• PC Speaker To Eleven

      Known now as a «motherboard speaker», or just «beeper», PC Speaker has been introduced in 1981 along with the first personal IBM computer. Being a successor of the big serious computers for serious business, it has been designed to produce very basic system beeps, so it never really had a chance to shine bright as a music device in numerous entertainment programs of the emerging home market. Overshadowed by much more advanced sound chips of popular home game systems, quickly replaced with powerful sound cards, it mostly served as a fallback option, playing severely downgraded content of better sound hardware.

      «System Beeps» is a music album in shape of an MS-DOS program that features original music composed for PC Speaker using the same basic old techniques like ones found in classic PC games. It follows the usual retro computing demoscene formula — take something rusty and obsolete, and push it to eleven — and attempts to reveal the long hidden potential of this humble little sound device. You can hear it in action and form an opinion on how successful this attempt was at Bandcamp, or in the video below. The following article is an in-depth overview of the original PC Speaker capabilities and making of the project, for those who would like to know more.

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    • Videogame monsters: how to sow fear

      • Tutorial

      In video games, enemies are one of the key figures, without which a game might lose its meaning, and when it’s not only enemies, but terrifying monsters, they often create the chilling atmosphere intended by the developers. It’s impossible to imagine Silent Hill without the Pyramid Head, or Outlast without Chris Walker, and so on, you get the idea. Monsters are a cumulative image of a video game enemy, and it’s not necessarily an ugly demon or a giant spider: even an angry neighbor, like in Hello Neighbor, is a monster despite his human appearance.

      This is where the reader probably asks:


      what’s the point of this article?
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    • Understanding the POCSAG paging protocol

        Long time ago, when a mobile phone costed about 2000$ and one minute of voice call was 50 cents, pagers were really popular. Later cellular phones became cheaper, calls and SMS prices became lower, and finally pagers mostly disappeared.


        For people, who owned a pager before, and want to know how it works, this article will be useful.
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      • Manifest of Smart Home Developer: 15 principles

          Today I’d like to speak about Smart homes and IoT devices. But it is no ordinary article. You won’t find description of hardware, links to manufacturers, batches of code or repositories. Today we’ll discuss something of a higher level — principles that are used to organize “smart” systems.

          image



          Smart home is a system that can do some everyday routines instead of a person. It leads us to the first and the main principle:
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        • Chemistry lesson: how to expose a microchip's crystal for photography

          Introduction


          If you have dabbled into microchip photographing before, then this article will probably not offer much to you. But if you want to get into it, but don’t know where to start, then it’s exactly for you.


          Before we start, a fair warning: while the procedure is quite entertaining, at first it’ll probably be physically painful. The chemicals used during the process are toxic, so please handle them carefully – that way it’ll still hurt, but less so. Also, if you have even a slight amount of common sense, conduct the procedure in a fully-equipped chemical laboratory under supervision of trained professionals: we’ve had to deal with people who tried to do it at home immediately after reading the guide. And finally: if you don’t know whether you need to pour acid into water or water into acid without a Google search and don’t realize what this lack of knowledge will entail – stop reading this immediately and go to a chemistry 101 course in a local college or something.


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        • Teaching kids to program

          • Translation

          Hi. My name is Michael Kapelko. I've been developing software professionally for more than 10 years. Recent years were dedicated to iOS. I develop games and game development tools in my spare time.


          Overview


          Today I want to share my experience of teaching kids to program. I'm going to discuss the following topics:


          • organization of the learning process
          • learning plan
          • memory game
          • development tools
          • lessons
          • results and plans
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        • “I can tell you about the pain every iOS developer has in the ass” — 10 questions to a developer, episode 2

          • Translation


          Seems like everyone enjoyed the pilot episode, and we’re still sure that people “behind the scenes” can be as exciting as IT celebrities we all know and love. And maybe even more, because they talk about real problems and real solutions. This week we asked 10 questions to a person behind the development of Yandex.Maps for iOS.
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        • Time management in real life

          • Tutorial

          no problems


          Have you ever noticed that you were busy all day, however, you've done nothing or at X-mas evening you experience an epiphany that nothing was done during the year? If your answer is "yes", you should improve your time management skills. According to Wikipedia, time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. Nevertheless, how can we deal with it?

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        • A small notebook for a system administrator

            I am a system administrator, and I need a small, lightweight notebook for every day carrying. Of course, not just to carry it, but for use it to work.

            I already have a ThinkPad x200, but it’s heavier than I would like. And among the lightweight notebooks, I did not find anything suitable. All of them imitate the MacBook Air: thin, shiny, glamorous, and they all critically lack ports. Such notebook is suitable for posting photos on Instagram, but not for work. At least not for mine.

            After not finding anything suitable, I thought about how a notebook would turn out if it were developed not with design, but the needs of real users in mind. System administrators, for example. Or people serving telecommunications equipment in hard-to-reach places — on roofs, masts, in the woods, literally in the middle of nowhere.

            The results of my thoughts are presented in this article.

            Figure to attract attention
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          • How to learn English

            • Tutorial

            One one hand I don't want to be the final authority, but on the other hand, I'd like to share my point of view on how to learn English. The English language is not secret knowledge; it is just a lot of hard training. One of the most important bullets is constantly improving English. You should do it from day to day if you want to approach result. It must not loathe torture for you, It means that you should find out something interesting in that process.

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          • The authoritative guide to Blockchain Sharding

              Hi, I'm one of the developers of the sharded blockchain Near Protocol, and in this article want to talk about what blockchain sharding is, how it is implemented, and what problems exist in blockchain sharding designs.


              It is well-known that Ethereum, the most used general purpose blockchain at the time of this writing, can only process less than 20 transactions per second on the main chain. This limitation, coupled with the popularity of the network, leads to high gas prices (the cost of executing a transaction on the network) and long confirmation times; despite the fact that at the time of this writing a new block is produced approximately every 10–20 seconds the average time it actually takes for a transaction to be added to the blockchain is 1.2 minutes, according to ETH Gas Station. Low throughput, high prices, and high latency all make Ethereum not suitable to run services that need to scale with adoption.

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            • Ternary computing: basics

                Balanced ternary


                I am working on a computer architecture principles lectures for our university; and as an assignment I'd like to propose to my students to build a simple programmable machine working in ternary. The main reason is fun: as a lecturer I must bring a bit of entertainment, otherwise I won't be listened to. Besides, it is important for historic reasons. Any further «why?!» questions will be answered «Because I can».

                This page describes the very basics, it won't go beyond a simple ternary adder (and its hardware implementation). Stay tuned for more.

                I chose the balanced ternary system: every trit represents one of three possible states, -1, 0 or 1. A very extensive description of this system may be found here.


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              • Naïve Math: the Mendocino motor and Earnshaw's theorem

                • Tutorial

                The problem statement


                I was surfing the Internet the other day and a rather curious thing caught my mind: the Mendocino motor. It’s an extremely low-friction bearing rotor: the original one had a glass cylinder hanging on two needles, but the modern ones use magnetic suspension. It’s a brushless engine: the rotor has solar batteries attached to it, which generate current for the coils wrapped around the rotor. The rotor spins in a fixed magnetic field, the solar batteries getting exposed to the light source one after the other. It’s a rather elegant solution that’s very possible to recreate at home.

                Here’s the video that explains how it works (in Russian):


                But this video had another curiosity even stronger than the engine itself. In the video description Dmitry Korzhevsky writes: “You CAN’T replace the side support with a magnet! Don’t ask me about this anymore!”
                I LOVE the 'impossible' word!