Cells Form Into ‘Xenobots’ on Their Own
Embryonic cells can self-assemble into new living forms that don’t resemble the bodies they usually generate, challenging old ideas of what defines an organism.
Dr. Steve Gass, inventor of SawStop
This week’s interview features Dr. Steven Gass, the inventor of the SawStop—considered one of the best table saws (we love the one in our office!). SawStop has a unique safety feature that automatically brakes the blade if a finger touches it.
The Design of the Roland Juno oscillators
This article is a comprehensive guide to the Roland Juno’s digitally-controlled analog oscillators (DCOs). I fell in love with the Juno early in my synthesizer journey and I’ve spent the last year or so doing research on its design so that I could create my own Juno-inspired DCO, Winterbloom’s Castor & Pollux.
Exploring the Supply Chain of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines
The following text is a collection of notes I wrote down while exploring the process for manufacturing and distributing the two new vaccines that have appeared all over the news and in more and more people’s arms over the recent weeks. I started reading about mRNA but quickly found myself on tangents about glass vials and temperature tracking devices.
Data Security on Mobile Devices: Current State of the Art, Open Problems, and Proposed Solutions
In this work we attempt a full accounting of the current and historical status of smartphone security measures. We focus on several of the most popular device types, and present a complete description of both the available security mechanisms in these devices, as well as a summary of the known public information on the state-of-the-art in bypass techniques for each. Our goal is to provide a single periodically updated guide that serves to detail the public state of data security in modern smartphones.
Cameras and Lenses
Cameras and the lenses inside them may seem a little mystifying. In this blog post I’d like to explain not only how they work, but also how adjusting a few tunable parameters can produce fairly different results:
This is amazing work.
This Tiny WiFi Camera Owns Kwikset SmartKey (LockTech LTKSD)
Open a padlock (or probably any keyed lock) by taking a picture of the sliders inside, then cutting a key.
The video shows this in real time and is five minutes long. Open sesame!
Hasselblad, Kodak, & Apollo 11
A probably not entirely wrong history of cameras developed for the moon.
Something in the Air
The coronavirus pandemic is sparking baseless theories about the dangers of 5G. But the fear that wireless technology is slowly killing us isn’t new—and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
Engineering and Technology History Wiki
The ETHW is not a “how-does-technology-work” site. The scope of the ETHW is historical; instead of focusing on the inner workings of technology, it aims to explain how the technology was developed, who were the major players involved, and what long term significance the technologies have. The ETHW is not only an encyclopedia of the history of technology, but it also contains a full range of materials that relate to the legacy of engineering, including personal accounts, documents, and multimedia objects. In that sense, it is a combination reference guide, blog, virtual archive, and on-line community.
Touch And Go
Pondering the disastrous fate of the HP TouchPad, an early tablet based on WebOS that’s best known for being the subject of a well-remembered fire sale.
Point Of Saturation
75k - The number of restaurants around the world that use the Aloha point of sale system. Aloha is an industry stalwart that has managed to stay relevant while often still looking like it was designed in 1998.
Plus some NCR history.
The Fairey Rotodyne, the vertical takeoff and landing airliner time forgot
The phrase “Urban Air Mobility” (UAM) seems like it’s been with us for quite a while, but really it’s only been in widespread use for two or three years. NASA officially recognized UAM in 2017, calling for a market study of remotely piloted or unmanned air passenger and cargo transportation around an urban area. Most people would probably call this the “air taxi” idea—a vision of hundreds of small, unmanned electric multi-copters shuttling two or three passengers from nearby suburbs or city spaces to vertiports at about 100 mph (roughly 161 km/h).
But if things had worked out differently in the late 1950s and early 1960s, we might have a very different understanding of UAM—something more like mass-transit. We might have had a city-center to city-center 55-passenger vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) airliner shuttling between urban heliports at 180 mph (289 km/h).
Actually, we did have that, it’s just few people remember. It was called the Fairey Rotodyne.
I went to see a movie, and instead I saw the future
This is the future, I’m afraid. A future that plans on everything going right so no one has to think about what happens when things go wrong. Because computers don’t make mistakes. An automated future where no one actually knows how things work.
I broke Giant’s handheld scanner system by only buying two things
The employee interface verified that my cart contained two (2) items. She scanned both. It verified that those two items were ones I had scanned. And then it told her that she needed to scan five more items to complete the audit, because the audit requires seven items to be scanned.
Ironies of automation
The central irony (‘combination of circumstances, the result of which is the direct opposite of what might be expected’) referred to in this paper is that the more we automate, and the more sophisticated we make that automation, the more we become dependent on a highly skilled human operator.
Admit It: You Have a Box of Cords You’ll Never, Ever Use Again
There’s a box that moved with Sarah Loveless and her husband from San Diego to Charleston, S.C., from Charleston to Dallas and from Dallas to Richland, Wash. The box, never unpacked, went into a closet or the garage each time. Contents: 20 to 30 electronics cords.
Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy
Every minute of every day, everywhere on the planet, dozens of companies — largely unregulated, little scrutinized — are logging the movements of tens of millions of people with mobile phones and storing the information in gigantic data files. The Times Privacy Project obtained one such file, by far the largest and most sensitive ever to be reviewed by journalists. It holds more than 50 billion location pings from the phones of more than 12 million Americans as they moved through several major cities, including Washington, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Each piece of information in this file represents the precise location of a single smartphone over a period of several months in 2016 and 2017. The data was provided to Times Opinion by sources who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to share it and could face severe penalties for doing so. The sources of the information said they had grown alarmed about how it might be abused and urgently wanted to inform the public and lawmakers.
Welcome to the age of the avatar
Imagine Being on Trial. With Exonerating Evidence Trapped on Your Phone.
Public defenders lack access to gadgets and software that could keep their clients out of jail.
This tech gap has two basic forms. First, law enforcement agencies can use warrants and court orders to compel companies to turn over emails, photos and other communications, but defense lawyers have no such power. And second, the government has access to forensic technology that makes digital investigations easier. Over the last two decades, the machines and software designed to extract data from computers and smartphones were primarily made for and sold to law enforcement.
To successfully defend its clients, the Legal Aid Society, New York City’s largest public defender office, realized in 2013 that it needed to buy the same tools the police had: forensic devices and software from companies including Cellebrite, Magnet Forensics and Guidance Software. Not only does the expensive technology unearth digital evidence that is otherwise hard or impossible to find, it captures it in a format that can hold up in court, as opposed to evidence that could have been tampered with or forged.