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It’s the end of an era: Netflix cancels Orange is the New Black October 18, 2018

Netflix yesterday announced it would end its most popular original television program after its next season. Warning: This may make you cry. The Final Season, 2019. #OITNB pic.twitter.com/bUp2yY0aoK — Orange Is the New… (@OITNB) October 17, 2018 “Orange is The New Black” received wide-spread acclaim from critics and fans the moment Netflix debuted it back […]

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It’s the end of an era: Netflix cancels Orange is the New Black


Netflix yesterday announced it would end its most popular original television program after its next season. Warning: This may make you cry. The Final Season, 2019. #OITNB pic.twitter.com/bUp2yY0aoK — Orange Is the New… (@OITNB) October 17, 2018 “Orange is The New Black” received wide-spread acclaim from critics and fans the moment Netflix debuted it back in 2013. The small-screen vehicle portrays life in a women’s prison, with a deft – if sometimes heavy – hand. Initially based on a true story, over the years it’s become a conduit for social commentary on everything from religious intolerance to partisan politics. The…

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It’s the end of an era: Netflix cancels Orange is the New Black
Source: The Next Web

Pai claims report findings validate net neutrality repeal – CNET

Broadband providers are investing in their networks again thanks to the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, says FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Pai claims report findings validate net neutrality repeal – CNET
Source: CNet

US Senate committee invites Hyundai, Kia to talk about engine fire reports – Roadshow

The Senate Commerce Committee plans to meet Nov. 14 to discuss this matter. US Senate committee invites Hyundai, Kia to talk about engine fire reports – Roadshow
Source: CNet

MacBook Air 2018: All the rumors on specs, price and Oct. 30 debut – CNET

The long wait for a new MacBook Air may soon be over. MacBook Air 2018: All the rumors on specs, price and Oct. 30 debut – CNET
Source: CNet

I fell for Facebook fake news. Here’s why millions of you did, too.

Everyone now knows the Web is filled with lies. So then how do fake Facebook posts, YouTube videos and tweets keep making suckers of us? I fell for Facebook fake news. Here’s why millions of you did, too.
Source: Washington Post Tech

iPhone XR phone case: Just $2 buys you see-through protection – CNET

This slim gel bumper-case offers protection without obscuring your XR’s cool color. iPhone XR phone case: Just buys you see-through protection – CNET
Source: CNet

A Chinese city plans to replace street lights with its own moon – CNET

Chengdu, in southwestern China, hopes to launch an “illumination satellite” in 2020. A Chinese city plans to replace street lights with its own moon – CNET
Source: CNet

PayPal reports Q3 revenues of $3.68B, up 14% YoY, vs. $3.66B est., net income of $436M, up from $380M YoY (Kate Rooney/CNBC)


Kate Rooney / CNBC:

PayPal reports Q3 revenues of $3.68B, up 14% YoY, vs. $3.66B est., net income of $436M, up from $380M YoY  —  – Analysts had expected earnings of 54 cents per share and revenue of $3.66 billion, according to Refinitiv forecasts.  — Stifel analyst Scott Devitt expects investors to focus …

PayPal reports Q3 revenues of .68B, up 14% YoY, vs. .66B est., net income of 6M, up from 0M YoY (Kate Rooney/CNBC)
Source: Tech Meme

SandBot Happily And Tirelessly Rolls Patterns In Sand

The patience and precision involved with drawing geometric patterns in sand is right up a robot’s alley, and demonstrating this is [rob dobson]’s SandBot, a robot that draws patterns thanks to an arm with a magnetically coupled ball.

SandBot, SCARA version. The device sits underneath a sand bed, and a magnet (seen at the very top at the end of the folded “arm”) moves a ball bearing through sand.

SandBot is not a cartesian XY design. An XY frame would need to be at least as big as the sand table itself, but a SCARA arm can be much more compact. Sandbot also makes heavy use of 3D printing and laser-cut acrylic pieces, with no need of an external frame.

[rob]’s writeup is chock full of excellent detail and illustrations, and makes an excellent read. His previous SandBot design is also worth checking out, as it contains all kinds of practical details like what size of ball bearing is best for drawing in fine sand (between 15 and 20 mm diameter, it turns out. Too small and motion is jerky as the ball catches on sand grains, and too large and there is noticeable lag in movement.) Design files for the SCARA SandBot are on GitHub but [rob] has handy links to everything in his writeup for easy reference.

Sand and robots (or any moving parts) aren’t exactly a natural combination, but that hasn’t stopped anyone. We’ve seen Clearwalker stride along the beach, and the Sand Drawing Robot lowers an appendage to carve out messages in the sand while rolling along.

SandBot Happily And Tirelessly Rolls Patterns In Sand
Source: HackADay

Rockstar Games controversy renews concern over ‘crunch culture’


On the cusp of releasing one of the biggest games of the year, Red Dead Redemption 2, developer Rockstar Games has been forced to allay fears it’s overworking its employees. It’s attempted to assure fans by allowing staff to speak directly about their experiences. The whole kerfuffle started thanks to an interview with Vulture, in which Rockstar VP Dan Houser said staff worked several “100-hour weeks” during the year in order to make the game perfect. Since there was no further clarification in the article itself, it’d be easy to assume he was talking about the entire development team. Given that,…

This story continues at The Next Web

Rockstar Games controversy renews concern over ‘crunch culture’
Source: The Next Web

Among Amazon HQ2 Watchers, Northern Virginia Checks the Most Boxes

Amazon won’t say a word about where it plans to put its much-hyped second headquarters. But there is a growing consensus that it will go across the river from Washington. Among Amazon HQ2 Watchers, Northern Virginia Checks the Most Boxes
Source: NY Times Tech

Shaken by hype, self-driving leaders adopt new strategy: Shutting up

After years of self-driving hype, companies are taking a more subdued approach to addressing the tough realities of the most complicated robotic system ever built. Shaken by hype, self-driving leaders adopt new strategy: Shutting up
Source: Washington Post Tech

A look at how SoftBank, whose Vision Fund received $45B from Saudi Arabia, is handling the growing crisis over Khashoggi's disappearance (New York Times)


New York Times:

A look at how SoftBank, whose Vision Fund received $45B from Saudi Arabia, is handling the growing crisis over Khashoggi’s disappearance  —  Since the disappearance and apparent killing of a dissident journalist in a Saudi Arabian consulate, some of the most powerful figures in business are distancing themselves from the kingdom.

