With so many of us working from home over the last two years, it’s really become apparent that people generally dislike sitting all day with pants on. Until such a utopian time when all clothing is considered unisex, and just as many men as women are kicking it in loose, flowing skirts and dresses, you may want to remember to actually wear something on your lower half, uncomfortable though pants may be. But there is another way — you could build [Everything Is Hacked]’s pants filter and continue to be a chaos agent. Check out the video after the break.
That’s right, whether you forego or just forget to dress yourself below the equator, the pants filter has you covered. It works like you might expect — machine learning tracks body landmarks and posture to figure out where your NSFW region is and keep it under wraps.
By default, it blurs everything below the belt, or you can draw on pants if you’re inclined to be in revealing tighty-whities and prefer more coverage. You can adjust the width of the pants to cover the covid-19 you may have put on since 2020, and even change the pants to match your shirt.
We love that [Everything Is Hacked] had the um, gumption to test the pants filter in public at what appears to be a local taco joint. After the first few rounds of weird looks, he switched to a pants moustache to save face.
Do you have burning opinions about GitHub Copilot, the AI pair programmer that Microsoft introduced a few months ago? Are you worried about the future of free and open software? The Free Software Foundation is funding a call for white papers of 3,000 or fewer words that address either Copilot itself or the subjects of copyright, machine learning, or free software as a whole. If you need more background information first, check out [Maya Posch]’s excellent article on the subject of Copilot and our disappointing AI present. Submissions are due by 10AM EDT (14:00 UTC) on Monday, August 23rd.
In more modern news: you may be waiting out this chip shortage like everyone else, but does it require renting out a bunch of real estate in perpetuity? We didn’t think so. Here’s an aerial photo of a stockpile of Ford Super Duty trucks that are waiting for chips at a dead stop outside the Kentucky Speedway. Thousands of brand new trucks, exposed to the elements for who knows how long. What could go wrong?
While we’re asking questions, what’s in a name? Well, that depends. We’ve all had to think of names for everything from software variables to actual children. For something like a new exoplanet survey, you might as well make the demonym remarkable, like COol COmpanions ON Ultrawide orbiTS, or COCONUTS. Hey, it’s more memorable than calling them X-14 and -15, et cetera. And it’s not like the name isn’t meaningful and descriptive. So, readers: do you think this is the worst name ever, planetary system or otherwise? Does it shake your tree? We’re on the fence.
Working from home with regular video meetings has its challenges, especially if you add kids to the mix. To help avoid embarrassing situations, [Charitha Jayaweera] created Present!, a USB device to automatically turn of your camera and microphone if you suddenly need to leave your computer to maintain domestic order.
Present consists of just a PIR sensor and Arduino in a 3D printed enclosure to snap onto your monitor. When the PIR sensor no longer detects someone in range, it sends a notification over serial to a python script running on the PC to switch off the camera and microphone on Zoom (or another app). It can optionally turn these back on when you are seated again. The cheap HC-SR501 PIR module’s range can also be adjusted with a trimpot for your specific scenario. It should also be possible to shrink the device to the size of the PIR module, with a small custom PCB or one of the many tiny Arduino compatible dev boards.
Issac Asimov wrote Caves of Steel in 1953. In it, he mentions something called trimensional personification. In an age before WebEx and Zoom, imagining that people would have remote meetings replete with 3D holograms was pretty far-sighted. We don’t know if any Google engineers read the book, but they are trying to create a very similar experience with project Starline.
The system is one of those that seems simple on the face of it, but we are sure the implementation isn’t easy. You sit facing something that looks like a window. The other person shows up in 3D as though they were on the other side of the window. Think prison visitation without the phone handset. The camera is mounted such that you look naturally at the other person through your virtual window.
Our first story this week comes courtesy of the Pwn2own contest. For anyone not familiar with it, this event is held twice a year, and features live demonstrations of exploits against up-to-date software. The one exception to this is when a researcher does a coordinated release with the vendor, and the update containing the fix drops just before the event. This time, the event was held virtually, and the attempts are all available on Youtube. There were 23 attacks attempted, and only two were outright failures. There were 5 partial successes and 16 full successes.
One of the interesting demonstrations was a zero-click RCE against Zoom. This was a trio of vulnerabilities chained into a single attack. The only caveat is that the attack must come from an accepted contact. Pwn2Own gives each exploit attempt twenty minutes total, and up to three attempts, each of which can last up to five minutes. Most complex exploits have an element of randomness, and exploits known to work sometimes don’t work every time. The Zoom demonstration didn’t work the first time, and the demonstration team took enough time to reset, they only had enough time for one more try.
[Elena]’s ready pile of Arduinos yielded no Leonardos or Pro Micros, but that’s okay because there’s a handy bootloader out there that allows you to reprogram the USB interface chip of an Uno or a Mega and use it as a keyboard. After setting that up, it was mostly a matter of wiring all those latching and momentary buttons and LEDs to the Mega and making them look fantastic with a set of icons. (We all know the big red mushroom button is for aborting the call; so does it really need an icon?)
[memestra] is a teacher whose life has become a series of videoconferences over the last year or so. With all the classes and meetings, they spend the whole day switching between either Zoom, Teams, or Meet. If anyone needs a single piece of hardware to control them all, it’s [memestra]. Well, and every other teacher out there.
The hardware — an Arduino Pro Micro and some buttons — should come as no surprise, except for maybe [memstra]’s use of a resistor network for the LEDs. Still, there’s a lot to like about this little box, starting with the enclosure. That’s not milled or laser-cut metal — each side is a PCB, and they’re all soldered together into a box.
We especially like the top panel, which fits down over the PCB that all the components are soldered to. Each of the non-volume buttons has multiple functions that are accessed by pressing, long pressing, or double pressing. But even the volume buttons do double duty: press them together to mute and un-mute. If [memestra] ever forgets which button does what and how, there’s a handy reference table silkscreened on the bottom panel.
In true teacher fashion, [memestra] has written comprehensive instructions for anyone looking to build a similar device. The heavily-commented code should make it a cinch to drop in keyboard shortcuts for Discord or anything else you might be using, though it’s worth noting that this box is optimized for the desktop apps and not the browser-based versions.