Android hacks roundup

Our friend [Jeffrey Sharkey] hacked the iTunes remote control protocol and produced his own version for Android, one of the smartphone OSes we just covered. He pored over dumped packets for a few days and wrote a client which is of course GPL’d. Besides that, he’s been busy winning the Android Developer Challenge. His app, Compare Everywhere, was one of the top 10 winners, netting him a cool $275,000. This ingenious bit of code deciphers barcodes scanned using a cell phone camera and then finds prices for that item at every nearby store that sells it.

The other winners wrote apps that do cool things such as one-click cab ordering, locate missing children, and find parties. Check out all 50 finalists and winners here.

Nixie tube VU meter

[Daniel] sent in his Nixie tube VU meter. It uses 14 Russian IN-13 Nixie bar-graph tubes. He built a custom circuit to amplify, filter, smooth and feed a voltage divider to assign signal levels to segments and finally some high voltage transistors to drive the tubes. The circuit looks pretty big, but it’s repeated for each tube – so he worked hard to keep the cost down as much as possible. Now this just needs to live on the front of a massive tube amplifier.