- New Device Desirable, Old Device Undesirable -- "I'm going to take my new device wherever I go," said Larson, holding the expensive item directly in the eyeline of several reporters. "That way no one on the street, inside the elevator, or at my place of business will ever mistake me for the sort of individual who does not own the new device." Added Larson, "The new device brings me satisfaction." (via liza on Twitter)
- iPhone Piracy -- over 70% of submitted game scores for this game were from pirated copies. Having seen our data and the fact that not a single pirate bought Tap-Fu after playing it, these arguments all sound a bit delusional to me. It seems like an attempt at trying to be legitimate while hiding the real reason. They should just change their page to say "We pirate because we can". That seems to be a much more honest statement based on the data we've seen. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
- World Internet Project -- global research into Internet adoption and trends. Found via the New Zealand partner who published their dataset in the New Zealand Social Science Datasets repository.
- The Eternal Value of Privacy (Bruce Schneier) -- powerful notes about the right to privacy. Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we're doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance. [...] Privacy is a basic human need. [...] For if we are observed in all matters, we are constantly under threat of correction, judgment, criticism, even plagiarism of our own uniqueness. We become children, fettered under watchful eyes, constantly fearful that -- either now or in the uncertain future -- patterns we leave behind will be brought back to implicate us, by whatever authority has now become focused upon our once-private and innocent acts. We lose our individuality, because everything we do is observable and recordable.
- OECD Broadband Portal -- global data on broadband penetration and pricing available from June 2009.
- Easy Statistics for A/B Testing -- it really is easy. And it mentions hamsters. This is worth reading. (via Hacker News)
- last.fm's SSD Streaming Infrastructure -- Each single SSD can support around 7000 concurrent listeners, and the serving capacity of the machine topped out at around 30,000 concurrent connections in it’s tested configuration. Lots of hardware and OS configuration geeking here, it's great. (via Hacker News)
- Videos Sell More Product -- Zappos sells 6-30% more merchandise when accompanied by video demos. By the end of next year, Zappos will have ten full working video studios, with the goal of producing around 50,000 product videos by 2010, up from the 8,000 videos they have on the site today (via johnclegg on Twitter)
We love DIY projects here at Lifehacker. Whether we're building computers, backyard projects, or turning office supplies into artillery, we're always tinkering. Today we're taking a peek at the most populay DIY projects of 2009.
Inspired by a tutorial we posted last year, we decided to make our own DIY sun jars. The trendy summer time lighting accessory retails for $30+ but we were able to make ours for around $10 each. The sun jars proved to be our most popular non-computer DIY of the entire year and readers shared their own creations with us.
Building your own computer is a great way to get exactly what you want, the way you want it, without being constrained by the limits and high-prices of mass produced computers. We showed you how to build a computer from start to finish and have fun doing it.
What's standing between you and some office mayhem? Certainly not a lack of Sharpie markers and keyboard dusting spray. Combine the two with this fun DIY project and you've got a one of the most awesome pieces of office-machinery we've ever featured.
You need to be properly erasing your physical media: all the time, every time. Our guide will show you how to get the job done and done right whether you use software to scrub your disks or you send them to the great data mine in the sky with a 21-gun salute.
Why settle for a digital picture frame when, in the same wall space, you could mount an entirely functional computer/slideshow player/TV tuner? One Lifehacker reader turned an old laptop into a super-charged digital frame.
We've always been keen on DIY laptop stands, but reader Aaron Kravitz-inspired by an attractive $50 stand-went above and beyond, creating one of the most attractive DIY laptop stands we've featured to date.
If the Hive Five on best home server software got you excited about setting up a home server but you're not keen on another unsightly PC in your home, check out this DIY IKEA NAS.
We've shown you how to make an air conditioner (even for as low as $30), but what if you wanted something you can put in your car and take with you? While it's no substitute for a fully-charged and factory-fresh AC system, it'll keep you cool.
Who hasn't dreamed of having a mystery-story-style secret passageway? While a trick bookshelf is pretty awesome in itself, this secret passage hides a home office with clever style. One industrious Lifehacker reader and his girlfriend had grown tired of seeing their office from their living space, so they hid it behind a wall of books.
