Flying Ostrich Quadcopter

Filed Under Geek, Video | 2013-07-31, 11:26

Perhaps the first flying ostrich? OstrichCopter was created by visual artist Bart Jansen and technical engineer Arjen Beltman. You might remember them as the ones also responsible for Orvillecopter (the flying taxidermal cat quadcopter) The ostrich, which probably dreamed of flying while alive, died of disease.

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Turning Geolocation Data Into Music

Filed Under Art, Geek, Self Tracking, Video | 2013-07-22, 23:50

If you’ve been tracking your own personal data for awhile like I have, you probably found yourself at one point asking, “Great, now what do I do with all of this?” If you’re Brian House, the answer is: make a record.

Brian collected a years worth of gelocation data through an iOS app called OpenPaths and transformed it into a physical vinyl record. His project, titled “Quotidian Record”, is a beautiful white vinyl with each day represented with a revolution of the record. You can read more about his project in his blog post and this Wired article.
Quotidian Record 01

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Putting A Fitbit on My Cat

Filed Under Gadgets & Hardware, Self Tracking | 2013-07-07, 21:34

Bunki the cat has a Fitbit Zip


I’ve been carrying a Fitbit around for 2+ years, generating all sorts of data as part of my ongoing preoccupation with self tracking. I’m not sure where the original idea came from, but somehow I got it into my head that my cat, Bunki, should join me on this quantified self journey. Perhaps it had something to do with her slight roundness. Due to a combination of factors (losing a Fitbit, buying a new one, having that one get run over a week later, Fitbit generously replacing the run-over one, and then me finding the lost one) I ended up with an extra Fitbit Zip that was perfect for Bunki.

I imagine some cats wouldn’t be too into the idea of lugging around a Fitbit, but I figured we’d give it a try. Luckily Bunki had worn a collar in the past, and she’s a 100% indoor cat, so there was a chance this could work without annoyance and without losing another device. I started out with just the collar to make sure she was still cool with that. Then I added just the silicone skin without the actual Fitbit. She didn’t even seem to notice it after the first minute or two, so a few hours later I added in the actual device and set up a Fitbit account of her own! A couple days later and there have been no complaints.

Since Bunki doesn’t have an iPhone she couldn’t just sync over Bluetooth Smart, so I used the tiny USB receiver that comes with the Zip. It’s plugged into a Windows machine that I have running 24/7. It just happens to currently be in the same room as her litter box right now, so it all happens automatically. When we inevitably move the litter box, I’ll have to figure out a new solution. I think treats will probably be involved. One of the big benefits of the Fitbit Zip, besides its smaller size, is that the battery will last 4-6 months, so Bunki doesn’t have to worry about charging anything.

I have no idea how accurate the step count is (you try calibrating that), I don’t know if she gets to double her score since she has four legs, and I’m sure there’s some cheating perhaps going on when she’s scratching. But all in all the data appears to be pretty good as long as you use it comparatively.

Bunki 2013-07-07 Fitbit


You’ll notice that somebody was taking a nap from 11am-3pm while we were out of the house. Proof that yes, the cat has not even moved from that spot since we left.

And it turns out Bunki is not the only cat with a Fitbit (and Twitter) account. Both @zzaps_cat and Tsunami (@Tsu_Cat) have them too.


Find the Name of Applications on iOS for Opening via SSH

Filed Under Apple, Geek, Hacks and Mods | 2013-07-05, 21:35

This is probably a post that will only be useful to a handful of people. Say you want to launch applications on an iPhone without actually touching the iPhone? Why? I don’t care, you probably have your reasons. For me it’s because I’m putting my old iPhone 4 in a dock permanently and want to be able to display different things without getting up and going over to it. Also I want to script things to open at different times for different reasons.

This requires a jailbroken iPhone obviously, and assume you’ve already installed OpenSSH (you have changed your root password, right?).

You want to download the “open” application from Cydia. Then all you’ll need to do is ssh into your iPhone and use “open [application bundle name]”. Sounds easy, right? The tricky part is knowing each application’s bundle name. some are easy to guess, like, whereas others are harder like com.Halfbrick.Fruit for Fruit Ninja.

Now you could download iFile from Cydia and go through every single folder in your /User/Applications directory and open the iTunesMetadata.plist and locate the “softwareVersionBundleId”. That works, but it’s a pain in the ass. Instead you can just run the following commands while ssh’d into your iPhone:

Get a list of all the default installed apps (and some Cydia apps):

find /Applications/ -name Info.plist -exec plutil -key CFBundleIdentifier {} \; |sort

Get a list of all the downloaded apps:

find /User/Applications/ -name iTunesMetadata.plist -exec plutil -key softwareVersionBundleId {} \; | sort

Those commands should spit out a list of bundle names. You should be able to guess most of them, and then ones you don’t know? Well, just open them. Here’s a list of some of the default ones: [Music]

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NeverWet means superhydrophobic cardboard

Filed Under Gadgets & Hardware, Geek, Hacks and Mods, Lifehacks, Video | 2013-07-05, 14:50

This cardboard hates water. This was my first test run with NeverWet to see how well it works. NeverWet is a superhydrophobic coating that can be applied to just about anything. It comes in a pair of spray cans and takes a few hours to fully dry. Then whatever you treated will never get wet. It literally repels the water. What should I do next?

Here’s a video from the makers with some more examples:

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