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HDTV Cooling Mods

Well over a year ago, my Uncle gave me an older 26" 720p LCD HDTV. Clearly, it is one of the first-generation flat-panel screens, as it has some quirks. The color isn't very consistent, and it temporarily burns in static images. Other than that, it's been a great TV, and we've gotten a lot of use out of it. We were very dismayed when we discovered that the sound was cutting out after 15-30 minutes of use, and we really didn't want to spend $200+ on a new TV. I quickly traced the problem to heat, as the problem only appeared at the beginning of the summer, and the sound seemed to last longer with a small fan propped up behind the TV. See how I revived our HDTV after the break!


Open Lab Idaho

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce a partnership between Hacked Potatoes and Open Lab Idaho, a community hackerspace here in Boise! Only weeks after Hacked Potatoes was founded, we caught wind of the local maker culture and their efforts to start a hackerspace. We couldn't help but get involved and contribute to the rest of the team that made Open Lab Idaho happen. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our members and executive teams, we are now a thriving  community hackerspace. So far, Open Lab Idaho members have worked on a variety of projects, ranging from RepRap 3d printing and robotics to t-shirt screen printing. We welcome projects of any kind. Hit us up on the forums with your ideas! Keep an eye on @OpenLabIdaho on Twitter as well as the blog for workshop and event updates.

So what does this mean for Hacked Potatoes? It means that we have a much bigger community to work with, and more upcoming projects than ever. Now that Open Lab Idaho is off the ground, keep an eye on us! The best is yet to come.


In Search of a Chair

Recently, I came to two realizations regarding hacking and working at a desk for eight hours a day.  The first was "you get what you pay for."  A few months ago, I purchased a used macbook from a friend with the intention of learning OSX to better help the students I frequently assist.  Since then, the macbook has become a daily driver for school and web browsing at home.  Even now, I am using it to write this post.  By far, the February 2008 model macbook (polycarbonate) is the best built laptop I have experienced to date.  The aluminum ones I can only assume are better.  I use that word "experience" because it best describes the concept of a good balance between form and function.  This laptop is physically built right.  The attention to the detail and finesse of the hardware is unparalleled, which has opened the eyes of a seasoned hardcore PC fan.  I do hope that Lenovo or someone else steps up to this level because despite how awesome the hardware is, the OS just doesn't stack up in the same way.  OSX is really the only real problem with this laptop, and I expect to replace it with a distribution of Linux soon.  That said, we all know the package deal doesn't come cheap.

The second realization I came was how important my body is to working in general.  As I work in the technology sector, I find that cheap desks and chairs to be insufficient to keeping this tool I use 100% of the time, that is my body, healthy and comfortable.  With the amount of money I spend on multiple laptops, desktop upgrades, media center PCs, and servers, why do I skimp so much on things that directly affect my body?


iPod Nano Recall, Part II

In our previous post about Apple's first-generation iPod Nano replacement program, we had the absurd idea to send in a couple of dead iPods to see what Apple would replace. One of them wasn't just dead though.

On the second, I replaced the screen, left the screws out, and then accidentally ran it through the wash! By the time it came out of the dryer, it was in several pieces and the logic board was oval shaped, and we used the whole front assembly to fix another iPod. The first iPod was just dead, and the second only needed to be run over by a car to look any worse.

Laughing the whole time, we sent them into Apple to see what would happen.


$40 Helmet Mounted Camera/GoPro Alternative

FACT: 75 percent of current Hacked Potatoes authors have motorbikes. I've been wanting a helmet-mountable video camera for years now to capture all of our epic knee-dragging adventures, but cameras like the GoPro are pretty cost-prohibitive. Although it shoots glorious 1080p at a buttery 60fps, is weatherproof, and can be mounted just about anywhere, I just couldn't cough up $250 for one.

Enter the "808 #16." What kind of a name is that? I have no idea, but it's from China, is tiny (the size of a key fob), and shoots 720p at 30fps. Also, it's $40. Interested? Read on...


Overhead to LCD Video Projector Conversion

I like to host LAN parties. We mostly play console games, because they are easily accessible. All my friends have consoles, but it's nearly impossible to get people to bring high-definition displays. Usually, they are just too big to move, or are mounted on the wall, or are otherwise inaccessible. I didn't have the room or the money for another HDTV, so I decided to look into projectors.


Projector Requirements

  • Projector needs to be cheap
  • Displays at least 480p
  • Supports component input (optional)
  • Is small enough to transport (other LAN parties!)

I did some research on projectors, but I could never find a solution that was cheap enough. The only truly inexpensive solutions were terrible 480i units. The only option left was to build my own. See how I did it after the break!


Free Wifi Calling from Android – Revisited

Android Calls using Data

Some time ago, our dear deployed hacker @badger32d posted his method of connecting free WiFi calls from most any Android phone. Unfortunately, SIPgate seems to have gone the way of the DoDo, judging by how long they've been "waiting" for new numbers.

I was still motivated to find SOME way of getting WiFi calling setup on my phone, without needing to sign up for multiple services.


You might say wanted to have my Android phone to use Data for calling. #rimshot


Testing the Apple iPod Nano Recall, Part I

Apple has recalled the first-generation iPod Nano, due to battery issues. Several of my family members and fellow potato-hackers own such iPods, and have been returning them. So far, they have each received a replacement in the form of a refurbished sixth-generation iPod Nano.

While the rest of the interwebnets rages that they didn't receive an exact replacement, we at Hacked Potatoes are giving Apple a well-deserved thumbs up. Their product failed (barely), so they opted to provide a free, technologically superior replacement. We will miss the click wheel, but we will enjoy all of the extra space.

The only question that remains is this: what condition does your iPod Nano need to be in to qualify for replacement? Does it have to be working? In one piece? Read on to see what we dare to send in to Apple.


Tangled Webs of Trust

As most of you know, this week Defcon, BlackHat and bsidesLV are going on, with a lot of amazing talks. I hope to be able to listen to the audio / check out the slides once they come out, sadly I'm out of the country and could not attend these cons.

One talk that I really want to hear was by Moxie Marlinspike concerning a new tool that he released. The concept is to move much of the certificate validation to the client side, rather then from a regular Certificate Authority. Over the past several years CA's have had quite a few attacks that proved to compromise their intended goal. This is inevitable for everything. There will be a flaw that someone will find and exploit. Period.


Cricket Wireless | Worst Value in Customer Service

"Welcome to Cricket, the best value in wireless, how may I help you today?"

"Yes, my name is Isaiah Roberts and I'm having troubles with text messaging"

"I'd be more than happy to assist you today, and I apologize for your service issues"

So far so good. Of course, by this time(7th call?) I'm unable to get through to an agent when using my Cricket phone, but if I dial through Google Voice and use my sister's number, I get right in. Hm. First bad sign.