Hackaday Links: November 21, 2021

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As the most spendiest time of the year rapidly approaches, it’s good to know that your hard-earned money doesn’t have to go towards gifts that are probably still sitting in the dank holds of container ships sitting at anchor off the coast of California. At least not if you shop the Tindie Cyber Sale that started yesterday and goes through December 5. There’s a lot of cool stuff on sale, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find something; to sweeten the deal, Jasmine tells us that there will be extra deals going live on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But wait, there’s more — follow Tindie on Twitter for bonus discount codes.

Blue is the old black, which was the new blue? At least when it comes to “Screens of Death” it is, since Microsoft announced the Windows 11 BSOD will revert back from its recent black makeover to the more familiar blue theme. You’ll have to scroll down a bit, perhaps three-quarters of the way through the list of changes. Again, the change seems completely cosmetic and minor, but we’d still love to know what kind of research went into making a decision like this.

From the “One Man’s Trash” department, we have a request for help from reader Mike Drew who picked up a bunch — like, a thousand — old tablet computers. They originally ran Windows but they can run Linux Mint just fine, and while they lack batteries and the back cover, they’re otherwise complete and in usable condition, at least judging by the pictures he shared. These were destined for the landfill, but Mike is willing to send batches of 10 — no single units, please — to anyone who can cover the cost of packaging and shipping. Mike says he’ll be wiping the tablets and installing Mint, and will throw in a couple of battery cables and a simple instruction sheet to get you started. If you’re interested, Mike can be reached at michael.l.drew@gmail.com. Domestic shipping only, please. Here’s hoping you can help a fellow hacker reclaim a room in his house.

Answering the important questions: it turns out that Thanos couldn’t have snapped half of the universe out of existence after all. That conclusion comes from a scientific paper, appearing in the Journal of the Royal Society. While not setting out to answer if a nigh-invulnerable, giant purple supervillain could snap his fingers, it’s pretty intuitive that wearing any kind of gloves, let alone a jewel-encrusted metal gauntlet, makes it hard to snap one’s fingers. But the mechanics of snapping is actually pretty cool, and has implications beyond biomechanics. According to the paper, snapping is actually an example of latch-mediated spring actuation, with examples throughout the plant and animal kingdoms, including the vicious “one-inch punch” of the tiny mantis shrimp. It turns out that a properly executed human finger snap is pretty darn snappy — it takes about seven milliseconds to complete, compared to 150 milliseconds for an eye blink.

And finally, it seems like someone over at Id Software is a bit confused. The story began when a metal guitarist named Dustin Mitchell stumbled across the term “doomscroll” and decided that it would make a great name for a progressive thrash metal band. After diligently filing a trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office, he got an email from an attorney for Id saying they were going to challenge the trademark, apparently because they feel like it will cause confusion with their flagship DOOM franchise. It’s hard to see how anyone who lived through the doomscrolling years of 2020 and 2021 is going to be confused by a thrash metal band and a 30-year-old video game, but we suppose that’s not the point when you’re an attorney. Trademark trolls gonna troll, after all.

28 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: November 21, 2021

  1. Well I just sent an email off to our fellow hacker concerning those tablets. But one thing remains? Why are they backless? That seems strange. Gonna see about getting Slackware to run there.

      1. No, seriously, after removing the batteries, those doing so saw no reason to reattach the backs, especially if they believed the tablets were just going to the crusher anyway.
        Another possibility is the back panels contained information such as Model/Serial numbers which the manufacturer did not want to be known.
        (So, that makes me wonder if these are Samsung tablets that had the bad batteries. )

    1. And non band using Doom. World of Warcraft has characters like Doom Lord Kazzak, Doomroller, and even just “Doom”

      ID has no chance as the word Doom is too generic and not unique to the game. At best they could only prevent another game from having Doom in the title but nothing else.

  2. > It’s hard to see how anyone who lived through the doomscrolling years of 2020 and 2021 is going to be confused by a thrash metal band and a 30-year-old video game, but we suppose that’s not the point when you’re an attorney. Trademark trolls gonna troll, after all.

    2020, 2021? Hah, we were doing it in 2019 as much of the country burned (and yours truly spent Christmas-New Year coughing and spluttering in bed instead of visiting relatives).

  3. it might be helpful to know what kind of ballpark of ‘shipping and packaging’ costs those tablets are going to have.

    are we talking ebay “shipping” that’s $1,000 for 30 of them?

    1. And what’s meant by “domestic”… there’s no mention of where this person is… the link just asks for Google log-in details, no mention of tablets anywhere.

      For what I know, these tablets could be sitting in a back-yard shed a few streets away or on the other side of the planet. All I know is, wherever they are, the person who has them doesn’t want to ship them a long distance.

    2. It’s very reasonable shipping, looks like possibly a corporate account. It was under $20 from East to CA for me. (Plus packaging costs)

      Arrived already, very cool.

      There is some adhesive all around the screen, these may have been in a kiosk/automation setting

      The sticker says Win 10 IoT.

  4. “he got an email from an attorney for iD saying they were going to challenge the trademark, apparently because they feel like it will cause confusion with their flagship DOOM franchise.”

