Hackaday in the social tangle

Like any other organization out there, we’re always trying to find new ways to reach our audience. Admittedly, we’re not the fastest when it comes to adopting a new social communication site. We’re working on it though, trying to be a bit more interactive … or just plain active.

So, if you’re looking for other ways to get your hacking fix, or see some interesting commentary, find us on facebook, twitter, our own forums, and now G+. We just signed up to G+ and our name is “Hackie Smith”. If you need an invite, email us at theofficialhackaday@gmail.com see below.   Sometimes there’s good discussion in those places that doesn’t end up here on the site.

You can also find several of us spattered across the web in sites like Reddit and Slashdot.

[Update: Our g+ page got shut down. Feel free to find any of the writers on g+. I’ll give out invites, look for “Caleb Kraft” or 60mango@gmail]

Facebook notifier uses some papercraft and simple electronics

This weekend project will tell you when you’ve got something new to look at on your Facebook page (translated). The yellow flag on the side of the mini-mailbox automatically goes up, alerting you to your recent online popularity.

[Rocco’s] craftwork on this project is fantastic. We love the scale, the colors, and especially the artificial grass that adorns the base. Inside the mailbox an Arduino controls a small servo motor attached to the new mail flag. As with other Arduino-based notifiers (be it the Internet Furby, or our own troll sniffing rat) the USB connection makes it incredibly easy to convert online information to real-world signals. The client side of this is a Python script. It uses a package that we were previously unfamiliar with called mechanize. We’ve just made a cursory examination of how that package is used, but we’re going to keep it in mind as an alternative to our usual go-to package, BeautifulSoup, which tends to be a bit hairy when you’re just looking for some basic data.

Upvote/Downvote cards

Next time you throw together a talent show consider using these cards for up and down voting. [Frits Rincker] came up with the idea over the weekend based on the like and dislike buttons of Facebook. They consist of some foam board with LEDs in the outline of a hand. He built a switch which completes he blue circuit for the thumb’s up and a red circuit for thumb’s down by using a weight that slides freely in a channel, with a reed switch at either end. We’ve embedded the video after the break for you enjoyment.

Oh, and in case you were wondering; Hackaday likes this.

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Firesheep: Promoting privacy in a scary way

Often, software hackers are the activists that push software giants towards updating vulnerable applications. In todays example, [Eric Butler] is pushing Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and more all at the same time. By creating a user script-kiddie friendly extension for Firefox, he has allowed just about anyone to sniff unsecured connections on public Wi-Fi access points and log into these unprotected accounts.

Right now the extension is available for Windows and Mac, with a Linux port coming soon. Temporarily, the best way for a user to avoid getting taken advantage of would be to not use these social networking sites on a public connection, or to implement a secure proxy for these connections that would keep your data safe. Hopefully these websites will have a quick rebuttal that allows for security without workarounds. With all of the bad press they are recieving, they certainly have incentive to.

Are there any software or security buffs out there? We would love to see someone port this to an iPhone or Android app that could check and log open Wi-Fi points. We’ll leave the foot work to the experts out there, but do be sure to give us a heads up if anyone manages to make it happen, okay?

PHP runtime rewritten, by Facebook?

Yes, its true. Facebook has completely rewritten the PHP runtime to make it faster and more efficient, and its completely open source. Named HipHop, its described as a source code transformer, changing PHP into optimized C++ which is then compiled using g++. Thus keeping the best aspects of PHP while taking advantage of the performance of C++. Using HipHop, the Facebook web server CPU usage has been decreased by about fifty percent! And who would have thought that this and many other cool advances in programming, started at a Hackathon.

Twitter remote control

twitter_remote

We’ve already brought you a homemade Twitter-enabled washing machine, and toilet, but now a new innovation is being brought to the table by a bigger player. IBM is working on a tweeting television remote, which would allow the user to inform the world what they are watching. Although unfiltered reporting could create awkward situations, the combination of America’s love for television and Twitter is sure to yield interesting results. They also mentioned that it could be configured to report to other sites, such as Facebook or joost. Any ideas why IBM would have in such a patent are welcome in the comments. More info can be found here and here.

The Cloud Mirror

Cloud Mirror is an interactive art installation that combines you and your easily available online information in real time. Attendees stood in front of the camera and held up their badges. Cloud Mirror then projected them on the wall and displayed a speech bubble containing information from the web. In the example after the break, you can see our very own [Eliot] displayed with his most recent twitter post. To add another layer to it, you could send a text message with someone’s badge ID to the system and it will display your message in that person’s bubble.

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