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Augmented Reality Pinball

Pinball machines are fascinating pieces of mechanical and electrical engineering, and now [Yair Moshe] and his students at the Israel Institute of Technology has taken the classic game one step further.  Using computer vision and a projector, this group of engineers has created an augmented reality pinball game that takes pinball to a whole new level.

Once the laptop, webcam, and projector are set up, a course is drawn on a whiteboard which the computer “sees” to determine the rules of the game. Any course you can imagine can be drawn on the whiteboard too, with an interesting set of rules that no regular pinball game could take advantage of. Most notably, the ball can change size when it hits certain types of objects, which makes for a very interesting and unconventional style of play.

The player uses their hands to control the flippers as well, but not with buttons. The computer watches the position of the player’s hands and flips the flippers when it sees a hand in the right position. [Yair] and his students recently showed this project off at DLD Tel Aviv and even got [Shimon Perez], former President of Israel, to play some pinball at the conference!

Filed under: misc hacks

Video to Picture Converter is capable of converting almost all frequently used video files to a wide range of image formats.

Video to Picture Converter is capable of converting almost all video files including AVI, MPEG, WMV, DVD (VOB), DVR-MS RM and MKV, etc to a wide range of image formats, like JPG, BMP, GIF, TGA, TIF, PCX, PNG and ICO. And new file formats are keeping added. Except the basic video-picture conversion, it also can make animated GIF from a video with ease.

Key features:

  • Convert a video to seriate pictures;
  • Convert a video to animated GIF;
  • Support all popular video and photo formats;
  • Precise Control of Frame Rate;
  • A Build-in video Player supporting any Video Format;
  • Apply special effects like Brightness, Blur, Invert, Noise and Red etc.

Please note: Giveaway version does not support free upgrade. Want to enjoy lifetime free upgrade? Please join our Black Friday promotion. Purchase Now, Only $14.90.

Myths & Misconceptions About Evolution

While scientists welcome the constructive criticism of ideas, theories, and hypotheses, most of the time, when people are pointing out “errors” in evolution, their concerns arise from a misunderstanding of what evolution actually is. And even when people do accept the science of evolution, they frequently get things wrong. For instance, when talking about “survival of the fittest,” it is species (not individual organisms) that adapt to produce evolution.

In this short video, Alex Gendler sets the record straight on the finer points of evolution.

WATCH: Top Evolution Myths

READ NEXT: More Evolution Myths

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Analog Instagram

Several decades ago, the all the punks and artsy types had terrible lenses with terrible camera that leaked light everywhere. Film was crap, and thus was born the fascinating world of Lomography, with effects and light leaks unique to individual cameras. Now, everyone has a smartphone with high-resolution sensors, great lenses, and Instagram to replicate the warm look of filters, light leaks, and other ‘artististic’ photographic techniques. The new version of this photography is purely in the digital domain, and wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to make your digital selfies analog once again? The SnapJet team has your back.

Instead of adding filters and other digital modifications to smartphone snaps, the SnapJet prints pictures onto Polaroid film. Yes, you can still buy this film, and yes, it’s exactly how you remember it. By putting a smartphone down on the SnapJet, you’ll only need to press a button, wait for the film to be exposed, dispensed, and developed. What comes out of the SnapJet is an analog reproduction of whatever is displayed on your phone’s screen, with all the digital filters you can imagine and the option to modify the photos in the analog domain; eac Polaroid can be turned into a transparency, with backlit LEDs being an obvious application:


film thingyThe current prototype of the SnapJet is an interesting exercise in sourcing components – the guts of the mechanism is torn from a Fuji instant camera. The version the team is working on will completely remake the mechanism, and release it as open source. Yes, this is a completely new mechanism for film that hasn’t changed in a few decades. It’s impressive work, and we can’t wait to see the finished version.

Filed under: digital cameras hacks

Bitcoin anonymity, hackers can deanonymize users from their transactions

A group of researchers at the University of Luxembourg have demonstrated that is it possible to de-anonymize Bitcoin users from its transactions.

The majority if Bitcoin users consider the virtual currency absolutely anonymous, but researchers at the University of Luxembourg have demonstrated that is it possible to de-anonymize clients in a Bitcoin P2P network.

