Hackaday Links: February 27, 2022

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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.

15 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: February 27, 2022

  1. Flippy looks like someone looked at a fry station and asked “how can we use a robotic arm here” instead of “how can we automate this”.

    I see the benefit to miso robotics. They get white Castle to underwrite their further development of a robot arm for kitchen duties. I think white Castle missed an opportunity here to develop their own robot fry station.

    1. I’m a fan of the increasing automation of fast food jobs. McDonalds is experimenting with customer operated touchscreens for order placement, Little Caesars has Pizza Portal, their automated order pickup machine. The fewer people involved, the harder it is for them to screw up the order. If Little Caesars could automate making, cooking, boxing, and loading the portal, they’d be ready for a fully automated pizza automat.

      1. lol, Every single time I use the app to order from the red and white bucket they screw up the order.

        If I phone the order through then they get it right most of the time.

        The app isn’t actually helping, it’s providing an excuse to work the remaining people harder causing them increased cognitive load and creating an environment of increased human error.

        Apart from that, the app doesn’t fold boxes when it’s got nothing to do and it doesn’t help other staff when they’re overloaded.

  2. > But when Morrison decided to raise the hood while striking an arc during a welding lesson, well, that got our attention.

    And coming up next, Scott Morrison tries his hand at the laser cutter…

    Mind-numbingly dumb thing to do, but at least he wasn’t shaking hands with COVID-19 patents or whining about a “stolen” election.

    1. I don’t have motion sickness while being made to think about food preparation.
      I don’t have motion sickness while being made to think about food preparation.
      I don’t have motion sickness while being made to think about food preparation.

  3. 2007? Just for reference, a more typical Linux SBC of the time: FriendlyARM Mini2440. 400MHz Samsung S3C2440 ARM9. 90x90mm The Raspberry Pi of China. Came with DVDs with source and build tools for Linux, and images for Linux and WinCE and optional 3.5″ 340×280 LCD that mounted on the board. The chip has been discontinued by Samsung.

    Hey, the old old web site still works. http://www.friendlyarm.net/products/mini2440

    1. As a glasses-wearer who’s done a fair bit of welding I can assure you they definitely do not block enough UV to stop serious damage. Not just the direct UV but the stuff that bounces off your surroundings and into your eye.

  4. I splashed out on a Dymo XTL label machine and it’s the biggest piece of junk ever – I’ve had 3 label carts jam up & snap the ribbon, rendering the £25 cart junk after only a few labels printed, a ton of labels come out with missing/patchy print (either bad label media or hardware problem, who knows?), and the software in the machine has repeatedly locked up so badly I’ve had to pull the battery out to get it to shut down.

    Only reason I haven’t yeeted it into the bin is that I’ve spent about £100 on labels… luckily I discovered Wickes are ditching their entire stock of XTL’s and selling the carts off for £1 so fingers crossed I get a few good ones out of it before I eventually stamp it to death for insubordination.

    Meanwhile my old Brother P-1000 keeps on trucking happily on non-genuine labels with no complaints.

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