Monday, September 24, 2018

Raspberry Shake Detects Quakes via Hackaday

Raspberry Shake Detects Quakes via Hackaday

The Raspberry Pi’s goal, at least while it was being designed and built, was to promote computer science education by making it easier to access a working computer. What its low price tag also enabled was a revolution in distributed computing projects (among other things). One of those projects is the Raspberry Shake, a seismograph tool which can record nearby earthquakes.

Of course, the project just uses the Pi as a cost-effective computing solution. It runs custom software, but if you want to set up your own seismograph then you’ll also need some additional hardware. There are different versions of the Raspberry Shake, the simplest using a single Geophone which is a coil and magnet. Vibrations are detected by sensing the electric signal generated by the magnet moving within the coil of wire. Other models increase the count to three Geophones, or add in MEMS accelerometers, you can easily whip one of these up on your own bench.

Read Raspberry Shake Detects Quakes | Hackaday via Hackaday


 

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Friday, September 21, 2018

Favorite Alexa Commands: New Alexa Devices in all classes

Favorite Alexa Commands: New Alexa Devices in all classes

Amazon released a score of new and updated Alexa devices yesterday. Here are links to all of them.

For me, the updated Echo Dot is the most interesting, although finally getting a full-blown Echo Plus with included Hue hub would also be a nice addition to the home.

Hera are all the devices linked directly to Amazon where you can find all the tech specs on each.

 


 

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Travel Tech (and more): Aluratek - Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Transmitter

Travel Tech (and more): Aluratek - Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Transmitter

Travel Tech (and more): Aluratek - Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Transmitter

When flying long distances on airliners, especially in Economy class, I try to make my life a bit easier each time I fly. For our most recent trip to Milan, Italy for a screenwriting conference, family visiting and sightseeing, I decided I wanted a better audio experience than the past.

On previous trips I had brought my own on-ear headphones, which helped a bit, but the wires were still a constant headache as you got up and down during the flight — something very necessary when you are spending 11+ hours in a tin can shooting through the sky ay 500+ miles per hour. (LAUGH)

Back in January I picked up the VAVA MOOV 28 Wireless Headphones Sports Earphones from Amazon to replace — yet another — dead pair of Apple headphones. These have delivered great performance and significantly cut down on environmental noise. So much so that I needed to be more careful when out walking as my hearing was supressed and I couldn’t always hear cars and bikes approaching. This feature, though, seemed like it would be great on n airplane, though.

Now, I don’t have hundreds of dollars to put out for a nice pair of over-the-ear noise cancelling headphones as much as I might want them, so I went looking for the way to use these new headphones on the plane. This meant picking up this small (the size in the picture is quite deceptive) Aluratek - Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Transmitter from my local Best Buy, I was cutting it short on time and needed to pick it up locally to insure I had it for the trip.

I tried out the pairing while sitting at my desk ti make sure it would work once I got on the plane. Several reviews had mentioned issues with pairing. This worked perfectly the first time. I turned on each device and placed it into pairing mode. After about 15 seconds they recognized each other.

Another issue I had seen mentioned with Bluetooth transmitters is that the volume levels weren’t sufficient for some people. In my case, though, after insuring the volume was set to full on the transmitter and on the audio source, I could turn up my headphones loud enough that it was actually uncomfortable. My experience with the devices on the plane was the same. I connected the transmitter to the headphone jack in the seat back in front of me, powered it up and the headphones, set the setback entertainment volume to 90% or so and enjoyed excellent audio — especially compared to the typical cheap headphones given out by the airlines. This, combined with the natural noise-muffling of the in-ear headphones meant I could hear my movies perfectly and listen to audio as I drifted off to sleep, something I like to do on planes.

Not that you necessarily need it, but I found that the transmitter had plenty of power to reach me even as I walked about the cabin to stretch and visited the bathroom. I simply forgot to take off my headphones and only noticed when was was standing 20 feet away or so that the music was still in my ears.

