Streaming Deck Removes Need For Dedicated Hardware

Streaming content online has never been more popular than it is now, from YouTube to Twitch there are all kinds of creators around with interesting streams across a wide spectrum of interests. With that gold rush comes plenty of people selling figurative shovels as well, with audio mixing gear, high-quality web cams, and dedicated devices for controlling all of this technology. Often these devices take the form of a tablet-like device, but [Lenochxd] thinks that any tablet ought to be able to perform this task without needing dedicated, often proprietary, hardware.

The solution offered here is called WebDeck, an application written in Flask that turns essentially any device with a broswer into a stream control device. Of course it helps to have a touch screen as well, but an abundance of tablets and smartphones in the world makes this a non-issue. With the software running on the host computer, the streamer can control various aspects of that computer remotely by scanning a QR code which opens a browser window with all of the controls accessible from within. It has support for VLC, OBS Studio, and Spotify as well which covers the bases for plenty of streaming needs.

Currently the host software only runs on Windows, but [Lenochxd] hopes to have MacOS and Linux versions available soon. We’re always in favor of any device that uses existing technology and also avoids proprietary hardware and software. Hopefully that’s a recipe to avoid planned obsolescence and unnecessary production. If you prefer a version with a little bit of tactile feedback, though, we’ve seen other decks which add physical buttons for quick control of the stream.

Processes, Threads, And… Fibers?

You’ve probably heard of multithreaded programs where a single process can have multiple threads of execution. But here is yet another layer of creating multitasking programs known as a fiber. [A Graphics Guy] lays it out in a lengthy but well-done post. There are examples for both x64 and arm64, although the post mainly focuses on x64 for Windows. However, the ideas will apply anywhere.

In the old days, there was a CPU and when your program ran on it, it was in control. But that’s wasteful, so software quickly moved to where many programs could share the CPU simultaneously. Then, as that got overloaded, computers got more CPUs. Most operating systems have the idea of a process, which is a program that thinks it is in complete control, but it is really sharing the CPU with other processes. The problem arises when you want to have multiple “little” programs that cooperate. Processes are not really supposed to know about one another and, if they do, there’s usually some heavy-weight communication mechanism allowing them to talk.

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Hackaday Links: September 10, 2023

Most of us probably have a vision of how “The Robots” will eventually rise up and deal humanity out of the game. We’ve all seen that movie, of course, and know exactly what will happen when SkyNet becomes self-aware. But for those of you thinking we’ll get off relatively easy with a quick nuclear armageddon, we’re sorry to bear the news that AI seems to have other plans for us, at least if this report of dodgy AI-generated mushroom foraging manuals is any indication. It seems that Amazon is filled with publications these days that do a pretty good job of looking like they’re written by human subject matter experts, but are actually written by ChatGPT or similar tools. That may not be such a big deal when the subject matter concerns stamp collecting or needlepoint, but when it concerns differentiating edible fungi from toxic ones, that’s a different matter. The classic example is the Death Cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) which varies quite a bit in identifying characteristics like color and size, enough so that it’s often tough for expert mycologists to tell it apart from its edible cousins. Trouble is, when half a Death Cap contains enough toxin to kill an adult human, the margin for error is much narrower than what AI is likely to include in a foraging manual. So maybe that’s AI’s grand plan for humanity — just give us all really bad advice and let Darwin take care of the rest.

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2023 Cyberdeck Contest: Cyberdeck Red Is Ready For Action

What exactly constitutes a cyberdeck is up for debate, but for us, one thing is clear: A cyberdeck needs to look like it’s ready to go to battle. When the machines finally rise up and try to wipe us all out, someone toting around a machine like Cyberdeck Red is probably going to be a sight for sore eyes; clearly, such a person would be equipped to help us fight back the robotic scourge.

