Raspberry Pi Blog

This is the official Raspberry Pi blog for news and updates from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, education initiatives, community projects and more!

Alex’s Festive Baubles

I made a thing. And because I love you all, I’m going to share the thing with you. Thing? Things! I’m going to share the things. Here you go: baubles!

Raspberry Pi and Code Club Christmas Decorations

These 3D-printable Raspberry Pi and Code Club decorations are the perfect addition to any Christmas tree this year. And if you don’t have a tree, they’re the perfect non-festive addition to life in general. There’s really no reason to say no.

The .stl files you’ll need to make the baubles are available via MyMiniFactory (Raspberry Pi/Code Club) and Thingiverse (Raspberry Pi/Code Club). They’re published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 license. This means that you can make a pile of decorations for your tree and for your friends, though we do have to ask you not to change the designs, as the logos they’re based on are our trademarks.

Here’s a video of the prototype printout being made. If you can help it, try not to use a brim on your print. Brims, though helpful, are a nightmare to remove from the fiddly Pi logo.

Enjoy.

3D Printed Raspberry Pi Logo

Print time: 20 mins. Printer: Ultimaker 2+ Material: ABS With thanks to Makespace for use of the 3D printer: http://makespace.org/ and Safakash for the music: https://soundcloud.com/safakash

 

 

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Announcing our new online training series

At the end of this week, with our final Picademy of 2016 taking place in Texas, we will have trained over 540 educators in the US and the UK this year, something of which we’re immensely proud. Our free face-to-face training has proved hugely popular: on average, we receive three eligible applications for each available place! However, this model of delivery is not without its limitations: after seeing our Picademy attendees getting excited on Twitter, we often get questions like: “Why haven’t you run a Picademy near me yet? When are you coming to train us?”

Cartoon: an apparently clothes-less man sits at a desk with a keyboard, monitor and Raspberry Pi, on a tiny sandy island surrounded by blue sea. A stick figure wearing a Pi T-shirt waits under a palm tree beside him to be taught about computing using Raspberry Pi. A shark repeatedly circles their island.

We grew frustrated at having to tell people that we didn’t have plans to provide Picademy in their region in the foreseeable future, so we decided to find a way to reach educators around the world with a more accessible training format.

We’re delighted to announce a new way for people to learn about digital making from Raspberry Pi: two free online CPD training courses, available anywhere in the world. The courses will run alongside our face-to-face training offerings (Picademy, Skycademy, and Code Club Teacher Training), and are facilitated by FutureLearn, a leading platform for online educational training. This new free training supports our commitment to President Obama’s Computer Science For All initiative, and we’re particularly pleased to be able to announce it just as Computer Science Education Week is getting underway. Here’s the lowdown on what you can expect:

Course 1: Teaching Physical Computing with Raspberry Pi and Python

In the foreground, a Raspberry Pi computer with a small "traffic lights" board attached; it has red, yellow and green LEDs, and the yellow one is lit. In the background, various electronics components, a mouse and a keyboard.

This four-week course will introduce you to physical computing, showing you how easy it is to create a system that responds to and controls the physical world, using computer programs running on the Raspberry Pi. You’ll apply your new-found knowledge to a series of challenges, including controlling an LED with Python, using a button press to control a circuit, and making a button and LED game.

If you’re a teacher, you’ll also have the chance to develop ideas for using Raspberry Pi and Python in your classroom, and to connect with a network of other educators.

Course 2: Teaching Programming in Primary Schools

A boy and a girl aged around 9-11 years sit at a desk in a classroom, focussed on the activity they are doing using laptops. From the girl's screen we can see that she is programming in Scratch. A man sits beside the boy, helping him with his work.

This four-week course will provide a comprehensive introduction to programming, and is designed for primary or K-5 teachers who are not subject specialists. Over four weeks, we’ll introduce you to key programming concepts. You’ll have the chance to apply your understanding of them through projects, both unplugged and on a computer, using Scratch as the programming language. Discover common mistakes and pitfalls, and develop strategies to fix them.

Registration opens today, with the courses themselves starting mid-February 2017. We hope they will inspire a new army of enthusiastic makers around the world!

