A miniature iMac clone running MacOS Monterey

Cute Little IMac Clone Runs MacOS On A Tiny Screen

Building a Hackintosh – a non-Apple computer running MacOS – has been a favorite pastime of hackers ever since Apple made the switch from PowerPC to Intel hardware. Though usually built from commodity PC parts, some have successfully installed Apple’s OS onto various kinds of Intel-based single-board computers. [iketsj] used such a board to build a cute little Hackintosh, and apparently decided that if he was going to imitate Apple’s hardware, he might as well take some clues from their industrial design. The result can be seen in the video (embedded below) where [Ike] demonstrates a tiny iMac-like device with a 5″ LCD screen.

The brains of this cute little all-in-one are a Lattepanda, which is a compact board containing an Intel CPU, a few GB of RAM and lots of I/O interfaces. [Ike] completed it with a 256 GB SSD, a WiFi/Bluetooth adapter and the aforementioned LCD, which displays 800×480 pixels and receives its image through the mainboard’s HDMI interface.

The case is a 3D-printed design that vaguely resembles a miniaturized iMac all-in-one computer. The back contains openings for a couple of USB connectors, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and even an Ethernet port for serious networking. A pair of speakers is neatly tucked away below the display, enabling stereo sound even without headphones.

The computer boots up MacOS Monterey just like a real iMac would, just with a much smaller display. [Ike] is the first to admit that it’s not the most practical thing in the world, but that he would go out and use it in a coffee shop “just for the lulz”. And we agree that’s a great reason to take your hacks outside.

[Ike] built a portable Hackintosh before, and we’ve seen some pretty impressive MacOS builds, like this Mini iMac G4, a beautiful Mac Pro replica in a trash can, and even a hackintosh built inside an actual Mac Pro case.

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Malamud’s General Index: Research Gist, No Slap On The Wrist

Tired of that unsettling feeling you get from looking for paywalled papers on that one site that shall not be named? Yeah, us too. But now there’s an alternative that should feel a little less illegal: this new index of the world’s research papers over on the Internet Archive.

It’s an index of words and short phrases (up to five words) culled from approximately 107 million research papers. The point is to make it easier for scientists to gain insights from papers that they might not otherwise have access to. The Index will also make it easier for computerized analysis of the world’s research. Call it a gist machine.

Technologist Carl Malamud created this index, which doesn’t contain the full text of any paper. Some of the researchers with early access to the Index said that it is quite helpful for text mining. The only real barrier to entry is that there is no web search portal for it — you have to download 5TB of compressed files and roll your own program. In addition to sentence fragments, the files contain 20 billion keywords and tables with the papers’ titles, authors, and DOI numbers which will help users locate the full paper if necessary.

Nature’s write-up makes a salient point: how could Malamud have made this index without access to all of those papers, paywalled and otherwise? Malamud admits that he had to get copies of all 107 million articles in order to build the thing, and that they are safe inside an undisclosed location somewhere in the US. And he released the files under Public Resource, a non-profit he founded in Sebastopol, CA. But we have to wonder how different this really is from say, the Google Books N-Gram Viewer, or Google Scholar. Is the difference that Google is big enough to say they’re big enough get away with it?

If this whole thing reminds you of another defender of free information, remember that you can (and should) remove the DRM from his e-book of collected writings.

Via r/technology

Tiny Open Hardware Linux SBC Hides In Plain Sight

There was a time, not quite so long ago, when a computer was a beige box that sat on your desk. Before that, computers were big enough to double as desks, and even farther back, they took up a whole room. Today? Well today it’s complicated. Single-board computers (SBCs) like the Raspberry Pi put a full desktop experience in the palm of your hand, for a price that would have been unfathomable before the smartphone revolution increased demand for high-performance ARM chips.

But compared to the tiny open hardware Linux SBC that lives inside the WiFiWart, even the Raspberry Pi looks massive. Developed by [Walker] as a penetration testing tool, the custom computer is housed in an enclosure designed to make it look like a traditional (if a bit large) USB phone charger. In fact, it doesn’t just look like a USB charger, it actually is one. The internal power supply is not only capable of converting AC into the various DC voltages required to run the miniature Linux box, but also features a USB port where you can plug in your phone to charge it.

For the infosec folks in the audience, the applications for the WiFiWart are obvious. Just plug this thing in somewhere inconspicuous, and you’ve got a foot in the door. The dual WiFi interfaces mean you can connect to a target network on one card and use the second to spin up a fake access point or exfiltrate data. Plus with a quad-core Cortex-A7 ARM processor running at 1.2 GHz and a healthy 1 GB of DDR3, you’ll have enough power to run many security tools locally.

But of course, nothing keeps you from using the WiFiWart for non-security purposes. That’s what has us particularly excited, as you can never have enough open hardware Linux boards. Especially ones this tiny. Removed from its wall charger disguise, the brains of the WiFiWart could be used for all kinds of projects. Plus, not only is the final design open source, but [Walker] made sure to only use free and open source tools to create it. Keeping his entire workflow open means it will be easier for the community to utilize and improve upon his initial design, which in the end, is the whole idea behind the open hardware movement and efforts such as the Hackaday Prize.