A look at how SoftBank, whose Vision Fund received B from Saudi Arabia, is handling the growing crisis over Khashoggi's disappearance (New York Times)
Source: Tech Meme

Laser Cut Cardboard Robot Construction Kit Eases Learning And Play

It has never been easier to put a microcontroller and other electronics into a simple project, and that has tremendous learning potential. But when it comes to mechanical build elements like enclosures, frames, and connectors, things haven’t quite kept the same pace. It’s easier to source economical servos, motors, and microcontroller boards than it is to arrange for other robot parts that allow for cheap and accessible customization and experimentation.

That’s where [Andy Forest] comes in with the Laser Cut Cardboard Robot Construction Kit, which started at STEAMLabs, a non-profit community makerspace in Toronto. The design makes modular frames, enclosures, and basic hardware out of laser-cut corrugated cardboard. It’s an economical and effective method of creating the mechanical elements needed for creating robots and animatronics while still allowing easy customizing. The sheets have punch-out sections for plastic straws, chopstick axles, SG90 servo motors, and of course, anything that’s missing can be easily added with hot glue or cut out with a knife. In addition to the designs being open sourced, there is also an activity guide for educators that gives visual examples of different ways to use everything.

Cardboard makes a great prototyping material, but what makes the whole project sing is the way the designs allow for easy modification and play while being easy to source and produce.

Laser Cut Cardboard Robot Construction Kit Eases Learning And Play
Source: HackADay

Uber redesigns its home screen to contextually recommend JUMP bikes or its cars depending on trip length, destination, and personal ride history (Josh Constine/TechCrunch)


Josh Constine / TechCrunch:

Uber redesigns its home screen to contextually recommend JUMP bikes or its cars depending on trip length, destination, and personal ride history  —  Contextual, personalized vehicle suggestions spotlight bikes  —  For the first time, Uber will make contextual, personalized suggestions …

Uber redesigns its home screen to contextually recommend JUMP bikes or its cars depending on trip length, destination, and personal ride history (Josh Constine/TechCrunch)
Source: Tech Meme

FirstBuild Precision Bakeware tells you when your cheesecake is ready – CNET

The first batch of the $100 pan has already sold out. FirstBuild Precision Bakeware tells you when your cheesecake is ready – CNET
Source: CNet

Apple sets next event for Oct. 30 with iPads, Macs likely on tap – CNET

We’ll likely see new tablets and computers from Apple that include some features already found in iPhones. Apple sets next event for Oct. 30 with iPads, Macs likely on tap – CNET
Source: CNet

EV incentives may be fading for some, but one senator wants to bring them back – Roadshow

Sen. Dean Heller’s proposal would replace the current incentive’s cap with a firm end date. EV incentives may be fading for some, but one senator wants to bring them back – Roadshow
Source: CNet

Tweetbot 5 for iOS released as a free update, with a new icon, a new darker theme, Giphy integration, a tip jar for the developers, more (John Voorhees/MacStories)


John Voorhees / MacStories:

Tweetbot 5 for iOS released as a free update, with a new icon, a new darker theme, Giphy integration, a tip jar for the developers, more  —  Tweetbot 5 for iOS is out with a new look that more closely resembles the latest Mac version, which was redesigned in May. Tapbots has also added …

Tweetbot 5 for iOS released as a free update, with a new icon, a new darker theme, Giphy integration, a tip jar for the developers, more (John Voorhees/MacStories)
Source: Tech Meme

Twitter releases 10M Iranian and Russian propaganda tweets ahead of US Midterms


Twitter yesterday released a bevy of data related to Iranian and Russian-sponsored misinformation campaigns started as long ago as 2009. The hope, in releasing the trove, is that academics and researchers will use it to come up with solutions to the propaganda problem plaguing US politics. November 6th represents the next symbolic test for US democracy. As the nation hurtles towards its Midterm elections, with both the House and Senate up for grabs, it’s become apparent that ‘election security’ is a goal, not a reality. The Twitter datasets might help change that. They should help researchers figure out exactly why…

This story continues at The Next Web

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Twitter releases 10M Iranian and Russian propaganda tweets ahead of US Midterms
Source: The Next Web

Amazon says Whisper Mode for Alexa is rolling out to all users in the US and works in US English (Sarah Perez/TechCrunch)


Sarah Perez / TechCrunch:

Amazon says Whisper Mode for Alexa is rolling out to all users in the US and works in US English  —  At Amazon’s Alexa event last month in Seattle, the company teased a new feature soon coming to its voice assistant: the ability to whisper.  The company demonstrated how whispering a request …

Amazon says Whisper Mode for Alexa is rolling out to all users in the US and works in US English (Sarah Perez/TechCrunch)
Source: Tech Meme

Fortnite season 6, week 4 challenges and how to complete them – CNET

After a leak that many deemed to be dubious, here are this week’s confirmed challenges. Fortnite season 6, week 4 challenges and how to complete them – CNET
Source: CNet

Palantir IPO could be worth $41 billion – CNET

The data mining giant plans to go public next year, says a report. The company is known for analytics and intelligence that’s tapped by governments, businesses and organizations worldwide. Palantir IPO could be worth billion – CNET
Source: CNet

Google Play gets better support for larger app bundles, subscription improvements, in-app updates, an expanded Google Play Instant, more (Emil Protalinski/VentureBeat)


