I've been choc-rickrolled!

As a late birthday gift, AJ (who flew into DC last night) gave me a gimmicked chocolate bar that rickrolled me the moment I tore the wrapper open. If you look carefully you can see a speaker glued to the foil. The circuitry consists of a solid-state audio chip that can record a few minutes of sound, the necessary driving circuitry for the recording chip, and a miniature amplifier that boosts the recording to audible levels. A cleverly placed nonconductive tab was pulled out of position when the wrapper was peeled back, closing the circuit and dropping the bomb on …

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Electronics projects to make you sit up and take notice.

During my daily morning mainline injection of news on the Net this week, a couple of electronics projects caught my eye that I hadn't seen before. The first is a project from SparkFun Electronics that uses higher voltage than I'm used to working with - a Geiger counter kit with a USB interface. The kit is constructed around the popular ATmega 168 microcontroller, which means that the basic Arduino development kit can be used to write code that pulls samples from the Geiger-Muller tube (powered by a tiny high voltage power supply) and outputs numerical values over USB, where the 'counter …

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No time to write proper posts lately.

It says something, I think, when someone spends most every day of the past week going to bed at 2100 local time and sleeping clear through until 0600. Plus a nap after coming home from work. An essay I've been working on has been at a low simmer for a few days now until I've got enough neurons online to turn it into a coherent whole. I've got pictures to post that I haven't gotten around to yet.

Come to think of it, I've got two more disposable cameras that I haven't gotten developed yet.

Oh, and the inauguration yesterday …

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Maybe I should write about things other than myself for a while.

If you're involved in the retrocomputing or PC history scenes, chances are you've heard of double-sided floppy disks that are formatted for one system on side A and another system on side B. For example, I've got a copy of the game Ninja which had the C-64 version of the game on one side and the Atari port on the other. At the time this was a pretty straightforward thing to do because drives only read one side of a disk at a time. A couple of weeks back, PC historian Trixter came across a highly unusual 5 1/4 …

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Czech crackers facing trial for faked nuclear detonation.

Last June, a group of crackers and art hackers in what used to be Czechoslovakia hacked a webcam feed to make it look like someone had detonated a nuclear device by scaling the tower that the webcam was mounted on and patching into the network link directly, which let them inject their altered images. Coincidentally at the same moment that the webcam feed was shown by the local news. They're facing a court trial and up to three years in jail for their prank, which scared not a few people silly. They say that they did it to call into …

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Artists hide apartment in mall; Parker Lewis applauds.

Back in 2003, a small group of artists in the state of Rhode Island attempted a daring art hack: They snuck into the Providence Place Mall and hid an apartment in a corner of the parking garage as part of a guerilla documentary they were making on mall life. Michael Townsend and his cohorts, from all reports I've been able to dig up, set up a wall of cinderblocks which blended in with the rest of the structure to hide the 750 square foot chamber. A standard utility door allowed entrance and egress. The interior walls were also plastered and …

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There are art hacks, and then there are art HACKS.

Somewhere in Czechoslovakia (or whatever it's really called these days - I was never any good with geopolitical boundries in that region of the world, which I suppose marks me as a product of the United States public education system), the owners of a local attraction of some beauty have a webcam set up. You can go to their website and look out over the woods, the hot springs, and what have you.

On Sunday morning a group of crackers and pranksters calling themselves Ztohoven hacked the camera feed to make it look like someone had just detonated a nuclear device …

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"Here's the secret of the signal, Mal - you can't stop the signal."

He might not be Mr. Universe but Ken Jones, a volunteer at UHF television station 45 South in New Zealand is just as determined to make sure that an uplink signal hits the airwaves. Because the station either wasn't able to purchase a $20kus microwave uplink to get their signal to a full-sized broadcast station, Jones constructed a parabolic antenna to broadcast their signal using a $10us wok from a housewares store.

That's right, a wok. As it turns out, if you work the math behind parabolic reflectors, the particular kind of wok he bought works just as well as …

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It still clicks...

Remember those old IBM keyboards with the clicky keys that sounded like gunshots when you really got going on the console? It's a shame that they're so rare these days... what was done to this one is definitely not a shame, though: It's been turned into a steampunk typewriter keyboard, complete with working indicator lights and function keys numbered with roman numerals. All of the brass parts were hand fabricated, no less.. this is a true work of art.

Please note that some of the images are broken - I suspect that's because this site is being slashdotted since it hit …

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An interesting method of data visualisation.

Data visualisation is a process in which the bits of a given data field are displayed in a graphical format to help the analyst find patterns or anomalies in the data. For example, staring at system logs for a couple of hours is enough to put your mind on autopilot: You'll keep staring and hitting the page down key every once in a while, but your conscious mind doesn't really register the data that your eyes are sending to your brain. Unless there is something unmistakably wrong, even the pattern recognition functions of the brain will be bored to tears …

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