Thank God the FAA Is Switching to Satellites for Air Traffic Control

As unnerving as it is to hear, air traffic control has always been pretty piecemeal. Relying on a combination of instrumentation—namely, radar, radios, and GPS—as well as good old fashioned eyeballs, pilots do a pretty good job navigating the sky. But they’re about to get a lot better with a new satellite-based system.

Appropriately named NextGen, the new system being deployed widely this year by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) promises to improve every single air traveller’s experience. The key is constant connectivity to precise satellite technology that gives all aircraft and controllers in flight towers access to real-time-data from the time the plane leaves the gate until it arrives at its destination. This means weather problems are more easily spotted and avoided—which is a huge deal since weather causes 70 percent of all delays. Beyond that, the entire air traffic control system is becoming more automated and modernized. The FAA already has a list of NextGen success stories, too.

The NextGen system will get even better as more planes use it, too. “All you need is one aircraft to land and the benefits begin,” said the FAA’s Warren Strickland in a statement. “With connections, the benefits are exponential.” Heck, even an incremental benefit would be nice at this point!

via Gizmodo
Thank God the FAA Is Switching to Satellites for Air Traffic Control

The trailer for Beyond the Brick reminds us why we love Lego so much

The trailer for Beyond the Brick reminds us why we love Lego so much

A childhood spent building everything from castles, to spaceships, to monsters is all one really needs to remind themselves why Lego is the ultimate toy for everyone from toddlers to seniors. But check out the trailer for Beyond the Brick: A Lego Brickumentary for even more reasons to love all those colorful plastic pieces.

The documentary actually premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, but it’s finally getting a U.S. release on July 31. And even though you probably don’t need much convincing to spend two hours in a theater watching a documentary all about Lego, here’s a clip from the film that the Wall Street Journal posted last year to help further whet your appetite.

You’re reading Leg Godt, the blog with the latest Lego news and the best sets in the web. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

via Gizmodo
The trailer for Beyond the Brick reminds us why we love Lego so much

Disabling IPv6 fixes Netflix and AirPlay issues on Apple TV

I’ve been having a lot of issues lately with Netflix on my AppleTV and other iOS devices from home. On Apple TV, the most common outcome of launching Netflix was the dreaded “Netflix is currently unavailable” screen. It has gotten so bad that my kids keep asking to just watch Netflix on Roku! Obviously if […]

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Do you want to feel like a wizard? Check the Kymera wand in Amazon: You can control your Apple TV waving a wand!

via Apple TV Hacks
Disabling IPv6 fixes Netflix and AirPlay issues on Apple TV

This Calculator Helps You Crack Any Master Combination Lock in 8 Tries

Forgot your Master lock combo? Or want some incentive to not use a Master padlock? There’s a website for that.

The video above from Samy Kamar shows how you can crack any Master combination lock within eight tries. It’s a bit long, but here’s Ars Technica’s explanation if you don’t want to sit through the video:

The exploit involves lifting up a locked shackle with one hand while turning the combination dial counterclockwise starting at the number 0 with the other. Before the dial reaches 11, there will be three points where the dial will resist being turned anymore. One of them will be ignored as it is exactly between two whole numbers on the dial. The remaining two locations represent locked positions. Next, an attacker again lifts the locked shackle, this time with less force, while turning the dial clockwise. At some point before a full revolution is completed, the dial will resist being turned. (An attacker can still turn through it but will physically feel the resistance.) This location represents the resistance location. The two locked positions and the one resistance position are then recorded on a Web page that streamlines the exploit.

The page responds with the first digit of the combination and two possible digits for the last digit. By testing which of the possible last digits has more “give,” an attacker can quickly figure out which one is correct. By eliminating the false digit from the Web form, the page will automatically populate the eight possible numbers for the second digit of the combination. Now that the attacker knows the first and last digits and knows the second digit is one of eight possible numbers, the hack is a simple matter of trying each possible combination until the correct one opens the lock.

We’ve previously seen an illustrated guide to cracking a Master lock, but the online tool makes it much easier and in many fewer tries.

Break open any Master Combo Lock in 8 tries or less! | YouTube via Ars Technica

via Lifehacker
This Calculator Helps You Crack Any Master Combination Lock in 8 Tries

The Trick to Cracking a Master Combo Lock in 8 Tries or Fewer 

The Trick to Cracking a Master Combo Lock in 8 Tries or Fewer 

Look, we all know that Master combo locks, which go for $4 a pop, are not paragons of security. But damn, this looks easy. In a new video, hacker Samy Kamkar demonstrates a dead simple trick that he claims can break into most Master combo locks in just a few tries.