Emil Protalinski / VentureBeat:

Google Play gets better support for larger app bundles, subscription improvements, in-app updates, an expanded Google Play Instant, more  —  Google today unveiled a slew of Google Play developer news, including better support for larger Android app bundles, subscription improvements …

Google Play gets better support for larger app bundles, subscription improvements, in-app updates, an expanded Google Play Instant, more (Emil Protalinski/VentureBeat)
Source: Tech Meme

Beijing-based autonomous driving tech startup Momenta says it raised new funding from Tencent and others, bringing total raised to $200M, at a valuation of $1B (Violet Tang/China Money Network)


Violet Tang / China Money Network:

Beijing-based autonomous driving tech startup Momenta says it raised new funding from Tencent and others, bringing total raised to $200M, at a valuation of $1B  —  Momenta, a Chinese autonomous driving technology start-up, has secured a new round of financing at a valuation of over US$1 billion, the company announced last night.

Beijing-based autonomous driving tech startup Momenta says it raised new funding from Tencent and others, bringing total raised to 0M, at a valuation of B (Violet Tang/China Money Network)
Source: Tech Meme

Ask Hackaday: Why Aren’t We Hacking Cellphones?

When a project has outgrown using a small microcontroller, almost everyone reaches for a single-board computer — with the Raspberry Pi being the poster child. But doing so leaves you stuck with essentially a headless Linux server: a brain in a jar when what you want is a Swiss Army knife.

It would be a lot more fun if it had a screen attached, and of course the market is filled with options on that front. Then there’s the issue of designing a human interface: touch screens are all the rage these days, so why not buy a screen with a touch interface too? Audio in and out would be great, as would other random peripherals like accelerometers, WiFi, and maybe even a cellular radio when out of WiFi range. Maybe Bluetooth? Oh heck, let’s throw in a video camera and high-powered LED just for fun. Sounds like a Raspberry Pi killer!

And this development platform should be cheap, or better yet, free. Free like any one of the old cell phones that sit piled up in my “hack me” box in the closet, instead of getting put to work in projects. While I cobble together projects out of Pi Zeros and lame TFT LCD screens, the advanced functionality of these phones sits gathering dust. And I’m not alone.

Why is this? Why don’t we see a lot more projects based around the use of old cellphones? They’re abundant, cheap, feature-rich, and powerful. For me, there’s two giant hurdles to overcome: the hardware and the software. I’m going to run down what I see as the problems with using cell phones as hacker tools, but I’d love to be proven wrong. Hence the “Ask Hackaday”: why don’t we see more projects that re-use smartphones?

Hardware Encounters Smartphone

It’s absolutely impossible to beat the convenience of simply hooking up some wires to the pins of a robust microcontroller. I’ll admit that even today, in this era of low-voltage logic, I like to keep a number of chips on hand that have five-volt tolerant GPIOs. And it’s super handy to have a microcontroller that’ll source 20 mA on a pin (per the datasheet, and maybe more in practice). It’s already a tiny hassle to migrate some projects to a Raspberry Pi, where you have to be careful with 3.3 V inputs and a slightly weaker output buffer. But it’s not that big of a deal: connecting directly to anything that speaks I2C or SPI, or just needs a logic-level signal on a wire, is child’s play. Just wire pin to pin, and you’re set.

And then I look at my cell phone. Where do I even plug my motor controller into this thing? There’s the audio jack and the USB, and that’s it. I’m not sticking my Hello World LED into either of those ports and expecting success.

Sparkfun and Ytai Ben-Tsvi’s IOIO

One solution is to throw money at the problem and buy a USB breakout board. For the price of a Raspberry Pi and SD card, you can buy an IOIO dev kit that seems to support nearly everything you’d want. Numato Labs has an eight-pin GPIO expander that sidesteps the whole Java API mess — more on that later — by presenting itself to the phone as a serial device. This means that you need to learn its command language, though. A while back, Motorola even toyed with releasing super-expensive “Mods Development Kit“, but beyond the press release, I haven’t heard anything more of that. Does Android or iOS have support for the FT232H chip? If so, you could press one of those into service pretty readily.

But if the point was to get by on the cheap by re-using an old cell phone, these options don’t make financial sense. Can we DIY something cheaper? WiFi and Bluetooth spring to mind, and indeed you can buy modules that use either for just a few of your local monetary units. For instance, a HC-05 style Bluetooth module makes a cheap and cheerful USART-to-cellphone bridge. All you have to do then is tie the microcontroller of your choice to the HC-05 and then write the firmware. Or go WiFi and do the same with an ESP8266 or ESP32. Again, you’re stuck writing the WiFi-to-GPIO end of the code, but that should be a one-time cost. So I looked around to find these obvious projects somewhere on the net, and came up empty. Anyone?

But what about that audio jack? You could encode your data in audio like we did in the dial-up-modem days of yore. This can be done on small microcontrollers easily enough that a full ATtiny85 audio bootloader can fit in 1 kB, for instance. Now you just add the GPIO-driving firmware.

At the end of the day, these alternatives are all doable, but they all require doing. That is, tacking physical GPIOs onto a cell phone is a project in and of itself. Before you even get to thinking about programming the phone to do your bidding, you have to figure out your hardware-side API. And because it’s a project in itself, you’ve got to really value the additional capabilities that the smartphone brings to the table to warrant getting up and over the hardware hurdle.

Software Needs to Make It All Work

But let’s assume that you’re committed to buying or building a GPIO adapter, how do you start development on your project, given that the software needs to run on the cellphone? Our own Adam Fabio looked at the lay of the land back in 2015 for Android. (Apple folks, what’s the situation like for you?)

