"open hardware" entries

Four short links: 12 August 2014

Four short links: 12 August 2014

Digital Services Playbook, Brain Computer Interface, In-Game Economics, and Motorcycle Reality

  1. US Digital Services Playbook — good sense from the US Govt’s latest “try not to cock up more Govt IT projects” brigade.
  2. Open Brain-Computer Interface — “open” as in “source”, not as in “cut”.
  3. Blockmarket — visibility into the in-game trading of The Blockheads. (via Dave Frampton)
  4. Skully (trigger warning: TechCrunch) — a step towards augmented reality for motorcyclists: panoramic visual awareness via in-helmet display.
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Four short links: 12 June 2014

Four short links: 12 June 2014

Our New Robot Overlords, Open Neuro, Anti-Surveillance Software, and LG's TV Made of Evil and Tears

  1. Norbert Weiner (The Atlantic) — His fears for the future stemmed from two fundamental convictions: We humans can’t resist selfishly misusing the powers our machines give us, to the detriment of our fellow humans and the planet; and there’s a good chance we couldn’t control our machines even if we wanted to, because they already move too fast and because increasingly we’re building them to make decisions on their own. To believe otherwise, Wiener repeatedly warned, represents a dangerous, potentially fatal, lack of humility.
  2. Open Ephys — open source/open hardware tools for neuro research. (via IEEE)
  3. Startups Selling Resistance to Surveillance (Inc) — growing breed of tools working on securing their customers’ communications from interception by competitors and states.
  4. Not-So-Smart TV (TechDirt) — LG’s privacy policy basically says “let us share your viewing habits, browsing, etc. with third parties, or we will turn off the `smart’ features in your smart TV.” The promise of smart devices should be that they get better for customers over time, not better for the vendor at the expense of the customer. See Weiner above.
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Four short links: 5 June 2014

Four short links: 5 June 2014

Open Autopilot, Record Robot Sales, NSA Myths Busted, and Informative Errors

  1. beaglepilot (Github) — open source open hardware autopilot for Beagleboard. (via DIY Drones)
  2. IFR Robot Sales Charts (PDF) — 2013: all-time high of 179,000 industrial robots sold and growth continues in 2014. (via Robohub)
  3. The Top 5 Claims That Defenders of the NSA Have to Stop Making to Remain Credible (EFF) — great Mythbusting.
  4. Netflix’s New Error Message — instead of “buffering”, they point the finger at the carrier between them and the customer who is to blame for slow performance. Genius!
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Four short links: 3 April 2014

Four short links: 3 April 2014

Github for Data, Open Laptop, Crowdsourced Analysis, and Open Source Scraping

  1. dat — github-like tool for data, still v. early. It’s overdue. (via Nelson Minar)
  2. Novena Open Laptop — Bunnie Huang’s laptop goes on sale.
  3. Crowd Forecasting (NPR) — How is it possible that a group of average citizens doing Google searches in their suburban town homes can outpredict members of the United States intelligence community with access to classified information?
  4. Portia — open source visual web scraping tool.
Comment: 1
Four short links: 3 March 2014

Four short links: 3 March 2014

Vanishing Money, Car Hackery, Data Literacy Course, and Cheaper CI

  1. The Programming Error That Cost Mt Gox 2609 Bitcoins — in the unforgiving world of crypto-currency, it’s easy to miscode and vanish your money.
  2. Ford Invites Open-Source Community to Tinker AwayOne example: Nelson has re-tasked the motor from a Microsoft Xbox 360 game controller to create an OpenXC shift knob that vibrates to signal gear shifts in a standard-transmission Mustang. The 3D-printed prototype shift knob uses Ford’s OpenXC research platform to link devices to the car via Bluetooth, and shares vehicle data from the on-board diagnostics port. Nelson has tested his prototype in a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 that vibrates at the optimal time to shift.
  3. Making Sense of Data — Google online course on data literacy.
  4. Cost-Efficient Continuous Integration at Mozilla — CI on a big project can imply hundreds if not thousands of VMs on Amazon spinning up to handle compiles and tests. This blog post talks about Mozilla’s efforts to reduce its CI-induced spend without reducing the effectiveness of its CI practices.
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Four short links: 1 August 2013

Four short links: 1 August 2013

Open Hardware Designs, Kickstarting SDR, Go Best Practices, and US Code

  1. Tindie Launches Open Designs and Kickbacks (Tindie) — businesses can manufacture the open design as is, or create products derived from it. Those sellers can then kickback a portion of their sales back to the designer. Tindie will handle the disbursement of funds so it’s absolutely painless. For designers, there are no fees, no hosting costs, just a simple way to reap the benefits of their hard work.
  2. HackRF (Kickstarter) — an open source software-defined-radio platform to let you transmit or receive any radio signal from 30 MHz to 6000 MHz on USB power.
  3. Twelve Best Go Practices — to help you get the mindset of Go.
  4. US Code for Download — in XML and other formats. Waaaay after public resource showed them what needed to be done. First slow step of many fast ones, I hope.
Comments: 3
Four short links: 18 April 2013

