jump to navigation

Spycam File Transfer December 14, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Toys.
add a comment

Here’s a scary little proof of concept: an Android smart phone (HTC One XL) with the ThruGlassXfer app on it is held facing the laptop screen so that the phone’s primary camera can clearly read the displayed QR codes.  The codes change rapidly, since they reflect  an encoded file being transferred by light—no connection required.

Displaying binary data as a QR code required encoding the file using ThruKeyboardXfer (TKXf) which in turn required a USB HID keyboard, attached to this theoretically non-connected computer by emulating a keyboard.

Going Wireless on Samsung i9250 December 13, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Star Trek Technology, Toys.
add a comment

The worst thing in the cell phone world is having a smart phone and no way to charge it or get data to and from it.  It’s worse if you develop apps for it and can’t load them.  I had a Windows CE phone and it eventually died at the USB connection…never again.

My now two-year-old Samsung Galaxy S3 i9250 phone can be made wireless with a wireless charging hack and ADB Wireless.  Android Device Bridge is a piece of software that allows several operations to be run from one’s PC keyboard, like loading new software…but usually it requires a USB connection. Enter ADB Wireless…which requires the phone be rooted.  Rooting a phone is a slightly risky procedure, if you are under warranty—I’m not.  I rooted it with Kingo ROOT software, and then ran ADB Wireless.  I can now load my self-developed apps without a USB cable.

Additionally, I use WiFi File Transfer Pro to move files to and from my phone, so that’s one more source of non-wired interface (it uses your PC’s browser to connect to your phone via a web server on the phone; an elegant solution I feel).

The wireless charging hack is a little trickier, but only because you have to take apart the phone, install the Palm Pre Touchstone Charging Kit induction coil, copper tape the charging coil to the cover so it matches the copper tape you install on the the pogo pins on the inside and put that sucker back together (and get the polarity right; 5V+ is the lowest of the three pins, GND is the highest).

Another nice addition which can amaze and confuse is the Tasker app, which can allow you to automate quite a few little things, depending on your focus and obsession (“Tasker is a rabbit hole that brings opportunity to focus and obsess.”), like turning on WiFi when home, turning it off when leaving, turning on Bluetooth when driving and charging..none of which I have done yet.

But I’ll get to it, Real Soon Now. Honest.

Cheap, Non-toxic Printed Circuits November 23, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Science, Star Trek Technology, Toys.
add a comment

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU) have successfully printed complex electronic circuits using a t-shirt printer. They were printed using in layers on flexible stuff like paper or plastic and included resistors, transistors and capacitors. All were printed using non-toxic organic materials like silver nanoparticles, carbon and plastics.

The types of complex circuits the team has successfully printed include a 4-bit DAC, and an RFID. Not all that complex, sure, but a great proof-of-concept.

Associate Professor Joseph Chang is the leader of the NTU Singapore research group behind this. I couldn’t find the relevant paper for homework, but I did find this photo.circuit on a sheet

small circuit

3D Printing Tiny Complex, Multi-material Devices November 23, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Science, Star Trek Technology, Toys, Uncategorizable.
add a comment

3D printers are, at this stage of their march through the Singularity, largely confined to printing with only on material, probably due to cost constraints.  But, what if all the materials needed to produce some specialized bit of kit were available in one printer?  Just how complex a device could be manufactured?  Princeton scientists have just manufactured a 2 x 2 x 2 matrix of quantum-dot LEDs as a demonstration of their 3D printer, which can manage five different print materials, including (1) emissive semiconducting inorganic nanoparticles, (2) an elastomeric matrix, (3) organic polymers as charge transport layers, (4) solid and liquid metal leads, and (5) a UV-adhesive transparent substrate layer.

That’s right; five.  And complex; here’s the matrix and a picture of a single LED on a suggestively curved substrate.  I think we are meant to be reminded of a contact lens.

Homework: It’s published in NanoLetters, right here.

