Hackaday Links: March 12, 2023

Hackaday Links Column Banner

With a long history of nearly universal hate for their products, you’d think printer manufacturers would by now have found ways to back off from the policies that only seem to keep aggravating customers. But rather than make it a financially wiser decision to throw out a printer and buy a new one than to buy new ink cartridges or toners, manufacturers keep coming up with new and devious ways to piss customers off. Case in point: Hewlett-Packard now seems to be bricking printers with third-party ink cartridges. Reports from users say that a new error message has popped up on screens of printers with non-HP cartridges installed warning that further use of the printer has been blocked. Previously, printers just warned about potential quality issues from non-HP consumables, but now they’re essentially bricked until you cough up the money for legit HP cartridges. Users who have contacted HP support say that they were told the change occurred because of a recent firmware update sent to the printer, so that’s comforting.

In other news of corporate unpleasantness, if you’ve bought into the Ring ecosystem, prepare to take out your wallet. The Amazon-owned maker of the wildly and inexplicably popular doorbell cameras is set to lock some previously free features behind a paywall. Starting March 29, users will have to sign up for a Ring Protect subscription for $3.99 per month to access either the Home or Away modes within the Ring smartphone app. If you don’t want to pony up, you’ll still be able to control your Ring camera, but only locally through their Ring Keypad, which is pretty much a deal killer for anyone using their camera to monitor their property remotely.

It seems like it’s nothing that needs to be stated, but just in case, shining a laser at an aircraft in flight is a Really Bad Idea™. That’s why we were surprised to see an article about proposed legislation to make it a felony to flash a plane or helicopter. But a little further reading makes the situation clear, as the proposed bill from the Colorado legislature aims to make it a state felony to aim a laser at an aircraft. Currently, there’s no state-level statute that’s equivalent to the federal prohibition against lasing a plane, which means any reports have to be handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, which pretty much means that the flasher is not likely to be caught. Adding a state statute will let the local police or sheriff respond, making it much more likely to catch someone. So it makes sense, but it still leaves us wondering why states haven’t already addressed this issue.

Then again, what’s it all matter when there’s an asteroid out there that could collide with Earth in 2046? Relax, it’s a little one; it’s said to be the size of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, which has to be one of the weirdest units of measure we’ve heard lately. And even though it’s still about 18 million kilometers away from us, NASA’s risk assessment for the space rock, dubbed 2023 DW, is exceedingly low. The current risk factor on the Torino scale — which we only just learned about thanks to this article — is 1, which means that there’s essentially no danger of collision. So you can relax on this one, but if you ever hear someone talking about anything over a Torino 7 risk, you might want to stock up on canned goods.

And finally, if such dire news ever comes to pass, better hope you’re not driving a new Ford Mustang. That’s because Ford has announced that their fabled pony car will join the increasing number of cars where AM radio is no longer an infotainment option. The change is set to start with the 2024 model year. We’ve got to say we find this a puzzling decision; the infotainment system in modern cars has got to be SDR based, so the extra hardware needed to support AM reception should be close to zero. And as the above article points out, there’s a public safety aspect to this, because 90% of the US population is covered by just 75 AM stations. This seems like one of those things that could have unexpected consequences, and unpleasant ones at that.

38 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: March 12, 2023

  1. “proposed legislation to make it a felony to flash a plane or helicopter”

    So I can’t take flash photography of a passing plane or drop my pants and expose myself? Sure hope the legal wording is better than this!

    1. You’re typical photo flash setup only is good for about 20feet. If you go brighter than that, you risk blinding the flight crew for a bit.

      I like seeing where I am flying.

      1. Ironically, a photoflash is just as bright as a laser pointer, each putting out about 1 kilowatt of light per steradian.

        And at full brightness a tower strobe is as bright as a photoflash.

    2. For what it’s worth, the FBI thing isn’t quite correct. If you can give tower the approximate location, they may call the local PD who are pretty happy to explain the consequences of federal offences; I’ve heard of kids being nabbed for this locally . There is still the problem of laser-based holiday decorations, particularly on final, but that’s a rant for another time.

    3. – well gee, aint this guy just so funny.. No, I certainly dont think so. He’s just one of the multitudes that seemingly has an uncontrollable need to correct and criticize. ( if you think what i’m doing is the same.. imo you are just simple, think what you want ).

      It’s easy to criticize.

      He could and should have at least added somethin’ like..
      “good article, i hope they bust the knuckleheads that do it.”

      just my opinion,


  2. I will never ever own another HP inkjet printer, even if you paid me a dump truck full of cash to take it off your hands, and I try my darndest to talk anyone else out of getting one. Well, perhaps I’d take it so I can strip it for the stepper motors and belt (and the cash). No major beefs with their laser printers. Laptops, I’d probably take it if it was free and immediately wipe the drive and install Linux. Certainly wouldn’t buy one.
    Not a fan of regulation, but the gov’t really needs to rein in these abusive companies.

      1. Those few of us that know and care enough not buying them will be a mere speck of dust compared to those who do not know and are duped into thinking HP cares about them.

    1. Meh, people can pay me to take it off their hands. I’ll dispose of the ink cartridge and all the useless bits responsibly and keep whatever is useful (usually at least some bearings and rods in there that can be of use) and the cash. Then they can try to pry my Xerox laser printer out of my cold dead hands (if they can lift it)

    2. I have completely blacklisted all HP products (including ALL their printers) and will never buy one.
      I have owned several Canon inkjet printers and if I needed a new printer I would probably buy another Canon. Or if not a Canon, an Epson or a Brother.

