Hack-The-Planet Podcast: Episode 17

generative art: flowers

It started with this tweet about someone called Ayliean apparently drawing a plant based upon set rules and rolling a dice.

And because generative art in itself is fascinating I am frequently pulled into such things. Like this dungeon generator or these city maps or generated audio or face generators or buildings and patterns

On the topic of flowers there’s another actual implementation of the above mentioned concept available:

TubeTime and BitSavers

I was pointing to BitSavers before. And I will do it again as it’s a never ending source of joy.

Now some old schematics had been spilled into my feeds that show how logic gates had been implemented with transformers only.

BitSaver brought it up:

And not only BitSaver is on this path of sharing knowledge, also TubeTime is such a nice account to follow and read.

Travel Tip: get an electronic public transport card in Japan without any hassle (iOS)

Previously you had to be in Japan or to have a japanese AppStore account to get access to software that allows you to manage and add SUICA cards to your wallet and use it right-away for public transport.

Now with the 2020 olympics approaching more and more tourist support-apps are made available to non-japanese audiences.

Just like this little helper:

So the scenario was: You arrive at an airport in Japan. And the first thing you needed to do to use the public transport system was to get such a SUICA card either purchased or topped-up.

This is a straight forward process and they even came up with “Tourist SUICA” cards that will deactivate themselves after a certain amount of time and are cheaper to purchase upfront – still it was a process you had to know how it works.

With the above helper app you’re simply doing this:

  1. Download app.
  2. Make sure you’ve got Apple Pay set-up with at least one of your credit cards
  3. Use the SuicaEng app to create a brand new SUICA card out of thin air and top it up right there.
  4. (optional) push your SUICA card to your watch to simplify the purchase processes even more – you’ll just tap your wrist to pass through gates or purchase goods.

batch convert HEIF/HEIC pictures

When you own a recent iOS device (iOS 11 and up) you’ve got the choice between “High Efficiency” or “Most Compatible” as the format all pictures are being stored by the camera app.

Most Compatible being the JPEG format that is widely used around the internet and other cameras out there and the “High Efficiency” coming from the introduction of a new file format and compression/reduction algorithms.

A pointer to more information about the format:

High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF), also known as High Efficiency Image Coding (HEIC), is a file format for individual images and image sequences. It was developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and is defined by MPEG-H Part 12 (ISO/IEC 23008-12). The MPEG group claims that twice as much information can be stored in a HEIF image as in a JPEG image of the same size, resulting in a better quality image. HEIF also supports animation, and is capable of storing more information than an animated GIF at a small fraction of the size.

Wikipedia: HEIF

As Apple is aware this new format is not compatible with any existing tool chain to work with pictures from cameras. So you would either need new, upgraded tools (the Apple-way) or you would need to convert your images to the “older” – not-so-efficient JPEG format.

To my surprise it’s not trivial to find a conversion tool. For Linux I’ve already wrote about such a tool here.

For macOS and Windows, look no further. Waltr2 is an app catering your conversion needs with a drag-and-drop interface.

It’s advertised as being free and offline. And it works a treat for me.

Drawing Transit Maps

Almost exactly 1 year ago I wrote about transit maps. And it seems to be a recurring topic. And rightfully so – it’s an interesting topic.

Along the presentation of a redesigned Singapore transit map, there’s more content to gather on the “Transit Mapping Symposium” website.

The “Transit Mapping Symposium” will take place in Seoul / South-Korea on 20/21st of April 2020 with researchers and designers meeting up.

The Transit Mapping Symposium is a yearly international gathering of transport networks professionals, a unique opportunity to share achievements, challenges and vision.

Our participants and speakers include experts from all fields of the industry:

– Mapmakers
– Network Operators
– Transport Authorities
– Digital Platforms
– Designers

Hack-The-Planet Podcast: Episode 16

Links:

Blender 3D – December was full of content

So with the new year started it might be worth looking into some patterns different from the ones we are usually dealing with. So how about a bit of 3D graphics, shaders and modelling?!

Get your gear:

Blender is the free and open source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, video editing and 2D animation pipeline.

https://www.blender.org/

And then get a starting point. Be quick, as this is on Twitter it might fade away:

There’s so much interesting stuff in there – and lots to learn!

a proper 7-segment / 14-segment font

DSEG is a free font family, which imitate seven and fourteen segment display(7SEG,14SEG). DSEG have special features:

  • DSEG includes the roman-alphabet and symbol glyphs.
  • More than 50 types are available.
  • True type font(*.ttf) and Web Open Type File Format (*.woff, *.woff2) are in a package.
  • DSEG is licensed under the SIL Open Font License 1.1.

Get it here.

Reminder: addition of floating point numbers is NOT associative

Reminder: addition of floating point numbers is NOT associative… (0.1 + 0.2) + 0.3 ≠ 0.1 + (0.2 + 0.3) …and this is true in basically _any_ language that uses floating point numbers. Here it is in javascript in the browser console:

Mark Kriegsman on Twitter

dangerously curious bitcoins

Some things you find on GitHub are more interesting and frightening than others.

This one is both and some more. What is it you ask?