You've ripped a movie on your laptop, and now want it on that fancy new home theater PC next to your TV. If you've got the time, wiring your house with Cat-5e cable could make transfer times a distant memory.
We're all about creative cable management here at Lifehacker, so we were instantly drawn to reader Seandavid010's rain-gutter cable management setup. He was awesome enough to send detailed photos and step by step instructions to help other readers recreate his setup.
The lights went out on analog television this year and we were there with a guide to help you build a great DIY antenna for boosting your reception and getting that crisp digital picture you crave.
Lifehacker reader Matt Lumpkin saw our monitor stand from door stoppers post and thought we might like his laptop rack hack as another space-saving desktop solution for laptop-lovers. He was right.
Suppose you were inspired by the cheap DIY home pizza oven-but weren't so sure your home insurance would cover oven modifications. It's time to build a safer, more eye-pleasing oven, and we've got a thorough guide.
Two years ago we highlighted how to crack a Master combination padlock for those of you who may have lost the combination to your bulletproof lock; now designer Mark Campos has turned the tried-and-true instructions into an easier-to-follow visual guide.
Instead of storing your books upright on top of the shelf, the inverted bookshelf holds all of your books in place using elastic webbing so you can hang them below the shelf-all the while allowing you to still take them out and put them back on as needed.
Inspired by our guide to giving an old laptop new life with cheap or free projects, Lifehacker reader Brian turned his aging Dell laptop into an incredible under-the-cabinet kitchen PC.
If you'd like to have delicious home-grown tomatoes but lack a garden to grow them in, you'll definitely want to check out this ingenious and inexpensive self-watering system.
A few years ago, blogger Jimmie Rodgers's camera was stolen while volunteering in an impoverished Brazilian community, so he did what any sane person would do: He bought an new camera and made it ugly. With his uglified camera, Rodgers was able to snap pictures freely during the rest of his trip without worrying too much that his ostensibly crappy camera would end up stolen.
Nothing adds space to a desk or home theater setup like a simple monitor or TV stand, and weblog IKEA Hacker details how to build your own stand on-the-cheap with a few inexpensive items from IKEA.
You don't need to run out and buy a new TV because of the DTV switchover. If you did anyways, Make Magazine has put together quite a guide to giving old TVs new life.
If you need some cheap and novel ambient lighting for your next party, you're only a box of ping-pong balls and a string of lights away from solving your lighting worries.
DeviceGuru blogger Rick Lehrbaum, inspired by the cheaper set-top boxes, made his own higher-powered "BoxeeBox" for the free, open-source media center. He posted all the parts, the how-to details, and lots of pictures.
You already shelled out your hard earned cash for a swanky laptop, why drop more cash on an overpriced laptop stand? Cardboard alone can do the trick, as detailed in this step-by-step tutorial.
Earlier this year we put together a wildly popular guide to building a Hackintosh with Snow Leopard, start to finish, and then followed it up with an even easier guide to install Snow Leopard on your Hackintosh PC, no hacking required. Computers + DIY is all sorts of geeky fun waiting to happen.
Have a favorite DIY from 2009 that wasn't highlighted here? Sound off in the comments with a link to your favorite project. Want to see more popular DIY guides courtesy of the ghost of Lifehacker past? Check out our huge DIY guide roundup from 2008.
We’ll leave it to other blogs to spill more ink on the colorful history of the new JooJoo tablet (formerly known as the CrunchPad). The phrase “HD video” is what caught our eye. From our pal Kevin Tofel:
The operating system is Unix-based and the device has a 4 GB Solid State Disk drive for local storage. There’s “enough graphic power” for full HD video playback. Five hours of online time is the expectation for wireless browsing. Have a look-see at the JooJoo, which is an African term for “magical.”
Kevin doesn’t think you’ll be running out to grab one, however. With a $499 price tag and only Wi-Fi connectivity, he writes: ” [it's] a hard sell for a web-based tablet with only Wi-Fi. A netbook is priced less and offers far more, so I’m calling this one a niche product for now.”