Both  Aluratek - Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Transmitter and the VAVA MOOV are rated for 9-10 hours of battery life and that was almost exactly what I got. that said, since I had a USB port at my seat, I could have recharged either, or powered the transmitter continuously, from that plug. I did give a quick recharge to my headphones towards the end of our 11+ hour flight and then was able to continue listening without any trouble.

While most International Flights use more modern aircraft and provide standard 1/8” headphone jacks, you might find that picking up a airline headphone convertor — which take the two-prong connector and converts it to a standard headphone jack, might be worthwhile backup. I would also recommend a right angle 1/8” adapter, instead of the straight cord that comes with the the transmitter, in case you happen upon an aircraft with the headphone jack on the inside of the armrest. This will prevent you from damaging or being inconvenienced by the transmitter.

Overall, I was very happy with my experience with the Aluratek - Bluetooth Audio Receiver and Transmitter and plan to use it around the house for both sending audio to my media center sound bar and turning older powered speakers into bluetooth speakers.

You can now talk to Amazon’s Alexa app on your iPhone via Fast Company

Adding in my iPhone I am rapidly expanding my collection of Alexa devices without rally purchasing anything new. — Douglas

You can now talk to Amazon’s Alexa app on your iPhone via Fast Company

I have no doubt that there are a lot of iPhone and iPad users out there who also have an Alexa device, like an Amazon Echo, in the house. The question is how many of them love Alexa so much that they would use that digital assistant on their iDevice instead of Siri.

For those that might, Amazon released a new version of its iOS apptoday, and for the first time you can talk to it rather than just use it to manage other Alexa-enabled devices. The app can respond using voice or by displaying information–such as weather forecasts, sports scores, movies times, and calendar appointments–on the phone or tablet screen. The problem is getting to it. If you want to talk to Alexa you have to launch the app and then push a button on the screen. With Siri all you have to do is say, well, you know.

Read You can now talk to Amazon’s Alexa app on your iPhone via Fast Company


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Monday, September 17, 2018

Demystifying The ESP8266 With A Series Of Tutorials via Hackaday

Demystifying The ESP8266 With A Series Of Tutorials via Hackaday

If your interest has been piqued by the inexpensive wireless-enabled goodness of the ESP8266 microcontroller, but you have been intimidated by the slightly Wild-West nature of the ecosystem that surrounds it, help is at hand. [Alexander] is creating a series of ESP8266 tutorials designed to demystify the component and lead even the most timid would-be developer to a successful first piece of code.

Read Demystifying The ESP8266 With A Series Of Tutorials via Hackaday


Learn more about Arduino with these books and components

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Thursday, September 06, 2018

Favorite Alexa Commands: Real-time Flight Information

Real-time Flight Information

Favorite Alexa Commands: Real-time Flight Information

Photo: Matthew Smith

We’re leaving on a flight to Europe this evening, so this built-in command (no skill installation required) has been helping me keep up to date with any schedule changes.

To get info on your next flight, or the flight of friends or family arriving on a visit, ask...

Alexa, What’s the status of <airline name> <flight number>?

Alexa, What’s the status of American Airlines AA298? (Example)

That’s all t here is. Simple, straightforward and yet nicely useful.


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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Free Online Version of Coding with Minecraft via turtleappstore.com

Use the fun and accessible world of Minecraft to learn about coding. A great combination! — Douglas

Free Online Version of Coding with Minecraft via turtleappstore.com

Learn to Code by Programming Robots in Minecraft!

You've mined for diamonds, crafted dozens of tools, and built all sorts of structures—but what if you could program robots to do all of that for you in a fraction of the time?

In Coding with Minecraft, you'll create a virtual robot army with Lua, a programming language used by professional game developers. Step-by-step coding projects will show you how to write programs that automatically dig mines, collect materials, craft items, and build anything that you can imagine. Along the way, you'll explore key computer science concepts like data types, functions, variables, and more.

Coding with Minecraft is available under a Creative Commons license, and is free to read online.

Get the print version

Read Free Online Version of Coding with Minecraft via turtleappstore.com


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Monday, September 03, 2018

Raspberry Pi's 'app store' lands with new Raspbian OS update via ZDNet

Raspberry Pi's 'app store' lands with new Raspbian OS update via ZDNet

The latest version of Raspbian, the Raspberry Pi's official OS, introduces a new set-up wizard to help beginners easily get over the first few hurdles after buying one of the $35 developer boards.

