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Christmas Cheer

Goodbye, Alek's Internet-Controlled Christmas Lights for Celiac Research 1

Posted by timothy
from the ho-ho-ho-and-a-merry-old-hoax-except-it's-real-these-days dept.
Alek Komarnitsky, Colorado (and the Internet's) own Clark Griswold, has decided to retire as his own props master, programmer, best boy, and effects specialist. After 10 years of increasingly elaborate set-ups, Alek's decided to go out with a bang, with his largest-yet rooftop display of open-source powered, remotely controllable, internet-connected Christmas lights. (This year, he even matches the fictional Griswold's 25,000 lights, but truth tops fiction, with live webcams, animated props, and more.) We talked with Alek last year, too; but now he's got a full decade's worth of reminiscing about his jest-made-real hobby as That Guy With the Lights, and some advice for anyone who'd like to take on a project like this.

Alek has managed to stay on good terms with his neighbors, despite the car and foot traffic that his display has drawn, and kept himself from serious harm despite a complex of minor, overlapping risks including ladders, squirrels, a fair amount of electricity and (the most dangerous, he says) wind. The lights are what the world sees, but the video capture and distribution to the vast online audience is an equal part of the work. Alek has learned a lot along the way about automation, logistics, wireless networking, and the importance of load balancing. It's always possible the lights will return in some form, or that someone will take up the mantle as Blinkenlights master, but this tail end of 2014 (and the first day of 2015) is your last good chance to tune in and help toggle some of those lights. (The display operates from 1700-2200 Mountain time.) Alternate Video Link Update: 12/22 22:50 GMT by T : Note: Alek talks about the last year here.

Comment: N. Korea's Own Bad Ways Made This Possible (Score 1) 184

by Roblimo (#48655393) Attached to: North Korean Internet Is Down

Dictatorships that control their subjects' access to information like to have all Internet connections in their country pass through a single choke point so that they can maintain control. I once visited Saudi Arabia and met the guy responsible for all Internet traffic in and out of the country -- through a single link with a single backup.

This is good if you want to give your people only the access you want them to have, and to block everything else. At the same time, it means your whole country can be knocked offline by a single attack, which seems to be the problem N. Korea is experiencing. Imagine trying to knock the entire U.S. offline! It couldn't be done.

Cuba, OTOH.... well, that one may change soon. But N. Korea? Probably not, although I wish it would. A far more miserable place than Cuba has ever been.

Linux

LinuxFest Northwest 2015 Will be Held April 25 and 26 (Video) 21

Posted by Roblimo
from the the-coolest-conference-in-our-country's-upper-left-hand-corner dept.
Their website says, 'Come for the code, stay for the people! We have awesome attendees and electrifying parties. Check out the robotics club, the automated home brewing system running on Linux, or the game room for extra conference fun.' This is an all-volunteer conference, and for a change the volunteers who run it are getting things together far in advance instead of having sessions that don't get scheduled until a few days before the conference, which has happened more than once with LFNW.

So if you have an idea for a session, this is the time to start thinking about it. Sponsors are also welcome -- and since LFNW sponsorships regularly sell out, it's not to soon to start thinking about becoming a sponsor -- and if you are part of a non-profit group or FOSS project, LFNW offers free exhibit space because this is a conference that exists for the community, not to make money for a corporate owner. But don't delay. As you can imagine, those free exhibit spots tend to fill up early. (Alternate Video Link)
Businesses

Attorney Yasir Billoo Explains NDA Law (Video) 38

Posted by Roblimo
from the sometimes-you-need-to-know-a-little-about-law-even-if-you-don't-want-to dept.
Yasir Billoo, an attorney with Golden & Grimes in Miami, Florida, is licensed to practice law in both Florida and California, and works heavily in the areas of business/commercial law, employment and labor, and civil appeals. Yasir also has a business-oriented blog titled Small Business Law.

