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Hardware Hacking

Hand-Drawn and Inkjet Printed Circuits for the Masses (Video) 32

Posted by Roblimo
from the give-your-kids-paper-plates-with-lights-that-tell-them-to-eat-their-veggies dept.
We started looking at ways to make instant hand-drawn or inkjet-printed circuit boards because Timothy met an engaging young man named Yuki Nishida at SXSW. Yuki is a co-founder of AgIC, a company that makes conductive ink pens and supplies special paper you can use to write or draw circuits or, if you have the right model of Brother printer, to print them with special inkjet inks. The AgIC people are agressvively putting the 'A' in STEAM by marketing their products to artists and craftspeople. Indeed the second line on their website's home page says, 'AgIC offers handy tools to light up your own art works.' This is an excellent niche, and now that AgIC has developed a circuit eraser (due to ship this April), it may lead to all kinds of creative designs. And as is typical with this kind of company these days, AgIC has been (at least partly) crowdfunded.

A little cursory Google searching will soon lead you to other companies selling into the home/prototype circuit board market, including Cartesian Co and their Argentum 3-D printer that does prototype and short-run PCBs and only costs $899 (on special at the time this was written) and Electroninks, which markets the Circuit Scribe pen and associated materials with an emphasis on education. There are others in this growing field, and a year from now there will probably be more of them, all working to replace the venerable breadboard the same way electronic calculators replaced slide rules.
Networking

Dueling Home Automation Systems at SXSW (Video) 47

Posted by Roblimo
from the to-serve-man dept.
Austin has a strong western heritage and more country and western music than you can shake a fiddle bow at. So when Timothy came back from SXSW with video clips from two home automation companies with different approaches to this question: "How can you work with a whole bunch of lights and thermostats and other IoT home automation pieces that all have different OSes and control APIs?" we obviously had to call the resulting video 'Dueling Home Automation Systems.'

The two companies shown in this video are called WigWag and Yonomi. WigWag sells you a "Relay," which they say "is a powerful mini computer that gives you control of your home's smart devices." The minimum pre-order buy-in for WigWag seems to be a $149 WigWag Relay. Their 'products' page his page shows the Relay -- and many other gadgets and kits that could easily run your total tab up to $1000 or more. Yonomi, on the other hand, "resides on your phone and in the Cloud. No need for a hub, controller box or other additional hardware. Yonomi magically finds and enhances your existing connected devices allowing them to interact with one another in ways never before possible."

Yonomi may start with a free Android app (iOS coming soon), but you still need to buy lights, speakers, thermostats, and other things that are Internet-aware, so you're not going to save much (if anything) over buying a WigWag relay and the rest of what you need to create your own, private Internet of Things. And what about good old X10 and other home control systems? They're still out there, still doing their thing in millions of homes even if they aren't getting all the IoT buzz. In any case, it's nice to see new home automation alternatives coming down the pike, even if their cloudness may make them easier to hack than an old-fashioned appliance like this coffeemaker.
Security

How 'The Cloud' Eats Away at Your Online Privacy (Video) 86

Posted by Roblimo
from the it-seems-the-network-is-the-computer-after-all dept.
Tom Henderson, Principal Researcher at ExtremeLabs Inc., is not a cloud fan. He is a staunch privacy advocate, and this is the root of his distrust of companies that store your data in their memories instead of yours. You can get an idea of his (dis)like of vague cloud privacy protections and foggy vendor service agreements from the fact that his Network World columnn is called Thumping the Clouds. We called Tom specifically to ask him about a column entry titled The downside to mass data storage in the cloud.

