[Aaron Nelson] of Hijinks Inc. wrote up how he installed OSX on his HP TouchSmart IQ507. It looks and works like you would expect, save for a few things. The touchscreen works, but the calibration is so far off it’s useless. The most important things, like ethernet and the memory card reader, work fine. [Nelson]’s biggest frustration is that he has to disable the on board audio every time he logs in, so that the keyboard and mouse will be recognized. He is working on improvements, and would love to hear any suggestions you have.
With the election coming up in less than a week, voting machine security (or the lack thereof) is critical, especially with the popularity of early voting this year. While we’ve previously discussed voting machine insecurities, it looks like the problems haven’t been fixed, and in some cases, it’s escalated. Voters in states like West Virginia and Tennessee have complained about voting machines “flipping” their votes, even after they were recalibrated as in the video above. Voters have been advised to avoid voting straight Republican or Democratic tickets, to avoid the likelihood of their votes being flipped. What if you actually do want to vote a straight ticket? Video the Vote is an organization that advises documenting as much of your voting process as possible. Other ways you can protect your vote include voting absentee so that a paper trail is available, and refusing to accept provisional ballots, which are often thrown out. After seeing videos of ROM swapping and finding out that the locks can be opened with hotel minibar keys, we’re waiting to see what’s going to fail this year… and voting absentee.
European researchers in the I-SWARM project are hard at work developing small, autonomous robots that can work together and communicate to perform different functions. They successfully built two types of robots: the I-SWARM, and the Jasmine robots. The I-SWARM robots are three millimeters in size, are powered by a solar cell, and move by vibration. The Jasmine robots are the size of two-Euro coins, have small wheels, and are powered by battery. These tiny robots have several advantages over their bulky predecessors, such as high redundancy, greater flexibility, and the ability to manage tough terrain. They could even be used to repair larger robots. They also come with distinct challenges. Because of their minuscule size, programming memory is necessarily limited, and the team had to come up with special algorithms to manage and control the machines. Though they haven’t been able to meet their goal of making a thousand of them, the researchers are hopeful and confident about their abilities to mass produce the robots cheaply.
[Alpay Kasal] of Lit Studios and [Sam Ewen] created this patent-pending interactive mirror after being inspired by dielectric glass mirrors with built-in LCD panels, and wanting to add a human touch. The end results look like a lot of fun. You can draw on the mirror and play games. According to [Kasal], mouse emulation is essential. The installation features proximity sensors and gesturing. Any game can be set up on it, which makes the possibilities endless… except these are the same people that built LaserGames so expect no further documentation about how it works.
Technology Review turns the spotlight on the open source hardware movement. Open source hardware is hardly a new concept, but lately it’s been getting a lot more attention, with the help of magazines like MAKE and websites like Instructables. Chumby, a company that sells a modifiable cube with a screen, embedded computer, and a Wi-Fi connection, designed their product to be easily hackable. The openness of the product caused a community heavily invested in the product’s development to be created. The growth of such communities has also sparked interest from corporations such as Nokia, which is collaborating with MIT on open source video decoders. They recognized that opening up would cause development time to be reduced and provide greater flexibility, allowing them to allocate resources to other areas, including marketing and brand development. [Jamey Hicks], director of the Nokia Research Center in Cambridge, believes that the open source movement can even complement closed designs, as long as it’s handled appropriately. With greater access to sophisticated software tools and resources, the barriers to entry keep falling away, and it’s much easier for the world to discover the joys of tinkering and hacking.
[photo: Andreas Pizsa]
There’s no doubt that software piracy is rampant in China. Microsoft attempted to remedy the problem with its new version of Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy program, which will turn the screen black every hour if the system fails the validation test. Previous versions just notified the user that they were using pirated software. You can imagine this didn’t go over too well with the Chinese, who were outraged by the inconvenience and more than one even accused Microsoft of hacking into their computers. A genuine, unpirated version of Windows costs over 1000 RMB, which is more than most Chinese make in a month. Contrast that with the 5 RMB (less than one US dollar) for the pirated version, and you’ve got a no-brainer.
For people who miss the golden age of Atari music, you can recreate the magic of 8 bit music with the -hard plAYer-. [Tolaemon] put a lot of thought and work into this hardware player. From the AY-38912 programmable sound generator, which used to be in old computers like the Atari or Colour Genie, to working with the YM file format, each piece is put together with the utmost care. [Tolaemon] also provides his design, firmware(ZIP), and parts list so that you can make your own hardware player.