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Robert Quattlebaum (darco)
Maker of Things
Maker of Things

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Hacked a $7 IKEA TRÅDFRI bulb to control a dimmer board. It’s a good quick prototype, but I doubt I’ll be able to trust it enough to use it without more safety features in place. I’ve been testing it in a crucible just in case it bursts into flames.

But it does work. Doing this allows normal dimmable stuff to work with my Philips Hue bridge and associated lighting rules. I’ve grown impatient waiting for someone to make a device which does this, so I’m trying to build my own. This quick prototype was my proof on concept.
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Philips LivingColors Aura Gen3 PCB. Uses Zigbee Light Link. Can be used with Philips Hue.

SoC is CC2530. Board has room for 5 LEDs, but only three are populated.

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One thing I always wondered about the voyager "golden record"... Did they really just encode the image lines directly as amplitude? I have a hard time imagining such a noise playing very well (and not being damaged by the needle) on any sort of player. I would think encoding the line amplitude as a frequency (similar to SSTV signals) would be a better, more robust method.
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Has anyone tried hacking on these obsolete Agilent 8960 WCTS units? They are available now for $100-$200 each. They are huge, and I bet contain lots of interesting hardware. Thinking about picking one up just to see what the possibilities are.
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This is a great example of "seems like a good idea", but let's think about this for a moment.

Imagine the connector required to charge a 2900mAh battery in, let's say, 45 seconds. It would need to handle at least 232 amps.

That is going to be one expensive charger. And one heavy connector.

Oh yeah, and if the structural integrity of your phone is ever compromised, the resulting discharge would be like a small explosion. Not a "lithium ion" type pseudo explosion, but a real BOOM as all of that energy is almost instantaneously converted to heat.
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"Let's party like it's 1933¹"

That's an actual quote. Unbelievable. Almost half a million Americans died defeating that son of a bitch, and yet, 71 years later, here we are. Except this time the threat is in our own backyard.

This cannot stand.

¹ 1933 is the year Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany.
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If you are feeling hopeless about what has happened, keep reading.

Many of you, myself included, see the result of yesterday's presidential election as the worst possible outcome for the future of the republic. It has been a long time since I have felt so hopeless. The thought of giving up and moving to Canada might no longer seem like crazy talk (but I assure you, it is still crazy talk).

Despite the enormous setback, the end of our free republic and the values we hold dear is far from a forgone conclusion. We cannot just give up, we must keep fighting. But before we can do so effectively, we must acknowledge that our current playbook is no longer relevant. There are now new rules to the game. With new rules come new strategies.

As a refresher, the fear of a Trump presidency based on his repeated calls for the following sorts of things over the course of his campaign:

* Immediate repeal the Affordable Care Act (instead of fixing it), replacing it with god-knows-what. (Would likely cause millions of people to once again have no health insurance)
* End recognition of human involvement in global climate change by the federal government. (Despite scientific consensus)
* Only appoint judges who pass a pro-life litmus test (Likely leading to the end of row-vs-wade and women's sovereignty over their own bodies)
* Deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. (Which would be an economic and humanitarian disaster)
* Deport all Syrian refugees.
* "Temporarily" ban Muslims from entering the united states.
* Target and kill the relatives of terrorists. (Which is a warcrime)
* Bring back waterboarding or worse. (Torture)
* Plunder natural resources as war spoils after a traditional military victory ("I'd take the oil"; 2015)

Some of these claims he has walked back slightly. Others he has dug his heals in on. They are, as they stand, horrible ideas. Yet there is one huge inconvenient truth behind all of them: these ideas resonate with a HUGE number of people, the majority of which are not horrible people.

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that preventing this train wreck is helpless. But the above isn't the whole story.

First, Donald Trump hasn't always been this way. He used to have many "liberal" opinions:

* He was for universal healthcare ("I believe in universal health care"; 2000).
* He was pro-choice. ("I want to see the abortion issue removed from politics. I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors."; 1999)
* He was for international consensus ("[I am] a big fan, a very big fan, of the United Nations and all it stands for"; 2005)
* He supported LGBT service members serving openly in the military (gays openly serving in the military was "not something that would disturb me."; 1999)
* He supported amending the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation ("I like the idea of amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include the category of sexual orientation"; 2000)

His opinion on these topics has changed as he has increasingly found himself in a populist "echo chamber". This means that there is a chance that if we engage with him and try to work with him that we might be able to get him to soften or even revert his opinions on these topics. Many of his most harmful pledges came from him saying crazy things and getting a positive reaction from the crowd.

Second, for what it's worth, there are many things he is currently pledging to do that actually seem like good ideas:

* Knock down the regulatory walls between states for health insurance, making plans available nationally instead of regionally.
* Rebuild the country's aging infrastructure, such as roads and bridges.
* Make medical marijuana widely available to patients, and allow states to decide if they want legalize it recreationally.
* Dramatically reform the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Allow veterans to take their military identification card to any medical facility that accepts Medicaid patients to receive care.
* Invest more heavily in programs that help military veterans transition back to civilian life.
* Fix the background check system used when purchasing guns to ensure states are properly uploading criminal and health records.
* Eliminating the carried-interest loophole that lowers the tax burden of hedge fund managers to 15%.
* Increase regulation and scrutiny of politicians who become lobbyists. (Including a 5-year moratorium on members of congress becoming registered lobbyists)
* Force NATO members to adhere to the treaty's military spending requirements, thus easing the burden on the US military.
* He has pledged to protect LGBTQ people from physical violence (For what it's worth, his opinion on North Carolina House Bill 2 is consistent with his pledge: "You leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble, and the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife, and the economic punishment that they're taking."; 2016)

That last point is especially important, because he originally came out in favor of the bill, but his opinion changed after seeing the public outcry and loss of business. We still have some power!

Putting Donald Trump aside for a moment, the fact that we have once again elected someone who has lost the popular vote has created the perfect opportunity to make a big change: Reform the electoral college. Enough people are dissatisfied across the board that it might actually be possible to get a constitutional amendment passed by congress and 2/3rds of the state legislatures. The good news is that this process is entirely independent of the executive branch.

The question then becomes, what does such reform look like? Well, I'm in the process of trying to write up a much more detailed document about my own idea, but the key takeaway is that we should move to a ranked-choice voting system. Such a system allows the race to have more than two viable candidates. It is used around the world to avoid third-party candidates from "spoiling" the vote. Adopting such a system to reform the electoral college will allow our political system to evolve past our current two-party system to move to three or more viable political parties. Voting for a third-party candidate would no longer mean that you are making it more likely to get your least favorite choice elected.

There are a lot of important details to consider in order to make such a thing work. I hope to go into more detail on that soon.

The big takeaway here is that, while definitely a setback, this isn't the end of the world. As long as we can change our strategy to match the current situation, there is still hope.

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