Mbed Blog

mbed & Silica Seminar in the UK

Hello from Munich Airport!

I just got confirmation of a couple of mbed "lunch 'n' learn" introductory events Silica have planned in the UK:

For all the details, see their mbed & Silica Seminar in the UK page, which includes a link to register for them.

mbed Internet Controlled Scrolling Numitron on Hackaday!

We just spotted this cool mbed project on hackaday! Check it out:

According to Dave who created it, it was just a quick test project; can't wait for any *real* projects!

For all the geeky details, check out his full writeup on limpfish.com. Nice Work :)

mbed @ Sparkfun!

mbed is now available from Sparkfun!

If you haven't seen these guys before, you really have to check them out. This is one of the best places we've found on the net for getting hold of interesting modules and fiddly components on breakout boards.

We've been using Sparkfun parts for a long time now to help test and refine mbed, so it is great to see it up there as one of them now :)

Thanks Sparkfun, for everything!

NIDays2010 Paper Contest!

I just had an email land in my inbox from National Instruments advertising a "Paper Contest" for an event called NIDays2010:

It looks like they are offering prizes for papers written about projects using NI software (things like LabView) in interesting ways. If there are any LabView gurus out there (or gurus in training), perhaps an mbed + LabView combo could make a really interesting entry?! And the prizes include a LEGO mindstorms!

Here is the main blurb for the competition:

"Submit your most innovative solution for measurement and automation to the NIDays 2010 Paper Contest – the technical paper contest that showcases the most innovative uses of virtual instrumentation and Graphical System Design in teaching or research as well as from engineers in industry."

It'd be great to see some projects using mbed and LabView together, and there must be scope for doing some really new and innovative things. For the full details, see:

If anyone does decide to enter, please keep us up to date on how you get on.

p.s. if you are a student with a great idea for entering this competition, but you don't have your own mbed yet, we'll consider sponsoring a few of the most interesting and worthy projects; email us at sponsorship@mbed.org with your proposal and we'll pick a few of the best to sponsor with an mbed to help get your idea off the ground.

Compiler Update: Fixes, more fixes, and a feature

We've now pushed live an update for the mbed Compiler focused on bug fixes and stability; it addresses a whole variety of quirky cross-platform problems and general application bugs, and has a good deal of internal rework to set us up for the next set of features.

The current compiler has actually proven itself to work really well, but with this update it is feeling more stable than ever across lots of different platforms; in fact, our compiler bug list is now empty (but I'm sure you'll help us change that!). Thanks to everyone who provided us bug reports and feedback to identify these issues.

Here is a summary of the important bugs that should now be squished...

Cross-browser compiler fixes

General compiler fixes

Publishing and importing

We also added a minor improvement to the compiler to allow importing of published projects as libraries. This basically means if you publish something containing reusable code (e.g. a peripheral driver class .h/.cpp, and no main() function or libraries), someone can pull it in as a library and use it within their project just using the URL. It is very primitive at the moment, but it squares-the-circle and makes it possible.

If you publish a project, when you go to it's homepage it looks something like:

Note, when publishing, you also now have the option to add a description and tags.

If you click "Import program in to Compiler", it'll do just that - Import this as a whole new program. No change there.

However, if you just copy the URL and go to the compiler, you can now right-click an existing program and select "Import Library...". Then paste in the URL and hit "Import":

Your program will now have pulled in the code as a library. You can also use the URL under "Import Files..." if you actually want to see/edit the files. There is lots of scope for improvement here, but hopefully this is a good start!

That's it for now. Thanks again for all the reports; if you have any problems after these updates, or spot new ones, please make sure you report it in the Bugs and Suggestions Forum!

An update on the weekend's updates

To follow up to my last post:

The network upgrades went ahead as planned, hopefully without too much disruption. The server room now has a shiny new set of switches and firewalls which should serve us well.

I have also given our load balancer and cache a lot more RAM/CPU to play with.

As for the promised compiler updates, the more eagle eyed of you will have noticed that the compiler wasn't updated over the weekend. We had to postpone the update while some last minute issues were worked out. The good news is that the compiler update has now been applied.

Simon will be along in a moment with a post discussing the latest improvements to the mbed Compiler.

Thanks,

Dan

Maintenance and upgrades - this weekend

Hi all,

Our hosting network is going to be upgraded this weekend, which is designed to improve resiliency as well as allow for future growth. Unfortunately, some disruption to the website is unavoidable. This will be kept to a minimum as far as possible, but do expect some periods of downtime over the weekend.

While that's going on, I'll take the opportunity to do some software/hardware updates, including a major update to the compiler. After the upgrades are done, Simon will post full details of the compiler upgrade.

Thanks,

Dan

The mbed challenge - 8051 to ARM!

This is very cool! Jim Carver at Avnet has taken his mbed and made a video showing it off. It is a really nice intro to mbed itself, but the coolest part is what he is doing with it...

As he calls it, "the mbed challenge"; take an old 8051 MCU based board and try and bypass the chip to wire in the mbed instead. And then import the 8051 C code and try an port it across to ARM. Watch the video to see the results:

My favourite parts are the bits where he is looking at what he needs to change and comparing the architectures, showing how nice it is to code with a modern MCU!

