Sunday, January 29, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

CASSETTE: A Documentary Film about the Cassette Tape #Kickstarter

Rotary phone-light-amp could be filed under bizarre

Hack a Day

[Samimy's] latest project is a little strange, but one man’s weird is another man’s wonderful so we’re not about to start criticizing his work. Nope, we’re here to praise the fact that his rotary phone turned reading light and audio amp is very well constructed.

He started by removing the phone housing. Those old enough to have used one of these devices will remember their bulk, and there’s a lot of unused space in both the handset and body housing. [Samimy] started by removing the speaker and microphone from the handset, and drilling a ring of holes to receive white LEDs. The circuit was wired so that lifting the handset turns on the lights.

But he didn’t stop there. A set of speakers and the audio amplifier circuitry from an old tape deck are also hiding inside the base of the phone. If you look closely in the image above you can see that he’s connected his cellphone and is listening to some tunes through the antique hardware. Take a gander at the video after the break to see construction and use of the project.

Filed under: digital audio hacks, led hacks

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Damn you Windows. Not a #BSOD, but still full of suck

One Year at My Standing Desk


Last January I took apart my computer desk and rebuilt it at standing height. I've been standing at my desk every workday since. Just in my 2011 travels, I've seen standing desks everywhere from the offices of San Francisco startups to the White House.

Over the past 12 months, standing desks went from popular life hacks meme to eyeroll-inducing sign of a certain type of tightly-wound techie, similar to emptying your email inbox. Several people have asked me if I'm still standing. The answer is yes. Here's what I've learned from 365 days of being a professional stander.

Sitting is essential

My typical workday starts around 8 or 9am and wraps around 5 or 6pm. I don't stand the entire time. I stand all morning till lunchtime, and then stand again for a couple of hours after lunch. By 3 or 4pm, fatigue sets in, and my feet need a break. That's when I sit down at a small table I set up in my office or, if I want to put my feet up, push back in an old recliner I commandeered. I also sit at lunch, often sit during conference calls and TWiG, and sit to do paperwork or work on my iPad.

The point is: a standing desk doesn't mean you're standing for 8 hours a day straight. That's just not healthy. For me, standing a few hours a day has had its benefits and drawbacks.

The upsides of a standing desk

My back feels great. My posture is better than ever. My default work position is standing on flat feet, with my shoulders back, and my back slightly arched. I have a makeshift foot rest (a box of unsold books), and I often shift from one foot to another when my knees feel stiff. I lost 3-5 pounds in the first couple of weeks from standing alone. I'm way more active throughout the day, pacing, dancing, fidgeting. Because I'm used to standing all day at work, standing in line anywhere for long periods of time on weekends doesn't bother me in the least.

Thanks to my standing desk, I began naturally splitting activities up into active work (while standing) and passive work (while sitting). Since my legs and brain are fresh in the morning, I start my day by diving into the most effort-intensive work first, like coding and writing. By the afternoon I'm fatigued and ready to sit, so I use that time to process email, read Instapaper, catch up on Twitter and Facebook. Explicitly shifting gears like that helps my brain tackle the right kind of work given my physical and mental capacity at the moment.

The downsides of a standing desk

Ever since I got used to standing all day, sitting for long periods of time became uncomfortable for me. By the end of cross-country flights and even long movies, my back and backside feel stiff and achy. In the past 12 months I developed a silver dollar-sized case of spider veins on my right calf, just below my knee joint. It's not sexy. These are common for women my age, and both my parents had them, so it's difficult to say if I would have gotten these without the standing desk. Excessive standing (and sitting) are both known causes of spider veins.

The fatigue of a standing workday makes getting to the gym at the end of the day more difficult for me. When I was sitting all day, I'd feel so sluggish and sedentary I'd look forward to getting sweaty and exerting myself at the gym. At the end of a standing workday, you just want to sit down. For me, the gym has to happen in the morning, or it doesn't happen at all. While my daily calorie burn is definitely higher at the standing desk compared to sitting, standing at your desk is not a replacement for a good workout at the gym.

Finally, I work at home, alone in a room. Several people have told me that they don't want to be at the one standing desk in a sea of sitters at their office. I understand that. I'm not sure I'd pull this off in an office where I was surrounded by sitting co-workers and didn't have the luxury of two desks, one sitting, one standing.

