Tag Archives: mobile applications

Most of the government’s anonymous tiplines aren’t secure

When it comes to whistleblowing, privacy is paramount -- just ask Edward Snowden. It's also why news from an American Civil Liberties Association report (PDF) about anonymous government tiplines not using HTTPS encryption is all the more alarming. In...

Making Funhouse Mirror Lenses

[Robb] has had a little experience making lenses from scratch. His first attempt was for a DIY projector, and while the lens was a little blurry, it did work rather well for something carved out of a block of acrylic. Now he’s taking his experiments with lenses even further with DIY optics that turn everything into a funhouse mirror.

There were two techniques tested while making these lenses. The first was the old standby, CNC milling. A piece of acrylic was put in a CNC and carved with a 1/2″ ball mill. The second technique was 3D printing on a very fancy and very expensive Objet Connex 500. Neither of these methods produce a ready to use lens; to get a finished lens out of the machined or printed objects, [Robb] had to wet sand with 240, 320, 400, 600, 1000, 1500, and 2000 grit sandpaper. After a few hours worth of sanding, the parts were polished with a scratch remover.

Making a lens like this isn’t really that novel – it’s basically the same way lenses have been made for 500 years. The real trick here is making funhouse mirror style lenses. These lenses were created by raytracing in Rhino and Neon. It’s tricky; the index of refraction for acrylic is a little lower than glass, and the refraction for 3D photoresin is a bit higher than glass.

With those models in hand, it’s a relatively simple matter of making some very cool and very strange lenses.


Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, cnc hacks

Google to support Chrome for Windows XP until the end of 2015

If you have no choice but to use an XP computer (workplace or school just can't let go, huh?), at least load it with a third-party browser, like Chrome. Why? Google has decided to continue supporting Chrome for XP until the end of 2015, so you can ke...

Verizon’s new ‘Custom’ FiOS TV plans are a little more flexible

Every time we talk about a new TV service, from Sling TV to PlayStation Vue to whatever Apple might be working on, there's inevitably disappointment when it's lacking a la carte channel selection. That's still the case for the new FiOS Custom TV pack...

MMA Fighter Upset Over Possible Homage In Mortal Kombat

Publicity rights have managed to intersect with the video game world more frequently recently. Typically, what appear to be loose general characterizations and/or homages within games have, for a variety of reasons, ruffled the feathers of the celebrity elite. One needs only look back at the disputes raised by Lindsay Lohan over a character in the Grand Theft Auto series which she, wrongly, declared to be based solely upon her. The question I always have in these cases is one of motive. Are these celebrities unhappy about the portrayal they think they see in a character, is there some competing interest, or is it all just a mindless money-grab?

In the latest case we'll cover, I'm at a loss if this isn't a money grab. The whole thing centers on the latest iteration of Mortal Kombat and one character's likeness, perhaps, to a mixed marshal arts fighter name Felice Herrig, who thinks the Cassie Cage character is based off of her likeness.

Herrig, who fights on this weekend’s UFC on FOX 15 card, was first made aware of Cassie Cage a few months ago. Back then, she found the resemblance to be a bit odd, but she didn’t have a whole lot to go on. In recent days, however, more footage and promo materials have surfaced, and Herrig doesn’t like what she sees.
Her complaints, posted to her social media account, center on the Cassie Cage character notably chewing bubblegum and taking selfies. If you go hunting for side-by-side comparisons, they can be somewhat striking.


Except we need to keep a couple of things in mind here. Both women, one real and one fictional, portray combat fighters and there are only so many ways those folks are going to be portrayed. Flexing with clasped fists is a common posed shot in this world. As for chewing bubble gum and taking selfies, both of those are so common that entire industries are built around them, so that is about as unique as having blonde hair.

Is there an homage here? I don't know, maybe. If there is, it's a subtle one, and built off a real-life person who isn't exactly a household name outside of the MMA scene. But what's the point of getting upset over a maybe-possibly-kinda-sorta nod in your direction? I mean, it is an option to be flattered or to use it to promote yourself, whether the whole thing is an homage or not. What's to be upset about?



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Everybody Hates Superman in the First Batman v Superman Trailer

The first Batman v Superman trailer arrived a few days before it was set to premiere at a special IMAX event on Monday. And what we get seems to be an all-fronts attack on Superman from the press right on to an eye-glowing, voice-growling Batman.

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The X-47B’s first aerial refueling test will also be its last

The Navy's X-47B combat UAV demonstrator successfully paired with an an Omega Air KC-707 airtanker earlier this week. This marks the first time in aviation history for a UAV to demonstrate aerial refueling capabilities. Unfortunately, these tests als...

Google’s ‘Works with Cardboard’ program is all about VR compatibility

Google wants all apps developed for its Cardboard VR headset to work properly with, well, any version of its device. That's tougher than it sounds, since the headset's open-source, and a lot of companies and individual users are tweaking it to their ...

Leaked Barge Video Reminds SpaceX How Close To Perfect The Landing Was


By now, you’ve probably heard that SpaceX’s third attempt at landing a rocket on a drone barge met the same watery fate as numbers one and two. And, you’ve probably seen the long-distance video of the landing attempt. But to rub just a little more salt in Elon Musk’s wound, here’s the leaked video shot from the barge itself.

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Play Robotic Bongos using your Household Plants

[Kirk Kaiser] isn’t afraid to admit his latest project a bit strange, being a plant-controlled set of robotic bongos. We don’t find it odd at all.  This is the kind of thing we love to see. His project’s origins began a month ago after taking a class at NYC Resistor about creating music from robotic instruments. Inspired to make his own, [Kirk] repurposed a neighbor’s old wooden dish rack to serve as a mount for solenoids that, when triggered, strike a couple of plastic cowbells or bongo drums.

A Raspberry Pi was originally used to interface the solenoids with a computer or MIDI keyboard, but after frying it, he went with a Teensy LC instead and never looked back. Taking advantage of the Teensy’s MIDI features, [Kirk] programmed a specific note to trigger each solenoid. When he realized that the Teensy also had capacitive touch sensors, he decided to get his plants in on the fun in a MaKey MaKey kind of way. Each plant is connected to the Teensy’s touchRead pins by stranded wire; the other end is stripped, covered with copper tape, and placed into the soil. When a plant’s capacitance surpasses a threshold, the respective MIDI note – and solenoid – is triggered. [Kirk] quickly discovered that hard-coding threshold values was not the best idea. Looking for large changes was a better method, as the capacitance was dramatically affected when the plant’s soil dried up. As [Kirk] stood back and admired his work, he realized there was one thing missing – lights! He hooked up an Arduino with a DMX shield and some LEDs that light up whenever a plant is touched.

We do feel a disclaimer is at hand for anyone interested in using this botanical technique: thorny varieties are ill-advised, unless you want to play a prank and make a cactus the only way to turn the bongos off!


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, musical hacks

Leaked barge video shows SpaceX rocket landing up close

Another day, another video angle looking at the almost-landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. This time, the video is from the barge itself, although there's no word on exactly how it got from there to a post on Reddit. Whatever its provenance (SpaceX ...

Welcome to Asteroid War Games, Where Scientists Practice Saving Earth

There’s a 1200-foot asteroid headed straight for the Earth. You’ve got five days to come up with a plan, or go the way of the dinosaurs. This isn’t the script for the Day After Tomorrow sequel — it’s the scenario being war-gamed by a roomful of PhDs as we speak.

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