The new version of Raspbian also introduces an equivalent of the App Store that recommends software that users can choose to install, alongside apps already bundled with Raspbian.

Read Raspberry Pi's 'app store' lands with new Raspbian OS update via ZDNet


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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Favorite Alexa Apps/Commands: Use Alexa to Track Your Favorite Football Team and More via Lifehacker

 

I am not a sport fan in any way, but I know many people are, so here are a few Alexa skills to keep track of your sports, both real world and fantasy. There are links to each app in the original article. Click through to see all of them.— Douglas

Alexa sports

Alexa can help you keep track of your favorite teams—provided she knows who your favorite teams actually are. She’s actually capable of tracking baseball, soccer, hockey, and football teams from 13 different leagues.

To tell her your favorites, launch the Alexa app and then tap the hamburger menu (three lines on top of each other) on the top left side of the screen. From there, tap “Settings,” and then “Sports Update.” Then you’ll use the search bar to find the teams you like to add to your personalized list within the app.

Read Use Alexa to Track Your Favorite Football Team and More via Lifehacker


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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

It’s easier than you think to craft AI tools without typing a line of code via The Verge

I am looking at this to expand my — very basic — understanding of AI systems. I have a large Ai project I would like to develop, but it is going to be a long road to get there. That said, we all have to start somewhere.— Douglas



A lot of companies are trying to make it easier to use artificial intelligence, but few are making it as simple as Lobe. The startup, which launched earlier this year, offers users a clean drag-and-drop interface for building deep learning algorithms from scratch. It’s mainly focused on machine vision. That means if you want to build a tool that recognizes different houseplants or can count the number of birds in a tree, you can do it all in Lobe without typing a single line of code.
Company co-founder Mike Matas told The Verge that Lobe isn’t designed to compete with software used by machine learning professionals (tools like PyTorch and TensorFlow). Instead, it’s built to give amateurs an easy way in. “People have ideas they want to try in machine learning but don’t have the right way to prototype them,” says Matas. Lobe lets them take that first step without any training, making deep learning more accessible to professionals in a diverse range of fields, from architecture to astronomy. “We want to have a broad appeal,” he adds.



Read It’s easier than you think to craft AI tools without typing a line of code via The Verge
 
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Monday, August 27, 2018

Arduino GoPro Wifi Control via Instructables

An interesting project that teaches you a number of things that could be used in other projects. A great educational example. — Douglas

In these steps I show you how to simply control a GoPro Hero 4 and a GoPro Hero Session 5 using an Arduino wifi board. As you will learn, these instructions could easily be adapted for any type of GoPro. 

This is useful for when you want to build you own custom controller for a project. Rather than hacking into existing controllers, you can just use the Arduino to communicate with it directly using some basic networking commands. Not only are you able to control the functionality on the GoPro, but you can also receive status updates about the camera. This makes it a versatile solution for a host of different types of projects including custom robots and drones

Read Arduino GoPro Wifi Control via Instructables


More GoPro Cameras and Accessories

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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Detective Dot wants to teach STEM skills through the magic of storytelling via The Next Web

At its core, Detective Dot teaches the analytical skills required for a career in STEM through the medium of an empowering narrative about an extraordinary young girl called Dot.

Dot, for whom the series is named after, is a nine year old working for the CIA (which, in the whimsical world of Detective Dot, stands for Children’s Intelligence Agency). She completes her missions through math, logic, and coding.

There’s a couple of things I love about this. Firstly, it’s pretty amazing that kids are learning about the core principles of STEM through storytelling. Coding can be intimidating, but this is deliberately anything but.

Then there’s Dot herself. The choice to make Dot a girl of color was a deliberate one, and she’s a powerful role model for aspiring female coders. The idea that a primary school girl could read Detective Dot and think “Yeah, I can do this too” is a genuinely exciting one.