In the paper written by Alex Biryukov, Dmitry Khovratovich and Ivan Pustogarov and titled “Deanonymisation of clients in Bitcoin P2P network“the experts explain hot it is possible to exploit a built in flaw in the Bitcoin system to reveal the IP address, and the identity, of users that make a payment with the virtual currency.

blog post by Mary-Ann Russon on the International Business Times reports that, as explained by researchers, a hacker could de-anonymize a Bitcoin user from its transactions through Tor for €1,500.

The attack consists in generating ‘malformed message’, faking that it had been sent by the user through the Bitcoin peer-to-peer network. These malformed messages cause the increase for the penalty score of the IP address, and if fake messages exceed 100, the IP could be banned for 24 hours. Sending fake messages it is possible even if they are sent from a Tor exit node.

For example, say there are 1,008 Tor exit nodes. The hacker just needs to establish 1,008 connections and send a few megabytes of data to all connections from the Tor exit nodes to Bitcoin servers. Once the attacker knows what all the servers are and the bitcoin users have been banned from accessing these servers using Tor, they will then have to access the servers the normal way.” states Mary-Ann Russon in the post.

At this point, every time a user’s client makes a connection to the Bitcoin server, its address will be revealed.

“Once the hacker knows this address, he can trick the Bitcoin server into revealing the IP address of the user,” states the post.

The researchers in the paper described their technique with the following statements:

“The crucial idea of our attack is to identify each client by an octet of outgoing connections it establishes. This octet of Bitcoin peers [entry nodes] serves as a unique identifier of a client for thewhole duration of a user session and will differentiate even those users who share the same NAT IP address,” the authors stress.” in reported in the paper-“As soon as the attacker receives the transaction from just two to three entry nodes he can with very high probability link the transaction to a specific client.”

The researchers explained in the paper that the anonymity in the Bitcoin virtual currency scheme is weak. Many featured could be exploited to run a cyber attack on the crypto currency and reveal a user’s identity.

bitcoin anonymity paper

The usage of Tor could increase the level of anonymity, but anyway hacker can always track users from their Bitcoin payments.

 “We demonstrate that the use of Tor does not rule out the attack as Tor connections can be prohibited for the entire network. It shows that the level of network anonymity provided by Bitcoin is quite low. Several features of the Bitcoin protocol makes the attack possible. In particular, we emphasize that the stable set of only eight entry nodes is too small, as the majority of these nodes’ connections can be captured by an attacker.” states the paper.

Another problem related to the anonymity of the Bitcoin is that the virtual currency lack of a robust authentication system, this makes easy for an attacker to cause nodes blacklisting the IP addresses of seemingly misbehaving connections.

“We figured out that very short messages may cause a day IP ban, which can be used to separate a given node or the entire network from anonymity services such as proxy servers or Tor. If the Bitcoin community wishes to use Tor, this part of the protocol must be reconsidered.”

Experts at Tor Project speculated that a similar technique could have been exploited by law enforcement in the recent operation Onymous against black markets in the Tor Network, allowing authorities to persecute their operators.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  Bitcoin, hacking)

The post Bitcoin anonymity, hackers can deanonymize users from their transactions appeared first on Security Affairs.

Modular Multicopter Core Flies in Multiple Orientations

[Ioannis Kedros] claims to be rather new to the game of building multi-rotor drones. You’d never know it looking at his latest creation. Yes, we’re talking about the quadcopter seen here, but it’s the core of the machine that’s so interesting. He came up with a PCB hub that allows multiple orientations to be used with the same board. These include tri-copter, and quadcopter with different strut angles for different applications.

multicopter-hub-pcbThe silk screen of the PCB has dotted lines showing the different angles possible for one pair of motor supports. One set makes a perfect “X” for traditional quadcopter flight. Another reduces the angle between front and back struts for higher-performance quad flight, while the last set is intended for a tricopter setup.

We’d recommend taking a look at [Ioannis’] project writeup whether this particular application interests you or not. His design techniques go through all possible manner of checks before placing the PCB order. There is no substitute for this process if you want to avoid getting burnt by silly mistakes.

Filed under: drone hacks

Magnetic Putty Is Coming…FOR YOU

Magnetic putty looks a little creepy (seriously, it does. I can’t be the only one thinking this), but it’s pretty astounding stuff. Like any other putty, it can be stretched, bounced, molded, popped, and well, all the other stuff that regular putty does. However, when you take this putty and put it by a magnet, it does some pretty cool stuff.

