[Eric Archer] constructed an analog computer to model the physics of a bouncing ball. The core is a TL074 opamp that does all the integral math. He had no trouble finding descriptions of analog computers, but how to set the initial conditions was rarely covered. The controls include potentiometers to set the initial velocity, force of gravity, and coefficient of restitution (how much energy is lost in the bounce). The output is displayed on an oscilloscope. He mentions that this output could be used in electronic music, citing Aphex Twin’s Bucephalus Bouncing Ball. Watch the video below for a demo of all the features.
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When several students from the University of Toronto became tired of having multiple remotes lying around, they decided to do something about it. Their solution to this problem came in the form of UIRemote, a universal remote application for the iPhone. The application allows the iPhone to control anything that is normally controlled by an infrared remote, thanks to the use of a custom infrared adapter that plugs into the phone’s headphone port. It’s a technique similar to our iPod remote control from 2004. While the UIRemote application and adapter are still in beta, the students expect to release both things simultaneously sometime within the next two months.
On the off chance that you want to program a microcontroller to play your games for you, you should check this out. Near Future Laboratories has made a dongle that can allow an Arduino to operate as a PS2 or PS3 controller. You can see the Arduino running a random path generator in Katamari Damacy in the video above. They wanted to see how long it would take to clear a room. It managed to get almost all of them in about 70 minutes, only missing those that you have to cross a narrow bridge for. Actually, this could be quite useful in allowing people to create alternative input methods. You may recall reading about their early progress back in June 2008.
Wired Threat Level has posted an interview with the hacker who recently broke into several high profile twitter accounts, such as Fox News, and Barack Obama. Since we know how much you all love twitter, we thought you might want to learn more about it. Apparently he used a brute force method to get into a member of the support team. The password was “happiness” which was cracked pretty quickly. This might be a good time to review your own strategies to prevent brute force attacks.
If you’ve ever been curious what it is like to work at ThinkGeek, check out this video. [John Frazier], a purchasing agent, talks about the history of ThinkGeek as well as what daily work is like. Fairly interesting, but the summary is that it’s just like any other job, with more toys. They probably have to test all the products fairly thoroughly, we know we would.
Some of you probably have plans to build your own spaceships, we know we do. Well, the propulsion system can be a bit tricky, especially if you plan on using plasma drives. This breakdown and build of a simple plasma thruster should help you on your way. All you really need is some Argon, a large capacitor bank, and a custom nozzle. You’ve already got most of that right? As usual, be very careful. This is high voltage and very hot.