Air Harp Using Leap Motion Controller June 24, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brilliant words, Mutants, Star Trek Technology, Toys, Video.
add a comment

Brilliant guy makes the Leap Motion controller into an actually useful music triggering device.  Interesting demo (!!!) begins at 3:20.

Portable PrintrBot May 19, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Toys.
add a comment

In case you break some small, cheap, worthless item during your extended camping trip.

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick May 9, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Books, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Science.
add a comment

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman is a very thorough biography of the other guy who might have thought of relativity if Einstein hadn’t beaten him to the punch by being born a full generation earlier.  It’s got embarrassing details from the days when people wrote letters with content because a long-distance call was outrageously expensive, no highways existed to speak of and nobody owned cars anyway.

Besides being  the best possible biography of a recent scientist, it has magnificent quotes from scientists of the age (“Going to MIT and suicide were not commutable operations”), fascinating anecdotes about Feynman and colleagues and a bit of history I surely did not know before: American (and expatriate European) physicists were working secretly on the Bomb long before they had US government help.  Hitler scared the crap out of them, and they knew they were onto Something Big with fission.

I do heartily recommend this book for biography buffs, history buffs, war history buffs, science buffs and science history buffs, and Gleick’s other books as well (except Faster); this one especially for the philosophical musings about the nature of genius and why we don’t seem to have any lying around anymore.

SRI Tiny Robot Swarm–Basically, Big Nanites April 23, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Science, Star Trek Technology, Toys, Uncategorizable, Video.
add a comment

They are very fast, magnetically-instructable robots.  Use your imagination, and then be afraid–very, very afraid.

The Obsessive Mike Davis March 16, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brain, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Photography, Publishing Tools, Science, Star Trek Technology, Toys, Video.
add a comment

Every once in a while you happen upon someone or something so fascinating you just have to stop and see, hear or read more. I found this guy’s webpage, and have to admit I read the whole damn thing.  Like Boy Genius, Mike Davis probably started out with only one hobby in mind: astronomy.  Of course, that sort of hobby is an open-ended sinkhole of time and money.
And genius.
Or, at least obsessive improvements.  He apparently got into grinding lenses and casting mirrors (because that’s how the big kids do it.  A high-quality telescope is an enormous expense), probably got into LINUX for governing the scope, recording the images and putting them on the web.  But wait, there’s more.
I am guessing he bought a property in Arizona far out into the boonies to avoid light pollution.  Since it is utterly remote, it is unsurprising that it’s got no electric service, so he made a windmill and later a sunmill (you know, solar panel system) to power his equipment and such…then put a cabin around it all (he didn’t build it but bought it, presumably because it had to be on-site and he doesn’t have that much vacation time available).
Go kill some time at his website: Mike’s World and you can thank me later.  I am still reading things from his Miscellaneous Projects page, like

  • Cutting Circles out of Glass
  • Home-Built Pen Plotter
  • Quick and Easy Car Laptop Tray
  • Making My Own Soap
  • New and Improved Charge Controller Design
  • improvised DC generator (lawn edger plus permanent magnet DC motor)
  • Home-Built Biomass Gasifier
  • Raspberry Pie based all-in-one computer
  • home-made swamp cooler (see also cabin in Arizona)

I’m not sure, but I think I met him at a star party on Mt. Lassen last year (~August 13).

We Might Not All Die Horribly March 12, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Science, Star Trek Technology.
add a comment

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has become a global public-health problem since the 1960s through resistance to antibiotics. In the USA every year, a quarter-million are hospitalized and nearly 20,000 die from it, and there are only three drugs that (sort of) work, and some resistance to these is already evident.

The good news is that Big Data on the chemical level has enabled researchers to find models in software of a class of compounds that can mess with the penicillin-binding protein in MRSA and also the cell wall of the MRSA organism, which is MRSA’s secret for resisting non-penicillin-derived medications.  The class of compounds known as oxadiazoles were found by brute-force computer simulations (“brute force” here equals 1.2 MILLION compounds—outside of the scope of all the labs in the world for about twenty years, I would guess).