In the presence of a magnetic field, it exhibits fascinating properties. This is because magnetic putty has millions of tiny micron-sized magnets are embedded in it. So you can use other magnets to control the putty like a snake charmer (like what you see in the image). Or “charge” the blob of putty so it can become a magnet of its own and pick up small tacks and paperclips.

You can get some of your own here.

WATCH: Magnetic Putty in Action

The post Magnetic Putty Is Coming…FOR YOU appeared first on From Quarks to Quasars.

Jaw-Dropping Atomic Clock Build

You could cruise the Internet bazaars for a talking clock but you’ll never find one as awesome as this. Just look at it… even if it didn’t work it would be awesome.

[Art] certainly lives up to his username. His Rubidium-standard atomic real-time clock is surely an example of hardware art. The substrate is a collection of point-to-point soldered perfboard modules. Each laid out meticulously. What does such layout call for? A gorgeous enclosure which doesn’t obscure your view of the components. For this he went with a copper tube frame and a custom fabricated aluminum chassis pan.

For the circuit itself [Art] tells us he wanted to build something akin to the old HP nixie frequency counters so he went with logic chips. The pictures and a few video annotations are the only clues we have for how this works. Hopefully your encouragement in the comments will help prompt him to share more about that.

Oh, and the talking clock part that we referred to earlier? Every minute you get a readout of the time thanks to a PIC playing back audio using [Roman Black’s] BTc sound compression algorithm.

Filed under: clock hacks

The Riddle of the Antikythera Mechanism Deepens

Part of the Antikythera Mechanism, above, an astronomical calculator raised from a shipwreck in 1901. Image credit: MPIWG

Part of the Antikythera Mechanism, above, an astronomical calculator raised from a shipwreck in 1901. Image credit: MPIWG

When we think about technology, we tend to think about modern society. Indeed, we generally believe that technological devices were not known to ancient peoples. However, as it turns out, this assumption is a little off-base. Case in point: The Antikythera Mechanism.

This is a truly ancient device. Based on its design, scientists believe that its construction may have been influenced by the scientific teachings of Archimedes (who was an Ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, astronomer, engineer, inventor, and well, pretty much everything). But part of the problem with figuring out when the device comes from is knowing what it was for. If we could clearly tie down its purpose, it would help us connect it to a specific time-period and culture; however, the device has remained somewhat elusive.

Yet, we have figured out some things regarding its functions, and it turns out that the device is truly a complex bit of tech—a real feat of engineering (for its time, anyways). Scientists and researchers assert that the assembly of bronze gears and displays was likely used to accurately predict lunar and solar eclipses, as well as solar, lunar, and planetary positions. If that’s not enough, it also tracked the dates of the Olympic Games.

But whatever its overall purpose, it has been noted that “nothing like it would appear for another 1,000 years; it’s truly an object out of time.”

A digital image of the surface inscriptions on the Antikythera Mechanism.

A digital image of the surface inscriptions on the Antikythera Mechanism.

This device was discovered in an ancient shipwreck near Crete in 1901. Scientists estimate that the ship sunk approximately 2,100 years ago (sometime between 85 and 60 BCE. Initially, it was assumed that the artifacts that were found on this vessel dated to sometime around this period. However, the Antikythera Mechanism defied this assumption.

In the 1970s, researchers asserted that the engravings came from sometime around 87 B.C, which essentially fits in line with the date that the ship sank. Yet, shortly after, scientists who were examining the forms of the Greek letters in the inscriptions stated that the mechanism was about 100 years older than that, coming from sometime around 150  BCE.

For a little perspective, at this point, the Great Wall of China was just being erected and was slowly creeping its way across the Gobi desert, and Julius Caesar won’t be born for another 50 years (in 102 BCE).

However, in a paper that appeared this month in the journal Archive for History of Exact Sciences, Dr. Christián C. Carman, a science historian at the National University of Quilmes in Argentina, and Dr. James Evans, a physicist at the University of Puget Sound in Washington, suggest that the calendar of the mysterious device began in 205 B.C., which makes it half a century older than previous estimates. Ultimately, this means that the device predates paper (which wouldn’t be invented in China until sometime around 100 BCE).

The researchers based their conclusions on the fact that the device’s eclipse patterns fit Babylonian eclipse records. The conclusions are bolstered by previous findings. Previously, scholars asserted that the mechanism’s eclipse prediction strategy was not based on Greek trigonometry, which did not exist at the time, but was based on Babylonian arithmetical methods borrowed by the Greeks.

