Play Giant Tetris On Second-Floor Window

Sometimes it seems like ideas for projects spring out of nothingness from a serendipitous set of circumstances. [Maarten] found himself in just such a situation, with a combination of his existing Tetris novelty lamp and an awkwardly-sized window on a second-floor apartment, he was gifted with the perfect platform for a giant playable Tetris game built into that window.

To make the giant Tetris game easily playable by people walking by on the street, [Maarten] is building as much of this as possible in the browser. Starting with the controller, he designed a NES-inspired controller in JavaScript that can be used on anything with a touch screen. A simulator display was also built in the browser so he could verify that everything worked without needing the giant display at first. From there it was on to building the actual window-sized Tetris display which is constructed from addressable LEDs arranged in an array that matches the size of the original game.

There were some issues to iron out, as would be expected for a project with this much complexity, but the main thorn in [Maarten]’s side was getting his controller to work in Safari on iPhones. That seems to be mostly settled and there were some other gameplay issues to solve, but the unit is now working in his window and ready to be played by any passers-by, accessed by a conveniently-located QR code. Tetris has been around long enough that there are plenty of unique takes on the game, like this project from 2011 that uses Dance Dance Revolution pads for controllers.

CADmium Moves CAD To The Browser

For plenty of computer users, the operating system of choice is largely a middleman on the way to the browser, which hosts the tools that are most important. There are even entire operating systems with little more than browser support, under the assumption that everything will be done in the browser eventually. We may be one step closer to that type of utopia as well with this software tool called CADmium which runs exclusively in a browser.

As the name implies, this is a computer-aided design (CAD) package which looks to build everything one would need for designing project models in a traditional CAD program like AutoCAD or FreeCAD, but without the burden of needing to carry local files around on a specific computer. [Matt], one of the creators of this ambitious project, lays out the basic structure of a CAD program from the constraint solver, boundary representation (in this case, a modern one built in Rust), the history tracker, and various other underpinnings of a program like this. The group hopes to standardize around JSON files as well, making it easy to make changes to designs on the fly in whatever browser the user happens to have on hand.

While this project is extremely early in the design stage, it looks like they have a fairly solid framework going to get this developed. That said, they are looking for some more help getting it off the ground. If you’ve ever wanted something like this in the browser, or maybe if you’ve ever contributed to the FreeCAD project and have some experience, this might be worth taking a look at.

The Most Annoying Thing On The Internet Isn’t Really Necessary

We’re sure you’ll agree that there are many annoying things on the Web. Which of them we rate as most annoying depends on personal view, but we’re guessing that quite a few of you will join us in naming the ubiquitous cookie pop-up at the top of the list. It’s the pesky EU demanding consent for tracking cookies, we’re told, nothing to do with whoever is demanding you click through screens and screens of slider switches to turn everything off before you can view their website.

Now [Bite Code] is here to remind us that it’s not necessary. Not in America for the somewhat obvious reason that it’s not part of the EU, and perhaps surprisingly, not even in the EU itself.

The EU does have a consent requirement, but the point made in the article is that its requirements are satisfied by the Do Not Track header standard, an HTTP feature that’s been with us since 2009 but which almost nobody implemented so is now deprecated. This allowed a user to reject tracking at the browser level, making all the cookie popups irrelevant. That popups were chosen instead, the article concludes, is due to large websites preferring to make the process annoying enough that users simply click on the consent button to make it go away, making tracking much more likely. We suspect that the plethora of cookie popups also has something to do with FUD among owners of smaller websites, that somehow they don’t comply with the law if they don’t have one.

So as we’d probably all agree, the tracking cookie situation is a mess. This post is being written of Firefox which now silos cookies to only the site which delivered them, but there seems to be little for the average user stuck with either of the big browsers. Perhaps we should all hope for a bit more competition in the future.

Cookies header: Lisa Fotios, CC0.

A pixellated image of pinokio

On-click Install local AI Applications Using Pinokio

Pinokio is billed as an autonomous virtual computer, which could mean anything really, but don’t click away just yet, because this is one heck of a project. AI enthusiast [cocktail peanut] (and other undisclosed contributors) has created a browser-style application which enables a virtual Unix-like environment to be embedded, regardless of the host architecture. A discover page loads up registered applications from GitHub, allowing a one-click install process, which is ‘simply’ a JSON file describing the dependencies and execution flow. The idea is rather than manually running commands and satisfying dependencies, it’s all wrapped up for you, enabling a one-click to download and install everything needed to run the application.