It’s so easy because Kamkar has done all the hard work for you, reverse-engineering the lock to narrow down the possible combinations to just 8. All you have to do is go to input 3 numbers into Kamkar’s algorithm. Here’s how you get the numbers:

  1. While lifting the locked shackle, turn the knob counterclockwise starting at the number 0. Between 0 and 11, the lock will “catch” in three places. Two out of three will be straddling a number. Record those two and ignore the one that is not.
  2. Now lift the shackle again and turn the knob clockwise, until you encounter resistance. This is is your third number.

You type in these three numbers, and the algorithm spits out the first and third digits of the combination along with 8 choices for the second. Now it’s just a matter of trying them all. Doesn’t that make you feel great about your high school lock security situation?

Go forth and do no evil. Let us know if this trick works for you.

[h/t Digg]

via Gizmodo
The Trick to Cracking a Master Combo Lock in 8 Tries or Fewer 

How to Save Money Buying Lumber from a Distributor Instead of a Retailer

How to Save Money Buying Lumber from a Distributor Instead of a Retailer

When you are ready to up your woodworking game, it’s time to start buying wood straight from a distributor instead of the big box retailers. You’ll have a lot more hardwood options to choose from, and you’ll save money in the process.

Visiting a lumber distributor can be an intimidating process for the uninitiated. For starters, the terminology and pricing is different from what you would find at Lowe’s or Home Depot, as well as the sheer amount of wood options in regards to species, grade, thickness, and type of cut. This guide will take you through these options in hopes that your first visit to the lumberyard isn’t your last.

Know How They Measure Board Thickness

Hardwood thickness is measured in quarters, not inches, when buying from a distributor. A 1-inch thick board is written as 4/4 (stated as “four quarter”), a 2-inch board is written as 8/4 (stated as “eight-quarter”).

Lumber can also be found in less common thicknesses like 5/4, 6/4, 12/4, and 16/4.

Keep in mind that lumber is often pre-milled and then dried, so the board that started out 4/4 inches thick will be closer to 3/4” to 7/8”.

No matter what the actual stated thickness is, you’ll be charged at the max rate being 1″ thick for 4/4 stock and 2″ thick for 8/4 stock. There is no discount because the wood is thinner.

Understand “Board Feet” Volume

How to Save Money Buying Lumber from a Distributor Instead of a Retailer

Wood from a distributor is sold by volume which is measured in “board feet”. This makes it easier to determine pricing across hardwoods that are cut at various lengths, widths and thicknesses.

The basic formula is length (in inches) x width (in feet) x thickness (in inches) / 12 = 1 Board Foot (BF). The above illustration from Popular Woodworking visually explains this measurement well.

In case you forget your calculator on your trip to the distributor, keep this tip from the Wood Whisperer in mind: a 4/4 board that’s 6″ wide and 8′ long is 4 board feet. Since many boards are cut to this approximate size, you can easily estimate the board feet on the fly by multiplying your number of 4/4 boards by 4.

The Main Types of Wood Cuts

How to Save Money Buying Lumber from a Distributor Instead of a Retailer

A sawmill will cut a log in three main ways that yield lumber with different characteristics: plainsawn, quartersawn, and riftsawn.

Plainsawn is the most common cut you will encounter, yields the most wood per log, and is the least expensive cut. Roughly 90% of lumber is cut plainsawn.

Quartersawn is cut when the wood species and grain is more attractive and is mostly used for tabletops, cabinets, and flooring. Riftsawn is similar to quartersawn but cut at a slightly different angle which shows very uniform lines and like quartersawn is popular for flooring.

The Important Lumber Grades

You can get deep into lumber grades, which is the amount of usable material in a board. The higher the grade of wood the less imperfections, such as knots, it will have.

FAS and Select boards are the highest grade, followed by #1 Common and #2 Common.

Your wood grade selection will depend on the type of project you are doing. For a general DIY project, you could get away with “cabinet grade” #1 or #2 Common and save a lot of money. If you are building furniture or installing molding, you’ll want to a higher grade of wood.

To Mill or Not to Mill Yourself

Rough lumber is rarely straight, so it must undergo a milling process that evens out the thickness and straightens the edges. If you have your own thickness planer and jointer, you can save some money and do it yourself, but a distributor can offer these services for a small fee.

In the video above, The Sawdust Maker shares his recommendations for lumber milling. He does his own milling and states why he feels that’s the best option for him.

How to Find a Distributor

If you’re ready to make your first trip, contact your local woodworkers guild or association and ask them for recommendations for distributors and hardwood dealers. Avoid general lumber yards and building supply stores, as they cater more to the commercial construction crowd and will have fewer wood options.

For more information and tips on buying lumber from a distributor, visit the Hardwood Distributors Association and Popular Woodworking.

Photos from Clarkmaxwell, Popular Woodworking, and Core 77.

