Hackaday Links: December 7, 2014

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Have some .40 cal shell casings sitting around with nothing to do? How about some bullet earbuds? If you’ve ever wondered about the DIY community over at imgur, the top comment, by a large margin, is, “All of these tools would cost so much more than just buying the headphones”

Here’s something [Lewin] sent in. It’s a USB cable, with a type A connector on one end, and a type A connector on the other end. There is no circuitry anywhere in this cable. This is prohibited by the USB Implementors Forum, so if you have any idea what this thing is for, drop a note in the comments.

Attention interesting people in Boston. There’s a lecture series this Tuesday on Artificial Consciousness and Revolutionizing Medical Device Design. This is part two in a series that Hackaday writer [Gregory L. Charvat] has been working with. Talks include mixed signal ASIC design, and artificial consciousness as a state of matter. Free event, open bar, and you get to meet (other) interesting people.

Ghostbusters. It’s the 30th anniversary, and to celebrate the event [Luca] is making a custom collectors edition with the BluRay and something very special: the Lego ECTO-1.

Let’s say you need to store the number of days in each month in a program somewhere. You could look it up in the Time Zone Database, but that’s far too easy. How about a lookup table, or just a freakin’ array with 12 entries? What is this, amateur hour? No, the proper way of remembering the number of days in each month is some bizarre piece-wise function. It is: f(x) = 28 + (x + ⌊x8⌋) mod 2 + 2 mod x + 2 ⌊1x⌋. At least the comments are interesting.

Arduinos were sold in the 70s! Shocking, yes, but don’t worry, time travel was involved. Here’s a still from Predestination, in theatres Jan 9, rated R, hail corporate.

53 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: December 7, 2014

    1. I have that same logic analyser was surprised at seeing the non-standard cable. I have found a good use for the A to A cables on my workbench though. I have an embedded system which, along with its main functionality, has a USB host capability using a standard A connector. During development and test I run a firmware load the puts the port into device mode running a CDC serial port. That allows me to hook up a couple dozen devices through USB hubs to log statistics and events to a PC without having to open the cases and hook up to the debug serial port.

      1. I’d assume these give a minor cost saving in there somewhere by only using one socket type, but for MoshiDraw I’d chalk it up to general cluelessness.

        A-A cables – if gotten cheap – are good for cutting in half giving you two nice USB-A to whatever cables.

  1. Re: USB cable, as I posted on the relevant blog at the relevant link — I have a USB-powered Zalman laptop cooler which uses one of those cables. Ho hum.

    Oh — and HaD — please make your website not look generic anymore. I’ll still use it (if only because I can’t find the content elsewhere in any convenient fashion) but it still sucks big-time, aesthetically at least. Capisce?

      1. Sorry, boss, but I’m not sure where this “majority” is you speak of. Have you seen the comment counts lately? It seems that ever since the “upgrade” less and less people have been coming in for discussions.

        1. Yeah, go and argue pageviews, uniques, and comment stats without having any numbers to back it up.

          We’re doing fine. The refresh wasn’t expected to gain any viewers, and it certainly didn’t lose any; at least not a statistically significant number of views because of the layout update.

          If you’re wondering, we’re pretty much happy with the layout, save for a few things we’ll be fixing in a few weeks. You’re getting your categories back, and we’re gonna try and figure out the calendar again. We’re loving the new possibilities the slider opens up, and I’m annoying the overlords to invest and get some awesome content in that thing.

          1. Brian, You got to remember we’re hackers. I have ignored your reality, and substituted my own. A little stylish CSS modding, and it is back to the old with a little improvement (the deeper the replies are in a comment, the text gets smaller). Do what you want with the slider, I never see it anyways ;-)

    1. The USB abominations are due to the Chinese cheap clone factories. They don’t care that USB A-to-A is against the spec, they just made up every combination of connector-to-connector they could and shoved them out the door. Then you’d get the occasional crap device that used an A socket on a peripheral, probably because they got a bulk lot of the A-to-A cables almost for free since they were otherwise useless and didn’t sell.

        1. I always thought of it as the female having the “spring-loaded” metal electrical contacts, while the male contacts would be structurally solid, such as a pin or surface metal deposit(card edge connector, USB, etc)…

  2. ASUS ROG motherboards use cables like that and a specially marked USB port on the motherboard that lets you use a second computer to change overclocking settings and monitor fans / voltages / temps. Cheap digital cameras sometimes use those kind of cables as well. ASUS gets away with it since they are big, Cheap digital camera company gets away with it because you can’t tell who they are.

  3. My laptop died years ago and I bought a cheapo hard drive enclosure to recover my files. The enclosure came with a USB A-A cable. I’ve never seen one since until today.
    BTW Sunday evenings after 6-7 PM are an internet dead zone. HaD Links really breaks that monotony.Thanks!

  4. LOL at “All of these tools would cost so much more than just buying the headphones”

    99% of IMGUR = 99% of REDDIT = hipstery, neckbearded, square rimmed glasses wearing, flannel shirt sporting, tight jean nut busting, moped scooting, IPA/cappuccino drinking, gun-hating (unless its a m1891), Sociology/liberal arts studying, psuedo-intellectual douchebags.

    1. You forgot mosin-nagant, and a GAU-8, the gun with a plane accessory. Also, they’re not sociology/liberal arts, because STEM master race. That doesn’t mean they actually study a STEM field, merely that they follow Neil (smoke) DeGrasse Tyson on Twitter.

    2. LOL^2 you forgot ..”sandal munching, lentil wearing”.. in that little outburst… I’ve recommended an extra little pink pill and cutting back on the green ones to nursey for you.. clearly the medication is wearing off.

    1. Well, it’s fixed now.

      As far as the talk goes, I’ll concede that it’s at least interesting. The basic premise of the artificial consciousness part of the talk is something along the lines of, “There are processes in nature (i.e. turbulent flow), that cannot be predicted, therefore let’s assign that as a function of intelligence.”

      I’ve heard that line of thinking a few times over the past… 15 years or so, and it’s something that keeps cropping up again and again. Not saying I agree with it, and I have nothing to say against it… It’s a mindbender, though.

      Oh, there’s also ultrasound on a chip or something. That’s cool.

      1. Well, I’m intrigued. I’m going to the talk (I’m an AI researcher), and I’ll report back if there’s any interest.

        (I need a break and am looking forward to some diverting entertainment.)

  5. i have had a couple a-a devices, one was an old archos mp3 player that i no longer own (but i still have the cable for hacking purposes, such as fixing peripheral cables when kitten gnaws them off). the other one was for a usbasp avr programmer which i bought from china.

    i see nothing wrong with this, its a part of the spec meant solely for idiot proofing. but we all know that if you make an idiot proof system, they will make a better idiot. it doesnt piss me off nearly as much as the sudden move to microusb on practically everything. the connector isnt even significantly smaller and is too fragile for my liking.

  6. I’ve had a few cheap “for kids” digital cameras with female A connectors. I also have a really old Belkin WiFi adapter (802.11. No bloody a, b, g, or n! With apologies to the late, great Jimmy Doohan) that had one, until I needed to use one of the cable’s connectors to fix something, at which point I permanently soldered the remainder of the cable onto the adapter. I never use it, so I’ll probably scavenge the rest of the cable, too, someday…

  7. My local Dollar Tree store sells passive USB A to A cables for $1. The package shows it connecting two desktop PCs via USB ports, and it says something about data transfer. It does not sound useful or safe, especially if it connects both computer power supplies together via the power wires in the cable.

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