These days paper is being phased out whenever possible, and while we’re still far from being a completely digital society, the last decade or two has seen a huge reduction in the amount of paper the average person deals with on a daily basis. At the very least, we seem a lot closer to a future without the printed page than we are flying cars or any of the other concepts we generally associate with the far-flung future.
That said, there’s still something undeniably appealing about reading on paper. The idea of squirting ink on a piece of thin wood might seem increasingly archaic to us, but it sure does look nice when you hold it in your hand. Which is exactly why so much effort has been put into recreating the look of printed paper in electronic form; we all love the experience of paper, but the traditional execution doesn’t align itself particularly well with modern sensibilities.
Of course electronic “eReaders”, most notably the Kindle line from Amazon, have gone a long way towards making this a reality. At least for reading books, anyway. But what about magazines, newspapers, or even the lowly notebook we keep by the bench to jot down measurements or ideas? A PDF datasheet, with graphics where the grey tones matter? Being able to carry a whole bookshelf worth of novels in your bag is incredible, but despite what science fiction has promised us since 2001: A Space Odyssey, we’re still consuming plenty of media off of dead trees.
But that might be changing soon. This year will see the release of two tablets that promise to deliver an experience much closer to reading and writing on traditional paper than anything we’ve seen previously. They certainly aren’t cheap, and it’s too early to tell how much is just hype, but these devices could end up being an important step towards the paperless future we’ve been dreaming of.
Continue reading “Will 2020 (Finally) Be The Year Of Electronic Paper?”
We often think of ham radio operators talking to exotic faraway lands, and that’s true for hams using the HF bands (below 30 MHz), especially if they have nice antennas. Modern living has made it much harder to have those big antenna farms, and today’s ham is more likely talking on VHF or UHF frequencies with very limited range under normal circumstances. Sure, you can use a repeater or bounce your signal from a satellite or the moon, but normal direct communication is normally going to be less than a typical commercial FM radio station. But on April 7th, two hams communicated across the Atlantic on 432 MHz — a UHF frequency. The distance was almost 4,000 km.
Notice we didn’t say they talked, but they communicated. The contact was via a somewhat controversial mode called FT8 which uses weak signal techniques to allow two computers to send limited amounts of information to each other. However, on April 10, the two stations reported a single sideband voice contact after they noticed the band conditions improving on the FT8 signal.
Continue reading “Hams Cross The Atlantic On UHF”
After three years of online publications, HardwareX may have solidified itself as an academic journal for open-source hardware. We originally wrote about HardwareX back in 2016. At the time, HardwareX hadn’t even published its first issue and only begun soliciting manuscripts. Now after three years of publishing, six issues as of October 2019 (with the seventh scheduled for April 2020), and an impact factor of 4.33, it’s fair to say that Elsevier’s push into open-access publications is on a path to success.
To give you a bit of background, HardwareX aims to promote the reproducibility of scientific work by giving researchers an avenue to publish all the hardware and software hacks that often get buried in traditional manuscripts. The format of HardwareX articles is a bit different than most academic journals. HardwareX articles look more like project pages similar to Hackaday.io. (Maybe we inspired them a bit? Who knows.)
It’s a bold attempt on Elsevier’s part because although open-access is held as an ideal scenario for scientific work, such efforts often come under quite a bit of scrutiny in the academic community. Don’t ask us. We can’t relate.
Either way, we genuinely wish Elsevier all the best and will keep our eyes on HardwareX. Maybe some of our readers should consider publishing their projects in HardwareX.
Let’s face it — people are gonna touch their faces. Sometimes faces itch, especially during allergy season. But the first step toward quitting something like that is to become cognizant of just how often you do it.
With a bracelet like this one from [Mauricio Martins], your face-touching frequency will quickly become apparent. Strap it to your favorite face-scratching arm and go about your day. The code constantly polls the accelerometer to see if your hand is in the vicinity of your visage. If so, red lights circle around and an emergency vehicle-type siren goes off to let everyone around you know you’ve sinned.
This no-touch-face bracelet is awesome because it’s simple and it works. It uses a Circuit Playground Express programmed in Make code, but it would be easy to port it to Arduino or CircuitPython. If you want to make something more elegant, we’re all for it, but you could be using this in the meantime to help condition yourself away from the habit. Check out the demo after the break.
Sometimes you gotta take a step back and make something that just works without getting all fancy. Did you hear the one about the astrophysicist who got magnets stuck up his nose trying to solve this very problem?
Continue reading “Touch Face, Lights Chase, Sirens Race”