    Except that that is absolutely NOT in the email that he received. The email he received was legalese for: “The deadline is about to expire, we don’t know exactly what your plans with this name is (and whether it will stay within the category of music) and we don’t know whether it MIGHT infringe on our trademark on the DOOM game franchise. There’s not enough time for us to decide to object or not. Could you please extend the deadline so we can work out whether we actually have a problem or not and decide whether or not to submit an objection? It’s iD actually making sure they DON’T have to end up in court to prevent wasting time and money on both sides.

    Stop blowing this up into a much bigger story than it really is. And what everybody overlooks is that this guy has a much bigger competitor to the Doomscroll name because there is already is a doom metal band named “Doom Scroll” https://open.spotify.com/artist/2USYSrkBxJMWkCpAIUj49v/discography/album

    So the name isn’t even original either.

  5. Someone needs to make a Hackaday project for these tablets where those who bought, can discuss.

    I’m looking at one from a box of ten and I’ve found some interesting stuff.

    For one, if there are tablets that don’t work and can have parts harvested, it would not take much beyond a delicate hand with a hot air pencil and a whole buttload of flux to double the RAM on these — all the passives are there, the footprint is there, you just need a second chip.

    For another, I was able to locate an FCCID[dot]IO listing for these, and I’m noticing that it looks like the plan was to offer these with a detachable keyboard but that was never implemented. There’s what looks like a 10pin FFC connector marked “POGO” just left of the touch-panel connector’s wider (unused) footprint, and just below the connector for the FPC to the LCD. There’s also a 5pin internal speaker connector that’s populated but unused, and a pair of footprints for flip-bar FFC or FPC connectors like the rest (is there a formal name for that style of connector?) just above the display FPC connector; the lower one’s marked 3G and the upper one LPC_CN. I’d absolutely give my eyeteeth for pinouts on those two and the “POGO” connector lol.

    Here’s another interesting tidbit. While I could find an FCCID[dot]IO listing for these, it’s not under the brand and model mentioned above, the EMDOOR EM-H8811 — although I do see a YouTube review of a tablet with that make and model popping up in Google search. (I’ve not watched the video.) The FCCID I get for these, which comes from the info Mr Drew sent out to those interested if you emailed him, is for a Vulcan Electronics brand “Vulcan Excursion XC” tablet with a model # of VT108XC32 — https://fccid.io/2AWJN-VT108XC32 — HOWEVER, the PCB in front of me is clearly marked “EM_H8811_1780_V1.0”.

    More intriguingly… I don’t think these were ever offered for sale in the USA.

    No, really. I can find NO references to either Emdoor or “Vulcan Electronics” on Google or on eBay except for that one FCCID listing and for the one YouTube video, which I won’t link because (a) it’s easy to find if you want to watch it and (b) I’ve not watched it and TBH I’m not interested. Electronically, and in terms of componentry, this is a fairly basic, fairly common cookie-cutter Atom tablet, with the only stand-out oddity to me other than on the retail/socioeconomics side being that it has 4gb RAM but only 32gb eMMC, which is an odd combination for an Atom x8350 tablet — usually the RAM and storage double together.

    But eBay has neither used tablets nor spare components for sale under either make and model; Amazon coughs up only garbage search results, which is (sadly) what it does these days when it has nothing to offer; there are no expired listings on Newegg — or, for that matter, no listings for sale of any kind that Google brings up at all. I *do* see on eBay, if I search ” H8811 ” on its own, listings for a few spare parts for a “Qilive GK-H8811” tablet, which shows in Google as being a variant of the same; however, all search results are in French and I don’t read French… I can sort of speak it but only in a way that would make most Frenchmen badly nauseated at best. (I only know a very few words anyways.)

    It looks like they got their FCCID, but… for some reason these tablets weren’t sold. If I had to guess, I’d say that there was some sort of corporate mass-rebrand that fell through at the last minute and what Mr Drew got his hands on was the end result of someone saying “how the heck do you make a couple forklift pallets of cheap Windows tablets just disappear, bud?”

    Beats me, I wasn’t there.

    If someone ends up making a public group to dig around in these, could you invite me in please? I’m “starhawk” on the [dot]IO side, just as I am here.

    For my part, I’m hoping I can scrap together something that I can use to resell these as mini AIOs locally, with slightly boosted specs… a lot of people here where I live an’t quite afford a Win10 Onn tablet from Walmart, but if someone could offer them something like this at $50-$75 a pop, they’d suddenly have a computer for their kid to do homework on.

    1. FWIW: I’d create a project page myself but I’m not active enough because I simply don’t have the time to maintain it, with everything else going on in my life RN. You’d not think me busy, but I am…

    2. Any ideas on a group buy for real back covers? Or a 3D printed back? (I wouldn’t even be opposed to designing a snap on rear bezel that would take a flat piece of whatever for most of the rear: lexan, polycarbonate, aluminium, balsa, plywood. Especially if we could make it with 18650 cells in mind to re-use some of the salvaged cells I come across.)

      I am running one on Ghost Spectre Windows 10, not bad. (Updates and Defender disabled because windows absolutely hammers Atom CPUs until its un-usable). Can use Snappy Driver Installer to get some of the drivers going.

      I’m going to check the pinouts and see if it can run any of those 4″ 640×480 screens, maybe make a gameboy out of it. Too bad the Toshiba Libretto is so expensive, or I’d gut one to run linux Dosbox distro on XD. I do have a broken thinkpad x100e on the way though, can’t get enough of that trackpoint :D

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