Purism starts shipping its Librem 5 open/free phone

Purism (previously) is a company that crowdfunds free/open laptops and phones whose design goal is to have no proprietary software, even at the lowest levels. The company is best known for its Purism laptops, and I'm very fond of mine (it didn't end up replacing my Thinkpad, only because I'm addicted to the trackpoint for mousing, and trackpads give me raging RSI) (that said, getting any GNU/Linux to run on a current-model Thinkpad is so hard and results in such a rotten experience that I'm reconsidering whether to switch back). Read the rest

Tiny gallium nitride laptop chargers are upon us

There's nothing I hate in my bag so much as my laptop charger, a heavy Lenovo-grade brick of black plastic with two thick cables sticking out of each end, invariably forming a coiled knot of nonsense three times larger still. So I ordered this alarmingly small universal charger from RAVpower as soon as I saw that Wirecutter didn't recommend it. It's smaller than an iPad charger, but charges a MacBook Pro or Thinkpad.

The RAVPower also charges the way it should. We ran the RP-PC112 through our standard testing procedures, which include running Total Phase’s USB Power Delivery Analyzer and its Data Center Software. This test tells us the power rates the chargers make available to connected devices, the actual power output observed when they’re connected, and whether any errors occur during charging. The RAVPower passed without issue.

The special sauce in these new power supplies is Gallium Nitride.

USB C Wall Charger, RAVPower 61W PD 3.0 [GaN Tech] Type C Fast Charging Power Delivery Foldable Adapter, Compatible with MacBook Pro/Air, Ipad Pro 2018, iPhone Xs Max/XR/X and More [Amazon] Read the rest

USB half-golfball with one USB port

There's an unlimited wealth of useless USB gadgetry to be acquired, obviously, but something about the USB half-golfball with one USB port [Amazon] posted to Twitter by @foone (whose epic threads about subjects such as "possibly cursed USB adapters" are easily the best thing on Twitter right now) captures the very essence of the genre. I immediately bought one, as it's the perfect gift for an older boomer-age male relative who has never in their life played golf.

Tell me about your conspicuously pointless, low-effort USB gifts in the comments! No prizes for Cuecats. Read the rest

CutiePi, a Raspberry Pi-based tablet

CutiePi is a tablet based on the Raspberry Pi: compact enough, but more open, versatile and hacker-friendly than mainstream models from Apple, Microsoft or the Google coprosperity sphere.

CutiePi is a complete Raspberry Pi in a tablet form factor, minus the trouble of connecting monitor or power supply. It's slimmer because of using Compute Module, and you can carry or recharge it like your everyday gadgets.

Whether you're opening an app, SSH to a remote server, or displaying a dashboard, CutiePi's touch-friendly interface can help you with all that. Connecting a keyboard or a mouse is no longer mandatory. Free to make it yours

We believe in open source, and we believe people should have control over the technology they use. Everything you see here is open source -- schematics, PCB, drivers, firmware, UI, everything.

Specs: Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ Lite with an 8” IPS LCD (1280x800), 4800 mAh battery, 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, 1x USB type-A, 6x GPIO pins, 1x microSD slot and Raspbian Linux. 12mm thick. Read the rest

Kickstarting a clever, tiny wireless mouse/presentation controller designed for tight spaces

I am addicted to Thinkpads in large part because of the trackpoint (AKA "The Nipple") -- the little wiggly joystickbetween the G, H and B keys that allows me to control fine mouse-movements without bending my hand into the RSI-inducing trackpad position; between that and the amazing, best-in-class warranties, I am a committed Thinkpad user, to the point that I actually bought and returned three different systems this year because (between the new Intel chipset and the new Nvidia cards), I couldn't get any flavor of GNU/Linux to run on them (many thanks to Canonical for eventually getting me running on a Thinkpad extreme). Read the rest

What are 3-cent microcontrollers good for?

You can buy microcontrollers for as little as 3 cents, if you order a lot of them, a staggeringly cheap number even if you're so young you don't know a Zilog Z80 was $10 in 1978 money. But are these cheapo parts any good? Hackaday says they're terrible, but Tim finds a role.

[it] surely is a question of perspective. They address a specific category of low-cost, high volume, non-serviceable products with limited functionality. You need to wait for the push of a button and then let an LED flash exactly five times? You need to control a battery-operated night light? The sub $0.10 MCU is your friend to reduce BOM and shorten development time.

For everything else, spare a buck. Read the rest

Extremely cheap microwave oven has Alexa, listening

Behold the AmazonBasics Alexa-Equipped Microwave, a $40 item whose low price is belied by the fact everything you say to it is held in contingent perpetuity in an Amazon datacenter. [via]

AmazonBasics Microwave simplifies cooking by letting you microwave using your voice and an Echo device. Just say, “Alexa, reheat one cup of coffee,” and Alexa will start reheating with the appropriate power and time settings. Quick-cook presets mean there’s no need to guess cook times or heat levels when you’re defrosting vegetables or microwaving a potato. Plus, Alexa is always getting smarter and adding new presets.

If you want a cheap 700w mini-microwave from Amazon, this retro Daewoo model is adorable. Read the rest

SimpliSafe bypassed with $2 gadget

The Lock Picking Lawyer is one of my favorite YouTubers, and he's spreading his wings beyond the usual fare of dreadful padlocks and crap safes. Here he shows how to use a $2 generic remote control to "blind" SimpliSafe, a security gadget that's getting rave reviews from product testers.

