capable as one that would cost thousands of dollars. The instructions are available here, and video recordings can be stored to a folder on a computer or viewed as a live stream online via computer or mobile device.

Another person made a Halloween project using a variety of items including a model B Pi, cheap rat toys, red LEDs lights, servo controllers, power regulators and solderless breadboards. Known as the ‘Ratsberri Pi’, the project (with instructions that can be found here ) makes creates creepy glowing eyed rodents that move according to programming.

All in all the Raspberry Pi is a gadget with potential limited only by a person’s imagination. We’re a technology college with plenty of students and faculty capable of coming up with some awesome projects. I’m making one of these an early Christmas present for myself, but what can you guys come up with? Let’s see some projects!



Image Source

Caffeine on Campus: A Hidden Danger

Drinks with Caffeine

Drinks with Caffeine

It’s been a few weeks since the semester has started so everyone should have noticed the new vending machines around campus.

We traded up (in my biased opinion) to Pepsi products allowing our vending machines a delicious variety of drinks including Starbucks Frappuccinos, Cherry Pepsi and Amp energy drinks. As a student completely reliant on caffeine, I often find myself visiting vending machines to get an iced coffee, or an amp energy drink – usually without thinking about the consequences of consuming them.  To all the people drink enough coffee to bleed caffeine: you should.


Amp is Pepsi’s attempt to compete with RedBull and Monster and it contains around 160mg of caffeine per can. On a bad day a student can drink

2 or more per day. That’s 320 mg of caffeine. The snack foods that are available on campus like Kit Kat bars and Snickers contain chocolate – another source of chocolate that can add between 8 and 20 additional milligrams per serving. There’s caffeine in the cookies, cakes and yogurts students eat each day as well. That’s quite a bit of caffeine when you consider the normal serving for adults is about 200 mg per day.


For anyone who wants to argue that caffeine gives you much needed energy, you’re absolutely right. A shot of caffeine can give a tired student just the boost they need to get through an exam or a cram session. It can also give you heart palpitations, headaches, anxiety attacks, tremors, seizures, vomiting and increased blood pressure.


That’s not to say people should swear off caffeine – in moderation, caffeine has been proven to have many beneficial effects on health. Regular coffee drinkers have been proven to be up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Caffeine intake can also contribute to reductions in the risk of developing cirrhosis and developing gallstones.


Mark Twain said “Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody “. While I’m pretty sure he was talking about drowning, his wise words can be applied to caffeine intake just the same. When you eat or drink foods that contain caffeine in moderation, it can be greatly beneficial, but overindulging is harmful. Be careful what you eat.


















Image Source:



The New Food on the Block: Orange Leaf

Orange Leaf Logo

Orange Leaf Logo

Earlier this month an Orange Leaf opened up on Adams Street. I stopped in during their grand opening, expecting mediocre, overpriced yogurt and fought my way through the crowds to emerge 20 minutes later with a grin and a new addiction. Food isn’t my usual blog topic, but Orange Leaf and its delectable selection of frozen yogurt has made enough of an impact on my taste buds (and wallet) to warrant a review.

First and foremost, I have to applaud their selection of yogurt. There are 14+ different flavors on tap at any time with seasonal and favorite flavors that rotate out. You can run around, putting one or more random flavors in a cup or you can swirl any two yogurts on the same machine. After (and sometimes even before) you take your pick of yogurts, you can add a wide variety of toppings like cookie dough, raspberries, coconut flakes, walnuts, sprinkles, chocolate sauce and hot caramel. It’s literally impossible to fit everything in the store in one cup.

I recommend the cheesecake yogurt mixed with raspberries, Nilla wafers and lots of caramel sauce. Chocolate lovers will enjoy Orange Leaf’s chocolate cake and brownie flavored yogurts. Their current seasonal flavors include gingerbread, peppermint, eggnog and pumpkin pie – on a side note, the latter two taste great swirled together. Toss in some graham crackers and wet walnuts

Probably one of the most important things I’ll cover in this review – the price. Their yogurt is only 59¢ an ounce. It sounds cheap but it’s really easy to forget about how much food weighs when confronted with a smorgasbord of yogurt, fruit, chocolates and treats. My cups of yogurt have cost me a pretty penny – often costing upwards $10. Orange Leaf is oddly addictive and I’ve shelled out no less than $70 fueling my sudden FroYo craving. Overall Orange Leaf is a welcome addition to ever growing selection of foods surrounding the campus. Somewhat nutritious and completely delicious, I look forward to spending lots of time here in the semesters to come.