Some have noted that it’s slightly problematic to date an object to the period at which the device’s calendar seems to start. As, for example, it could it have been built to see what celestial arrangements looked like in the past. However, to reiterate, these conclusions are not standing on their own. Rather, it supports other findings about the prediction strategy that the device utilized. Also, it would be a little weird to make a device to predict when previous Olympic games took place.

Either way, it is a complex and wondrous mystery. And maybe it’s far older…who knows, maybe it was left behind by Doctor Who on one of his many adventures…

The post The Riddle of the Antikythera Mechanism Deepens appeared first on From Quarks to Quasars.

Shutterfly web properties suffer data breach

Working from the comfort and solitude of my fortress in the north I stumbled across an announcement that the online image publishing service, Shutterfly, had a few of their web properties compromised. They released the information and did so roughly a week after the breach was initially discovered. Not too shabby on their part. 

Then I read the most wonderful statement I have seen in a breach disclosure in a long while, "We encrypt customer credit and debit card information". I jumped for joy. I would LOVE to see that in more cases like this but, more importantly I would like to see fewer of these data breaches period. 

They took the step to "encourage" their customers to change their passwords. To be fair the prudent step would have been to reset them and let the users change them. Not the end of the world but, it would have been nice to see that. 

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Keep Tabs on Passing Jets with Pi and SDR

Obviously Software Defined Radio is pretty cool. For a lot of hackers you just need the right project to get you into it. Submitted for your approval is just that project. [Simon Aubury] has been using a Raspberry Pi and SDR to record video of planes passing overhead. The components are cheap and most places have planes passing by; this just might be the perfect project.

We’re not just talking static frames with planes passing through them, oh no. Simon used two hobby servos and some brackets to gimbal his Pi camera board. A DVB dongle allows the rig to listen in on the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) coming from the planes. This system is mandated for most commercial aircraft (deadlines for implementation vary). ADS-B consists of positioning data being broadcast from planes using known frequencies and protocols. Once [Simon] locks onto this data he can accomplish a lot, like keeping the plane in the center of the video, establishing which flight is being recorded, and automatically uploading the footage. With such a marvelously executed build we’re certain we will see more people giving it a try.

[Simon] did a great job with the writeup too. Not only did he include a tl;dr, but drilled down through a project summary and right to the gritty details. Well done documentation is itself worth celebrating!

Filed under: radio hacks, Raspberry Pi

Scientists Find a Huge, Star Trek-esque Invisible Dome Around Earth

Over the last decade of so, scientists have learned that Earth is more complex than we ever imagined. There is an underground “ocean” tucked deep within Earth’s interior, life all the way at the bottom of the deepest oceanic abyss, large, mysterious holes that pop up out of nowhere and a number of other things. As fascinating as all of these geological things are, what we can’t see might be even better

Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, using Suomi NPP VIIRS imagery from NOAA's Environmental Visualization Laboratory.

Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, using Suomi NPP VIIRS imagery from NOAA’s Environmental Visualization Laboratory.

Now, a team of researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder have added another new thing to the list. In addition to the magnetic portals connecting Earth to the Sun, the huge bubble of dead star guts (which technically encompasses our entire solar system), and a (theoretical) halo of dark matter, Earth also appears to be surrounded by an invisible dome (*cue creepy music*), extending well over 7,200 miles above Earth’s surface.

Like our atmosphere and magnetic field, this newly-discovered ‘structure’ strategically shields Earth from dangerous particles, including “killer electrons” that whip around the planet at relativistic speeds (or speeds comparable to that of light). Despite the fact that WE are protected from them, it’s well known that they pose serious danger to astronauts and other space-based equipment.

It’s also believed that the barrier is tied to the Van Allen belts — the two, doughnut-shaped rings of high-energy radiation encircling Earth.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Image credit: Wikipedia

As Professor Daniel Baker, director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), describes, “The barrier to the particle motion was discovered in the Van Allen radiation belts.” “Held in place by Earth’s magnetic field,” they “periodically swell and shrink in response to incoming energy disturbances from the Sun.”