Check out photos and more over at jkOnTheRun.
- 3D Touchscreens -- Japan Science & Technology Agency and researchers at the University of Electro-communications have made a "photoelastic" touch screen. The LCD emits polarized light, picked up by a camera over the screen. Transparent rubber on the screen deforms when pressed, and the camera can pick this up. Interesting hack, though it's not yet a consumer-grade product.
- Eureqa -- open source tool for detecting equations and hidden mathematical relationships in your data. Its primary goal is to identify the simplest mathematical formulas which could describe the underlying mechanisms that produced the data. (via pigor on delicious)
- Science in the Open, It Wasn't Supposed To Be This Way -- Cameron Neylon on the leaked climate email messages as a trigger for open data. One of the very few credible objections to open research that I have come across is that by making material available you open your inbox to a vast community of people who will just waste your time. The people who can’t be bothered to read the background literature or learn to use the tools; the ones who just want the right answer. [...] my concern is that in a kneejerk response to suddenly make things available no-one will think to put in place the social and technical infrastructure that we need to support positive engagement, and to protect active researchers, both professional and amateur from time-wasters. Sounds like an open science call for social software, though I'm not convinced it's that easy. Humans can't distinguish revolutionaries from terrorists, it's unclear why we think computers should be able to.
- EtherPad Back Online Until Open Sourced -- Google bought collaborative real-time EtherPad and the team will work on Google Wave, but the transition plan was "you can't create more documents, and it'll all go away in March". Grumpiness ensued. Everyone makes mistakes online, but the secret is to listen, acknowledge the mistake, and correct your course.
- Paywall Performance for News -- the National Business Review (NBR) in New Zealand went to a paywall in mid-July, and Foo Camper Lance Wiggs says their visitor numbers reveal a grim picture. As a commenter says, of course, visitor numbers go down but NBR makes money directly from the visitors that stay. I'm curious to see the effect on advertisers now the site's incentives are not to spray their load far and wide to land on as many eyeballs as possible. An interesting canary in the mine for Rupert's paywall plans at Fox.
- Real Time, Real Discussion, Real Reporting: Choose Two (CrunchGear) -- a long post about the Internet's effects on journalism, but the headline will stick with me the longest.
- Sony Still Subsidizing US Supercomputer Efforts -- US military buying PS3s as a cheap source of cell CPUs. The PS3's retail price is subsidized by Sony, driving game sales in a razor-blades model. It's like you could melt down razors and get more in scrap metal than they cost to buy at the supermarket ... (via BoingBoing)
- Open Source Proves Elusive as Business Model (NYTimes) -- To Ms. Kroes’s point, there is an open-source alternative, and usually a pretty good one, to just about every major commercial software product. In the last decade, these open-source wares have put tremendous pricing pressure on their proprietary rivals. Governments and corporations have welcomed this competition. Whether open-source firms are practical as long-term businesses, however, is a much murkier question. On the contra side, Mozilla makes millions from referred searches and must be counted as a win for open source even though it's not a company.
- Chumby One (Bunnie Huang) -- new Chumby product released. In addition to being about half the price of the original chumby, the new device added some features: it has an FM radio, and it has support for a rechargeable lithium ion battery (although it’s not included with the device, you have to buy one and install it yourself). There’s also a knob so you can easily/quickly adjust the volume. But I don’t think those are really the significant new features. What really gets me excited about this one is that it’s much more hackable.
- Deep Tracing of Internet Explorer (John Resig) -- very sexy deep inspection of Internet Explorer. Finally, something IE does better than Firefox (other than exploits). dynaTrace Ajax works by sticking low-level instrumentation into Internet Explorer when it launches, capturing any activity that occurs - and I mean virtually any activity that you can imagine. (via Simon Willison)
- Less Than Free -- begins by talking about Google giving away turn-by-turn directions on Android, and then analyses Google's "less than free" business model: Additionally, because Google has created an open source version of Android, carriers believe they have an “out” if they part ways with Google in the future. I then asked my friend, “so why would they ever use the Google (non open source) license version.” Here was the big punch line - because Google will give you ad splits on search if you use that version! That’s right; Google will pay you to use their mobile OS. I like to call this the “less than free” business model. This is a remarkable card to play. Because of its dominance in search, Google has ad rates that blow away the competition. To compete at an equally “less than free” price point, Symbian or windows mobile would need to subsidize. Double ouch!!
