New York Times: A Cute Toy Just Brought a Hacker Into Your Home. “My Friend Cayla, a doll with nearly waist-length golden hair that talks and responds to children’s questions, was designed to bring delight to households. But there’s something else that Cayla might bring into homes as well: hackers and identity thieves.”
Digital Trends: FBI Warns Parents About The Risks Of Using Internet-Connected Toys. “Taking a cautious approach to the upcoming deluge of smart toys hitting store shelves for the holiday shopping season, the FBI has issued a public service announcement warning parents about the risks of bringing an internet-connected toy into the household. Specifically, the FBI is concerned about the amount of personal information that could be ‘unwittingly disclosed’ during normal use of the toy.”
New-to-me: a digital archive of Micro Machines toy cars. “Micro Machines collector Tim Smith has turned his obsession with the 80s miniature toy cars into an online showroom for the enjoyment of other fans and collectors. The labour of love, called Micro But Many, is based on Smith’s own collection of some 1,000-plus Micro Machines toys, with each one lovingly photographed to show off their intricate detailing.”
Oh good grief. From Engadget: Connected teddy bears leaked kids’ voices online. “Security researchers have discovered that Spiral Toys’ internet-savvy teddy bears, CloudPets, stored kids’ voice messages to their parents (not to mention names and birthdays) in an insecure, misconfigured database that anyone could access online. While the passwords for the toys’ accounts (over 821,000 of them) were stored in a cryptographic hash, there was no password strength limit — it was trivial to crack many accounts and download voice data at will. And it gets worse.”
Unfortunately the Internet of Things also includes potentially privacy-invading dolls. “That internet-connected talking toy you bought your kids may be putting their privacy at risk without your knowledge or consent, according to a coalition of consumer-interest organizations. A complaint filed Tuesday with the US Federal Trade Commission alleges that Genesis Toys, the makers of ‘smart’ kids toys — the My Friend Cayla doll and the i-Que Intelligent Robot — and speech-recognition software maker Nuance Communications are violating rules that protect children’s privacy and prohibit unfair and deceptive practices.”
UPDATE: A Kickstarter has been launched for this project – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/192621730/the-dietz-gi-joe-archive-digitization-project
The Joe Report has a story about the discovery of a bunch of old GI Joe commercials from the 1960s. “What’s there? Along with photos and clippings about [Herb] Dietz’s work, the core of the archive is twenty-six 16mm film positives of commercials from 1964 through 67, the heyday of the military era. A number of them are out there already, but generally in low quality multi-generation dubs. Having just reviewed the first few frames of each, I can confirm that there are many not yet in circulation, including commercials for the Soldiers of the World, the cadet sets, and many more.”
Matt McKeeby is trying to raise funds to digitize the commercials and make them freely available; unfortunately a Kickstarter isn’t a viable option because, GI Joe being Hasbro’s intellectual property, Mr. McKeeby is limited in the kinds of “rewards” he can offer. If you want to donate toward the estimated $1600 in expenses to get the films digitized, please visit his Web site.