R2 Bitcoin Arbitrager is an automatic arbitrage trading application targeting Bitcoin exchanges.

So it’s buying and selling Bitcoins. And it’s doing this on different markets.
On the topic of arbitrage Wikipedia has something to say:

In economics and finance, arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets: striking a combination of matching deals that capitalize upon the imbalance, the profit being the difference between the market prices at which the unit is traded.

For example, an arbitrage opportunity is present when there is the opportunity to instantaneously buy something for a low price and sell it for a higher price.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbitrage

Now this already is the second version of the tool and already 2 years old. See it as some sort of interesting archeological specimem. Please refrain to actually so something harmful with it.

I am writing this down here because apart from it’s obvious horrors this is a good starting point to understand how these computer-trading-systems do work in principle.

Given that an architectural drawing is also included it gives all sorts of starting points to thoughts.

Also. What could possibly go wrong if a tool to buy/sell on actual markets with actual bitcoins is confident enough to include the “maxTargetProfit” configuration option. Effectively setting the top-line of profit you’re going to make!!!111

Skyscrapers unite!

If you’ve ever wondered how this huge building in front of you compares to all the huge sky scrapers around the world: There’s a page for you.

SkypscaperPage gives data and diagrams of the worlds tall buildings. You can even add the one right in front of you yourself!

Kawasaki Skyscraper Diagram

And comparing the biggest building in Kawasaki with the biggest buildings of the world:

I guess Kawasaki is not doing bad, given that Park City is a residential building with mostly apartments…

Linux mac80211 compatible full-stack Wi-Fi design based on SDR

In a tweet we were given an early christmas present – open-sdr released an open source software Wi-Fi stack that utilizes software-defined-radio technology to implement actual working Wi-Fi.

Features:

  • 802.11a/g; 802.11n MCS 0~7; 20MHz
  • Mode tested: Ad-hoc; Station; AP
  • DCF (CSMA/CA) low MAC layer in FPGA
  • Configurable channel access priority parameters:
    • duration of RTS/CTS, CTS-to-self
    • SIFS/DIFS/xIFS/slot-time/CW/etc
  • Time slicing based on MAC address
  • Easy to change bandwidth and frequency:
    • 2MHz for 802.11ah in sub-GHz
    • 10MHz for 802.11p/vehicle in 5.9GHz
  • On roadmap: 802.11ax

See this demonstration:

25.5 kg force mobile power suite

It’s 3.8 kg and delivers 25.5 kg of force. Impressive! And it’s in stores (in Japan).

The “Every Muscle Suit” has a lot going for it. Weighing just 3.8 kilograms, the pneumatic artificial muscle suit is powerful enough to generate up to 25.5 kilogram-force and effectively relieves pressure on users’ backs when performing activities like heavy lifting.

Best of all, its streamlined design conceals an advanced air pressure system that doesn’t require electricity or batteries.

Japan Today

TESLA PowerWall 2 Security Shenanigans

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  • GUI wide open.
  • Default password on WiFi and management interface
  • Attacker can cause financial damage to consumer
  • Attacker can dump entire PW Load into the grid at once
  • Attacker can oscilate between CHARGING and DUMPING (microseconds, the poor sub-station!)
  • Attacker can change grid codes.

More here. At least somebody looked into the security and attack potential of these things.

about brains and silicon wafers

Please read this first paragraph and let it settle:

At the core of the BrainScaleS wafer-scale hardware system (see Figure 90) is an uncut wafer built from mixed-signal ASICs [1], named High Input Count Analog Neural Network chips (HICANNs), which provide a highly configurable substrate that physically emulates adaptively spiking neurons and dynamic synapses (Schemmel et al. (2010)Schemmel et al. (2008)).

I’ve highlighted in bold the portion that I want you to think about once more. We are not talking about chips, dies or cut-up wafers.

We are talking about real-size, huge, fully developed wafers filled with logic. For the sole purpose of brain scale neural network research and development…

The Neuromorphic Computing Platform allows neuroscientists and engineers to perform experiments with configurable neuromorphic computing systems. The platform provides two complementary, large-scale neuromorphic systems built in custom hardware at locations in Heidelberg, Germany (the “BrainScaleS” system, also known as the “physical model” or PM system) and Manchester, United Kingdom (the “SpiNNaker” system, also known as the “many core” or MC system). Both systems enable energy-efficient, large-scale neuronal network simulations with simplified spiking neuron models. The BrainScaleS system is based on physical (analogue) emulations of neuron models and offers highly accelerated operation (104 x real time). The SpiNNaker system is based on a digital many-core architecture and provides real-time operation.

https://electronicvisions.github.io/hbp-sp9-guidebook/index.html

time/space synchronization symbols, AGC training preamble, Viterbi detection/equalization, LDPC decoding and MIMO

Of course this post is talking about hard disks. The ones with spinning disks and read/write heads flying very close to the spinning disks surface.

There are several links to the source papers and works discussing the findings – take look into this nice rabbit hole:

Drag and drop ML with transparency

The machine-learning tooling is getting better. Take a look at Perceptilabs:

Fast modeling
With our drag and drop GUI we enable fast model development.

