If there’s one thing that can trigger people, it’s the printer racket. Printer manufacturers who put DRM-like features into their consumables are rightly viewed as Satan’s spawn, and while these monsters have been content so far to only put digital rights management features into their ink and toner cartridges, they appear to now have their rapacious gaze set on print media too. At least according to the good folks over at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who claim that Dymo’s latest generation of label printers will have RFID tags in the label cartridges, apparently to prevent consumers from buying non-Dymo media. The company doesn’t bill it as a way to lock you into their exorbitantly priced consumables, of course; rather, this is an exciting new feature that’s called “Automatic Label Recognition,” which keeps track of what labels are installed and how many are left. Of course, this is just red meat to people like us, and we fully expect to see workarounds in the not-to-distant future.
Also from the “The Welcome to the Dystopian Future” files, White Castle, the chain that literally invented the fast-food restaurant, has announced that they’ll be deploying 100 robotic cooks to stores beginning soon. Ironically, the track-mounted robot arm, which is dubbed Flippy 2, will not be making the company’s iconic sliders on the flattop; rather, it looks like they’ll be stuck making the fries. Flippy 2 is made by Miso Robotics, and basically amounts to a robotic work cell dedicated to fried foods, but it’s easy to see how this could encroach on other parts of the kitchen. But it makes sense to start here, since the fry station is dirty, dull, and often dangerous work with a high turnover rate. We’d just hate to be the field service tech who has to fix these greasy, nasty things when they break.
Remember the bad old days before you could buy a full-featured single-board computer that can run Linux for a just couple of bucks? We sure do, and present supply chain issues notwithstanding, the Raspberry Pi and similar machines have literally changed the world. But way back in 2007, what counted as a Linux SBC was something else entirely, and taking a look under the (figurative) hood shows just how far we’ve come. The Atmel NGW100 had an AVR32, ran at a whopping 140 MHz, and 32 MB of SDRAM. In a sign of the times, it still sported a D-sub RS-232 serial port, and looks like it was about twice the size of the original Raspberry Pi. But hey, it worked — and still does, according to the blog entry. Cool stuff.
Speaking of cool stuff, we got a tip about something that we don’t quite know what to make of, but we’re pretty certain could be incredibly useful. It’s called Deck in a Box, and it’s an online parametric design tool for custom boxes for decks of cards. We’d imagine the main use case is to make boxes for custom decks used in Magic: The Gathering, but the clever hacker could find so many more uses for this tool. Depending on the style of box you’re designing, it outputs either an SVG, PDF, or DXF file, suitable for sending to a laser cutter or a CNC with a drag knife. There’s also an option to design 3D-printable “token trays,” which could just as easily be custom parts trays or enclosures. Check it out — it’s pretty slick.
And finally, while normally we steer clear of politics here at Hackaday. we can’t help but poke a little fun at Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s trifecta of political errors the other day. It wasn’t the fact that he missed a military commemoration ceremony that attracted our attention, nor was it violating the rule for politicians to never wear a funny hat, which in this case was a welding hood. But when Morrison decided to raise the hood while striking an arc during a welding lesson, well, that got our attention. We’ve all done it by mistake, but that freeze-frame at 00:35 is just painful to look at.