Author Archives: pappp

Josh Hawley wants to punish Disney by taking copyright law back to 1909 and that sucks

Source: The Verge - All Posts

Article note: I mean, he's a giant piece of shit and targeting Disney specifically (...for reasons other than their role in the ridiculous expansion of copyright) is inappropriate but... I'd be all for going back to 28+28 copyright.
Senate Armed Services Committee
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

I have been told to blog about Senator Josh Hawley’s new copyright bill, and I do this with nothing but the greatest reluctance. Normally, I love talking about copyright! I’ll talk about copyright all day long! [Ed note: And she does.] But writing this post is agony, because the thought of giving this absolutely asinine piece of legislation any attention is killing me on the inside.

This is a deeply unserious bill. There is not a line in it that is meant to pass muster. It is knowingly in violation of the Constitution, and an insult to the democratic process.

In brief, the bill is targeted at the Walt Disney Company, also known as,

a person that (i) has a market capitalization of more than $150,000,000,000; and (ii)(I) is classified...

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Phone May Soon Replace Many of Your Passwords

Source: Hacker News

Article note: This is ...exactly the opposite... of what I want out of an auth system. I don't want to delegate auth to a phone, I trust my computers WAY more than my appliances. I don't want to delegate my trust to google or apple as the only players who support the system, and especially not doing "log in with google" so I can get locked out of unrelated accounts if they get in a "your account is deactivated because fuck you" mood or I need to kill an account. Auth is pretty well a solved problem; you use a password manager with a well-documented on-disc format, and you sync your password DB to whichever devices you want to log in from. You don't share credentials to the greatest degree possible so problems with one place don't turn into problems with others. The largest threat to most users isn't their account getting hacked, it's one of the many places they have an account getting hacked or turning malicious.
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Turbo Tax to Pay 141M in Agreement Reached by All 50 States

Source: Hacker News

Article note: Fine is less than profit from the behavior, without even getting in to externalizatities like their ongoing effort to keep the tax code incomprehensible, this is is a cost of doing business, not an effective deterrent.
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The Google Incentive Mismatch: Problems with Promotion-Oriented Cultures

Source: Hacker News

Article note: It's a problem _everywhere_ (hello academic prestige games!), but the rumor has long been is that google is the worst. It really is an ugly problem, almost _any_ incentive structure eventually turns into a perverse game.
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Building a Swiss Army Lab With Software Defined Instrumentation

Source: Hack a Day

Article note: Is this a sponsored ad? These things looks like they compare poorly even to the established direct competitors. At the high end, their Lab and Pro models are in competition with the big-name modular instrument things (NI VirtualBench, Keysight's lower-end Modular lines like the Streamline stuff), and priced like it, and I'm not sure they're credible enough to play in that (conservative and expensive) market. In the mid-range, there are a number of established relatively inexpensive USB-attached electronic multi-tools, like the Analog Devices ADALM2000 https://www.analog.com/en/design-center/evaluation-hardware-and-software/evaluation-boards-kits/adalm2000.html ($175; 2x 100MSPS oscilloscope channels, 2x AFG, 0 to +5V and 0 to -5V programmable PSU, 16x DIO, choice of Scopy software that runs on Windows, OSX, Linux, or Android) and Digilent AD2 https://digilent.com/shop/analog-discovery-2-100ms-s-usb-oscilloscope-logic-analyzer-and-variable-power-supply/ (price has recently spiked to $399; 2x 100MSPS oscilloscope channels, 2x AWG, 0 to +5V and 0 to -5V programmable PSU, 16x DIO, Waveforms software that runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux). The bottom-of-the-line Moku:Go M0 is $599 and missing the power supplies, the M1 is $700 and the only feature I see differentiating it from the USB-multitool competition is a PSU channel that can get up to +16V. Also, the mid-range USB-attached-instrument-pod market is getting squeezed from above, since you can get into a mid range oscilloscope with built-in passable AWG for like $1k (Think Rigol MSO5000 or Siglent SDS2000X Plus). Admittedly they don't have the nice programmable digital IOs even if you add the 16CH logic pods for another $500ish, and also lack the (feeble) built-in PSUs, but they are a _lot_ more instrument. And that market is being squeezed and from below, by the various little USB scope and IO boxes (Look at Sigrok (https://sigrok.org/) to avoid their usually-awful vendor software, think Hantek shitboxes and FX2 based gadgets) in the $25-100 range, or even things like the buck50 stm32 firmware ( https://github.com/thanks4opensource/buck50 ) that gets you a rough low-end instrument pod on a $2 dev board. I've been teaching a class largely using AD2s (and/or the larger ElectronicsExplorer that is on the same platform) for years, and the department I work in has a cohort trying out the ADALM2000 this year because the AD2 prices and availability were getting unreasonable and it looked like the next thing to try when we surveyed the market. They make great basic I/O and _very_ limited PSUs (almost of a feature, they cut off automatically on current spikes which helps avoid dead chips), but their scopes are both mediocre enough that I'll reach for a bench scope when it's available even if I already have the pod hooked to my circuit for other functions.

