Broadcast Engineer at BellMedia, Computer history buff, compulsive deprecated, disparate hardware hoarder, R/C, robots, arduino, RF, and everything in between.
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Using Excel to Watch Movies at Work

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excelMediaPlayer

The Excel subreddit exploded earlier this week when redditor [AyrA_ch] shared his custom spreadsheet that allowed him to play video files on a locked-down work computer. How locked down? With no access to Windows Media Player and IE7 as the only browser (all plugins disabled, no HTML5), Excel became the unlikely hero to cure a 3-hour boredom stint.

Behind the cascade of rectangles and in the land of the Excel macro, [AyrA_ch] took advantage of the program’s VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) functions to circumvent the computer’s restrictions. Although VBA typically serves the more-complex-than-usual macro, it can also invoke some Windows API commands, one of which calls Windows Media Player. The Excel file includes a working playlist and some rudimentary controls: play, pause, stop, etc. as well as an inspired pie chart countdown timer.

As clever as this hack is, the best feature is much more subtle: tricking in-house big brother. [AyrA_ch]‘s computer ran an application to monitor process usage, but any videos played through the spreadsheet were attributed to Excel, ensuring the process usage stayed on target. You can download it for yourself over on GitHub.


Filed under: security hacks, software hacks, video hacks
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FTDI drivers brick counterfeit chips with latest Windows Update

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Runftclean
Hackaday and EEVblog are reporting that the latest Windows update that include FTDI drivers brick any counterfeit FTDI chips. Adafruit requires it suppliers to only use genuine FTDI chips. However, no matter what it’s always possible counterfeit chips could be used when you purchase products from anyone, anywhere. We’re double and triple checking all our products and suppliers as an added precaution.

The following Adafruit products use genuine FTDI chips, either we purchase them or they are manufactured to our specifications with the requirement of genuine FTDI chips.

USB Boarduino (Arduino compatible) Kit w/ATmega328 – v2.0.
FTDI Friend + extras – v1.0.
FTDI Serial TTL-232 USB Cable.

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Door Lock Monitor Project @Raspberry_Pi #raspberrypi #piday

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Door lock monitor1

This project tutorial posted by p-brane for element14‘s Forget Me Not Design Challenge shows you how to build your own Door Lock Monitor powered by a Raspberry Pi:

My original proposal for a door lock monitor using the EnOcean STM 320U Magnetic Contact Transmitter Module is shown in Figure 1. In this proposal, I planed to remove the reed switch from the module and re-attach it with wires so that the reed switch could be placed in a hole drilled into the frame and sit just shy of the bolt went the lock was engaged. The bolt would have a thin magnet glued to it to provide the magnetic field to engage the reed switch.

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998Each Friday is PiDay here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts, tutorials and new Raspberry Pi related products. Adafruit has the largest and best selection of Raspberry Pi accessories and all the code & tutorials to get you up and running in no time!

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Exploring The Epic Chess Match Of Our Time

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Adafruit 3722

Exploring The Epic Chess Match Of Our Time | FiveThirtyEight.

Seventeen years ago in New York City, brooding chess champion Garry Kasparov sat down to take on an opponent he had vanquished just a year earlier: the IBM computer, Deep Blue.

Like the earlier match, which Kasparov won four games to two, the rematch spoke to a fundamental question of the digital age: Who has primacy — a tangle of circuits and silicon, or a reasoning, feeling human being?

FiveThirtyEight and ESPN Films follow the drama of those nine days in a short documentary film, “The Man vs. The Machine,” directed by Frank Marshall. The story — part of FiveThirtyEight’s new digital short series, “Signals” — hinges on a single move, the 44th move of the second game.

Fittingly, it involved the king.

IBM – might be a great time to open source Deep Blue?

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NEW PRODUCTS – TFP401 HDMI/DVI Decoder to 40-Pin TTL Breakout – Without Touch / TFP401 HDMI/DVI Decoder to 40-Pin TTL Breakout – With Touch

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2218_2219

NEW PRODUCTS – TFP401 HDMI/DVI Decoder to 40-Pin TTL Breakout – Without Touch / TFP401 HDMI/DVI Decoder to 40-Pin TTL Breakout – With Touch



NewImage

TFP401 HDMI/DVI Decoder to 40-Pin TTL Breakout – Without Touch

Its a mini HDMI decoder board! So small and simple, you can use this board as an all-in-one display driver for TTL displays, or perhaps decoding HDMI/DVI video for some other project. This breakout features the TFP401 for decoding video, and for the touch version, an AR1100 USB resistive touch screen driver.