Image Credits:Orange Leaf Logo:




Registering for Classes on CUNYFirst

With finals week fast approaching, most of us don’t have time to attend a workshop to figure out the inner workings of the e-sims successor known as CUNYFirst. Since we really don’t have a choice in the matter, here’s a quick tutorial on registering for classes.



First and foremost, you have to have a CUNYFirst account. If you don’t already have one, go to https://home.cunyfirst.cuny.edu/oam/Portal_Login1.html and click First Time Users.

a screenshot of CUNYfirst


From there, fill in the required fields – First name, Last name last 4 of social, etc.

a screenshot of CUNYfirst

From there, follow the instructions on your screen to activate your account.

Once you’re set up with an account, go back to the login page: https://home.cunyfirst.cuny.edu/oam/Portal_Login1.html

Enter your username and password and hit the sign in button.

You’ll land on the home page of CUNYFirst pictured below:

a screenshot of CUNYfirst




Click on the arrow that says ‘Self Service’ to extend the menu and click on ‘Student Center’.

a screenshot of CUNYfirst


The student center is sectioned off into 3 sections main: Academics (which will list the classes you’re enrolled in), Finances (which lists and gives links to financial aid, awards, your account status and loan processing forms), and your personal information (which lists your home address, mailing address, phone number and campus email). On the right side of the page hold information about your academic account like your enrollment appointment, you academic advisor and links to order your transcript, view your degree audit, your FAFSA and your tuition payment plan.

To begin registration, go to the Academics tab and click the green arrow to show the entire section.

a screenshot of CUNYfirst

Click Plan.

NOTE: You can skip planning and go straight to enrollment, but I don’t recommend it. Unlike e-sims, CUNYFirst adds classes to a shopping cart before you can enroll so you will at some point, still have to go through the planning process.

Once you click plan, the My Planner page will come up. Once you’ve selected the courses you plan to take, they will appear on this page. Adding courses to your planner is like making a favorites list. It gives you quick access to information on the courses you need.

a screenshot of CUNYfirst

To add courses to your planner, begin by clicking “Browse Course Catalog”.

a screenshot of CUNYfirst

Courses on this page are sorted alphabetically by department Consult your degree audit via CUNY Portal to figure out which courses you need to take.

a screenshot of CUNYfirst

Click the arrow next to the department to show all the classes available. Then select the classes you want to add to your course planner. You can either add the courses you need for the rest of your degree, or just the ones for the upcoming semester. When you’re done selecting, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Add to Planner”.

a screenshot of CUNYfirst

Next you need to add your courses to your shopping cart. Return to the Self Service page and click plan. Click on the description link of the course you want to take and browse through the available sections to

a screenshot of CUNYfirst

Once you’ve added everything to your course planner, go back to the Self Service page and click enroll.

You will then be asked to select a term. If you’re signing up for summer classes, select summer term and if you’re registering for fall classes, select fall term then click continue.

From here click the green view class sections.

a screenshot of CUNYfirst

Make sure you have the right semester selected before you click the green show sections button. When you find a section that you want to take, click ‘select’ and then ‘next’ and you’ll see a message that says the class has been added to your cart.


a screenshot of CUNYfirst



From the above page, or from the Student Center page, now click enroll.

Select your term and click continue.

Click on the ‘add’ tab underneath enroll and double check the courses and times listed. Once you’re satisfied with your schedule, scroll down and click “Procced to Step 2 of 3”.

a screenshot of CUNYfirst

Confirm that these are the classes and sections that you want and click ‘Finish Enrolling’ and you’re done!

a screenshot of CUNYfirst

5 Addictive and Relaxing Games

As finals week approaches, everyone needs to find something to do to unwind. It’s not my usual tech angle, but here are some relaxing and in some cases, downright addictive games to play.


