Hackaday Links: September 22, 2019

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Of all the stories we’d expect to hit our little corner of the world, we never thought that the seedy doings of a now-deceased accused pedophile billionaire would have impacted the intellectual home of the open-source software movement. But it did, and this week Richard Stallman resigned from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT, as well as from the Free Software Foundation, which he founded and served as president. The resignations, which Stallman claims were “due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations”, followed the disclosure of a string of emails where he perhaps unwisely discussed what does and does not constitute sexual assault. The emails were written as a response to protests by MIT faculty and students outraged over the university’s long and deep relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the late alleged pedophile-financier. This may be one of those stories where the less said, the better. If only Stallman had heeded that advice.

They may be the radio stations with the worst programming ever, but then again, the world’s atomic clock broadcasting stations can really keep a beat. One of the oldest of these stations, WWV, is turning 100 this year, and will be adding special messages to its usual fare of beeps and BCD-encoded time signals on a 100-Hz subcarrier. If you tune to WWV at 10 past the hour (or 50 minutes past the hour for WWVH, the time station located in Hawaii) you’ll hear a special announcement. There was also talk of an open house at the National Institute of Standards and Technology complete with a WWV birthday cake, but that has since been limited to 100 attendees who pre-registered.

For the machinists and wannabes out there, the Internet’s machine shop channels all pitched in this week on something called #tipblitz19, where everyone with a lathe or mill posted a short video of their favorite shop tip. There’s a ton of great tip out there now, with the likes of This Old Tony, Abom79, Stefan Gotteswinter, and even our own Quinn Dunki contributing timesaving – and finger saving – tips. Don’t stop there though – there’s a playlist with 77 videos at last count, many of them by smaller channels that should be getting more love. Check them out and then start making chips.

Most of us know that DLP chips, which lie behind the lens of the projectors that lull us to sleep in conference rooms with their white noise and warm exhaust, are a series of tiny mirrors that wiggle around to project images. But have you ever seen them work? Now you can: Huygens Optics has posted a fascinating video deep-dive into the workings of digital light processors. With a stroboscopic camera and a lot of fussy work, the video reveals the microscopic movements of these mirrors and how that syncs up with the rotation of a color filter wheel. It’s really fascinating stuff, and hats off to Huygens for pulling off the setup needed to capture this.

And speaking of tiny optics, get a load of these minuscule digital cameras, aptly described by tipster David Gustafik as “disturbingly small.” We know we shouldn’t be amazed by things like this anymore, but c’mon – they’re ridiculously tiny! According to the datasheet, the smaller one will occupy 1 mm² on a PCB; the larger stereo camera requires 2.2 mm². Dubbed NanEye, the diminutive cameras are aimed at the medical market – think endoscopy – and at wearables manufacturers. These would be a lot of fun to play with – just don’t drop one.

45 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: September 22, 2019

  1. Between the the surgeons that mangle the endoscopes and the people in the reprocessing department – cameras in endoscopes need to be capable of withstanding a nuclear blast. If they can’t survive that they certainly won’t survive a week in a regional health facility!

  2. While I disagree with what Stallman said to be sure, and the only thing I can say about Epstein is that the bastard committed suicide 40 years too late I think it’s a shame that a man has to lose his job for expressing his opinion, even if others disagree with it, and at a University where differing ideas are supposed to be debated, not suppressed. If you don’t like what people say speak against them, don’t just shut them up, that is the way free speech is supposed to work, although today that seems to be an old fashioned concept.

    1. “But what about Free Speech” means the most positive interpretation is the government won’t be able to convict you of a crime for saying it. A pretty low bar to be realistic. And private individuals, companies, universities, and other organizations are allowed to set their bar for consequences a lot higher than that. Much like Wal-Mart can ban people carrying guns from their stores, the FSF and MIT can censure Stallman for saying that abducted and trafficked underage girls may have wanted it.

      1. problem is once you start giving away your rights its very hard to get them back, sometimes requiring nothing short of a revolution. thought police have no place in a free and democratic society.

        1. Stallman was run out of the FSF an MIT in an extremely free and democratic way. I agree with you that if we give away our rights to speak up against behavior we find abhorrent, we’ll never get it back!

      2. This is what Stallman actually wrote:

        The announcement of the Friday event does an injustice to Marvin Minsky:

        “deceased AI “pioneer” Marvin Minsky (who is accused of assaulting one of Epstein’s victims)”

        The injustice is in the word “assaulting”. The term “sexual assault” is so vague and slippery that it facilitates accusation inflation: taking claims that someone did X and leading people to think of it as Y, which is much worse than X.

