Burn Some Time with this Arduino Reddit Browser

If you’re like us, you probably spend more time browsing Reddit than you’d like to admit to your friends/family/boss/therapist. A seemingly endless supply of knowledge, wisdom, and memes; getting stuck on Reddit is not unlike looking something up on Wikipedia and somehow managing to spend the next couple hours just clicking through to new pages. But we’re willing to bet that none of us love browsing Reddit quite as much as [Saad] does.

He writes in to tell us about the handheld device he constructed which lets him view random posts from the popular /r/showerthoughts sub. Each press of the big red button delivers another slice of indispensable Internet wisdom, making it a perfect desk toy to fiddle with when you need a little extra push to get you through the day. Like one of those “Word a Day” calendars, but one that you’ll actually read.

For those curious as to how [Saad] is scraping Reddit with an Arduino, the short answer is that he isn’t. Posts are pulled from Reddit using an online tool created for the project by his wife (/r/relationshipgoals/), and dumped into a text file that can be placed on the device’s SD card. With 1500 of the all-time highest rated posts from /r/showerthoughts onboard, he should be good on content for awhile.

[Saad] has done an excellent job documenting the hardware side of this build, providing plenty of pictures as well as a list of the parts he used and a few tips to help make assembly easier. Overall it’s not that complex a project, but his documentation is a big help for those who might not live and breathe this kind of thing.

For the high-level summary: it uses an Arduino Pro Mini, a ILI9341 screen, and a 3.3 V regulator to step down 5 V USB instead of using batteries. A bit of perfboard, a 3D printed case, and a suitably irresistible big red button pulls the whole thing together.

We’ve seen a similar concept done in a picture frame a couple of years back, but if that’s not interactive enough you could always build yourself a Reddit “controller”.

How To Hack Your Own Password

[Haseeb] failed the marshmallow test as a kid. He has no self-control. He wastes a lot of time on reddit. There is a solution to this problem — simply lock yourself out of your account. The process is simple, and all you need to do is change your password to something random, change the recovery email address, and click submit. In the blink of an eye, all your imaginary Internet points vanish.

That’s the one guaranteed way to quit reddit. However, [Haseeb] wanted to hold onto those magic Internet points in the event they become worth something. This led to a far more baroque solution. He found a service that would email him at a later date, send an email to himself containing a random password, and quit reddit temporarily. Until that email was delivered, he was officially off reddit. When that email was received, productivity would stop.

A few years pass, and [Haseeb] had some time to kill at his new job. He decided to scrounge up his old password, only to discover he locked himself out of his Reddit account until 2018. What followed is a security exploit of an ’email me in the future’ service, and a great example of how much effort one person will commit to a lifetime of instant gratification.

The email service in question is LetterMeLater, a site that will send an email at some arbitrary point in the future. You can hide the body of the email from yourself, making this a fairly good solution for what [Haseeb] is doing. He was still locked out of his email, though, and emailing the people running LetterMeLater seemed absurd. Dopamine is fun, though, and [Haseeb] eventually found a workaround. This site indexes the body of an email for search. This is great, because the body of the email this site would send [Haseeb] in 2018 contained his reddit password and only his reddit password. With a little bit of code, he can perform substring queries on an email he can’t read. Now, extracting the password is simply a first year CS homework problem.

At this point, the only thing [Haseeb] knows about his password is that it’s a long string of random characters that probably doesn’t include upper-case characters. That’s 26 possible characters, 10 possible numbers, and a character bank that can be determined by searching his email one character at a time. [Haseeb] is essentially playing Hangman against his former self here.

After figuring out an API for LetterMeLater, [Haseeb] whipped up a quick bit of code that finds the password by searching substrings. It’s beautiful and recursive, although he did break it down into finding a suffix of the password then determining the remainder of the password. It took 443 iterations of the code to find the password, and when that was complete he logged into reddit. Math works, although [Haseeb] will have to figure out a way to wean himself off the opiate of the millennials again.

Shower Thoughts in Your Car

The subreddit for Shower Thoughts offers wisdom ranging from the profound to the mundane. For example: “Every time you cut a corner you make two more.” Apparently, [Harin] has a bit of an addiction to the subreddit. He’s been sniffing the CAN bus on his 2012 Hyundai Genesis and decided to display the top Shower Thought on his radio screen.