Good job, guys.

The guys in question are a team of University of Notre Dame researchers led by Mayland Chang and Shahriar Mobashery (see Homework, below).



“Discovery of a New Class of Non-β-lactam Inhibitors of Penicillin-Binding Proteins with Gram-Positive Antibacterial Activity.” Peter I. O’Daniel, Zhihong Peng, Hualiang Pi, Sebastian A. Testero, Derong Ding, Edward Spink, Erika Leemans, Marc A. Boudreau, Takao Yamaguchi, Valerie A. Schroeder, William R. Wolter, Leticia I. Llarrull, Wei Song, Elena Lastochkin, Malika Kumarasiri, Nuno T. Antunes, Mana Espahbodi, Katerina Lichtenwalter, Mark A. Suckow, Sergei Vakulenko, Shahriar Mobashery, and Mayland Chang. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2014 136 (9), 3664-3672

More Magical Gestures February 27, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Science, Star Trek Technology, Video.
add a comment

Not long ago, a clever assistant professor from the University of Washington produced a little hack call WiSee, which allowed a user to control his devices using the signals in his home…and also allowed people outside his home to creepily monitor him inside.  The hack was an elegant interpretation of the amplitude of signals generated by the local WiFi signal(s).

Now the clever assistant professor Shyam Gollakota has produced an even more clever hack called AllSee, which uses ambient TV signals to do much the same thing, with less creepiness.  Check the video above, in which “We build AllSee prototypes that can recognize gestures on RFID tags and power-harvesting sensors. We also integrate our hardware with an off-the-shelf Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone”.  Better still, there’s a nice paper which describes in detail how to make one for yourself (if you have serious math programming chops and an affinity for do-it-yourself electronics).

Despite the slightly high barrier to entry for normal folks, a factory could implement this for much less than a buck in quantity for tablets and phones and computers, and lots of other less intelligent gizmos.  It consumes very little power (unlike my phone’s screen) and so can make a serous improvement in the life of such devices’ batteries.

I urge Dr.Gollakota to create an Instructable for this project, mostly because I want one.

Language of the Future February 27, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Brilliant words, Science, Star Trek Technology.
add a comment

Between this and IBM’s Watson, we are in for an accelerated future.  Wolfram has been working on this language for thirty years (and the effort shows).  I suspect this will be closer to natural language queries than Google (parts are currently used in Apple’s Siri), but maybe not Watson.

Of course, there’s an app, for 2.99USD.

Smart Voice Recorder App November 7, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications.
add a comment

I installed Smart Voice Recorder on my Google Galaxy S3 a few months ago and have been pleased with it overall.  I use it to make notes to myself during my long commute and find it satisfactory for that purpose generally; however, the fidelity of the recordings is not sufficient for me to transcribe to Dragon Naturally Speaking therefrom.  This is due to the noise from my car and is not a true problem for me at the moment, so I continue to recommend Smart Voice Recorder for anyone who needs a general recorder.

Smart Voice Recorder has selectable sample rate, the ability to hide itself while recording (stealthy) and the ability to keep the screen on when recording.  There’s a microphone level tester built in as well as an auto-gain function, and a timestamp instead of the recording1, recording2 etc., which I like.  There is a skip silence mode which doesn’t work in my car, so I can’t tell you much about it, but it could be useful in a quiet office setting, I suspect.

All in all, a very nice app, especially for the price.  🙂

PS., reviews like this from me will never find their way to the Google Play site, because they require GooglePlusUngood membership.

Spider Tank Mark 6 on Kickstarter July 26, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Japan, Star Trek Technology, Toys.
add a comment

Every little boy’s fantasy, for a mere hundred bucks…if he gets enough pledges.  I hope this video comes through WordPress, but if not, here’s the link to his Kickstarter page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1089105581/the-greatest-toy-kit-in-the-universe-spider-tank-m

Also, watch the video to see his toddler help him assemble it.  Far beyond merely cute.

