I have been running a Code Club at my local Primary School for a while now, and thought it was about time I put details of a few tweaks I've made to the default Scratch install to make things easier. So here goes:
With the default install of Scratch (on Windows) projects are saved to the C: drive. For a network environment, with pupils work stored on a network drive so they always have access whichever machine they sit at, this isn't exactly helpful. It also isn't ideal that they can explore the C: drive in spite of profile restrictions (although it isn't the end of the world as there is little they can do from Scratch).
After a bit of time with Google I found the answer, and since it didn't immediately leap out at me when I was searching I thought I'd post it here (perhaps my Google Fu was weak that day). It is actually quite simple, especially for the average Code Club volunteer I should imagine; just edit the scratch.ini file. This is, as would be expected, located in:
Initially it looks like this:
Pretty standard stuff, but unfortunately no comments to indicate what else you can do with it. As it happens you can add the following two lines (for example):
To get this:
They do exactly what is says on the tin. If you click on the Home button in a file dialogue box then you only get the drive(s) specified. You can also put a full path in if you want to put the home directory further down the directory structure.
The VisibleDrives option restricts what you can see if you click on the Computer button in a file dialogue box. If you want to allow more visible drives then separate them with a comma.
You can do the same with a Mac (for the home drive), just use the appropriate directory format (i.e. no drive letter and the opposite direction slash).
There is more that you can do, so take a look at the Scratch documentation here. For example if you use a * in the directory path it is replaced by the name of the currently logged on user.
Depending on your network environment it may be handy for your Code Club to put the extra resources on a shared network drive and open up an extra drive in the VisibleDrives. One I haven't tried yet it is the proxy setting, which I hope will allow me to upload projects to the Scratch website. It goes something like:
ProxyServer=[server name or IP address]
There have been a couple of false starts in publishing the Christmas special Code Club project, Christmas Capers, this year. Since I am planning to use it at my last Code Club of this term, which is on Tuesday (much to the disappointment of my 'Codeclubbers'), I have been keen to get it tested. Unfortunately, although the course notes were circulated, the resources haven't quite made it yet, so I decided to see what I could do.
First thing I noted, having gone through my past emails, was that it was used last year as well (unfortunately I don't seem to have a copy). The link on the original Code Club blog is no longer working sadly, however there was hope that resources would be out there somewhere. After a bit of searching I found a copy on the Scratch website that someone had uploaded, so I grabbed the resources from that and tested it so I was sure everything was there. I had a slight issue with the Jingle_Bells.mp3 file not being a supported format, but this seems to be down to something missing on my netbook as all is fine under both Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux on my main machine.
So, for anyone looking for the resources, they are here in a full package including a copy of the project and course notes.
Keep up the good work fellow Code Club volunteers, and if anyone would like to pop along and encourage my Code Club recruits to blog a bit more, we are here. As a school governor with an interest in literacy as well as computing I'm trying to make it a bit cross curricular
Oh, and if there is anyone in the Portsmouth and surrounding area interested in meeting up, I'm hoping to get my act together and do something in the new year. Do get in touch.
Yesterday I received an email from the Open Rights Group asking me to sign an on-line petition set up in collaboration with nearly 300 other organisations. The email said:
In 2013, we learned digital surveillance by governments across the world knows no bounds.
Their national intelligence and investigative agencies capture our phone calls, track our location, peer into our address books, and read our emails. They often do this in secret and without adequate public oversight, violating our human rights.
We won’t stand for this anymore.
Over the past year, 300 organisations have come together to support the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance.
Today we’re launching a global petition supporting the 13 International Principles alongside a range of international NGOs including Access, Chaos Computer Club, Digitale Gesellschaft, Electronic Frontier Foundation, OpenMedia and Privacy International.
These thirteen Principles establish the human rights obligations of governments engaged in communications surveillance. 
They’ve been developed over months of consultation between internationally-recognised technology, privacy, and human rights experts.
Can you join people from around the world to lend your name and support to the Principles?
Unfortunately, the link given in the email went to a page on the “necessaryandproportionate” website which sought signatures from persons signing on behalf of NGOs rather than individuals wishing to add their own voices to the campaign. Today I received a new email pointing to an amended page where I might actually sign up as me rather than me qua some officer representing an organisation.
A brief investigation of that website shows the following “idiosyncracies”. Firstly, the website on IP address 184.108.40.206 appears to be hosted by Silicon Valley Web Hosting out of San Jose in California (see below – click for a full sized image – note the “ShowIP” popup info bottom left).
There is nothing inherently wrong with that (though of course the hosting company is subject to US law). After all, lots of websites I use are hosted in the US, and there are many US based organisations appearing as signatories to the petition. However, the SSL certificate used appears to be both woefully weak and incorrectly signed – note in particular the CN (common name) assignation is a wildcard for “trollingeffects.org” whilst the actual website is called “en.necessaryandproportionate.org”. Again, see below:
So the organisation has re-purposed a certificate produced for another domain rather than getting a nice shiny new (strong) one for itself. And frankly, a 128 bit RC4 cipher with a SHA-1 MAC is just laughably daft given that the page in question says:
Join the global movement demanding the protection of human rights and an end to mass surveillance. Let the world know: Privacy is a human right. Endorse the Necessary and Proportionate Principles.
Whilst I may have no problem in people knowing that I have signed such a petition (after all, if it is to be effective, then the petitioners’ names (and where applicable, affiliations) must be public, I’m not that keen on using a website run by a supposedly privacy conscious collective which is so woefully inadequate in even the basic protection it offers.
“C minus – must do better.”
(Oh, and for comparison, the Open Rights Group’s own website is hosted by ByteMark Consulting (Hi Guys) and uses a 256 bit AES cipher.)