Candy Crush

candy crush video game logoCandy Crush is a Bejeweled clone with a sweet twist – almost everything in the game has to do with sugary treats. You play this game by matching 3 or more candies of the same type in a row to make them disappear. Matching more than 3 gives you powered up candies. 4 candies in a row give you striped candies that destroy all candies in a row or column. Five or more candies in a row creates a color bomb – a candy bomb that destroys all candies on the board of a specific color. The game currently has about 350 levels but they’re added 15 at a time in groups of ‘episodes’ so it’s unlikely there’ll be an end to this game any time soon. Available to iPad, Android and PC users (usually on Facebook), the time consuming matching of Candy Crush Saga can be played virtually anywhere.



Minecraft logo

With over 20 million copies sold across multiple platforms, Mojang created a winner with Minecraft. Unlike Candy Crush Saga, Minecraft is an open world game, meaning it has no actual goal. Minecraft isn’t the prettiest game out there, but it really doesn’t need to be. The game revolves around harvesting, refining and placing blocks while trying not to get shot by skeletons, eaten by zombies or blown up by creepers. Players are limited in what they can do only by their imagination. The roller coaster video below is a great example.

Top 5 Minecraft Xbox 360 Structures – ROLLERCOASTERS

Minecraft is available on IPhone, Android, Xbox 360 and as of February, UK’s Raspberry Pi.


Subway Surfer

video game logoA popular Temple Run clone by Kiloo Games, Subway Surfer is an endless game about a kid with a can of spray paint running away from a security guard and his dog. In this game, you run between 3 sets of track, dodging cones, signal lights, trees, barricades and parked or moving trains while you collect coins and special items to complete challenges and unlock new characters. The game has some interesting power ups like jetpacks, hover boards and super sneakers though they occasionally do more harm than good. The longer you play, the faster you run making the game less about actual difficulty and more about reaction time – still, it’s extremely addictive and a great way to pass a train ride. Subway Surfer is available for any device running Android or iOS.


Angry Birds

video game Angry Birds logoRovio’s Angry Birds is one of the most popular mobile games ever to be created. With 4 games in the Angry Birds series (Seasons, Rio, Space and Star Wars), a spinoff (Bad Piggies) a slew of Angry Birds merchandise, and a TV series (Angry Birds Toons), it’s more than an understatement to say the series is popular. Angry Birds is a puzzle game where players launch birds across levels of varying difficulty in an attempt to hit green pigs that have stolen their eggs. Different birds have different abilities – blue birds split into 3 smaller (but weaker) birds and yellow birds speed up when tapped. First released on Apple’s iOS, Angry Birds has since been released for Android, Symbian, Window’s Phone, PC, Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360.


Plants vs. Zombies

video game logo“There’s a zombie on the lawn”. No, really. In PopCap’s hit tower defense game, it’s your job to plant a 9 by 5 garden of zombie fighting garden to protect your brains from an interesting array of zombies. Players collect sunlight from random drops or from sunflowers as energy to power plants with different abilities that can range from standard peashooters (the name speaks for itself) to ‘Gloom-shrooms’ (useful mushrooms that shoot bubbles in every direction around them).The strategy of this game is in figuring out which plants are most effective against which types of zombies and in what layout. Certain plants don’t do well on the front lines, but work great as support. Plants vs. zombies is another game it’s easy to get lost in. A game of endless mode can last anywhere between 5 minutes and 5 hours so anyone short on time beware. Plants vs. Zombies is available for almost everything including Nintendo DS, PS Vita, and Blackberry.



Image Credits:

  • http://www.techpaparazzi.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/mobile-games-developers.jpg
  • https://lh3.ggpht.com/GAhK6Zy7LzhanD-naSrPYAXwYr21fmlZoHicZZSBtTtWmawNmZcv0Xa8Zq1vkKRzdOk=w124
  • https://lh3.ggpht.com/wnJIWJ7KlHhOR2rnu3BhZMZ90YdulOLNiNg6DEXlBQPgf7S9ddJ5-E97HGsXapMapvI=w124
  • https://lh5.ggpht.com/yRUw11DbeZ-XgJG-a1lBViQxH7UjwBsy8QhH0ur9VejpLZK6tNLLarpuRqestCiB6W4=w78-h78
  • https://lh3.ggpht.com/rjvMzwpRBmsufrA0MEmHkwu4iGOj0hO1qgQo8h2IHbWGDcOBmozRk0FUs-bbxg9_6fs=w78-h78
  • https://lh4.ggpht.com/NVIvvxvyL9uXZBop_DpmcqEcJ5JDd2BbVKQVrMxSlhdoSGDMO4EefJNKBmE2vsAqdTc=w124