Visit our online training page on FutureLearn.

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Kosovo’s First Pi Wars

British engineer Andy Moxon recently contacted us to highlight a Pi Wars event he was organising in Kosovo.

I write to inform you about an event I am running akin to Pi Wars, here in the newly independent country of Kosovo, South-East Europe.

I am a British engineer and have been living in Kosovo as a volunteer for the last two and a half years.  For the past eight months I have been working with two groups of twelve- to fifteen-year-old students in a club we have called ‘Young Innovators’.  It is an after-school club centred around the Raspberry Pi.  We have mainly focused on physical computing, with the aim of building Raspberry Pi-powered robots, similar to those that compete in Pi Wars.

Eager to see the outcome of the event, Liz asked if he would write a blog post for us and, being the lovely chap he is, Andy agreed. We think Mike and Tim, creators of the original Pi Wars, will be thrilled to see this.

Here’s his rundown of the successful event:

Many people are confused about the country of Kosovo, and there’s much that could be written here to rectify this; perhaps most important to us is the fact that it declared independence from Serbia just eight years ago. However, even more importantly (for this blog at least!), the country is not without Python coding, physical computing, robots, and a good number of Raspberry Pis.

Since the start of 2016, I’ve been running an after-school club called ‘Young Innovators’, diving into the world of the Raspberry Pi, to prepare for our (much smaller) version of Pi Wars, happening this December. Based in the small town of Shtime, the club aims to bring to life maths and physics, while also teaching the students programming and robotics.

Kosovo Pi Wars

In one sense, our robots are pretty standard. A single Raspberry Pi Zero is powered by a thin mobile phone power bank, and four AA batteries power two motors via a L293D motor-controller chip. At the front, we have a HC-SR04 ultrasonic distance sensor and two infrared line sensors underneath. Additionally, we use two additional infrared sensors to count wheel revolutions, having painted white stripes on our wheels using nail polish! This opens the robots up to some interesting autonomous challenges, such as the three-point turn, which was included in the last Pi Wars competition.

Kosovo Pi Wars

An area which has caused a lot of excitement in the club has been the recent introduction of an Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer.  Using FreeCAD (available for the Pi2 and above) we have designed the chassis of the robots from scratch. This has been a tough but worthwhile exercise, demonstrating the wonders of 3D prototyping.

Kosovo Pi Wars

At the time of writing, the robots have been screwed together and the electronics connected. We’re now in the thick of programming using Pygame (now integral to Python), preparing our eight robots for the battle.

Kosovo Pi Wars

Big thanks must go to the Raspberry Pi blogging community.  I first used a Raspberry Pi just a year ago and, without the dedication of excellent bloggers, we would never have been able to reach this stage.

You can follow our progress on our blog: www.younginnovators-ks.com

See? Told you he was a lovely chap!

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Hour of Code 2016

What could you do in an hour? Perhaps you could watch an episode of a TV show, have a luxurious bath, or even tidy the house a bit! But what if you could spend an hour learning a skill that might influence the future of your career, and perhaps your whole life?

hour-of-code-header

The Hour of Code is a worldwide initiative which aims to get as many people as possible to have a go at programming computers. Our aim is to put digital making into the hands of as many people as possible, so here at Pi Towers we have cooked up some exciting projects for you to try, all of which can be completed in an hour.

Have a go at making a version of a whoopee cushion (a favourite Christmas cracker toy in my house) using physical computing, invent your own lyrics for The Twelve Days of Christmas, or simulate your cat floating in space. Many of the projects don’t even require a Raspberry Pi: you can get started with Scratch just by visiting a website.

Physical computing projects

Scratch projects

Astro Pi projects

Programming projects



We are also holding a digital making event at Pi Towers on Wednesday 7 December: if you can travel to Cambridge, then register, join in and achieve your hour of code!

Whether you are a child or an adult, it is never too late to start learning to code. When I was a teacher, I always loved participating in the Hour of Code: the students couldn’t quite believe they were given an hour to do something they would willingly do for fun. What they didn’t know is that the teachers secretly had a lot of fun testing out the projects too, although some of the resulting sounds did cause a few raised eyebrows in the staff room!