And great to see mbed letting him experiment so easily; just what it was designed for - great work Jim!

Important: Virus Alert

We have recently had reports from some users of a virus being detected when first connecting their new mbed Microcontroller to a Windows PC. Further investigation has shown this to be a real problem, impacting some units of an mbed LCP1768 batch manufactured in December.

We are taking this very seriously and will be doing all we can to audit all devices from this batch within the distribution channels, but we have to assume more will have made it through to end users. Please read this report carefully to understand if you need to take action.

Problem summary

On receiving a virus report from a user, with their help we investigated the possible source of the problem. These investigations confirmed it was a new device, and the source of the problem was not likely to be the user’s machine. At this point we initiated an audit of our manufacturer.

With support from the manufacturer's staff and production records, we identified a potential vulnerability window in one of the production line test machines between the 4th and 12th of December, caused by their method of applying a production test software upgrade. During this time, units tested with this test machine had the potential to become infected. This means some units within the particular batch in production at that time are at risk from containing a low risk virus.

What is the threat?

The virus impacting some of the vulnerable batch is "Win32.SillyFDC" (but goes by a number of different names), which is an autorun.inf script plus files in a RECYCLER folder placed in the root of removable media, impacting Windows PCs. It has been around since 2004, and is generally considered a low risk, low impact virus. It does not impact Mac or Linux. All reputable antivirus software will find, isolate and remove the virus, with no long term effects. More detailed information about nature of this virus can be found at:

Is my board from the batch at risk?

We have identified the batch that was in production when the vulnerability occurred, and their corresponding packing serial numbers. Whilst only a small percentage of these could have been impacted, we will be auditing the entire batch.

The packing serial numbers this batch fell within are:

  • MBED-1226 to MBED-2356

We will aim to narrow it further as we confirm audit information further. If your microcontroller falls in to this range, please read on to see if you need to take action. If not, you should not be impacted. If anyone finds anything to the contrary, please contact us immediately at support@mbed.org.

To check your packing serial number, find the orange sticker on the base of the box for the mbed Microcontroller, as shown below:

In this example, the details would be:

  • Product Number: MBED-005.1
  • Serial Number: MBED-2334

What should I do if my board is from the batch at risk?

If your board is from the batch at risk, then please carefully follow these instructions.

If you have not yet used your mbed, you have a number of options to check for and avoid the problem:

  • If you have access to a Mac and Linux machine, you can plug in your mbed and check for an autorun.inf file. If one exists, delete *everything* from the disk (any files and directories like autorun.inf, RECYCLER, ...). Mac and Linux PCs ignore autorun.inf, so are not impacted. Your MBED.HTM will get automatically restored after you power cycle the board.
  • If you only have access to a Windows PC, ensure your systems antivirus software is up to date. If it does exist, your antivirus software should detect and quarantine the virus.
  • If you would prefer, we can arrange to audit your board for you and fix the problem if one is found; please contact us directly at support@mbed.org

If you have already plugged your mbed microcontroller in and there was an autorun.inf file, your antivirus software should have already detected, quarantined and removed any virus. We recommend you run a full system scan with your mbed plugged in to verify your machine and the microcontroller are clear of the virus.

If you do not have antivirus software and you do find an autorun.inf file on the mbed, it would be highly recommended to install some to check and, if necessary, clean your machine. Below is a list of a few different packages that would be suitable, many including free trials:

Note: if there is no autorun.inf file on the disk, then the problem doesn't exist.

If you do find your board to be infected, we would be very greatful if you could email us the MBED-xxxx Serial Number to support@mbed.org to help validate our records. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

What else are we doing?

We are working with distributors to audit all stock we can find from this batch, to limit as much as possible the numbers that get out to users in the first place. Whilst the problem only impacted a production test machine for a short time and is no longer a problem, we have also taken steps to ensure this can't happen again. We are moving from windows to linux-based test machines, and have ensured our manufacturers have the appropriate processes in place to upgrade test software.

This is a problem that shouldn't have occurred in the first place, so please accept our apologies that it has. We believe we are doing everything appropriate to address it, and will continue to do so to ensure it won’t happen again.

Finally, a big thank you to all the companies and people who have worked so quickly with us to identify the problem and put in place all the logistics to resolve it.

Site update: 1.3

Hi mbed-ers,

Last week I released a set of updates to the mbed website. Many of these are a direct response to suggestions/requests made in the forums. There is now a dedicated forum for requests/suggestions/bug reports - Bugs & Suggestions - please keep them coming!

There is also a public bug/wish list.

Here's a quick summary of what changed:

  • Multiple forum support
  • Forum now tracks which posts you have read
  • You now have the option of auto-subscribing to topics/pages you comment on - found in your Account Settings area
  • Added RSS feeds for just about everything
  • Activity area now split by type
  • Improved format of alert emails
  • Reformatted date display on the site so the dates are useful regardless of local timezone
  • Several other bugfixes and behind the scenes improvements/changes.

Please note that this update only covers the website and not the online compiler IDE, which will be the subject of a forthcoming update.

Cheers,

Dan

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