Today's video covers only part of what Tom had to say about cloud privacy and information security, but it's still an earful and a half. His last few lines are priceless. Watch and listen, or at least read the transcript, and you'll see what we mean.
Games

Project an Interactive Game on Your Floor or Wall (Video) 57

Posted by Roblimo
from the bounce-it-on-the-floor-or-bounce-it-on-the-wall dept.
Lumo is an interactive projector. You can use it to bore people with PowerPoint slides or you can use it as a game machine. It has a built-in (low res) camera that can detect a kick (as shown at the beginning of the video) and make a (virtual) ball move as a result of that action. 'But,' you ask, 'do they have an Indiegogo campaign?' Not yet. It launches on March 23.

The Lumo projector was originally designed for commercial use at children's museums and as a trade show attention-getter -- at $10,000 a pop. The consumer version is expected to cost less than $500, according to Lumo CEO (and Slashdot interviewee) Meghan Athavale. And while she doesn't talk much about it in the interview, if you already have a computer, a projector, and a Kinect or webcam, you can buy the a stripped-down version of the company's 'interactive-floor-wall projection' software for $39, plus games or customizable game templates.
Power

Ask GM's Exec. Chief Engineer For Electric Vehicles Pam Fletcher a Question 229

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Pam Fletcher was propulsion system chief engineer on the first Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and is now executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles at GM. A racing enthusiast, Pam developed racing engines for GM , McLaren, and NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Sr.. Her current role has her running a multi-national department overseeing electrified vehicles company-wide. Fletcher has agreed to take a moment out of her busy day to answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
The Almighty Buck

Global Learning XPRIZE Senior Director Matt Keller Answers Your Questions 4

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-they-are dept.
A couple of weeks ago you had a chance to ask former Vice President of One Laptop per Child, and current Senior Director of the Global Learning XPRIZE Matt Keller about education and the competition. The XPRIZE challenges teams from around the world to develop open source software that will allow children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic with a Grand Prize of $10 million. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
Security

You Don't Need to Start as a Teen to be an Ethical Hacker (Video) 56

Posted by Roblimo
from the stand-up-hook-up-shuffle-to-the-door-jump-right-out-and-count-to-four dept.
Meet Justin Whitehead. While a lot of his contemporaries were going to college, he became an Airborne soldier. After that he went to college, became an IT technian, got some experience as a Computer Forensic Analyst, and met people who looked like they were having a good time as penetration testers. So he took some recommended classes,got hired by One World Labs, and last week at B-Sides Austin, he and coworker Antonio Herraiz gave a talk titled 'Spanking the monkey/How pen testers can do it better.

Justin is 40, an age where a lot of people in the IT game worry about being over the hill and unemployable. But Justin's little video talk should give you hope -- whether you're a mature college student, have a stalled IT career or are thinking about a career change but want to keep working with computers and IT in general. It seems that there are decent IT-related jobs out there even if you're not a youngster; and even if you didn't start working with computers until you were in your 20s or 30s.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Interviews: Ask SMBC's Creator Zach Weiner a Question 90

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Zach Weiner is the author and illustrator of a number of webcomics, most notably Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC). He's been a guest contributor to xkcd and founded the sketch comedy group SMBC Theater. His project Augie and the Green Knight, was the most funded children's book on Kickstarter, and his newest project The Gentleman's Single-Use Monocle offers readers emergency reading protection with a bit of class. Zach has agreed to step away from the comics for a bit and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Hardware Hacking

Maker Person Rich Olson Returns (Video) 42

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-everything-is-about-money dept.
In February we ran a video titled Rich Olson Embodies the Spirit of the Maker Movement. We aren't saying Rich is a superman, but more like everyman or, in this case, everymaker. He is a hobbyist who, like many others, shares his designs freely in the best spirit of open source. Today we have some more words from Rich that may help you if you are just starting to use a 3-D printer and similar tools either at home or in a makerspace. and a note: If you know someone we should interview, please email robinATroblimoDOTCOM.
Hardware