“As the first significant discovery of the space age, the Van Allen radiation belts were detected in 1958 by Professor James Van Allen and his team at the University of Iowa and were found to be comprised of an inner and outer belt extending up to 25,000 miles above Earth’s surface. In 2013, Baker — who received his doctorate under Van Allen — led a team that used the twin Van Allen probes launched by NASA in 2012 to discover a third, transient “storage ring” between the inner and outer Van Allen radiation belts that seems to come and go with the intensity of space weather.”

“The latest mystery revolves around an “extremely sharp” boundary at the inner edge of the outer belt at roughly 7,200 miles in altitude that appears to block the ultrafast electrons from breeching the shield and moving deeper towards Earth’s atmosphere.”

“It’s almost like theses electrons are running into a glass wall in space,” said Baker, the study’s lead author. “Somewhat like the shields created by force fields on Star Trek that were used to repel alien weapons, we are seeing an invisible shield blocking these electrons. It’s an extremely puzzling phenomenon.”

[viaUniversity of Colorado Boulder]  

When the researchers first found the dome, they believed that the charged electrons in question loop back around Earth at 100,000 miles per second, before diverting downward (into the upper-atmosphere). From there, they meet air molecules, which eventually results in them being wiped out completely. However, they now know that “the impenetrable barrier seen by the twin Van Allen belt spacecraft stops the electrons before they get that far,” said Baker.

 The group looked at a number of scenarios that could create and maintain such a barrier. The team wondered if it might have to do with Earth’s magnetic field lines, which trap and control protons and electrons, bouncing them between Earth’s poles like beads on a string. The also looked at whether radio signals from human transmitters on Earth could be scattering the charged electrons at the barrier, preventing their downward motion. Neither explanation held scientific water, Baker said.

“Nature abhors strong gradients and generally finds ways to smooth them out, so we would expect some of the relativistic electrons to move inward and some outward,” said Baker. “It’s not obvious how the slow, gradual processes that should be involved in motion of these particles can conspire to create such a sharp, persistent boundary at this location in space.”

Another scenario is that the giant cloud of cold, electrically charged gas called the plasmasphere, which begins about 600 miles above Earth and stretches thousands of miles into the outer Van Allen belt, is scattering the electrons at the boundary with low frequency, electromagnetic waves that create a plasmaspheric “hiss,” said Baker. The hiss sounds like white noise when played over a speaker, he said.

[via: University of Colorado Boulder]  

Baker finishes by remarking that the researchers still believe the ‘plasmaspheric hiss’ is related to the barrier, but it’s not the be all, end all mechanism at work,

The Plasmasphere (Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Goddard)

The Plasmasphere (Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Goddard)

“I think the key here is to keep observing the region in exquisite detail, which we can do because of the powerful instruments on the Van Allen probes. If the Sun really blasts the Earth’s magnetosphere with a coronal mass ejection (CME), I suspect it will breach the shield for a period of time,” said Baker, also a faculty member in the astrophysical and planetary sciences department.

“It’s like looking at the phenomenon with new eyes, with a new set of instrumentation, which give us the detail to say, ‘Yes, there is this hard, fast boundary,'” said John Foster, associate director of MIT’s Haystack Observatory and a study co-author.

The post Scientists Find a Huge, Star Trek-esque Invisible Dome Around Earth appeared first on From Quarks to Quasars.

Greater Mouse Deer – Gives Peek at What Extinct Animals Were Like

Greater mouse deerThe greater mouse deer (Tragulus napu) is not a true deer, although it has some deer-like characteristics. Also called the Malay tapu (tapu is the local name for the animal) this curious and cute creature is classified as an ungulate. Ungulates are any creatures with hooves. Deer are also classified as ungulates. But unlike deer, female greater mouse deer are larger than males. They also do not have a specific rutting season. The greater mouse deer breeds any time.

Although not considered endangered, the greater mouse’s natural habitat is being destroyed at an alarming rate. Although extinct in Singapore, it can still be found in the dwindling forests of Borneo, Sumatra, Thailand, the Indonesian islands and the Malaysian Islands. They eat leaves, bugs, shrubs, twigs and grasses, although the latter is rarely found in thick tropical forests. This is the same diet that many now-extinct mammals such as the earliest known horse ate. Today’s mouse deer strongly resemble the fossils of eohippus.

General Description

In profile, this species has a body shaped like a furry brown pear laying on its side with four slim legs. Some people describe the greater mouse deer as a "stretched out guinea pig." The neck is very short, the rump very wide in comparison to the small, narrow head. They have much smaller ears in comparison to true deer. A black stripe connects the black-rimmed ears across the large eyes to the small black nose.