- Expert Labs -- a new independent initiative to help policy makers in our government take advantage of the expertise of their fellow citizens. How does it work? Simple: 1. We ask policy makers what questions they need answered to make better decisions. 2. We help the technology community create the tools that will get those answers. 3. We prompt the scientific & research communities to provide the answers that will make our country run better. New non-profit from Anil Dash.
Windows only: Planning an upgrade soon? Save yourself the web searches for your specs and download Speccy. Speccy does a quick scan of your machine and gives you a complete rundown of every piece of gear that's in your computer.
Upon first glance, Speccy seems like something that's only attractive to power users, but it can be useful for anyone. When the Device Manager doesn't give you enough information about what kind of RAM you have (say, if you're looking to upgrade), Speccy will give you all the information you could possibly need, including the RAM type, how much you currently have, and even the number of slots used so you can buy with confidence.
You can view your computer's information in a brief summary (as shown), or click on any of the categories for a very, very detailed report. Speccy gives you detailed information for CPU, motherboard, graphics, hard drives, optical drives, and audio, all so you don't have to go searching somewhere else to find out what you have. In addition, it also gives you real-time information on things like bus speed, DRAM Frequency, and temperature, to name a few.
- A Battery-Free Implantable Neural Sensor (MIT Tech Review) -- Electrical engineers at the University of Washington have developed an implantable neural sensing chip that needs less power. Uses RFID's induction technology which means the power source can be up to a meter away. Proof of concept was implanted in a moth to sense central nervous system activity.
- New Microsoft Interface Technology -- videos from Craig Mundie (Chief Research and Strategy Officer) on the MS Campus Tour talking about the future of UI using a sexy glass prototype that features tablet PC, gesture, speech recognition, and even eye tracking. Lustable.
- Adding Usability to Print -- detailed description of a failed pitch to reinvent a newspaper, to bring web sensibility to print. Make the paper more usable, think cross media instead of separate media, while using the strength of the paper (pictures, info graphics, nice text) to the max Make a product that people want to buy because it is more usable that the competitor, not because it wins graphic design prizes. (via Evolving Newsroom)
- StressAppTest -- Google-created open source project to pound the living crap out of hardware by maximising random traffic to memory from processor and I/O, with the intent of creating a realistic high load situation in order to test the existing hardware devices in a computer.
- ChipHacker -- collaborative FAQ site for electronics hacking. Based on the same StackExchange software as RedMonk's FOSS FAQ for open source software.
- Democracy Live -- BBC launch searchable coverage of parliamentary discussion, using speech-to-text. One aspect we're particularly proud of is that we've managed to deliver good results for speech-to-text in Welsh, which, we're told, is unique. I think of this as the start of a They Work For You for video coverage. I'd love to be able to scale this to local government coverage, which is disappearing as local newspapers turn into delivery mechanisms for real estate advertisements.
- InfiniDB: Open Source Column Database -- hooks into MySQL, uses MySQL for SQL parsing, security, etc. The commercial enterprise version has multi-server support (parallel scale-out). (via Brian Aker)
- Massive Online Analysis -- MOA is a framework for data stream mining. Includes tools for evaluation and a collection of machine learning algorithms. Related to the WEKA project, also written in Java, while scaling to more demanding problems. . (via joshua on Delicious)
Jason Marton was looking for a quieter, hidden home server. So, naturally, he built one into a whisky bottle that blends in with his existing dry bar.
Over at hack weblog MetkuMods Jason Marton explains how he created a personal PC or home server inside of a discarded and (obviously) empty whisky bottle. Although it isn't the first thing one might think of, we have to applaud the creativity and problem solving skills that went into the modification.
