Hackaday Links: June 30, 2019

In our continuing series of, ‘point and laugh at this guy’, I present a Kickstarter for the, “World’s First Patented Unhackable Computer Ever”.  It’s also a real web site and there’s even a patent (US 10,061,923, not showing up on Google Patents for some reason), and a real product: you can get an unhackable laptop, and you can get it in either space gray or gold finish. This gets fun when you actually dig into the patent; it appears this guy invented protected memory, with one section of memory dedicated to the OS, and another dedicated to the browser. This is a valid, live patent, by the way.

The 2019 New York Maker Faire is off. Yeah, it says it’s still going to happen on the website, but trust me, it’s off, and you can call the New York Hall of Science to confirm that for yourself. Maker Media died recently, and there will be no more ‘Flagship’ Maker Faires. That doesn’t mean the ‘mini’ and ‘featured’ Maker Faires are dead, though: the ‘Maker Faire’ trademark is simply licensed out to those organizers. In the next few weeks, there is going to be a (mini) Maker Faire in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Gilroy, California, Edmonton, Alberta, Kingsport Tennessee, and a big ‘ol one in Detroit. This raises an interesting question: where is the money for the licensing going? I’m sure some Mini Maker Faire organizers are reading this; have your checks been cashed? What is the communication with Maker Media like?

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. It’s valuable words of wisdom like that and can apply to many things. Commenting on blog posts, for example. Yes, you can throw sticks at a wasp’s nest, that doesn’t mean you should. Yes, you can 3D print Heely adapters for your shoes, but it doesn’t mean you should. It does look dope, though and you’re automatically a thousand times cooler than everyone else.

The C64 Mini is a pocket-sized Linux device with an HDMI port meant to play C64 games.   There were high hopes when the C64 Mini was announced, but it turned out the keyboard isn’t actually a mini keyboard. Now someone had the good sense to combine one of these ‘smartphone chips running an emulator in a retro case’ products with a full-sized keyboard. The C64 will be around by Christmas, and yeah, it has a full working keyboard.

30 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: June 30, 2019

  1. The C64 mini was just fake, but I pre-ordered “The C64”. It is still fake, but at least it has a good keyboard.
    The next thing would be a Mega65. It is FPGA based and runs a real C64 with up to 50 times the original speed, and it even supports expansion port cartridges.

      1. There is no software running on the FPGA. The VHDL source code describes which gates are created and how they are connected (with a lot of tiny lookup tables). This is the reason why you can’t use expansion port cartridges even on a fast mobile phone CPU using software, because the latency is too high. But with a FPGA it can be cycle accurate and latency is better than on an original C64, and speed, too. This is not as much a fake as a pure software implementation, there are different levels of fake :-)

        1. I thought the reason I could not use expansion port cartridges on a mobile phone was because I dint have an expansion port on my phone

          Its really simple here folks its not any more real cause you changed the method of emulation, ram + cpu, or VHDL in lookup tables its all software and completely subject to the author on how accurate it is

          but its not fukin real get over it

          1. But at least a FPGA emulation is more real than a pure software emulation :-) But there are some real advantages, if you don’t run it on your phone: On a FPGA you have real gates (each gate implemented with thousands of tiny general purpose lookup tables), they work all in parallel, and you describe the gates according to the original ICs in the C64. A pure software emulation like VICE is completely different, runs sequentially and is more a high-level implementation of the behavior, has nothing to do with the real gates. For example see the VHDL implementation of the 6522 in the Mega65:
            https://github.com/MEGA65/mega65-core/blob/master/src/vhdl/m6522.vhdl
            Every “process” is synthesized in parallel in the FPGA, as different gates. Compare this to the VICE implementation of the 6522:
            https://sourceforge.net/p/vice-emu/code/HEAD/tree/trunk/vice/src/core/viacore.c
            The VICE software emulation runs in one thread. So each function runs in sequence, for example incrementing the timer. This means if for example you configure PB7 in free-running mode to output some PWM signal, with a software emulation it has a terrible jitter. And if it is running Linux, the jitter would even vary if you access completely different things, like the SD-card. With the FPGA implementation the generated signal would be perfect without any jitter (except the jitter of the crystal oscillator itself), exactly like with a real C64.

  2. That Kickstarter is a gold mine of comedy. Some selected quotes;

    * “In each case their engineering staff either could not solve a problem on hand or there were no skills available in house to tackle it. I was paid well for those assignments.”
    * “Where did the idea come from? In a dream.”
    * “In my research, I found out that all the PC manufacturers follow the IBM Personal computer design that IBM came out with in the 1980s.”

    So this computing expert with 35 years in the industry required research to determine the PC was the dominant computing platform and needed to dream up an unhackable computer? Shut up and take my money!

    1. From the website description of the specifications:

      Display Retina display

      Camera
      720p FaceTime HD camera

      Force Touch trackpad for precise cursor control and pressure-sensing capabilities; enables Force clicks, accelerators, pressure-sensitive drawing, and Multi-Touch gestures

    2. then on the website it claims it will use a “1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5”

      So, the x86 is the problem, and the solution is more x86-64? But with a non-Princeton architecture; because storing data with instructions is the cause of all hacking. Oh, but that must be in the OS that he’s going to get someone to write in the next three months, because the x86 chips are all Von Neumann-type architecture.

  3. I invented an unhackable computer once, it has no possible method of inputting any data so it’s unhackable, it’s also useless but hey, the path of progress is not often smooth.

    1. And that is gone after only one person backed it up. So we can pledge 5 bucks for updates or 20 bucks for t-shirt, and that’s it. Perhaps he doesn’t want to give that laptop to anyone, as that would probably render it hackable.

  4. A few years ago he got into Engineering consulting and then went back in time to before 1997 to go work for Hughes Aircraft Co.

    Oh man, cant tell if satire or actual scam… anyone have a link to the patent? id just like to check out the submittal information.

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