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Hackaday links: October 16, 2022

Be careful where you take your iPhone 14 or Apple Watch, because under the right circumstances, you could end up crashing. At least that’s what seems to have happened to some owners when their device’s collision detection feature interpreted a roller coaster ride as a car accident and called emergency services. Crash detection is apparently set to make the call automatically when the accelerometers detect the high g-forces that normally occur during a crash, but can also occur during a roller coaster ride – at least the good one . In at least one instance, an ersatz 911 call was accompanied by the shouts of other roller coaster riders, as the service apparently turns on the device’s microphone when a crash is detected.

The hilarity followed, of course, as long as you weren’t someone with a legitimate emergency who experienced a delayed response because of it. We could have sworn that having an automatic 911 dialing system was strictly illegal for this reason, but apparently not. We guess there are two lessons here: first, that Apple’s engineers really should have given it some thought and might need to get out into the real world from time to time; and two, that people will happily shell out their hard-earned cash for the privilege of having a fun ride that’s indistinguishable from a car crash. Our own Lewin Day took a close look at the situation earlier this week if you want to know more about it.

Reports of the death of film photography seem to have been somewhat exaggerated, with old-fashioned photography company Kodak announcing that it couldn’t hire enough people to keep up with the demand for film. Kodak is reporting record consumer demand for its products, particularly for 35mm film, as consumers look forward to using their old SLRs. It might be hipster fad, but if so, it’s a good thing for the Rochester, NY-based company, which went from working a five-day-a-week shift a few days ago. three shifts 24 hours a day. And they are hiring more people for all of their movie operations, which is good news for the area. Things weren’t great in Rochester when this Hackaday writer lived there in the early 90s, so it’s nice to see a resurgence. Maybe it’s time to dust off the old gear and once again support the hometown of yesteryear.

The solar system is full of weird and wonderful sights, especially through a telescope. But just about every planet you can see with even a moderately powerful telescope gets a little boring after a while. So what can the amateur astronomer who is tired of staring at rocks and gas bags do? Why, point that telescope at the Sun, of course, and in the process take beautiful pictures of our star. David “Deddy” Dayag is a self-taught astronomer who opposes the conventional wisdom that solar photography is beyond the reach of the amateur. Its breathtaking time-lapse images show the fine structure of convective cells on the Sun’s surface, in addition to sunspots, flares and filaments. It’s a remarkable trick, especially since it’s made with a rather modest material.

And finally, great news for people who like to pay an optional extra tax to the state of California, where digital license plates are now legal for all vehicles. We’ve covered E-ink license plates before, when the project was still in its pilot phase, and what seemed like a solution in search of a problem still seems the same to us now that all Californians can participate. Renting the plates for $20 a month seems like a steep price to pay for the novelty of being able to display personalized, DMV-approved slogans and messages with your car’s registration number. And we wonder what law enforcement thinks about the loss of the retro-reflective background that makes old-fashioned license plates so easy to read at night. We’re guessing this is all academic at this point, and at least we can now expect a flood of full-size E-ink displays to hit the secondary market.

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