Once you’ve started coding, you might not want to stop, so head over to our resources section for more inspirational projects to tackle. Intrepid teachers can download the second issue of the MagPi Educator’s Edition to find out how to take things further in the classroom. The sky’s the limit! Well, actually, if you’re doing one of our Astro Pi projects, space is the limit…

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A security update for Raspbian PIXEL

The more observant among you may have spotted that we’ve recently updated the Raspbian with PIXEL image available from Downloads. With any major release of the OS, we usually find a few small bugs and other issues as soon as the wider community start using it, and so we gather up the fixes and produce a 1.1 release a few weeks later. We don’t make a fuss about these bug fix releases, as there’s no new functionality; these are just fixes to make things work as originally intended.

However, in this case, we’ve made a couple of important changes. They won’t be noticed by many users, but to those who do notice them and who will be affected by them, we should explain ourselves!

Why have we changed things?

Anyone who has been following tech media over the last few months will have seen the stories about botnets running on Internet of Things devices. Hackers are using the default passwords on webcams and the like to create a network capable of sending enough requests to a website to cause it to grind to a halt.

news

With the Pi, we’ve always tried to keep it as open as possible. We provide a default user account with a default password, and this account can use sudo to control or modify anything without a password; this makes life much easier for beginners. We also have an open SSH port by default, so that people who are using a Pi remotely can just install the latest Raspbian image, plug it in, and control their Pi with no configuration required; again, this makes life easier.

Unfortunately, hackers are increasingly exploiting loopholes such as these in other products to enable them to invisibly take control of devices. In general, this has not been a problem for Pis. If a Pi is on a private network in your home, it’s unlikely that an attacker can reach it; if you’re putting a Pi on a public network, we’ve hoped that you know enough about the issues involved to change the default password or turn off SSH.

But the threat of hacking has now got to the point where we can see that we need to change our approach. Much as we hate to impose restrictions on users, we would also hate for our relatively relaxed approach to security to cause far worse problems. With this release, therefore, we’ve made a couple of small changes to improve security, which should be enough to make it extremely hard to hijack a Pi, while not making life too difficult for users.

What has changed?

First, from now on SSH will be disabled by default on our images. SSH (Secure SHell) is a networking protocol which allows you to remotely log into a Linux computer and control it from a remote command line. As mentioned above, many Pi owners use it to install a Pi headless (without screen or keyboard) and control it from another PC.

In the past, SSH was enabled by default, so people using their Pi headless could easily update their SD card to a new image. Switching SSH on or off has always required the use of raspi-config or the Raspberry Pi Configuration application, but to access those, you need a screen and keyboard connected to the Pi itself, which is not the case in headless applications. So we’ve provided a simple mechanism for enabling SSH before an image is booted.

The boot partition on a Pi should be accessible from any machine with an SD card reader, on Windows, Mac, or Linux. If you want to enable SSH, all you need to do is to put a file called ssh in the /boot/ directory. The contents of the file don’t matter: it can contain any text you like, or even nothing at all. When the Pi boots, it looks for this file; if it finds it, it enables SSH and then deletes the file. SSH can still be turned on or off from the Raspberry Pi Configuration application or raspi-config; this is simply an additional way to turn it on if you can’t easily run either of those applications.

rconf

The risk with an open SSH port is that someone can access it and log in; to do this, they need a user account and a password. Out of the box, all Raspbian installs have the default user account ‘pi’ with the password ‘raspberry’. If you’re enabling SSH, you should really change the password for the ‘pi’ user to prevent a hacker using the defaults. To encourage this, we’ve added warnings to the boot process. If SSH is enabled, and the password for the ‘pi’ user is still ‘raspberry’, you’ll see a warning message whenever you boot the Pi, whether to the desktop or the command line. We’re not enforcing password changes, but you’ll be warned whenever you boot if your Pi is potentially at risk.

warn

Our hope is that these (relatively minor) changes will not cause too much inconvenience, but they will make it much harder for hackers to attack the Pi.

Is there anything I need to do to protect my Pi?

We should stress at this point that there’s no need to panic! We are not aware of Pis being used in botnets or being taken over in large numbers; your own Pi is almost certainly not currently hacked.