That all said, once I got past the first couple of weeks, I haven't once considered switching back to a sitting desk full-time. Honestly, I barely give it a thought at all anymore. If you're considering it, here's how and why I switched to a standing desk.

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Apple Nets 350K Textbook Downloads In 3 Days


redletterdave writes "On Jan. 19, Apple introduced iBooks 2, its digital solution to the physical textbook. In the first three days of release, users have downloaded more than 350,000 e-textbooks from the new platform, and more than 90,000 users have downloaded the authoring tool to make those e-textbooks, called iBooks Author. It makes sense that Apple's iBooks 2 platform is taking off in such a short period of time; there is very little merit to the physical textbook, and the education industry has been waiting for a viable solution like this for some time. Physical textbooks lack portability, durability, accessibility, consistent quality, interactivity and searchability, and they're not environmentally friendly."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Verizon Wireless Outage in Central Ohio. Can anyone else confirm? #VerizonOutage

I have not been able to make or recieve calls from my iPhone 4S since 9:00 p.m. My wife and my cousin both have iPhone's on Verizon and have had no luck either. Anyone else having this?

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Mozilla offers alternative to OpenID

Mozilla offers alternative to OpenID

Mozilla has been working for a while now on a new browser-based system for identifying and authenticating users it calls BrowserID, but its only this month that all of its sites have finally been outfitted with the technology.

Mozilla aims for BrowserID to become a more secure alternative to OpenID, the decentralized authentication system offered to users of popular sites such as Google, Yahoo!, PayPal, MySpace and others.

"Many web sites store extensive user data and act on behalf of the user. While the browser may be fully under the user’s control, many of the services that users enjoy are not. Sometimes, these web services handle data in ways that are of questionable value to the user, even detrimental," points out Ben Adida, Mozilla's Tech Lead on Identity and User Data. "It’s clear that Mozilla needs to step up and provide, in addition to the Firefox browser, certain services to enhance users’ control over their online experience and personal data."

Apart from BrowserID, Mozilla is also looking to launch Boot to Gecko (B2G), a standalone mobile web-based operating system, and an app store.

As the BrowserID technology is finally ready to be implemented, Mozilla made available detailed instructions for web developers on how to do it.

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The Week We Stopped SOPA | Smarterware by @ginatrapani

The Week We Stopped SOPA

January 20, 2012

Anil sums up the history and future of web protest as we wrap up the week we stopped SOPA. I had chills on Wednesday, the day the web went black in protest of SOPA, because we were all witnessing—and more importantly, participating in—history in the making. I'm so very glad to be alive during these exciting times.

I couldn't agree more with GIna here... history and mass participation. All good!

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Firefox Users Engage Congress: #SOPA Strike Stats | The Mozilla Blog

Firefox Users Engage Congress: SOPA Strike Stats

Yesterday, we blacked out the default start page in Firefox and redirected visitors to the Mozilla sites to a special action page. We also sent direct messages to members of the Mozilla community through multiple online channels. All these steps were aimed at informing and mobilizing millions of people on the poorly drafted anti-piracy legislation – SOPA and PIPA – pending in Congress.

The result: Mozilla reached over 40 million people who, in turn, generated 360,000 emails sent to Senators and Representatives in Congress.

Here’s the breakdown of the stats from yesterday’s remarkable campaign:

  • Approximately 30 million people in the US who use the default start page in Firefox received the blacked out page with our call to action
  • We sent messages out to almost 9 million people via Facebook, Twitter and our Firefox + You newsletter
  • Our messages were retweeted, shared and liked by over 20,000 people (not counting MC Hammer’s tweet to his 2.4 million followers!)
  • 1.8 million people came to to learn more and take action on the issue
  • 600,000 went on to visit the Strike Against Censorship page, hosted by the EFF
  • Ultimately, 360,000 emails were sent by Mozillians to members of Congress, contributing a third of all the emails generated by EFF’s campaign site.

The debate is far from over. There’s a vote next week in the Senate. Keep the pressure on and make sure your elected officials understand the nuance of the issue and the importance of protecting the open Web.

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

@JoeRogan - Newark police searching for escaped wolf hybrid | The Columbus Dispatch

Newark police searching for escaped wolf hybrid

By  Josh Jarman

The Columbus Dispatch Friday January 20, 2012 12:05 PM

The hybrid wolf was last seen yesterday at about 9 p.m.

Newark police are cautioning residents after a hybrid wolf escaped from its owner late yesterday.

