Hackaday Links: November 13, 2022

Hackaday Links: November 13, 2022

Talk about playing on hard mode! The news this week was full of stories about Palmer Luckey’s murder-modified VR headset, which apparently kills the user if their character dies in-game. The headset appears to have three shaped charges in its visor pointing directly at the user’s frontal lobe, and would certainly do a great job of executing someone. In a blog post that we suspect was written with tongue firmly in cheek, Luckey, the co-founder of Oculus, describes that the interface from the helmet to the game is via optical sensors that watch the progress on the screen, and fire when a certain frequency of flashing red light is detected. He also talks about ways to prevent removal of the headset once it’s on, in case someone wants to tickle the dragon’s tail and try to quickly rip the headset off when near death in the game. We’re pretty sure this isn’t serious, as Luckey himself suggested it was more of an office art thing, but you never know what extremes a “three point” net worth can push someone to.

There is light at the end of the Raspberry Pi supply chain tunnel, as CEO Eben Upton announced that he expects the Pi issues to be fully resolved by this time next year. Upton explains his position in the video embedded in the linked article, which is basically that the lingering effects of the pandemic should resolve over the next few months, leading to a normalization of inventory across all Pi models. Obviously, it must be viewed with some scepticism; after all, no one saw the supply chain issues coming in the first place, and there could certainly be another Black Swan event awaiting us that could lead to a repeat performance. But it’s good to hear his optimism, as well as his vision for the future now that we’re at the tenth anniversary of the first Pi release.

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But if you really, really can’t wait for the flow of Pis to normalize, there are a number of services out there that will help you find one. Check out this review of five such services if you absolutely must get a Pi right now. Just be ready to open your wallet wide.

If your dream job has always been building space hardware, then there’s good news buried in a recent report on why the NASA Psyche mission has missed its 2022 launch window. Psyche is an orbiter designed to study the iron-rich asteroid 16 Psyche, to determine what role, if any, metallic asteroids play in planet formation. The report blamed the launch delay on “an imbalance between the workload and available workforce at JPL.” This appears to be translating into job opportunities for engineers – at least qualified ones – as the review board recommended increasing staffing at JPL, particularly in critical positions such as the currently vacant chief engineer position. The report also blames the lack of experienced employees on aircraft projects, which of course new hires will not do much about. But if you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a rocket surgeon, now might be the time.

And finally, while we don’t usually like crowdfunding, here’s one that caught our eye. Jon George, a former field engineer and mainframe systems engineer, is raising money to help him restore an IBM System/34 machine to working order. He says that working System/34 machines are quite rare, and we’re inclined to believe him. He was looking for about $1,800 to get the machine and ship it across the country, but it looks like it blew through that goal in one day, with donations totaling $2,559 as of this writing. We can imagine that there will be plenty of unseen expenses before the restoration is finished, after which the working machine will hopefully go to a computer museum. Sounds like a great project to us and we can’t wait to see the restoration get underway.

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