FindDay #8

Every Friday I share the five coolest things I’ve found on the web in the last week.

1 – PiVPN

http://www.pivpn.io/

There’s been a lot of talk about VPN’s recently due to changes in Internet privacy laws in the U.S. and U.K. (and certainly elsewhere as well). However, VPN’s are notoriously difficult to setup and with good reason; a mis-configured VPN can give you a false sense of security.

PiVPN aims to solve this by applying the philosophy of PiHole (a network-wide ad-blocker that runs on Raspberry Pi) to setting up your own VPN. In addition to making it easy, PiVPN goes to great lengths to make sure your VPN is set up correctly as well.

If you don’t know why you might want a VPN, that’s a longer discussion, but if you’ve been considering setting up your own VPN but don’t know where to start, this is a pretty cool option.

Note: Like PiHole, PiVPN asks the user to run a script with superuser privileges from their website, and this is almost unilaterally a bad idea. This reason it’s a bad idea is that if someone on the other end is malicious, they can essentially have their way with your computer. For this reason it’s a good idea to read the script and make sure it’s not doing anything you don’t want it to. However, if you could read that script, you probably don’t need PiVPN, so you kind of have to trust these guys. This is one of the advantages of using a dedicated device like a Raspberry Pi for something like this, because if it turns out to be evil, you can destroy it without mercy.

(via Linux Voice Podcast )

 

2 – Reprap Helios

https://hackaday.io/project/21355-reprap-helios

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I’m always excited to see a new Reprap design. The “classic” machines get the job done, but innovation has always been one of the key the advantages of open-source designs. If you’ve seen other Repraps before, you’ll notice there’s something different about Helios.

I remember seeing a SCARA-based Reprap design a few years ago. I’m not sure if Helios is a descendant of those designs or something entirely new, but I’m glad to see progress being made in this direction. Aside from just being different, SCARA robots have multiple applications and it’s at least theoretically possible that a SCARA Reprap could handle more than just laying down plastic, opening the door for expanding its self-replicating capabilities.

 

3 – Fish-O-Matic

https://www.hackster.io/the-fish-o-matic-team/fish-o-matic-364581

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The idea behind Fish-O-Matic is to grow food continuously using a self-contained apparatus containing both plant and animal life to create a symbiotic system.

I’ve seen commercial implementations of closed-ecosystem farming like this, and I’ve run across a couple DIY projects as well, but what stood out to me about Fish-O-Matic is how complete the project description is. Of the ones I’ve seen so far, this one seems the most reproducible.

(via Hackster.io Newsletter )

 

4 – ARBox

https://gitlab.s1.0x39b.fr/lambda/arbox

screenshot

ARBox is a simple augmented reality application that shows you what’s in your storage bins without having to open them. If you’re like us, you have shelves of these things and having to pull them off the shelf and open them to find something is a drag.

While still in the experimental stage, I think there’s a lot of potential in something like ARBox. The first thing that comes to my mind is a way to share the database of “stuff” with friends so once everything is inventoried, when you need something you could do a search and see if one of your friends already has what you need squirreled-away in a tub somewhere.

 

5 – Void Star

https://www.wired.com/2017/04/void-star-dystopia-computational-linguistics/

I haven’t read Void Star yet, but based on this article about the author, I am optimistic about there being a good contemporary science fiction book about AI.

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