Although tiny for an ungulate, it is the largest mouse deer species in the world. Males stand 12 inches (30 cm) from the bottom of the hoof to the tops of their shoulders. Females can grow as large as 14 inches (35 cm.) Their bodies are longer than they are tall. Males are 2.3 feet (70 cm) long, while females can grow as long as 2.5 feet (75 cm.) Males can weigh about 11 pounds (5 kilograms) while females can tip the scales at 17.6 pounds (8 kilograms.)


Not much is known about the behavior of wild greater mouse deer, since these are incredibly shy nocturnal animals. Unlike deer, they live solitary lives instead of moving in herds. They only come together to mate. Instead of antlers, male greater mouse deer have tusks. Gestation is 152 – 155 days long. Females can mate within a few days of giving birth to their single babies. Meanwhile, babies can stand within a half-hour of being born and can run with their mothers from predators like birds of prey, humans, feral dogs and monitor lizards.

Although solitary, greater mouse deer constantly communicate to others of their kind through scent-marking. Along with urine and feces, they rub their chins on branches or rock outcroppings. A gland in their chin produces a scent distinctive to other mouse deer. They also can communicate by sound. When scared, greater mouse deer rapidly drum their hooves on the ground. They can be tamed, but ideally should live in the wild. With luck, they can live up to 14 years old.

Picture of the greater mouse deer by Brian Gratwicke, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.

Hackerspace Tours: Cambridge Makespace

Part of our whirlwind UK visit took us to Cambridge, where we had the joyous opportunity to check out Cambridge Makespace. The main space was formerly part of the Institute for Manufacturing Robot Lab at Cambridge University, so it has a long heritage of supporting engineering innovation.

There was some excitement when we turned up, as a second LS6090 PRO Laser Cutter had just been delivered. As one of the most used items in the space, they needed a pair. They were situated in the largest work room which also included soldering stations, co-working areas and some materials/tools storage.

Ahh, new laser cutter smell Please be gentle Laser cutter materials

At the space we had arranged to meet [Simon Jelley] and [Mark Mellors], who we recently featured when [Simon] responded to our call for hoverboard tech in action (we’ll see more about their projects later). Luckily [Mark] is a Makespace member and gave us the grand tour.

Cambridge Makespace opened it’s doors in March 2013 using grant funding and sponsorship from IdeaSpace, Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), ARM, TTP, Microsoft Research and Cambridge Science Centre. It now boasts around 200 fee paying members who have 24/7 access to the 4000 sqft workshop and event space.

Wood & metal workshop

There is a separate machining room which has a large format CNC, Warco mill, lathe, and the usual wood working tools. Each piece of equipment in the space has a tool class and owners. Tool class red means high risk (to members or the equipment) and a member needs to be trained before use. Orange items pose moderate risk so training is optional, and green is low risk. Owners do basic maintenance and train new members. It all works out quite nicely.

Screen printer and sewing machine Knitting machine Tuck shop

The several other rooms include a large classroom/function room, a small sewing/knitting/printing & embossing room, the Cake Space (kitchen) with a large supply of tuck & pot noodle, and quite a lot of corridor which houses racks with member storage boxes.

Wayne Keenan playing against Ben MeArm obstacle on the Cannybot track Cannybots - look at them go! Robert Karpinski's Battle Bot Martin De Selincourt's Stirling Engine IMG_1293 [Brian's] Blinkenlights and Naughty or nice box Piwars robot

We saw a lot of great projects from members including a see-thru Stirling engine, battle bots, a pi-wars bot, and [Brian’s] naughty or nice box. Ben spent quite a lot of time playing with the Cannybot line following robots that you can play like Scaletrix using a gamepad or your smart phone.

Hoverbot can only be tamed by mugs of tea Hoverbot in flight IMG_1282 Hoverbot IMG_1272

We had also asked [Simon] and [Mark] to bring in some of the projects we had seen on their site like the Nixie ClockDiamagnetic Magnetic Levitation, and the Peggy Station Clock. However, we were really excited to see the Hoverbot in action. For it’s size, it made quite a lot of noise once it got going. They have been refining the design and we’re hoping that we might see a rideable version in the future.

