Wired: They Hacked McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines—and Started a Cold War. “OF ALL THE mysteries and injustices of the McDonald’s ice cream machine, the one that Jeremy O’Sullivan insists you understand first is its secret passcode. Press the cone icon on the screen of the Taylor C602 digital ice cream machine, he explains, then tap the buttons that show a snowflake and a milkshake to set the digits on the screen to 5, then 2, then 3, then 1. After that precise series of no fewer than 16 button presses, a menu magically unlocks.”
CNET: Yayagram: A 20th century phone switchboard for Telegram instant messages. “If you want to talk to your grandmother on messaging app Telegram and she doesn’t have a smartphone, she’ll need to get one. She’ll need to learn how to use iOS or Android. How to manage notifications. You could teach her all of that — or you could just build her a 1900s telephone switchboard that does nothing but send and receive Telegram messages.”
TechXplore: Verizon recalls mobile hotspots sold to schools, in stores (Update). “Verizon is recalling 2.5 million mobile hotspots after some reports of overheating and two reports of minor burns. The 4G hotspots were used by schools and sold by stores. They are called Ellipsis Jetpack mobile hotspots and were imported by Franklin Wireless in San Diego. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Thursday that the lithium ion battery in the hotspots can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards.”
ZDNet: Right to Repair doesn’t go far enough (here’s what we need to happen to see real change). “It might shock some people to know that while I’m a supporter of the Right to Repair, the movement pressing for government legislation to allow consumers and businesses to repair and modify their stuff, I don’t think that it will help consumers that much in the long run. This is not to say that people shouldn’t be able to repair their stuff. Absolutely not, and being able to repair things is crucial in keeping things out of the junk pile. But I think that the movement is focusing on a specific niche and ignoring the broader problems.”
CNN: Microsoft earns contract worth up to $21.9 billion to make AR devices for the US Army. “The Army announced Wednesday that it had awarded Microsoft (MSFT) a contract to produce augmented reality systems based on its HoloLens 2 device called Integrated Visual Augmented Systems (IVAS). The devices are designed to help soldiers, ‘fight, rehearse and train using a single platform,’ the Army said. The deal has a five-year base and a five-year option to extend, and could be worth up to almost $21.9 billion over the full 10 years.”
Spotted on Reddit: a pandemic project called VR-Compare. From the front page: “View summaries of 81 virtual reality headsets. Click on a headset’s name to view a full specification.” Spent a few minutes with it and it’s beautifully done, especially for a solo effort.
University of Michigan: U-M computer chip pitted against 500+ hackers. The chip won.. “An ‘unhackable’ computer chip lived up to its name in its first bug bounty competition, foiling over 500 cybersecurity researchers who were offered tens of thousands of dollars to analyze it and three other secure processor technologies for vulnerabilities.”
ZDNet: Quantum computing: IBM’s new tool lets users design quantum chips in minutes. “Building the hardware that underpins quantum computers might not sound like everybody’s cup of tea, but IBM is determined to make the idea sound less challenging. The company has announced the general availability of Qiskit Metal, an open-source platform that automates parts of the design process for quantum chips, and which IBM promised will now let ‘anyone’ design quantum hardware.”
Popular Photography: Best flash drive: Store your files swiftly and securely. “Whether you’re looking to store a ton of files, transfer them as quickly as possible, protect your data with military-grade encryption, or transfer files from your iPhone to a laptop, there’s a wide variety of options at your disposal. You can even find waterproof drives that will survive an ill-advised dip in the ocean. So how do you pick the best flash drive when there are hundreds (if not thousands) of choices that all sound the same?”
BetaNews: Microsoft admits Windows 10 updates are causing even more printer problems than first thought
BetaNews: Microsoft admits Windows 10 updates are causing even more printer problems than first thought. “Following reports that a recent update to Windows 10 was causing blue screens as well as problems with printing, Microsoft issued a new series of updates to address the issues. But it seems that the problems caused by this month’s Patch Tuesday updates are actually worse than first thought.”
Ars Technica: Cricut backs off plan to add subscription fee to millions of devices [Updated]. “Yet another company that makes Internet-connected devices is drawing the wrath of customers by demanding a monthly subscription fee long after users have already sunk hundreds of dollars into its products. This time around, the company is Cricut, which just told customers they’ll lose the ability to upload more than a few patterns per month unless they start paying up.” Cricut backed off after several days of the Internet screaming at them.
Neowin: IDC: Pandemic shifted consumer spending to wearables market. “The analyst firm IDC has reported that 444.7 million wearables units were shipped in 2020, representing an increase of 28.4% compared to 2019; according to IDC, this was a result of lockdowns which caused people to build up more disposable income. IDC also said the market saw a year-over-year increase in 4Q20 of 27.2% driven by the availability of new devices and reduced prices.”
Neowin: Microsoft issues a fix for Patch Tuesday printer crashes. “It should be available for anyone affected – specifically those on Windows 10 versions 1803, 1809, 1909, 2004, 20H2, and Insiders on 21H1 – but it’s not going to be installed automatically.”
CNET: Twitter locks down logon with better hardware security key option. “Twitter has taken a significant step in helping you protect your account with hardware security keys, a top authentication technique when it comes to security. Previously, you could register one key for logging in, but now you can enroll multiple keys, Twitter said Monday.” Why would you want to do this? So you can have one on your keyring and one in a lockbox at home in case you lose your keyring.