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Got an Old Canon Point-and-Shoot Camera? Hack It

Add new features and write scripts with CHDK firmware

4 min read
Photo showing a Raspberry Pi and an old digital camera.
Photo: Randi Klett

Photo showing a Raspberry Pi and an old digital camera.Resurrected Tech: With a Raspberry Pi and the right software, an old digital camera can be network enabled and used for projects unsuitable for either a smartphone camera or an expensive DSLR.Photo: Randi Klett

A decade is a long time in technology—long enough for a technology to go from hot product to conspicuously obsolete to retro cool. In 2010, IEEE Spectrum’s David Schneider wrote about a hack to supplant the firmware in Canon point-and-shoot cameras and add new features, such as motion detection. As it turns out, at the time point-and-shoot cameras were near their zenith of popularity. Since then, while compact stand-alone digital cameras are still being made, their sales have shrunk dramatically. As the smartphone camera became the most ubiquitous type of camera on the planet, point-and-shoot cameras found themselves relegated to the back of the closet.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
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Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush
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Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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