Worms on Campus: What’s In Your Pocket?

a worm morphing into a USB cable, slithering toward an apple

Earlier this week, various computer lab classrooms on the 4th, 6th and 9th floors were infected with a worm called W32.Downadup (more commonly known as Conficker), so anyone who plugged into a computer anywhere should scan any device they plugged in (be it USB or mobile phone) as well as any computers they may have connected them to afterwards. In short,anyone who has used a campus computer should get their devices checked out as soon as possible. If you think that just having an Antivirus on your computer will keep you from possible infection, think again. This particular worm is very easy to spread, especially by USB and almost everyone on campus has one.


Inconvenient? Yes. Irriscreenshot of "AutoPlay"tating? Very, but this worm wouldn’t deal nearly as much damage if it weren’t so easy to spread. On an infected computer, Conficker will copy itself into an infected computer the second the AutoPlay program runs. More specifically, Conficker will create a ‘.inf’ (short for Setup Information File) on any USB device connected to an infected computer. Generally, inf files are text files used by Windows to install software in drivers – in this case, used to install the worm on new computers. The Auto Play setting can be disabled on a computer, but that’s a moot point if a user opens the infected USB anyway.

Another method used and abused by this worm is social engineering. Students in the computer systems major probably already know this, but social engineering can include anything from calling a person and pretending to be an IT worker to get a password to a developer making an application to manipulate people into giving them their banking information. In the event a computer isn’t infected though Auto Play, Conficker can disguise an executable file as a folder by changing the icon to look like a folder, leading users to unknowingly infect their computers.

What’s the Risk?

There are multiple versions of this worm floating around the net and nearly all of them make it difficult for infected computers to detect and/or remove them. Most version of Conficker disable Windows update and blocks users from visiting anti-malware sites but nastier versions take it a step further, disabling safe mode and killing any anti-virus, patch or diagnostic processes it comes across it. While most symptoms of the Conficker worm only affect the computer, the defining issue for students is this worm’s ability to corrupt flash drives. That project you’ve been working on all semester? Gone. It can’t be stressed enough. Back up your work.

Symptoms of Infection

Symptoms can include slow internet, forced redirection to ‘not safe for work’ sites, disabled folder options (unable to view hidden folders), and potential damage to USB drives. While most symptoms of the Conficker worm only affect the computer and whatever network it’s on, the defining issue for students is this worm’s ability to corrupt flash drives. Students have reported missing files and folders, new files that they didn’t add and occasionally a completely corrupted flash drive.

While it’s unknown whether or not the school at large has been infected, it should be common practice for anyone using portable storage devices to routinely check for viruses and malicious programs. So for the people to stick their drive in the nearest computer without taking any security precautions, the question remains, what are you carrying?


  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conficker
  • http://www.usbvirus.com/usb_virus/remove-usb-worm-virus.html
  • http://www.symantec.com/security_response/writeup.jsp?docid=2008-112203-2408-99&tabid=2
  • http://www.symantec.com/connect/blogs/autoplay-worms
  • http://www.f-secure.com/v-descs/worm_w32_autorun.shtml

Image Sources:

  • http://canerator.deviantart.com/art/USB-virus-139656994
  • http://www.zdnet.fr/i/edit/ne/2009/04/autorun-windows7.jpg

Avoiding the Mobile Bull’s Eye: Keeping Your Smartphone Safe

an array of smartphones


According to an infographic published by Go-Gulf.com in 2012, there are over 91.4 million smartphones in the US and that number is expected to balloon up to 252 million by 2016. Smartphones, being the plethora of personal information that they are, have managed to become sizeable targets for computer hackers, becoming more and more attractive as targets as smartphones and their applications become more and more integrated in your everyday life. So how does the average user (with Facebook, banking apps, email and all) protect their information?

