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Sources: semiconductor manufacturer Analog Devices is in talks to buy rival Maxim Integrated for $17B+ in an all-stock deal (Cara Lombardo/Wall Street Journal) July 12, 2020

Cara Lombardo / Wall Street Journal: Sources: semiconductor manufacturer Analog Devices is in talks to buy rival Maxim Integrated for $17B+ in an all-stock deal  —  All-stock sale of Maxim could be announced as soon as Monday  —  Semiconductor maker Analog Devices Inc. ADI .20% is in talks to buy rival Maxim Integrated MXIM -.59% […]

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

Or just read more coverage about: Twitter

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

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