CAD-assisted Drug Design Using DNA Strands January 1, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Science.
add a comment

Scientists have developed a CAD drug development system that uses  synthetic DNA as a programmable molecular substrate. These strands of synthetic DNA can be constructed to have any sequence of bases. And, because complementary sequences of DNA are mutually attractive, synthetic strands can be created with sequences that cause them to align with one another and bind to form nanostructures of virtually any shape. If the DNA strands are bound to other molecular species (say, tumor-killing molecules) before self-assembly is induced, the tumor killers can be pulled into desired locations by the DNA strands during self-assembly.

In other words, LEGO for molecules.*

This is paid for partly by NSF funding, but curiously enough a private company seems to have a lock on it.  Parabon Nanolabs™ has simplified this concept down to CAD-based software for the budding mad scientist.  The Parabon inSēquio™ Sequence Design Studio graphically enters designs and then determines the DNA sequences that will self-assemble into that design.

The graphic editor lays out a nanostructure visually. Users can rotate and bend strands, define bindings between base pairs, and copy and paste sequences and structures between design documents. The cloud-based number-crunching uses a bunch of known wet-chemistry values for the binding energies and calculates the complex molecular interactions required to make the molecule desired. 

Neat, huh? This would be entirely impossible for a human to do, ever; it’s billions of calculations that need to be made and complex rules to be followed.**

Still, how they will mock up the synthesized molecules themselves should be an interesting technical feat;  I would really like to see the execution of this, rather than a neat CAD program for molecules.***

Announcement here. Parabon Nanolabs here.


* Some assembly required.

** Another reason not to be a chemist.

*** It’s not impossible; use synthesizers to make the short pieces, PCR copy them, keep them salty enough that they can’t self-assemble before all the other pieces are made, mix together and pray.  The devil is in these details.  Maybe we can get Rob Park to do it.

Android Development Environment—Part Two December 15, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Geek Stuff, Uncategorizable.
add a comment

In which Our Hero has a revelation about printed matter.

I bought a copy of Sam’s Teach Yourself Android Application Development in 24 Hours (2nd Edition) a while back because it was up to date (more or less) and I felt it would have the requisite instructions for correctly setting up the Android development environment for me, the rookie.

I stand corrected.  the development cycle for android is pretty swift, and the book was obsolete before I touched it…also makes too many assumptions about the clarity of its instructions—but I digress. 
The correct way to set up your Android development environment (and don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise) is to download the ADT Bundle from android.com (follow the link) and install that. Period.  Seriously: if you try (and I did) to set up each piece individually you will find yourself a broken, bitter wo/man.  It just doesn’t work to do it that way.  The Bundle contains pretty much everything you need.  I installed it to my (present from stepdaughter) Batman-shaped USB thumbdrive, and it seems to be working properly.

Finally.  I had a lost weekend over this, and one weeknight.  Harken to my tale of woe, and let your Bundle flow.

Spanish Flashcard Android App Review September 29, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Brilliant words.
1 comment so far

I plan to review as many Spanish language flashcard programs as are offered for FREE on GooglePlay.  If they all suck, I will make a pay version myself and sell it for US$0.99.  Yeah, sure.  What are the odds I can do better with nearly no knowledge of Spanish and with severely limited Java/Android skills  (I already made one, but I would have to re-write it for JAVA)?

4001 Spanish Verbs by panidiom@gmail.com is not really a flashcard program; it is a FREE conjugated listing of 4001 verbs (like it says), right down to the pluperfect subjunctive.  Gods, I can barely remember what that means, let alone find the time to require myself to memorize it (again). Very nice, but a little ahead of my needs.  Seems very functional enough, though.  I will use it later, when I actually have mastered a bit more Spanish (quite a bit).

