Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
A DIY business card that runs Linux (2019) (thirtythreeforty.net)
220 points by hansc 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 58 comments

Author here! Trivia: I really, really wanted it to run Doom, so that I could have a section titled "But Does It Run Doom?". This is challenging with no screen; SDL has an experimental ASCII backend where in theory you could draw terminal graphics over SSH. But it refused to cross compile despite repeated efforts.

So, sadly it does not in fact run Doom.

In other words, it doesn't run Doom yet. Great project, and excellent execution!

“It’s cheap enough to give away. If you get one from me, I’m probably trying to impress you.”

Mission accomplished! Well done, sir.

What if you make a USB network device gadget and serve a mjpeg video stream to it that's the framebuffer/screen output? Web browsers or VLC on the host can show the video, and if you can get ffmpeg compiled and running on the device I think it has a fbdev input that can capture the framebuffer directly and likely convert it to a mjpeg stream (even acting as a http or rtmp, etc. server).

plz build dis

The chip already seems to have an integrated display interface, with a nice dedicated PAL/NTSC output pin. Why not use that?

This is such a cool project but you also did fantastic documentation which was certainly quite a bit of work too so thank you!

More of a suggestion for a future design, but how about using DOOM's software rendering over X forwarding (potentially over SSH)? You'd need to have the card present itself as a network interface, which would add to the complexity and cost however.

What's the highest baud rate the serial interface supports? You could theoretically get PPP over serial working, but I suspect at best you could only manage a few frames per second. 320x200x4bpp at 1fps requires a 256k baud rate minimum, and that's just streaming the video, without any overhead—I suppose you could apply compression: ssh -C with the "none" cipher; or just compress each frame as a PNG, but I'm thinking outloud—this would probably involve writing your own renderer.

With the USB gadget Driver in Linux you can have the existing USB Hardware enumerate as a USB Ethernet adapter without too much config work so that would not add much to the BoM :)

But can't the computer boot from usb? Then you could just modify the display memory. The challenge would be figuring out what the display memory is, you'd need a strong knowledge of display standards.

I have some business cards that are so valuable, I can't give them away.

I was attending a conference with some vendor booths, and while it wasn't anything like a job fair, I thought I'd try my luck at pitching myself as a prospective hire. So I went to the most IT-oriented vendor that I could find, introduced myself, and proudly presented my solid plastic CompTIA A+ certification.

The good fellow thanked me and promptly pocketed it! It all went downhill from there as I had to explain that was a credential and not a calling-card, so I got it back, and definitely didn't get hired for anything!

It's not necessarily why they didn't reach out, but waiving certifications and other random credentials (e.g. completion of some Coursera course) is usually not the best strategy to get hired.

Talking about concrete work you've done (of interest to the company) is much more convincing.

Unfortunately for me I think my "concrete work" is what's keeping me from looking like an attractive employee to tech firms. Somehow they don't understand how construction and software development are extremely similar.

On the other hand, there's no shortage of (dumb) employers that insist on various certifications.

PS: This was also submitted back in the day and got almost 400 comments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21871026

Might make for interesting reading.

Look at that subtle circuit, the tasteful thickness of it... Oh my god, it even has a nano ARM!

Author also wrote a post on the design process, very interesting I think: https://www.thirtythreeforty.net/posts/2019/12/designing-my-...

This was a novel idea once. But nowadays I would stay away from plugging in a usb device of someone I just met.

This is from a professional embedded systems engineer who is presumably only giving these to prospective clients because, obviously, they’re more expensive than regular business cards.

If you can’t bring yourself to connect a USB device from your embedded systems engineer then you shouldn’t be working with that person. You’re also going to have a difficult time working with them on just about any product.

Maybe just appreciate this for what it is: A novel business card.

I had a run of Moo business cards made at one point, costing over $1/ea.

As a gimmick for highly likely prospectives (or, alternately, a thank you for current clients) this is absolutely at a price point of "have 50 spun via pick and place" to have on hand.

exactly. I was going to say the same thing, then I realised I'm in hacker-news and then afraid of getting down-voted.

They’re fake internet points, why does it matter?

You can exchange the points for dopamine

yes, you are right. The ultimate truth is Bitcoin. (I know downvotes are on their way)

When's the last time bitcoin got your rocks off?

It can be exchanged for goods and services.

