Hackaday Links: October 27, 2019

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A year ago, we wrote about the discovery of treasure trove of original documentation from the development of the MOS 6502 by Jennifer Holdt-Winograd, daughter of the late Terry Holdt, the original program manager on the project. Now, Ms. Winograd has created a website to celebrate the 6502 and the team that built it. There’s an excellent introductory video with a few faces you might recognize, nostalgia galore with period photographs that show the improbable styles of the time, and of course the complete collection of lab notes, memos, and even resumes of the team members. If there were a microchip hall of fame – and there is – the 6502 would be a first-round pick, and it’s great to see the history from this time so lovingly preserved.

Speaking of the 6502, did you ever wonder what the pin labeled SO was for? Sure, the data sheets all say pin 38 of the original 40-pin DIP was the “Set Overflow” pin, an active low that set the overflow bit in the Processor Status Register. But Rod Orgill, one of the original design engineers on the 6502, told a different story: that “SO” was the initials of his beloved dog Sam Orgill. The story may be apocryphal, but it’s a Good Doggo story, so we don’t care.

You may recall a story we ran not too long ago about the shortage of plutonium-238 to power the radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) for deep-space missions. The Cold War-era stockpiles of Pu-238 were running out, but Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists and engineers came up with a way to improve production. Now there’s a video showing off the new automated process from the Periodic Videos series, hosted by the improbably coiffed Sir Martyn Poliakoff. It’s fascinating stuff, especially seeing workers separated from the plutonium by hot-cells with windows that are 4-1/2 feet (1.4 meters) thick.

Dave Murray, better known as YouTube’s “The 8-Bit Guy”, can neither confirm nor deny the degree to which he participated in the golden age of phone phreaking. But this video of his phreaking presentation at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo reveals a lot of suspiciously detailed knowledge about the topic. The talk starts at 4:15 or so and is a nice summary of blue boxes, DTMF hacks, war dialing, and all the ways we curious kids may or may not have kept our idle hands busy before the Interwebz came along.

Do you enjoy a puzzle? We sure do, and one was just laid before us by a tipster who prefers to stay anonymous, but for whom we can vouch as a solid member of the hacker community. So no malfeasance will befall you by checking out the first clue, a somewhat creepy found footage-esque video with freaky sound effects, whirling clocks, and a masked figure reading off strings of numbers in a synthesized voice. Apparently, these clues will let you into a companion website. We worked on it for a bit and have a few ideas about how to crack this code, but we don’t want to give anything away. Or more likely, mislead anyone.

And finally, if there’s a better way to celebrate the Spooky Season than to model predictions on how humanity would fare against a vampire uprising, we can’t think of one. Dominik Czernia developed the Vampire Apocalypse Calculator to help you decide when and if to panic in the face of an uprising of the undead metabolically ambiguous. It supports several models of vampiric transmission, taken from the canons of popular genres from literature, film, and television. The Stoker-King model makes it highly likely that vampires would replace humans in short order, while the Harris-Meyer-Kostova model of sexy, young vampires is humanity’s best bet except for having to live alongside sparkly, lovesick vampires. Sadly, the calculator is silent on the Whedon model, but you can set up your own parameters to model a world with Buffy-type slayers at your leisure. Or even model the universe of The Walking Dead to see if it’s plausible that humans are still alive 3599 days into the zombie outbreak.

13 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: October 27, 2019

        1. Yes, used a Bletchley Park approved method. Saved everything to HD, replaced all alerts with Console.log, added a function with three nested loops, added a button to call that function and Bob’s your uncle.

          The video has Elliott Williams written all over it. On a podcast he was talking about this audio processing suite.

          “Are you listening…”

  1. I want to see either (or both) Ann Christy’s “Between Life and Death” zombie apocalypse stories, or John Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising” zombie apocalypse stories as a TV series.

    Christy uses medical nanites infected with malware. Ringo goes for a two stage virus. In both the zombies are still alive, but with higher mental functions either disabled or destroyed. “28 Days Later” and the Will Smith version of “I Am Legend” also went the viral live zombie route.

    “The Walking Dead” went with virus reanimated undead zombies. That would have to be one seriously sophisticated virus to support somehow transporting the chemical compounds required for muscle movement without a working circulatory system. Even given an amazing super virus that can get around inside a dead body and act as a replacement for digestion, circulation, and respiration, there’s no way it could keep a reanimated corpse moving for years (such as inside a locked used car dealership office) without any food.

    The other main type of zombie has been the undead reanimated via magic or supernatural means. With that style one can handwave away things like skeletal zombies with only shreds of muscle and tendon still left, along with all the other biology logistics problems.

    The largest problem in a zombie apocalypse is how large the initial infection or die off is. Sticking to just the USA, there’s over 300 million people here. If initial survivor percentage is only 10 to 15, that’s a lot of zombies. If it’s “realistic” viral reanimated undead zombies then I’d give it at the absolute most a week before 100% of the zombies are dead for good a second time as their bodies supplies of what’s required for muscle function runs down. By no later than day 4 they’d all be laying down, unable to support walking. Any survivors that can hold out for a week, no problem, except for other survivors that are stupid and greedy and shortsighted about survival.

    If we go with brain disabled/damaged live zombies, that’s where the apocalypse can drag on, as long as the zombies retain the basic functional capacity to know what’s food and the ability to grab it. Say buh-bye to small wildlife. City zombies will die in mass quantities in a few days. Zombies in far northern and southern latitudes will be done for in the first winter as they freeze to death.

    Any zombie apocalypse where the zombies last more than one year (at least inside regions that experience freezing temperatures in winter) is just super stretching all bounds of… sanity.

    1. I agree with your assessments.
      I think “zombie apocalypse” is a metaphor for any manner of societal collapse, and the “zombies” will be those who have not prepared and are robbing/killing for their own survival.
      Right now it’s a “dog eat dog” world, which will be followed by “man eat dog”, and then by “man eat man”.

    2. The “rage zombies” from “I Am Legend” really intrigue me. IIRC, in the movie that was some kind of genetically engineered cancer cure that got out of the lab and into the population, and the infected were hairless and photophobic, but had essentially normal – if insanely overclocked – metabolic processes. Seems like those rage-zombies could live for an extended period of time, especially since they all seemed to go into some kind of standing stasis during the daylight hours. Plus they retained their intelligence, enough to devise complex mechanisms for traps. Those dudes were scary.

      And yes, I know that neither of the Will Smith nor the Charlton Heston movie was true to the book, which I read and really enjoyed. I did like all three versions of the story, though.

    3. “Even given an amazing super virus that can get around inside a dead body and act as a replacement for digestion, circulation, and respiration, there’s no way it could keep a reanimated corpse moving for years (such as inside a locked used car dealership office) without any food.”

      Fallout called their ghouls.

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