Suffice it to say that app development for Android is non-trivial, but at least there’s a ton of documentation to get you started. Even if you’re a Java master, which I’m not, you’ll still want to make sure that the rest of the software components that you’d like to integrate into your own are available on Android. This is where the picture actually gets a little bit brighter. For instance, if you intend to make use of the camera and abundant processing power for computer vision, you’ll be glad to know that OpenCV has been ported to Android, as has CMU’s PocketSphinx voice recognizer.

But Java isn’t my cup of tea. A few years back, I wrote some simple cellphone apps using SL4A — scripting languages for Android. It was pretty pleasant, and I was able to cobble together a Python script that uploaded photos to Imgur and then pasted the resulting URL into the system clipboard in an afternoon. It was actually really great to have Python up and running on the phone — it almost felt like a little computer. Now, SL4A seems to be no longer supported. What’s the new hotness?

As with the hardware hurdles, taking advantage of the processing power inside a cellphone looks like I’m going to have to put in the hours to learn Java and the Android OS way of doing things. And when I compare this with the ease of getting similar things done on a Raspberry Pi, it’s a show stopper.

Giving Up?

Faced with these hardware and software hurdles, you might just retreat back to the friendly environment of the Raspberry Pi or download one of the myriad apps that turn your cell phone into a glorified remote control. With shame, I’ll admit that’s what I’ve done, but I’d honestly like to change. If you’ve hacked a cell phone into a project, let us know! And if, like me, you’ve tried and failed, tell us where you got stuck.

Ask Hackaday: Why Aren’t We Hacking Cellphones?
Source: HackADay

Packing a Lot Into a Little PCB: Winners of the Square Inch Project

It is mind-boggling when you think about the computing power that fits in the palm of your hand these days. It wasn’t long ago when air-conditioned rooms with raised floors hosted computers far less powerful that filled the whole area. Miniaturization is certainly the order of the day. Things are getting smaller every day, too. We were so impressed with the minuscule entries from the first “Square Inch Project” — a contest challenging designers to use 1 inch2 of PCB or less — that we decided bring it back with the Return of the Square Inch Project. The rules really were simple: build something with a PCB that was a square inch.

Grand Prize

It was hard to pick, but there can only be one grand prize winner. This time around that honor goes to [Danny FR] for a very small smart motor driver for robotics. The little board takes an I2C link to a microcontroller and does PID control with RPM feedback. No need for an H-bridge or any sophisticated control electronics — that’s all onboard.

The board is a great fit for a motor and makes it easy to build moving projects. That was the grand prize, but there were some other great entries that won in specific categories, too.

Best Project

[Drix] likes to know where things are. The Hive Tracker uses laser “lighthouses” that sweep across the room. A special microcontroller with a dedicated hardware block reads the laser light and triangulates its position relative to the lighthouses with a great deal of precision. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so:


The high-speed reading of the lasers uses “Programmable Peripheral Interconnect” — a feature of a Nordic BLE microcontroller that lets the chip read timestamps in hardware without interrupting the processor. The little boards hook up to a hub board which is also pretty small.

We’re hackers, so we think a few bare PCBs connected to another PCB can be artistic. But most people have something different in mind.

Best Artistic Project

If you hang out at Hackaday.io much, you’ll recognize [ꝺeshipu] and his entry was one of those things that you immediately know you could use, but also brings a little smile to your face when you use it. How often do you need to plug some LEDs into a breadboard? Why not do it with a Rainbow Jellyfish?

The circuit operation should be obvious. We really liked the color-coded wiring. You could probably use at least two of these so they could keep each other company. You could probably even use this as part of a badge.

Best Social Media Award

Speaking of badges, [nwmaker] built a badge that looks like another animal — an owl called PurpleSnowy. Again, the circuit is simple enough, but what caught our eye on this project was how well the social media promotion of it was. Maybe cute owls are just easier to go viral, but we liked it.

Best Documentation

[Kris Winer] (remember that name), built a very high-tech spectrometer project. Not only was it small in size, but at $25 it was also small in price. The project used the AMS AS7265X 3-chip set to provide an 18 channel, 20 nm FWMH spectrometer. The documentation was very well done and we were impressed with the fitment of the chips on the board.

Many Runners-Up

We had so many great entries that it was hard to pick so we named several runners-up.

[Greg Davill’s] Bosun frame grabber that uses an FPGA to capture images from a FLIR Boson camera.

[Kris Winer’s] high-tech $25 spectrometer project (from above) was also runner-up, and [Kris] was also recognized for sensors that can smell and hear.

If you want something less science-related, the Rotovis-Mod1 by [zakqwy] makes it easier to build persistence of vision displays. Of course, as hackers, we love an oscilloscope and [Mark Omo’s] 20 msps scope that fits in one inch caught our imagination for making some really cool instrument panels.

You really should look at all the entries — they were amazing. [Kris] really went all out, taking two runner up slots and the best documentation prize.

Recap:

Speaking of prizes, The grand prize was $500, and the other prizes received $100 Tindie gift certificates. Thanks to OSH Park, the runner ups also got $100 OSH Park gift cards — that’s a lot of one inch PCBs.

Will this be our last inch square contest? The magic 8 ball says probably not, so don’t stop thinking small and look for your chance to enter your design in the next contest.

