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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Biden says he asked Fauci to be a chief medical adviser for incoming administration

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President-elect Joseph R. Biden told CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday that he spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci today and asked him to stay on and also be his "chief medical adviser."

No word at this time of Fauci's response.

Biden also told CNN he will ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days after he takes office. — Read the rest

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tekvax
1 day ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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WKRP turkey giveaway

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Something just came out of the back of the helicopter…

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tekvax
2 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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Driver pulled over for sitting in a lawn chair behind the wheel

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Ontario, Canada police pulled over a vehicle after noticing that the driver appeared to be sitting in a lawn chair behind the wheel. According to a tweet by the Halton Regional Police Service Burlington District, they impounded the vehicle and "the driver [was] summonsed to court for Unsafe Vehicle and Seatbelt Inoperative." — Read the rest

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tekvax
2 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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Urban Explorers Reveal A Treasure Trove Of Soviet Computing Power

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It’s probably a dream most of us share, to stumble upon a dusty hall full of fascinating abandoned tech frozen in time as though its operators walked away one day and simply never returned. It’s something documented by some Russian urban explorers who found an unremarkable office building with one of its floors frozen sometime around the transition from Soviet Union to Russian Federation. In it they found their abandoned tech, in the form of a cross-section of Soviet-era computers form the 1970s onwards.

As you might expect, in a manner it mirrors the development of civilian computing on the capitalist side of the Iron Curtain over a similar period, starting with minicomputers the size of several large refrigerators and ending with desktop microcomputers. The minis seem to all be Soviet clones of contemporary DEC machines. with some parts of them even looking vaguely familiar. The oldest is a Saratov-2, a PDP/8 clone which we’re told is rare enough for no examples to have been believed to have survived until this discovery. We then see a succession of PDP/11 clones each of which becomes ever smaller with advancements in semiconductor integration, starting with the fridge-sized units and eventually ending up with desktop versions that resemble 1980s PCs.

While mass-market Western desktop machines followed the path of adopting newer architectures such as the Z80 or the 8086 the Soviets instead took their minicomputer technology to that level. It would be interesting to speculate how these machines might further have developed over the 1990s had history been different. Meanwhile we all have a tangible legacy of Soviet PDP/11 microcomputers in the form of Tetris, which was first written on an Elektronika 60.

We know that among our readers there is likely to be a few who encountered similar machines in their heyday, and we hope they’ll share their recollections in the comments. Meanwhile we hope that somehow this collection can be preserved one day. If your thirst for dusty mincomputers knows no bounds, read about the collectors who bought an IBM machine on eBay and got more than they bargained for.

Via Hacker News.

DVK-1 desktop computer, «Переславская неделя» / В. С. Спиридонов  CC-BY-SA 3.0.

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tekvax
2 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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Gathering Eclipse Data Via Ham Radio

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A solar eclipse is coming up in just a few weeks, and although with its path of totality near the southern tip of South America means that not many people will be able to see it first-hand, there is an opportunity to get involved with it even at an extreme distance. PhD candidate [Kristina] and the organization HamSCI are trying to learn a little bit more about the effects of an eclipse on radio communications, and all that is required to help is a receiver capable of listening in the 10 MHz range during the time of the eclipse.

It’s well-known that certain radio waves can propagate further depending on the time of day due to changes in many factors such as the state of the ionosphere and the amount of solar activity. What is not known is specifically how the paths can vary over the course of the day. During the eclipse the sun’s interference is minimized, and its impact can be more directly measured in a more controlled experiment. By tuning into particular time stations and recording data during the eclipse, it’s possible to see how exactly the eclipse impacts propagation of these signals. [Kristina] hopes to take all of the data gathered during the event to observe the doppler effect that is expected to occur.

The project requires a large amount of volunteers to listen in to the time stations during the eclipse (even if it is not visible to them) and there are only a few more days before this eclipse happens. If you have the required hardware, which is essentially just a receiver capable of receiving upper-sideband signals in 10 MHz range, it may be worthwhile to give this a shot. If not, there may be some time to cobble together an SDR that can listen in (even an RTL-SDR set up for 10 MHz will work) provided you can use it to record the required samples. It’s definitely a time that ham radio could embrace the hacker community.

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tekvax
3 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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Modem noise spectrogram

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Scotty H created this spectrographic animation of a classic dial-up modem's startup noise. Here's a breakdown, by Oona Räisänen, of what each section concerns:

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3 days ago
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