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Hardware techspot.com

YouTube now controls its hardware roadmap

Well, the end of Moore’s law has forced YouTube to make its own video chip. General purpose processors weren’t cutting it for specialized tasks like video transcoding, and after a 10 minute meeting with YouTube chief Susan Wojcicki, the company’s first video chip project was approved.

The obvious motive for building your own chip for a specific purpose is cost savings, but that’s not always the case. In many instances, big tech companies are simply looking to create a strategic advantage with custom chips. Consolidation in the chip industry also plays into the equation, as there are now only a couple of custom chipmakers to choose from in a given category making general-purpose processors that aren’t great at specialized tasks.

Google said the Argos VCUs delivered a performance boost of anywhere between 20 to 33 times compared to traditional server hardware running well-tuned transcoding software.

Design vibilagare.se

Physical buttons outperform touchscreens in new cars, test finds

The screens in modern cars keep getting bigger. Design teams at most car manufacturers love to ditch physical buttons and switches, although they are far superior safety-wise.

That is the conclusion when Swedish car magazine Vi Bilägare performed a thorough test of the HMI system (Human-Machine Interface) in a total of twelve cars this summer.

Hopefully studies like this will convince car makers to install both a big, sexy touchscreen display and physical buttons for key functions that need to be performed quickly and often. Unfortunately, right now it seems most manufacturers are following Tesla’s lead to a buttonless future. And they pair that move with worse software, too. I’m looking at you, Ford. 👀

Apple apple.com

Apple's M2 announcement makes your M1-based laptop suddenly "feel sluggish"

Built using second-generation 5-nanometer technology, M2 takes the industry-leading performance per watt of M1 even further with an 18 percent faster CPU, a 35 percent more powerful GPU, and a 40 percent faster Neural Engine.1 It also delivers 50 percent more memory bandwidth compared to M1, and up to 24GB of fast unified memory.

I pity the fool who upgraded last Fall and can think of zero good reasons to spend another pile of cash at the Apple Store right now no matter how hard he tries to drum up literally any valid reason why that would be a wise decision but if he could think of one he totally would do it and now maybe he’s just waiting for someone else to come up with some sort of justification for doing exactly that. I pity that fool 😉

Hardware github.com

A Cyberdeck built with the Framework mainboard

WANT!

Framework has created a really slick, fully user serviceable, laptop and have recently started selling the mainboard as a SBC for general use. To better support folks who may want to integrate it into their projects, they are also releasing technical documentation including pinouts, cad models and other resources.

When they reached out and explained their plans and offered to let me play with one, I jumped at the chance and this is what I came up with after some experimentation.

A Cyberdeck built with the Framework mainboard

Hardware github.com

OpenMower – a DIY smart mowing robot for everyone

Let’s be honest: The current generation of robotic lawn mowers sucks. Basically all of these bots drive in a random direction until they hit the border of the lawn, rotate for a randomized duration and repeat. I think we can do better!

Therefore, we have disassembled the cheapest off-the-shelf robotic mower we could find (YardForce Classic 500) and were surprised that the hardware itself is actually quite decent.

The bot itself is surprisingly high quality and doesn’t need to be changed at all. We just need some better software in there.

Here’s an overview video that explains the entire idea.

Gaming lunduke.substack.com

The computers used to do 3D animation for Final Fantasy VII

There’s a lot going on in that picture. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what computers and gear they were using to do the 3D animation for this game.

Why? Because, Final Fantasy 7 is a true classic. When the game was first released in early 1997, for the Sony PlayStation, it took the RPG gaming world by storm. To this day, many consider it the greatest entry in the franchise.

I remember getting this game for Christmas and playing it nearly non-stop until school started again after the new year. Greatest entry in the franchise? Easily!

The computers used to do 3D animation for Final Fantasy VII

Ars Technica Icon Ars Technica

A brief tour of the PDP-11, the most influential minicomputer of all time

Ars Technica takes an epic stroll down memory lane:

In their moment, minicomputers were used in a variety of applications. They served as communications controllers, instrument controllers, large system pre-processors, desk calculators, and real-time data acquisition handlers. But they also laid the foundation for significant hardware architecture advances and contributed greatly to modern operating systems, programming languages, and interactive computing as we know them today.