Packing a Lot Into a Little PCB: Winners of the Square Inch Project
Source: HackADay

TicketMaster discovers blockchain, buys Ethereum-powered app


TicketMaster, the most globally recognized company in events ticketing, has given into the hype and bought a startup specializing in blockchain-based ticketing solutions. Announced today, TicketMaster now owns Upgraded Inc., an American software firm responsible for creating a nifty smartphone app that authenticates event tickets using Ethereum technology. Essentially, Upgraded generates dynamic barcodes powered by smart contracts, which venues and ticket-holders can scan to ensure they don’t fall victim to scalpers and other fraudsters. According to the release, TicketMaster believes Upgraded’s app will fit perfectly into its new suite of live event products, which includes a facial recognition tool and…

This story continues at The Next Web

TicketMaster discovers blockchain, buys Ethereum-powered app
Source: The Next Web

Samsung debuts $1,000+ Galaxy Book 2, a Windows 2-in-1 to compete with Surface, with 12-inch OLED display, LTE, 4GB RAM, Snapdragon 850, on sale from November 2 (Chris Welch/The Verge)


Chris Welch / The Verge:

Samsung debuts $1,000+ Galaxy Book 2, a Windows 2-in-1 to compete with Surface, with 12-inch OLED display, LTE, 4GB RAM, Snapdragon 850, on sale from November 2  —  A couple weeks after Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 6, Samsung is today unveiling the $1,000 Galaxy Book 2 …

Samsung debuts ,000+ Galaxy Book 2, a Windows 2-in-1 to compete with Surface, with 12-inch OLED display, LTE, 4GB RAM, Snapdragon 850, on sale from November 2 (Chris Welch/The Verge)
Source: Tech Meme

After ten years, TNW Conference has a new home


Written by Wytze de Haan, Director of Events For our 14th edition, TNW Conference is moving to a new location! But before I tell you where we’re going, I’d like to share where we’ve been. I’ve worked at TNW for almost seven years now, which makes me a very “odd” millennial. Our generation is known for switching companies every six months, and I often get asked why I’ve stayed at TNW for so long. The answer is simple: the challenge. When I started working on TNW Conference in 2011, we had 800 people that showed up in one venue to…

This story continues at The Next Web

After ten years, TNW Conference has a new home
Source: The Next Web

Mechatronic Hand Mimics Human Anatomy to Achieve Dexterity

Behold the wondrous complexity of the human hand. Twenty-seven bones working in concert with muscles, tendons, and ligaments extending up the forearm to produce a range of motions that gave us everything from stone tools to symphonies. Our hands are what we use to interface with the physical world on a fine level, and it’s understandable that we’d want mechanical versions of ourselves to include hands that were similarly dexterous.

That’s a tall order to fill, but this biomimetic mechatronic hand is a pretty impressive step in that direction. It’s [Will Cogley]’s third-year university design project, which he summarizes in the first video below. There are two parts to this project; the mechanical hand itself and the motion-capture glove to control it, both of which we find equally fascinating. The control glove is covered with 3D-printed sensors for each joint in the hand. He uses SMD potentiometers to measure joint angles, with some difficulty due to breakage of the solder joints; perhaps he could solve that with finer wires and better strain relief.

The hand that the glove controls is a marvel of design, like something on the end of a Hollywood android’s arm. Each finger joint is operated by a servo in the forearm pulling on cables; the joints are returned to the neutral position by springs. The hand is capable of multiple grip styles and responds fairly well to the control glove inputs, although there is some jitter in the sensors for some joints.

The second video below gives a much more detailed overview of the project and shows how [Will]’s design has evolved and where it’s going. Anthropomorphic hands are far from rare projects hereabouts, but we’d say this one has a lot going for it.

Thanks again, [Baldpower].

Mechatronic Hand Mimics Human Anatomy to Achieve Dexterity
Source: HackADay

Launching the Galileo Mission

On Oct. 18, 1989, space shuttle Atlantis deployed NASA’s Galileo spacecraft six hours, 30 minutes into the STS-34 mission. Galileo arrived at Jupiter in December, 1995 and spent eight years in orbit around the gas giant, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit an outer planet. Launching the Galileo Mission
Source: NASA

Samsung says it has started mass production of 7nm chips using an EUVL process that it claims enables 50% power and 20% performance improvements over 10nm chips (Anton Shilov/AnandTech)


Anton Shilov / AnandTech:

Samsung says it has started mass production of 7nm chips using an EUVL process that it claims enables 50% power and 20% performance improvements over 10nm chips  —  Samsung Foundry on Wednesday said that it had started production of chips using its 7LPP manufacturing technology …

Samsung says it has started mass production of 7nm chips using an EUVL process that it claims enables 50% power and 20% performance improvements over 10nm chips (Anton Shilov/AnandTech)
Source: Tech Meme

Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL are now available – CNET

You can buy or lease the phone from Google or Verizon Wireless today starting at $800. Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL are now available – CNET
Source: CNet

Vacation rental company Vacasa raises $64M led by Riverwood Capital, bringing its total funding to $207.5M (Taylor Soper/GeekWire)


Taylor Soper / GeekWire:

Vacation rental company Vacasa raises $64M led by Riverwood Capital, bringing its total funding to $207.5M  —  Investors continue to bet big on Vacasa.  —  The Portland-based vacation rental management company today raised another $64 million from existing investors.

Vacation rental company Vacasa raises M led by Riverwood Capital, bringing its total funding to 7.5M (Taylor Soper/GeekWire)
Source: Tech Meme

Porsche will price Taycan EV between Cayenne and Panamera – Roadshow

In the US, that could mean a starting price in the $75,000 range. Porsche will price Taycan EV between Cayenne and Panamera – Roadshow
Source: CNet

DJs can soon play live sets directly from SoundCloud


SoundCloud users will soon be able to DJ live directly on the platform, all while having its huge catalogue of streamed music at their disposal. CEO Kerry Trainor made the announcement at Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) on Thursday during his keynote. In a partnership with music applications, including Native Instruments, Serato, Virtual DJ, DEX3, Mixvibes, and DJuced/Hercules, the new integration will allow DJs to mix songs streamed from the platform in real time. You can read the official press release here. In a statement to Variety, Trainor said: “Until recently, digital workflows for DJs were limited to downloads and physical media,…

This story continues at The Next Web

Or just read more coverage about: SoundCloud

DJs can soon play live sets directly from SoundCloud
Source: The Next Web

Spotify Premium now offers you artist-inspired playlists that go on forever – CNET

Endless Artist Radio lets you search for a stream based on your favorite musician. Spotify Premium now offers you artist-inspired playlists that go on forever – CNET
Source: CNet