Read Detective Dot wants to teach STEM skills through the magic of storytelling via The Next Web

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Favorite Alexa Apps: Pandora Radio

Pandora Radio

Pandora logo new 2016 billboard 1548

This is more of a built-in feature than a standalone Alexa App but ever so useful. Working here in my home office I frequently use Alexa to fire up Pandora tunes using the playlists I have already set up on Pandora. The ease of use of calling out...

Alexa, Play Pandora Station My Jazz Radio

...is amazing and doesn’t even require me pulling my hands off the keyboard.

When the phone rings, a quick...

Alexa, Pause

...is enough to shut it down while I handle the call.

As you might imagine...

Alexa Resume

...starts right where it left off.

Additionally, you can say things like...

What is this? — to get info on the current song playing

Skip — skips to next song in playlist

I Like This  — Thumb Up this song

I don’t like this — Thumb Down this song

To use the Pandora functionality, you need to link your Alexa and Pandora accounts. To do this...

Open the Alexa App on your mobile device or visit alexa.amazon.com and log in with your Amazon account.

Click Music, Video and Books in the left hand sidebar

Alexa 1

Then click the Pandora icon (you can set up any of these other service here, too. I use TuneIn to play live radio stations and podcasts)

Alexa 2

Once you have logged in to Pandora and Linked your account, you should see all your current playlists. Now you can play any playlist that exists as well as create new playlists.

You can also say...

Alexa, play <artist name> or <genre> or <track name>

…and Alexa will ask you if you want to create new playlist.

I also find the built-in volume commands to work nicely in muting advertisements and then restoring the volume — sort of like muting the commercials on your television.

Alexa, volume 2

Alexa, volume 10

Finally, I can connect Alexa to my media center’s sounder via Bluetooth for better sound quality. In my case, once I paired my Echo Dot with the sound bar, whenever I switch to the Bluetooth input, it picks up the Echo automatically.

I would guess that I use the Pandora feature evert single day — sometimes for a little while and sometimes for hours on end. (Another nice feature of the Echo is you don’t get those annoying “Are you still listening? messages.) Check it out in your own Echo setup!


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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Wyze Cam launches the Pan, a $30 full-motion security camera with tons of features via 9to5Toys

I tried out one of the earlier models of these security cams and I was amazed at how well it worked, especially considering its low price. I would really like a weatherproof version of them, although there are some 3rd party enclosures that might allow you do that. — Douglas

Wyze Camera is a great little security option for those on a budget. Recording 1080p, motion tracking, and night vision, the little camera is a great buy at $20. I have a few and love them, as they’re great for static shots.

One place where Wyze was lacking, however, was actual movement. The original Wyze camera (and V2) both were static cameras, meaning they aimed where you pointed. But, that all changes today with the Wyze Cam Pan.

With its wide-angle lens, the original camera was great for most shots. A single camera could capture my entire bedroom/office, but if I wanted to put a camera somewhere with a larger area than the field of view could cover, I would have had to use multiple devices.

Read Wyze Cam launches the Pan, a $30 full-motion security camera with tons of features via 9to5Toys



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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Hackspace Magazine 7: Internet Of Everything Available as FREE Download via Raspberry Pi Foundation

Hackspace Magazine 7: Internet Of Everything Available as FREE Download via Raspberry Pi Foundation

Hackspace mag cover

Hackspace mag pages

We’re usually averse to buzzwords at HackSpace magazine, but not this month: in issue 7, we’re taking a deep dive into the Internet of Things.

Internet of Things (IoT)
To many people, IoT is a shady term used by companies to sell you something you already own, but this time with WiFi; to us, it’s a way to make our builds smarter, more useful, and more connected. In HackSpace magazine #7, you can join us on a tour of the boards that power IoT projects, marvel at the ways in which other makers are using IoT, and get started with your first IoT project!

Awesome projects
DIY retro computing: this issue, we’re taking our collective hat off to Spencer Owen. He stuck his home-brew computer on Tindie thinking he might make a bit of beer money — now he’s paying the mortgage with his making skills and inviting others to build modules for his machine. And if that tickles your fancy, why not take a crack at our Z80 tutorial? Get out your breadboard, assemble your jumper wires, and prepare to build a real-life computer!

