Introducing The Hackaday Calendar Of Virtual Events

For many of us, the social distancing procedures being used to help control the spread of COVID-19 have been a challenge. We can’t go to our hackerspaces, major events have been postponed or canceled entirely, and even getting parts has become difficult due to the immense pressure currently being placed on retailers and delivery services. For even the most stoic hacker, these are difficult times.

But you don’t have to go through it alone. We might not be able to meet in person, but that doesn’t mean the exchange of thoughts and ideas has to stop. Hackaday has started up a calendar of events you can use to keep track of virtual classes and hangouts that you can take part in from the comfort of your own home. You don’t even need to wear pants (but you should, just to be safe).

Hacker Check-in returns tomorrow at 5pm Eastern time and this weekend is packed with must-see entries. You can start your Saturday by taking part in a KiCad/FreeCAD meetup, sit in on the BSides Atlanta security conference, jump over to a hardware show and tell in New Delhi, and then cap things off with an introduction to quantum computing presented by Kitty Yeung.

Looking to be more than an idle participant? If you want to teach a class, host a show and tell, or put together a round-table discussion, drop a line to superconference@hackaday.io. Pretty much anything of interest to the hacking and making community is fair game, and who knows when you’ll ever get another chance at a captive audience like this. When you haven’t left the house in a week, there’s not a whole lot you won’t watch online.

It’s easy to see social distancing as an overreaction, but the numbers don’t lie. Things are serious out there, especially in the dense population centers where hacker events generally take place. By staying home and taking part in events virtually, we can do our part to control the spread of this virus and hopefully return things to normal that much sooner.

2019 Superconference Is Streaming Live Right Now!

Perhaps Pasadena is a bit too far from home, or maybe you waited a few milliseconds longer than you should have and missed the tickets when they went on sale. Whatever the reason, the fact is that the vast majority of Hackaday readers won’t be able to join us at the 2019 Superconference. But thanks to the magic of the Internet, you’ll still be able to see the incredible talks we’ve got lined up.

Starting at 10 AM Pacific on both Saturday and Sunday, the live stream will allow you to virtually attend the ultimate hardware conference in glorious high definition. Many of the talks this year have a specific focus on FPGAs (and we’ve got an incredible badge to match), but you’ll also see presentations on subjects such as hacking quantum key distribution systems, the creation of free-form circuit sculptures, debugging PCBs with augmented reality, and using Peltier coolers for fermentation. Saturday evening we’ll reveal the winner of the Hackaday Prize live on stage, and come Sunday you can unwind with a look at the best and brightest badge hacks from the weekend.

We won’t lie to you, there’s more going on at Supercon than we can possibly fit into a live video stream. At an event where nearly every flat surface will be playing host to somebody fiddling with a piece of interesting hardware, there’s only so much you can do vicariously. If anyone knows how you can take part in the SMD Soldering Challenge over the Internet, we’re all ears. Whether you’ll be with us in corporeal form or otherwise, don’t forget to join the official 2019 Hackaday Superconference Chat and use the #supercon hashtag on your social media time sink of choice.

Maker Spirit Alive And Well At The Philly Maker Faire

For many of us, it’s difficult to imagine a world without Maker Faire. The flagship events in California and New York have served as a celebration of the creative spirit for a decade, giving hackers and makers a rare chance to show off their creations to a live audience numbering into the hundreds of thousands. It’s hard to overstate the energy and excitement of these events; for anyone who had the opportunity to attend one in person, it’s an experience not soon forgotten.

Unfortunately, a future without Maker Faire seemed a very real possibility just a few months ago. In May we first heard the events were struggling financially, and by June, we were saddened to learn that organizer Maker Media would officially be halting operations. It wasn’t immediately clear what would happen to the flagship Maker Faires, and when Maker Media reluctantly admitted that production of the New York Faire was officially “paused”, it seemed we finally had our answer.

But as the recent Philadelphia Maker Faire proved, the maker movement won’t give up without a fight. While technically an independent “Mini” Faire, it exemplifies everything that made the flagship events so special and attracted an impressive number of visitors. With the New York event left in limbo, the Philadelphia Faire is now arguably the largest event of its type on the East Coast, and has the potential for explosive growth over the next few years. There’s now a viable option for makers of the Northeast who might have thought their days of exhibiting at a proper Maker Faire were over.

We’ll be bringing you detailed coverage of some of the incredible projects that were on display at the Philadelphia Maker Faire over the coming days, but in the meantime, let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights from this very promising event.

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A Blockchain, Robotics And AI Event In Vietnam

Blockchain Education Network Vietnam recently held an event titled “Building a Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Ecosystem with Blockchain”. The title alone has three of my favorite things in it, so when a client of mine asked me if I could put together a little hardware demonstration for the event, I jumped at the opportunity.

I also thought I’d take a moment to write about it, because I haven’t seen much coverage of emerging technology events in the developing world, and the fact is that there’s a consistently high level of interest. I’ve yet to go to an event that wasn’t filled to capacity, and I hope to share some of that enthusiasm with you.

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ETextile Spring Break Tackles Signal Blocking, Audio Generation, And Radio Transmissions

Finding a killer application for e-textiles is the realm of the hacker and within that realm, anything goes. Whether it’s protecting your digital privacy with signal shielding, generating audio with a wearable BeagleBone or 555 timer, or making your favorite garment into an antenna, the eTextile Spring Break is testing out ways to combine electronics and fabric.

You may be asking yourself “What are e-textiles good for?”. Well, that’s an excellent question and likely the most common one facing the industry today. I’m afraid I won’t be able to give a definitive answer. As an e-textile practitioner, I too am constantly posing this question to myself. There’s an inherently personal nature to fabric worn on the body and to our electronic devices that makes this answer elusive. Instead of trying to fabricate some narrow definition, what I offer is a look at topics of interest, material experimentation, and technical exploration through the lens of a week-long event held recently in New York called eTextile Spring Break.

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We Need To Have A Chat About Something Important

Yes, I really did print this the day before the story broke.
Yes, I really did print this the day before the story broke.

With hindsight, I picked the wrong day to 3D print a Cap’n Crunch whistle downloaded from Thingiverse. I was covering the hackspace textile evening, so I set the Ultimaker going and headed off to spend my evening making a laptop pouch. My whistle, a reasonable reproduction of the famous cereal packet novelty whose 2600 Hz tone allowed special access to American telephone networks, was ready for me to take away as I headed home.

The next day, there it was. The legendary phreaker [John Draper], also known as [Captain Crunch] after his use of that free whistle, was exposed as having a history of inappropriate conduct towards teenage boys and young men who he encountered in his tours of the hacker community as a celebrity speaker.

My whistle will no longer go on a lanyard as a piece of cool ephemera, it’s sitting forlornly on my bench. The constant procession of harassment allegations that have been in the news of late have arrived at our doorstep. Continue reading “We Need To Have A Chat About Something Important”