FindDay #0

Every Friday I share the five coolest things I’ve found on the web in the last week.

1 - Right to Repair bills Several U.S. states are working to pass legislation that protects the right of customers to repair the products they own.  This is a cause that is near to my heart for many reasons. If you live in one of these states I hope you’ll do what you can to make this happen and set a precedent for the rest of the union.

2 - lowRISC As it says on the website, “A fully open-sourced, Linux-capable System-on-a-Chip”.  It’s easy to run an open-source operating system on your personal computer and know (either by reading the source yourself or trusting someone who has) that it’s not doing something nasty like sending your personal data somewhere you don’t want it.  However it’s not as easy to know what the hardware the system is running is up to, and in the case of Intel processors it could certainly be doing things you didn’t ask it to do. The lowRISC project is working on solving part of this problem by implementing a System On A Chip (think Raspberry Pi ) using open-source code.  This code can generate a physical CPU using an FPGA chip, which means you have a processor capable of running Linux that is open-source all the way down to the chips. The project is still young and there are other peripherals (network, graphics, etc.) that will need an open-source implementation to build computers that are completely immune to black-box code, but this is a major step in the right direction.

3 - Free NASA Sounds What more can I say, this is an amazing collection of audio from NASA that they have made available for free.  I’m disappointed that they used Soundcloud for this because Soundcloud makes you jump through hoops to get at the files, but it’s better than nothing.

4 - Arduino Altair simulator img_0189_1ivxnf92fd The Altair is one of the most iconic machines of the personal computer revolution (is there a cooler user interface than the front panel of the Altair?  I think not).  However owning an original one today is an expensive proposition both in terms of the cost and the likely restoration. If you want the Altair experience but you have more sweat than cash, this simulator can get you there for a lot less than a restored classic (or even a commercially-available reproduction ).  It will also give your soldering skills a workout.

5 - Swarm user interface To me this is straight out of science fiction.  These little robots (“Zooids”) swarm to build physical interfaces which can then be manipulated to software, devices, etc. The design is simple and elegant and also open-source.  This is the kind of technology that might not seem to have an immediate practical application, but once you think about the possibilities all sorts of interesting applications come to mind.  It’s brain candy. Have something you’d like to be featured on FindDay?  Drop me a line.