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The winners of our second DIY competition, cosponsored with our friends and colleagues over at Make magazine, are IEEE members Don Kirk and Bill Green from Indiana. Don, an avid electronics hobbyist, has worked as an electrical engineer for the past 21 years at Magnequench International (formerly a business unit of the Delco Remy Division of General Motors), which produces high-energy permanent magnet materials. Bill, another long-time do-it-yourselfer, has worked for 17 years as a mechanical engineer, also at Magnequench.

Their winning submission: an all-in-one controller board for a trail camera that costs about US $20 to make. The board detects physical motion using a pyroelectric infrared sensor. When motion is detected, the board turns on the camera, signals the camera to take a picture, and also triggers a slave flash if it’s nighttime. Don demonstrated their invention at the Maker Faire in Austin, Texas, on 20 and 21 October.

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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
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

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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