        The accusation quoted is a clear example of inflation. The reference reports the claim that Minsky had sex with one of Epstein’s harem. (See [Verge article marvin-minsky-jeffrey epstein-sex-trafficking-island-court-records-unsealed link]) Let’s presume that was true (I see no reason to disbelieve it).

        The word “assaulting” presumes that he applied force or violence, in some unspecified way, but the article itself says no such thing. Only that they had sex.

        We can imagine many scenarios, but the most plausible scenario is that she presented herself to him as entirely willing. Assuming she was being coerced by Epstein, he would have had every reason to tell her to conceal that from most of his associates.

        I’ve concluded from various examples of accusation inflation that it is absolutely wrong to use the term “sexual assault” in an accusation.

        Whatever conduct you want to criticize, you should describe it with a specific term that avoids moral vagueness about the nature of the criticism.

      3. ” A pretty low bar to be realistic.”

        What exactly do you mean by this?

        “And private individuals, companies, universities, and other organizations are allowed to set their bar for consequences a lot higher than that.”

        Yes and no. Do we really want a society where an employer can fire you because you disagree with him/her over politics? Have you thought that one through beyond the schadenfreude you experience when you really dislike or disagree with the targeted individual? What if your employer disagrees with you?

        “Wal-Mart can ban people carrying guns from their stores”

        But they cannot ban those same people from carrying guns outside of their property. I would never argue that an employer should be forced to allow an employee to use company resources or their position to push their personal views. Their right to do so on their own time with their own resources should however be protected.

        “the FSF and MIT can censure Stallman for saying…”

        Maybe. He is a pretty public figure so sadly what he says MAY be construed as representing the organizations he works for and so becomes pertinent to his job. That is really just a symptom of a lack in intelligence in our population. After all age of consent really has nothing whatsoever to do with the mission statements of either the FSF or MIT. Why can’t people understand this?

        “saying that abducted and trafficked underage girls may have wanted it”

        No. At least from what I read in emails posted here by other commenters I don’t see that he said that. He disagreed with the age of consent law and questioned what his friend did and did not know.

      1. Ah yes, the open-source community. Let’s have a group of rebels that turn all the ideas of IP ownership and group collaboration upside down, really shake up the world of software development and technological process and leave everything traditional behind. Oh but wait, that part where a powerful man getting called out for terrible behavior makes him the pitiable victim, we like that, let’s keep that part exactly the same as in all the other industries.

        1. the fact that a mere accusation of sexual misconduct can completely destroy someone’s career without being it proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law is very disturbing. its even more disturbing when said court of law finds people innocent and still their lives are ruined. thus such a false accusation becomes a weapon, a means for anyone with a grudge or something to gain to take down anyone with impunity. worse yet any organization with a propaganda mill can use this to remove anyone they don’t like. you are pretty much guilty even if proven innocent. people should take this very seriously, but reserve judgement until a jury has had a chance to review evidence.

        2. This is more of what Stallman actually wrote:

          Giuffre was 17 at the time; this makes it rape in the Virgin Isiands. Does it really? I think it is morally absurd to define “rape” in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17.

          I think the existence of a dispute about that supports my point that the term “sexual assault” is slippery, so we ought to use more concrete terms when accusing anyone.

          The Verge article includes the deposition snippet, which is not ambiguous at all: Giuffre directly says she was forced to have sex with Minsky

          I don’t see any quotation from the deposition in the article, but it says, “Giuffre says she was directed to have sex with Minsky.” Given the circumstances, that implies she was coerced by Epstein into doing so.

          The article I know of, and have a copy of, is https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/9/20798900/marvin-minsky-jeffrey-epstein-sex-trafficking-island-court-records-unsealed Are you talking of some other Verge article? If so, would you like to tell me its URL?

          Let’s stop grasping at straws to defend our friends, and instead listen to the women who were harmed.

          We can listen only to what is said to us.

          All i know she said about Minsky is that Epstein directed her to have sex with Minsky. That does not say whether Minsky knew that she was coerced. It does not report what each said and did during their sexual encounter. We can imagine various scenarios.

          We know that Giuffre was being coerced into sex – by Epstein. She was being harmed. But the details do affect whether, and to what extent, Minsky was responsible for that.

          Looking through the article again carefully, I found a link that reportedly points to the deposition itself. I visited that URL and got a blank window. It is on Google Drive, which demands running nonfree software in order to see it. See https://gnu.org/philosophy/javascript-trap.html Would you (not anyone else!) like to email me a copy of the part that pertains to Minsky? I say “not anyone else” to avoid getting 20 copies.


          Read «Low grade “journalists” and internet mob attack RMS with lies. In-depth review.» on https://sterling-archermedes.github.io/index.html to learn more about this hideous attack on all of us.

          It’s time to fight back the lynching mob and the corporate media dishonesty!

