Dial Up Over Discord

Some hacks are useful and some are just… well… for the fun of it, and we can appreciate that. Take, for example, [Cool Blog’s] recent experiments with dialup networking. If you think about it, the BBS systems of yesterday have been replaced with more modern tools like Discord. So why not run modems using audio chat over Discord and get the best of both worlds?

This was both easier and harder than we would have expected. The first hurdle was the lack of any actual modems. Luckily, there are software modem emulators like minimodem that makes a PC soundcard work like a modem. It supports some basic protocols, and that’s probably a good thing since the digital audio channel is probably unable to support anything too sophisticated.

Using some crude audio routing 300 baud data did flow. Increasing the baud rate all the way to 2,100 worked reliably. Combining some more sophisticated audio flows and managing sockets with systemd made the process easier. The goal was to, eventually, telnet over the link but that never worked. We would guess that it could work if you spent enough time.

But the proof is in the pudding, and the basic idea works. Why do it? We can’t think of a good reason. But if you want to give it a shot, you can find what you need on GitHub.

Hams still use modems. While we tend to have a soft spot for retrocomputing gear, we don’t miss acoustic couplers at all.

Screenshot of the OpenAsar config window, showing a few of the configuration options

OpenAsar Tweaks Discord’s Frontend, Improves Performance And Privacy

Not all hacking happens on hardware — every now and then, we ought to hack our software-based tools, too. [Ducko] tells us about a partially open-source rewrite of Discord’s Electron-based frontend. Web apps can be hard to tinker with, which is why such projects are to be appreciated. Now, this isn’t a reverse-engineering of Discord’s API or an alternative client per se, but it does offer a hopeful perspective on what the Discord client ought to do for us.

First of all, the client loads noticeably faster, not unlike the famous GTA Online speedup (which was also a user-driven improvement), with channel and server switching made less laggy —  and the Linux updater was de-cruft-ified as well. [Ducko] tells us how she got rid of the numerous NPM dependencies of the original code – it turned out that most of the dependencies could be easily replaced with Node.JS native APIs or Linux binaries like unzip.  Apart from much-appreciated performance improvements, there are also options like telemetry bypass, and customization mechanisms for your own theming. You won’t get Discord on your Apple ][ just yet, but the native client will be a bit friendlier towards you.

While Discord is ultimately a proprietary platform, we do it see used in cool hacks every now and then, like this tea mug temperature-tracking coaster. Would you like to code your own Discord bot? We wrote a walk-through for that. Last but not least, if you like what we wrote and you happen to also use Discord, you should check out the Hackaday Discord server!

Friday: Getting Social With Discord And Bring-a-Hack

With just a few days to go before the kickoff of the 2021 Hackaday Remoticon, we’re still working furiously behind the scenes to pack as much content as possible into the two day virtual event. In fact, there’s so much going on that we thought you’d appreciate getting a bit of a head start as far as planning your own personal course through the weekend goes. The event might be free, but that’s no reason not to squeeze as much out of it as you can.

Chat It Up on Discord

To begin with, you’re really going to want to join the official Hackaday Remoticon Discord server. We know some subset of the Hackaday readership would rather we used Matrix, or IRC, or maybe carefully modulated smoke signals; but at the end of the day, Discord has bubbled to the top as the defacto choice for this kind of thing. Give it a shot, you might actually like it.

The Discord server isn’t just a place for like-minded hackers to hang out and discuss the musical stylings of DJ Jackalope during the Saturday afterparty. It’s also how attendees can ask questions at the end of each presenter’s talk, as we’ll be turning off YouTube chat to keep things centralized. Even if you don’t plan on communicating with others (though you really should), the Discord server has an interactive schedule of events which will let you sign up to be notified when the talks you’ve selected are about to start, and we’ll be dropping important announcements and links in there as the event goes on.

Friday Bring-a-Hack on Gather Town

Like this, but with soldering irons.

Friday night ends with a Bring-a-Hack where attendees can show off whatever they’ve been working on using Gather. It’s a video chat platform inside a virtual 2D world that looks a bit like Legend of Zelda.

Using this virtual environment, you can easily drop into an ongoing video stream simply by walking up to the presenter. Once you’ve seen enough, just walk over to the next little cluster of users. The point is to recreate the experience of stopping by a crowded after party where everyone brought some hardware project along with them to get spark conversations. Space will be limited, with ticket holders and people in Discord getting the first dibs, so keep an eye on your inbox for information about how to join.

Of course this is not the only Friday evening activity. A few weeks ago we announced that Lewin Day will be hosting Hacker Trivia, giving our beloved commenters the chance to show off your unimpeachable knowledge of technology and Hackaday history. The Friday talk stream will dump immediately into trivia, but here’s the dedicated link if you want to set a reminder for yourself.

Try It, You’ll Like It!

It’s difficult, perhaps even impossible, to truly recreate the experience of going to an in-person hacker con. But with interactive events and the latest and greatest communication software, we’re hoping the 2021 Remoticon can get pretty close. All the pieces are in place, the only thing we need now is to have a whole bunch of excited hackers to join in and have a good time. Think you can help us out?

Internet Of Tea: Coaster Watches For Optimum Drinking Temperature

Ah, the age-old question: at what temperature does one’s tea need to be for maximum enjoyment? It’s subjective, of course, but subjective in a way that makes everyone else’s opinion demonstrably wrong. What’s worse, the window of opportunity for optimum tea temperature is extremely narrow. What’s a tea drinker to do?

Throw a little technology at the problem, of course, in the form of this Internet of Tea smart coaster. Through careful experimentation, [Benjojo] determined the temperature of his favorite mug when the tea within was just right for drinking and designed a coaster to alert him to that fact. The coaster is 3D-printed and contains an MLX90616 IR temperature sensor looking up at the bottom of the mug. An ESP8266 lives inside the coaster too and watches for the Optimum Tea Window to open, sending an alert via Discord when the time is right. Yes, he admits that a simple blinking LED on the coaster would keep his tea habit metadata from being slurped up by the international tea intelligence community, but he claims he has nothing to hide. Good luck with that.

What’s next for [Dane]’s tea preparation? Perhaps he can close the loop and automate the whole pre-consumption process.

Create A Discord Webhook With Python For Your Bot

Discord is an IRC-like chat platform that all the young cool kids are hanging out on. Originally intended as a way to communicate during online games, Discord has grown to the point that there are servers out there for nearly any topic imaginable. One of the reasons for this phenomenal growth is how easy it is to create and moderate your own Discord server: just hit the “+” icon on the website or in the mobile application, and away you go.

As a long-time IRC guy, I was initially unimpressed with Discord. It seemed like the same kind of stuff we’ve had for decades, but with an admittedly slick UI. After having used it for a few months now and joining servers dedicated to everything from gaming to rocket science, I can’t say that my initial impression of Discord is inaccurate: it’s definitely just a modern IRC. But I’ve also come to the realization that I’m OK with that.

But this isn’t a review of Discord or an invitation to join the server I’ve setup for my Battlefield platoon. In this article we’re going to look at how easy it is to create a simple “bot” that you can plug into a Discord server and do useful work with. Since anyone can create a persistent Discord server for free, it’s an interesting platform to use for IoT monitoring and logging by simply sending messages into the server.

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