Reddit is down for some [Update: Fixed]

Reddit is down for me.

Update: Reddit is back online. See below for detail.

Online discussion board Reddit is having issues today — some are unable to access the site.

The downdetector website shows that Reddit is currently not accessible for some people.

Update at 4:52 p.m. Pacific: The Reddit Status Twitter account has just tweeted out confirmation of the outage.

Identified: We're having some troubles dealing with the additional load right now. We're working on it.

— reddit status (@redditstatus) November 14, 2015

“We’re having some troubles dealing with the additional load right now. We’re working on it,” the company says in a status update.

From VentureBeat
Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

Update at 5:07 p.m. Pacific: Some subreddits are working, but the homepage still isn’t loading for me.

Update at 5:13 p.m.
Pacific: The Reddit homepage is now consistently loading for me.

Update at 5:21 p.m. Pacific: The Reddit team says it has “stabilized the site.”

Monitoring: We've stabilized the site. We're keeping a close eye on it.

— reddit status (@redditstatus) November 14, 2015

The outage is happening following attacks in Paris, where 140 people are reported to have died. Earlier today the Reddit logo in the top left corner of the website featured a French flag.

Reddit experienced an outage in September as a
result of downtime at public cloud Amazon Web Services. Reddit also had an Amazon-related outage in 2011.

Netflix is down; now all we can do is chill [Update: Fixed for some]


No it’s not just you, Netflix is experiencing some technical difficulties.

We're aware that members are experiencing issues streaming on all devices. We're working to resolve the problem.

— Netflix CS (@Netflixhelps) October 15, 2015

Some people took to Twitter to complain after the site wouldn’t load.

@netflix Netflix isnt working for me and many people. What's going on??

— Jesse (@WhAtuListenin2) October 15, 2015

problem seems to be affecting more than just Netflix. People are reporting issues with sites including Expedia, Etrade, TD Ameritrade, and others.

Looks like a big attack on servers? Netflix the economist etrade td ameritrade? expedia All are down

— UPBOptionMil (@UPBOptionMil) October 15, 2015

Looks like a big attack on servers? Netflix the economist etrade td ameritrade? expedia All are down

— UPBOptionMil (@UPBOptionMil) October 15, 2015

The issue isn’t with from Amazon Web Services, which hosts Netflix content. Rather there appears to be a disruption in service at UltraDNS, which Netflix also uses.

We recognize there's an issue w/ our UltraDNS service & we are working on it. Our 1st priority is to bring back service to our customers

— Neustar (@Neustar) October 15, 2015

Netflix says not all attempts to watch Netflix right now will be successful, but that it’s working to resolve the issue with UltraDNS.

Customs computer systems reportedly down at multiple U.S. airports (Update: Fixed)

United Airlines planes are seen on platform at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, July 8, 2015.

Thousands of passengers are said to be backed up in the line at Customs at several U.S. airports because of the failure of Department of Homeland Security computer systems.

CNBC is reporting that the computer system in question is the one that checks airline passenger names against the Homeland Security terror watch list. Customs and Border Protection personnel are now said to be using alternate methods for processing passengers at airports where the computer systems have failed.

Social media reports of the outages began showing up at around 8 p.m. EST.

From VentureBeat
Your marketing strategy
called. It needs a better mobile game plan. Free webinar will tell you how.

So far, the reports have identified the problem at New York’s JFK, Boston Logan, San Francisco International Airport, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and possibly other airports.

As of 9:05 p.m. EST the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t confirmed the problems on its website or on social media channels.

NBC New York says DHS officials have confirmed that a “glitch” in the computer
systems is causing backups at JFK. NBC News quotes high-level government officials confirming the problems, but said the officials could not estimate when the problem would be fixed.

JUST IN: Dept. of Homeland Security computer system that checks airline passengers on terror watch lists is experiencing service disruption.

— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) October 15, 2015

UPDATE at 9:16 EST: CNBC now reports that the problem with the DHS computer systems has been resolved.

UPDATE: After brief disruption, Dept. of Homeland Security computer system used for processing passengers at airports is now back up.

— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow)
October 15, 2015

Update: What You See Is What You Laser Cut

If there’s one thing about laser cutters that makes them a little difficult to use, it’s the fact that it’s hard for a person to interact with them one-on-one without a clunky computer in the middle of everything. Granted, that laser is a little dangerous, but it would be nice if there was a way to use a laser cutter without having to deal with a computer. Luckily, [Anirudh] and team have been working on solving this problem, creating a laser cutter that can interact directly with its user.

The laser cutter is tied to a visual system which watches for a number of cues. As we’ve featured before, this particular laser cutter can “see” pen strokes and will instruct the laser cutter to cut along the pen strokes (once all fingers are away from the cutting area, of course). The update to this system is that now, a user can import a drawing from a smartphone and manipulate it with a set of physical tokens that the camera can watch. One token changes the location of the cut, and the other changes the scale. This extends the functionality of the laser cutter from simply cutting at the location of pen strokes to being able to cut around any user-manipulated image without interacting directly with a computer. Be sure to check out the video after the break for a demonstration of how this works.

