This Week in Making: Decentralize the Web, Girl Scouts Tackle Cybersecurity, and More

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This Week in Making: Decentralize the Web, Girl Scouts Tackle Cybersecurity, and More

Contests to Decentralize the Web

This past Wednesday, Mozilla and the National Science Foundation started accepting applications for a couple of contests that ask for ideas that could decentralize the web. They are offering a total of $2 million in prize money.

Currently, 10% of the United States’ population does not have access to high-quality Internet. Mozilla hopes to lower that percentage by challenging individuals to figure out a solution to one of two challenges.

There is the Off-the-Grid Internet Challenge. Applicants will be expected to design projects that have “both the means to access the wireless network and the applications provided on top of that network.” These projects should have an emphasis on portability and ease of access, perfect for someone to turn to and use in the wake of a disaster. Prizes run from $10,000 to $60,000.

There is also the Smart Communities Network Challenge. Applicants will need to submit projects that “leverage existing infrastructure — physical or network — to provide high-quality wireless connectivity to communities in need.” They should “plan for a high density of users, far-reaching range, and robust bandwidth.” This challenge will have rewards that range from $50,000 to $400,000.

Cybersecurity for Girl Scouts

Thanks to a team-up between the Girl Scouts of the USA and Palo Alto Networks, there will be eighteen new badges for Girl Scouts to earn starting in September 2018. All eighteen badges will relate to cybersecurity education, and aim to increase girls and young women’s interest in programming, while instilling in them the necessary skills growing up in the 21st century.

Hopefully, this initiative also helps young women who want to overcome the gender and geological barriers that prevent many them getting into the tech industry.

Cheap Car + Reciprocating Saw = Convertible

Lewin “TK” Day loves messing around with cars. For his most recent project, he wanted to transform a car into a convertible. After purchasing a very cheap $100 Hyundai Accent, he and some friends set to work. The entire project came out to about $350, and the end result is a roofless car, with a roof that can be bolted on without raising too much suspicion or sideways glances.

Board and Card Games Go Virtual

Not going to lie, I am a little sketched out about PlayTable, the self-proclaimed world’s first board game console. There is not a ton of information on their webpage, and everything the creators have shown looks cool, but I haven’t been able to track down anyone who has seen the board work in person. That being said, PlayTable could be really cool if it does actually come to market. It will allow players to play card and board games on a virtual landscape, one that will react and change to different board pieces and cards.

I could see something like this being very popular in the Dungeons and Dragons, Magic, and Yugioh circles. Otherwise, it is just a very cool, very expensive way of playing chess or having your Pikachu amiibo help out in Plants vs. Zombies.

The Sounds of Cuphead

My friends know that I am a sucker for a good vinyl record. I love the team at iam8bit, who bring popular soundtracks from video games to life. You really cannot buy video game soundtrack vinyls anywhere, but iam8bit goes the extra mile of occasionally producing some true gems, like Undertale’s entire soundtrack played on piano. They do other soundtracks outside of video games, like the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers soundtrack. This past week, they announced their newest work: Cuphead’s soundtrack.

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Jordan has spent much of his life writing about his many geeky pastimes. He's particularly passionate about indie game design and Japanese art, but loves interacting with creators from all walks of life.

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