Hackaday Links: May 5, 2019

Simulacra and simulation and Kickstarter videos. The Amigo Robot is a 4-wheeled omnibot robot on Kickstarter. It does STEM or STEAM or whatever. Oh neat, injection molded magnetic pogo pins, that’s cool. Watch the video for this Kickstarter, it is a work of postmodern horror. We live in a post-reality world, and this is beyond parody.  You have the ubiquitous cheerful whistling, a ukulele, tambourine and a glockenspiel. You’ve got a narrator that falls squarely into the uncanny valley and a cadence that could have only been generated by a computer. You’ve got grammar that is very much correct, but somehow wrong; ‘It is the key to interact with family pets’. This is really, really bad.

Who is Satoshi? The creator of Bitcoin, a person or persons known as Satoshi Nakamoto, has been an open question for years now, with many people claiming they are the one that invented Bitcoin (with the implication that they’re in control of the first coins and therefore a multi-Billionaire). Newsweek found someone named Dorian Nakamoto, but that guy didn’t make Bitcoin. Wired magazine used back-dated blog posts to identify the creator of Bitcoin. Needless to say, the creator of Bitcoin has not been identified yet. Now, there’s an unveiling of sorts coming up. gotsatoshi.com has a live countdown and doesn’t use Rockapella as a house band. This bears repeating, again: there is exactly one way to prove the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. To prove you are Satoshi, all you need to do is move some of the first Bitcoins. That’s it, that’s all you need to do, and it’s not going to happen when the gotsatoshi.com countdown hits zero.

CNC machines controlled by a Pi abound, but here’s a word of warning about buying a ‘bargain’ CNC machine from China from [Rob] via our tips line:

In the “homebrew” community, I know some people have their own CNC machines – I’ve seen a hundred and one projects using Raspberry Pis to run homemade CNCs and so on, so I guess there is a good supply of open-source/freeware to software to control them with.
However, some people, like a mate at work, might be tempted by a good “bargain” from China.  No names, no pack drill, but just before last Christmas, my mate bought a “cheap” CNC system from China – It was about three or four thousand Euros, if I remember rightly.  It has been working well and he done some work for our work as well. No problems.
Last week, our firm was contacted by Siemens. They claimed that someone at our firm has been using unlicensed Siemens software.  At first no-one knew what they were on about.  Someone thought it might be about some CAD system or other – we had been trialing a few to see which suited us best, but we had stuck well within the restrictions for the trials.
Then we found out it was the software on his CNC machine.  Because he had used his work laptop with it, the system had “phoned home” and alerted Siemens that an unlicensed version was being used.  Siemens then demanded EUR 32,000 – yes, thirty two THOUSAND Euros to license the software.  That was something like EUR 27,000 for the commercial license and EUR 5 000 for the second one.  It was explained that he had bought the CNC system from where-ever and had a license issued by the manufacturer.  I license that Siemens do not acknowledge.  They have now accepted that he bought and used it in good faith that it was fully legit, so they waived the commercial license and are now demanding “only” EUR 5,000, but that still comes with the threat – pay up or we take you to court…

We’re all very familiar that Dassault Systems will start hitting you up for that Solidworks license you didn’t pay for, but this is effectively firmware for a CNC machine that is phoning home through a laptop. In effect it’s a reverse Stuxnet, brought to you by a cheap Chinese CNC machine.

Here’s a hot tip for anyone who wants to do something people want. Direct to garment printers (DTG printers) are pretty much inkjet printers modified to print on t-shirts. ‘dtg printer’ is one of Hackaday’s perennial top search terms, most likely because of a post we did ten years ago. If you want to join the cool kids club and do something people desperately want, find a cheap inkjet and turn it into a DTG printer.

Red Hat has changed its logo. Red Hat, the company that somehow makes money on Open Source software, changed their logo this week. The branding for Red Hat hasn’t been very good since 2016 or thereabouts, and the branding for the Fedora project has been taking hits for just as long, m’lady. Beyond that, customer surveys revealed that the old ‘Shadowman’ logo evoked feelings like, ‘sinister, secretive, evil, and sneaky’. The new logo removes the shadowman entirely, and makes the hat the focus of attention. There is now official confirmation that there is a black band around the crown of the hat (in the Shadowman logo, this band could be confused for a shadow), and the crown is sharper. The jury is still out on the fedora vs. trilby argument, and indeed the argument is even more divisive now: the difference between a trilby and a fedora is in how they are worn, and by removing the Shadowman from the logo we now have fewer context clues to make the determination. Bet you didn’t think you were going to read two hundred words about the Red Hat logo today, did you?

22 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: May 5, 2019

  1. ” Because he had used his work laptop with it, the system had “phoned home” and alerted Siemens that an unlicensed version was being used. ”

    Is the code disclosed or accessible to decompile somewhere so someone can maybe crack or spoof the operation? I’m surprised with all the coders in China and Eastern Europe, not one has done that yet.

    1. Behavior that falls into a gray area definition of racketeering and extortion is common with software/service companies. Ask anyone who got corn-holed by Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, or Lexis Nexis.

