Hackaday Links: June 23, 2024

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When a ransomware attack targets something like a hospital, it quickly becomes a high-profile event that understandably results in public outrage. Hospitals are supposed to be backstops for society, a place to go when it all goes wrong, and paralyzing their operations for monetary gain by taking over their information systems is just beyond the pale. Tactically, though, it makes sense; their unique position in society seems to make it more likely that they’ll pay up.

Which is why the ongoing cyberattack against car dealerships is a little perplexing — can you think of a less sympathetic victim apart from perhaps the Internal Revenue Service? Then again, we’re not in the ransomware business, so maybe this attack makes good financial sense. And really, judging by the business model of the primary target of these attacks, a company called CDK Global, it was probably a smart move. We had no idea that there was such a thing as a “Dealer Management System” that takes care of everything from financing to service, and that shutting down one company’s system could cripple an entire industry, but there it is.

Water may seem like the enemy for anyone who gets in trouble while swimming, but it’s really time that they’re fighting. Even a strong swimmer can quickly become exhausted fighting wind and waves; add in the hypothermia that’ll eventually set in even in water as warm as a bath, and the difference between life and death can come down to seconds. Getting help to a floundering swimmer isn’t easy, though, as lifeguards can only swim so fast.

But a new remotely operated rescue boat aims to change that, by getting to someone in trouble as fast as possible. Named EMILY, for “Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard,” the unit is a compact electrically powered rescue boat that can be rapidly deployed by lifeguards, who remotely pilot it to the victim. The boat’s deck is covered with what looks like survival gear, most of which would probably be of more use to the lifeguard upon their arrival than to the swimmer, who would likely just use the boat for flotation. As such, this makes way more sense than sending a drone out there, which at best could only drop a life ring. At $12,000 a piece, these boats aren’t cheap, but for the families who lost their kids in 2022 who donated them, they probably seem like quite a bargain. Here’s hoping they pay off.

We can’t be sure, but we’ve got a vague memory of playing a game called Lunar Landing way back in the day. It would likely have been on a TRS-80 in our local Radio Shack store, and if memory serves, we never got particularly good at the text-based simulator. Happily, though, we can now at least attempt to foist our lack of skills off on a 55-year-old bug in the software. Recently discovered by the excellently named Martin C. Martin while trying to optimize the fuel burn schedule to land softly with the most fuel remaining — the key to a high score, as we recall — the bug makes it so a tiny change in burn rate gives wildly different results. The post-mortem of his search and the analysis of the code, written by high school student Jim Storer only months after the real moon landing in 1969, is very interesting. We especially appreciated the insights into how Storer wrote it, revealed via personal communications. It’s a great look at a piece of computer history, and hats off to both Storer and Martin — although we haven’t seen a CVE posted for this yet.

We know that Minitel terminals are highly collectible, but this is ridiculous. Granted, the Minitel occupies a unique place in computer history, and the boxy design of the original CRT and keyboard terminal was not without its charms. But this particular terminal seems to have had a Very Bad Day in the recent past and is now on the chopping block for a mere €430. To be fair, the eBay user in France has listed the Dalí-esque Minitel as an objet d’art; at that price, we’d like to at least get some usable parts from it to fix other terminals, but that doesn’t seem likely. Somebody will probably buy it, though — no accounting for taste.

And finally, AnimaGraffs is back, this time with a deep dive into the Bell 407 helicopter. We’ve been big fans of his work for a while and have featured a few of his videos in this space, including his look inside the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane. The new video is richly detailed and includes not only the engineering that goes into rotorcraft but also the physics that makes them work and makes them so challenging to fly. Enjoy!

9 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: June 23, 2024

  1. Lunar lander goes way way back! It was playable on the Altair 8800. At that time to get a perfect landing, you would (spoiler) do 5 turns of no action followed by 5 turns of full rocket firing and you’d end up with essentially no velocity at touchdown.

    1. they basically invented a remote control jet ski. the (terrible news website) article shows a bunch of life guard standing around in wetsuits so I have no idea why a regular jet ski, as featured in the 90’s documentary series Baywatch, would not be vastly superior in every way.
      Oh also, it is Lake Michigan. Not a lot of rip tides in a lake.

      1. There are some situations it doesn’t make sense to put another human at risk in. You could send an RC rescue boat into those situations though.
        It’s also possible the RC craft can get to a trapped swimmer or beach-goer more quickly than a human can ready, mount, and travel on a jet ski.

  2. attacking the auto industry is basically attacking the US government- it is a “vital” industry. It would be same as going after gas stations, or power companies or anything else that is a huge lobby group. Crippling even the IRS with a cyberattack would be equivalent in the desire to resolve the issue quickly.

  3. Why would the IRS be a sympathetic victim? Because they have to collect taxes?

    Do people hate the postal service because they deliver bills?

    Only the ignorant and dishonest hate the IRS.

  4. Few years back no one can imagine the importance and future of robots in our life. But we can see the robots are working well in hospital surgeries, manufacturing of goods like automobiles. I am really inspired by the technology companies and people who have knowledge which makes life easier and cost effective.

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