It’s a fair bet that anyone regularly reading Hackaday has a voltmeter within arm’s reach, and there’s a good chance an oscilloscope isn’t far behind. But beyond that, things get a little murky. We’re sure some of you have access to a proper lab full of high-end test gear, even if only during business hours, but most of us have to make do with the essentials due to cost and space constraints.

The ideal solution is a magical little box that could be whatever piece of instrumentation you needed at the time: some days it’s an oscilloscope, while others it’s a spectrum analyzer, or perhaps even a generic data logger. To simplify things the device wouldn’t have a physical display or controls of its own, instead, you could plug it into your computer and control it through software. This would not only make the unit smaller and cheaper, but allow for custom user interfaces to be created that precisely match what the user is trying to accomplish.

Wishful thinking? Not quite. As guest host Ben Nizette explained during the Software Defined Instrumentation Hack Chat, the dream of replacing a rack of test equipment with a cheap pocket-sized unit is much closer to reality than you may realize. While software defined instruments might not be suitable for all applications, the argument could be made that any capability the average student or hobbyist is likely to need or desire could be met by hardware that’s already on the market.

Ben is the Product Manager at Liquid Instruments, the company that produces the Moku line of multi-instruments. Specifically, he’s responsible for the Moku:Go, an entry-level device that’s specifically geared for the education and maker markets. The slim device doesn’t cost much more than a basic digital oscilloscope, but thanks to the magic of software defined instrumentation (SDi), it can stand in for eleven instruments — all more than performant enough for their target users.

So what’s the catch? As you might expect, that’s the first thing folks in the Chat wanted to know. According to Ben, the biggest drawback is that all of your instrumentation has to share the same analog front-end. To remain affordable, that means everything the unit can do is bound by the same fundamental “Speed Limit” — which on the Moku:Go is 30 MHz. Even on the company’s higher-end professional models, the maximum bandwidth is measured in hundreds of megahertz.

Additionally, SDI has traditionally been limited to the speed of the computer it was attached to. But the Moku hardware manages to sidestep this particular gotcha by running the software side of things on an internal FPGA. The downside is that some of the device’s functions, such as the data logger, can’t actually live stream the data to the connected computer. Users will have to wait until the measurements are complete before they  pull the results off, though Ben says there’s enough internal memory to store months worth of high-resolution data.

Of course, as soon as this community hears there’s an FPGA on board, they want to know if they can get their hands on it. To that end, Ben says the Moku:Go will be supported by their “Cloud Compile” service in June. Already available for the Moku:Pro, the browser-based application allows you to upload your HDL to the Liquid Instruments servers so it can be built and optimized. This gives power users complete access to the Moku hardware so they can build and deploy their own custom features and tools that precisely match their needs without a separate development kit. Understanding that obsolescence is always a problem with a cloud solution, Ben says they’re also working with Xilinx to allow users to do builds on their own computers while still implementing the proprietary “secret sauce” that makes it a Moku.

It’s hard not to get excited about the promise of software defined instrumentation, especially with companies like Liquid Instruments and Red Pitaya bringing the cost of the hardware down to the point where students and hackers can afford it. We’d like to thank Ben Nizette for taking the time to talk with the community about what he’s been working on, especially given the considerable time difference between the Hackaday Command Center and Liquid’s Australian headquarters. Anyone who’s willing to jump online and chat about FPGAs and phasemeters before the sun comes up is AOK in our book.


The Hack Chat is a weekly online chat session hosted by leading experts from all corners of the hardware hacking universe. It’s a great way for hackers connect in a fun and informal way, but if you can’t make it live, these overview posts as well as the transcripts posted to Hackaday.io make sure you don’t miss out.