Missing something? Put your stuff away Soldering station Dot Matix Cult of Done Manifesto Embossing machine with many heads Babel fish Cake Space (AKA the kitchen) Padauk Nixie Clock Peggy Station Clock Diamagnetic Magnetic Levitation Diamagnetic Magnetic Levitation IMG_1307 Wood workshop Wood & metal workshop Warco Mill instructions Wood workshop Do Not Be On Fire 3D print of Hack Hitchin's potential space
Filed under: Hackerspaces

Ferrofluid: Liquid Art

Image credit:

Image credit:

A ferrofluid is, quite simply, a fluid with magnetic particles in it. This means that, if the fluid is exposed to a magnetic field, all the magnetic particles will align with the field lines. Specifically, ferrofluid is a colloidal liquid made of particles less than 10 nanometers in diameter, and when it’s subjected to a magnetic field, it’s these nanoparticles that form regular patterns of peaks and valleys.

The substance invented in 1963 by NASA’s Steve Papell in order to transport liquid when there is a lack of (less)  gravity. It was designed as liquid rocket fuel that could be drawn toward a pump in a weightless environment by applying a magnetic field

Best of all, you can make it yourself. Learn how to make it here. Note: You will have to have a pretty strong magnet and some printer ink.

WATCH: Ferrofluid in Action

The post Ferrofluid: Liquid Art appeared first on From Quarks to Quasars.

The Syrian Electronic Army is causing a mass media outage through Gigya hacking

High profile global websites using the customer management platform Gigya suffered a traffic redirection attack operated by the Syrian Electronic Army.

A significant number of popular websites belonging to media organizations appeared to has been hacked by the hacking collective of Syrian Electronic Army on Thursday.

Syrian Electronic Army gigya hacked by SEA

The apparently hacked website, including The Independent, Telegraph e The Chicago Tribune, CNBC and other popular media agency like the Italian La Repubblica, display the following message

 “You’ve been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)”. 

syrian electronic army notification

According to the screenshots posted via Twitter by SEA also Dell, Microsoft, Ferrari and Unicef were hit by the hackers. Experts have immediately thought to an hack of customer management platform Gigya, which is used by hundreds of leading brands.

In an email from Gigya, visioned by journalists at CNBC, the company confirmed that it is under attack, apparently calls to Gigya domains were redirected to websites controlled by attackers and used to spread the messages. Fortunately the SEA haven’t used the traffic redirection to serve malware on final users, instead it has only spread propaganda messages.

gigya hacked by Syrian Electronic Army 3

The hackers of SEA team have chosen this date because it is Thanksgiving in the U.S. and probably the majority of Americans are browsing news websites in their spare time.

The Syrian Electronic Army supports the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in the last years the group hacked several important companies and media agencies, including the BBC, the Associated PressThe Financial TimesThe New Your Time and the Guardian, Microsoft and Twitter.

The group is politically motivated and many security experts consider its campaigns as part of PSYOPs campaign directed by the Syrian Regime.  The Syrian Electronic Army first emerged in May 2011, during the first Syrian uprisings, when it conducted various attacks against social media for pro-Assad propaganda.

Stay tuned for more information …

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  SEA, Gigya)

The post The Syrian Electronic Army is causing a mass media outage through Gigya hacking appeared first on Security Affairs.

Improving the T-962 Reflow Oven

The T-962A is a very popular reflow oven available through the usual kinda-shady retail channels. It’s pretty cheap, and therefore popular, and the construction actually isn’t abysmal. The controller for this oven is downright terrible, and [wj] has been working on a replacement firmware for the horribly broken one provided with this oven. It’s open source, and the only thing you need to update your oven is a TTL/UART interface.

[WJ] bought his T-962A even after seeing some of the negative reviews that suggested replacing the existing controller and display. This is not in true hacker fashion – there’s already a microcontroller and display on the board.

The new firmware uses the existing hardware and adds a very necessary modification: stock, the oven makes the assumption that the cold-junction of the thermocouples is at 20°C. The controller sits on top of an oven with two TRIACs nearby, so this isn’t the case, making the temperature calibration of the oven slightly terrible.

After poking around the board, [WJ] found an LPC2000-series microcontroller and a spare GPIO pin for a 1-wire temperature sensor. The temperature sensor is placed right next to the terminal block for the thermocouples for proper temperature sensing.

All the details of updating the firmware appear on a wiki, and the only thing required to update the firmware is a serial/USB/UART converter. A much better solution than ripping out the controller and replacing it with a custom one.

