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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Traditional stonecutting method

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In this video, a stonecutter demonstrates a traditional method for splitting an enormous slab of rock. Holes are drilled down the length, expansion sheaths inserted, and metal wedges carefully hammered in until the cracks join to form a neat split down the entire length of the stone.

After hours of careful work, now he has two problems.

Dennis Carter, founder and owner of Deer Isle Hostel in Maine uses a 2-pound hammer to cut a 26,000 pound block of lovely Deer Isle granite into two equal parts. This is the first of many cuts. When finished, the resulting smaller blocks will be used to make the foundation of a workshop that he is building at the Hostel.

Here's a less sedative illustration of the same method, using sledgehammers to get the job done quickly and wads of grass (!) instead of metal sheaths.

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tekvax
9 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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The EFF's director of cybersecurity answers common questions about protecting your online privacy

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"Is the government watching you through your computer camera? Does Google read all your Gmail? Does a strong password protect you from hackers? Will encryption keep my data safe?" Wired asked these questions to Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

 

 

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tekvax
9 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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Tampa Teen arrested over Twitter hack

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A Florida minor was charged Friday with 30 felonies relating to last month's Twitter "hack" that got top Twitter accounts blurting out a crude bitcoin scam.

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren filed 30 felony charges against the teen this week for “scamming people across America” in connection with the Twitter hack that happened on July 15. The charges he’s facing include one count of organized fraud, 17 counts of communications fraud, one count of fraudulent use of personal information with over $100,000 or 30 or more victims, 10 counts of fraudulent use of personal information and one count of access to computer or electronic device without authority.

Hillsborough County Jail records show Clark was booked into jail shortly after 6:30 a.m. Friday.

Warren’s office says the scheme to defraud “stole the identities of prominent people” and “posted messages in their names directing victims to send Bitcoin” to accounts that were associated with the Tampa teen. According to the state attorney, the scheme reaped more than $100,000 in Bitcoin in just one day.

President Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Elon Musk were among the accounts taken over in the heist. Twitter reported that the intrusion was accomplished by social engineering and access to employee accounts with administrative credentials. Two accomplices were named as 22-year-old Nima “Rolex” Fazeli, of Orlando, Florida, and 19-year-old Mason “Chaewon” Sheppard of Bognor Regis, England, both also in custody but as yet uncharged. Read the rest

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tekvax
9 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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Intrepid diggers figure out the seed of Minecraft's title screen

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Minecraft worlds are procedurally generated from numbers and words known as seeds. A seed defines everything from the nearest blade of grass to the farthest mountain, and the most interesting seeds become challenges in themselves, shared by players and even aquiring fandoms of their own. The most intriguing seed in Minecraft, though, has only just been uncovered: the one that generates the backdrop to the game's title screen.

The research itself took about a month. It started on 14th June 2020, when I researched as much as I could about the panorama and it's world (the version, world axis and the exact Z coordinate using clouds) and shared my findings on SalC1's Discord server, where a similar project was currently taking place (finding the seed of the pack.png image). Then, a part of a new Minecraft-research-oriented Discord server Minecraft@Home was dedicated to this project and work quickly started to be done. It would never have been possible without them.

Minecraft@Home is a volunteer distributed computing project powered by BOINC allowing users to volunteer their idle computers to help advance Minecraft-related research, one of which was this panorama project. In less than 24 hours after launching the panorama application; a volunteer host on Minecraft@Home found this seed. This was approximately 93 days of processing time at a total of 54.5 exaFLOPs compressed into 24 hours. Another ongoing project is search for the tallest cactus (currently we have found a 22 block high one!).

A video explaining all this has already racked up nearly 4m views:

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tekvax
14 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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Fungi from Chernobyl could protect astronauts from radiation in space

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In 1991, scientists discovered a strange form of fungi growing at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The organisms seem to feed on radiation, converting gamma rays into energy for growth. Now, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Stanford University are exploring whether these "radiotrophic fungi" could protect astronauts living on the Moon or Mars. A big benefit is that the fungus self-replicate so the material could be grown upon arrival rather than having to be carried into space from Earth. Experiments conducted on the International Space Station suggest that growing a layer of fungus on top of Mars rock could result in a sufficient shield for people stationed on the Red Planet. From their technical paper in bioRxiv:

In search of innovative radiation-shields, biotechnology holds unique advantages such as suitability for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), self-regeneration, and adaptability. Certain fungi thrive in high-radiation environments on Earth, such as the contamination radius of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Analogous to photosynthesis, these organisms appear to perform radiosynthesis, using pigments known as melanin to convert gamma-radiation into chemical energy. It is hypothesized that these organisms can be employed as a radiation shield to protect other lifeforms.[...]

Estimations based on linear attenuation coefficients indicated that a ~ 21 cm thick layer of this fungus could largely negate the annual dose-equivalent of the radiation environment on the surface of Mars, whereas only ~ 9 cm would be required with an equimolar mixture of melanin and Martian regolith. Compatible with ISRU (in-situ resource utilization), such composites are promising as a means to increase radiation shielding while reducing overall up-mass, as is compulsory for future Mars-missions.

image: "Cryptococcus neoformans stained with light India ink," CDCP (public domain)

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tekvax
15 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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Apollo Missions Get Upgraded Video

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July 20th marked the anniversary of the first human setting foot on the moon. If you were alive back then, you probably remember being glued to the TV watching the high-tech images of Armstrong taking that first step. But if you go back and watch the video today, it doesn’t look the way you remember it. We’ve been spoiled by high-density video with incredible frame rates. [Dutchsteammachine] has taken a great deal of old NASA footage and used their tools to update them to higher frame rates that look a lot better, as you can see below.

The original film from the moon landing ran between 12 frames per second and as low as 1 frame per second. The new video is interpolated to 24 frames per second. Some of the later Apollo mission film is jacked up to 60 frames per second. The results are great.

We can only hope that future missions will carry enough gear that we can all go via virtual reality. Honestly, when you think of the state of technology back in 1969, it is amazing we have video at all. Consider how the computers had to struggle to do simple trig functions. Some people think the moon landings didn’t have a lot of impacts here on Earth. But we think they’d be wrong.

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tekvax
19 days ago
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Burlington, Ontario
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