Hacking [Steve Jobs]: A retrospective

 

steve_jobs_steps_down_as_ceo_world_panics

Provided you haven’t been toiling away in a secret lair somewhere (we’re looking at you [Jack]), odds are you may have seen the news that [Steve Jobs] stepped down as CEO of Apple this past Wednesday.

This earth-shattering news even eclipsed that of the East Coast Megaquakeapocalypse. It sent the blogosphere into a tizzy, sparking a whirlwind of news posts and retrospectives on his career. It’s been impossible to ignore the coverage (we’ve tried), and since we see everyone else writing about it, we feel the need to be at least somewhat up on our current events as well.

At the end of the day though, we don’t care how many patents [Steve] owns, how many failed products he has dreamed up over the years, or that he and [Woz] used to wear matching thongs to the beach in the 80s*.

Nope, we just care about the hacks. So here’s a trip down memory lane highlighting the Apple-related hacks we’ve seen so far in 2011, which will forever be known as the year [Steve Jobs] gave up the reigns at Apple (again).

*Bald-faced lie

XBMC on iOS Devices

Overhauling an old Apple keyboard

Mac Pro serial terminal

Taking secret photos of Apple Store patrons

Apple ][ USB keyboard conversion

Apple ][ Weather Display Parts 1, 2, 3

Add a real life hardware terminal to that newfangled computer of yours

vt200_serial_hardware_terminal_over_usb

If you find a crusty old IT guy and give him half a chance, he’ll probably regale you with stories of how things were done “in the old days” where no one had their own computer and everyone worked on mainframe-connected dumb terminals. [JSTN] yearned for a true to life terminal display that he could attach to his 2010 Mac Pro, and since there’s no chance anybody is bringing one to market any time soon, he pieced one together on his own.

He dug up a digital VT220 terminal, and got to work trying to interface this office relic with his shiny new Mac. He found a few helpful tips from someone who did the same thing with an Apple ][c, though that solution relied on emulating a terminal – something he did not want to do.

He connected the VT220 to his computer using an off the shelf USB to serial adapter, but the software side of things still needed attention. A quick gettytab tweak later, he had his hardware terminal up and running without much trouble.

He says that he is more than happy to help anyone do the same, so let the mad eBay scramble for old terminals begin!

[via Adafruit blog]

Electronic cufflinks for the discerning hacker

icufflinks

[Phillip Torrone] gave us a heads up about a project he and [Limor Fried] along with [Mike Doell] have just wrapped up. Their aptly-named “iCufflinks” softly pulsate with light the same way in which you see many Mac products do.

The cufflinks are made from machined aluminum and have the ubiquitous “power symbol” milled into the face. Inside the cufflinks, you will find a small circuit board and a battery, which powers the device for up to 24 hours. The team reverse-engineered the soft LED pulse found in Mac products in order to deliver the exact same visualization in their cufflinks.

Ignoring for a minute, the name and the inspiration for the product, we think they are pretty darn cool. There’s nothing like a set of softly glowing cufflinks to spark conversation at any social gathering.

Like anything else you’ll find on Adafruit.com, the cufflinks are completely open source, so you can feel free to tweak and remix the design any way you’d like.

Continue reading to see a video of the cufflinks in action.

Continue reading “Electronic cufflinks for the discerning hacker”

BAMF2011: chipKIT is Arduino to the power of 32

If you’ve been hungry for more power for your microcontroller projects, but reluctant to dump your investment in Arduino shields or the libraries and community knowledge that go with them all, Digilent has you covered. Their new chipKIT boards are built around the Microchip PIC32 MCU…a powerful 32-bit chip that until recently was left out of the cross-platform scene. A majority of code and quite a number of Arduino shields will work “out of the box” with the chipKIT, and the familiar development tools are available for all three major operating systems: Windows, Mac and Linux.

We first mentioned these a couple weeks ago, but the software was unavailable at the time. Seeing the development tools in action was quite unexpected…

Continue reading “BAMF2011: chipKIT is Arduino to the power of 32″

AppleCrate II doubles the cluster computing fun

apple_crate_II

Back in 2004, Apple hobbyist/guru [Michael Mahon] built a cluster of Apple IIe main boards dubbed the “AppleCrate” as an experiment in parallel computing. Now that a few years have passed, he is back with a new iteration of the device, aptly named AppleCrate II.

AppleCrate II was built to address some of the design limits of his first cluster project as well as to expand his parallel computing capabilities. His gripes with the first model were primarily structural in nature. The new system is organized in horizontal layers, using metal standoffs between each main board, rather than relying on a shaky wooden superstructure to keep things together. He also found his previous 8-processor configuration a bit limiting, so the AppleCrate II has 17 nodes – 16 slaves and one main board dedicated to running the operation. The cluster even uses his own homebrew networking stack known as NadaNet to enable communications between the boards.

The project is pretty impressive, so be sure to swing by his site if you want to learn more.  He has a ton of technical details there, as well as copies of all of the software he used to get the cluster up and running.

[via BoingBoing]

Kinect home theater control

kinect_home_theater

[Harishankar] has posted a video on his blog demonstrating the ability to control devices using the Microsoft Kinect sensor via IR. While controlling devices with Kinect is nothing new, he is doing something a little different than you have seen before. The Kinect directly interfaces with his Mac Mini and tracks his movements via OpenNI. These movements are then compared to a list of predefined gestures, which have been mapped to specific IR functions for controlling his home theater.

Once the gestures have been acknowledged, they are then relayed from the Mac via a USB-UIRT to various home theater components. While there are not a lot of details fleshed out in the blog post, [Harishankar] says he will gladly forward his code to you if you request it via email.

Thanks to [Peter] for the tip.

Halloween props: Pumpkin in standby-mode

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories is preparing for Halloween with this standby-mode pumpkin. Inside there’s an LED plugging a hole that is drilled just to the skin of the gourd-like vegetable. It fades in and out similar to a sleeping Mac, using what we think is a vastly over-powered circuit based on an ATtiny2313 (1k  of programming space for this?). But we still like the idea and we’d enjoy seeing it scaled up to a full LED matrix.

We’ve come to expect pumpkin hacks from EMSL and they don’t disappoint. Last year was a mechanized version, and the year before an LED schematic symbol. So what about your creation? With about one week left, take a look around and see if you can’t create something as wonderful as the Pie of Sauron.