Hackaday Links: October 10, 2021

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We have to admit, it was hard not to be insufferably smug this week when Facebook temporarily went dark around the globe. Sick of being stalked by crazy aunts and cousins, I opted out of that little slice of cyber-hell at least a decade ago, so Monday’s outage was no skin off my teeth. But it was nice to see that the world didn’t stop turning. More interesting are the technical postmortems on the outage, particularly this great analysis by the good folks at the University of Nottingham. Dr. Steve Bagley does a great job explaining how Facebook likely pushed a configuration change to the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) that propagated through the Internet and eventually erased all routes to Facebook’s servers from the DNS system. He also uses a graphical map of routes to show peer-to-peer connections to Facebook dropping one at a time, until their machines were totally isolated. He also offers speculation on why Facebook engineers were denied internal access, sometimes physically, to their own systems.

It may be a couple of decades overdue, but the US Federal Communications Commission finally decided to allow FM voice transmissions on Citizen’s Band radios. It seems odd to be messing around with a radio service whose heyday was in the 1970s, but Cobra, the CB radio manufacturer, petitioned for a rule change to allow frequency modulation in addition to the standard amplitude modulation that’s currently mandatory. It’s hard to say how this will improve the CB user experience, which last time we checked is a horrifying mix of shouting, screaming voices often with a weird echo effect, all put through powerful — and illegal — linear amps that distort the signal beyond intelligibility. We can’t see how a little less static is going to improve that.

Can you steal a car with a Game Boy? Probably not, but car thieves in the UK are using some sort of device hidden in a Game Boy case to boost expensive cars. A group of three men in Yorkshire used the device, which supposedly cost £20,000 ($27,000), to wirelessly defeat the security systems on cars in seconds. They stole cars for garages and driveways to the tune of £180,000 — not a bad return on their investment. It’s not clear how the device works, but we’d love to find out — for science, of course.

There have been tons of stories lately about all the things AI is good for, and all the magical promises it will deliver on given enough time. And it may well, but we’re still early enough in the AI hype curve to take everything we see with a grain of salt. However, one area that bears watching is the ability of AI to help fill in the gaps left when an artist is struck down before completing their work. And perhaps no artist left so much on the table as Ludwig von Beethoven, with his famous unfinished 10th Symphony. When the German composer died, he had left only a few notes on what he wanted to do with the four-movement symphony. But those notes, along with a rich body of other works and deep knowledge of the composer’s creative process, have allowed a team of musicologists and AI experts to complete the 10th Symphony. The article contains a lot of technical detail, both on the musical and the informatics sides. How will it sound? Here’s a preview:

And finally, Captain Kirk is finally getting to space. William Shatner, who played captain — and later admiral — James Tiberius Kirk from the 1960s to the 1990s, will head to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket on Tuesday. At 90 years old, Shatner will edge out Wally Funk, who recently set the record after her Blue Origin flight at the age of 82. It’s interesting that Shatner agreed to go, since he is said to have previously refused the offer of a ride upstairs with Virgin Galactic. Whatever the reason for the change of heart, here’s hoping the flight goes well.

14 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: October 10, 2021

  1. CBers love their gadgets. So FM is just another thing to buy. I can’t imagine serious users getting on the band at this point (GMRS, MURS, FRS and cellphones do for many what CB was intended for), so FM won’t be a draw. But people who think it’s a hobby babd will have something new to buy, something to try.

    In the sixties, when there was a greater pretense that it wasn’t for hobby use, the magazines were full of accessories to buy, things that a wife talking to the husband farmer in the tractor or a repairman calling the store wouldn’t need. And those magazines were full of projects, including esoteric things like panadaptors. When the EIA was talking abkut grabbing the 220MHz ham band for CB class E in the early seventies, FM, Electronics Illustrated even ran projects for the new band, even though it wasn’t close to reality.

    1. In the 90’s in (parts of?) Europe (i think it was a European thing) there was a plan to ban AM from “CB” radios. SSB wasn’t allowed, we just had AM and FM. Well, it was more than a plan, there was a set time when AM needed to be disabled, but at some point that plan was cancelled. We had a Mocoma 59S and a legimate way to keep using it was to just remove the AM/FM switch and leave it on FM, which we didn’t do, cause of the cancelation of the ban.

      Now days we have all 3, AM/FM/SSB and you can use the original “CB” radio channels or US CB radio channels.

      Too bad that it’s all but dead. I guess my point was that FM was a thing over 30 years ago in Europe. so it’s alright i guess to allow it, but those few left, are they going to start using it? I doubt it. Same thing with the SSB the other way around.

      P.S. this new reply box sucks.

    1. Let’s hope he isn’t too affected by the higher cosmic radiation levels in space.

      Or else he might suffer a mutation and grow that “Final Front Ear” we’ve been hearing about (sic!) for the past 50 years.

    1. Another interesting possibility would be to feed in addition to Beethoven’s complete opus, the works of his contemporaries to finish the symphony.
      Rhetorically speaking, did Beethoven have any “real” contemporaries?

  2. Funny to hear about the CB today after just watching Smokey and the Bandit yesterday afternoon.

    Adding FM to a 27Mhz rig back in the day was a (illegal) thing for those of use that were technically interested. 27Mhz in this neck of the woods is largely a non event these days but seems like it was only yesterday when my life revolves around the CB scene

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