Red Dead Redemption 2 launch trailer builds hype for return to Wild West – CNET

Rockstar is gearing up gamers for the PS4 and Xbox One game’s release next week. Red Dead Redemption 2 launch trailer builds hype for return to Wild West – CNET
Source: CNet

Learn 5 new languages with a lifetime Mondly subscription for $59.99 – CNET

Normally $48 for just one year, top-rated Mondly could be the last language app you’ll ever need. Plus: a selfie-stick deal? It’s true! Learn 5 new languages with a lifetime Mondly subscription for .99 – CNET
Source: CNet

ILLIAC was HAL 9000’s Granddaddy

Science fiction is usually couched in fact, and it’s fun to look at an iconic computer like HAL 9000 and trace the origins of this artificial intelligence gone wrong. You might be surprised to find that you can trace HAL’s origins to a computer built for the US Army in 1952.

If you are a fan of the novel and movie 2001: A Space Oddessy, you may recall that the HAL 9000 computer was “born” in Urbana, Illinois. Why pick such an odd location? Urbana is hardly a household name unless you know the Chicago area well. But Urbana has a place in real-life computer history. As the home of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana was known for producing a line of computers known as ILLIAC, several of which had historical significance. In particular, the ILLIAC IV was a dream of a supercomputer that — while not entirely successful — pointed the way for later supercomputers. Sometimes you learn more from failure than you do successes and at least one of the ILLIAC series is the poster child for that.

The Urbana story starts in the early 1950s. This was a time when the 1945 book “First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC” was sweeping through the country from its Princeton origins. This book outlined the design and construction of the Army computer that succeeded ENIAC. In it, Von Neumann proposed changes to EDVAC that would make it a stored program computer — that is, a computer that treats data and instructions the same.

Popularity of Von Neumann Designs

Maurice Wilke’s EDSAC and the Manchester Baby were the first to build a computer based on Von Neumann’s new design, but they wouldn’t be the last. In all, there were probably at least 18 machines based on this paper’s architecture including MANIAC, Johnniac, and SILLIAC. The exact number is hard to pin down since many machines reused older machines, but however you count, there were at least a dozen. These machines are often known as “IAS machines” after the Princeton lab that published the EDVAC report.

With this wave of computer research, the Army wanted to have a stored program machine and turned to the University of Illinois to build ORDVAC. The Army took delivery of the new machine in 1952. It used over 2,000 vacuum tubes (mostly 6J6s and 5687s) and had 1K of 40-bit words using Williams tubes. As part of the contract, the Army agreed to fund the construction of an identical machine for the University to keep. That machine was the ILLIAC — later known as ILLIAC I.

Twins, Compute-by-Phone, and other Oddities

ILLIAC I started operation in late 1952. At that point, ILLIAC and ORDVAC were quite possibly the only two identical computers in existence. Programs written on one could be run on the other. That seems like no big deal today, but in 1952 there were these machines were so large and expensive that only one of each was built. Even though many computers of this era used the same basic design, none had compatible instruction sets except for ILLIAC and ORDVAC. In addition, ORDVAC could be used by telephone from the University at night when the Army wasn’t using it. This made it one of the first, if not the first, computer to be operated remotely.

The computers weighed in between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds and used hexadecimal. However, the numbers above 9 used KSNJFL instead of our more familiar ABCDEF. This made some kind of sense based on the teleprinters used, apparently. The letters don’t appear to line up in Baudot or Murray codes, so perhaps it was a different style of teleprinter than I’m familiar with. As far as I can tell, the use of A-F was made popular by the IBM System/360 years later. Other systems, used other letters, apparently depending on what was handy for their hardware.

One of the most interesting design features of ILLIAC, though, is it was asynchronous. Usually, CPUs have a master clock that each circuit obeys. But the ILLIAC and ORDVAC used units that were in a daisy-chain. So one unit would finish its work and signal the next unit to start. This has certain advantages and disadvantages and there have been similar CPU designs over the years including the recent IBM SyNAPSE.

ILLIAC was the first music composition aided by a computer (Illiac Suite) and the first version of PLATO for computer-based education. This early version of PLATO serviced a single user, although version two could accommodate two simultaneous users.

Errors Were Common

Thinking of HAL as a computer mind that went wrong is a proposition very different today than it would have been at the time. Our modern hardware has unbelievably low error rates. But errors and hardware failures were particularly common in the 1950s and had to be worked around by the computer operators.

The tubes of the ILLIAC were prone to failure and there was no built-in error checking. Periodic tests under stress conditions would identify flaws, hopefully before they affected normal operations. A speaker at a conference from the day noted that the average time between errors on the Williams tube memory was “now up to 30 hours.”

Input/output speed was another problem. The punched tape readers took 40 minutes to fill the machine’s memory. A later project sped the readers up to reduce that number to under 8 minutes. Keep in mind, this was about 40K bits of data, so imagine what it would take to fill up a modern flash drive.

Enhancements and Copies

The ILLIAC spawned its own clones including ORACLE, CYCLONE, and MISTIC from Michigan State which used transistors instead of tubes and had core replacing the Williams tube memory. Just as we tinker with our machines, these computers often grew, and one reference reports that by 1962 when ILLIAC retired, it had 5,000 words of memory along with storage on a magnetic drum, pictured below.

It was a far cry from a copy, but a definite enhancement was ILLIAC’s successor ILLIAC II. The design for this machine started in 1958 and it came online in 1962. This was a transistorized machine with 8K words of core memory. The word size was 52 bits. This machine used asynchronous modules and pipelining to get a form of parallel execution. It also used cache memory for I/O devices.

Thanks to these enhancements, the machine was about 100 times faster than earlier machines of the day. It wasn’t the speed champion, though — that honor belonged to the IBM 7030 Stretch computer which was fast, despite not being as fast as promised — although apparently, the University disputes that. IBM sold the machine as a 4 MIPS machine, but only managed about 1.2 MIPS and it is considered one of the biggest IBM failures up until the PC Jr.

