Using Google documents as a web proxy

As weird as it might sound, there’s a way to use Google documents as a web proxy. The image above is a screenshot of [Antonio] demonstrating how he can view text data from any site through the web giant’s cloud applications. Certain sites may be blocked from your location, but the big G can load whatever it wants. If all you need is the text, then so can you.

The hack takes advantage of the =IMPORTDATA() function of Google Spreadsheet. We guess the command is meant to make import of XML data possible, but hey, that’s pretty much what HTML data is too, right? But what good it the raw webpage code in a spreadsheet? This is where [Antonio] made a pretty brilliant leap in putting this one together. He authored a bookmarklet that provies a navigation interface, hides the raw code which is stored in the spreasheet, and renders it in the browser. This ties together a user supplied URL, reloading data on the hidden spreadsheet and refreshing the window as necessary. See for yourself in the clip after the break.

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Forget Siri – make Wolfram Alpha your personal assistant

So you can spend a bundle on a new phone and it comes with a voice-activated digital assistant. But let’s be honest, it’s much more satisfying if you coded up this feature yourself. Here’s a guide on doing just that by combining an Asterisk server with the Wolfram Alpha API.

Asterisk is a package we are already familiar with. It’s an open source Private Branch Exchange suite that lets you build your own telephone network. Chances are, you’re not going to build one just for this project, but if you do make sure to document the process and let us know about it. With the Asterisk server in place you just need to give the assistant script an extension (in this case it’s 4747).

But then there’s the problem of translating your speech into text which can be submitted as a Wolfram query. There’s an API for that too which uses Google to do that translation. From there you can tweak abbreviations and other parameters, but all-in-all your new assistant is ready to go. Call it up and ask what to do when you have a flat tire (yeah, that commercial drives us crazy too).

[Thanks M]

All About the Google Autonomous Vehicle Project

There have been many self-driving cars made with different levels of success, but probably the most well-known project is the Google car.  What you may not have heard of, though is the autonomous Google cart, or golf cart to be exact. The first video after the break explains the motivation behind the cart and the autonomous vehicle project.  As with another autonomous vehicle we’ve featured before, they didn’t forget to include an E-stop button (at 1:03)!

In the second video (also after the break) Google’s Sebastian Thrun and Chris Urmson get into more of the details of how Google’s more famous autonomous Prius vehicles work and their travels around different towns in California. A safety driver is still used at this point, but the sensor package includes a roof-mounted 64-beam laser sensor, wheel encoder, radars, and a GPS sensor. With Google’s vast resources as well as their work with Streetview and Google maps, it’ll be interesting to see what comes of this technology.  I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords.

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Google ADK on an EvalBot

evalbot_google_adk

After learning that Google’s ADK relied on using an Arduino-compatible board, [Benjamin] was disappointed that other microcontroller platforms weren’t invited to the party. Rather than switch camps, he took it upon himself to get the ADK working with his EvalBot. In fact, his modifications should allow the ADK to work with nearly any Stellaris ARM kit.

The hack is composed of two parts. The first, and most important bit is the USB host driver he developed to work with the ADK. The code borrows some bits from Texas Instruments, and will be published on GitHub once he gets a chance to clean up the source a bit. To get his phone working with the EvalBot, he also had tweak the external USB power supply in order to provide the current required to operate properly with other USB-connected hardware.

It’s always nice to have more options when working with Google’s ADK, and [Benjamin’s] work is likely a welcome addition to any Stellaris developers toolkit.

Continue reading to see a quick video of his EvalBot ADK demo.

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Google ADK clones pack a few extra features, hopefully far cheaper than the original

adk_board_clone

[charliex] from Null Space Labs wrote in to share a project that he and the rest of the gang have been working on over the last few weeks. The team has been remixing and building clones of the Google ADK demo board we saw earlier this year, in hopes of getting a huge batch prepped before Defcon 19.

Their version makes subtle changes to the original, such as extra header rows for Mega AVRs, higher quality RGB LEDs, and a nifty pirate-Android logo. They also added the ability for the board to send and receive IR signals allowing it to be used as a TV-B-Gone, as well as in more fruitful pursuits. The Arduino board used with the ADK has only undergone minor revisions, most of which were layout related.

[charliex] hasn’t mentioned a price for their improved ADK boards, but we’re guessing they will be substantially cheaper than the official Google version. In the meantime, check out their site for a boatload of pictures and videos of these boards undergoing various stages of construction.

Importing PCB layout into Google Sketchup

If you’ve been spending hours with the digital calipers while designing enclosures for your circuit boards there may be a better way. [Phil] tipped us off about a new software package that will let you import PCB layout files into Google Sketchup. This way you can start working on the enclosure in CAD before you’ve populated your first board. Of course this adds to the pain of realizing there’s an error in your layout, but what are you going to do?

The free software was developed by RS Components, a European component distributor. It takes IDF files, which can be exported from most PCB design software, and converts them to a format compatible with Sketchup, Google’s 3D design software. For those who enjoy a very dry demonstration video you won’t want to skip seeing what we’ve embedded after the jump.

We’re kind of surprised that this hasn’t already been done. If it has, leave a link in the comments.

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A badge without a conference

We saw this one a few days ago when it was first bouncing around the interwebs but never took a close look at it. Today, when we ran across a direct link in the tips box it was the promo video (embedded after the break) that won us over. Once you dig into the particulars of The Verbalizer we think you’ll agree that this is a hackable conference badge without the pesky need to attend a conference.

As you probably guessed from the design of the PCB, this is a microphone. It’s intended for use with Google’s new voice search feature, and connects to a computer via a Bluetooth module. But really it’s just another roll-your-own Arduino with a few extra bits. You’ll find an ATmega328 and an FTDI chip which provides a USB connection for programming. The real fun starts with the microphone and speaker circuitry which is just waiting to be breadboarded at home. We found a few other things while poking around in the schematic (available by downloading their Product Docs and Schematics package). It looks like there’s some capacitive touch… you what? Isn’t it more fun if you find this stuff yourself, kind of like the hidden gems of the DEFCON badges?

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