1-Wire LAN with an LCD

[Viktor], one of our favorite avid hackers, has been playing around with 1-wire systems all this month. What started out as a MicroLAN Fonera has turned into an iButton interface, to a 1-wire powered hub, and finally a 1-wire character driven LCD. Anyone looking at 1-wire systems or OWFS could surely benefit from his testing.

However, if you still haven’t gotten your fill of 1-wire goodness, let us remind you of the 1-wire HVAC and IPv6 to 1-wire protocol translator.

[Thanks Juan]

Homing pigeon email


Yes, you read that correctly: electronic mail carried by birds. [Ferdinand] tipped us off to this story, which involves combining new and old methods in transferring data. The Unlimited Group, a firm in a remote section of South Africa, transfers loads of encrypted documents to a second office 50 miles away. A pricey broadband connection would take between 6 hours and two days to transfer a standard load (4GB) of data between these locations. On the other hand, Winston (seen above) can complete an equivalent flight within 45 minutes. A memory card is strapped to his leg, and using his wit and instinct, Winston finds his way home. For those without their calculators on hand, Winston’s bandwidth is between 7x and 63x faster than what they had before. If his flash card were to be upgraded to 16GB, that would be an instant fourfold increase on top of current gains. As [Mark] pointed out on the Daily Mail website, homing pigeons still need to be taken back to their departure point.

This solution still has its advantages over a courier: they are lower in cost, they work over longer hours, and have potentially faster delivery speeds. Multiple pigeons can be transported back at once, and released with data as needed.

Recovering photos with PhotoRec


A coworker approached us today with a corrupted SD card. It was out of her digital camera, and when plugged in, it wasn’t recognized. This looked like the perfect opportunity to try out [Christophe Grenier]‘s PhotoRec. PhotoRec is designed to recover lost files from many different types of storage media. We used it from the command line on OSX, but it works on many different platforms.

It’s a fairly simple program to use. We plugged in the card and launched PhotoRec. We were prompted to select which volume we wanted to recover. We selected “Intel” as the partition table. PhotoRec didn’t find any partitions, so we opted to search the “Whole disk”. We kept the default filetypes. It then asked for filesystem type where we chose “Other” because flash is formatted FAT by default. We then chose a directory for the recovered files and started the process. PhotoRec scans the entire disk looking for known file headers. It uses these to find the lost image data. The 1GB card took approximately 15 minutes to scan and recovered all photos. This is really a great piece of free software, but hopefully you’ll never have to use it.

Welcome to the petacentre

[Cory Doctorow] obtained access to a few data centers that deal in petabyte storage. The demand for data storage and processing doesn’t show any sign of stopping. It’s especially relevant when people need the resources to manage not only things like Google searches, but also email, customer transactions, and in the case of CERN, physics calculations. [Doctorow] drew an interesting conclusion from his experiences with the data centers; any innovation that the petabyte centers work on will eventually drift on down to the ordinary user, in laptop or desktop innovation. The petabyte center is easily duplicated with materials that are available for purchase to the average computer user; the only obstacles are price and space.

[via Boing Boing]

New Drobo has Firewire support, old model drops in price

Data Robotics has released an updated Drobo with two Firewire ports and an updated processor, allowing for faster data transfer and daisy chaining multiple Drobos. The new models of this storage and backup device also features a quieter and larger case fan. The case itself has been modified slightly but to great effect, looking sleeker than ever. Sadly, they still start at $500 without any hard drives.

One nice side effect to the announcement of the new Drobos is the price drop for the old ones. Starting at $350, these still make great storage solutions, and hanging on to $150 isn’t bad either. Still, if the idea of buy anything for this purpose curls your toes, build your own network attached storage.

Data manipulation with Sprog

Linux Journal’s [Mike Diehl] pointed out an interesting tool for manipulating data: Sprog. Sprog lets you assemble machines to complete specific data processing tasks. You snap together gears that read input data, process the data in different ways, and then output the results. The input could be a file, URL, database query results, or even MIDI notes. For processing you could be matching patterns, selecting csv columns, converting to uppercase, or executing arbitrary Perl code amongst many other options. Finally the output could be shown in a text window, inserted into a database, written to a file, or sent to your spreadsheet application. Sprog’s site has a section for user uploaded gears and a recipe section for examples like this crossword puzzle solver. Everything Sprog does could be done with scripting, but this is a simple graphical tool that could help you solve a problem without having to know the gory machinery behind it.

Read every bit on a DVD

If you are curious about reading all the bits on a DVD, [tmbinc] has devised a hardware hack that uses a Pioneer DVD drive with leads soldered onto it and a Cypress FX2 microcontroller board to grab the flow of bits and push them over USB2.0. My favorite part of this tutorial is when you slow the spinning DVD down very slightly with your finger with a scope hooked up over what you believe to be the raw data stream from the disk. If the data rate slows when you physically slow down the disk, you probably are grabbing data from the correct pin. [tmbinc] even put together a software tool to process the resulting raw DVD data.