Archive for the ‘Hacking’ Category

Name that Ware, September 2016

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

The Ware for September 2016 is shown below.

Thanks to J. Peterson for sharing this ware!

Winner, Name that Ware August 2016

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

After reading through the extensive comments on August’s ware, I’m not convinced anyone has conclusively identified the ware. I did crack a grin at atomicthumbs’ suggestion that this was a “mainboard from a Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup of Things sensor platform”, but I think I’ll give the prize (please email me to claim it) once again to Christian Vogel for his thoughtful analysis of the circuitry, and possibly correct guess that this might be an old school laser barcode scanner.

The ware is difficult to evaluate due to the lack of a key component — whatever it is that mounts into the pin sockets and interacts with the coil or transformer near the hole in the center of the circuit board. My feeling is the placement of that magnetic device is not accidental.

A little bit of poking around revealed this short Youtube video which purports to demonstrate an old-school laser barcode mechanism. Significantly, it has a coil of similar shape and orientation to that of this ware, as well as three trimpots, although that could be a coincidence. Either way, thanks everyone for the entertaining and thoughtful comments!

Name that Ware August 2016

Friday, August 19th, 2016

The Ware for August 2016 is shown below.

Thanks to Adrian Tschira (notafile) for sharing this well-photographed ware! The make and model of this ware is unknown to both of us, so if an unequivocal identification isn’t made over the coming month, I’ll be searching the comments for either the most thoughtful or the most entertaining analysis of the ware.

Winner, Name that Ware July 2016

Friday, August 19th, 2016

The Ware for July 2016 was a board from a Connection Machine CM-2 variant; quite likely a CM-200.

It’s an absolutely gorgeous board, and the sort of thing I’d use as a desktop background if I used a desktop background that was’t all black. Thanks again to Mark Jessop for contributing the ware. Finally, the prize this month goes to ojn for a fine bit of sleuthing, please email me to claim your prize! I particularly loved this little comment in the analysis:

The board layout technique is different from what I’ve been able to spot from IBM, SGI, DEC. Cray used different backplanes so the connectors at the top also don’t match.

Every designer and design methodology leaves a unique fingerprint on the final product. While I can’t recognize human faces very well, I do perceive stylistic differences in a circuit board. The brain works in funny ways…

Why I’m Suing the US Government

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Today I filed a lawsuit against the US government, challenging Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Section 1201 means that you can be sued or prosecuted for accessing, speaking about, and tinkering with digital media and technologies that you have paid for. This violates our First Amendment rights, and I am asking the court to order the federal government to stop enforcing Section 1201.

Before Section 1201, the ownership of ideas was tempered by constitutional protections. Under this law, we had the right to tinker with gadgets that we bought, we had the right to record TV shows on our VCRs, and we had the right to remix songs. Section 1201 built an extra barrier around copyrightable works, restricting our prior ability to explore and create. In order to repair a gadget, we may have to decrypt its firmware; in order to remix a video, we may have to strip HDCP. Whereas we once readily expressed feelings and new ideas through remixes and hardware modifications, now we must first pause and ask: does this violate Section 1201? Especially now that cryptography pervades every aspect of modern life, every creative spark is likewise dampened by the chill of Section 1201.

The act of creation is no longer spontaneous.

Our recent generation of Makers, hackers, and entrepreneurs have developed under the shadow of Section 1201. Like the parable of the frog in the well, their creativity has been confined to a small patch, not realizing how big and blue the sky could be if they could step outside that well. Nascent 1201-free ecosystems outside the US are leading indicators of how far behind the next generation of Americans will be if we keep with the status quo.

Our children deserve better.

I can no longer stand by as a passive witness to this situation. I was born into a 1201-free world, and our future generations deserve that same freedom of thought and expression. I am but one instrument in a large orchestra performing the symphony for freedom, but I hope my small part can remind us that once upon a time, there was a world free of such artificial barriers, and that creativity and expression go hand in hand with the ability to share without fear.

If you want to read more about the lawsuit, please check out the EFF’s press release on the matter.