Hardware Hacker Breaks the DRM on a Mini Dishwasher

Found on Gizmodo on Sunday, 23 May 2021
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In what amounts to a very clever bit of hardware hacking, developer dekuNukem (the hacker who created a little device that automatically switches your screen to work when a boss walks by) has detailed a methodology for refilling the DRM-protected detergent cassettes for a $486 portable dishwasher called Bob.

“Refilling it yourself is more than 60 times cheaper, resulting in a massive 98% cost saving compared to buying new!” they wrote.

If you have two arms, you are probably faster doing the few dishes you can fit into Bob manually.

They Hacked McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines—and Started a Cold War

Found on Wired on Tuesday, 18 May 2021
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Press the cone icon on the screen of the Taylor C602 digital ice cream machine, he explains, then tap the buttons that show a snowflake and a milkshake to set the digits on the screen to 5, then 2, then 3, then 1. After that precise series of no fewer than 16 button presses, a menu magically unlocks.

The secret menu reveals a business model that goes beyond a right-to-repair issue, O’Sullivan argues. It represents, as he describes it, nothing short of a milkshake shakedown: Sell franchisees a complicated and fragile machine. Prevent them from figuring out why it constantly breaks. Take a cut of the distributors’ profit from the repairs.

That's a more and more common business plan, sadly.

Tesla tells customers they’ll have to pay more for solar roof

Found on Ars Technica on Sunday, 25 April 2021
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Tesla has jacked up the price of its solar roof, which integrates solar panels directly into roof tiles, Electrek reports. A 12.3 kW system that Electrek priced at $54,966 last summer now costs more than $70,000, according to Tesla's online calculator.

Customers report that Tesla is not only raising prices for future solar roof installations—it's demanding more money from some existing customers whose panels haven't been installed yet.

Part of the price increase may reflect Tesla's realization that not all roofs are equally easy to cover with solar panels.

Different houses have different roof. What a shocking discovery!

Nuclear should be considered part of clean energy standard, White House says

Found on Ars Technica on Thursday, 22 April 2021
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Biden has called for 100 percent of America’s electricity to be generated by carbon-free sources by 2035. Nuclear power does not produce any carbon pollution, and many experts say it should be included in any net-zero plans because of its large existing generating capacity and its ability to provide large amounts of power consistently.

It's more reliable than a lot of the alternatives, especially if you take a look at how much "green" energy is fluctuating.

Boston Dynamics’ New Robot Doesn’t Dance. It Has a Warehouse Job

Found on Wired on Saturday, 17 April 2021
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Boston Dynamics’ new robot, named Stretch, is going straight to work in a warehouse. Rolling around on a wheeled base, it’s basically a large robotic arm that grabs boxes using vacuum power, and it’s designed for tasks like unloading trucks or stacking pallets.

To be fair, the dancing robots were more fun to watch though.

Tesla's "Full Self Driving" Beta Is Just Laughably Bad and Potentially Dangerous

Found on R&T on Friday, 16 April 2021
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A beta version of Tesla's "Full Self Driving" Autopilot update has begun rolling out to certain users. And man, if you thought "Full Self Driving" was even close to a reality, this video of the system in action will certainly relieve you of that notion. It is perhaps the best comprehensive video at illustrating just how morally dubious, technologically limited, and potentially dangerous Autopilot's "Full Self Driving" beta program is.

Fully autonomous driving is still at least a decade away. Allowing half-baked beta versions on the streets is irresponsible.

A 3D printed house is for sale in New York. Builders say it will cut housing construction costs

Found on CNN on Monday, 15 February 2021
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Now a company says it has listed the first 3D printed house in the United States for sale. The Riverhead, New York, home is listed online through Zillow with an asking price of $299,999.

"What we want to do is print homes fast, and cheap and strong," Andersen said.

Do we really need more cheaper houses?

Watch How Boston Dynamics Robots Will Do Fortnite Victory Dances Over Our Fleshy Human Corpses

Found on Hot Hardware on Sunday, 03 January 2021
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Boston Dynamics' family of robots is having some fun to celebrate the close of 2020. Spot and Atlas were joined by their oddball sibling Handle to shake their booties on the dance floor to "Do You Love Me" by The Contours. The video starts off impressive enough with just a single Atlas showing its incredible dexterity while busting out some sweet dance moves that would have made the late Patrick Swayze envious.

It's all fun and games in the headline above of course, but you have to admit the skills on display here are just a little funky-freaky.

Boston Dynamics can not only do robots, but als good PR.

Walmart-exclusive router and others sold on Amazon & eBay contain hidden backdoors

Found on Cybernews on Saturday, 05 December 2020
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Suspicious backdoors have been discovered in a Chinese-made Jetstream router, sold exclusively at Walmart as their new line of “affordable” wifi routers. This backdoor would allow an attacker the ability to remotely control not only the routers, but also any devices connected to that network.

Besides the Walmart-exclusive Jetstream router, the cybersecurity research team also discovered that low-cost Wavlink routers, normally sold on Amazon or eBay, have similar backdoors. The Wavlink routers also contain a script that lists nearby wifi and has the capability to connect to those networks.

In the old days, criminals had to actually break into your system; now, they just sell pre-infected hardware.

Calls for 'right to repair' electronics laws grow louder across Europe

Found on The Register on Tuesday, 01 December 2020
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The paper, called Electronic Waste and the Circular Economy, cites UN statistics stating the UK produces the second-highest amount of e-waste per capita globally, after Norway. At 23.9kg per person, this vastly exceeds the world average of 7.3kg per capita, as well as European averages, at 16.2kg.

The paper references design practices where previously easy-to-remove components, such as hard drives and memory, are now soldered to circuit boards, or affixed to the chassis with intractable dollops of glue.

It's about time. If you buy a product, you should have the right to do everything with it you want, and that includes repairs. If you take a look at old electronics, you'll notice how they were designed to be repairable.