Tag Archives: mobile applications

FlowPaw, the Bear Paw of Electronics Education

FlowPaw-Rev-1.01

If the astonishing success of littleBits is any indication, there’s a huge market for ‘intro to electronics’ products that are much more capable than the classic Radio Shack ‘springs and components stuck to cardboard’ kits or even the very successful littleBits. FlowPaw is the latest entry in this space, combining the sensor module paradigm of littleBits with a largish microcontroller, digital and analog pins, and a great programming interface.

The big innovation in the FlowPaw is the FlowStone programming language. It’s a graphical programming language that allows young creators to connect blocks, modules, and functions together with virtual wires, but also allows the editing of different modules with Ruby. Best of both worlds, there.

The FlowPaw kickstarter includes rewards for just the FlowStone software, or the FlowPaw electronics board with a bunch of modules. Already, the team has LED, relay, accelerometer, buzzer, and capacitive touch sensors, along with a Bluetooth and speech recognition module. They’re working on a few more advanced modules for GPS, pressure, DC motor control, and RFID as well.


Filed under: Crowd Funding

I want to live in the optimistic sci-fi worlds of Nicolas Bouvier

I want to live in the optimistic sci-fi worlds of Nicolas Bouvier

Nicolas Bouvier aka Sparth—whose latest work is being art director for Halo 5—is getting better all the time. His private work is so optimistic and far away from the usually gritty and dark vision of other authors. And I love the fresh use of geometry in some of his most recent art.

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Can you detect the amazing stealth animals hiding in all these pictures?

Can you detect the amazing stealth animals hiding in all these pictures?

Can you see it? Hiding in plain sight there are two of the most stealthy creatures in the animal kingdom, almost impossible to detect. Thanks to the wonders of natural selection, these and other animals can avoid most predators and perpetuate their species. See if you can spot them all:

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Netflix has two more TV shows for 2015: ‘Bloodline’ and ‘F is for Family’

Concerned there's not enough to watch on Netflix, or that the big studios and networks might hold stuff back for their own streaming services? Rest easy, the video streamer has plans for a slew of exclusive content over the next few years, and this...

Canadian And American Politicians Use Ottawa Shootings As Excuses To Demand More Surveillance, Greater Policing Powers

As you may have heard, an apparently mentally unstable guy shot up the Canadian Parliament earlier this week, killing a soldier, before being shot dead himself. The attack certainly raises some questions -- about dealing with mental health, about security at the Parliament and probably a few other things as well. However, police state/surveillance state apologists have seen the window to expand their own powers and are taking it. It starts with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who wasn't shy about using this one-off incident as an excuse to massively expand the surveillance and police state:
“Our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest,” the Prime Minister told the House of Commons. “They need to be much strengthened. I assure members that work which is already under way will be expedited.”
So, not only will they expand the police and surveillance state, but they'll do it in an "expedited" fashion as a kneejerk response to one guy shooting up the Parliament. That seems like a recipe for bad decision making and the erosion of the rights of the public.

Oh, and some other Canadian politicians are already looking for ways to use this as an excuse to attack free speech online, because obviously that's the real problem here:
There is frustration in government, and among law enforcement agencies, that the authorities can’t detain or arrest people who express sympathy for atrocities committed overseas and who may pose a threat to public safety, one Conservative MP said. “Do we need new offences? If so which?”

Sources suggest the government is likely to bring in new hate speech legislation that would make it illegal to claim terrorist acts are justified online.
Down here in the US, at least it's not the President saying this kind of crap, just well-known terrorist appeaser Rep. Peter King who has declared that the Ottawa shootings mean that the US needs to start spying on all the Muslims to find out which ones are radicalized. I wonder how King would react to someone saying that, based on that, we should also spy on "all the Irish to find out which ones are radicalized." Or, you know, perhaps he wouldn't like that so much, seeing as he has a rather long history supporting Irish terrorists, and such surveillance might turn up something he wouldn't like.

King, by the way, also attacks the "morons" at the NY Times and the ACLU for daring to push back against the NYPD's program of spying on Muslims. That now disbanded program, by the way, cost a ton and generated exactly zero leads. And yet, suddenly King thinks bringing it back is the answer?

This, unfortunately, is the ridiculous cycle of kneejerk defenders of the police and surveillance state. Privileged folks, in power, who use any excuse whatsoever to push for ever increasing power, and ever fewer rights by the public. It's a culture of control, paranoia and fear. These people aren't leaders, they're cowards in leadership positions.

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Using Excel to Watch Movies at Work

excelMediaPlayer

The Excel subreddit exploded earlier this week when redditor [AyrA_ch] shared his custom spreadsheet that allowed him to play video files on a locked-down work computer. How locked down? With no access to Windows Media Player and IE7 as the only browser (all plugins disabled, no HTML5), Excel became the unlikely hero to cure a 3-hour boredom stint.

