Raspinamp: It Really Replicates Questionable Activities Involving Llamas

In the late 90s as MP3s and various file sharing platforms became more common, most of us were looking for better players than the default media players that came with our operating systems, if they were included at all. To avoid tragedies like Windows Media Center, plenty of us switched to Winamp instead, a much more customizable piece of software that helped pave the way for the digital music revolution of that era. Although there are new, official versions of Winamp currently available, nothing really tops the nostalgia of the original few releases of the software which this project faithfully replicates in handheld form.

The handheld music player uses a standard Raspberry Pi (in this case, a 3B) and a 3.5″ TFT touchscreen display, all enclosed in a clear plastic case. With all of the Pi configuration out of the way, including getting the touchscreen working properly, the software can be set up. It uses QMMP as a media player with a Winamp skin since QMMP works well on Linux systems with limited resources. After getting it installed there’s still some configuration to do to get the Pi to start it at boot and also to fit the player perfectly into the confines of the screen without any of the desktop showing around the edges.

Although it doesn’t use the original Winamp software directly, as that would involve a number of compatibility layers and/or legacy hardware at this point, we still think it’s a faithful recreation of how the original looked and felt on our Windows 98 machines. With a battery and a sizable SD card, this could have been the portable MP3 player many of us never knew we wanted until the iPod came out in the early 00s, and would certainly still work today for those of us not chained to a streaming service. A Raspberry Pi is not the only platform that can replicate the Winamp experience, though. This player does a similar job with the PyPortal instead.

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A render of the Melodio Self Mate music player with it's front plate removed. It's a grey device with a small screen and navigation wheel, similar to a chunky iPod. It has an IR blaster LED in the top and various exposed screw holes letting everyone know that this is a device you can open.

Melodio Self Mate

While the proliferation of the smartphone has caused the personal music player (PMP) market to mostly evaporate, there are still those who prefer a standalone device for their music. The Melodio Self-Mate is one such spiritual successor to the iPod.

Music-only devices really benefit from the wheel interface pioneered by Apple, so we still see it in many of the new Open Source PMPs including this one and the Tangara. The Melodio uses the ubiquitous ESP32 for its brains coupled with a TI PCM5102A DAC and TI TPA6130A2 headphone amp for audio. A slider on the side of the device allows you to switch it between mass storage mode and programming mode for the ESP32.

Since this device packs a little more horsepower and connectivity than the original iPods, things like listening to Spotify are doable once assembled, instead of having to completely rebuild the device. Speaking of building, there are only renders on the GitHub, so we’re not sure if this project has made the jump IRL yet. With more people concerned about the distractions of smartphones, maybe this renaissance of open PMPs will lead to a new golden age of music on the go?

Miss the halcyon days of the iPod? They’re easier to hack now than ever, and if you really want to go old school, how about a podcast on a floppy?

How The First IPod Was Blown Wide Open

If someone makes a device, someone else will want to break it open and run their own software on it. When the original manufacturer is Apple this is never made easy, and as [Daniel Stenberg] reminds us in the case of one of the earlier iPod models it required an unusual approach.

In short, an HTML file was found which triggered a reboot, meaning a buffer overrun had been found in the firmware. After much experimenting, the memory location was found which would flash the backlight, and from there a piece of ARM code could be injected which would dump the firmware very slowly bitwise by flashing the light. Enough code could be extracted to find the address of the USB serial port, allowing new code to be made which dumped the firmware via USB. We remember the earliest models using FireWire instead of USB, so perhaps we can zero in on the 3rd or 4th generation. From there enough could be deduced to run the Rockbox music player firmware. We remember seeing friends doing this back in the day, something which was for a while the height of open-source coolness.

Fast forward twenty years or so, and we’re still covering people chipping away at Apple’s defenses. We don’t know whether a first-generation iPod could run Doom, but we know Rockbox was capable of it on other players.

Building A Charging Holder For The Apple Pencil

The Apple Pencil is a neat tool for digital creativity, but the user experience is a bit blah when it comes to charging. You either have to plug it into an iPhone or iPad directly, or an iPhone charger using a special adapter. It’s a bit below Apple’s usual seamless best. [Handy Bear] got around this fuss by building their own Apple Pencil dock.

The concept is simple. At its heart, it’s not dissimilar from a regular pen holder. It consists of a 3D printed round base filled with quick cement for heft. The base weighs almost a pound, and has a cork base so it sits nicely on a desk. A Lightning charge cable is fed into the base of the device, with the Apple Pencil adapter permanently fitted. All one has to do is remove the cap from the Apple Pencil, slot it into the adapter, and place the cap in the storage hole provided. The base then keeps the device charged, upright, and ready for use.