Why you shouldn’t jailbreak your iPhone

Questionably legal but generally convenient, jailbreaking your phone allows you to do many things, including accessing apps that aren’t allowed on the Apple or Google marketplaces, uninstalling bloatware (the useless irremovable software that comes pre-installed on your phone) and illegally swapping that $800 phone to a the carrier with the cheapest prices. While those are all tempting reasons to jailbreak a phone, the cons far outweigh the pros. The third party apps available to jailbroken phones do not have to measure up to the same standards as app store or market place applications. A great example is the Australian born ikee worm that infected jailbroken phones that had a Secure Shell(SSH) app installed. While harmless, it would replace your phone background with a picture of Rick Astley but the fact that it could change anything on a phone at all made it a huge security risk. Another issue with jailbreaking your phone was the risk of ‘bricking’ it – meaning that somewhere in the process of tampering with your phone, you corrupted its firmware making the phone unresponsive to touch or button presses. While there is a chance a phone can be fixed, if it can’t be unbricked, you’ll have to shell out for a new one. Last but not least is the all-important warranty issue. If you tamper with your phone it voids your warranty. End of story.


Reading is fundamental. Really.

When you download an app on an android phone you’re given a list of all the permissions that application will need to use after it’s installed. Those permissions can include tracking your location via GPS, reading your phones contact data, editing your personal information (calendar data, etc.) and sending text messages on your behalf. Generally speaking, if an application is asking permission to use thing it shouldn’t require to function properly, you shouldn’t download it. While it’s true that many non-malicious apps ask for extra permissions, there are – an alarming number are. Trend Micro a reputable internet security company made an early claim that there would be at least a million cases of malware in android apps in 2013 and then backed it up by scanning 2 million apps. 1 in 10 of 2 million scanned apps were suspected to be malware.

Permission related threats to android phones.

Permission related threats to android phones.

Add an Antivirus

Hands down, Android phones are the most vulnerable phones on the market. With so many versions of the operating system out, it is difficult to issue patches for security vulnerabilities that pop up and that leaves the job of protecting the phone from viruses to good antivirus software. For the android users: some good apps to look into are AVG Antivirus, Lookout Security, Norton Security Antivirus and Antivirus and Mobile Security by TRUSTGO INC. Non-jailbroken iPhones don’t have to worry about antivirus software as the few loopholes in iOS are fixed quickly and efficiently when found.




Registering your devices on Tech’s WiFi

“EDIT (4/6/2017): We are excited to learn that many City Tech students found this post useful! For current directions on signing into City Tech WiFi please see these new directions

Droid users rejoice!

For semesters students have been complaining about the lack of Wi-Fi support for Android powered devices – left out in the cold in favor of Apple products. iPhone and iPad users have been able to connect to the internet by downloading the Bradford Mobile Agent App off the Apple  App store Spring 2012,  however recent improvements have allowed the school’s network to finally support Android devices. Granted, Droid enthusiasts will have to register each device with Computing Information Services by heading down to the Student Welcome center and giving them the device’s MAC address, but that’s relatively simple considering how difficult it can be to get a PC or Mac authenticated for use on the net.

So, just so everyone knows what to do:

For Android Users:

*Note: You will have to do this once every semester

  1. Turn on your Android device.
  2. Connect to the ‘NYCCT’ wireless network. The password is “NewYorkCityCollegeOfTechnology”.
  3. Go down to the help desk located in the Student Welcome Center (1st floor Atrium) and give them the MAC address of the device you want registered and your college email.
  4. Within 2 days, your device will be approved for internet access.


For PC/MAC Book Users:

*Note: For this to work you must have an updated antivirus program and your operating system must be up to date with security patches.

Note 2: You must do this EVERY time you want to connect to the campus Wi-Fi.

  1. Connect to the ‘NYCCT’ wireless network. The password is “NewYorkCityCollegeOfTechnology”.
  2. Open your browser and go to:
  3. Enter in your username and password and hit download
    1. Username: Firsname.Lastname@mail.citytech.cuny.edu
    2. Password: Birth-date (MMDDYY) + last 4 of your SSN
    3. The Bradford Dissolvable Agent will be downloaded to you computer. Open the file and click run.
    4. It’ll take a little while and you may have to do all this more than once, but once the program is successful, you’ll have internet.


For iPad/iPod Users:

Note 2: You must do this EVERY time you want to connect to the campus Wi-Fi.

  1. Download the Bradford Mobile Agent App from the Apple store.
  2. Connect to the ‘NYCCT’ wireless network. The password is “NewYorkCityCollegeOfTechnology”.


Happy Web Surfing!