In this Slashdot video interview hosted by Timothy Lord, Yasir gives what is essentially a primer on the law behind Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and how they differ from Non-Competes. Sooner or later you're going to encounter -- or even write -- an NDA, and you'd better know the law behind what you're doing. Naturally, today's interview isn't specific legal advice about a particular situation. If you want that, you need to hire a lawyer to advise you. But Yasir (a long-time Slashdot reader. BTW) has shared enough knowledge in this interview that it will help you deal with many NDA situations on your own, and how to tell when you really should have a lawyer by your side. (Alternate Video Link )
Communications

Tour the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum - Part Two (Video) 14

Posted by Roblimo
from the broadcasting-to-all-the-ships-at-sea dept.
Earlier this week we ran two videos about the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut. Their site says, "Our volunteers are happy to give personal tours," and that's what today's videos (and the two we already ran) are: personal tours of the museum conducted by volunteer Bernie Michaels, known in ham radio circles as W2LFV. And for extra fun, after we ran out of video time we added some bonus transcript material for those who remember things like Sams Photofacts. (Alternate Video Link 1 - Alternate Video Link 2)
Communications

Tour the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum (Video) 19

Posted by timothy
from the oldies-but-goodies dept.
"Welcome to the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut," is the headline on the museum's website. The site also says, "Our volunteers are happy to give personal tours," and that's what today's two videos (and two more we'll run tomorrow or later in the week) are: personal tours of the museum conducted by volunteer Bernie Michaels, known in ham radio circles as W2LFV. (Alternate Video Link 1) (Alternate Video Link 2)
Transportation

Make a Kids' Power Wheel Toy Awesome for $500 (Video) 39

Posted by Roblimo
from the faster-than-a-speeding-toddler! dept.
You can spend less than $500 if you like. That's the maximum amount allowed if you're competing in the Power Racing Series. Interviewee Josh Lee is a member of the Southern Polytechnic State University Electric Vehicle Team. The modified electric 'ride on' toy they showed off and raced at Maker Faire Atlanta (where this video was made) is just one of their many projects. And, obviously, they're just one of many 'slightly deranged' teams involved in learning about and building electric vehicles. (Alternate Video Link)
Transportation

Ben Harris Shows off the Electric Vehicle Challenge Simulator (Video) 37

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-as-fast-as-a-tesla-but-costs-a-lot-less dept.
EVChallenge is a high school student project that converts gas cars to electric. This isn't a "someday" thing. It's already happening, and Ben has worked hard to make it so in N. Carolina. There are other people around the world doing EVChallenge, and Ben does a number of things besides EVChallenge. His Kickstarter project, for instance, was called Help Bring Back Quality Science Kits (STEM Education). It closed on October 17 after 119 backers came through with $6523, which was a lot more than Ben's modest $3500 goal. This takes us to Ben's EVChallenge simulator itself, which is a simple "breadboard" simulation of the circuitry that drives an electric car so students can learn EV (electric vehicle) principles before they work on the real thing.

This is all part of the Harris Educational effort to make science teaching fun and interesting, not just with electric cars and simulations of their circuitry, but with other kits and even training services. As Ben's Training Services page says, "Harris Educational can provide face-to-face or online training for individuals, small groups, or companies. We can also help you design and implement your own training programs." So besides the video interview here, please look at Ben's pages, this article about his work, and check some of the videos on his assorted pages. It's good stuff, especially if you have (or plan to have) kids in high school. (Alternate Video Link)
Build

Fly With the Brooklyn Aerodrome (Video) 22

Posted by Roblimo
from the it's-not-a-drone-it's-just-a-model-plane dept.
A bit of housing insulation material, a battery, a motor and propellor, a radio receiver and transmitter, and servos to control the motor and a pair of ailerons, and you're ready to fly the Brooklyn Aerodrome way. This isn't a tiny radio-controlled paper airplane, but a big bruiser with a 1:1 power to weight ratio (which means it can climb like a bat out of hell) and enough guts to fly in reasonably windy conditions while carrying a camera -- except we'd better not mention cameras, since Brooklyn Aerodrome creations, whether kits or plans, are obviously intended tohelp you build model airplanes, not drones. Timothy ran into project proponent Breck Baldwin at a maker faire near Atlanta, surrounded by a squadron of junior pilots who may someday become astronauts on the Moon - Mars run -- or at least delivery drone controllers for Amazon. (Alternate Video Link)
Build

A Toolbox That Helps Keep You From Losing Tools (Video) 82

Posted by Roblimo
from the one-day-there-will-be-no-1/2-sockets-anywhere-in-the-world-because-they'll-all-be-lost dept.
Dan Mcculley, the interviewee in this video, works for Intel and claims they have "about 140" projects going on inside their fabs and factories, of which the Smart Toolbox is but one, and it's one some technicians came up with because Intel workers lose something like $35,000 worth of tools every year. This project is based on the same Galileo boards Intel has used to support some high-altitude balloon launches -- except this is an extremely simple, practical application. Open source? You bet! And Dan says the sensors and other parts are all off-the-shelf items anyone can buy. (Alternate Video Link)

Comment: A history of model planes in Ohio (Score 1) 42

by Roblimo (#48449807) Attached to: Ohio College Building Indoor Drone Pavilion

My father grew up in Akron, OH, and in the 1930s it had the world's largest building - a no-longer-used airship hangar. My dad and his friends used the hangar to fly microfilm models - http://www.indoorduration.com/... - and I think this is the hanger -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G...

So indoor model-flying seems to be an Ohio tradition. I know my dad enjoyed doing it as a teenager.

Science

CMI Director Alex King Talks About Rare Earth Supplies (Video 2) 11

Posted by Roblimo
from the the're-still-looking-for-unobtanium dept.
Yesterday we ran video #1 of 2 about the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) at the Iowa State Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. They have partners from other national laboratories, universities, and industry, too. Obviously there is more than enough information on this subject that Dr. King can easily fill two 15-minute videos, not to mention so many Google links that instead of trying to list all of them, we're giving you one link to Google using the search term "rare earths." Yes, we know Rare Earth would be a great name for a rock band. But the mineral rare earths are important in the manufacture of items ranging from strong magnets to touch screens and rechargeable batteries, so please watch the video(s) or at least read the transcript(s). (Alternate Video Link)
Hardware

CMI Director Alex King Talks About Rare Earth Supplies (Video) 27

Posted by Roblimo
from the we're-talking-about-minerals-not-the-band dept.
CMI in this context is the Critical Materials Institute at the Iowa State Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. They have partners from other national laboratories, universities, and industry, too. Rare earths, while not necessarily as rare as the word "rare" implies, are hard to mine, separate, and use. They are often found in parts per million quantities, so it takes supercomputers to suss out which deposits are worth going after. This is what Dr. King and his coworkers spend their time doing; finding concentrations of rare earths that can be mined and refined profitably.

On November 3 we asked you for questions to put to Dr. King. Timothy incorporated some of those questions into the conversation in this video -- and tomorrow's video too, since we broke this into two parts because, while the subject matter may be fascinating, we are supposed to hold video lengths down to around 10 minutes, and in this case we still ended up with two videos close to 15 minutes each. And this stuff is important enough that instead of lining up a list of links, we are giving you one link to Google using the search term "rare earths." Yes, we know Rare Earth would be a great name for a rock band. But the mineral rare earths are important in the manufacture of items from strong magnets to touch screens and rechargeable batteries. (Alternate Video Link)

Comment: Re: Traffic signals (Score 1) 71

by Roblimo (#48414991) Attached to: Collin Graver and his Wooden Bicycle (Video)

Even with my metal recumbent trike, position is a huge thing when tripping stop lights. This is one of the "discussed to death" topics on sites like http://www.bentrideronline.com.... A lot depends on the sensitivity of the loop and the circuitry it triggers, and a lot of the detectors are specifically set to be triggered only by a metal mass lots larger than a baby stroller, wheelchair or bicycle.

Invest in physics -- own a piece of Dirac!

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