          The founder and advocate for the Free Software movement deserves more! We don’t just take these distortions of the truth without pushing back!
          This must end now!

        3. “Let’s have a group of rebels that turn all the ideas of IP ownership and group collaboration upside down, really shake up the world of software development and technological process”

          Yes, please! Now who is going to take their places?

          ” and leave everything traditional behind.”

          Nonsense. At least with software it was just an undoing of damage that had been done in the 80s and 90s and a new set of licenses to hopefully prevent a repeat.

          “Oh but wait, that part where a powerful man getting called out for terrible behavior makes him the pitiable victim”

          Behavior? Are we talking about Stallman, Minsky or Eppstein himself. The only behavior involved of Stallman’s was to voice an unpopular opinion. If that constitutes “terrible” then I think you need to go spend some time in reality where the sticks and stones hurt more than words.

          “we like that, let’s keep that part exactly the same as in all the other industries.”

          No thanks.

          I present to you the case of one Hans Reiser. His filesystem was “the best thing since sliced bread” back in the days when having a large hard drive could easily mean waiting 1/2 hour for Linux to boot as it fsck’d it’s ext2 partitions. And yet… when he killed his wife the community gladly let him go. Nobody has or is arguing that he should not be in prison.

          That’s the difference between justice for the guilty and a witch hunt for people with contrary opinions.

      1. Isn’t this the guy who got dismissed by Stallman 2 years after he stopped doing his job on Hurd and not even answering Stallman’s emails and now works for one of Free Software’s biggest opponents, the Google corporation?
        There’s a reliable account for you! Absolutely no agenda there!

    2. Former MIT student here, these emails are not the reason for the push for rms to resign. Many in the community have been pushing for his resignation for years because of his continued misogynistic behavior (despite those that have tried to help him change his ways). It is unfortunate that the media has failed to actually do any investigation and instead focus on that email, which was a straw on the camel’s back at most.

    3. +1 this comment.
      As that is how free speech is supposed to work and having a different opinion should not be a crime.
      If we all were sheep who thought the same and followed to same beat there would be almost no technological advances.
      There would be no GNU or free software, heck there might not even be computers in the first place or electric power for that matter.
      Jobs and Gates probably were worse than Stallman as far as being rough around the edges and hurting people feelings goes.
      People are too sensitive these days and act their first emotion vs giving any kind of rational thought.
      On Epstine yes he was a scumbag and so is the present POTUS.

  3. I bought some mounted DLP mirror assemblies a long time ago (like https://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/prodinfo.asp?number=G15426 ), figuring that while driving them with actual video was probably beyond my capabilities (and the optics well beyond), it might be possible to at least implement some easy drivers that would at least display interesting shimmery effects. Sadly, it seems that online documentation for the chips is on the order of “connect the DLP chip to the companion DLP driver chip”, which was even less useful than I expected, so I never got anywhere at all.

    Has anyone managed to do anything Hacky with them?

      1. I don’t often get Fraunhofer. There is *no* way you can get an active camera device that will be smaller than an optical fiber. There are some incredible imaging techniques making use of multimode fibre, and that is always going to be cheaper than an active device.


        Medical certification, low volumes (relatively) for a fab process (ams is actually a fabless company, despite their own R&D foundry, they turn out to other fab providers), so volumes, when competing with other product lines, mean a lot, aaaaand a relatively low pass rate (from what I recall talking to the apps team for nanEye) on not only the wafer process, but the final assy also.

        Literally no debug that can (though may have been *will*) be done on a part like that if it doesn’t fire up first time.

      1. This isn’t about his opinion, and we are not talking about “Difficult to work with.” we are talking about unaccepatbly, unapologetically misgynistic and abusive towards peers, colleagues and students.

        That you are ignorant of these facts does not invalidate them, or somehow magically make this about your misunderstandings of the issue.

    1. I don’t care what he was like, it’s his being fired for it that bothers me. Assholes are like the “foundations” of a free society, when you remove them that society collapses.

          1. You really don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.
            Harassing a person is *not* free speech. Creating a toxic learning/working/collaborative environment is *not* free speech.

            That you don’t get this really suggests you’re precisely to sort of shithead who’s been escorted out of the building before and this is just your personal axe to grind. Gotcha. Maybe try NOT BEING AN ASSHOLE.

  4. Shame the failed sensors that are somewhat OK ie didn’t work 100% can’t be sold on to us hackers for a low-but-still-reasonable cost. Would get people interested in the technology who might then pay mucho $$$ for better ones.
    Bad pixels aren’t a killer with some applications and even serious flaws like a misaligned lens can be worked around.
    Plus they are good for getting your production process fixed before moving on to the expensive hardware, sort of like a dummy component.

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