It’s still good practice to protect yourself to avoid problems in future. We therefore suggest that you use the Raspberry Pi Configuration application or raspi-config to disable SSH if you’re not using it, and also change the password for the ‘pi’ user if it’s still ‘raspberry’.

To change the password, you can either press the ‘Change Password’ button in Raspberry Pi Configuration, or type passwd at the command line, and follow the prompts.

cpass

This issue has caused quite a lot of discussion at Pi Towers. The relaxed approach we’ve taken thus far has been for very good reasons, and we’re reluctant to change it. However, we feel that these changes are necessary to protect our users from potential threats now and in the future, and we hope you can understand our reasoning.

How do I get the updates?

The latest Raspbian with PIXEL image is available from the Downloads page on our website now. Note that the uncompressed image is over 4GB in size, and some older unzippers will fail to decompress it properly. If you have problems, use 7-Zip on Windows and The Unarchiver on Mac; both are free applications which have been tested and will decompress the file correctly.

To update your existing Jessie image with all the bug fixes and these new security changes, type the following at the command line:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install -y pprompt

and then reboot.

Please note that installing this update on an existing Raspbian install will not change the status of SSH on that machine; if SSH is enabled, installing the update leaves SSH enabled, and vice-versa.

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Virtual Forest

The RICOH THETA S is a fairly affordable consumer 360° camera, which allows users to capture interesting locations and events for viewing through VR headsets and mobile-equipped Google Cardboard. When set up alongside a Raspberry Pi acting as a controller, plus a protective bubble, various cables, and good ol’ Mother Nature, the camera becomes a gateway to a serene escape from city life.

Virtual Forest

Ecologist Koen Hufkens, from the Richardson Lab in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, decided to do exactly that, creating the Virtual Forest with the aim of “showing people how the forest changes throughout the seasons…and the beauty of the forest”.

The camera takes a still photograph every 15 minutes, uploading it for our viewing pleasure. The setup currently only supports daylight viewing, as the camera is not equipped for night vision, so check your watch first.

one autumn day

360 view of a day in a North-Eastern Hardwood forest during autumn

The build cost somewhere in the region of $500 to create; Hufkens provides a complete ingredients list here, with supporting code on GitHub. He also aims to improve the setup by using the new Nikon KeyMission, which can record video at 4K ultra-HD resolution.

The Virtual Forest has been placed deep within the heart of Harvard Forest, a university-owned plot of land used both by researchers and by the general public. If you live nearby, you could go look at it and possibly even appear in a photo. Please resist the urge to photobomb, though, because that would totally defeat the peopleless zen tranquility that we’re feeling here in Pi Towers.

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Raspberry Pi at MozFest 2016

MozFest, or Mozilla Festival, is an annual celebration of the Mozilla community and the wider open internet movement. People from all over the world gather to explore ways of making the internet a resource that’s open and inclusive to all. This year MozFest was held at Ravensbourne College in London from Friday 28 – Sunday 29 October.

Colleagues from the Raspberry Pi Foundation joined members of the community to run workshops across two classrooms in the Youth Zone; this meant more space than last year, bringing more opportunities to engage. Our community volunteers were really enthusiastic and varied in ages. Together we ran workshops ranging from Your Code in Space with Astro Pi, to how to create a burping Jelly Baby, to Physical Computing in Scratch and Hacking Minecraft.

A workshop leader leans over to point out something on a computer display to a young boy and a woman who are working together.

Families and young people at a Raspberry Pi workshop in the Youth Zone at MozFest 2016

One of the workshops I attended was how to create a burping Jelly Baby, run by Bethanie Fentiman (@bfentiman). She led a great session, especially given the technical hitches she encountered during the session: despite all of this, Bethanie and her team of helpers helped me to create a burping Jelly Baby by the end of the workshop. Thank you for all your patience and hard work! You can read Bethanie’s laconic take on MozFest in her blog.

All the workshops were well attended by a mix of families, children and teenagers.

Vincent Lee ran a workshop on making a Pi-powered automatic Twitter photo booth. His before and after MozFest blogs have some lovely photos, as well as candid insights into the frantic below-the-surface paddling that happens in order to deliver an event like this one!