If this cyberdeck looks familiar, it’s for a good reason — it’s [Gabriel]’s second stab at this build. We thought the original was pretty keen, enough so that it won second prize in the 2022 contest. But like many cyberdeck builders, good enough isn’t good enough, and so rather than rest on his laurels, he set about improving a few things. The most visible of the changes are the spiffy new case, which is far less utilitarian than version one, and the new custom-made split keyboard. Things are a little different under the hood too; gone is the Raspberry Pi 4, which was replaced by Latte Panda 3 Delta running Windows. And like the original, version two is absolutely stuffed with sensors and diagnostic gear — a Hack RF SDR for radio work, plus an Analog Discovery 2 which provides everything from an oscilloscope and signal generator to a spectrum analyzer and an impedance tester.

But possibly the most useful feature of Cyberdeck Red is the onboard HDMI projector. The palm-sized, short-throw projector would be perfect for an impromptu combat briefing in an improvised command post, or just watching Netflix. If the machines will allow it, of course.

The 2023 Cyberdeck Contest wraps up August 15, so it looks like [Gabriel] just squeaked this one in on time. We wish him and all the other entrants the best of luck!

Windows 10 The Hard Way: On A Phone

Sure, there are — or were — Windows phones. But [neozed] wanted something different. An earlier project ran Windows 10 on the Raspberry Pi 4 with some tricks, but those are sometimes hard to come by lately, so the next project was to put one on a Xiaomi PocoPhone F1.

The choice of phone wasn’t an accident. There was enough support and information on the Snapdragon 845 to pull the trick off, and this is one of the phones that looked like it should work. They were pretty inexpensive on eBay and have 128 GB of flash and 6 GB of RAM.

After a few false starts, the phone yielded to fastboot mode. Loading UEFI firmware allows you to re-partition the disks using a PC. With the partitions set up, you must find an ARM Windows 10 image to load. Sounds simple, but as you’ll see in the post, the devil is always in the details. Combined with a USB dock, the end result is a tiny Windows computer. However, it does seem like a lot of work. Even the original poster says: “TL;DR don’t do it… get a used Surface X instead.”

We’ve seen old phones repurposed before, of course. Or, go the other way: start from scratch and build a new phone. We won’t judge, either way.

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Hackaday Links: July 2, 2023

Members of Pixelbar woke up to shocking news on Wednesday morning this week as they learned that a fire had destroyed the building housing their Rotterdam hackerspace. Pictures of the fire are pretty dramatic and show the entire building ablaze. We’re not familiar with Pixelbar specifically, but most hackerspaces seem to share space with other businesses in repurposed warehouses and other industrial buildings, and it looks like that was the case here. Local coverage doesn’t indicate that a cause has been determined, but they do say that “large batches of wood” were stored in or near the structure, which likely contributed to the dramatic display. There don’t seem to be reports of injuries to civilians or first responders, so that’s a blessing, but Pixelbar seems to have been completely destroyed. If you’re in a position to help, check out their GoFundMe page. As our own Jenny List, who currently lives in The Netherlands, points out, spaces suitable for housing a hackerspace are hard to come by in a city like Rotterdam, which is the busiest port in Europe. That means Pixelbar members will be competing for space with businesses that have far deeper pockets, so anything you can donate will likely go a long way toward rebuilding.

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PC Classics, Right In Your Browser With EmuOS

[Emupedia]’s work to preserve computer history by way of making classic and abandoned games and software as accessible as possible is being done in a handy way: right in your browser with EmuOS.

A few moments of BIOS startup kicks off EmuOS right in a browser window.

Doing things this way has powerful “Just Works” energy. Visit that link in a modern browser and in no time at all you’ll be looking at a Windows 95 (or Windows 98, or Windows ME) desktop, filled with a ton of shortcuts to pre-installed and ready-to-run classic software. Heck, you can even keep it simple and be playing the original Microsoft Solitaire in no time flat. There is also a whole ton of DOS software waiting to be fired up, just double-click the DOSBox icon, and browse a huge list. The project is still in development, so not everything works, but the stuff that does is awfully slick.

Here’s some additional background that goes into more detail about the project and its capabilities, but if you’d prefer to just click around to explore, here’s the main link again (and here’s a list of mirrors.)

If OS emulation is your thing, don’t miss emulating the IBM PC on an ESP32 microcontroller. And if you’re more into lesser-known vintage operating systems, how about re-inventing PalmOS to run on x86 architecture?