      Tip: It only gets worse the more you give evidence to the people shaking you down. The law never declares anyone innocent… only not guilty… Shut your indignant mouth and get two different lawyers to review the situation, and then decide if counter-suing for unsolicited services is worth your time.

      Sometimes paying these people to go away ends up costing less, and the racketeers adjust their claim to this number.

      Full disclosure, it cost me $10k to learn I am responsible for employee actions at my company. The cowards didn’t even want a court case with us, and sold the claim to a loan collector at some point. And our lawyer ultimately suggested I recover the loss from my employee…. ridiculous, but true…. sometimes rolling over is the way to get back to work.

      If you ever wounder why CEOs become such terrific a**holes… consider they get hundreds of these scams every year… and you can’t stop them all… ;-)

    1. Agreed. But the history is missing in details about which software would be running in the machine. Also, the guy would have installed unknown software, from a chinese cheap thing bought in the internet, in a company laptop. Too much things wrong in the same place.

    1. From my understanding of it, Siemens are trying to hold the company responsible for what a friend of an employee did on company premises whilst doing some work on behalf for the company.
      It’s a shake down, they know it’ll cost the company more than 5K to defend this.

      1. i dont think that it is Siemens, it could be the CNC manufacturer. Either way the entire episode reads like a kid telling you a story that they are trying not to get in trouble for, it leaves us with a host of questions:

        Why would the CNC machine phone home to Siemens?
        Did the CNC manufacturer actuall provide a key to Siemens Solidedge software that the user then used?
        Why would the user think that it would be a good idea to install software valued at 5k with a key given to them from a 4k machine purchase?

        At the very least it reads like its from someone who doesnt understand how these software packages work on the backend and at most it sounds like someone trying to cover up some dodgy pirating of software for “trial” purposes

  2. I’m reminded of the article on HaD a few weeks ago(?) of a laser engraver made from an ink jet printer.
    I think the modifications to the “bed” of the printer, would be useful in making a dtg printer. (no laser needed).

  3. I would take that report of phoning home with a grain of salt. First there is no data based on what Chinese cnc machine he bought. Second, i dont know of any CNC machine that provides CAD software with your purchase. Thirdly, the trial versions are generally cloud based or the licenses are cloud based, I.E. The company knows exactly who has a trial license and how they are using it.

    So what i dont get is how the software on his CNC machine phoned home to Siemens to tell them that the computer connected to the CNC machine had an illegal version of the CAD program. None of that report makes sense, it sounds like this “workmate” had an illegal copy of Siemens software on his laptop that he got a key from the CNC manufacturer which has no name? I mean that just screams red flags everywhere!

    “hey, im going to buy this 4000 euro cnc machine which comes with a license to 5000 euro software”

    Have you verified that the people that you were talking to at Siemens is actually people from Siemens? and not people from the CNC manufacturer trying to extort more money from you? I mean it is a brilliant scam.

  4. i dont think that it is Siemens, it could be the CNC manufacturer. Either way the entire episode reads like a kid telling you a story that they are trying not to get in trouble for, it leaves us with a host of questions:

    Why would the CNC machine phone home to Siemens?
    Did the CNC manufacturer actuall provide a key to Siemens Solidedge software that the user then used?
    Why would the user think that it would be a good idea to install software valued at 5k with a key given to them from a 4k machine purchase?

    At the very least it reads like its from someone who doesnt understand how these software packages work on the backend and at most it sounds like someone trying to cover up some dodgy pirating of software for “trial” purposes

  5. Ugh! You made me look up glockenspiel. And it turns out it is what I thought a xylophone was. Worse, an actual xylophone is something else! My whole life has been a lie! Curse you Brian Benchoff!!!

  6. The difference between a fedora and a trilby is not just in how they are worn. A trilby has a narrower brim than a fedora, and the brim is typically turned up in back. Given the proportions in the Redhat logo, i’d say its a fedora.
    Full disclosure: I used to always wear a fedora, but now my hat of choice is a cloche.

  7. Do they insist on being paid just to not sue your friend? Or would ceasing to use the software suffice. Replacing it with free OSS wouldn’t be that hard. As a worst case it might necessitate replacing the electronics but these days open electronics are a dime a dozen. I don’t know, this Siemens software may have provided some uber good functionality that makes it worthwhile to corporate users with bottomless pockets but plenty of people are creating great things with the free stuff.

  8. “Red Hat, the company that somehow makes money on Open Source software”

    Easy, they pervert Open Source software to be far more complex and fragile than it needs to be so that you are forced to buy a support contract and/or bring in professional services consultants to get anything done and to keep things running.

    I remember Linux before Red Hat. You can get pretty much anything done with a couple hours of reading man pages and some minor skills in programming. After Red Hat (And again after Canonical), documentation went to shit and everything became ridiculously complex and configuration files became much more difficult to understand and provide only a little more utility.

    1. Mainly Red Hat was first to market with certification and originally if you could install Linux that was all it took to get certified. Now it’s a 3 day ordeal which smart people routinely fail.

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