Not so long ago, “Magic Mirror” builds were all the rage, and we have to admit getting out daily reminders and newsfeeds on an LCD display sitting behind a partially reflective mirror is not without its charms. But styles ebb and flow, so we don’t see too many of those builds anymore. This e-ink daily calendar reminder hearkens back to those Magic Mirrors, only with a double twist of AI.
This project is the work of [Ilkka Turunen], and right up front we’ll say the results are just gorgeous. A lot of that has to do with the 10.3″ e-ink display used, but more with the creative use of not one but two machine learning systems. The first is ChatGPT, which [Ilkka] uses to parse the day’s online calendar entries and grab the most significant events to generate a prompt for DALL-E. The generated DALL-E prompt has specific instructions that guide the style of the image, which honestly is where most of the artistry lies. [Ilkka]’s aesthetic choices, like suggesting that the images look like a 19th-century lithograph or a satirical comic from a turn-of-the-(last)-century newspaper. The prompt is then sent off to DALL-E for rendering, and the resulting image is displayed.
It has to be said that the prompts that ChatGPT generates based on the combination of [Ilkka]’s aesthetic preferences and the random events of the day are strikingly complex. The chatbot really seems to be showing some imagination these days; DALL-E is no slouch either in turning those words into images.
Like the idea of an e-ink daily reminder but prefer a less artistic presentation? This should help.
[Fred] has a Casio PB-700 pocket calculator / computer, complete with the companion docking station featuring a four-color pen plotter, model FA-10, and a microcassette tape recorder, model CM-1. He really wanted to see what this plotter could do, but there were no demos that he could find. So despite only having one working pen, [Fred] took matters into his own hands and proceeded to make his own.
What if I made a program where I type what I want to draw and the PB-700 just draws it?
[Fred] succeeds, shoehorning several sub-projects into a single convoluted work flow: request an image from the PB-700 and after a long pause the plot emerges. The cute microcassette recorder is too much of a hassle, so he emulates the audio interface on a PC using a utility called casutil that reads and writes .wav files in PB-700 format. Much of his effort is spent figuring out how to request an image from Midjourney without being banned, but eventually comes up with a workable but shaky solution. The last steps are to convert the image into a line drawing, and then wrap up all those X-Y coordinates into a Basic program and send it back down to the PB-700 for plotting.
You can read more details in the PloTTY GitHub repository. There were several of these pocket computers with plotters coming out of Japan in the 1980s. In addition to this Casio, the Radio Shack TRS-80 PC-1 and PC-2 come to mind, which were re-branded versions of the Sharp PC-1211 and PC-1500 models. We wrote about them last year. This author had a PC-2 in 1985 and used it to plot antenna patterns at his desk, bypassing the IT department’s red tape. Have you ever used any of these pocket plotters? If so, let us know in the comments below. Thanks to [Altomare] for send us the tip.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” or so the saying goes. We’ve never held to that, finding that laziness is a much more powerful creative lubricant. And this story about someone who automated their job with a script is one of the best examples of sloth-driven invention since the TV remote was introduced. If we take the story at face value — and it’s the Internet, so why wouldn’t we? — this is a little scary, as the anonymous employee was in charge of curating digital evidence submissions for a law firm. The job was to watch for new files in a local folder, manually copy them to a cloud server, and verify the file with a hash to prove it hasn’t been tampered with and support the chain of custody. The OP says this was literally the only task to perform, so we can’t really blame them for automating it with a script once COVID shutdowns and working from home provided the necessary cover. But still — when your entire job can be done by a Windows batch file and some PowerShell commands while you play video games, we’re going to go out on a limb and say you’re probably underemployed.
People have been bagging on the US Space Force ever since its inception in 2019, which we think is a little sad. It has to be hard being the newest military service, especially since it branched off of the previously newest military service, and no matter how important its mission may be, there’s still always going to be the double stigmas of being both the new kid on the block and the one with a reputation for digging science fiction. And now they’ve given the naysayers yet more to dunk on, with the unveiling of the official US Space Force service song. Every service branch has a song — yes, even the Army, and no, not that one — and they all sound appropriately martial. So does the Space Force song, but apparently people have a problem with it, which we really don’t get at all — it sounds fine to us.