The only part of the hack that needed a small amount of professional help was from a glass cutter. After a few failed attempts to use at home tools, he took it in to a local professional to have the holes drilled and cleaned up. Here's the rest of the materials Jason used for his 2006 hack (you can update accordingly), and you can pick up the assembly details over at MetkuMods:
- 1.5 liter Ballantine's bottle
- 3.5" SBC board
- Intel P3 733EB processor
- 256MB notebook RAM
- 40GB notebook HDD
- 60W mini-ITX PSU
- 44 pin mini-IDE cable
Would you consider modding your own home server from an unusual object? Or are you okay with your traditional, home office set up? Sound off in the comments.
Note: No Genies were harmed in the making of this craft.
- Julie Learns to Program -- blog from our own Julie Steele as she learns her first programming language. The point is: it’s in me. I wasn’t sure that is was, and now I know—it is. And what, exactly, is “it”? It is the bug. It is the combination of native curiosity and stubbornness that made me play around with the code and take some wild guesses instead of running straight to Google (or choosing to stay within the bounds of the exercise). That might sound like a small thing, but I know it is not. I was determined to make the program do what I wanted it to do, I came up with a few guesses as to how to do that, and I kept trying different things until I succeeded (and then I felt thrilled). As much as I have to learn, I know now that I really am hooked. And that I’ll get there.
- WWW::Mechanize::Firefox -- Perl module to control Firefox, using the same interface as the WWW::Mechanize web robot module. (via straup on Delicious)
- Anatomy of SSDs -- teeth-rattlingly technical Linux Magazine article explaining the different types of SSDs (Solid State Disks--imagine a hard drive made of rapid-access Flash memory). Artur Bergman told me that installing an SSD drive in his MacBook Pro gave the greatest performance increase of any computer upgrade he'd performed since he went from no computer to one.
In the market for a new gadget but not sure what will best suit your needs? Web site Measy helps you find the perfect gadget by presenting you with a series of questions aimed to help narrow down your options.
Buying a new gadget can be time consuming, particularly if you're the type who likes to do your research beforehand. Measy is one more tool to add to your arsenal. Just head to the home page, pick a gadget type from their list on the left (right now it's limited to netbooks, digital cameras, DSLRs, and HDTVs), then start working your way through the quiz, answering questions about your budget and the importance of various features.
We wouldn't recommend instantly buying the first suggestion Measy comes up with (we like to research a lot before buying), but this does seem like a worthwhile tool for starting your search. If you've given Measy a try, or you've already got a preferred method for narrowing down potential gadget purchases, let's hear more about it in the comments.
- Raytheon Sends Android to Battlefield -- Google's OS sees deployment. Using Android software tools, Raytheon ( RTN - news - people ) engineers built a basic application for military personnel that combines maps with a buddy list. [...] Every part of RATS is tailored for use on a battlefield. A soldier could make an unmanned plane a "buddy," for instance, and track its progress on a map using his phone. He could then access streaming video from the plane, giving him a bird's eye view of the area. Soldiers could also use the buddy list to trace the locations of other members of their squad. (via Jim Stogdill)
- The Kanzius Machine (CBS News, video) -- inventor lost the race against leukemia, but his DIY RF therapy device is being developed "for real". (via Jim Stogdill)
- Lost in Translation -- Will Shipley shows how to handle internationalisation and localisation. In this post I'm going to explain to you what internationalization and localization are, how Apple's tools handle them by default, and the huge flaws in Apple's approach. Then I'm going to provide you with the code and tools to do localization in a much, much easier way. Then you're going to think, 'That will never work, because of blah!' and I'm going to respond, as if I can read your mind or I've already had this argument with a dozen developers, 'It already did - I used these tools in Delicious Library and Delicious Library 2 and they've won three Apple Design Awards between them. (via migurski on Delicious)
- The Bus Pirate -- interfaces to a heap of embedded hardware. The ‘Bus Pirate’ is a universal bus interface that talks to most chips from a PC serial terminal, eliminating a ton of early prototyping effort when working with new or unknown chips (via joshua on Delicious)
Straight from Apple:
The same Multi-Touch technology first introduced on the revolutionary iPhone comes to the mouse. It's called Magic Mouse, and it's the world's first Multi-Touch mouse. Click anywhere, scroll in any direction, and swipe through images on its smooth, seamless top shell. It works wirelessly using Bluetooth, so you don't have to worry about cables or adapters cluttering your workspace. And built-in software lets you configure Magic Mouse any way you want.