ILLIAC IV: HAL’s Grandfather

ILLIAC IV was an ambitious — perhaps too ambitious — attempt to build a large-scale parallel computer. The machine would have 4 quadrants and each quadrant would have a CPU (a control unit) and 256 processing elements (PEs). When complete, the 4 CPUs would have the ability to each operate on 64 pieces of data at one time. But the project was plagued by problems from the start.

ILLIAC IV photo by Sascha Pohlflepp CC-BY-2.0

Texas Instruments was set to fabricate the PEs in an IC but backed out which led to a major redesign. The new design had to use off-the-shelf ICs leading to much larger cards with more cooling and power requirements. This led to more additional costs.

Another cost problem occurred when they realized the control unit used positive logic and the processing elements used negative logic. Finally, one quadrant was operational and because there were demonstrations about the possible military use of the computer, the government directed Burroughs — the company manufacturing the machine — to deliver it to NASA’s Ames Research Center instead of the University in 1972.

Despite its problems — and frequent downtime due to power supply problems, the machine was still 13 times faster than other machines in 1972. In 1975, it was connected to the ARPANet — the predecessor of the Internet — and became the first network-accessible supercomputer.

ILIAC IV Design Was the Computer of the Future

ILLIAC IV might have tried too much too fast. The use of large-scale ECL integrated circuits, thin-film memory, and specialized disk drives that held a whopping 80 megabytes on a 36-inch disk, were all risky items for their day. It even had plans for a write-once laser memory system that could store a terabit of data on a drum carrying a piece of polyester.

Keep in mind that — at the time — 20 logic gates in a package was considered large-scale. Conventional ECL ICs had perhaps a half dozen gates in a 16-bit package. TI’s devices would have 64 pins and contain 20 gates, as is shown here. However, TI was unable to get crosstalk under control and asked for about a year’s worth of schedule relief. The ILLIAC team didn’t want to wait and redesigned the device to use conventional ECL ICs. This slowed the clock speed from 25 MHz to 16 MHz, pushed the project over budget and ran the schedule out 2 years. What was going to be a one inch square PCB (perfect for our contest), turned into a 6×10 board. Hindsight, of course, is 20/20. TI successfully produced the chips a year later and sold them commercially, but by that time the team was too far down the redesign path.

The board size increase took up the room slated for the thin film memory. So you make the cabinets bigger, right? That caused problems with signal propagation and distribution. So the team changed to newfangled semiconductor memories.

An Ambitious Project Cut Down to Size

By 1969, running massively over budget and schedule, they decided to only do one quadrant. That cut the potential speed of the machine significantly. By the time Ames got all the hardware in 1972, it was years late and instead of the original 8 million dollar price tag, the bill was up to $31 million. Don’t forget, too, that the 8 million was for a four-quadrant machine, so there was 1/4th of the machine for nearly 4 times the price!

Operationally, the machine was a nightmare to bring up. PCBs were cracked, wirewrap terminals would short, card contacts were prone to oxidation, and the card socket plastic softened over time. The ICs were very sensitive to humidity, and there were many other issues. By 1973 the computer could run programs, but the results were not always correct. In 1975, Ames started a 4-month effort to fix things. They replaced over 100,000 resistors, rewired long propagation delay lines, cleaned up the power supplies, and reduced the clock speed from 16 MHz to 13 MHz, only half the speed of the original 25 MHz design. Now the machine was able to do its work reliably at least some of the time. Ames also replaced the original Burroughs control computer with a PDP-10.

The operating technique reflected the need to avoid hardware errors. One user described the process in place when they billed you for your computer time on the ILLIAC IV. They’d run diagnostics first. If they passed, they would run your job. Once complete, they’d run the diagnostics again. If the diagnostics passed, you got the results of your job and the bill for your time.

The performance was lackluster at first, although a custom version of Fortran helped programmers take better advantage of the hardware. On problems that were amenable to parallel execution, the machine was the fastest in the world until 1981. Keep in mind that even high-speed in those days is nothing we’d look twice at now. From the Burroughs manual on the ILLIAC IV, for example, they talk about doing a 4,096 point discrete Fourier Transform on 64-bit data in only 0.73 milliseconds (730 microseconds). According to the same source, an IBM 7094 would need nearly 3 seconds for the same task.

Other ILLIACs

If you noticed, I didn’t mention ILLIAC III — it had a short life from 1966 to 1968 when it was destroyed in a fire. ILLIACs V and above are more modern multi-node computing clusters. While they are interesting in their own right, they don’t really share much with the ILLIAC IV save the name.

ILLIAC in Retrospect

The ILLIAC IV was, in a way, ahead of its time. Semiconductor memory was the way of the future. So was large-scale IC integration. The larger boards required more grounding and pushed the team to 15-layer boards which would be easy now, but were difficult to produce in those days. Even mass storage using write-once laser media was something that would become important years later.

Considering 75% of the machine was never built and the clock speed was reduced by nearly half, it is impressive that it was still the fastest computer in the world for many problems. If you want more hardcore technical details about ILLIAC IV, a book edited by Gordon Bell from the 1970’s has a pretty good overview. If you’d rather see it from a user view, here’s a NASA paper from 1977 with code listings. Or you can dig into the gory details.

I often tell students that you usually learn more from failing than you do from succeeding, and the ILLIAC IV was a great example of that. It is largely considered a failure but it was useful and it did lead the way in a number of important technologies. Interestingly, the earlier IBM 7030 Stretch — a contemporary of the ILLIAC II — had similar problems. It also overpromised and under delivered. Yet it spawned technology that would later drive one of IBM’s most successful computers, the IBM System/360.