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Onn Surf 8 (100003561) Hacking

I have an Onn Surf 8 (One of the surprisingly-not-that-shitty ultra-cheap Walmart tablets) that my research group bought a couple of to use as Android dev testbeds. I’ve been occasionally using it as a normal tablet since I have it around, and have been consistently irritated by the collection of bloatware it comes with…. so I decided to hack it. To tl;dr this whole thing, ignore the collection of typically scammy Android dev forum and blogspam crud, and use the open-source mtkclient for your MediaTek Android device hackin’ needs.

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Twitter announces deal to sell company to Elon Musk for $44 billion

Source: Ars Technica

Article note: Can Twitter be regarded as irrelevant as it really is now, and everyone can move on to a platform less optimized to incentivize bad behavior? Almost everyone with a financial stake cashing out in this deal, Musk can keep the pieces. Or, who knows, maybe he'll actually make good on making it into a functioning de-facto public commons.
Elon Musk standing and gesturing with his hands while he speaks at a press conference.

Enlarge / Elon Musk at a press conference at SpaceX's Starbase facility in Texas on February 10, 2022. (credit: Getty Images | Jim Watson)

Twitter's board of directors has agreed to sell the company to Elon Musk for $44 billion, the company announced today.

"Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated," Musk said in the purchase announcement.

The deal, which is pending shareholder approval and expected to close later this year, comes just 10 days after the Twitter board approved a poison pill to prevent a hostile takeover in response to Musk's attempt to buy the company. Board members started taking Musk's offer more seriously after he lined up $46.5 billion in financing. The sale agreement was announced hours after reports that a deal between Twitter and Musk was close.

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Testing 7 Wago-like Wire Connectors For Science And Fire

Source: Hack a Day

Article note: I've used a variety of these things in different applications, it's _really_ relieving to see even the knockoffs are really quite OK.

At the intersection of saving a few bucks and expensive home insurance claims due to a house fire, we find clones of certified and tested electrical connectors, even when many would argue that so-called wire nuts are fire hazards no matter how many certification labels are on them. When it comes to no-fuss wire connectors, Wago clamp connectors are an attractive target to save some money on due to their perceived high cost. But how expensive are they really?

This was the thought behind a recent video by [GreatScott!] (also embedded after the break) when he hopped onto everyone’s favorite e-commerce website and searched for ‘clamp lever terminal’. The resulting selection of seven connectors come in a wide variety of shapes, colors and configurations, though all are supposedly rated for mains (250 VAC) voltage and safe enough to put into a permanent installation.

While running the connectors through their paces with high-current, fire and mechanical strength tests, the conclusion was that all are good enough for hobbyists use and some brief connections while testing, but that only the ones with independent certification marks (like VDE) filled him with enough confidence to consider using in house wiring. One of these being the connectors by the German brand ViD, which would seem to be a slightly cheaper alternative to the Wago connectors, with similar guarantees of safety.

At the end of the day it is the certification that matters, after all, since long-term reliability is of primary concern with house wiring, not whether a few Euros were saved on material costs.

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Why ventilation matters

Source: The Week: Most Recent Home Page Posts

Article note: Of course. But fixing that puts costs on institutions instead of individuals, and we just can't have that. Hell, many places are so poorly ventilated that they cause CO2 meters to read "effectively retarded" when anywhere close to rated occupancy. A functioning world might use this as an excuse to subsidize a double-win move toward modern heat pump + ERV HVAC systems, but that seems unlikely.

After extensive studies of how COVID spreads, scientists and policy makers are focusing on indoor air quality. Here's everything you need to know:

What do we know?

One of the most powerful tools for limiting the spread of COVID-19 has been right in front of our noses: purifying the air we breathe. After extensive studies of outbreaks, superspreader events, and aerosol dynamics, epidemiologists who specialize in respiratory disease have warned that maintaining 6 feet of distance from others isn't sufficient to avoid indoor infection. It took the World Health Organization more than a year to acknowledge that COVID doesn't just travel via large respiratory droplets that fall to the ground quickly, but also spreads in tiny, aerosolized particles that can linger in the air like a fine mist for hours. As mask mandates are lifted, this underscores how crucial it is to keep air flowing in crowded indoor places, by equipping buildings with ventilation systems that pump virus-laden air outside, and with filtration devices that trap viral particles. Think of aerosolized virus as cigarette smoke, said Joseph Allen, director of Harvard's Healthy Buildings Program. "If I'm smoking in the corner of a classroom and you have low ventilation/filtration, that room is going to fill up with smoke," Allen said. But outdoors, he said, "you could be a couple of feet from me, depending which way the wind was blowing, you may not even know I'm smoking."