Spanish Vocabulary by Robert Muth is a very nice package with rather more sophistication than I expect from a FREE program.  It is divided into topics, remembers your ability to remember each word/phrase, alternates between Spanish first and English first and provides example sentences for context.  Very slick.  Seems pretty functional to me.  I presume there is a pay version, but it’s unobtrusive, so far.  The advertising that supports this FREE version is unobtrusive, appearing only on the selection page (Adjectives, Everything, Top 100 and Verbs.  The pay version probably has more categories, if there is a pay version).  This one is pretty nice.  I’ll use it as well.

LangLearner Spanish by langlearner.com starts by downloading (over the air!) 250MB of Spanish lessons, over and above the installed application.  Turns out to be pictures and audio to illustrate the phrase.  Pretty, but the photos don’t add anything to the experience, although the pronunciation by a native speaker is certainly useful.  There are thirty-two categories and they are pretty well illustrated, but only the first six are in the FREE category; I am not reviewing the paid application (until it’s provided to me FREE).

All in all, not bad; the pictures might help, too, now that I think about it.  Who knows how the memory of any one person works to recall particular phrases?

Spanish Flashcards Free by RFX Labs is also a preview app, offering a paid version with 1000 words (sound familiar?) in 22 categories.  And it displays ads even in the FREE version with not many words…skip this one, I think.

Spanish Flashcards by Bradley G Hohn is a much better bet, with 3500 words and phrases, text to speech support etc. however, the reviews on the GooglePlay site are kind of unkind, mostly about the translations.  I can imagine that people’s interpretations may differ, but without being able to evaluate the reviewers’ skills in Spanish, I can’t tell much more—remember, I’m a complete novice.

Spanish Flashcards by movinapp.com was free, and the first forty cards  looked [gods, it’s hard to type one-handed while petting demanding cats] right and I knew their translations were more or less correct.  Very nice.  The translator’s computer voice was pretty good, too, using the Android engine (which it downloaded as soon as I hit the first “play the phrase” key).  I will continue with this one for a few days and see where I get with it, treating it like I would any other app I was debugging.  Wish me luck.

In my first session I noticed that the synthesized voice, which had received some negative reviews was actually pretty pleasant.  It may be that I have a very nice new Android 4.1 system to operate it on, however.  I am told that the speed of the synthesizer can be adjusted, but I haven’t had the need.  The translations were also knocked in the reviews, but I can’t see anything that isn’t more or less correct, so I give that  a pass as well.  The cards are grouped in categories: Basic Expressions,Greetings, Courtesy, Phone, Time, Dates, Chat, Shopping, Airport, Help, Directions, The Weather, Health, Number and Internet; as many as seventy or as few as a dozen.  One thing I notice when perusing the categories is that the application offers to download the speech synthesis module for Spanish each time I switch a category.  You can back out of the screen easily enough, but you shouldn’t have to do that, since the application apparently knows (or the download screen knows) that you have done that already.  Not terribly polished I admit, but if that’s the only bug I find I will consider this FREE application a very nice package, indeed.

All in all, I think this flashcard package is pretty sweet.  The largest drawback might be the small advertising area in the lower right area of the screen, which is always updating itself.  This could be a drain on someone with a limited data plan.  This is, of course, how this program can be FREE–the authors are selling your eyes to the Internet, just like any commercial webpage does. I like this app and will use it for a while.

The best of all, however, is AnkiDroid, which is free.  It keeps track of the things you are memorizing so well that you will be reminded things you are on the edge of forgetting.  It is, however, a crowd-source sort of thing; you have to go out and find sets of Spanish-language stuff to memorize from the Anki website through the AnkiDroid application.  Fortunately, this isn’t all that hard; you just keep on looking.  Of course, since AnkiDroid is a one-size-fits-all flashcard program, there are lots of other things to memorize, like other languages, flora, fauna etc.

You could get lost in there.

Anyway, the best one is AnkiDroid.  Use it, customize it for your best use, and be content.  It’s so good I plan to copy parts of it for my own little app when I make it.  Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, after all.

