June 16, 2021


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Hackaday Links: June 6, 2021

Hackaday Links: June 6, 2021

Hackaday Links: June 6, 2021

There are a bunch of newly minted millionaires this week, after it was announced that Stack OverFlow would be acquired for $1.8 billion by European tech investment firm Prosus. While not exactly a household name, Prosus is a big player in the Chinese tech scene, where it has about a 30% stake in Chinese internet company Tencent. They trimmed their holdings in the company a bit recently, raising $15 billion in cash, which we assume will be used to fund the SO purchase. As with all such changes, there’s considerable angst out in the community about how this could impact everyone’s favorite coding help site. The SO leadership are all adamant that nothing will change, but only time will tell.

And speaking of trouble in the community, if you thought Audacity’s troubles had passed, think again. It appears that Audacity’s new owners, Muse Group, are now making contributors to the open-source audio project sign a Contributor License Agreement (CLA) in order to contribute code to the project. The stated reason is that Muse wants to change Audacity to a GPLv3 license, which it can’t do for the existing code written under GPLv2. They say the CLA and subsequent license change will allow them to distribute Audacity on platforms where they currently aren’t welcome, like Apple’s AppStore. It all sounds perfectly reasonable, but after the ill-conceived attempt to bake telemetry into the code, the community isn’t having any of it. They have a point — if a CLA can be used to change license terms, there’s nothing stopping it from changing to a completely closed source license.

From the ever-expanding surveillance state department: don’t forget that as of this publication, you have less than 48 hours to opt out of Amazon’s new Sidewalk feature, if you so choose. All of those doorbells, cameras, thermostats, and smart speakers will automatically be included in Sidewalk on June 8, with the intention of creating one big mesh network that extends connectivity into a wide-area network. The upshot of this is that you’ll be sharing your bandwidth with any and all comers to your neighborhood, and if you don’t like it, after June 8 there’s not much you can do about it. You’ve been warned.

Time for a palate cleanser: how about that picture of the shining clouds on Mars? The image — or rather images, as this is a composite that’s been stitched together and color corrected to match what the human eye would see on Mars — comes from Curiosity, the rover that’s been peacefully exploring Gale crater for years now. While the iridescent clouds, probably of dry ice crystals high in the thin Martian atmosphere, are spectacular, we’re really taken by the rocks. This looks like a place you’ve seen before, either driving through Arizona or New Mexico. Heck, it kind of looks like the place where they filmed all those on-location shots in the old Star Trek episodes — you half expect a guy in a rubber lizard suit to be peeking out from behind those rocks. The point is, unlike a lot of pictures that come back from planetary exploration, these really make it clear that Mars is a place, somewhere that although it is very foreign and hostile, is also familiar enough to relate to.

The electric vehicle market is starting to get crowded, so anyone wanting to play in it is going to have to have some kind of edge over the competition to survive. And what better edge than a car with the potential to pay for itself while it’s parked? That’s the idea behind the Daymak Spiritus, a three-wheeled EV that looks pretty futuristic. The two-seater is slated to launch in 2023, with mining hardware and a crypto wallet built-in. The car is billed as solar-powered, but judging by the small PV arrays on the dash and back deck, we’d think it’s more likely that owners will be turning grid power into Ethereum and Doge than sunlight.