Toorcamp: The Lock Picking Village

The Open Organization Of Lockpickers (TOOOL) ran the lock picking village at Toorcamp. They gave great workshops on how lock picking works, provided a lot of examples of security flaws in popular locks, and let everyone practice with their locks and tools. Lock picking is a bit addictive, and I spent quite a bit of time at the village.

TOOOL is an international organization that aims to advance the general public knowledge about locks and lockpicking. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about locks, you can check out their list of chapters to see if there’s one in your area, or send them an email to see if there’s other lock picking enthusiasts near you. Their detailed slides that were used for the village are also available.

[Eric] from TOOOL worked on building a lock picking installation called the Labyrinth of Locks. The first prototype of this consists of locks enclosed in 3D printed enclosures, and lit by LEDs. The goal was to string them up in the woods and challenge people to find and pick the locks. MakerBot Industries printed the orange and flower shaped enclosures that the LEDs and locks were mounted into.

This is a first prototype, and [Eric] plans to expand on the idea and use it at other lock picking events he attends. It’s a neat way to mix lock picking and an art installation into an interactive activity.

We’re getting an Oculus Rift Dev Kit

Before you get jealous of the massive amount of sway that hackaday must’ve tossed at these guys to get a dev kit, don’t be. We just funded the kickstarter like everyone else. This is exciting news though since, as you probably know, I’m very fond of immersive gaming and have always craved a strong VR rig.

We are expecting our dev kit some time in December. I have no idea exactly what we’ll do with it. Right now [John Carmak] has made the iD engine work with it and it ships with Doom3. They’ve stated that it will work with the Unreal engine as well. Even though I saw [Gabe Newell] from valve in the video, I don’t see any source engine compatibility in the list. I really would love to see that one added, especially since Valve released the source film maker for free.

So, who has ideas about what to do with this? I’d like to build a telepresence rig with stereo vision, possibly mounted on a radio controlled car chassis.

An in depth interview with [Jeri Ellsworth] about everything

Here’s an interesting interview with [Jeri Ellsworth] over at the Jenessee Network. Usually the interviews I see popup with people are fairly short and sweet but this one really delves into many subjects and takes its time to explore. They start off talking about how [Jeri] began with hacking, which was literally smashing toys “with rocks” to see what was inside. They move on to discuss her adventures in building a race car, and then racing it as a teen… as an act of defiance.

In case you didn’t know, [Jeri] has been full time at Valve for about a year. Much of the discussion focuses on this from about 20 minutes in. She doesn’t hold back on information about what her daily life is like at valve as well as her experience during the hiring process. An interesting fact is that she didn’t initially recognize the name “Valve” and ignored them for a while. She does admit that if they had mentioned portal she would have paid a little more attention.

I was unaware that she had a side job putting the overflow of pinball machines she aquires into bars. When she moved to valve, she shut down that business, but she’s been flooding the halls with pinball machines, much to the enjoyment of the older folks.

Inventor of the 555 timer passes away

August 15th 2012, the news was reported that [Hanz Camenzind], the creator of the 555 timer, has passed away.  We are all familiar with 555 timer, but many of you may not be aware that [Hanz] also created the first class D amplifier. Actually, he had over 20 patents under his belt as well as a few books.

He is survived by His Wife, Daughter, and three Sons.

Turn signals on your head

Several weeks ago, I was in Culver City L.A., and happened to find a hackerspace nearby. It was a pleasant coincidence that the night I chose to randomly show up, was their public meeting which focused more on projects people were doing. The place was packed, I was barely able to squeeze in the door and actually stood outside for part of the meeting, just listening to people talk about what they’re making.

One of the projects I did get to see was this bike helmet built by [Naim]. At first I was amused at the idea, but the idea of putting lights and an accelerometer on a helmet wasn’t that groundbreaking. But as [Naim] kept talking, he caught my attention. For one thing, the one he was showing at the hackerspace seemed to have some built in correction for natural head movement. In this video he does look around a bit without false positives. At the hackerspace he explained the way he monitors the motion to avoid natural movements causing the lights to initialize.

The part I was really interested in was his power. He spent tons of time reducing the power consumption on the base arduino. I believe the number he used was 10 years of standby without causing the battery to vent or die. If you pick up the helmet at any point during that time period, it automatically turns itself on based on the accelerometer’s motion. While the bike helmet itself was a fairly cute idea, I was really trying to get him to send me the information on how he’s saving power. I believe he had to cut the traces to the arduino’s native power management. Hopefully we’ll still hear from him on the details.

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