Clever Little Vampires, They Are September 14, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Publishing Tools.
add a comment

Stuffilike.net has an RSS feed app for your Android phone…actually, anyone can make one from their RSS feed at appyet.com.  It ‘s a clever way for the appyet.com people to get lots of other folk’s RSS feed to show ads for them and make a bit of money.  Pretty nice business model, if you ask me.  I may try it myself.

The app creation that their website does is actually a painless introduction to how to publish an app on play.google.com, so I recommend you walk through it just to be able to say you did.

HTC 8125 Hacking July 2, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Geek Stuff, Uncategorizable.
add a comment

in which Our Hero attempts to use SDHC cards with his Cingular 8125, Windows Mobile 5 phone, a.k.a. WIZ100 or HTC Wizard.  A harrowing tale of suspense, long hours in front of a monitor reading the forum at xda-developers.com, eyestrain and terror at the thought that I may have to flash the ROM altogether.

So, first I tried to simply hack the system with a bunch of different SDHC hacks, which in fact killed my SD card reading ability entirely.


Well, I don’t really love this phone anyway, except that I had it hacked up pretty much the way I wanted it except for the 2Gb limit to my SD storage (see previous AD2P post, below and KanaFlash and Spanish FlashCard App). So, I figured I might as well look at replacing the ROM with something a little more modern with SDHC support baked in…like Windows Mobile 6.5.  Good idea, right?

Oh, gods.

This is an enterprise fraught with undreamed-of perils.  First, CID-unlocking (the phone from ATT, so I can load whoever’s ROM I want) and all this involves.  I need to do this if I have G4, but not if I have G3.  I could have sworn I had G3 yesterday when I was fooling around with the SDHC stuff, but today I seem to have G4.  Ugh.  I can tell I do because my IPL and SPL (bootloader stuff) is 2.25.0001—the three zeros mean G4.

I could have sworn there were two zeros there yesterday, and I wrote it down in my notebook which I left at work…grrr [I checked; it WAS two zeros then].  Anyway, these details are hugely important, since I could brick this puppy (and have a great excuse to get a nice, new phone) by using the wrong loader, image or both.  I live in fear, since there is no extant FAQ on just how to do this, and these details count.  However, there is a forty-five page forum thread on this topic at xda-developers.com.

I should finish reading it about August, I think.

So, here’s what I know:

Device Model Cingular 8125, CID WIZCNG01, DOC G3 / G4, ROM Date 2006 11 May, IPL/SPL 2.25.0001, ROM Version, Radio Version 02.25.11, OS 5.1.195, Build 14928.2.2.0, Protocol version, ExtROM version

If it’s a G4 phone, then I need to unlock it from CID using the IMEI number under the SIM card, and a for-pay utility here.  Then I could load the ROM I got here [turns out I can use a different IMEI that I also found at xda-developers.com], assuming it is a G4 which uses a different ROM loader than the G3–no small difference, that.  Once again, masonry is a real possibility.

You would think that a clear-cut version of what is now very old technology would be apparent;  no my brothers, not one malenky bit. Ancient technology such as this (ca 2007) is best not messed with.

Exciting update: I hard reset it, and got my (old) functionality back…a mixed blessing.  In the meantime, I found that I can pre-pay ATT $25 a month for 300 minutes, unlimited texting and unlimited slow data, so that’s one thing I’m going to do Real Soon Now.  And pay full price for a nice Android phone, for which I can also write my little programs, albeit in java.

Had to get this all off my chest, as it ate a great deal of my (limited) attention for a while.

I Should Explain This to Normal People April 10, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Publishing Tools, Video.
add a comment

I test (other people’s) code for a living, which often involves boring, repetitive keystrokes, mouseclicks and other user actions before producing a desired result (i.e., showing me where it’s broken).  This can be automated in Visual Studio 2010 easily, but checking that the desired result has been achieved can be somewhat more difficult or at least non-intuitive.  The process of checking a result or condition is nicely described in this video.