If you haven’t heard from other websites yet, earlier this year a leak of various Nintendo intellectual properties surfaced on the Internet. This included prototype software dating back to the Game Boy, as well as Verilog files for systems up to the Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii. This leak seems to have originated from a breach in the BroadOn servers, a small hardware company Nintendo had contracted to make, among other things, the China-only iQue Player.
So, that’s the gist of it out of the way, but what does it all mean? What is the iQue Player? Surely now that a company’s goodies are out in the open, enthusiasts can make use of it and improve their projects, right? Well, no. A lot of things prevent that, and there’s more than enough precedent for it that, to the emulation scene, this was just another Tuesday.
The MIT Media Lab’s Open Agriculture Initiative (OpenAg) promised to revolutionize urban farming with their Food Computers: essentially miniature automated gardens that could be installed in racks to maximize growing space. Each unit would be provided with a “Recipe” that allowed it to maintain the ideal environmental conditions for the species it contained, which meant that even the novice gardener to produce a bumper crop no whether they lived in the Arctic Circle or the Sahara.
With such lofty goals, success certainly wasn’t assured. But we still didn’t expect to hear that the program had to be permanently closed after a string of startling accusations came to light. From engaging in scientific dishonesty to setting off a minor ecological disaster, the story just gets worse and worse. Who could have imagined that one day we’d have to report on an open source project having direct ties to Jeffrey Epstein?
According to reports, MIT Media Lab Director Joichi Ito and OpenAg principal researcher Caleb Harper attempted to secure $1.5 million in funding for the program during a 2017 meeting with the disgraced financier. Epstein apparently wasn’t impressed by what he saw, and no money ever changed hands. Given the information we now have about the project, this might actually be the least surprising part of the story.
It has since come to light that the Food Computers never worked consistently, and indeed never made it past the prototype stage. This despite the fact that Harper claimed that functional units had already been deployed to refugee camps during presentation to potential investors. A scientist working with the project has even come forward with claims that staff were instructed to place plants brought from local garden centers into the prototype Food Computers prior to tours of the lab so visitors would think they had been grown in the devices.
A former researcher working on the OpenAg program, Babak Babakinejad, also went public with his concerns over the environmental impact of dumping waste water from the Food Computers. The lab had a permit to pump nitrogen-infused water into an underground disposal well, but according to Babakinejad, internal testing showed the nitrogen levels in the water would occasionally top 20 times the stated limit. After his concerns were ignored by Harper and other MIT staff, he eventually took his concerns directly to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection which led to an investigation and ultimately a fine of $25K.
We first covered the Open Agriculture Initiative back in 2016, and readers expressed doubts about the concept even then. While we certainly don’t relish making an update like this about a project we’ve featured, it’s an important reminder that honesty and integrity can’t take a backseat to technical achievement.
While production of the Tesla Cybertruck won’t start production until 2021 (at the earliest), you can always try to build your own. Unless you have a really big spare parts drawer, though, it probably won’t be full sized, but you can at least build a model if you have a shop as well-stocked as [Emiel]. He took some time to build a model cybertruck out of a single sheet of aluminum. (Video, embedded below. You might want to turn on subtitles.)
This project is a great example of the fact that some projects that seem simple on the surface require some specialized tools to get just right. To start, the aluminum sheet was cut with a laser to get into the appropriate shape and include details like windows, and the bending points were marked with an engraver to help the bending process along. The one tool that [Emiel] was missing was a brake, but he got great results with a set of metal bending pliers.
Finishing the model didn’t go particularly smoothly, either. He had planned to braze the metal together, but the heat required kept warping the body panels. The solution was to epoxy it together and sand down the excess, and the results are hopefully stronger than brazing would have been since he added a cloth to the epoxy for extra strength. The windows are made from polycarbonate (and didn’t break during the durability test), and we hope that when [Emiel] is ready to put in a motor he uses one of his custom-built electric motors. Continue reading “The Next Best Thing To A Cybertruck”→