Quarantine Clock Focuses On The Essential

In these dire times of self quarantining, social distancing, and life as know it coming to a halt, time itself can become rather blurry, and even word clocks may seem unnecessarily precise — especially if you happen to have a more peculiar circadian rhythm. And let’s face it, chances are your usual schedule has become somwehat irrelevant by now, so why bother yourself with dates or an exact time anyway? If you can relate to this, then [mwfisher3] has the perfect clock for you, displaying only the day of the week and a rough estimate of how far that day has progressed.

Using a Raspberry Pi and a spare touch screen, [mwfisher3] had an easy game to begin with, so the clock itself is just Chrome running in Kiosk mode, displaying a local web site with the hours of the day mapped to an array of their textual representation. A few lines of JavaScript are then updating the web site content with the current day and “time”, and a Python script is handling the screen’s back light based on the readings from a Philips Hue motion sensor, using the phue library.

While this is definitely one of the simpler clock projects we’ve seen, this simplicity offers actually a great introduction to some easy JavaScript-based web displays on a Raspberry Pi without much fuzz and distraction. But if that’s not your thing, and you like things more mechanical, we’ve recently covered this day clock that follows the same idea, and then there’s also this light box for an artistic approach of getting a rough estimate of the time.

Brainstorming COVID-19 Hack Chat

Join us on Wednesday, April 8 at noon Pacific for the Brainstorming COVID-19 Hack Chat!

The COVID-19 pandemic has been sweeping across the globe now for three months. In that time it has encountered little resistance in its advances, being a novel virus with just the right mix of transmissibility and virulence that our human immune systems have never encountered. The virus is racking up win after win across the world, crippling public health and medical systems, shutting down entire economies, and forcing billions of people into isolation for the foreseeable future.

While social distancing is certainly an effective way to limit the spread of the disease, it feels more like hiding than fighting. Bored and stuck at home, millions of fertile minds are looking for an outlet for this frustration, a more affirmative way to fight the good fight and build solutions that the world sorely needs. And thus we’ve seen the outpouring of designs, ideas, and prototypes of everything from social distancing helpers to personal protective equipment (PPE) hacks.

In this Hack Chat, we’ll try to provide a framework around which hackers can start to turn their ideas into COVID-19 solutions. There are a ton of problems right now, but the most acute and most approachable seem to revolve around making sure healthcare providers have the PPE they need to do their job safely. Hacking at the edges of managing social distancing seems doable, too, both in terms of helping people keep a healthy distance from each other and in managing the isolation that causes. And let’s not forget about managing boredom; idle hands lead to idle minds, and staying healthy mentally is just as important as good handwashing and nutrition.

Join us on Wednesday for this group-led Hack Chat and bring your best ideas for attacking COVID-19 head-on.

join-hack-chatOur Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, April 8 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have got you down, we have a handy time zone converter.

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.

Continue reading “Brainstorming COVID-19 Hack Chat”

Hack The Quarantine, Not Just The Medical Equipment

As the COVID-19 pandemic invades in some way every corner of life, we’ve seen significant effort from the hardware community in considering the problem of inadequate supplies of medical equipment. The pandemic and its associated quarantine and lockdowns do not stop at medical supplies though, a whole host of problems associated with the whole population self-isolating are there to be solved. This makes Hack Quarantine, an online event that bills itself as “A global virtual hackathon”, particularly interesting. It’s encouraging its participants to look at the wider aspects of the whole thing rather than solely dreaming up an open-source ventilator design, because in the absence of clinical trials or indeed any experts in medical devices it’s possible that medical equipment from a hackathon might be of limited usability.

The hackathon will run from March 23rd to April 12th, and it already has a schedule of talks and workshops. We can’t help noticing a dearth of hardware-related stuff among all the software, and perhaps this could be where you come in. It’s something that never ceases to amaze us as Hackaday writers, the depth of hardware skill among our readership, and we’re guessing that plenty of you could bring something to this event.

We’ve brought you more than a few COVID-19 stories over the last few weeks. If this hackathon isn’t for you then can we point you at our Folding@Home team? Also, you may wish to look at the best fabric choice for your own face masks.

Hackaday Links: January 26, 2019

The news this week was dominated by the novel coronavirus outbreak centered in Wuhan, China. Despite draconian quarantines and international travel restrictions, the infection has spread far beyond China, at least in small numbers. A few cases have been reported in the United States, but the first case reported here caught our eye for the technology being used to treat it. CNN and others tell us that the traveler from Wuhan is being treated by a robot. While it sounds futuristic, the reality is a little less sci-fi than it seems. The device being used is an InTouch Vici, a telemedicine platform that in no way qualifies as a robot. The device is basically a standard telepresence platform that has to be wheeled into the patient suite so that providers can interact with the patient remotely. True, it protects whoever is using it from exposure, but someone still has to gown up and get in with the patient. We suppose it’s a step in the right direction, but we wish the popular press would stop slapping a “robot” label on things they don’t understand.

Also in health news, did you know you’re probably not as hot as you think you are? While a glance in the mirror would probably suffice to convince most of us of that fact, there’s now research that shows human body temperature isn’t what it used to be. Using medical records from the Civil War-era to the 1930s and comparing them to readings taken in the 1970s and another group between 2007 and 2017, a team at Stanford concluded that normal human body temperature in the USA has been slowly decreasing over time. They proposed several explanations as to why the old 98.6F (37C) value is more like 97.5F (36.4C) these days, the most interesting being that general overall inflammation has decreased as sanitation and food and water purity have increased, leading the body to turn down its thermostat, so to speak. Sadly, though, if the trend holds up, our body temperature will reach absolute zero in only 111,000 years.

Wine, the not-an-emulator that lets you run Windows programs on POSIX-compliant operating systems, announced stable release 5.0 this week. A year in the making, the new version’s big features are multi-monitor support with dynamic configuration changes and support for the Vulkan spec up to version 1.1.126.

Any color that you want, as long as it’s amorphous silicon. Sono Motors, the German start-up, has blown past its goal of raising 50 million euros in 50 days to crowdfund production of its Sion solar-electric car. The car is planned to have a 255 km range on a full charge, with 34 km of that coming from the solar cells that adorn almost every bit of the exterior on the vehicle. Living where the sun doesn’t shine for a third of the year, we’re not sure how well this will pay off, but it certainly seems smarter than covering roads with solar cells.

And finally, here’s a trip down memory lane for anyone who suffered through some of the cringe-worthy depictions of technology that Hollywood came up with during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Looking back through the clips shown in “copy complete” reminds us just how many movies started getting into the tech scene. It wasn’t just the sci-fi and techno-thrillers that subjected us to closeups of scrolling random characters and a terminal that beeped every time something changed on the screen. Even straight dramas like Presumed Innocent and rom-coms like You’ve Got Mail and whatever the hell genre Ghost was got in on the act. To be fair, some depictions were pretty decent, especially given the realities of audience familiarity with tech before it became pervasive. And in any case, it was fun to just watch and remember when movies were a lot more watchable than they are today.