How does the coronavirus travel?

Every time we exhale, air rushes out of our lungs and through our nose and mouth in a warm cloud of respiratory fluid. Droplets that emerge when we yell or cough can be as wide as a strand of human hair, but the coronavirus travels mainly through the millions of aerosols — droplets just a few thousandths of a millimeter wide — released with each breath. In a crowded, poorly ventilated room, up to 4 percent of each inhalation is someone else's breath; University of Oregon researchers found there was not much difference between the number of aerosol particles shared between people standing 4 feet versus 11 feet apart. Humidity helps, however. Studies indicate that in dry places, like many offices and restaurants, respiratory droplets travel farther and longer. 

Where do infections occur?

Mostly indoors. There have been very few reports of outdoor transmission, even when tens of thousands of people converge for concerts or sporting events, because there's unlimited ventilation outside. One of the first COVID superspreader events — at a March 2020 choir rehearsal in Washington state — highlighted the limitations of indoor social distancing. Despite taking steps to spread out singers in the church, 52 out of 61 participants tested positive for COVID within a few weeks, and two choir members died. Scientists point out that the more people there are in an indoor space, the greater the risk one of them is infectious and emitting invisible clouds of virus. That explains why crowded restaurants, gyms, and conference rooms with poor circulation have produced many outbreaks. 

How can ventilation help?

It brings in fresh air and pumps out air that people have exhaled, thus diluting the concentration of possible coronavirus particles. (It also reduces the risk of catching the flu and cold viruses, which also spread through the air.) A study of more than 10,000 classrooms in Italy found that good ventilation systems reduced COVID transmission by 82.5 percent. Airplanes are another good example of ventilation in action. Sitting in an aircraft cabin is one of the safest ways to travel, since half of the air passengers breathe comes from outside the plane, and the other half is recirculated through high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that provide a minimum capture efficiency of 99.97 percent — better than in most buildings. You can, however, be infected on a plane if you're sitting next to an infected person.

What steps should be taken?

Just opening windows improves ventilation, especially when they're at opposite ends of a room. Portable HEPA filters are effective, and UV light has also proven to be effective when used to treat air passing through a building's heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system (HVAC). Experts are also publicizing the folly of using plexiglass dividers to shield people from one another's breath. Studies show that while these barriers might block a spray of droplets, like sneeze guards at salad bars, they also impede air circulation and may serve to raise the risk of infection. 

Is good ventilation commonplace?

No, which is why the White House recently released an action plan for improving indoor air quality to fight the spread of COVID. For decades, engineers have prioritized making buildings more energy efficient, favoring recirculation over ventilation. Pumped-in outdoor air needs to be cooled or heated, and in a typical commercial building, HVAC accounts for up to 40 percent of total energy expended; that percentage rises when thick MERV 13 filters are installed to capture aerosols. Overhauling HVAC systems is expensive, so there will be resistance, said Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech. "To put some teeth into this,'' she said, "there will need to be standards and regulations. And those will take years."

Air-quality problems in schools

The average U.S. public school building is more than 45 years old, and many have outdated or poorly functioning HVAC systems, according to the Government Accountability Office. During the pandemic, some desperate schools left windows open during frigid winter months to improve ventilation. Facing enormous pressure to improve air quality and reduce the risk of COVID outbreaks, public schools earmarked an estimated $4.4 billion for HVAC projects. A study of Georgia schools found that improved ventilation and HEPA filtration led to a 48 percent lower COVID rate. As a stopgap, school districts across the country also spent tens of millions of dollars on portable air purifiers, which often overstate their effectiveness and are known to release ozone particles, which can cause asthma in developing lungs. The best solution is to upgrade HVAC systems to provide frequent air turnover, said Tracy Washington Enger, an indoor-air specialist with the Environmental Protection Agency. To enable the transition to living with COVID as "an endemic disease," she said, schools need "long-term, effective management strategies that address indoor air quality." 

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

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History of roff

Source: Hacker News

Article note: That history is actually a little deeper than I knew.
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