Microsoft Gets Hacker Friendly

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You don’t often hear hackers say a lot of good things about Microsoft. Sure, you might use Windows, especially if you have one of those embarrassing day jobs. But at night in a hacker’s secret lab, you are likely to find something that looks more like Unix, even if it has a penguin, a piece of fruit, or even a green robot on the label. But we’ll give Microsoft credit. Their new MakeCode site will be a great boon for educators, students, and anyone who wants to learn how to code. What’s more is they are joined by a lot …read more

Roll Your Own Raspberry Pi OS

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Writing an operating system is no small task, but like everything else it is easier than it used to be. [JSandler] has a tutorial on how to create a simple operating system for the Raspberry Pi. One thing that makes it easier is the development environment used. QEMU emulates a Raspberry Pi so you can do the development on a desktop PC and test in the virtual environment. When you are ready, you can set up a bootable SD card and try your work on a real device.

The operating system isn’t very complex, but it does boot, organize memory, …read more

Webhooks vs. Serverless: I Like Webhooks

See the original posting on DZone Python

The serverless vs webhooks debate has been discussed in developer communities for a couple years now. It usually comes up as the answer to this question: “How do we add more functionality to our platform faster?” Since everyone wants to build features faster, it comes up a lot.

In a perfect world, you’d be able to hire 100,000 engineers, split them into teams of four (with no managers!), and have each team own a feature: spec it out, build it, iterate on it with user feedback, and do it all in perfect harmony with every other team.

Getting to Know an 18th Century Hacker

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Here at Hackaday we tend to stay pretty close to the bleeding edge in tech, not by any conscious effort, but simply because that’s what most hackers are interested in. Sure we see the occasional vintage computer rebuild, or reverse engineering of some component that was put into service before most of us were born; but on the whole you’re way more likely to see projects involving the latest and greatest microcontroller to hit AliExpress than ones involving the once ubiquitous vacuum tube.

But occasionally it’s nice to take a step back from the latest and greatest, to really look …read more

Nintendo’s Newest Switch Accessories Are DIY Cardboard Toys

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sqorbit writes: Nintendo has announced a new experience for its popular Switch game console, called Nintendo Labo. Nintendo Labo lets you interact with the Switch and its Joy-Con controllers by building things with cardboard. Launching on April 20th, Labo will allow you to build things such as a piano and a fishing pole out of cardboard pieces that, once attached to the Switch, provide the user new ways to interact with the device. Nintendo of America’s President, Reggie Fils-Aime, states that “Labo is unlike anything we’ve done before.” Nintendo has a history of non-traditional ideas in gaming, sometimes working and sometimes not. Cardboard cuts may attract non-traditional gamers back to the Nintendo platform. While Microsoft and Sony appear to be focused on 4K, graphics and computing power, Nintendo appears focused on producing “fun” gaming experiences, regardless of how cheesy or technologically outdated they me be. Would you buy a Nintendo Labo kit for $69.99 or $79.99? “The ‘Variety Kit’ features five different games and Toy-Con — including the RC car, fishing, and piano — for $69.99,” The Verge notes. “The ‘Robot Kit,’ meanwhile, will be sold separately for $79.99.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A Modern Take on the Crystal Radio

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We’ll admit that [3DSage] has a pretty standard design for a crystal radio. What we liked, though, was the 3D printed chassis with solderless connections. Of course, the working pieces aren’t 3D printed — you need an earphone, a diode, and some wire too. You can see the build and the finished product in the video below.

Winding the coil is going to take awhile, and the tuning is done with the coil and capacitance built into the tuning arrangement so you won’t have to find a variable capacitor for this build. There is a picture of the radio using …read more

User succumbs to a seizure in virtual reality while other players can only watch

See the original posting on The Verge

While playing around in VRChat, an online virtual community, YouTuber Rogue Shadow VR noticed a player who appeared to be in trouble. His character — a red and black robot — was writhing on the floor and gasping in what appeared to be an epileptic seizure.

In the original video, spotted by Motherboard, Rogue Shadow VR explains that because the player had full body tracking, those in the online room were suddenly bystanders to his real-life dilemma. “There was no way we could tell at first, because all we see is this character he’s playing as,” Rogue Shadow VR says. VRChat is a strange platform to begin with, one where players can appear as any avatar they make, from pokémon and Rick & Morty characters to imagery from problematic memes….

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Is this Canon camera the next hot vlogging rig?

See the original posting on The Verge

If you had the chance to ask your favorite vlogger what they want in a camera, you’ll probably get a laundry list of feature requests. It should have the ability to record 4K video in a variety of framerates. It should be small and unobtrusive, so it can be carried around at arms length for hours at a time. It needs a display that flips around so they can see their framing when they are asking for their audience to smash that like button. And importantly, it needs an external microphone input so they can record clean, crisp audio to the same device they are filming with.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there aren’t really any cameras that fully fit this description. Even Sony’s super popular RX100 lineup lacks the microphone input that larger…

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Build a Sandblasting Rig for $6

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Let’s get something out of the way: yes, this assumes you already own or have access to a compressor. So if you do, and know what you’re getting into, why not build a cheap sandblasting rig? That’s what [adamf135] did after seeing someone do it on YouTube. He seriously doubted it would work, but the results are pretty impressive.

This one doesn’t require much more than an empty 20oz bottle, a cheap air gun/nozzle, and an adapter. The hardest part of this hack seems to be cutting a groove in the nozzle for the blasting material without severing it …read more

In the age of algorithms, would you hire a personal shopper to do your music discovery for you?

See the original posting on The Verge

Deb Oh wants to make you a playlist — a very expensive and pretty good one, based on a winding questionnaire and her encyclopedic knowledge of the near-limitless options for songs you haven’t yet heard.

For $125, she’ll pick out 10 songs you might like, and send them to you with notes explaining why her choices are right for your musical history, your personality, your frame of mind, and your phase of life. Her boutique service Debop launched last year, and she’s advertised solely by word of mouth, because three or four clients per month are pretty much all that she can handle.

It’s bananas, frankly. When I first read the price tag on her website, I said out loud, “It’s bananas.” To be fair, Oh will say this as well. “From a business…

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Wolves in the Walls is a virtual friendship wrapped in a detective story

See the original posting on The Verge

What does it mean to befriend a fictional character? How should you be able to interact with them, and how should they respond to you? And can virtual reality help the process, by immersing you in their world?

These are a few of the questions nascent VR studio Fable began asking when developing Wolves in the Walls, an experience premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. Wolves in the Walls adapts Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s eponymous children’s book, where a girl named Lucy becomes convinced there are wolves in her house’s walls. (Spoiler: there are.) In the first of three short episodes, she paces her attic looking for evidence that might convince her family. Her world is colorful and a little cartoonish, with moments that are even…

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Gboard just made it too easy to post insane GIF selfies

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Gboard, Google’s iOS and Android keyboard app, has quietly updated its design by moving its GIF-making button up next to the word suggestion bar. The GIF-making feature has been around since last September, but it was hidden behind the emoji button on the bottom.

With its shiny new placement, the button allows for GIFs to be recorded from the front and back camera, and it lets you record in two modes: “Loop,” which is basically a Boomerang you can record for three seconds, and “Fast-Forward,” which lets you record up to one minute and speeds up the result. When you’re done recording, you can copy and paste the GIF into your message, and send it off to your friends.

Recording and making your own GIFs isn’t new — you can…

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Inside Oculus and Black Eyed Peas’ VR comic book

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 “When people view VR, it’s an over-sensory experience like “What the fuck?!” says, wildly spinning his around as you can see in the GIF below. That was the Black Eyed Peas’ frontman’s inspiration for creating a 90-minute VR comic book that moves at your pace and lets emotion sink in instead of battering you with visuals. Today, “Masters Of… Read More

The Jamboxx is a MIDI instrument you control with your breath

See the original posting on The Verge

The Jamboxx, a hands-free wind MIDI controller, has relaunched and opened its store again after a year and a half-long hiatus off the market. The new version of the Jamboxx is retooled to include a specially developed optical sensor that should last longer and provide a better playing experience.

The Jamboxx is pretty unusual for a musical instrument. It works by registering breath blown into the front of it via a mouthpiece, similar to a harmonica. How impactful the breath is changes the velocity of the note, and moving the mouthpiece from side to side changes what note is played. There is the option to adjust the breath control to set the amount of airflow needed to play notes. The face of the instrument also has tactile bumps, similar…

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Squid wars and methane explosions: how Blue Planet II captured never-before-seen views of the ocean

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On her very first dive into the frigid waters of Antarctica, Orla Doherty’s yellow submarine began taking on water. So she did what she was supposed to — she stuck a finger in the puddle at her feet and licked it. It was salty. That meant it wasn’t drinking water spilled by one of the crew members; it was saltwater leaking into the sub — at 1,476 feet (450 meters) below the surface. “That made my heart start beating quite fast,” says Doherty, a producer for BBC America.