The animal escaped and was last seen by its owner at about 9 p.m. yesterday, in the area of Oakwood Avenue and the Rt. 16/Rt. 79 overpass, according to a news release from Newark police. Officers were not alerted to the animal’s escape until this morning, police said.

“The aggression level of the animal is not known, but it is an exotic animal,” the release states.

Police and animal-control officers have searched the area, but have not found the animal. Police notified local schools and asked them to keep children inside.

Anyone who spots the animal is advised to avoid contact and call Newark police at 740-670-7200.

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What Happens To Your Files When a Cloud Service Shuts Down?


MrSeb writes "Megaupload's shutdown poses an interesting question: What happens to all the files that were stored on the servers? XDA-Developers, for example, has more than 200,000 links to Megaupload — and this morning, they're all broken, with very little hope of them returning. What happens if a similar service, like Dropbox, gets shut down — either through bankruptcy, or federal take-down? Will you be given a chance to download your files, or helped to migrate them to another similar service? What about data stored on enterprise services like Azure or AWS — are they more safe?" And if you're interested, the full indictment against Megaupload is now available.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Father of the web backs SOPA protests

Father of the web backs SOPA protests

Tim Berners-Lee says US government plan to censor the internet violates human rights.

The father of the web has added his voice to the global chorus of outrage at US Government plans to censor the internet, saying its plans are undemocratic and violate human rights.

The US Congress is pushing ahead with contentious legislation to censor internet communications, the Stop Online Piracy Act, that is backed by five-year jail terms. Although it applies ostensibly to only US entities, Australians who host websites or do online business or rely on resources on US servers would be impacted.

The bill is currently held for "markup" next month, a review that may mean alterations in light of wide-ranging criticism.

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British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with inventing the World Wide Web.

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with inventing the World Wide Web, has called for people to take action against the SOPA. Photo: AFP

As major websites including Wikipedia blacked out in protest overnight, the web's creator, Sir Tim-Berners Lee, urged people to let their feelings be known to block it before it is enacted.

"It affects all the stuff on the internet working and something which would affect what you want to connect to, where you want to connect to," Sir Tim said.

"If you're in America then you should go and call somebody or send an email to protest against these (censorship) bills because they have not been put together to respect human rights as is appropriate in a democratic country."

Sir Tim's call to arms was met with rousing applause and hoots from 5000 delegates to IBM's annual Lotusphere conference, held in the southern, state of Florida.

High-profile sites such as Wikipedia's English-language edition, Google, Yahoo!'s Flickr photo sharing site, news aggregator Reddit and web browser Mozilla are among a growing number of digital media companies who banded together to protest the proposed changes to America's copyright regime either blacking out entirely or carrying messages in condemnation. Google redacted its name in response to one of the biggest ever changes proposed to global copyright policing.

Critics from a broad coalition that includes most IT companies contend the bill's wording would make any internet use potentially impossible without fear of running foul of the law that they say undermines online security while its proponents backed by Hollywood's powerful film distributors say it is needed to stop rampant online piracy.

The bill, coupled to the related Protect IP Act, would grant the US Government unprecedented powers to:

# Block websites thereby erasing protections afforded by internet security standards;

# Demands search engines censor their results not to point to allegedly infringing content;

# Orders payment providers not to process funds deemed to be from alleged infringers;

# Erodes internet commerce by demanding online ad companies refuse to accept ads from allegedly infringing advertisers.

Those convicted of breaking the eventual law face up to five years in jail but compliant internet service providers would be immune from prosecution.

The writer attended Lotusphere as a guest of IBM.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nice work web! More than 13M of y’all fought SOPA

GigaOM — Tech News, Analysis and Trends

SOPA protests in New York

On Wednesday, the web went wild (or dark) and more than 13 million people protested the potential passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its companion bill in the Senate, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Fight for the Future, an organization created to organize the online protests, offered some stats today to show exactly how wild things got. Here’s the organization’s breakdown of activism by the numbers, in infographic form:

The results were impressive. More than a third of U.S. senators are opposed to PIPA in its current form ahead of the vote on the bill next week — 36 are opposed, including 5 who were formerly co-sponsors. And as the Senate votes on PIPA next Tuesday, those 13 million are invited to watch the live stream and by submitting their stories on how they use the Internet to be read by Senators who have pledged to filibuster the bill. Go, online activism.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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