Four short links: 18 April 2013

Bitcoin Bundle, HTML Escaping, Open as in Gongkai, and Glass Reflections

  1. The Well Deserved Fortune of Satoshi NakamotoI can’t assure with 100% certainty that the all the black dots are owned by Satoshi, but almost all are owned by a single entity, and that entity began mining right from block 1, and with the same performance as the genesis block. It can be identified by constant slope segments that occasionally restart. Also this entity is the only entity that has shown complete trust in Bitcoin, since it hasn’t spend any coins (as last as the eye can see). I estimate at eyesight that Satoshi fortune is around 1M Bitcoins, or 100M USD at current exchange rate. Author’s credible. (via Hacker News)
  2. Houdini (Github) — C library for escaping and unescaping UTF-8-encoded HTML, according to OWASP guidelines.
  3. The $12 Gongkai Phone (Bunnie Huang) — gongkai isn’t a totally lawless free-for-all. It’s a network of ideas, spread peer-to-peer, with certain rules to enforce sharing and to prevent leeching. It’s very different from Western IP concepts, but I’m trying to have an open mind about it.
  4. Jan Chipchase on Google Glass (All Things D) — Any idiot can collect data. The real issue is how to collect data in such a way that meets both moral and legal obligations and still delivers some form of value. An interesting observation, one of many within this overview of the usability and third-party user experience of Google Glass-like UIs.
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NASA launches second International Space Apps Challenge

In 2013, developers will once again boldly contribute code to projects where their code has never gone before.

From April 20 to April 21, on Earth Day, the second international Space Apps Challenge will invite developers on all seven continents to the bridge to contribute code to NASA projects.

space app challenge

Given longstanding concerns about the sustainability of apps contests, I was curious about NASA’s thinking behind launching this challenge. When I asked NASA’s open government team about the work, I immediately heard back from Nick Skytland (@Skytland), who heads up NASA’s open innovation team.

“The International Space Apps Challenge was a different approach from other federal government ‘app contests’ held before,” replied Skytland, via email.

“Instead of incentivizing technology development through open data and a prize purse, we sought to create a unique platform for international technological cooperation though a weekend-long event hosted in multiple locations across the world. We didn’t just focus on developing software apps, but actually included open hardware, citizen science, and data visualization as well.”

Aspects of that answer will please many open data advocates, like Clay Johnson or David Eaves. When Eaves recently looked at apps contests, in the context of his work on Open Data Day (coming up on February 23rd), he emphasized the importance of events that build community and applications that meet the needs of citizens or respond to business demand.

The rest of my email interview with Skytland follows. Read more…

Comment: 1
Four short links: 22 November 2012

Four short links: 22 November 2012

Urine Checkins, News Summaries, Zombie Ideas, and Scanner Plans

  1. Mark Your Territory — Urine integration for Foursquare. (via Beta Knowledge)
  2. TL;DR — news summaries. Finally.
  3. Zombie Ideas and Online InstructionThe repeated return of mistaken ideas captures well my experiences with technologies in schools and what I have researched over decades. The zombie idea that is rapidly being converted into policies that in the past have been “refuted with evidence but refuse to die” is: new technologies can cure K-12 and higher education problems of teaching and learning. The most recent incarnation of this revolving-door idea is widespread access to online instruction in K-12 education cyber-charter schools, blended schools where online instruction occurs for a few hours a day, and mandated courses that children and youth have to take.
  4. Google Open Sources Their Book Scanner — hardware designs for their clever system for high-throughput non-destructive book-scanning. (via Hackaday)
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They promised us flying cars

Tired of waiting, hackers and billionaires alike are building the future they want to see.

We may be living in the future, but it hasn’t entirely worked out how we were promised. I remember the predictions clearly: the 21st century was supposed to be full of self-driving cars, personal communicators, replicators and private space ships.

Except, of course, all that has come true. Google just got the first license to drive their cars entirely autonomously on public highways. Apple came along with the iPhone and changed everything. Three-dimensional printers have come out of the laboratories and into the home. And in a few short years, and from a standing start, Elon Musk and SpaceX has achieved what might otherwise have been thought impossible: late last year, SpaceX launched a spacecraft and returned it to Earth safely. Then they launched another, successfully docked it with the International Space Station, and then again returned it to Earth.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule is grappled and berthed to the Earth-facing port of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 12:02 p.m. EDT, May 25, 2012. Credit: NASA/SpaceX


Right now there is a generation of high-tech tinkerers breaking the seals on proprietary technology and prototyping new ideas, which is leading to a rapid growth in innovation. The members of this generation, who are building open hardware instead of writing open software, seem to have come out of nowhere. Except, of course, they haven’t. Promised a future they couldn’t have, they’ve started to build it. The only difference between them and Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Steve Jobs is that those guys got to build bigger toys than the rest of us.

The dotcom billionaires are regular geeks just like us. They might be the best of us, or sometimes just the luckiest, but they grew up with the same dreams, and they’ve finally given up waiting for governments to build the future they were promised when they were kids. They’re going to build it for themselves.

Read more…

Comments: 4