Turning a Kindle into a weather display

Since the first time [Matt] saw an e-paper display, the idea of using it as a regularly updated, non real-time display consumed him. It really is the perfect platform for very readable calendars, agendas or, as [Matt] found out, a weather display.

[Matt]’s build uses a server to fetch and parse weather data and forecasts from NOAA. This data is then inserted into an SVG file, rendered, converted into a PNG, and finally converted into a grayscale, no transparency image required by the Kindle.

After the image is crafted by [Matt]’s server, a small script running on the Kindle fetches the image, clears the screen, and displays the image. This entire process happens twice a day, often enough for [Matt] to get a good idea of the weather outside without having to look out a window.

The really striking feature of [Matt]’s build is how good his weather display looks. The wonderful iconography of this weather display comes partly from graphics found on The Noun Project, with a few weather conditions drawn by [Matt] himself. It looks great, and is an awesome example of an excellent use of e-paper.

Using a Raspberry Pi as your travel computer

Do you think you could travel for the entire summer and leave your laptop at home? [Gef] did just that. With the help of his Kindle he used a Raspberry Pi as his travel computer. This was an easy association to think up, since he planned to bring the Kindle along as his reading material anyway. All it was going to take was some creative hacking to get it working as a display for the single-board computer.

The Kindle is merely connecting to the Raspberry Pi through a terminal emulator. This happens via USB, and requires that you Jailbreak the kindle and install a package called USBnetwork. The problem with the technique is that you’re going to go crazy trying to use the tiny keyboard that is built into the eBook reader. [Gef] decided to take a USB keyboard along with him, but how is he going to use it to control the terminal screen on the Kindle? The answer is the ‘screen’ application. We’ve used it a lot to keep programs running on a machine after we’ve exited from an SSH session. It turns out it can also be used to host multiple users on the same terminal session. Pretty neat!

[via Make]

Tethering a Kindle for free 3G

[Excelangue] just posted a guide to using the free 3G connection in your Amazon Kindle to browse the Internet on your computer.

The hack requires a Kindle Keyboard 3G and the free worldwide Internet access that comes along with the purchase price. After jailbreaking the Kindle and applying a USB network hack, [Excelangue] managed to connect his laptop to the Internet through his computer. The process of tethering the Kindle’s 3G is remarkably easy, but we expect a one-click solution will pop up on the web sometime this week.

Of course we have to note here that tethering a Kindle is against the Amazon terms & conditions, and the data going through your Kindle is tied to a unique ID. If you do this, Amazon knows who you are and is more than likely willing to brick your device. [Excelangue] is looking into tethering to the Kindle over WiFi so Android and iOS devices can get in on the action, but he’s still in the process of experimenting with his build.

Tablet cover from old hardcover books

Here’s a way to look hip and destroy books at the same time. This table cover is made from an old hardcover book. It’s not difficult to do, an afternoon is all it takes, and if you follow all of the instructions we’d bet this will hold up for a long time.

It’s basically another version of the Moleskine cover for the Kindle Fire. You find a donor book (second-hand shops are packed with ’em) with a hardcover which you really enjoy. Kids books would be the most fun because of the artwork – if you can find one thick enough. With book in hand remove all of the pages. This will leave the binding a little flimsy, and since this is a project by the company which make Sugru, you can see why they used the moldable adhesive for that purpose. But check out the brackets in the picture above. They covered the Kindle in cling wrap, then molded Sugru around the corners. Once set, it can be peeled away from the plastic wrap, but will retain its shape. Nice.

Custom screensaver on the non-touch Kindle 4

[Kubbur87] put together a guide to replacing the Non-touch Kindle 4 screensavers with your own images. We’ve already seen a way to remove the Special Offers banners from the newest version of Kindle Hardware, this hack lets you use your own 600×800 Portable Network Graphics (.png) file instead of the images pushed to the device by Amazon.

Frankly, we’re shocked at how easy this hack is. [Kubbur87] puts the device into developer mode, enables SSH, and then goes to work on the Linux shell within. It seems the only line of protection is the root password which he somehow acquired.

After the break you’ll find his videos which show how to enable developer mode and how to perform this hack. By putting a file named “ENABLE_DIAGS” with no extension on the device when it is recognized as a USB storage device you’ll gain access to the diagnostic menu system. From there it’s just a matter of cruising that menu to get SSH access. Like we said, you’ll need the root password, that that’s as easy as naming your favorite video game character from the 1980’s.

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Hack removes ads from Kindle ‘Special Offers’ hardware

We figured it wouldn’t be long before someone figured out how to remove the ads from the ‘Special Offers’ versions of the Amazon Kindle hardware. There are two things that made this obvious to us, the huge flaw that lets code be easily run as root, and the MP3 tag forming that makes it possible to unlock the device.

[Pat Hartl] knows his way around a *nix shell, so once he gained SSH access to the device he started a search for the ad images that make up the special offers feature. He found them in a few different places, making backups of the files in an alternate location, then removing them with some simple commands. He even rolled the process into a one-click installer like the Jailbreak package. It makes us wonder if Amazon has a way to tell if your device is not longer pulling down content for these offers?

At risk of sounding preachy, Amazon does offer this hardware without ads for a one-time fee. Circumventing the unobtrusive ads may lead to higher hardware prices in the future, and [Pat] mentions that. He pulled off this hack to show the holes in Amazon’s security, and hitting them in the pocketbook is a powerful way to do it.

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How the Kindle Touch jailbreak was discovered

The Kindle Touch has been rooted! There’s a proof video embedded after the break, but the best part about this discovery is that [Yifan Lu] wrote in-depth about how he discovered and exploited a security hole in the device.

The process begins by getting a dump of the firmware. If you remove the case it’s not hard to find the serial port on the board, which he did. But by that time someone else had already dumped the image and uploaded it. We guess you could say that [Yifan] was shocked by what he found in the disassembly. This a ground-up rewrite compared to past Kindle devices and it seems there’s a lot to be hacked. The bootloader is not locked, but messing around with that is a good way to brick the device. The Javascript, which is the language used for the UI, is not obfuscated and Amazon included many hooks for later plugins. Long story short, hacks for previous Kindles won’t work here, but it should be easy to reverse engineer the software and write new ones.

Gaining access to the device is as easy as injecting some HTML code into the UI. It is then run by the device as root (no kidding!). [Yifan] grabbed an MP3 file, changed its tag information to the HTML attack code, then played the file on the device to exploit the flaw. How long before malicious data from illegally downloaded MP3 files ends up blanking the root file system on one of these?

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