Increased transparency
The statistical dashboard increases the model’s transparency during training.
Get a better understanding of your model with instant feedback on the operations outputs.
We enable fast error debugging with our custom code editor.

Flexibility
Full flexible options for plugins and importing. Execute any custom Python code in our code editor.

RaspberryPis to Access Points!

Current generations of RaspberryPi single board computers (from 3 up) already got WiFi on-board. Which is great and can be used, in combination with the internal ethernet or even additional network interfaces (USB) to create a nice wired/wireless router. This is what this RaspAP project is about:

This project was inspired by a blog post by SirLagz about using a web page rather than ssh to configure wifi and hostapd settings on the Raspberry Pi. I began by prettifying the UI by wrapping it in SB Admin 2, a Bootstrap based admin theme. Since then, the project has evolved to include greater control over many aspects of a networked RPi, better security, authentication, a Quick Installer, support for themes and more. RaspAP has been featured on sites such as InstructablesAdafruitRaspberry Pi Weekly and Awesome Raspberry Pi and implemented in countless projects.

also on Github: https://github.com/billz/raspap-webgui

This really is going to be very useful while on travels. I plan to replace my GL-INET router, which shows signs of age.

DIRECTIVE 2009/24/EC – Article 6 – Decompilation

Article 6
Decompilation

  1. The authorisation of the rightholder shall not be required
    where reproduction of the code and translation of its form
    within the meaning of points (a) and (b) of Article 4(1) are
    indispensable to obtain the information necessary to achieve
    the interoperability of an independently created computer
    program with other programs, provided that the following
    conditions are met:

    (a) those acts are performed by the licensee or by another
    person having a right to use a copy of a program, or on
    their behalf by a person authorised to do so;

    (b) the information necessary to achieve interoperability has not
    previously been readily available to the persons referred to
    in point (a); and

    (c) those acts are confined to the parts of the original program
    which are necessary in order to achieve interoperability.
  2. The provisions of paragraph 1 shall not permit the information obtained through its application:

    (a) to be used for goals other than to achieve the interoperability of the independently created computer program;

    (b) to be given to others, except when necessary for the interoperability of the independently created computer program;
    or

    (c) to be used for the development, production or marketing of
    a computer program substantially similar in its expression,
    or for any other act which infringes copyright.
  3. In accordance with the provisions of the Berne
    Convention for the protection of Literary and Artistic Works,
    the provisions of this Article may not be interpreted in such a
    way as to allow its application to be used in a manner which
    unreasonably prejudices the rightholder’s legitimate interests or
    conflicts with a normal exploitation of the computer program.

Original in english and german.

Steno for all

Shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed and brevity of writing as compared to longhand, a more common method of writing a language. The process of writing in shorthand is called stenography, from the Greekstenos (narrow) and graphein (to write). It has also been called brachygraphy, from Greek brachys (short) and tachygraphy, from Greek tachys (swift, speedy), depending on whether compression or speed of writing is the goal.

Wikipedia

Of course there’s hardware:

Georgi: Steno For All

Georgi an economic, low profile rework of Gergo made for Steno. Fully assembled and ready to go!

Even when you’re not onto stenography, you it’ll be a full qwerty keyboard for you:

Celebrate Giftmas

Whollyday also known as Santa Claus Day occurring on 67 Aftermath aka 25 December.

A holyday celebrating the capitalist gift giving season.

Do the money dance, waving money in fans whilst blasting Money by Pink Floyd. Identify a ridiculously worthless toy and encourage all small children to want one. Select greyfaces to receive a particular theme gift (like banana-flavored edible underwear) from thousands.

Giftmas

Tabemono – from a name to UX and UI…

As you might know by now I am re-implementing MyFitnessPal functionality into my own application to be deeper integrated with kitchen hardware and my own personal use-cases rather than to be an add infested subscription based 3rd party applilcation.

So the development of this is ongoing, but I wanted to note down some progress and explanation.

Let’s start with explaining the name: Tabemono.

It does really mean something – and as some might have guessed – in japanese:

Tabemono – 食べ物

Taking just the first Kanji:

Implementing the UI from the UX has proven to be as challenging as expected.

When we started to toss around the idea of re-implementing our food-tracking-needs we started with a simple scribble on post-it notes.

This quickly led to a digital version of this to better reflect what we wanted to happen during the different steps of use…

It wasn’t nice but it did act as an reminder of what we wanted to achieve.

The first thing we learned here was that this will all evolve while we are working on it.

So during a long international flight I’ve spent the better part of 11 hours on getting the above drawing into something resembling an iOS user interface mock-up. With the help of the (free for 1 private project) Adobe XD I clicked along and after 10 hours, this was the video I did of the click-dummy:

Since then I’ve spend maybe 1 more day and started the SwiftUI based implementation of the actual iOS application.

And this brought the first revelation: There are so many ideas that might make sense on paper and in a click-dummy. But only because those are just tools and not reality. It’s absolutely crucial to really DO the things rather than imagine them.

And so the second revelation came: If I had an advise to any product manager or developer out there: Go on and pick a project and try to go full-circle.

You ain’t full stack if you’re missing out on the understanding of the work and skill that your team members have and need.