It’s not a complicated build, but it solves a fundamental problem with the Apple Pencil. It’s hard to imagine fancy-schmancy creatives are leaving these things just floating around on their desks with cables going everywhere; you’d think Apple would be selling a $99 dock for these by now. Instead, it’s up to the DIYers and the aftermarket.

You might also consider some high-end mods to your Apple Pencil for greater finesse.

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This Week In Security: Github, Google, And Realtek

GitHub Desktop may have stopped working for you yesterday, Febuary 2nd. The reason was an unauthorized access to some decidedly non-public repositories. The most serious bit of information that escaped was code signing certificates, notably used for GitHub Desktop and Atom. Those certificates were password protected, so it’s unlikely they’ve been abused yet. Even so, Github is taking the proper steps of revoking those certificates.

The only active certificate that was revoked was used for signing the Mac releases of GitHub Desktop, so quite a few older versions of that software is no longer easily installed. If nothing else, it’s a reminder that even a project with a well run security team can have problems.

Sh1mmer-ing Chromebooks

There’s a new, clever attack on the Chromebook, specifically with the goal of unenrolling the device from an educational organization. And the “vulnerability” is a documented feature, the RMA Shim. That’s a special boot loader target that contains a valid signature, but allows the booting of other code, intended for troubleshooting and fixing devices in a repair center. Quite a few of those images have leaked, and Sh1mmer combines the appropriate image with a boot menu with some interesting options.

The first is unenrolling, so the device will act like a privately owned computer. This gets rid of content blocks and allows removing extensions. But wait, there’s more. Like rooting the device, a raw Bash terminal, and re-enabling developer mode. Now, as far as we can tell, this doesn’t *directly* break device encryption, but it’s likely that the RMA shim could be abused to tamper with the device’s filesystem. Meaning that the leak of a bunch of signed shims is a big problem for device security. If you use a Chromebook, it might be time to do some research on whether that model’s shim has been leaked. Continue reading “This Week In Security: Github, Google, And Realtek”

ESP32 Adds Bluetooth To An IPod Nano

The iPod Nano was one of Apple’s masterworks, but it’s really tied down by its dependence on wired headphones. At least, that’s what [Tucker Osman] must have thought, as he spent an unreasonable amount of time designing a Bluetooth mod for the 3rd gen Nano. And it’s a thing of beauty — temperamental, brutally difficult to build, and fragile in use, but still beautiful. And while some purists try to keep their signal analog, [Tucker]’s coup d’etat is to intercept the iPod’s audio signal before the DAC chip, keeping the entire signal path digital to the Bluetooth speaker. Oh, and he also managed to make the volume and track skip buttons work, back across the wireless void.

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Scroll Through ESPHome With IPod-style Click Wheel

While you’d be hard pressed to find a Hackaday writer that feels any nostalgia for the DRM nonsense the iPod helped to introduce, we’ve got to admit that we miss that click wheel. Spinning your way through long lists was a breeze, and the tactile response made it easy to stop exactly where you wanted. These days, we’re stuck fumbling our way through touch screen interfaces that make simple tasks like seeking to a particular spot in a song or video all but impossible to do with any kind of accuracy.

If you too yearn to once again feel that subtle thumping under your thumb, then check out this project from [landonr]. Technically the handheld gadget is intended to be used as a wireless remote for a home automation system powered by ESPHome, but that’s only one possible application for this particular combination of off-the-shelf components.

If you must, there’s a version with buttons.

Building your own version of the handheld device is a simple as mounting a LILYGO ESP32 T-Display TTGO, an ANO Rotary Navigation Encoder from Adafruit, and a battery pack to a scrap of perfboard. We’d probably look into 3D printing a case to make it a bit less…pokey, but that’s up to you. The result actually bears quite a resemblance to Apple’s iconic media player, but without that pesky walled garden to hold you back.

As mentioned previously, [landonr] wrote the firmware with the intention of controlling a home automation system. So there’s a lot of stuff in there about turning on lights and such. But there are also functions for media playback that look very promising. Whatever software you end up running on it, one thing is for sure: running through the menus is going to feel like a dream.

We’ve covered several other home automation remotes over the years. This handsome wooden model kept things simple with just a few physical buttons, while this somewhat more whimsical approach repurposed Nintendo’s Zapper light gun.

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