Hackaday Links: June 6, 2021

There are a bunch of newly minted millionaires this week, after it was announced that Stack OverFlow would be acquired for $1.8 billion by European tech investment firm Prosus. While not exactly a household name, Prosus is a big player in the Chinese tech scene, where it has about a 30% stake in Chinese internet company Tencent. They trimmed their holdings in the company a bit recently, raising $15 billion in cash, which we assume will be used to fund the SO purchase. As with all such changes, there’s considerable angst out in the community about how this could impact everyone’s favorite coding help site. The SO leadership are all adamant that nothing will change, but only time will tell.

And speaking of trouble in the community, if you thought Audacity’s troubles had passed, think again. It appears that Audacity’s new owners, Muse Group, are now making contributors to the open-source audio project sign a Contributor License Agreement (CLA) in order to contribute code to the project. The stated reason is that Muse wants to change Audacity to a GPLv3 license, which it can’t do for the existing code written under GPLv2. They say the CLA and subsequent license change will allow them to distribute Audacity on platforms where they currently aren’t welcome, like Apple’s AppStore. It all sounds perfectly reasonable, but after the ill-conceived attempt to bake telemetry into the code, the community isn’t having any of it. They have a point — if a CLA can be used to change license terms, there’s nothing stopping it from changing to a completely closed source license.

From the ever-expanding surveillance state department: don’t forget that as of this publication, you have less than 48 hours to opt out of Amazon’s new Sidewalk feature, if you so choose. All of those doorbells, cameras, thermostats, and smart speakers will automatically be included in Sidewalk on June 8, with the intention of creating one big mesh network that extends connectivity into a wide-area network. The upshot of this is that you’ll be sharing your bandwidth with any and all comers to your neighborhood, and if you don’t like it, after June 8 there’s not much you can do about it. You’ve been warned.

Time for a palate cleanser: how about that picture of the shining clouds on Mars? The image — or rather images, as this is a composite that’s been stitched together and color corrected to match what the human eye would see on Mars — comes from Curiosity, the rover that’s been peacefully exploring Gale crater for years now. While the iridescent clouds, probably of dry ice crystals high in the thin Martian atmosphere, are spectacular, we’re really taken by the rocks. This looks like a place you’ve seen before, either driving through Arizona or New Mexico. Heck, it kind of looks like the place where they filmed all those on-location shots in the old Star Trek episodes — you half expect a guy in a rubber lizard suit to be peeking out from behind those rocks. The point is, unlike a lot of pictures that come back from planetary exploration, these really make it clear that Mars is a place, somewhere that although it is very foreign and hostile, is also familiar enough to relate to.

The electric vehicle market is starting to get crowded, so anyone wanting to play in it is going to have to have some kind of edge over the competition to survive. And what better edge than a car with the potential to pay for itself while it’s parked? That’s the idea behind the Daymak Spiritus, a three-wheeled EV that looks pretty futuristic. The two-seater is slated to launch in 2023, with mining hardware and a crypto wallet built-in. The car is billed as solar-powered, but judging by the small PV arrays on the dash and back deck, we’d think it’s more likely that owners will be turning grid power into Ethereum and Doge than sunlight.

13 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: June 6, 2021

  1. Regarding Amazon Sidewalk, as it happens there will be nothing from my two Amazon devices on it. (Although I can’t see how a smart outlet could help, and an Echo Input wouldn’t want to either.)

    1. are they saying that all those buggy, unsecured and regularily hacked WIFI devices will now also act as buggy, unsecured and regularily hacked WIFI-access-points?

      so, in my house, where signal strength is good but useability is spotty (due to spectrum crowding), i will not be able to use ANY wifi EVER because the already maxed-out spectrum is now expected to support 5x or 10x the number of access-points, how many channels are there and what happens when…

      so now MY wifi AND all those silly amazon spy devices will ALL stop working and people will have to come up with some new sort of wireless system AND it’s accompanying spectrum…

      great way to sell the next gen of technology that we DO NOT need!
      of all the times i used WIFI, ive never EVER had a signal strength issue, execpt when committing internet-service THEFT. i have however had issues with interference from the 200 or so access-points in a nearby apartment building… WIFI that cant even check hackaday eventhough the access-point is 8 feet away with clear line-of-sight.

      … it will BREAK the existing tech so that a claim of improvement can be made for patenting… only rich homeowners will be able to use WIFI due to larger distance between recption-areas, but it is the rich that would be in the market for an upgrade (of any kind).

      maybe amazon wants to go to court for shutting down the entire world of WIFI. something about abuse of governmentally appointed spectrum allocation, and attempts to (blindly) overpower EVERY available WIFI channel in the entire 2 or 3 house reception-area.

      the idea that a mega-tech company didnt know the BASICS of setting up and useing something that everyday people setup and use is appaling. there are a limited number of channels, end of story.

      BTW amazon; in some countries, any updates to the WIFI portion of a WIFI containing device is not allowed BY LAW, specifically to prevent the existing (dire) useability situation from getting any worse. you dont want to be branded a cyber-criminal, do you amazon? launching a digital war anyone? oh right we arent allowed to advocate that (act of war), so why is amazon allowed to actually launch such?

  2. “The point is, unlike a lot of pictures that come back from planetary exploration, these really make it clear that Mars is a place, somewhere that although it is very foreign and hostile, is also familiar enough to relate to.”

    Load into a game engine and drive around.

    “They have a point — if a CLA can be used to change license terms, there’s nothing stopping it from changing to a completely closed source license.”

    Long as one ignores the “I’ve read the new license terms and understood them”. There’s nothing magical going on, which is why the kernel is still on GPLv2. Free will is still firmly in place.

  3. The problem with claiming first in the world there will always be someone with obscure knowledge of the past pointing out that someone did so before. When Tesla included free electricity for live with their computers on wheels multiple Tesla’s are converted to mining rigs. At the time it was just about enough to pay for the monthly car payments if the car mined 24/7 while parked at a charger. I believe it done as early as 2014. When searching for articles there are some from 2017.

  4. > there’s considerable angst out in the community about how this could impact everyone’s favorite coding help site.

    Imagine the reaction if it was Siemens instead of Prosus.

    > The SO leadership are all adamant that nothing will change, but only time will tell

    Imagine leadership actually informing the community.

    1. Hah! You know about as much as we do.

      Mike and I discuss it starting around 2:34 here: https://hackaday.com/2021/05/21/hackaday-podcast-119-random-robot-writing-slithering-snake-shenanigans-and-phased-array-phenomena/

      Summarized: Supplyframe folks have been told that they’re going to remain an autonomous sub-company within Siemens, and Supplyframe has no plans to change our relationship — they are still big Hackaday fans. So we’re insulated from the big blue-green S, but we’re also watching out.

      Mike and I, and heck everyone at Hackaday, have blood that runs #F3BF10. One of the first recognizable things my son drew at around age three was the Jolly Wrencher — imagine explaining that one to the kindergarten teachers. We all try to be the best possible custodians of the Hackaday legacy that we can be, and we are all agreed that Hackaday must carry on, and on its own terms.

  5. On the one hand, Amazon is evil and bungling. On the other hand, it would be cool if there were a big enough concentration of devices were available to make real mesh networks practical.

    Of course, that has its own issues. On the one hand, it would be nice to cut the cord to big ISP and also not worry about central governments pulling the plug on the internet. On the other hand, it will make it that much harder to deal with hackers, bad actors, and the firehoses of disinformation and hate.

    Technology is never a tool for good. It’s always just a tool, and both good and evil will make use of it.

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