MozFest 2016 was a great place to find out what you can do with a Raspberry Pi and discover what other members of the Raspberry Pi community have created. People were really impressed at the workshops run by the young volunteers, such as 11-year-old Elise with her workshop on Spooktacular Sounds with Sonic Pi. A massive thank you to them: it’s not easy to teach grown-ups alongside younger people! Elise’s MozFest 2016 blog describes her busy, sociable and exciting weekend.

Aoibheann, who ran Beginners’ Guide to Scratching Maths with Things from the Kitchen, travelled to MozFest from “the middle of nowhere” in the Republic of Ireland (so middle-of-nowhere, she has dial-up internet at home!). Aoibheann’s MozFest blog describes adapting her workshop to accommodate last-minute obstacles and finding that, despite the busy-ness, the Youth Zone was a home from home.

cwbus2sxyaqoun8

Two very popular workshops at MozFest were LASERS! Create your own jewellery/keyring using a laser cutter and LASERS! Bringing drawings to life! Both were run by Amy Mather, whose enthusiasm for lasers is just one of many things for which she’s become well known in the Pi community. Participants learned how to use Raspberry Pis and Inkscape, an open source design program, to create designs which were then sent to the laser cutter to be made. Amy’s MozFest 2016 blog is full of fantastic photos of laser-cut works-in-progress and finished products.

A huge thank-you to Joseph Thomas for his help with the laser workshop and for running Castles, code and capacitive buttons: Building castles in Minecraft with touch of a button not once, but twice. Joseph’s MozFest 2016 blog explains why, despite ending up with trench foot (really), he’ll still be back in 2017.

A laser cutter head cuts a child's Inkscape drawing of a bus into a piece of wood

A laser cutter brings a workshop participant’s Inkscape design into being at MozFest 2016

Cerys Lock for ran a workshop on Displaying Images and Animations on the Sense HAT – thank you, Cerys! Her pre- and post-MozFest blogs have an excellent photo log and an intriguing credits section.

img_8368-2

A massive thank you to the amazing team of 45+ volunteers, from the Pi community and beyond, who helped out over the weekend! Without you, Youth Zone simply would not have happened, let alone been the fantastic, creative space for exploration, discovery and excitement that it was. And particular thanks to Dorine Flies and Andrew Mulholland for their ridiculously hard work as Space Wranglers of Youth Zone this year. Andrew’s blog on MozFest 2016 describes the months of planning and the many long evenings of work that go into the Youth Zone, and he’s drawn together wonderful highlights from the weekend.

Having just joined the Raspberry Pi Foundation, I went to MozFest to get a taste of Raspberry Pi activities before I begin helping to organise other events in the future. I was incredibly impressed with the skill and patience of all the volunteers and their ability to teach me things that seemed very complicated at first. I’m really looking forward to getting to know the community better, as I work with the Raspberry Pi to deliver events that I hope will have just as much energy and passion as MozFest.

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Fireside romance at your command

Redditor Hovee has a sense of romance firmly cemented in 1975. With a Google Home device, a Raspberry Pi, a gas fire and the pants-removing tones of Marvin Gaye, he’s rigged up his sitting room for seduction.

The setup does not yet open a box of chocolates and a bottle of red wine, or unfurl a rug made out of something fluffy and dead, but we’re sure that with some iteration it’ll start doing just that.

Ok, Google turn on my FirePlace!

Instructions here on reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/homeautomation/comments/5doqs8/ok_google_turn_on_my_fireplace/da6h33o/ I connected my google home to ifttt which does an API call to my raspberry pi running home-assistant controlling my global cache itach which is wired up to my gas logs.

Whats going on here? Hovee’s Google Voice is talking to the Raspberry Pi, which has Google’s Home Assistant installed on it. The fireplace (which is some newfangled thing that does things my fireplace doesn’t) has three positions: on, off and remote control. By switching the fireplace to remote and adding a switch (a nice long way away from the hot fire), the Pi can control both the flames and the music. Hovee has documented what he’s done on Reddit.