This however is a little 433 megahertz remote you can get them on Amazon or Ebay for about $2, and even though it's not very powerful, it's powerful enough. Let's demonstrate using this entry sensor. I'm going to arm the system, and you can see if I were to open whatever this was attached to—let's say the frontdoor—the keypad starts starts beeping telling me to enter the pin or the alarm will be triggered. Okay let's try that one more time. But before I open the front door, I'm going to press and hold the button on this remote.

As you can see, I opened and closed the front door and SimpliSafe had no idea

Here's a $2 one, shipping included, on eBay. Amazon matches the price. If we can't review the security of security devices, we shouldn't be reviewing them at all, should we? Read the rest

Clever software and a $1 camera add touchscreen capability to a MacBook

Anish Athalye and friends added a touchscreen to a MacBook with only a $1 camera part. How'd they do it? Magic? No. Software. And ingenuity.

The basic principle behind Sistine is simple. Surfaces viewed from an angle tend to look shiny, and you can tell if a finger is touching the surface by checking if it’s touching its own reflection.

Kevin [Kwok], back in middle school, noticed this phenomenon and built ShinyTouch, utilizing an external webcam to build a touch input system requiring virtually no setup. We wanted to see if we could miniaturize the idea and make it work without an external webcam. Our idea was to retrofit a small mirror in front of a MacBook’s built-in webcam, so that the webcam would be looking down at the computer screen at a sharp angle. The camera would be able to see fingers hovering over or touching the screen, and we’d be able to translate the video feed into touch events using computer vision.

Anish, clean your screen! Read the rest

Website hosted on 1989 Macintosh SE/30

Granted, the ancient box hosting rhyal.com has had a few upgrades

This site is being hosted and served by a Macintosh SE/30 running MacOS 7.5.5. This SE/30 is a 16MHz computer built in 1989. Mine shipped with 2 megabytes of RAM, a floppy drive, and an 80-meg internal SCSI ("Scuzzy") hard drive. It has recently been upgraded with a custom 32-bit ROM, 68 megabytes of RAM, and a 4,000-megabyte Solid-State Drive. She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself. Thanks for visiting!

Read the rest

A MIDI harmonica

Lekholm's DM48 is a full-featured MIDI harmonica, with twelve pressure-sensors, one-button presets, and "adjustable breathing resistance." (Thanks, Gnat) Read the rest

Teardown of Sony's new 135mm full-frame lens

Sony's FE 135mm f/1.8 GM (Amazon) is a serious lens for its full-frame cameras, costing about $2000 and winning over critics. PetaPixel compares it to $12k glass after finding it much sharper than similarly-priced competition from Sigma and Zeiss. Read the rest

Man crosses English channel on flyboard

Franky Zapata is the first person to cross the English Channel on a flyboard. The Frenchman, who invented the hovering device, made the 22-mile trip in 22 minutes, wearing a backpack full of kerosene to get from Dover to Calais without getting wet.

Read the rest

Wearable miniature cooler/warmer

You may now cool or heat a small part of your body on the go, if you are in Japan and have ¥13000 to blow. The Reon Pocket is a roughly the size of a smartphone, hangs around your neck, and claims to cool that spot up to 13C or warm it 8.3C. As you can see from the photo, a special shirt will come with it so that it can be perfectly seated. Read the rest

100 million PlayStation 4 consoles sold

It's got a long way to overturn the PS2's and Nintendo DS's ~150m hauls, but Sony's PS4 reached the 100m sold mark this summer and has a good shot at ending up the third best-selling game console (currently the Game Boy, 120m sold) of all time.

The PlayStation 4 reached this milestone after just 5 years and 7 months, and less than 3 years after passing 50 million sales. Sony’s PS4 sales have been consistently strong throughout this generation, with 19 million sold in 2017 and 17.8 million last year. Sony also revealed that digital download share has passed the 50 percent mark, meaning more people are now purchasing digital games than physical disc copies. Sony’s next-generation PlayStation, most likely the PS5, now looks set to launch in fall 2020.

Next year is the year 8K TVs become "affordable", hence the big marketing push for a new generation of consoles based around 20XX-series NVidia GPUs. Read the rest

Teardown of Apple's lightning-to-HDMI adapter, which turns out to be a tiny computer with 256MB of RAM

Everything's a computer these days, obviously, but this one is surprisingly elaborate given the apparent simplicity of what it does. Lisa Braun on Twitter: "Here is my little thread about Lightning video adapters – also known as Haywire – which are actually computers that feature Apple Secure Boot and run Darwin kernel."

Now you know why they're so unreliable! "Haywire" indeed!

Read the rest

Samsung finally announces new launch date for Galaxy Fold

After disastrous previews —the damned things simply broke in the hands of tech journalists trying them out—Samsung is relaunching its cursed folding tablet-phone, promising a fixed and reliable device. The Galaxy Fold is coming to America in September.

• The top protective layer of the Infinity Flex Display has been extended beyond the bezel, making it apparent that it is an integral part of the display structure and not meant to be removed.

• Galaxy Fold features additional reinforcements to better protect the device from external particles while maintaining its signature foldable experience:

• The top and bottom of the hinge area have been strengthened with newly added protection caps.

• Additional metal layers underneath the Infinity Flex Display have been included to reinforce the protection of the display.

• The space between the hinge and body of Galaxy Fold has been reduced.

The Folding Lemon, previously: Already regretting assigning Anthony Burgess to review the Samsung Galaxy Fold Read the rest

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