To manage the feat he used both a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino. Both devices had a MCP2515 to interface with two different CAN busses (one for the LCD display and the other for control messages which carries a lot of traffic.

The code is available on GitHub. There’s still work to do to make the message scroll, for example. [Harin] has other posts about sniffing the bus, like this one.

We’ve covered CAN bus quite a bit, including some non-automotive uses. We’ve even seen the CAN bus for model railroading.

Picture Frame Mashup Taps Subreddits For “Deep Thoughts”

Remember “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey”? We do, and we always enjoyed the quirky mix of soothing music, soft-focus nature images, and random absurd thought scrolling across the screen as bumpers between segments on Saturday Night Live. Clearly, [tvm78] remembers them, because his picture frame mashups of the r/EarthPorn and r/ShowerThoughts subreddits could have been written by Jack himself.

While [tvm78] shares no photos of his build and offers no tutorials, he makes it clear that this was his first build of any kind. He does offer a few details, like the fact that he’s driving a display with a Raspberry Pi, and he handily references a similar build that includes the code he borrowed to make his frame happen. While we feel that the original mashup works well, several helpful redditors offer suggestions for other combinations, like r/ArchitecturePorn and /r/nocontext, or r/abandonedporn and r/onelinehorror. Of course a straight grab from r/demotivational could be fun too.

We’ve seen tons of web-enabled picture frames before, and plenty of “magic mirror” builds that display useful information on a two-way mirror. But this one appeals to the cynic in us, and would make Jack Handey proud.

Sand Cast Banana for Scale is So Metal

If you’ve been on Reddit over the past year, you’ve likely encountered the “banana for scale” meme. [BFG121] felt that the size variation of bananas would not do – there needed to be a standard. He decided to make a metal banana out of re-purposed aluminum. He created his own furnace out of everyday objects including a hair dryer, metal bucket, cement, fire clay, and sand. [BFG121] used a typical banana as the reference for his sand casting mold. After melting the aluminum in his homemade furnace, he poured it into the empty mold, making sure there was an extra hole for the displaced air to escape. The end result is a perfect replica of a banana. [BFG121] made two aluminum bananas, and stamped each one with a serial number. One was given to Imgur headquarters while the other was auctioned on eBay. The winning bid (#39) was $67 USD, a very good ROI.

If you want to learn more about metal casting, check out myfordboy’s channel on YouTube.  You can also see an example of the “banana for scale” in this Hackaday article about a giant spirograph. Our only suggestion to [BFG121] is to send some to ASTM, NIST, and BIPM!

[via Reddit]

Hackaday Reddit AMA (ask me anything) Happening Right Now

hackaday-szczys-reddit-proof_1Today we’re interacting on an “Ask Me Anything” over at Reddit.

Now’s the time to ask your question about all-things-Hackaday. No topic is off limits. Wonder how the Blog operates? What’s the deal with Hackaday Projects? Need an answer to questions about The Hackaday Prize? Just ask!

[Mike Szczys] started the thread and I’ve provided proof as seen here, but most of the writing staff are Reddit regulars so questions for specific writers are welcome as well. What’s on your mind?

Hackaday AMA: Thursday Morning at 10am Eastern Time

hackaday-szczys-reddit-proof_1Come one, come all, to an epic Reddit AMA.

It’s been almost two years since our last “Ask Me Anything” and it’s an understatement that ‘sort of a lot has happened’ since then. We changed parent companies, expanded our writing staff, hosted our first live event (and a few smaller ones since), launched Hackaday Projects, and now we’re in the middle of The Hackaday Prize.

Any question is fair game (that’s why they call it an AMA) so now’s the time to get that query that’s been bugging you answered.

You will need a Reddit account to ask questions or to vote them up and down. But anyone can read the thread without logging in. Speaking of threads, we can’t give you a link yet because it won’t be available until we start at 10am Eastern Time on Thursday, June 26th. But watch the top of the blog, we’ll publish another post as soon as the link is ready!

UPDATE 6/26/14 9:25am Eastern: The Reddit thread is now live. Please feel free to start adding questions. Answers will start in 35 minutes.