InfoBeamer

So I’ve been playing with info-beamer lots recently, as part of my attempts to relearn how to be a clever person.

Having seen it at 31c3, I was curious how I could use it and how much work it was to make it display information.

After reading the documentation, I’m really impressed with how easy it is to do seemingly clever things with. The base frames for displaying data are written in lua, which seems sensible and easy enough to read to enable hacking at. It’s also, I’ve been told, quick as fuck. The software itself has a server awaiting UDP on port 4444, and a defined way of importing that into the system. This is really neat - if you want to send data directly to it, and have new things appear on screen, it’s pretty easy to do.

At 57North I’ve set up an instance running on Obviously, the downside of the UDP server is that if someone works out how you’re our large viewscreen driven from a Raspberry Pi. It pulls in and displays the space status, upcoming events from opentechcalendar, music playing on mpd and the latest and greatest nonsense from irc. All the information is produced and inserted into UDP/4444 by python scripts sat on the Pi.

While this works nicely, there are a few issues that I’ve bumped up against - autostarting infobeamer at boot has proven to be unstable, and will often freeze or crash. Hopefully upgrading to a new version will improve this. It’s also possible a victim of the random set up of things on that SD card.

The python scripts aren’t reliably starting at boot either, which leaves a lot of undefined information on the board looking untidy. I tried adding a 1min delay after boot, but this hasn’t yet proven successful. As the pi is statically addressed and on chaosVPN, my current plan is to move the scripts from it and on to hackr, which also exists on chaosvpn, and have it relay the required data.

This obviously brings up considerations of packet sniffing and interception - if someone can see my traffic going back and forward, they can analyse the simple data structure that my code uses and then put whatever they want on the board. While this’d be a fun exercise, it probably highlights I should learn how to properly sanitise my incoming data so the risk is minimised!

I’ll eventually tidy up the code and release it. At the moment, it’s an embarassing mess!


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