It was felt by most people at Pi Towers that it would be inappropriate to illustrate this post with that picture of Burt Reynolds on a bearskin rug, however well it captures the mood, so we’ve edited it slightly for delicate sensibilities.

A photo Burt Reynolds turning on the Raspberry Pi romance

We like projects that involve setting things on fire. Got your own? Drop us a line and you might see it featured here.

 

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Christmas Special: The MagPi 52 is out now!

The MagPi Christmas Special is out now.

For the festive season, the official magazine of the Raspberry Pi community is having a maker special. This edition is packed with fun festive projects!

The MagPi issue 52 cover

The MagPi issue 52

Click here to download the MagPi Christmas Special

Here are just some of the fun projects inside this festive issue:

  • Magazine tree: turn the special cover into a Christmas tree, using LED lights to create a shiny, blinky display
  • DIY decorations: bling out your tree with NeoPixels and code
  • Santa tracker: follow Santa Claus around the world with a Raspberry Pi
  • Christmas crackers: the best low-cost presents for makers and hackers
  • Yuletide game: build Sliders, a fab block-sliding game with a festive feel.

Sliders

A Christmas game from the MagPi No.52

Inside the MagPi Christmas special

If you’re a bit Grinchy when it comes to Christmas, there’s plenty of non-festive fun to be found too:

  • Learn to use VNC Viewer
  • Find out how to build a sunrise alarm clock
  • Read our in-depth guide to Amiga emulation
  • Discover the joys of parallel computing

There’s also a huge amount of community news this month. The MagPi has an exclusive feature on Pioneers, our new programme for 12- to 15-year-olds, and news about Astro Pi winning the Arthur Clarke Award.

The Pioneers

The MagPi outlines our new Pioneers programme in detail

After that, we see some of the most stylish projects ever. Inside is the beautiful Sisyphus table; that’s a moving work of art, a facial recognition door lock, and a working loom controlled by a Raspberry Pi.

The MagPi 52 Sisyphus Project Focus

The MagPi interviews the maker of this amazing Sisyphus table

If that wasn’t enough, we also have a big feature on adding sensors to your robots. These can be used to built a battle-bot ready for the upcoming Pi Wars challenge.

The MagPi team wishes you all a merry Christmas! You can grab The MagPi 52 in stores today: it’s in WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda in the UK, and it will be in Micro Center and selected Barnes & Noble stores when it comes to the US. You can also buy the print edition online from our store, and it’s available digitally on our Android and iOS app.

Get a free Pi Zero
Want to make sure you never miss an issue? Subscribe today and get a Pi Zero bundle featuring the new, camera-enabled Pi Zero, and a cable bundle that includes the camera adapter.

If you subscribe to The MagPi before 7 December 2016, you will get a free Pi Zero in time for Christmas.

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Pioneers: #MakeYourIdeas

Every day, young people are using digital technologies to solve problems that they care about. They’re making cool stuff, learning how to bend technology to their will, and having lots of fun in the process. They are the next generation of inventors, entrepreneurs, and makers, and we can’t wait to show you what they can do!

Today we’re launching Pioneers, a series of challenges that will inspire young digital makers to develop new ideas and share them with the world.

This is Pioneers

Get together, get inspired, and get thinking. We’re looking for Pioneers to use technology to make something awesome. Get together in a team or on your own, post online to show us how you’re getting on, and then show the world your build when you’re done.

Young people aged between 12 and 15 will work together in teams, designing and building their idea to solve the series of challenges we set. Great makers always share what they’ve learned, so each team needs to make a short video about their idea to share with the community. We’ll create a showcase of all the submissions, then judge and highlight the ten best entries; these will win an amazing prize. There are so many different ways of being the best here: we’re looking for most creative, most ingenious, most brave, most bonkers, and so on.

You can find out lots more information about the programme at raspberrypi.org/pioneers, including projects to inspire you and help you get ready.

We’ll be announcing the first challenge in January 2017, initially for young makers in the UK. To be the first to hear about it, register your interest here.

Everyone can be part of the conversation and follow the progress of the teams on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube: keep an eye on #MakeYourIdeas on all those channels.

giphy

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