Tales From The Dork Web #10.5

The Missing Links

Steve Lord

As promised, I said I’d do a missing links post for issue 10 and here it is. I’d also like to point out a couple of things:

Comments are open for the AMA. I’ll come back and check throughout the next day or two and answer your questions as best as I can.

People have asked how to get the Smart Watch, so this post also features a video and guide in case you wanted to make your own. It’s really easy.

It feels weird doing a kind of half-issue post, so I’m going to put some music on and I hope you’ll join me.

Cami Layé Okún is a Havana-based DJ. She travels Central and South America, rifling through record shops looking for old vinyl treasures. Give her a listen. Art is from the incredible Sci-Fi novel illustrator Paul Lehr.

Build Your Own Amiga-inspired Smart Watch

Last week I posted my Amiga-inspired Smart Watch. Many readers thought this was something incredibly hard to set up, which left me a little disappointed. It’s actually really easy. You’re going to need the following:

  • A small cross-head screwdriver

  • A TTGO T-Watch with any daughterboard that has a speaker attached

  • The Arduino IDE installed on your computer

  • A flask of weak lemon drink

When you open the box you should see a cube type device. The supplied strap has a long fabric part with holes at the end that passes through the inside of the back of the watch and on through the eyes at the bottom. Unscrew the back with your screwdriver.

If your chosen daughterboard isn’t connected, you should connect it up now. There’s a ribbon slot and a space for the speaker to go. Think about layout, wiring and battery position before you start doing things as it can be a tight fit with some boards. There’s a notch in one side of the case to store the speaker. Make sure it’s pushed down into the notch and be careful: it’s a nightmare to remove without breaking anything.

Slide your strap through the back and screw it back on. Now you’re ready to start with the software side. I’ve created a video above that walks you through uploading the software to the device. If you have trouble, go back a couple of steps and try from there. If all else fails, I’m on the AMA Thursday and Friday where you can ask for help.

Things You Might’ve Missed

Ken Shirrif has done a teardown of the 555 Timer IC, possibly the world’s most ubiquitous chip. This piece on using silver tape to create circuits might get me to buy an inkjet printer again.

I really enjoyed this video on recovering the Apollo 10 LM Software, along with this low-budget Alien remake. The Command & Conquer Red Alert and Tiberian Dawn source code has been released, Eric Urban took a look inside. Justine Haupt’s rotary mobile phone is very cute. In brain-bending news, Tic Tac Toe in a single printf severely hurt my head.

If you’ve use Android for a while you might’ve used an open source mail app called K-9 Mail. Presumed dead, it’s now back with a new design and some new features. Continuing the everything-retro-is-new-again theme, Hacker Public Radio has a podcast using an OpenBSD Live CD distro as a router like it’s 2007.

In the very first Tales From The Dork Web, I wrote about the Pinebook Pro and it’s OpenBSD support. Matthias Schmidt is still documenting it. This is a major issue with fancy ARM technology, the chips are great, the support, not often so much.

One of my favourite films of all time is Adrian Lyne’s Jacob’s Ladder. It’s the story of a vietnam vet whose war experiences result in disturbing demonic visions tearing his life apart. The New Yorker investigates the even more horrific Operation Delerium.

Vik Tomas has the best piece I’ve seen on the Zettelkasten approach to structuring notes. I really like Andy Matuschak’s notes. I’ve started using Zettlr as my Nextcloud Notes setup was getting a bit unwieldy and I always have a zillion MacDown tabs open. Reminds me of how I used to use Tomboy on Gnome. Damn, I miss Tomboy.

Ungoogled Chromium looks like a better alternative to Google’s spyware browser. Android users may prefer Bromite. The always excellent David Gerard reminds us why we shouldn’t use Brave Browser.

Harvard Medical School released an interesting paper on hospital and search traffic analysis suggesting COVID-19 activity as early as late summer 2019. The long now examines long term perspectives during a pandemic.

Aleksandra Sikora writes about most tech content being bullshit, while David Perell writes about 50 ideas that changed his life. This press release about synthetic red blood cells is amazing. I just hope nobody turns it into IoT.

IBM is pulling out of the facial recognition anti-privacy business. I for one am shocked to see Amazon screwing over suppliers on it’s platform yet again. If only Bezos knew.

What’s better than Kraftwerk? Latin music. What’s better than Latin music? Latin Kraftwerk! My personal favourites from the album are Trans-Europe Express and Tour de France. What’s yours?

Ok, Im using Substack’s discussion feature to host an AMA. Give it a try, and we’ll see how it goes. I’ll dip in and out over today and tomorrow. I’m on UK time and I’ll try to respond to everyone.

If you know anyone who might like to read Tales From The Dork Web, please do share it with them. There’ll be another issue next week, then back to the two week schedule. If you’re not already subscribed, just fill in the form to sign up.