Behind the cascade of rectangles and in the land of the Excel macro, [AyrA_ch] took advantage of the program’s VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) functions to circumvent the computer’s restrictions. Although VBA typically serves the more-complex-than-usual macro, it can also invoke some Windows API commands, one of which calls Windows Media Player. The Excel file includes a working playlist and some rudimentary controls: play, pause, stop, etc. as well as an inspired pie chart countdown timer.

As clever as this hack is, the best feature is much more subtle: tricking in-house big brother. [AyrA_ch]‘s computer ran an application to monitor process usage, but any videos played through the spreadsheet were attributed to Excel, ensuring the process usage stayed on target. You can download it for yourself over on GitHub.


Filed under: security hacks, software hacks, video hacks

Guy using wheel barrow to do skateboard tricks is hilariously absurd

Guy using wheel barrow to do skateboard tricks is hilariously absurd

Here's the progression of my thoughts when I first saw this video of Hä Wie using a golden wheel barrow to do skateboard tricks on the street. I thought it was so dumb. So, so stupid. And then I started giggling. And then I started laughing. And then I started wondering, wait, is this any less ridiculous than skateboarding?

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Incident IS10786

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Incident Type: Sign-In
Status: Service restored
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Australian ISP iiNet Takes A Stand Against Copyright Trolling By Producers Of Dallas Buyers Club

We've written a number of times about the strong, principled stand of Australian ISP iiNet for the rights of its consumers. iiNet was the ISP that was handpicked by Hollywood and the US State Departmenet to be the target of a "test" legal attack, trying to force ISPs to spy on users and become copyright cops. iiNet was targeted because Hollywood felt that the company wasn't large enough to fight back, but was big enough to get noticed. Hollywood miscalculated on one-half of that equation: iiNet fought back. And it fought back hard. And it won. And then it won again. And then it won again, in a fight that Hollywood is still licking its wounds over (and trying to undermine with new laws). iiNet has also fought back against data retention rules.

And now it's standing up again -- this time against copyright trolling. In particular, against copyright trolling from Voltage Pictures over the film Dallas Buyers Club -- which has been used in questionable copyright trolling efforts in the US for a while now. Apparently, the folks behind that effort are dipping their toes in the water in Australia, and iiNet put its foot down, refusing to roll over and hand over information. It's not -- as some people assume -- because iiNet supports copyright infringement:

We don’t support or condone copyright infringement. In fact, our contract terms require that our customers must not use our service to commit an offence or infringe another person’s rights – this includes copyright infringement. We also have a policy that applies to people who infringe the law.

It might seem reasonable for a movie studio to ask us for the identity of those they suspect are infringing their copyright. Yet, this would only make sense if the movie studio intended to use this information fairly, including to allow the alleged infringer their day in court, in order to argue their case.

Rather, it's because iiNet's executives aren't idiots, and they know exactly what's going on here. It's not about stopping infringement, it's about copyright trolling, which iiNet uses the more polite term for: "speculative invoicing."

Speculative invoicing, as practiced overseas, commonly involves sending intimidating letters of demand to subscribers seeking significant sums for an alleged infringement. These letters often threaten court action and point to high monetary penalties if sums are not paid.

Our concerns with speculative invoicing by Dallas Buyers Club in Australia include:

  • Users might be subject to intimidation by excessive claims for damages, as made by Dallas Buyers Club in other countries.
  • Because allegations of copyright infringement are linked to IP addresses, the alleged infringer could be incorrectly identified if details of the account holder were revealed. For example, the relevant IP address could have originated from a person in a shared household, an individual visiting a household which has open WiFi, or a school, or an Internet cafe.
  • Because Australian courts have not tested these cases, any threat by rights holders, premised on the outcome of a successful copyright infringement action, would be speculative.
iiNet fully admits that it may eventually lose and have to hand over the names, but that it worries that a broad ruling will "open the floodgates" to further copyright trolling in Australia, and that it believes this will lead to Australians "being intimidated to pay exorbitant amounts in an attempt to avoid improbable litigation." This looks like it should be another iiNet legal case to pay close attention to.

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Just an awesome two minute video of badass action scenes from movies

Just an awesome two minute video of badass action scenes from movies

Oh, nothing to see here. Oh wait. Just kidding. There is everything to see here. This two minute clip of action scenes from MovieClips Trailers is so badass that I've watched it multiple times now. I can't get enough. In fact, it has me hankering for an action movie so bad. Good thing John Wick is out in theaters, right?

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Engadget Daily: Nexus 9, Google VP sets new space-jump record, and more!

It's Friday, ya'll. But before you checkout for the weekend, check out all our news highlights from the last 24 hours, including our hands-on with the Nexus 9, a new high-altitude jump record, the best gaming mice you can buy right now, and more. ...

Incident SP10764

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Incident Type: Office Web Apps
Status: Service restored
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