Linux started as a student project in the 1990s, the creation of Linus Torvalds. He has attained celebrity status while steering his creation through the decades, but along the way he has also attracted a different reputation within the Linux and software community. He is famous for his outbursts and rants, some of which become rather personal, and it is not difficult at all to find kernel developers or would-be kernel developers who have turned their backs on the project as a result.
It’s very refreshing indeed then to read an update from [Linus] as part of his regular communications, in which he admits that he has an issue, and says that he is taking the time to seek help for it. There is an accompanying update to the kernel maintenance code of conduct, which suggests that this is likely to mark a sea-change in that environment, as well as we hope salvage that aspect of [Linus]’ reputation.
“My flippant attacks in emails have been both unprofessional and uncalled for. Especially at times when I made it personal. In my quest for a better patch, this made sense to me. I know now this was not OK and I am truly sorry.”
The Hackaday community has a much greater than average proportion of Linux users among its readership. Even those readers who use a desktop OS with BSD, Windows, or other kernels will almost certainly have a Linux kernel somewhere, whether it’s in their phone, their set-top-box, their children’s toys, or even their domestic appliances. And of course a large swath of the Internet runs on Linux. It is in the best interest of us all that we continually attract and retain brilliant people to contribute to the effort put into developing and maintaining the Linux kernel.
Without wishing to lionise [Linus] above the many others whose work has also contributed to Linux and its success, his contribution to our community has been beyond measure and it has been uncomfortable to see his other side. It’s a step in the right direction to apologize for personal attacks and behavior that drives a wedge into the kernel developer community, and seek to change that behavior. We’d urge others to follow his example, we’re sure every grouping has at times had its personality problems, and it’s never too late to enact some repairs.
While Linus steps away to work on his self improvement, veteran kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman will take the reigns among the kernel maintainers.
If someone asked me to make a list of things I didn’t expect to ever hear again, the question “Do you want to go to a Toys “R” Us?” would be pretty near the top spot. After all of their stores (at least in the United States) closed at the end of June 2018, the House of Geoffrey seemed destined to join Radio Shack as being little more than a memory for those past a certain age. A relic from the days when people had to leave their house to purchase goods.
But much to my surprise, a friend of mine recently invited me to join him on a trip to the now defunct toy store. His wife’s company purchased one of the buildings for its ideal location near a main highway, and before the scrappers came through to clean everything out, he thought I might like a chance to see what was left. Apparently his wife reported there was still “Computers and stuff” still in the building, and as I’m the member of our friend group who gets called in when tangles of wires and sufficiently blinking LEDs are involved, he thought I’d want to check it out. He wasn’t wrong.
Readers may recall that Toys “R” Us, like Radio Shack before it, had a massive liquidation sale in the final months of operations. After the inventory was taken care of, there was an auction where the store’s furnishings and equipment were up for grabs. I was told that this location was no different, and yet a good deal of material remained. In some cases there were no bidders, and in others, the people who won the auction never came back to pick the stuff up.
So on a rainy Sunday evening in September, armed with flashlight, camera, and curiosity, I entered a Toys “R” Us for last time in my life. I found not only a stark example of what the changing times have done to retail in general, but a very surprising look at what get’s left behind when the money runs out and the employees simply give up.
Continue reading “Exploring An Abandoned Toys “R” Us”
The “Rubber Ducky” by Hak5 is a very powerful tool that lets the user perform rapid keystroke injection attacks, which is basically a fancy way of saying the device can type fast. Capable of entering text at over 1000 WPM, Mavis Beacon’s got nothing on this $45 gadget. Within just a few seconds of plugging it in, a properly programmed script can do all sorts of damage. Just think of all the havoc that can be caused by an attacker typing in commands on the local machine, and now image they are also the Flash.
But unless you’re a professional pentester, $45 might be a bit more than you’re looking to spend. Luckily for the budget conscious hackers out there, [Tomas C] has posted a guide on using open source software to create a DIY version of Hak5’s tool for $3 a pop. At that cost, you don’t even have to bother recovering the things when you deploy them; just hold on tight to your balaclava and make a run for it.
The hardware side of this hack is the Attiny85-based Digispark, clones of which can be had for as low as $1.50 USD depending on how long your willing to wait on the shipping from China. Even the official ones are only $8, though as of the time of this writing are not currently available. Encapsulating the thing in black shrink tubing prevents it from shorting out, and as an added bonus, gives it that legit hacker look. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a hack if you could just buy one of these little guys and install the Rubber Ducky firmware on it.
In an effort to make it easier to use, the official Rubber Ducky runs scripts written in a BASIC-like scripting language. [Tomas C] used a tool called duck2spark by [Marcus Mengs], which lets you take a Rubber Ducky script (which have been released by Hak5 as open source) and compile it into a binary for flashing to the Digispark.
Not quite as convenient as just copying the script to the original Ducky’s microSD card, but what do you want for less than 1/10th the original’s price? Like we’ve seen in previous DIY builds inspired by Hak5 products, the trade-off is often cost for ease of use.
[Thanks to Javier for the tip.]
Both “Nixie” and “Steampunk” are getting a bit overused. It’s hard to count the number of clock projects we’ve seen recently that combine the two, and normally we’d be loath to feature yet another variation on that theme without a good reason. This is a good reason.
The single-digit Nixie clocks that [Claes Vahlberg] built are, simply put, works of art. There’s a small version of the clock, featuring a single IN-16 Nixie, and a larger version that uses a Dalibor Farny custom Nixie, a work of art in its own right. Each clock has features like time and date, temperature and barometric pressure, and even days remaining in the current lunar cycle. The cases for the clocks, though, are the real treat. Hand forged from steel, they remind us of steam whistles on top of a boiler.
[Claes] doesn’t have many details on the build process — we’ve been in contact and he says he’s working on documentation — but it doesn’t matter. As if all that weren’t enough, the clocks are controlled by a remote, which has its own IN-16 tube and is motion controlled. The last bit is a nice touch since there are no buttons to distract from the smooth lines of the hammered metal case.
We gush, but we think this one really shines. That’s not to take anything away from previous Nixie-steampunk mashups, like this single-digit clock or this solar power meter. But these clocks are a step beyond.
Continue reading “Hand-Forged Cases Make Nixie Clocks Into Works Of Art”