It was around January this year

I'm surprised that Apple or Google hasn't integrated a business card app of some sort and accompanying file format. Like a digital rolodex. I don't need my plumber, accountant, dry cleaner, or a zillion random people I meet at a tech conference in my contacts/address book, even if they're grouped. Exchanging info by giving them my phone number/email is usually a lot more than I want, and URLs just get lost. A QR code or a peer-to-peer transfer with an open, stylized/formatted, .vcf style file that's meant for a business related info app seems like a non brainer.

I want to have a conversation with the digital equivalent of:

> "That's bone. And the lettering is something called Silian Grail."

> "It's very cool, Bateman, but... Egg shell, with Roman."

> Now a third broker pulls out his card. It looks exactly like the first two, except it reads TIMOTHY BRICE: VICE PRESIDENT.

> "Raised lettering, pale nimbus."

> "Impressive", Bateman mutters. "Let's see Paul Allen's card."

> The room falls silent as the third broker produces an absent colleague's card.

> «Look at that subtle colouring. The tasteful thickness.»

> His face creases in horror.

> «Oh my God. It even has a watermark.»

Really cool, but I can't help thinking: All that effort, and you're email address have a "5" in it....

Heh. I am George Hilliard V (that is, my dad is IV and my son is VI). So it makes a certain amount of sense!

I'm curious. What happens if you have another son?

Also, continuing similar tradition, I hope you've reserved mail addresses ending with 6,7 and so on for future generations.

My family's tradition is that all the men share a middle name, and all the women share a middle name, so there's still name inheritance even for younger siblings! (There's an OOP joke in here somewhere.)

Amusingly, my wife also has the same middle name as the women in my family, so the tradition is likely to continue.

I'm sure SemVer can be used in this situation.

Wow you have a son and are able to do these things? That’s impressive. I can barely do work and family already. Well done

The post should be tagged "2019" (@dang?) - I have noticeably less free time these days :)

Aaah gotcha. I hope the new “project” goes ok then :)

I am not familiar with the rules for names like this. If you don't mind me asking, how does it work? Are your first male descendants expected to be named the same until one of them changes his mind?

Yes exactly. I was free to name him whatever I liked, but at this point it's too neat to break the tradition.

Another question from a country where only the king does this: Is it part of your legal name, or just a convention?

(Also, does it make your feel like royalty?)

I'd have to check to be certain, but I am pretty sure we didn't put it on birth certificates. It's convention only - some businesses (notably banks) have a "suffix" field to help disambiguate customers, but many of them are drop-downs which stop at "IV" for some reason.

What really makes me feel like royalty is not the name, it's the throne room I had installed in my summer home in the Bahamas. That and requiring everyone I meet to call me "sire." (/s)

I did not expect that to be the reason to be honest.

Quite cool, but what are the chances people will plug a USB drive they just got from someone they just met into their computer?

If it’s in a conference setting, perhaps a solution would be to add some cheap retro computer as part of a booth, so that people could immediately insert the business card and play with it.

Really cool! It would be a pretty thick card though I imagine, as the USB connector requires an above-average board thickness and some of the components are also quite thick (especially that winbond chip, looks like NAND flash).

Kudos on finding something that can run linux without having to deal with BGA by the way.

I had heard about that project before and was wondering how he managed to emulate USB devices on linux to a host system. TIL about the Linux Gadget framework: http://www.linux-usb.org/gadget/

Reminds me of business card CDs which also were given away as promotional disks


Delightful, but in the simulataneous categories of "I would absolutely buy this" and "I do not have the time or energy to make this myself".

PocketBeagle is a cool very tiny (smaller than a business card) Linux SBC if you want something kinda similar: https://beagleboard.org/pocket

Also: incredibly cool, but next week’s e-waste. :(

My memory isn’t good on most articles that are more than a few years old but I remember seeing this a few years ago and being amazed.

Author is probably a millionaire by now.

I wasn't expecting this to cost less than 3$

That was in 2019. It has probably tripled by now, and/or the SoC is unobtainium. Mumble.

Cool concept. But no way am I plugging that into my computer without creating a sandboxed environment with no network access.

I can see someone instantly hiring a guy with a linux-driven business card which pierces through the sandboxed environment.

The fsf membership cards are also usbs with gnu-Linux on them

Looks fun, but who in their right mind would plug this into anything other than an air gapped sandbox ?!


Does it run Doom?

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact