# Hackers, Fingerprints, Laptops, And Stickers

A discussion ensued about our crazy hacker ways the other night. I jokingly suggested that with as many stickers as we each had on our trusty companion machines, they might literally be as unique as a fingerprint. Cut straight to nerds talking too much math.

First off, you could wonder about the chances of two random hackers having the same sticker on their laptop. Say, for argument’s sake, that globally there are 2,000 stickers per year that are cool enough to put on a laptop. (None of us will see them all.) If a laptop lasts five years, that’s a pool of 10,000 stickers to draw from. If you’ve only got one sticker per laptop, that’s pretty slim odds, even when the laptops are of the same vintage.

Real hackers have 20-50 stickers per laptop — at least in our sample of “real hackers”. Here, the Birthday Paradox kicks in and helps us out. Each additional sticker provides another shot at matching, and an extra shot at being matched. So while you and I are unlikely to have the same birthday, in a room full of 42 people, it’s 90% likely that someone will have their birthday matched. With eight of us in the room, that’s 240 stickers that could match each other. (9999 / 10000) ^ (240 * 210 / 2) = about an eight percent chance of no match, so a better than 90% chance that we’d have at least one matching sticker.

But that doesn’t answer the original question: are our be-stickered laptops unique, like fingerprints or snowflakes? There, you have to match each and every sticker on the laptop — a virtually impossible task, and while there were eight of us in the room, that’s just not enough to get any real juice from the Birthday Paradox. (1/10,000) ^ 30 = something with -120 in the exponent. More than all the atoms in the universe, much less hackers in a room, whether you take things to the eighth power or not.

I hear you mumbling “network effects”. We’ve all gone to the same conferences, and we have similar taste in stickers, and maybe we even trade with each other. Think six degrees of separation type stuff. Indeed, this was true in our room. A few of us had the same stickers because we gave them to each other. We had a lot more matches than you’d expect, even though we were all unique.

So while the math for these network effects is over my head, I think it says something deeper about our trusty boxen, their stickers, and their hackers. Each sticker also comes with a memory, and our collected memories make us unique like our laptops. But matching stickers are also more than pure Birthday Paradoxes, they represent the shared history of friends.

Wear your laptop stickers with pride!

# Preserving Precious Laptop Stickers

Stickers belong on laptops. That’s not just because all developers are issued a 2015 MacBook Pro at birth to zealously hold and cherish for the rest of their careers, and the vast uniformity of laptop models in the workplace makes each individual’s laptop indistinguishable from anyone else’s. No, stickers belong on laptops because that ‘RUN GCC’ sticker is just so good. But how do you keep a laptop stickered up while not hurting the resale value or worrying about sticky residue left behind? That’s the question [Graham] answered, and the answer may surprise you.

The problem is such: there mus be a way to apply stickers to a MacBook that is invisible, removable, and leaves no trace after being removed, even after years of enjoying a bestickerd’ laptop. The first thought turned to old-style screen protectors for a phone, but this had problems: they’re glossy, and sourcing a large sheet of screen protectors proved difficult.

After some research, it turned out there was a market with similar requirements: car wraps. Yes, you can wrap your car in vinyl that’s any color you want, including whatever Apple is calling their plain aluminum finish these days. As far as a protector for an aluminum MacBook, it looks good: it doesn’t leave any residue behind, it’s strong enough to survive on a car, so it’s probably good enough for a laptop on a desk, and it’s easy to apply.

With some stickers applied to this larger sticker, everything looked good and lived up to a few months of abuse. Then came the real test: could this MacBook wrap be removed with all the other stickers intact? Yes, and you can frame the result. While this is only a test of the aluminum-colored MacBook, vehicle wraps come in nearly every color imaginable. There is apparently a vinyl that looks like Space Gray, and if you want Thinkpad Black, you can get that wrap, too.

# A Case For The Desktop Vinyl Cutter

As far as desktop workbench fab tools go, it’s too easy to let 3D printers keep stealing the spotlight. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate that mechatronic “buzz” as our printer squirts a 3D CAD model into plastic life? While the 3D printer can take up a corner of my workbench, there’s still plenty of room for other desktop rapid-prototyping gadgets.

Today, I’d like to shed some light on vinyl cutters. Sure, we can start with stickers and perhaps even jumpstart an after-hours Etsy-mart, but there’s a host of other benefits besides just vinyl cutting. In fact, vinyl cutters might just be the unsung heroes of research in folding and papercraft.

# OSH Park Reintroduces Pogs

Remember Pogs? They’re back, in OSH Park form!

Some of you might be too young to remember, but the 90s were weird. If you need an example of this, you need only look at pogs. This was a schoolyard game using small cardboard discs and metal or plastic ‘slammers’. To play, stack the cardboard pogs, throw a slammer at the stack, and collect all the pogs that land face up. Of course, each cardboard pog was printed with full-color glossy pop culture images and were as collectible as comic books and baseball cards. The Bart Simpson ‘Public Enemy #1’ pog is highly prized. You could trade a pack of dunkaroos for three holofoils. I’m still looking for Animaniacs #27; my set is otherwise complete.

For the past few years, OSH Park, purveyors of perfect purple PCBs, put purple stickers into purple padded envelopes in each order. These stickers weren’t really anything special – just a rectangle with one rounded off corner, a gear, and the OSH Park URL. A few months ago, [Laen] at OSH Park ditched these plain purple stickers for something that taps into the same sentiment as the Apollo 13 pogs distributed through Hardee’s kids meals that included a modular Saturn V-shaped pog case and an aluminum slammer embossed on the obverse side with the Apollo 13 mission patch.

OSH Park’s newest stickers are numbered, limited edition, and feature unique artwork for each sticker in the series. They’re also hexagons, allowing anyone to tessellate their love for OSH Park all across their laptop. These are the OSHexagons, OSH Park’s newest stickers. Right now, [Laen] is drawing up and releasing about one design per month, with seven stickers out so far. Holding fast to OSH Park’s ideal of open standards, the OSHexagons utilize the Open Sticker Standard (yes, there is a standard for everything), making these stickers a regular hexagon that can be inscribed in a circle two inches in diameter.

While most of these stickers have runs in the thousands, OSH Park pulled a page from the history of pog and introduced a very speciallimited edition OSHexagon. Only 500 of the beautiful purple and gold 0x03 stickers were produced, making these collectors items equal in stature to the famous zinc alloy Austin 3:16 pog slammer.

As far as marketing goes, giving away a sticker with every order is pretty standard. The Hackaday Store includes a die-cut Jolly Wrencher with every order, but we order thousands of these every few months for events and shows. OSHexagon 0x03’s limited production turns it into an object to be cherished – coveted, even – that is easily digested by the gaping maw of fringe electronics trade journals and blogs. It’s a tour de force of marketing not seen since the 90s.

What’s next for OSH Park? If we’re following 90s trends and fads, you would think Beanie Babies would be next. Luckily, they already have that covered.

# Store Update: Bags, Pads, And Possibly Badges.

Some new products have worked their way into our hands and are just waiting for some awesome Hack a Day logos to be put on them. We’ve added a couple bags, some huge mouse pads as well as normal ones, and we’re considering adding the Hack A Day badge. You’ve seen the badges before, when we took them to CES. [Devlin] estimates that the cost would be \$25 each before shipping. We would like to get some feedback before he starts pumping these things out. How many of you want one?