Hackaday Links: June 7, 2015

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I’ve said over and over again that Apple’s MagSafe port is the greatest advancement in laptop tech in the last 15 years. Those charger connectors break, though, so how do you fix it? With Lego, of course (Google translatrix). Use a light-colored 1×4 brick so the LED will shine through.

Want to learn Git commands? Here’s a great game that does just that. It’s a really well-designed game/tutorial that walks you through basic Git commands.

Lets say you’re just slightly paranoid about the Bad Guys™ getting into your computer with 0-days and roller blades. You’d like to connect this computer to the Internet, but you don’t want to leave it connected all the time. The solution? A timer for an Ethernet switch. It’s actually a better solution than doing the same thing with scripts: there’s a real, physical interface, and if the Bad Guys™ get in when you are connected, they could just enable the network adapter anyway. An extremely niche use case, but that’s 99% of the security hacks we see.

The DaVinci 3D printer is an okay printer if you’re cool with the Gilette model. The filament cartridges are chipped, and the software is proprietary. These problems have been solved, and now you can use a standard RepRap heated bed and glass with the DaVinci. At this point, people are buying the DaVinci just to tear it apart.

22 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: June 7, 2015

  1. I’ve said over and over that your belief that the magsafe is the best advancement in laptop technology in the last 15 years is flawed for the very reason you mentioned. They break. Constantly. Shell out another $80, pleb.

      1. My HP laptop doesn’t have soldered on jack. It’s separated by about 6 inches of wire. If it breaks, it’s about $10 on eBay for a new one. Unscrew and unplug, chuck it, screw in new one, plug it, it’s up and working again.

      2. Never had a problem with power jacks on any of the 3 pc notebooks I’ve had in the past 15 years, despite heavy use in less than ideal situations.
        The damn Mac can’t stay plugged in to save it’s life, though.
        I’ll take the power solution that doesn’t unplug every time I move slightly, thanks.

      3. Power jacks on non-Apple laptops are stronger. Power jacks on non-Apple laptops can be desoldered and have another one simply soldered straight on, this is Hackaday after all and is one of the first things I ever did with a soldering iron. Pleb.

      4. We repair laptop jacks, cost is parts plus $40 per half hour labor. I have never seen it cost more than $200, even when I had to do soldering. No one ever had to buy a new mobo either.

    1. But other power cords and jacks break too – I have a whole box of them. I’d be interested in percentage failure data on power connectors for Apple vs.everyone else, but I doubt anyone can really collect good stats on that. I’m with Brian on this one, because the cost of the jack vs. the power adapter is not the only factor.

      First, the magsafe *plugs* break, not usually the jacks. Plugs/power cords are far easier to replace or repair than internal jacks, and I’ve had to do enough jack replacements on PC laptops to hate them. It doesn’t cost $500, it’s $10 like Genki said – plus the PITA of tearing the laptop completely apart to replace it. My time is valuable here and if I’m billing it’s at least $50, for someone I know and like.

      Second, magsafe has saved my wife’s Macbook from sudden death more than once by coming off like it’s supposed to. A PC in the same situation would have been yanked off the table and smashed in many ways. That *does* cost $500, or a lot more, depending on the laptop. So I figure I’m about $1000 ahead in non-replaced computers and parts at this point in the two years we’ve had a Mac in the house.

      Basically, sure, magsafe might not be that amazing in your life, but I’ve got far better things to do than spend an evening replacing another stupid power jack or fixing smashed things.

      OK, end rant.

    2. Or just transplant what you want. We’re hackers.

      I got sick of my proprietary Dell power supply cord breaking after the second time and found a replacement costing twice what I paid last time due to it being discontinued. After a bit of Googling, found the hex file (no source) for a PIC to emulate the IC. Not having a PIC handy and having two ruined power supplies I simply hacked one apart and transplanted the i2c circuitry into the laptop. soldered a new connector and used any PSU as long as they met spec. No more proprietary bullshit.

    1. I don’t think anyone’s pretending it solves a problem, but neither do 99% of all the other security things we do (in real life not just computing) – they delay things such that it deters people from bothering (unless they are *really* determined). If the box is only online for 5 minutes a day, it’s got a lot less chance of being discovered than most other stuff, and would be quite tedious to hack into in 5 minute increments.

      1. If you are a person that monitors his network a bit to keep it secure then it is also helpful to secure things when you aren’t there.

        And on an interesting sidenote, I once, years back, had an issue with my internet connection and the tech support guy was checking if modems in my area had a similar problem by remotely checking their signals,but as it turned out a great many people actually turned their cablemodem off when not online, and he had to try quite a number to see ‘live’ modems. Not sure if that was just a habit back then or if people still do it though.

    2. “Tinfoil hat ‘hacks'” Ironically they found that tinfoil increases the surface area of whatever signal is being picked up much like the rabbit ears antennas you sometime see on old TV’s.

      A proper ESD/RF blocking hat would be made from 9mil silver motherboard style bag, 2-3 copper scrubbers unrolled and sandwiched between another 9mil silver motherboard bag.

      Here is a nice blueprint to use

      http cdn.instructables com/F01/30XU/H94ZAL0V/F0130XUH94ZAL0V.LARGE.jpg

      Also you’d naturally want to extend to cover more of the Auditory Ossicle.

      (Probably won’t protect against HSS or anti-crowd dispersal tech but your thoughts of legalizing polygamy and the perfect invention for inverting Schrodinger’s Cat Box to fill a finite space with gold or something is safe.)


      “how is a lamp timer a ‘hack’?”

      It’s more of being “aware” of one’s surroundings and solutions available to use to further protect oneself and property. “Did I leave the soldering iron on after going to the bathroom and then having to answer that emergency call?”

        1. A tin foil shield will never work like ‘rabbit ears’ (dipole) when not physically connected. Although it will work as a reflector, so to shield a signal you would need a complete encapsulation.

          Grounding it will mean it’ll shield partially even if only partially covering a signal source of course, so that is an improvement.

          1. Addendum: There is an issue with a partial shield working as a ground plane for the antenna though, and thus actually improving the efficiency of the antenna. So in that situation there is a vague comparison with ‘rabbit ears’ I suppose.

  2. A physical disconnect by timer and possibly a person operated switch might be just what all those government and public utility computers need. And it would prevent so much hassle and expenditure of money fixing things afterwards.

    Also, they might want to limit certain official/work computers to known IP’s or at least to IP’s in the same country, or at the very very least the same continent.. but that’s another ‘hack’.

    My old modem used to have a switch btw, it disconnected the ethernetline while keeping the connection open, it was a nice feature really. Especially after you find yourself under direct attack – although not everybody has that issue.

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