Read Hackspace Magazine 7: Internet Of Everything Available as FREE Download via Raspberry Pi Foundation

Download Hackspace Magazine 7 as PDF

Monday, August 20, 2018

4D Systems Raspberry Pi Displays Unveiled via Geeky Gadgets

Raspberry Pi enthusiasts searching for LCD displays for the next Pi project may be interested to know thatama has announced the immediate availability of its gen4-4DPI series of LCD display modules specifically designed to support the Raspberry Pi family of single board computersAnd will start shipping in early July 2018

The Raspberry Pi display modules are available for the Raspberry Pi A+, B+, 3, Zero and Zero W with resistive or capacitive touch control options depending on your application and requirements. The displays of also been designed to be powered directly from the rise reply eliminating the need for any extra external power supplies.

The gen4-4Dpi display modules are available in three screen sizes – 4.3, 5.0 and 7.0 inch and connect to the Raspberry Pi through a 30 pin FPC cable and an adapter board that conforms to the Raspberry Pi expansion header pin-out and Pi’s HAT device identification standard.

Read 4D Systems Raspberry Pi Displays Unveiled - Geeky Gadgets via Geeky Gadgets


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Friday, August 17, 2018

Favorite Alexa Commands: Remember or Take a Note

Whenever I get a new piece of technology I try to make as much use of it as possible. With Alexa this has taken some time to develop ways of working with the device, but there are some commands I return too again and again.

Favorite Alexa Commands: Remember or Take a Note
Photo: Andres Urena

Remember This or Take A Note

Stores a piece of information in your Alexa account that can be retrieved by asking...

Alexa, What/When/Where and the name of the information you wish to store

For example...

Alexa, remember that the Wifi Password is alexa rocks

Alexa will confirm it understood what you want to store.

To recall the information...

Alexa, What is the Wifi Password?

You told me, the Wifi password is alexa rocks

I am sure you can find some creative uses of your own for this Alexa command. One big use for me is to remember where I have stored infrequently, but extremely necessary parts, papers or equipment. If you only access something every few months or so this can help you to find it again when you really need it. I could also see using this with children in the family to spare Mom a few of those “Where is…” question she always seems to know the answer to.


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Favorite Alexa Apps: Song Quiz by Volley Inc.

Song Quiz by Volley Inc.

Song Quiz by Volley Inc.

Listen to thousands of songs by your favorite artists from the past 60 years!

Guess the correct title and artist for points. Challenge your friends and family in live competitions or compete head to head against music fans across the country! Master playlists from each decade.

THE BEST MUSIC TRIVIA FOR ALEXA
◆ Playlists from every decade: 2010s, 2000s, 90s, 80s, 70s, and 60s!
◆ New music added often!

This great app uses actual clips from the songs, not just Alexa read lyrics as some others do.

This is a regular go-to app with our friends whenever we are having dinner and drinks together. Sure, we tend to list ourselves to the 60’s and 70’s playlists, but hey, we’re old! (LAUGH)

Supports multiple players and network play with other Alexa users. Also keeps track of high scores for each user. Even in a group, we often just play as 1 user to simply the game and have shorter periods of play, but each person can play separately if you wish.

This app has undergone major updates over the months we have been playing it and gets better each time.

Highly Recommended


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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Blast from the past via Instagram

Blast from the past via Instagram

Blast from the past

The first issue of Wired magazine from 1993. 
I called a bunch of magazines a few years ago but kept every issue from the first two years of Wired. It was an amazing time in the tech world and Wired was the voice of this new world.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Google employees want to teach you to code for free with their latest app via The Next Web

A bunch of Google employees participating in the company’s Area 120 internal incubator have launched Grasshopper, a free mobile app for Android and iOS that teaches you the basics of programming.

It’s beautifully designed and is suitable for just about anyone who can be trusted to use a phone on their own. By solving simple challenges and answering quiz questions, you’ll soon get the hang of basic JavaScript.

Read Google employees want to teach you to code for free with their latest app via The Next Web


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