Talk of the Town: Hacker Channel Tomorrow

Get in touch with Hackers everywhere. Take part in the Collabatorium tomorrow, live!

request-to-join-hacker-channelThings get started on Wednesday, July 1st at 6:30pm PDT (UTC-7). Hundreds of hackers will be on hand discussing what they’re building, all the stuff happening in the hacker-sphere these days, and joining forces for that next great hack!

All are invited to take part. Head on over the Hackaday Prize Hacker Channel right now and click on the left sidebar link that says “Request to join this project”.

We highly recommend adding a custom avatar (if you haven’t already) so that others in the Collabatorium will be able to put a picture to your personality. The interface is ready for chat, links, images, code and much more so bring your questions and share your knowledge.

Now that you’ve clicked for an invite, while away the hours until it begins by heading over to VOTE in this week’s Astronaut or Not. And soon after you run through your 50 votes we’re sure you’ll also figure out you don’t have to wait for us to get the conversation started in the Hacker Channel ;-)

Achievement Unlocked: Global Virtual Hackerspace

We’ve been riding the runaway train that is for about fourteen months. With over 60k registered user and  hundreds of thousands of visitors a month it’s hard to remember how we got from humble beginnings to where we stand now. But a big part of this is all the suggestions we’ve been hearing from you. On the top of that list have been numerous requests for more collaborative features. This week we’ve pushed an update that will change the way you interact with your fellow hackers.


This brand new messaging interface is beyond what we dreamed when we started development. Our goal with Hackaday has long been to form the Virtual Hackerspace, and this is it. Shown above is group messaging for the project. You can see that thread selected on the left among many other threads in progress. On the right is the list of the team collaborators. Each project on has group messaging availalbe, all you need to do is add your collaborators.

group-messagig-buttonNeed skills that you don’t have to finish the project? Just want to brainstorm the next big project? Jump on and get into it. Head over to one of your projects, invite some collaborators if you don’t already have them, and click the “Group Messaging” button in the left column.

This is not private messaging and it’s not just chat. This is new. It’s persistent, it’s instant, it’s long, it’s short, it is what you need to work with other hackers. We don’t even know what to call it yet. You can help with that and you can tell us what you find to do with it. We’ve designed it for creative abuse.

Configurable Notifications

When loading up the message page for the first time you’ll see a bar across the top requesting desktop notification access. This feature gives you a pop-up message when the tab with the messaging interface is not active.

If you don’t have the interface open you will receive an email when new messages come in. This can be toggled globally for all of your chats but we do have plans to configure these emails per-chat thread. Thanks to [jlbrian7] for the tip that users of Firefox on Linux need an extension to enable notifications. I’m using Chrome on Mint and it work just fine without adding packages.

Dude, Mobile

Screenshot_2015-04-21-16-57-07This Virtual Hackerspace goes with you and we’re not just talking out of the house. How many times have you been sitting at the bench wondering what the heck you’re doing wrong? Whip out your phone, snap a picture and post it so the collaborators on your team can help out. Right now it’s rock-solid on iPhone. Android requires a very quick double-tap on the image icon to trigger but we’ll have that fixed in a jiffy.

Of course images work from the computer interface as well, and there’s a code tool to embed snippets in your messages.

Team Invites and Requests

The only part we don’t have working is the ability to talk to yourself but that is coming. For now you must have collaborators to enable group messaging and this update makes that simple.

Each project has a team list in the left hand column. You’ll notice that a text box has been added to invite members. Just type their hacker name and click the invite button. They’ll get a private message with instructions for accepting your invitation.

Give it a Spin Right Now

We’ve set up the official Hackaday Prize Hacker Channel so that you can try it out right away. Casual conversation is welcome, but this is also a great opportunity to find team members for your Hackaday Prize entry. We’ll also be hosting regular events on the channel. More on that soon!

Build your own SMS chatroom

While he was organizing a party, [Mike Seese] hit upon the idea of chatroom that would operate over SMS. Not being content with the ‘reply all’ function, [Mike] built a Group Messaging Service that runs on his home server.

The chat room is initiated by sending a text to a server. Your friends then reply, and the chatroom is then opened. The project was written in C++, and [Mike] put everything on github for your perusal. The software does use libraries from /n software’s IP*Works, but if you have any trouble obtaining those libraries feel free to drop [Mike] a line.

The great thing about this project is the fact that it’s platform independent – as long as a phone can do SMS, it’ll work. Seems like a great thing for those of us still using the old Nokia ‘bar’ phones. An SMS chatroom has been done before but this is the first time we’ve seen a build that will run off your server, and not internet-based services.

While it may not be the best idea for people without unlimited texts on their phone plan, it’s a really great idea and we’re wondering why something like this isn’t available via Google Voice.

Chatbox wireless IM client

[Utpal Solanki] wanted to do some text chatting from the comfort of the couch. He built this wireless chat client that he calls Chatbox using a microcontroller, a character LCD screen, and a keypad that he built himself.

The device communicates via an Infrared emitter and receiver. It pairs up with an Arduino using an IR shield that [Utpal] built. The handheld unit flashes a pair of white LEDs whenever it receives a message from the Arduino. You can then hit the Inbox button and scroll through to read what was received. To reply  just type on the keypad the same way you would with a cellphone, then hit the send button to shoot that message back to the Arduino.

On the computer side of things the messages are being relayed to and from the Arduino over a USB connection. Early on in the video demonstration (embedded after the break) [Utpal] shows his Chat Box program communicating via the handheld unit in the same way that other messenger programs work.

Looks to us like he’s built his own non-pink version of what the IM-ME was originally intended to do.

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“Ask an engineer” live streams at Adafruit

I [Caleb], finally had a chance to catch one of the live chat sessions over at called “Ask an engineer“. I was pleasantly surprised. Though the show is only an hour long, the amount of information covered was quite amazing. They started out, announcing a new, this really cool looking touch screen system, product and going over the tech specs. This very quickly turned into a question and answer session about how to utilize and modify the device. [Limor], aka [ladyada] was extremely knowledgeable and [rossum], the designer who made it even showed up in the chat to fill in the rare gap. After that, there was a general question and answer period where people were firing off questions so fast I couldn’t watch them all and still follow her answers. It was a lot of fun and quite frankly felt way too short.

Be sure to check it out on Saturday night at 10:00 P.M. ET

Chat list indicator uses hacked xmas lights

Here’s a way to display which friends are logged into chat. This uses the same G-35 hacked Christmas lights we saw earlier in the month. [Andrejk’s] company uses Microsoft Lync as their chat protocol when working in teams. The service has an SDK that allowed him to write some .NET code to check status and display it on the string of lights. It works much as you would expect; red for busy, green for available, purple is out-of-office, and we’d guess that yellow is for away. Watch him demonstrate the system after the break.

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Pseudo 3D chat


[Chris Harrison] and [Scott E. Hudson] have built a novel system for faking a 3D video chat session. Their implementation separates the image of the chat participant from the background. They then dynamically reposition the video based on the movement of the viewers head. Their using the OpenCV library to do facial recognition (just like the Laughing Man demo). The 3D effect is very similar to what you see in [Johnny Lee]’s Wiimote headtracking. A video of the pseudo 3D chat is embedded below.

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