We were just discussing this machine on our upcoming episode with Brian Kernighan.

A brief tour of the PDP-11, the most influential minicomputer of all time

Luis Artola luisartola.com

Reviewing the Framework laptop with Ubuntu

Luis Artola:

I built my own laptop over the holiday break and it’s a developer’s dream come true. I took a chance and ordered a Framework Laptop DIY Edition. I’m so glad I did. The Framework is an excellent platform to customize and build a very capable and stable Linux machine for development. Here’s what I love about it and things that could be better.

Reviewing the Framework laptop with Ubuntu

Apple ifixit.com

iFixit tears down the new MacBook Pro

These teardowns are always an enjoyable read. This one is particular interesting because of the large upgrade this year’s line of pro laptops is and how Apple appears to be returning to form with their design decisions. Here’s the lede:

We’ve still got a long way to go with disassembly, but this new MacBook Pro has, at the very least, the first reasonably DIY-friendly battery replacement procedure since 2012.

iFixit tears down the new MacBook Pro

Raspberry Pi github.com

MagInkCal syncs your Google calendar with a framable e-ink display

This incredibly cool DIY e-ink calendar uses a Raspberry Pi Zero WH to do its thing. Here’s how it works:

Through PiSugar2’s web interface, the onboard RTC can be set to wake and trigger the RPi to boot up daily at a time of your preference. Upon boot, a cronjob on the RPi is triggered to run a Python script that fetches calendar events from Google Calendar for the next few weeks, and formats them into the desired layout before displaying it on the E-Ink display. The RPi then shuts down to conserve battery. The calendar remains displayed on the E-Ink screen, because well, E-Ink…

MagInkCal syncs your Google calendar with a framable e-ink display

Hardware github.com

Turn your Kindle into a HUD for every day life

David Hamp-Gonsalves created a really cool use for your old Kindle:

Second hand Kindles are waiting in drawers for someone to repurpose them into something great. Boasting large e-ink screens, wifi connectivity and ARM processors they are an amazing hacking platform.

In my case I created an information panel summarizing my day such as my calendar, surf and weather forecast, garbage schedule, school closures, etc. My favorite part is that any extra space is filled with a random Pokémon sprite which my kids(not me) like to come check in on.

Built with Rust plus some serverless backend data collection bits.

Turn your Kindle into a HUD for every day life

Hardware clockworkpi.com

An open source portable terminal for every dev

DevTerm is a post-modern, digital minimalist lifestyle. The A5 notebook size integrates complete PC functions with a retro-futurism design, a 6.8-inch ultra-wide screen, classic QWERTY keyboard, necessary interfaces, high-speed wireless, long battery life, and even includes a practical thermal printer.

It even includes a printer?! This thing is bonkers. Pre-order today. Shipping “before April 2021”.

An open source portable terminal for every dev

Raspberry Pi raspberrypi.org

A $70 desktop Raspberry Pi in a keyboard (!)

You likely already saw this, but I don’t even care because I have to link to it because it is so freakin’ cool!

We’ve never been shy about borrowing a good idea. Which brings us to Raspberry Pi 400: it’s a faster, cooler 4GB Raspberry Pi 4, integrated into a compact keyboard. Priced at just $70 for the computer on its own, or $100 for a ready-to-go kit, if you’re looking for an affordable PC for day-to-day use this is the Raspberry Pi for you.

A $70 desktop Raspberry Pi in a keyboard (!)

Elixir dockyard.com

Creating a Sonos volume knob with Elixir and LiveView

Steven Fuchs loves his Sonos, but…

While it is the radio of the future, our most common usage is as the radio of the past. We tend to tune it to one station and leave it there. By far, our most common interactions with the system are changing the volume and pausing/playing the music, often creating scrambles to find a phone to turn down the volume in order to answer a different phone. What we needed was an analog interface to this digital system that was always at arms reach.

Hackers gonna hack. Steven reached for Elixir and scratched his own itch with this very cool little hardware project. Here’s a demo video of it in action.

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