Computer Vision Lets You Skip Songs With A Glance

Have you ever wished you could control your home automation devices with nothing more than a withering stare? Well then you’re in luck, as [Norbert Zare] has come up with a clever way of controlling an MP3 player with only your face. Though as you might imagine, the technique could be applied to a whole range of home automation tasks with some minor tweaks.

At the core of this project is the Raspberry Pi, specifically the 3 B+ model, though with the computational demands of computer vision you might want to bump it up to the latest-and-greatest Pi 4. From there you need to load up OpenCV and a model trained for face detection, which as luck would have it, tends to be a fairly common application for this technology.

With a relatively simple Python script, [Norbert] is able to determine when OpenCV detects he’s looking directly into the camera and fire off one of the Pi’s GPIO pins that’s been connected to the “Skip” button on a physical MP3 player. That’s right, you read that correctly. He’s using a dedicated MP3 player in the year 2021.

In all seriousness, we’re not really sure why [Norbert] went this route compared to simply playing the music on the Pi and controlling it through software, but this does serve as a good example of how you can interface with physical devices if need be. In any event, using the Python script he’s provided, you could easily modify the setup to control other tasks, virtual or otherwise.

While face recognition can be a scary thing out in the wild, we do think it has some interesting applications within the home, so long as the user is the one who is in control of where their data ends up.

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Demonstration of the PMDG 737 being controlled by a blind user using Talking Flight Monitor

Flying Blind: Taking Flight Simulation To A New Level In Accessibility

Software developers [Andy Borka] and [Jason Fayre] have a love for aviation. They are also both totally blind. They’ve developed software called Talking Flight Monitor, and it has made flight simulation possible for anyone with impaired vision or blindness, as you can experience in the blurry video below the break. What draws them to aviation and flight simulators?

This fascination with flight is not limited to the sighted, and who wouldn’t want to experience what it’s like to be in cockpit of a modern airliner? I still recall the awe that I felt when at 9 years old, I glanced the flight deck of a McDonnell Douglas MD-80 as I boarded the aircraft. The array of lights, buttons, switches, and gauges dazzled me for years to come. I wanted to know how all of it worked. I wanted to be a pilot. A few years later I discovered Flight Simulator 4 on a 286, and I was hooked for life.

For the vision impaired this presents a problem. Flight simulators are by nature extremely visual, and they lack the text based interface that would allow a screen reader to help a visually impaired person make use of the simulator. Enter Talking Flight Monitor.

[Andy] and [Jason] have worked with PMDG Simulations to create text friendly interfaces for the 737 and 777 produced by PMDG. These ultra-realistic aircraft are available for the Prepar3D flight Simulator, and they result in a combination that blurs the line between Flight Simulator and Flight Training. By modifying these aircraft with accessible control panels, Talking Flight Monitor allows a completely blind flight simulator user to take off, navigate, and even land without ever seeing the screen.

Talking Flight Monitor makes flight possible using over 70 keyboard shortcuts. Both autopilot control and full manual control of the aircraft simulation are possible. Compatibility with standard simulation software is maintained in such a way that tutorials for programming flight computers not controlled by Talking Flight Monitor will still work. It even includes its own voice, so it does not require a screen reader to use.

Our hats are off to [Andy] and [Jason] for their hard work, diligence, and true application of the Hacker spirit. Thanks to [Mike Stone] for this most excellent tip.

[Note: The images in this post are produced by a community of blind flight simulator users who are not concerned with visual quality. They have been intentionally left blurry.]

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How To Get Into Cars: Endurance Racing Builds

Many an automotive enthusiast finds themselves at a track day eventually. Typically, this involves competing against the clock to better one’s laptimes in short sessions throughout the day.¬†Such events are fun, but it often creates a perishing thirst for a greater level of competition.

Regularity and endurance events are often the next step up for a lot of people. These events involve long runs at race pace that stress a car to (or beyond!) the breaking point. Careful preparation is required if one is to see out the race to the chequered flag. Let’s break down what you’ll need to consider.

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Hardware Project Becomes Successful Product For Solo Developer

[Michael Lynch] has been a solo developer for over three years now, and has been carefully cataloguing his attempts at generating revenue for himself ever since making the jump to being self-employed. Success is not just hard work; it is partly knowing when the pull the plug on an idea, and [Micheal] has been very open about his adventures in this area. He shares the good news about a DIY project of his that ended up becoming a successful product, complete with dollar amounts and frank observations.

About a year ago, we covered a project he shared called TinyPilot, which is an effective KVM-over-IP device, accessible over the web, that could be built with about $100 worth of parts.¬†[Micheal] found it to be a fun and useful project, and decided to see if he could sell kits. However, he admits he didn’t have high expectations, and his thoughts are probably pretty familiar to most hardware types:

I questioned whether there was a market for this. Why would anyone buy this device from me? It was just a collection of widely available hardware components.

Well, it turns out that he was onto something, and the demand for his device became immediately clear. He’s since given TinyPilot more features, an attractive case, and even provides a support plan for commercial customers. This is an excellent reminder that sometimes, what is being sold isn’t the collection of parts itself. Sometimes, what’s being sold is a solution to a problem people have, and those people are time-poor and willing to pay for something that just works.

It’s great to see [Michael] find some success as a solo developer, but his yearly wrap-up covers much more than just the success of TinyPilot as a product, so be sure to check it out if you’re at all interested in the journey of working for yourself.