Arthur C Clark released his novel in 1968, sixteen years after the ILLIAC projects were under way. His imagining of the most sophisticated computer of the 1990’s was HAL 9000, built into a space ship, comprised of hardware cards plugged into a bus system, and subject to malfunction. What’s fun to think about is how many engineers were inspired by HAL — that would be life imitating art imitating life, wouldn’t it?

ILLIAC was HAL 9000’s Granddaddy
Source: HackADay

Get all the best utility Mac apps in one place — for less than $6 a month


Setapp is looking to be the trusted friend who points you in the right app direction with their Mac app subscription service. Right now, you can lock in a full year of Setapp access for just $69, a full $50 off the regular price, from TNW Deals.

Get all the best utility Mac apps in one place — for less than a month
Source: The Next Web

Musk settles with SEC, steps down as board chairman of Tesla

The Security and Exchange Commission reached an agreement with Elon Musk. He will pay a $20 million fine and step down as board chairman of Tesla. Musk settles with SEC, steps down as board chairman of Tesla
Source: Washington Post Tech

Beijing-based cryptocurrency startup Cobo raises $13M Series A, launches Cobo Vault, a hardware wallet featuring a self-destructing mechanism (Wolfie Zhao/CoinDesk)


Wolfie Zhao / CoinDesk:

Beijing-based cryptocurrency startup Cobo raises $13M Series A, launches Cobo Vault, a hardware wallet featuring a self-destructing mechanism  —  Cobo, a Beijing-based cryptocurrency wallet startup, has closed a $13 million Series A funding round in its bid to expand its services overseas.

Beijing-based cryptocurrency startup Cobo raises M Series A, launches Cobo Vault, a hardware wallet featuring a self-destructing mechanism (Wolfie Zhao/CoinDesk)
Source: Tech Meme

Malta: Two-thirds of cryptocurrencers fail multiple-choice licensing exam


Malta is fast becoming an international hot-spot for blockchain entrepreneurs, but reports have indicated two-thirds of applicants failed the licensing exam for operating cryptocurrency-related businesses. The shitty pass rates come even after Malta’s Institute of Financial Service Practitioners made last-minute changes to the marking scheme to boost the number of licenses it could award, Times of Malta reports. As part of Malta’s new Virtual Finances Assets Act, cryptocurrency and blockchain businesses are required to be licensed to launch initial coin offerings (ICOs), raise capital, or trade digital assets on exchanges. In order to receive a license, applicants must complete a…

This story continues at The Next Web

Malta: Two-thirds of cryptocurrencers fail multiple-choice licensing exam
Source: The Next Web

You can now buy Elon Musk’s ‘Not A Flamethrower’ with Bitcoin


There’s something fitting about an Elon Musk business accepting Bitcoin, because, you know, they’re about as stable as each other. I’m here all week. That’s right, you can now buy the Boring Company’s Not A Flamethrower (from here on out, referred to as just a flamethrower) with not only Bitcoin, but a range of other cryptocurrencies. Specifically, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash. The website was recently updated to allow this and it has the cryptocurrencies listed alongside more traditional payment methods. The flamethrowers are retailing for $500, a lower figure than the pre-sale price of $600. At the time of…

This story continues at The Next Web

Or just read more coverage about: Bitcoin

You can now buy Elon Musk’s ‘Not A Flamethrower’ with Bitcoin
Source: The Next Web

Sources: data mining giant Palantir is weighing an IPO as soon as H2 2019; some bankers have told the firm it could IPO with a valuation of as much as $41B (Rob Copeland/Wall Street Journal)


Rob Copeland / Wall Street Journal:

Sources: data mining giant Palantir is weighing an IPO as soon as H2 2019; some bankers have told the firm it could IPO with a valuation of as much as $41B  —  Bankers have told the firm it could go public with a valuation as high as $41 billion  —  Data-mining giant Palantir Technologies Inc. …

Sources: data mining giant Palantir is weighing an IPO as soon as H2 2019; some bankers have told the firm it could IPO with a valuation of as much as B (Rob Copeland/Wall Street Journal)
Source: Tech Meme

Tim Berners-Lee's Web Foundation finds a 12% slowdown in the global growth of internet access between 2007 and 2017, with African women the least connected (Ian Sample/The Guardian)


Ian Sample / The Guardian:

Tim Berners-Lee’s Web Foundation finds a 12% slowdown in the global growth of internet access between 2007 and 2017, with African women the least connected  —  Report showing dramatic decline in internet access growth suggests digital revolution will remain a distant dream for billions of people

Tim Berners-Lee's Web Foundation finds a 12% slowdown in the global growth of internet access between 2007 and 2017, with African women the least connected (Ian Sample/The Guardian)
Source: Tech Meme

WhatsApp’s ‘Vacation’ and ‘Silent’ modes will help bury pesky group chats


WhatsApp groups can occasionally be useful, but they can also become the bane of your existence, with their annoying notifications that are hard to mute. But some new features spotted in a test build of the app by WABetaInfo might make groups a little less painful. The first feature is called Silent mode, and it hides notification badges – an indication of the number of messages you received – for muted chats and groups. Silent mode is enabled by default, so you don’t have to go looking for that option in the app. It’s already begun to rolling out on…

This story continues at The Next Web

Or just read more coverage about: WhatsApp

WhatsApp’s ‘Vacation’ and ‘Silent’ modes will help bury pesky group chats
Source: The Next Web

Spotify Premium gets streamlined navigation, personalized search, and endless artist radio, rolling out globally on iOS and Android starting today (For The Record)


For The Record:

Spotify Premium gets streamlined navigation, personalized search, and endless artist radio, rolling out globally on iOS and Android starting today  —  We’re always looking for ways to provide the best possible methods for people to discover and enjoy the music they love.

Spotify Premium gets streamlined navigation, personalized search, and endless artist radio, rolling out globally on iOS and Android starting today (For The Record)
Source: Tech Meme