But what applications? we hear you ask, AI ones. Lots of them. The main driver seems to be to use the Pinokio hosting environment to enable easy deployment of AI applications, directly onto your machine. One click to install the app, then another one to download models, and whatever is needed, from the likes of HuggingFace and friends. A final click to launch the app, and a browser window opens, giving you a web UI to control the locally running AI backend. Continue reading “On-click Install local AI Applications Using Pinokio”

Streaming Deck Removes Need For Dedicated Hardware

Streaming content online has never been more popular than it is now, from YouTube to Twitch there are all kinds of creators around with interesting streams across a wide spectrum of interests. With that gold rush comes plenty of people selling figurative shovels as well, with audio mixing gear, high-quality web cams, and dedicated devices for controlling all of this technology. Often these devices take the form of a tablet-like device, but [Lenochxd] thinks that any tablet ought to be able to perform this task without needing dedicated, often proprietary, hardware.

The solution offered here is called WebDeck, an application written in Flask that turns essentially any device with a broswer into a stream control device. Of course it helps to have a touch screen as well, but an abundance of tablets and smartphones in the world makes this a non-issue. With the software running on the host computer, the streamer can control various aspects of that computer remotely by scanning a QR code which opens a browser window with all of the controls accessible from within. It has support for VLC, OBS Studio, and Spotify as well which covers the bases for plenty of streaming needs.

Currently the host software only runs on Windows, but [Lenochxd] hopes to have MacOS and Linux versions available soon. We’re always in favor of any device that uses existing technology and also avoids proprietary hardware and software. Hopefully that’s a recipe to avoid planned obsolescence and unnecessary production. If you prefer a version with a little bit of tactile feedback, though, we’ve seen other decks which add physical buttons for quick control of the stream.

ESP32 Oscilloscope Skips Screen For The Browser

An oscilloscope can be an expensive piece of equipment, but not every measurement needs four channels and gigahertz sampling rates. For plenty of home labs, old oscilloscopes with CRTs can be found on the used marketplace for a song that are still more than capable of getting the job done, but even these can be overpowered (not to mention extremely bulky). If you’re looking for something even cheaper, and quite a bit smaller, this ESP32 scope from [BojanJurca] might fit the bill.

The resulting device manages to keep costs extremely low, but not without a trade-off. For this piece of test equipment, sampling is done over the I2C bus on the ESP32, which can manage a little over 700 samples per second with support for two channels. With the ESP32 connected to a wireless network, the data it captures can be viewed from a browser in lieu of an attached screen, which also keeps the size of the device exceptionally small. While it’s not a speed demon, that’s more than fast enough to capture waveforms from plenty of devices or our own circuit prototypes in a form factor that can fit even the smallest spaces.

Of course for work on devices with faster switching times, it’s always good to keep a benchtop oscilloscope around. But as far as we can tell this one is the least expensive, smallest, and most capable we’ve come across that would work for plenty of troubleshooting or testing scenarios in a pinch. We’ve seen others based on slightly more powerful microcontrollers like this one based on the STM32 and this other built around the Wio Terminal with a SAMD51, both of which also include built-in screens.

Tetris Goes Full Circle

As a game concept, Tetris gave humanity nearly four solid decades of engagement, but with the possibility for only seven possible puzzle pieces it might seem a little bit limiting. Especially now that someone has finally beaten the game, it could be argued that as a society it might be time to look for something new. Sinusoidal Tetris flips these limits on their head with a theoretically infinite set of puzzle pieces for an unmistakable challenge.

Like Tetris, players control a game piece as it slowly falls down the screen. Instead of blocks, however, the game piece is a sinusoid that stretches the entire width of the screen. Players control the phase angle, amplitude, and angular frequency in order to get it to cancel out the randomly-generated wave in the middle of the screen. When the two waves overlap, a quick bit of math is done to add the two waves together. If your Fourier transformation skills aren’t up to the task, the sinusoid will eventually escape the playing field resulting in a game over. The goal then is to continually overlap sinusoids to play indefinitely, much like the original game.

While we’re giving Tetris a bit of a hard time, we appreciate the simplicity of a game that’s managed to have a cultural impact long after the gaming systems it was originally programmed for have become obsolete, and this new version is similar in that regard as well. The game can be quite addictive with a lot to take in at any given moment. If you’re more interested in the programming for these types of games than the gameplay, though, take a look at this deep-dive into Tetris for the NES.