Can You Hear Me Now? Try These Headphones

When you are young, you take it for granted that you can pick out a voice in a crowded room or a factory floor. But as you get older, your hearing often gets to the point where a noisy room merges into a mishmash of sounds. University of Washington researchers have developed what they call Target Speech Hearing. In plain English, it is an AI-powered headphone that lets you look at someone and pull their voice out of the chatter. For best results, however, have to enroll their voice first, so it wouldn’t make a great eavesdropping device.

If you want to dive into the technical details, their paper goes into how it works. The prototype uses a Sony noise-cancelling headset. However, the system requires binaural microphones so additional microphones attach to the outside of the headphones.

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The Genius Of Slide Rule Precision

Most people have heard of or seen slide rules, with older generations likely having used these devices in school and at their jobs. As purely analog computers these ingenious devices use precomputed scales on slides, which when positioned to a specific input can give the output to a wide range of calculations, ranging from simple divisions and multiplications to operations that we generally use a scientific calculator for these days. Even so, these simple devices are both very versatile and can be extremely precise, as [Bob, the Science Guy] demonstrates in a recent video.

Slide rules at their core are very simple: you got different scales (marked by a label) which can slide relative to each other. Simple slide rules will only have the A through D scales, with an input provided by moving one scale relative to the relevant other scale (e.g. C and D for multiplication/division) after which the result can be read out. Of course, it seems reasonable that the larger your slide rule is, the more precision you can get out of it. Except that if you have e.g. the W1 and W2 scales on a shorter (e.g. 10″) slide rule, you can use those to get the precision of a much larger (20″) slide rule, as [Bob] demonstrates.

Even though slide rules have a steeper learning curve than punching numbers into a scientific calculator, it is hard to argue the benefits of understanding such relationships between the different scales, and why they exist in the first place.

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FLOSS Weekly Episode 785: Designing GUIs And Building Instruments With EEZ

This week Jonathan Bennett chats with Dennis and Goran about EEZ, the series of projects that started with an Open Source programmable power supply, continued with the BB3 modular test bench tool, and continues with EEZ Studio, a GUI design tool for embedded devices.

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Pixel Graphics From An HD44780, By Cutting Wires

[Felipe Tavares] wasn’t satisfied with the boring default fonts on an HD44780-based display. And while you can play some clever tricks with user-defined characters, if you want to treat the display as an array of pixels, you’ve got to get out your scalpel and cut up a data line.

The hack builds on work from [MisterHW] who documented the bits going from the common display driver to the display, and suggested that by cutting the data line and sending your own bits, you could send arbitrary graphics. The trick was to make sure that they’re in sync with the display, though, which means reading the frame sync line in user code.

This done, it looks like [Felipe] has it working! If you can read Rust for the ESP32, he has even provided us with a working demo of the code that makes it work.

We can’t help but wonder if it’s not possible to go even lower-level and omit the HD44780 entirely. Has anyone tried driving one of these little LCD displays directly from a microcontroller, essentially implementing the HD44780 yourself?

Any way you slice it, this is a cool hack, and it opens up the doors to DOOM, or as [MisterHW] suggests, Bad Apple on these little displays . If you do it, we want to see it.

If your needs aren’t so exotic, the classic HD44780 display is a piece of cake to get working, and an invaluable tool in anyone’s toolbox.

Printing A Replacement Case For The ThinkPad 701c

Even among ThinkPads, which are nearly universally loved by hardware hackers and Linux tinkerers alike, the 701c is a particularly rare and desirable machine. Best known for it’s “butterfly” slide out keyboard, the IBM-designed subnotebook from the mid-1990s has gained a following all its own, with active efforts to repair and restore any surviving specimens still out in the wild.

[polymatt] has already taken on a number of 701c restoration projects, but the recent release of a 3D printable case for the vintage laptop is arguably the most impressive to date. After spending an untold number of hours with an original case and a pair of calipers, the final design has been released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license — in other words, you’re free to print one to spruce up your 701c, but don’t run off a stack of them and start trying to move them on Etsy.

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How Facebook Killed Online Chat

In the early days of the internet, online conversations were an event. The technology was novel, and it was suddenly possible to socialize with a whole bunch of friends at a distance, all at once. No more calling your friends one by one, you could talk to them all at the same time!

Many of us would spend hours on IRC, or pull all-nighters bantering on MSN Messenger or AIM. But then, something happened, and many of us found ourselves having shorter conversations online, if we were having any at all. Thinking back to my younger days, and comparing them with today, I think I’ve figured out what it is that’s changed.

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Looking Forward To EMF 2024

It’s that time of year again when some parts of our community travel out into the countryside to spend time with each other under canvas in a field somewhere with power and fast internet — it’s hacker camp season. Here in Europe that means it’s the turn of the British hackers to have the year’s large event, in the form of the latest incarnation of Electromagnetic Field. We’ll be there, camera and microphone in hand, and with luck we’ll be able to bring you a flavour of the event.

The atmosphere that comes from being in the company of several thousand like minds is stimulating enough, but what makes these outdoor events special is that the villages become so much more than simply a group of geeks at a table with their laptops. Where else can one find a tea room run by a hackerspace except courtesy of MK Makerspace, or a fully functional pop-up motor racing circuit from Hacky Racers?

This year’s event badge is an interesting one, the ESP32-S3 powered and hexagon-shaped Tildagon. It’s a bold attempt to redefine the event badge away from a one-off trinket into one that lasts across multiple events, with custom “Hexpansions” like the petals on a flower, intended to have new ones appear on an event by event basis.

If you’re going to be at EMF then maybe we can join you for a pint, otherwise we’ll be bringing you the best that we find there. To whet your appetite, here’s something of the last one.