Apple's Mighty Mouse may have been one of the most hated point-and-clickers on the planet (I've never used one that actually worked well), but Apple at the very least got an "A" for trying something kind of new. We'll see if they fare better this time around. Gizmodo's got a hands-on with the Magic Mouse, along with info on the updated $1,000 MacBook, the refreshed iMacs, and the beefier Mac minis.
The Magic Mouse will ship with the new iMacs starting today, or you can buy one separately from the Apple Store for $69.
- Wiimote Audio Geotagging -- match audio with the map movement and annotations made with an IR pen and a Wiimote. Very cool! (and from New Zealand)
- San Francisco: Open For Data -- Two months after it launched, the project is already reaping rewards from San Francisco's huge community of programmers. Applications using the data include Routesy, which offers directions based on real-time city transport feeds; and EcoFinder, which points you to the nearest recycling site for a given item.
- Google Wave's Best Use Cases (Lifehacker) -- not cases where people are using Wave, but where they want to. Read this as "the Web has not provided all the tools to solve these problems". Something will solve them, and Wave is trying to. (via Jim Stogdill)
- Analyzing Human Genomes with Hadoop -- case study from the Cloudera blog. Performs alignment and genotyping on the 100GB of data you get when you sequence a human's genome in about three hours for less than $100 using a 40-node, 320-core cluster rented from Amazon’s EC2. (via mndoci on Twitter)
Windows Home Server is a fairly easy way to start streaming net content and sharing files between home computers. Maximum PC details the building, installation, and management of a pretty serious Home Server setup, from the ground up.
Hardcore PC geeks will probably just want to skip to the parts list and consider a few upgrades or replacements. As Gina can tell you, though, there's more to building a computer from scratch than just hooking up the cables. Maximum PC goes step-by-step on the specific hardware they've picked out, and detail how it works with Windows Home Server to bring in streaming movies, share and back up files, and bring all other sorts of modern-age coolness to your home network.
Found another Home Server setup guide that's worth drooling over? Share it in the comments.
- Echofon -- novel take on Twitter apps: sync your unread list between phone, browser, and (ultimately, they promise) desktop Twitter app. (via auchmill on Twitter)
- GLAM Tech (MP3) -- Radio New Zealand new technology slot about the use of technology in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM) sector. For links, see the programme page.
- Man With Miniature Radio -- 1950s DIY proto-iPod amusement.
- Open Source in Emerging Markets -- the emerging markets — which include India, China, and Brazil — have more FOSS adoption and a higher concentration of effort in open source. Three quarters (74%) of developers in emerging markets use open source software for at least part of their work, compared to 65% of developers worldwide. In this context, "use" means personal use or corporate use, and could include both developer tools and desktop or server applications. (via glynmoody on Twitter)
- Wikileaks Now Holds UK Postcode Database -- the UK does not have open geodata in the way that we know it. A state-owned enterprise, Ordnance Survey, is responsible for maintaining all sorts of baseline data and they charge (through the nose) for that data. This is the release of 1,841,177 post codes, geographic boundaries, and more. Postcodes in the UK are far more useful than US ZIP codes--they identify a handful of houses, rather than a few thousand houses.
- My New Sense Organ -- a strap with buzzers and a compass, so you always have physical reminder of orientation. For people like me who can get lost putting on pants in the morning, this would be a godsend. (via Slashdot)
- Saving is Obsolete -- EtherPad adds a Wave-like replay feature to help you see the history of a document.
- Open Source 3D People -- incredible software to design realistic 3D faces and bodies. (via glynmoody on Twitter)