The TFP401 is a beefy DVI/HDMI decoder from TI. It can take unencrypted video and pipe out the raw 24-bit color pixel data – HDCP not supported! It will decode any resolution from 25-165MHz pixel clock, basically up to 1080p. We’ve used this breakout with 800×480 displays, so we have not specifically tested it with higher resolutions. We added a bunch of supporting circuitry like a backlight driver and configured it for running basic TTL display panels such as the ones we have in the shop

NewImage

You can even power the display and decoder from a USB port. For example, with a 5″ 800×480 display and 50mA backlight current, the current draw is 500mA total. You can reduce that down 370mA by running the backlight at half-brightness (25mA). With the backlight off, the decoder and display itself draws 250mA. If you want more backlight control, there’s a PWM input, connect that to your microcontroller or other PWM output and you can continuously dim the backlight as desired

We have two versions, one is video only and one is video+touch. This one is video only! If you want a screen that you can poke at, get the +touch version and pair it with a screen that has a resistive touch overlay. The USB port then acts as both power and data, with the touch screen appearing like a USB mouse.

NewImage

This driver is designed specifically as a small and easy to use display driver for our 40-pin TTL displays. In particular, we suggest it for use with single board computers (or desktop/laptops!) with DVI/HDMI output like the Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone Black. You can power the driver over USB and then feed it video via the HDMI port. It’s a very small board so great for tucking into an enclosure. It can drive our 4.3″ or 5.0″ displays but we really only recommend the 5″ 800×480 as some computers do not like the low resolution of the 4.3″ and the TFP401 does not contain a video scaler, it will not resize/shrink video!

We ship this board with an 800×480 resolution EDID so it will be auto-detected at that resolution. For advanced users, the EDID can be reprogrammed using our example Arduino code. Or, for computers that use linux, you can always just force the resolution to whatever display you have connected.

NewImage

This is just a decoder breakout, a display is not included! We recommend the 800×480 5″ without touch. Please check out the detailed tutorial on adjusting the backlight brightness. We also have information on how to tweak the EDID if you want to use other display resolutions. If you need a little more distance between the driver and display, check out the 40-pin FPC extension board.

In stock and shipping now!

NewImage


TFP401 HDMI/DVI Decoder to 40-Pin TTL Breakout – With Touch

Its a mini HDMI decoder board! So small and simple, you can use this board as an all-in-one display driver for TTL displays, or perhaps decoding HDMI/DVI video for some other project. This breakout features the TFP401 for decoding video, and for the touch version, an AR1100 USB resistive touch screen driver.

The TFP401 is a beefy DVI/HDMI decoder from TI. It can take unencrypted video and pipe out the raw 24-bit color pixel data – HDCP not supported! It will decode any resolution from 25-165MHz pixel clock, basically up to 1080p. We’ve used this breakout with 800×480 displays, so we have not specifically tested it with higher resolutions. We added a bunch of supporting circuitry like a backlight driver and configured it for running basic TTL display panels such as the ones we have in the shop

NewImage

You can even power the display and decoder from a USB port. For example, with a 5″ 800×480 display and 50mA backlight current, the current draw is 500mA total. You can reduce that down 370mA by running the backlight at half-brightness (25mA). With the backlight off, the decoder and display itself draws 250mA. If you want more backlight control, there’s a PWM input, connect that to your microcontroller or other PWM output and you can continuously dim the backlight as desired

We have two versions, one is video only and one is video+touch. This is the version with touch! Pair it with a screen that has a resistive touch overlay. The USB port then acts as both power and data, with the touch screen appearing like a USB mouse.

NewImage

This driver is designed specifically as a small and easy to use display driver for our 40-pin TTL displays. In particular, we suggest it for use with single board computers (or desktop/laptops!) with DVI/HDMI output like the Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone Black. You can power the driver over USB and then feed it video via the HDMI port. It’s a very small board so great for tucking into an enclosure. It can drive our 4.3″ or 5.0″ displays but we really only recommend the 5″ 800×480 as some computers do not like the low resolution of the 4.3″ and the TFP401 does not contain a video scaler, it will not resize/shrink video!

We ship this board with an 800×480 resolution EDID so it will be auto-detected at that resolution. For advanced users, the EDID can be reprogrammed using our example Arduino code. Or, for computers that use linux, you can always just force the resolution to whatever display you have connected.

NewImage

This is just a decoder breakout, a display is not included! We recommend either the 800×480 5″ with touch. Please check out the detailed tutorial on adjusting the backlight brightness. We also have information on how to tweak the EDID if you want to use other display resolutions. If you need a little more distance between the driver and display, check out the 40-pin FPC extension board.

In stock and shipping now!

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New Project: Tracking Planes with RTL-SDR

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heroSoftware-defined radios (SDR) are gaining in popularity, and it’s not hard to see why — using them, your computer can tune into in an enormous range of frequencies, including FM radio, unencrypted police and fire bands, aircraft transponders, and in many countries, digital TV. The most popular SDR devices for […]

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