Hackaday Links: February 2, 2020

Is it just me or did January seem to last for about three months this year? A lot has happened since the turn of the decade 31 days ago, both in the normie world and in our space. But one of the biggest pieces of news in the hacker community is something that won’t even happen for four more months: Hackaday Belgrade. The annual conference in Hackaday’s home-away-from-home in Serbia was announced, and as usual, one had to be a very early bird to score discount tickets. Regular tickets are still on sale, but I suspect that won’t last long. The call for proposals for talks went out earlier in the month, and you should really consider standing up and telling the world what you know. Or tell them what you don’t know and want to find out – there’s no better way to make connections in this community, and no better place to do it.

Someone dropped a tip this week about the possible closing of Tanner Electronics, the venerable surplus dealer located in Carrollton, Texas, outside of Dallas and right around the corner from Dallas Makerspace. The report from someone visiting the store is that the owner has to either move the store or close it down. I spoke to someone at the store who didn’t identify herself, but she confirmed that they need to either downsize or close. She said they’re actively working with a realtor and are optimistic that they’ll find a space that fits their needs, but the clock is ticking – they only have until May to make the change. We covered Tanner’s in a 2015 article on “The Death of Surplus”. It would be sad to lose yet another surplus store; as much as we appreciate being able to buy anything and everything online, nothing beats the serendipity that can strike walking up and down aisles filled with old stuff. We wish them the best of luck.

Are you finding that the smartphone in your pocket is more soul-crushing than empowering? You’re not alone, and more and more people are trying a “digital detox” to free themselves from the constant stimulation. And there’s no better way to go about this than by turning your smartphone into a not-so-smart phone. Envelope, a  paper cocoon for your phone, completely masks the screen, replacing it with a simple printed keypad. A companion app allows you to take and make phone calls or use the camera, plus provides a rudimentary clock, but that’s it. The app keeps track of how long you can go before unwrapping your phone and starting those sweet, sweet dopamine hits again. It reminds us a bit of the story we also saw this week about phone separation anxiety in school kids, and the steps schools are taking to mitigate that problem.

We saw a lot of articles this week on a LoRaWAN security vulnerability. The popular IoT network protocol has been billed as “secure by default”, but a white paper released by cybersecurity firm IOActive found a host of potential attack vectors. Their main beef seems to be that client devices which are physically accessible can be reverse engineered to reveal their encryption keys. They also point out the obvious step of taking the QR code off of client devices so an attacker can’t generate session keys for the device.

And finally, the mummy speaks! If you ever wondered what the voice of someone who lived 3,000 years ago sounded like, wonder no more. Using computed tomography (CT) data, scientists in the UK and Germany have recreated the vocal tract of Nesyamun, an Egyptian scribe and priest from the time of pharaoh Rameses XI. He died in his mid-50s, and his mummified remains have been studied since the 1800s. CT data was used to 3D-print Nesyamun’s larynx and nasopharynx, which was then placed atop a “Vocal Tract Organ”, possibly the strangest musical instrument in existence. The resulting vowel-like utterance is brief, to say the least, but it’s clear and strong, and it’s pretty impressive that we can recreate the voice of someone who lived and died three millennia ago.

 

Hackaday Belgrade Early Bird Tickets On Sale Right Now

Tickets for Hackaday Belgrade 2020 just went on sale. If you’re quick you can grab an Early Bird ticket at half the price of general admission!

Hackaday’s premiere European hardware conference returns for the third time on May 9th, 2020, bringing together talks, workshops, hardware hacking, food and drink, entertainment, and of course the best gathering of hardware geeks you’ll find anywhere. It’s awesome, because you’re awesome — and I do mean you. Whether you’re submitting a talk proposal or just grabbing a ticket to make this the first conference you’ve ever been to, we can’t do it without you.

Hackaday’s Home in Serbia

We’ll be at Dom Omladine again this year. The venue has feels like a home for Hackaday with a large space for talks, a workshop area, and a huge open area for lobby-con where you’ll find Belgrade’s finest baristas, a great spread of food, and a beer tap to keep the day rolling. Bring along your hardware projects to hack alongside the conference’s custom hardware badge designed by Voja Antonic as we open up the bar and get the live IDM sets started.

It’s still early in our planning (these are Early Bird tickets after all) but it’s very likely we’ll have a meetup the night before the conference. Friends old and new often get together on Sunday to keep the fun going. On Saturday, doors for the conference will open around 9 am and the fun will continue well beyond the 2 am “official” end. We recommend you make travel plans to include the full weekend.

Elliot Williams demos Logic Noise live on stage

Don’t just ask for Friday off of work, bring your friends and co-workers along with you. If you’re most comfortable digging through datasheets while a hot soldering iron idles on your bench and a 3D-printer whirs away in the corner, Hackaday Belgrade is calling you. I encourage those who were at the first two events in 2016 and 2018 to share their stories below.

Don’t miss this one, it only comes around in even-numbered years and tickets will sell out.


Hackaday Belgrade 2020 Posters by Aleksandar Bradic (click for full size download link):

Hackaday Belgrade: Call For Proposals

Join Hackaday in Belgrade, Serbia on May 9th, 2020 for the Hackaday Belgrade conference! The biennial hardware conference is just seventeen weeks from now. Early Bird tickets will go on sale shortly, but beginning right now you can hack your way into the conference by submitting a talk proposal. Accepted speakers receive free admission, plus everyone who submits a quality talk proposal will be given priority when tickets go on sale.

Yes, I’m talking to you. Hackaday strives to include first-time speakers in the slate of presenters at our conferences. We’re looking for unique, cutting-edge, whimsical, crazy, formidable, or world-changing topics revolving around hardware creation. From learning new tools or techniques to fabrication adventures, from code-wrangling that firmware project to pulling off an art installation, and from forgotten hardware history to the impossible made possible on your own workbench, we need to hear your stories!

That project for which you went into the deep weeds and worked your way back out again? Everyone at a Hackaday conference wants to hear about it and in the greatest detail possible. After all, we’re your fellow hackers. In fact, you should probably bring the hardware along for the ride.

We Need You

None of this happens in a vacuum. This is the third Hackaday Belgrade conference, which have now settled into a tick-tock cadence of even-numbered years. The first two both sold out, this one will as well, and the result is always an action-packed, nearly 24-hour marathon sprint of talks, workshops, and hardware hacking. But the only reason this works is because amazing people just like you make it a priority in their life to be there.

Badge hacking at 2018 Hackaday Belgrade

So take the plunge, put together your talk proposal and submit it before March 2nd. But don’t stop there, pester your friends and your heros to do the same. Block out May 9th on your schedule (roughly 9 am-2 am) and take the day before off of work. While you’re at it, convince your boss and coworkers to come along with you. See you in Belgrade!