Workshop is a new blog from Lifehacker all about DY tips, techniques, and projects. Follow us on Twitter here.

via Lifehacker
How to Save Money Buying Lumber from a Distributor Instead of a Retailer

What It Feels Like to Shoot With the Military’s Experimental Smart Scope

What It Feels Like to Shoot With the Military’s Experimental Smart Scope

You’ve probably never fired an M4 carbine. Until a couple weeks ago, I hadn’t either. But at a recent DARPA demo day, I loaded a magazine (also a first for me), snuggled up to the deadly assault rifle, and looked through one of the most technologically advanced smart scopes ever built. Then I pulled the trigger.

“That’s a hit,” I heard a voice say behind me. The target was only about a hundred yards away, but I hadn’t fired a gun since I earned my rifle shooting merit badge in Boy Scouts. I couldn’t count the number of processes going on inside the futuristic computer on top of the gun, but there were at least four visible sensors on the front. Facing me was a crisp display slightly smaller than a credit card showing crosshairs and some basic ballistics information. In the near future, a weapons system like this might also shoot self-guided bullets—more on that in a second.

The craziest thing: The scope isn’t just built to improve accuracy. It aims to improve everything.

The Need for a Super Smart Scope

The M4 carbine is a popular gun in the United States military, but it’s one of many weapons used by soldiers. Virtually all of these have rails that support a seemingly limitless number of accessories, from the most basic optical scope to the most expensive thermal imaging technology. Since each combat scenario requires a unique set of tools, soldiers maybe find themselves weighed down with extra accessories or, worse, swapping out components on the battlefield.

So there’s a demand for an all-in-one scope, one device that simplifies the whole setup. Companies like TrackingPoint have been making futuristic digital optics systems for years—including set ups that designed to make the gun aim itself. They’re prohibitively expensive, however, and literally limited in scope.

This is where DARPA comes in. The military’s research and development arm excels at solving impossible problems, and the challenge of building an affordable super smart scope is exactly that.

Imagine a scope that not only incorporates all of the bulky components a soldier would ever need as well as offer features that top brass have only dreamed about. Imagine a network-connected scope that sends ballistic data back to base. Imagine a scope that not only helped soldiers aim but also told them who not to shoot. And imagine if that scope fit in the palm of your hand and weighed only a few ounces.

What It Feels Like to Shoot With the Military’s Experimental Smart Scope

That’s the scope I looked through at my recent visit to Fort AP Hill. (Sidenote: This is the same base where the Army built a fake village—complete with a mosque and subway—for training.) The day’s main event was a live fire demo of DARPA’s newest super smart scope. To be precise, it was a working prototype that’s about twice the size of the final design. The scope works, though, and it could change the way we fight wars

It’s somewhat humbly called the Computational Weapon Optic (CWO). Built within DARPA’s Transformative Applications (TransApps) ecosystem—the same system that DARPA developed to power smartphones and tablets on the battlefield—the device is exactly what it sounds like: a computer that you attach to a rifle.

What It Feels Like

I was the only journalist at DARPA’s recent demo day, surrounded by high-ranking officers of several branches of the military, most of whom were wearing fatigues. The live fire demo served as a proof of concept for the Computational Weapon Optic, as well as a chance for the top brass to decide if they might devote some budget dollars to developing the technology further.

By the time Doran Michel, the (now former) program manager of the TransApp program wrapped up the demo day, I was sold. I’m pretty squeamish at the thought of technology that’s designed to help soldiers kill better, but the emphasis DARPA placed on the Computational Weapon Optic seems geared towards more efficient defense rather than more viscous offense. Or at least that’s the pitch I got.

What It Feels Like to Shoot With the Military’s Experimental Smart Scope

I asked if I could look through the scope to get a better idea of the experience. A few minutes later I had a clip in one hand and the M4 carbine in the other.

There’s nothing about holding an assault rifle that doesn’t feel dangerous or deadly. Mind you, I’m just nerdy blogger with no military experience. So when I tucked my cheek down onto the cold steel, my hands were sweaty. When I flipped the safety switch off, my finger was shaking a little bit. I can’t imagine what an 18-year-old in Afghanistan must feel like at that moment.

When I looked into the high res display on the Computational Weapon Optic, the first thing I thought of was Call of Duty. This is pretty silly, since I’ve never played Call of Duty—though I was a pretty big DOOM enthusiast back in the day. Something about crosshairs on a digital display gave me feelings, though. I have mixed thoughts on the military and games, but something about that screen made me wonder. I squeezed the trigger.

Firing an M4 carbine kind of hurts. It’s an extremely loud and powerful weapon. Frightened as I secretly was, though, the super smart scope made everything seem more controlled. Maybe it was something about the comfort of a computer doing calculations while I re-learned the feeling of firing a weapon. Maybe it was something about the display blinking with information. Maybe it was the DARPA pitch.

The Features

The natural assumption is that a smart scope help you see your target better in a variety of conditions. Like I said before, the Computational Weapon Optic is designed to make everything better.