Doherty braved the perilous Antarctic waters for the TV series Planet Earth: Blue Planet II, which premieres in the US on January 20th. The sequel to the 2001 The Blue Planet takes viewers into a seven-episode tour of the world’s oceans, from coral reefs to the bottom of…

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Becoming a mother in a Rohingya refugee camp

See the original posting on Boing Boing

This was her third baby. She was accustomed to the harsh realities of motherhood in a life in poverty. But I wasn’t.

I’m a midwife. I was volunteering at one of the camp clinics when I was called to visit Rojinessa on the morning after her baby was born. I walked about half a mile into the sprawling refugee camps to her tent and stepped inside. The tent was smoky and very dark. I could hardly breathe. I asked one of the Bangladeshi midwives who came with me to open the flap of plastic sheeting that served as a door.

Rojinessa was sitting on the concrete floor on a thin woven mat. The remains of a small fire was inches from her “bed.” She and her husband and her now three children live in a one bedroom tent in the middle of what used to be a rice field. Cows bathe in the small polluted stream that bubbles twelve feet from the structure.

I don’t know what happened during the birth because I wasn’t there. All volunteers are required to leave the camps by 5 pm every day. Most babies are born at night, so even as trained medical personnel, we are cold comfort to the mothers giving birth in the camps. Plus, I don’t speak the Rohingya dialect. And neither, it seems, do many others. The Chittagong dialect of Bangla, I’m told, is somewhat similar, but miscommunications are all too common as we play “telephone” from English to Bangla to Rohingya.

Rojinessa’s blood pressure and pulse were normal. She didn’t have a fever. She complained of weakness, dizziness, fatigue. No kidding. She hadn’t eaten anything but rice in days. Her family could not afford to buy one of the live chickens sold at the pop-up market by the road. We had nothing to give her but a few biscuits and… you guessed it, more rice, with a few lentils mixed in. She had no menstrual pads to catch postpartum bleeding. We were able to bring her some from the clinic.

Her baby was vigorous and hungry. Good signs. She popped him on her breast to nurse like she had done it hundreds of times before. Fantastic.

Pregnant women in Ukhia sometimes walk miles to receive care at one of the women’s-only clinics sprinkled throughout the camps. The clinics themselves are tents. Only a few of them have electricity. Most of them lack the equipment to provide the most basic prenatal and postpartum care. Running a routine lab test is out of the question, much less listening to a fetus on a heart rate monitor or ordering an ultrasound. We have to use our hands, our ears and eyes, and hope for the best.

If there is a true emergency, we can refer a patient to the Red Crescent or MSF hospital tents a few miles down the road, where they have some more capabilities. But there are a number of reasons a woman might not go. Maybe her husband won’t give her permission. Or he can’t give her permission because he’s out working in the fields. Or she doesn’t have anyone to watch her other children.

Rohingya mothers grow small babies. They often have trouble producing enough milk for their babies because they don’t have enough food themselves. All of the people in the camps are malnourished. They have been trapped in a state of abject poverty since long before they fled their homes. At the clinic we give each mother a small package of high-calorie cookies and a fist-sized bag of rice with lentils at every visit – which is about once a month. The food is encouragement to come and get care. But it isn’t anywhere near enough.

Rojinessa and her baby survived birth in the camp. Not all do. Hopefully they will continue to survive and her baby boy will grow into one of the many children running and playing everywhere in the camps. They play soccer with empty plastic jugs and make kites out of bamboo sticks and plastic bags. But survival is about all they can hope for. Without a home and without access to education, without the legal right to work, her family, as well as the other hundreds of thousands of families in the camps, continues to face a desolate future.

Firen Jones is a midwife from Texas who has found her home in San Francisco. She spends her time catching babies, running her midwifery practice, and occasionally getting to travel the world and volunteer. You can find her through her website, blog, or on Medium.

A Keyboard To Stomp On

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Macros are useful things. They allow one to execute a series of commands with a single keypress. There exists a wide variety of hardware and software solutions to create and use macros to improve your workflow, and now [Evan] has brought the open-source ManyKey into the fray, along with a build tutorial to boot.

The tutorial acts as a great introduction to ManyKey, as [Evan] walks through the construction of a macro keyboard designed to be operated by the feet. Based around the Arduino Leonardo and using off-the-shelf footswitches commonly used in guitar effects, it’s accessible while still hinting at …read more

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