      1. No Epsons for me. Their pigment based printer clogged after a few weeks of being idle, and they said I’d have to buy a new one since the jets are built in. But they’d give me a “special deal” to make up for it. To add insult to insult to insult, the “special deal” was more than the street price of a new printer.

  3. I remember ye olden days when one could buy a product, purchased and having paid a fair price, ownership. Today we buy “products” but long after the sale is complete, the manufacturers impose restrictions of various kinds for continued operation.

    Kardia Mobile
    Samsung “health”

    1. Ah the microsoft business model ! Sell a package for a bank breaking price then after a few months start “upgrading” to take care of bugs by removing key features or putting said features in only “Pro” versions of software which cant be upgraded from the original version and the “pro” version is 2 X the price one paid for the software with the now removed feature originally!!

  4. I do not understand the AM radio thing. I think it costs zero dollars to implement. They say it’s interference… But my Chevy Bolt has better reception than cars conventional ignition systems..

    My guess is that this is some harebrained notion that the farmers and roughnecks will sign up for SiriusXM because AM is no longer available for the long drives between drilling rigs. And no more 1610 am for those evacuation instructions that just changed…

    1. My first thought was that the AM capability will still be available, and that – surprise! – people will be able to “activate” it for a monthly fee. The reasons for not being upfront about such a plan might be a) not wanting to announce it so close to the child abduction, heated seats, and remote start debacles, and b) “we’re the auto industry – we’re simply meeting our customers’ expectations by continuing to be deceptive because it’s what we do best”.

  5. I have advised my employers, who have bought HP printers exclusively for nearly 30 years, that HP have grifted themselves out of the printer business and we can’t do business with them any more. All new HP printers advise that you must have an always-on internet connection with them for them to work at all, which is bullshit. I had a customer who had a PC I installed in the early 2000’s and the HP printer went out and the IT guys were unable to get the new printer they bought for it to work. One of the specifications for that system is no internet access. It is air-gapped. I personally installed an entry level Brother printer and now it’s fine.

    1. Along side my brother laser printer, I also use an Epson ‘Ecotank’ printer for colour prints.
      The ink comes in generously sized bottles with a huge amount per refill, and no DRM, no chips, and no possibility for it in the future at all.

      1. FYI- Be advised Ecotank printers have a “waste ink tray” that the print head sprays into periodically during head cleaning. It’s not easily accessible but can be replaced. Google is your friend. The unfortunate thing is that the printer OS bricks the printer when it perceives this waste tray is saturated. You can purchase reset codes from ummm 3rd parties who apparently reverse engineered the printer firmware. One could argue they designed the waste tray to fill about when the print head is regarding, but folks have proven the printers still have many miles left in them after they self-serviced the waste tray and reset the odometer. Another example of DRM and planned obsolescence.

  6. I suspect the elimination of the AM band is to save the cost of the much larger AM antenna. 1 mhz vs 100 mhz.

    It’s also why current OTA TV antenna don’t include the bottom vhf channels. (they use frequencies below the current FM audio broadcast band.) While most stations/markets map all the stations into what remains of the UHF bands, most of the old VHF slots are still out there. My local PBS outlet is on VHF 5, and to get it, I had to add an optional extension onto a rooftop grade antenna, and it about doubled the width of the thing.

      1. The shark fin has several antennas built into it, each of the various bands warrants its own. Not all are in the fin, but many are. (AM, FM, key fob, GPS, satellite, and if it has an assist system (ex: onstar) cellular). The AM antenna is the largest. A shark fin that omits it could save a dime per car. Multiply that dime saved across a few million units, and Detroit at least will jump at the chance.

  7. @Dan Maloney said: “Currently, there’s no state-level statute that’s equivalent to the federal prohibition against lasing a plane, which means any reports have to be handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, which pretty much means that the flasher is not likely to be caught. Adding a state statute will let the local police or sheriff respond, making it much more likely to catch someone. So it makes sense, but it still leaves us wondering why states haven’t already addressed this issue.”

    Huh? If laws are being broken, State OR Federal, there is nothing stopping State Law Enforcement from intervening. In-fact if State Law Enforcement did nothing in the face of someone breaking Federal Law, I’ll bet they will be held liable for their inaction! [Except in cases of illegal immigration and/or illegal drugs. Both are illegal under Federal Law, but these days the U.S. Government does not care.]

  8. The censoring of AM radio has nothing to do with technology or economics, instead it is all about politics. If PBS/NPR was firmly rooted in the AM public broadcast band, the AM band would be impossible to cancel.

  9. “Hewlett-Packard now seems to be bricking printers…”
    False! Per the article the blurb linked to. The printer doesn’t brick, it just no longer functions without an HP chip in the cartidge. Still, downgrading printers in the field is foul play. They could follow the cell phone sales model and also offer an “unlocked” version at full price. You don’t think they built that fancy printer for the pittance they charged for it, do you?

  10. I’m not sure about other states but here in michigan DOT uses A.M radio to give road conditions/instructions in certain places. For example as your nearing the Mackinac bridge there will be signs telling you the A.M station to tune to and then the station tells you things like wind speeds on the bridge, if its currently open,price per axle to cross, etc. I don’t understand why any car company would get rid of A.M, especially when its not particularly inconvenient for them to include in the first place

    1. It’s not hacking you should worry about. It’s the speech engine on Windows XP. If you know what your doing with it you can pick lock any back door. (Backwards lock loop)…..

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.