Hackaday Links: August 23, 2020

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Apple, the world’s first trillion-dollar company — give or take a trillion — has built a bit of libertarian cachet by famously refusing to build backdoors into their phones, despite the entreaties of the federal government. So it came as a bit of a surprise when we read that the company may have worked with federal agents to build an “enhanced” iPod. David Shayer says that he was one of three people in Apple who knew about the 2005 program, which was at the behest of the US Department of Energy. Shayer says that engineers from defense contractor Bechtel, seemed to want to add sensors to the first-generation iPod; he was never clued in fully but suspects they were adding radiation sensors. It would make sense, given the climate in the early 2000s, walking down the street with a traditional Geiger counter would have been a bit obvious. And mind you, we’re not knocking Apple for allegedly working with the government on this — building a few modified iPods is a whole lot different than turning masses of phones into data gathering terminals. Umm, wait…

A couple of weeks back, we included a story about a gearhead who mounted a GoPro camera inside of a car tire. The result was some interesting footage as he drove around; it’s not a common sight to watch a tire deform and move around from the inside like that. As an encore, the gearhead in question, Warped Perception, did the same trick bit with a more destructive bent: he captured a full burnout from the inside. The footage is pretty sick, with the telltale bubbles appearing on the inside before the inevitable blowout and seeing daylight through the shredded remains of the tire. But for our money, the best part is the slo-mo footage from the outside, with the billowing smoke and shredded steel belts a-flinging. We appreciate the effort, but we’re sure glad this guy isn’t our neighbor.

Speaking of graphic footage, things are not going well for some remote radio sites in California. Some towers that host the repeaters used by public service agencies and ham radio operators alike have managed to record their last few minutes of life as wildfires sweep across the mountains they’re perched upon. The scenes are horrific, like something from Dante’s Inferno, and the burnover shown in the video below is terrifying; watch it and you’ll see a full-grown tree consumed in less than 30 seconds. As bad as the loss of equipment is, it pales in comparison to what the firefighters face as they battle these blazes, but keep in mind that losing these repeaters can place them in terrible jeopardy too.

For everyone who enjoyed The Martian, here’s your chance to science the Watney out of something. Element14 is running the “One Meter of Pi” contest, which asks you to imagine how to make the most productive use out of one cubic meter. Using a Raspberry Pi 4 and a bunch of other goodies supplied to each of 20 successful applicants, your challenge will be to figure out how to use the Pi and the space to feed as many people as possible, whether they be space travelers or just people here on terra firma. It’s an interesting challenge that we hope someone from Hackaday will absolutely crush.

Another Pi contest: the ZeroDays cyberdeck building competition. This one asks you to design a cyberdeck around the Raspberry Pi Zero. The rules on this one are considerably more flexible, and really seems more about the design of the case rather than the functionality of the cyberdeck. Not familiar with cyberdecks? We’ve got you covered.

And finally, did you ever wonder what DNA sounds like? Neither have we, but it turns out that the sequences of DNA bases can make some interesting music, with a little help from DNA Sonification. The idea is to use the rules of gene expression — how the As, Ts, Gs, and Cs code for different proteins — and use them to create music by mapping notes to each base. Feed the DNA Sonifier a sequence, — say, from your 23 and Me results — set a few reading rules, and you can listen to the music of your genes.

14 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: August 23, 2020

  1. “…a gearhead who mounted a GoPro camera inside of a car tire.” -> Link goes to another HaD Links page which then goes to a Jalopnik page with an embedded YouTube video buried under a mountain of ad and track scripting bloat.

    “…he captured a full burnout from the inside.” -> Same as above but the link dumps you on a nasty script bloated Gizmodo site, then you have to start digging.

    Look HaD, why can’t you just post direct links to the original content then attribute where you discovered it with a “via” footnote? It’s like now I just look at the HaD link URL first and if it looks like its going to take me on a wild goose chase, I don’t bother clicking.

    1. > “It’s like now I just look at the HaD link URL first and if it looks like its going to take me on a wild goose chase, I don’t bother clicking.”

      Maybe that’s their goal. If you end up at some other source of 3-4 paragraph summaries of youtube videos, how will your ad-blocker get enough SupplyFrame ads?

    1. And then buy a cubic meter of beans and rice, which is likely several orders of magnitude more than you’d be able to grow with a cubic meter of resources. [Source: uneducated guess]

      1. Correct. Farming, both efficiency and healthy land usage, is all about scale if largest output for smallest input is your goal.

        Not to say that it’s always practiced that way. But it’s non linear as the area gets smaller. Costs rise on small supply quantities, for one.

        And energy usage. That Pi Zero probably has the grunt to monitor a few acres.

        Although there may be exceptions and I eagerly await hearing all about them!

    1. Yeah, another HaD comment system bug. The first YouTube link above is to a video that is ENTIRELY SEPARATE from the video below it which the comment system hijacks, embeds, and blows up. So now you never get to see the link to the second video unless you right-click it, copy it, then paste it somewhere else. Please stop doing this HaD. Sigh…

  2. Humm, the radio tower sites video looks like a slow version of what happened here in Australia 8-9 months ago. Cool to see how quick it starts to spread once it hits the base of the hill though.

  3. Having been 1st on the scene for an arson/brush fire many years ago, I do NOT want to see a reminder of how fast a pine tree can flash over. (or up). Thankfully, it went from “run NOW!” to state forest service literally coming over the hill. Tiny brush fire was out in 10 mins. Note: campground maintenance jobs suck.

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