We don’t need to brainstorm projects; xkcd does that for us

[Randall Munroe], the guy behind our favorite web comic xkcd, gave us yet another great project idea that falls on the heels of securing our valuables and silencing loud car stereos. The xkcd forum has been talking about how to implement this, and we’d like to hear what Hack A Day readers think about this idea.

The project isn’t much different from 3D photography. [Carl Pisaturo] has done a lot of art and experimentation based on this idea that basically amounted to largish binoculars. A poster on the xkcd forum has already built this using mirrors, but we’re wondering how much the parallax can be increased with this method. Two cameras and a smart phone would also allow automatic pan and tilt that corresponds to head movement.

We’re not quite sure if this idea can be applied to astronomy. The angular resolution of the human eye is around one arc minute, every star except for the Sun has an annual parallax less than one arc second. If anyone wants to try this out with a longer baseline (From Earth to Pluto for example), we would suggest simulating this in Stellarium. Seeing the moon as a sphere would be possible with a few hundred miles between cameras, though.

Tell us how you would build this in the comments, and be sure to send in your write-up if you manage to build it. We’ll put it up right away.

Thanks to [Theon144] for sending this in.

EDIT: Because the comments are actually bearing fruit, check out the thread on the Hack A Day forums for this post: link.

XKCD takes a swipe at the Arduino

This XKCD comic takes a playful swipe and almost everything, including the Arduino. We’ve heard people claim that we have some sort of favoritism toward Arduino, and we don’t. People just submit a LOT of projects with them. But there is one point that we’ve seen a few times that should be addressed. In our categories we have an “Arduino hacks” section. That will not be going away, again, because we get so many submitted. However, shouldn’t we also add some categories for other stuff? Should there be a “pic hacks” category, or maybe just “microcontroller hacks” category?

Let’s not making this an Arduino bashing thread. Instead, give us some good ideas on other categories you would like to see for sorting.

[via littlebirdceo]

Laser etched Kindle 2


After seeing the xkcd comic where they call the Kindle2 the hitchhiker’s guide, [Ladyada] couldn’t help but laser etch the Kindle 2 with “Don’t Panic”. We think it looks pretty good, if a bit bubbly. You can see the video of the entire process after the break. Now that xkcd has infiltrated our interwebs, hearts, and minds, maybe he can put just a tiny bit of effort into learning to draw. If you don’t have access to a laser etcher, you could always make your own. Just be careful you don’t accidentally go full out and cut your kindle to shreds.

[Read more...]

XKCD inspires YouTube feature

Who knew that a silly comic strip could be so influential? XKCD’s strip focusing on the inanity of YouTube comments inspired someone to actually add the Audio Preview feature to YouTube. It’s provided us with much amusement, especially where one commenter mentions that the “preview of my own post sounded moronic!”

Speech synthesis software is nothing new, of course. While it’s not the most sophisticated software, it’s an invaluable resource to those with disabilities, language learners, and others. This tutorial on Festival, a Linux-based text-to-speech software framework, would be a great place to start. You’re just moments away from finding out how stupid email, IM, and IRC sound read aloud.

Large Hadron Collider roundup

The Large Hadron Collider was a success and it didn’t destroy the world. We have to admit, we were a little bit worried about the possibility of generating black holes but were soothed by scientists’ reassurances that we would still exist, and this self-explanatory website. We’re also kind of hoping to build our own. PHD Comics visits CERN to learn all about the experiment. Xkcd prepares for the end times with a new friend. The curious can explore some amazing imagery of the LHC, and read about the best-and-worst-case scenarios, and what scientists are hoping for, or monitor progress via webcam. The celebratory will listen to appropriate music, consume inspired science fiction, and drink to the Large Hadron Collider and its success.