This system could be great not only for laser cutters, but for any CNC machine normally controlled by a computer interface. By interacting directly with the project it’s less likely you’ll end up with something that’s just slightly the wrong size or slightly the wrong dimensions. If you’re new to CNC you might want to check out this guide, or maybe you just want to turn your existing CNC machine into a chess robot.

Filed under: cnc hacks, laser hacks, Virtual Reality

Update: Battlezone on Vector Display Step-by-Step

When we ran the story of Battlezone played on tube displays earlier this week there were immediately questions about recreating the hack. At the time the software wasn’t available, and there is also a bit of hardware hacking necessary to get the audio working. You asked and [Eric] from Tubetime delivered. He’s posted a pair of articles that show how to get an STM32F4 Discovery board to play the classic game, along with instructions to build the firmware.

The hardware hack in this case is untangling the pinout used on the discovery board. It seems that one of the lines needed to get sound working for this hack is tied to one of the two DACs. If you read the original coverage you’ll remember that both of the DACs are used to drive X and Y on the vector display. The image above shows a cut trace on the bottom of the board. You’ll then need to route that signal to an alternate pin by soldering a jumper wire from the chip to a resistor on the board.

This (as well as one other alteration that bridges two of the chip pins) is a great example of work you should be unafraid to do on your own dev boards. We’ve had to do it with the Launchpad boards to get at the functionality we needed. We’d like to hear your own epic stories of abusing dev boards to do your bidding. Let us know in the comments.

Filed under: digital audio hacks, Microcontrollers

Watch That Windows Update: FTDI Drivers Are Killing Fake Chips


The FTDI FT232 chip is found in thousands of electronic baubles, from Arduinos to test equipment, and more than a few bits of consumer electronics. It’s a simple chip, converting USB to a serial port, but very useful and probably one of the most cloned pieces of silicon on Earth. Thanks to a recent Windows update, all those fake FTDI chips are at risk of being bricked. This isn’t a case where fake FTDI chips won’t work if plugged into a machine running the newest FTDI driver; the latest driver bricks the fake chips, rendering them inoperable with any computer.

Reports of problems with FTDI chips surfaced early this month, with an explanation of the behavior showing up in an EEVblog forum thread. The new driver for these chips from FTDI, delivered through a recent Windows update, reprograms the USB PID to 0, something Windows, Linux, and OS X don’t like. This renders the chip inaccessible from any OS, effectively bricking any device that happens to have one of these fake FTDI serial chips.

Because the FTDI USB to UART chip is so incredibly common,  the market is flooded with clones and counterfeits. it’s very hard to tell the difference between the real and fake versions by looking at the package, but a look at the silicon reveals vast differences. The new driver for the FT232 exploits these differences, reprogramming it so it won’t work with existing drivers. It’s a bold strategy to cut down on silicon counterfeiters on the part of FTDI. A reasonable company would go after the manufacturers of fake chips, not the consumers who are most likely unaware they have a fake chip.

The workaround for this driver update is to download the FT232 config tool from the FTDI website on a WinXP or Linux box, change the PID of the fake chip, and never using the new driver on a modern Windows system. There will surely be an automated tool to fix these chips automatically, but until then, take a good look at what Windows Update is installing – it’s very hard to tell if your devices have a fake FTDI chip by just looking at them.

Filed under: hardware, news

Update: 3D Printed Concrete Castle Completed

Concrete Castle

After two years of dreaming, designing, and doing, [Andrey Rudenko] has finally finished 3D printing his concrete castle. We’re sure a few readers will race to the comments to criticize the use of “castle” as an acceptable descriptor, but they’d be missing the point. It’s been only three months since he was testing the thing out in his garage, and now there’s a beautiful, freestanding structure in his yard, custom-printed.

There are no action shots of the printer setup as it lays down fat beads of concrete, only close-ups of the nozzle, but the castle was printed on-site outdoors. It wasn’t, however, printed in one piece. [Andrey] churned out the turrets separately and attached them later. He won’t be doing that again, though, because moving them in place was quite the burden. On his webpage, [Andrey] shares some insight in a wrap-up of the construction process. After much experimentation, he settled on a layer height of 10mm with a 30mm width for best results. He also discovered that he could print much more than his original estimation of 50cm of vertical height a day (fearing the lower layers would buckle).

With the castle a success, [Andrey] plans to expand his website to include a “posting wall for new ideas and findings.” We’re not sure whether that statement suggests that he would provide open-source access to everything or just feature updates of his future projects.

Wooden supports for concrete bridging.

[Andrey] used wooden supports to print concrete bridges.

We hope the former. You can check out its current format as the Architecture Forum, where he explains some of the construction capabilities and tricks used to build the castle.

His next project, a full-scale livable structure, will attempt to print 24/7 (weather permitting) rather than the stop-start routine used for the castle, which turned out to be the culprit behind imperfections in the print. He’ll have to hurry, though. [Andrey] lives in Minnesota, and the climate will soon cause construction to take a 6-month hiatus until warm weather returns. Be sure to check out his website for more photos and a retrospective on the castle project, as well as contact information—[Andrey] is reaching out to interested parties with the appropriate skills (and investors) who may want to help with the new project.


[Thanks Brian]

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, home hacks