The 2015 Vintage Computer Festival East is April 17-19 (Video) 23

Posted by Roblimo
from the they-don't-make-them-like-they-used-to dept.
The Vintage Computer Festival East is where you go to see working computers from the forties through the eighties. It's held at the Information Age Learning Center (InfoAge) in Wall, New Jersey, a site that is full of electronics history on its own. In addition to displays (including a number of items for sale), there are sessions on topics ranging from "Keyboard Restoration" to "Fixing what's hopelessly broken." Event volunteer Evan Koblentz, today's interviewee, says that most of the several hundred people the event draws every year come from the United States, but there are always at least a few international visitors. And if New Jersey isn't your thing, there are other Vintage Computer Festivals you might want to attend. To get current news about these events, you might want to sign up for the VCF email list.
Government

Come and Take It, Texas Gun Enthusiasts (Video) 367

Posted by timothy
from the a-lower-receiver-can-be-an-entire-gun-under-the-law dept.
In Texas, guns are a common sight:gun-racks are visible in the back of many pick-ups, and pistols, cannons, and rifles are part of the state's iconography. Out-of-sight guns are common, too: The state has had legal (though highly regulated) concealed carry for handguns since 1995, though -- contrary to some people's guess, and with some exceptions -- open carry of handguns is not generally legal. One thing that's definitely not a common sight, though, is a group of people manufacturing guns just outside the south gates of the Texas capitol building. But that's just what you would have encountered a few weeks ago, when an organization called CATI (Come and Take It) Texas set up a tent that served as a tech demo as much as an act of social provocation. CATI had on hand one of the same Ghost Gunner CNC mills that FedEx now balks at shipping, and spent hours showing all comers how a "gun" (in the eyes of regulators, at least) can be quickly shaped from a piece of aluminum the ATF classifies as just a piece of aluminum. They came prepared to operate off-grid, and CATI Texas president Murdoch Pizgatti showed for my camera that the Ghost Gunner works just fine operating from a few big batteries -- no mains power required. (They ran the mill at a slower speed, though, to conserve juice.)
Robotics

Drones Underwater, Drones on Wheels (Video) 18

Posted by Roblimo
from the drones-above-and-drones-below dept.
Rocky Mountain Unmanned Systems seems to be primarily in the business of selling aerial 'copter drones ranging in price from sub-$100 up into $1000s. But there they were at the 2015 CES (Consumer Electronics Show), showing off a submarine drone and a wheeled drone. These products don't seem to be on the company's website or even on their Facebook page quite yet. Jon McBride, the person manning their CES booth, told Timothy these products would be around soon, as in February. But it looks like a bit of extra patience is in order, although you can contact Jon through the company's Facebook page (his suggestion) if you have an urgent need for an underwater or wheeled drone for your business or government agency -- or even just for fun.
Music

A Versatile and Rugged MIDI Mini-Keyboard (Video) 56

Posted by Roblimo
from the Willy-and-the-poor-boys-playing-that-MIDI-can't-be-beat dept.
The K-Board won a "Best in Show" award at CES 2015. Plus, as Timothy said, "I always like pour and stomp demos." And it's totally cross-platform. If your computer, tablet or smartphone has a USB port and (almost) any kind of music software, it works. In theory, you could hook a K-Board to your Android or iOS device and use it to accompany yourself while you sing for spare change on a downtown corner. Or noodle around to get a handle on a theme you'll use in your next major symphony. Or...?
Education

Interviews: Ask Senior Director Matt Keller About the Global Learning XPRIZE 31

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
The former Vice President of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Matt Keller is currently the Senior Director of the $15 million Global Learning XPRIZE. The competition challenges teams from around the world to develop open source software solutions that will allow children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic within a 18 month competition period. After 18 months a panel of judges will evaluate the projects and announce semi-finalists. Semi-finalists will have a month to tweak their projects and/or reconfigure their teams before the judges elect the top five finalist to proceed. Each of the five teams selected will receive $1 million to field test their ideas with the eventual winners receiving the Grand Prize of $10 million. The Global Learning XPRIZE is recruiting teams now through April 30, 2015. Matt has agreed to answer any questions you might have about the competition and the future of education in general. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.