66% or better

Messing with barcodes

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[nico] just received his credentials for an upcoming conference. On each badge, there’s a 2D barcode with the participant’s bio and contact info. These are meant to be scanned by vendors for future contact. [nico] isn’t so interested in that and plans on updating his personal info by generating a new barcode. To this end, he’s collected a number of links to help out barcode hackers. He used the SWIPE toolkit to identify the format and decode (it has an online component too). There are also several online encoders you can use, like this one from [Terry Burton]. If you’re wondering what sort of shenanigans you can get into faking barcodes, check out [fx]‘s presentation from 24C3.

[photo: seanbonner]

The EFF’s privacy agenda

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With a new administration coming into power, the Electronic Frontier Foundation feels that it’s time for a change (see what we did there). They’ve posted an agenda that covers fixing privacy issues that have come to the forefront in the last eight years. It involves repairing amendments that prevent corporations from being sued for warrantless wiretapping. They would also modernize the Electronic Communications Privacy Act so that it would cover modern technology. The heavily abused State Secrets Privilege needs reform as well. Their final issue is with REAL ID and datafarming that many state governments have already rejected. If even a bit of this gets fixed, we’ll be happy. In any case, it’ll be good to have a more tech focused administration that doesn’t need the internet explained to it in terms of dumptrucks and tubes.

[photo: Jake Appelbaum]

Easy high voltage power supply

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[rocketman221] wrote up one of the simplest ways to build a high voltage power supply. This one in particular was used on his coilgun. Instead of building a custom circuit, he’s using flash charging boards from disposable cameras. Six 450V 470uF caps are wired in parallel to make up the bank. Two of the charger boards are wired to one switch to initiate the charging process. Four additional boards are wired two a second switch for the second charging stage. The part cost on this is incredibly cheap and it only requires a 3.3V input to reach 450V. The writeup has plenty of warnings about the dangers of high voltage; you need to clean off all flux residue to prevent arcing across the circuit boards. Embedded below is a video of the bank being discharged through several objects. [Read more...]

Autonomous Cookie Monster

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[DJ Sures], who built the autonomous Wall-E, is back with another creation. His new autonomous Cookie Monster is certainly an interesting build. He had the cookie monster plush toy already so the first step was to flay the blue beast and insert a skeleton. He used another robot for that. There are two servos for the wheels plus one for each arm and one for the neck. There’s a distance sensor in the mouth. He built a custom board for the PIC18F4685 microcontroller which is running the same 2D mapping code as his previous bot. Check out the video of it in action below. [Read more...]

Best new science inventions 2008

Not to be outdone, Popular Science published their Best of What’s New 2008 and packed it with videos and photo galleries. Inspiring inventions include the Pipistrel Taurus Electro, the longest-flying two-seated electric plane, the Intel Core 2 Duo Small Form Factor, which you can thank for the thinner laptops like Apple’s MacBook Air, and the GroundBot, a spherical robot that can roll through the mud, sand, and snow. It’s not even the end of the year yet, but with all these great inventions, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2009.

[via io9]

Neon light Christmas tree

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Everyone always complains about the Christmas season coming earlier and earlier, but we think when we can have Christmas trees like the one pictured above, it’s not such a bad thing. Created by English fashion designer [Gareth Pugh], the tree features sixty white neon tubes, and is supported by a freestanding metal rod. It reminds us of the light sabers in Star Wars, which is probably why we like it so much. The tree is just a carrier for the decorations anyway, right? You can check out the tree in person at the TOPSHOP in Oxford Circus, London.

Hacking the MINI Cooper

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[war6763] sent us this hack to power an amplifier in a MINI Cooper. Apparently, aside from being unconventionally handsome, they’re also unconventionally wired. Amplifiers are generally wired to the ignition or stereo and turned on when the car is turned on. Due to some strange wiring, this just isn’t possible in the MINI Cooper. Some people use the cigarette lighter to power on their amplifier, but [war6763] wanted something that left his cigarette lighter free for other things. He built a circuit that monitors the cars built in USB input line and turns his amp on and off accordingly. The entire unit cost around $10.00. You can see the video demonstration after the break.

[Read more...]