Filed under: repair hacks, tool hacks

Astronomy Photo of the Day: 11/27/14 — Supernovae in The Norma Constellation

Image Credit: NASA/CXC/GSFC/T.Temim et al.

Image Credit: NASA/CXC/GSFC/T.Temim et al.

Supernovae are calledEarth-shattering kabooms for a reason; they are among the most violent forces of nature, yet there’s something intrinsically beautiful about them. In images taken by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, we see two separate regions with the likeness of a lobster, both forged in the aftermath of a cataclysmic (totally “Earth-shattering”) event.

NASA explains how these events are triggered:

“When a massive star runs out of fuel resulting in a supernova explosion, the central regions usually collapse to form a neutron star. The energy generated by the formation of the neutron star triggers a supernova. As the outward-moving shock wave sweeps up interstellar gas, a reverse shock wave is driven inward, heating the stellar ejecta.”

“Meanwhile, the rapid rotation and intense magnetic field of the neutron star, a.k.a. a pulsar, combine to generate a powerful wind of high-energy particles. This so-called pulsar wind nebula can glow brightly in X-rays and radio waves.”

[via Chandra]

… bringing us to these cosmic landmarks. The first object (pictured on the right), called MSH 11-62, is a mysterious supernova remnant with strange qualities. Strange in the fact that this irregularly-shaped shell of superheated gas appears to have a pulsar — a neutron star known to spit out lots of light and radiation — tucked away in its core, yet astronomers have yet to actually detect any of the telltale pulsations generally associated with pulsar activity. It does, however, have several different qualities that align with pulsar wind nebulae. Specifically, as the Chandra team notes, “The reverse shock and other, secondary shocks within MSH 11-62 appear to have begun to crush the pulsar wind nebula, possibly contributing to its elongated shape.”

Secondly, on the right, we have G327.1-1.1: a luminous nebula similar to MSH 11-62 in a number of ways. Here, Chandra outlines the path in which the progenitor star paved after it went supernova. Notably, its shockwave (pictured in red) appears to be moving outward, whilst the nebula forged by pulsar winds (seen in blue) has been distorted. This is believed to be the result of  the “combined action of the reverse shock wave, which may have flattened it, and by the motion of the pulsar, which created a comet, or lobster-like tail.”

“An asymmetric supernova explosion may have given a recoil kick to the pulsar, causing it to move rapidly and drag the pulsar wind nebula along with it.”

MSH 11-62 is located about 16,000 light-years from Earth, while G327.1-1.1 lurks almost 30,000 light-years from us (both are situated in the Norma constellation). Also pictured here are various foreground stars associated with Trumpler 18, an open cluster of stars about 5,000 light-years distant.

See a larger image here.

The post Astronomy Photo of the Day: 11/27/14 — Supernovae in The Norma Constellation appeared first on From Quarks to Quasars.

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope  you all have a blessed Thanksgiving with fine food and family. I also hope you will join me in not participating in the insane commercialization known as Black Friday. I mean, do you really want a chance at a cheap TV so badly you will participate in such nonsense. No, stay home and cherish the day with friends and family. Don't be manipulated by the corporations to use this day for indulgence in rampant consumerism.

HDMI Out With A Brick Game Boy

A few years ago, some vastly clever people figured out how to listen in on the LCD display on the classic brick Game Boy from 1989. There have been marked improvements over the years, including a few people developing VGA out for the classic Game Boy. Now, the bar has been raised with an HDMI adapter for the Game Boy, designed in such a way that turns everyone’s favorite battery hog into a portable console.

Your classic beige or cleverly named Color Game Boy is composed of two halves. The rear half contains all the important circuitry – the CPU, cartridge connector, and the rest of the smarts that make the Game Boy game. The front half is fairly simple in comparison, just an LCD and a few buttons. By designing an adapter that goes between these two halves, [Zane] and [Joshua] were able to stuff enough circuitry inside the Game Boy to convert the signals going to the LCD to HDMI. Plug that into your TV, and you have a huge modern version of the Super Game Boy, no SNES required.

The HDMIBoy also breaks out the buttons to the classic NES controller connector. With HDMI out and a controller input, the old-school Game Boy become a portable if somehow even more brick-like console.

Filed under: Crowd Funding, nintendo gameboy hacks, nintendo hacks