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Hardware Hacking

Pushing a CPU to Heat Death, Intentionally 291

sdougal writes "This site is showing a Pico-ITX board running Ubuntu with no cooling whatsoever. They even let the public guess how long it would last: 'Last week thousands of you placed bets on how long the new Pico-ITX board from VIA, the VIA EPIA PX5000EG, can last without any cooling whatsoever. An ARTiGO Builder Kit was offered as the grand prize. Yesterday afternoon the voting stopped and the Naked Pico Challenge started in earnest. We simply loaded up Ubuntu 8.04, set it to work playing an mpeg-4 video and then removed the heatsink, leaving the CPU and VX700 chipset bare to the world. We recorded the event here in this video and set up a live video stream so you punters can keep a watchful eye on the PX5000EG as it works away.'"
Hardware Hacking

Columbia Holds Wake For Historic Cyclotron 72

Pickens writes "They called it leviathan, behemoth, Big Bertha. At 12 feet wide, rising 7 feet above the cement floor and weighing an estimated 65 tons, the Columbia cyclotron, the particle accelerator built in the late 1930s by Columbia physicist John Dunning, played a crucial role in the dawn of the nuclear era. Dunning's experiments verified fission, established many of its properties, and, most significantly, demonstrated that the rare isotope Uranium 235, and not the more common U-238, was the more fissionable form of the element. 'In a week or two, they will dismantle it, and they will sell it for scrap,' says George Hamawy, Columbia University's director of radiation safety. 'This is the last chance to see it,' Hamawy added as students held a wake and contractors arrived to remove the cyclotron. 'We're going to make two-thousand-pound sections,' said one contractor before taking the cyclotron's measurements. 'We'll start slicing on Monday.'"
Hardware Hacking

From "Happy Hacking" to "Screw You" 243

tquid writes "Trying to bridge the digital divide in Canada's poorest postal code, a principled group of hackers adopt "open source"-based technology spun off from an MIT project. Then the terms on the hardware are changed, and changed again, and then firmware to lock out the frustrated group's software is installed, screwing them out of their investment and many hours of development work."

A Super-Efficient Light Bulb 468

Chroniton writes with news of a Silicon Valley company, Luxim, that has developed a tiny, full-spectrum light bulb, based on a plasma of argon gas, that gives off as much light as a streetlight while using less power. The Tic Tac-sized bulb operates at temperatures up to 6000K and produces 140 lumens/watt, almost ten times as efficient as standard incandescent lamps, and twice the efficiency of high-end LEDs. The new bulbs also have a lifetime of 20,000 hours. There's no mention of mercury or other heavy metals, which pose a problem for compact fluorescents.

Hacking the Tux Droid 87

Rockhopper writes "Ars Technica has a combo review/hack guide for the Tux Droid, a programmable penguin. 'Tux is completely programmable at practically every level, and all of the source code of the firmware and software used by the droid is available from Kysoh's version control repository. There are several ways to program the droid's behavior, ranging from modifying the firmware to coding a gadget in Python.' There's a sample Python script that will cause Tux to speak IRC messages out loud when the user's name is mentioned."
Hardware Hacking

Hobbyists Create GPLed DIY Super TV Antenna 185

Freshly Exhumed writes "Retired and hobbyist antenna engineers working together in the Digital Home forums have taken an obscure 1950s UHF TV antenna called the Hoverman [PDF] and subjected the design to modern software-based computer modeling in hopes of optimizing its middling performance. The result: the new Gray-Hoverman antenna is more powerful than similar commercially manufactured consumer antennas in every category, sometimes by whopping amounts. Best thing yet: they've released the design, diagrams, and schematics under the GPLv3 so that we can roll our own! Quoth one of the testers, a former U.S. Government antenna engineer: 'Boy, this antenna is hot... This antenna is a vast, and I mean REALLY VAST improvement over anything I have used.' The home thread of the Gray-Hoverman development gives the background of their great work."
Hardware Hacking

Cyber Storm II Set To Begin 36

mr sanjeev notes that Computerworld is running a story about Cyber Storm II, set to run from March 11th until the 14th. The exercise will test the security of the US, Australia, the UK, New Zealand, and Canada. The organizers' goals are to test preparedness and responsiveness in relation to real-time threats. The previous Cyber Storm test identified "eight specific areas in need of improvement." We recently discussed the details of the tests themselves. From Computerworld: "Security experts said the first Cyber Storm event last year improved participants' understanding of who to call in the event of an attack, but did not identify specific vulnerabilities in the nation's computer systems. 'What they're trying to do is highlight the inefficiencies in the process,' according to Marcus Sachs, deputy director with research group SRI International's Computer Science Laboratory. 'They're not really looking for technical solutions.'"

