Samsung TV firmware hacking

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[Erdem] is leading up the efforts to reverse engineer Samsung TV firmware with a project called SamyGo. Official Samsung firmware uses the Linux kernel, making it a familiar system to work with for many developers. So far they’ve implemented NFS and SAMBA for sharing files over the network, improved playback from USB devices, and unlocked the ability to use non-Samsung WiFi dongles.

In order to make changes to the system, you need to enable a telnet connection on the device. The SamyGo team accomplished this by changing an official version of the firmware in a hex editor to start the telnet daemon at boot time. This altered firmware is then flashed using Samsung’s built in upgrade system. Once telnet is enabled, non-official firmware can be manually flashed.

We’d love to see this project expand to other TV Brands in the future. In fact, we were looking for something like this back in June when we realized that our Sony Bravia runs a Linux kernel and can be updated via USB drive.  Be careful if you want to try this out. We can only imagine the fallout after telling your significant other that you bricked a high-priced LCD.

24 Solid State Drives in Raid

In a time when marketing is all around us, companies often have to come up with new and creative ways to get us excited. Some go the viral route, others hire famous spokes people. Samsung did well with this idea. Let some computer geeks build something awesome and have fun with it. They chained 24 drives together to create a whopping 6Terrabyte array. They run various speed tests and even test the drive integrity by bouncing on a trampoline while dangling them from their chords. Yeah, they make the computer geeks a little geekier than they need to be, but who didn’t get excited to see those transfer speeds?

Eye-Fi teardown

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[les robots] had a defective Eye-Fi card on his hands and when a replacement was sent, he was told to destroy the original. What better way to ‘destroy’ something than opening the case? The Eye-Fi is an SD card with a builtin WiFi radio so it can upload images while remaining in camera. One version uses Skyhook’s location service to geotag photos. You can see a few photos of the dismantled card on Flickr. The board is manufactured by Wintec. The wireless side is handled by Atheros’ ROCm, the same low power Radio-on-Chip module you would find in a mobile phone. The flash memory comes from Samsung and the antenna is along the back edge, where it has the best chance of getting signal.

Chumby digital picture frame teardown

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At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Chumby unveiled their latest prototype. It’s a network connected digital picture frame that runs Flash widgets. Just like the current Chumby model, they’re publishing the software and hardware under a license designed to let you hack it. They let us borrow one of their open chassis evaluation kits to teardown and photograph. We’ve got more pictures, full specs, and the schematics below.

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Hackit: Netbook haters?

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Gadget blogs have been a fluster the last day about TechCrunch stating that netbooks “just aren’t good enough“. Writing a response post hasn’t proven very hard given the number of factual errors in the original. Boing Boing Gadgets points out that the low-end of the spectrum that TC post seems to cover are almost impossible to purchase because they’re so outdated. Liliputing rightly states that comparing the browsing experience to the iPhone isn’t worthwhile since it’s entirely a software problem. Laptop goes so far as to recommend the HP Mini 1000 and Samsung NC10 specifically for their keyboard. TechCrunch isn’t alone in their opinion; this week Intel stated that using the ultra portable devices was “fine for an hour“. TechCrunch is designing a web tablet right now using the collective wisdom of blog commenters. Looks like they’re just reboxing a netbook for the prototype.

We cover the netbook market for different reasons than most: Their low low price makes people much more willing to hack on the device. For the price of a smartphone, you’re getting a fully capable laptop. The low performance doesn’t matter as much since we’re running different flavors of Linux that are much lighter than Windows. People running OSX86 are doing it to address a market that Apple doesn’t.

What’s your experience with netbooks? Do you have one that you adore or are you annoyed by their shortcomings? Models we’ve covered in the past include the Acer Aspire One, Asus Eee PC, Dell Mini 9, and MSI Wind.

[Photo: Onken Bio-pot]