For starters, the scope makes it quick and easy to zero the scope, when it’s first mounted on the rifle. (Zeroing a scope is usually a time-consuming process that amounts to calibrating the optic after it’s first mounted.) The Computation Weapon Optic’s connectivity also makes it easy for a coach to guide a new shooter through the process through a tablet. Like the rest of the TransApp ecosystem, the scope runs a highly customized version of Android that’s compatible with a number of devices. The whole system is also controlled with three simple buttons on the top of the scope.

The Computation Weapon Optic also helps soldiers work together. Multiple scopes can be networked through the standard issue Type-1 handheld radio, so shooting can be synchronized. Soldiers already do this in order to fire at a target without giving away their position, but it’s currently done with voice commands over the radio. Radio chatter, quite ironically, is a great way to give away a soldier’s position. So instead of hearing a countdown, the soldiers see commands on the scope’s display.

What It Feels Like to Shoot With the Military’s Experimental Smart Scope

This is where things get really futuristic. The Computational Weapon Optic is not only equipped with an optical scope but also night vision and thermal imaging. There’s a laser rangefinder and magnetometer to help determine distance to target. Thanks again to the networking capabilities, fellow soldiers can see the trajectory of their bullet on a smartphone or tablet as well as the exact distance to their target. This obviously makes aiming easier.

You can see where this is going. If the networked Computational Weapon Optic can communicate with Type-1 radios, it can also determine where those radios (read: soldiers) are. Perhaps the most powerful feature of the scope is that it warns the shooter when the rifle is aimed at one of his fellow soldiers. The military calls this fratricide prevention, but you can just think of it as a solution to the military’s endemic friendly fire problem. This is what it looks like in action:

All that, and the whole setup could be cheaper than some of the military’s solutions that offer fewer features. Meanwhile DARPA’s developing other smart scope technology, like the One Shot XG for snipers. Then there’s the the Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) ammunition project. That’s the self-guided bullets mentioned above, but it’s also designed for snipers. The Computational Weapon Optic can communicate could help any soldier with a rifle.

The Future

This is only the beginning. When I visited DARPA’s TransApp program office last year, I wasn’t struck by how advanced the software was. I wasn’t even blown away by the implications, as vast and exciting as they truly are. I was stunned at how out of touch the Pentagon was in terms of innovation.

Soldiers told me how some troops in Afghanistan were still using paper maps from the 90s. So an Army private being deployed might be navigating his hometown with GPS on a smartphone one day and then confined to a pencil and protractor in combat a few weeks later.

There are a lot of reasons why every soldier isn’t issued a smartphone along with a rifle, but over the past five years DARPA’s TransApp program has made progress in building a foundation for a tech-first future. The software ecosystem not only makes smartphones and tablets useable and useful on the battlefield. It enables all of the technology in a soldier’s toolkit to work together. Now, the software can power weapons systems like the Computational Weapon Optic as well as cheap helmet-mounted displays that put satellite imagery and maps right in front of soldiers’ eyes. The TransApp team has already built one, in fact.

Now think even further ahead. What could the military do with virtual reality? Well, the TransApp program already thought of that, and came up with something called Crystal Hull for armored vehicles. Using a VR headset like the Oculus Rift a low cost 360-degree camera, this system would enable tank drivers to see in every direction, while making use of the TransApp mapping features. Mission data is stored automatically, just like the ballistics information from the Computational Weapon Optic, so commanders can keep track of their soldiers in real-time without dangerous radio chatter.

I tried out Crystal Hull myself and navigated through city streets as if my vehicle were made of glass. To access mission data, I used a standard Xbox controller, which the TransApp team liked because it would make immediate sense to soldiers. Again, it felt weird to treat war like a video game. But really, these types of innovations are just making use of the same technology that makes video games work. They’re making the military work better.

The demo day took place during Doran Michels’ last week at DARPA. The former Army infantry officer and FBI Special Agent will move on to other projects, but the TransApp project will continue, with efforts like the Army’s Nett Warrior project. Again, the effort to bring mobile apps to the military has only just begun. If the TransApps ecosystem continues to win support from top brass, it’s highly plausible that all soldiers will be using apps that power all of their equipment on the battlefield in the very near future. (Some already are, actually.)

There are a lot of reasons why the military may or may not arm soldiers with DARPA’s latest creation—many of them involve taxpayer dollars. But as I drove away from the base, my finger stinking like gunpowder, I thought of one reason why any peace-loving American should care. The military is treating technology and innovation differently. And it’s a very good thing to see the Pentagon bucking its overly bureaucratic past and trying to act more like Silicon Valley.

Videos via DARPA / Photos by Adam Clark Estes

via Gizmodo
What It Feels Like to Shoot With the Military’s Experimental Smart Scope