Researchers Expose New Credit Card Fraud Risk 219

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered flaws in the card payment systems used by millions of customers worldwide. Ross Anderson, Saar Drimer, and Steven Murdoch demonstrated how a simple paper clip can be used to capture account numbers and PINs from so-called 'tamper-proof' equipment. In their paper (PDF), they warn how with a little technical skill and off-the-shelf electronics, fraudsters could empty customers' accounts. British television featured a demonstration of the attack on BBC Newsnight."

Plants Use Twitter to Tell You to Water Them 88

ptorrone noted a Make article about twittering your plants just in case you need that sort of thing in your life. And you do. He says "The gang from Botanicalls used one of Adafruit's new open source hardware ethernet shields for Arduino (open hardware too) to make some plants talk — and now you can too! That's right, having your houseplants Twitter you when they need water and more! You can see what one of the plants is doing now..."
Hardware Hacking

Australia's Geekiest Man 256

An anonymous reader writes "Why have a key to open your front door when you can have an RFID tag implanted in your arm that will do the trick? Computerworld has a story up about the outgoing Linux Australia group president's hacked home, in which just about anything from watering the lawn, to opening his blinds, or checking the mail can be controlled through a software environment. Jonathan Oxer is an electronics and coding whiz who apparently has an RIFD tag implanted in his arm that opens his front door, and his front gate is hooked up with gigabit Ethernet — able to tell him when someone enters the property or send him a virtual email or sms to say he has real mail. Apparently the iPod Touch has just inspired him to begin linking all his little hardware hacks together into the one single, software controlled handheld touch device. I wonder if Steve Jobs ever thought the Touch would end up being used this way?"
Hardware Hacking

Best Open Source License For Hardware? 125

An anonymous reader writes "MIT recently open-sourced some really cool hardware designs, including an H.264 video decoder and an OFDM transceiver, under MIT's open source license (a.k.a. the X11 license). Now, the OpenCores FAQ recommends that people use either the GPL, LGPL, or modified BSD license; they do not mention the MIT license at all. And, according to the Free Software Foundation the GPL license can be used for hardware, but they do not list the LPGL, modified BSD, or MIT licenses as suitable for non-software. Would you or your company use hardware source-released under the MIT license? What's the best license to use for releasing hardware?"

Modu Unveils Modular, Transformer-style Phone 88

An anonymous reader writes "A company called Modu has come up with an innovative take on a mobile phone. Instead of giving you the finished product, you get a base unit and a choice of 'sleeves', which you can plug the base unit into and turn it into a variety of devices. "If, for example, you're going out clubbing, you can pop it into a fashion sleeve with a fancy design. If you're on a business trip and you need a phone with a Qwerty keypad and large screen, you just have to pop it into a 'jacket' with those features." There's also the option to plug it into a satellite navigation device or even a car stereo. While it seems like an interesting system, I wonder whether modular devices are better than buying standalone products or all-in-one products?"
Hardware Hacking

Hacking Asus EEE 150

An anonymous reader writes "Torsten Lyngaas has published a set of instructions with photographs on his personal wiki that describe the steps he took to install $450 worth of extra hardware, including a GPS receiver, an FM transmitter, Bluetooth, extra USB ports, 802.11n, and an extra 4GB flash storage drive."

Wiimote Turns TV into Touchless MS Surface 104

RemyBR writes "User interface project allows you to control objects on a display using gestures, working like Microsoft's Surface but without touching the screen at all. Inspired by Johnny Chung Lee's work, the system requires you to wear Minority Report-style gloves equipped with infrared emitters on your fingertips. A Wiimote on top of the display keeps track of these IR LEDs, while the software can read the motion down to two-finger pinching gestures for image zooming."

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito