Hacked not Voided

The other day while I was browsing the endless stream of pointless articles about iPhone this and iPhone that, I fell over this slashdot article that mentioned the US Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act which basically says that a company cannot void a warranty just because the user has tampered with its software if the company cannot prove that the alternative software is to blame for the failure.Lots of Rockbox Targets

Of course I’m not a lawyer or even in the US, but it certainly seems to be something that should apply for quite a few Rockbox users who have feared returning broken units to manufacturers with the Rockbox installation left intact. (Both Archos and iriver are known to have refused to service such players – but I guess neither of those cases actually were in the US with US customers.)

It does however require that there is an existing written warranty in the first place.

And then I figure the struggle for a mere single human being to fight against one of these companies claiming that Rockbox isn’t to blame could be more than just a little intimidating and probably just won’t happen…

Movie Trailers by MMS

When I took the PendeltÃ¥get train home from work today, I couldn’t help noticing a big ad for some new Swedish upcoming film, displayed on the wall of the car. The ad wasn’t particularly interesting by itself, but I found the offer “SMS this word to this number and you’ll get a three minute trailer for the movie sent back to you as an MMS” shown on the ad a really cool idea.

I was tempted to do it just to try out the technology, but while I pondered about actually doing it I reached my station and I went off and forgot all about it…

Booting Linux Faster

I have to admit the little I’ve used SUSE Linux I just disliked it and the yast thing is completely inferior to debian’s system – a lot because of its slowness.

However, I noticed they’ve worked a lot on improving boot speed, boasting a cutdown from 55 seconds to 27, and I’m a bit jealous about that…

I  mean, I reboot like once every two months so I could save like 3 minutes of my life during a year. Not too shabby… 😛

Hack Everything!

Being an ordinary hacker person in an industrial country such as Sweden, I own lots of random technical devices that I either have and use in my home or carry around for my use and enjoyment. Most, if not all, of these provide a fair amount of features and bugs. Many of them are controlled by an internal microcontroller.

My dect phone, my gsm phone, my DVB-T boxes, my TVs, my music players, the “entertainment system” of my car, my DVD-players, my wifi-router, my printer, my digital camera, my GPS, my video camera and the likes.


I seriously wish I had the docs and the source code for all of these, and thus the ability to change them to behave more like I want them to. I don’t believe I’m alone either. I wouldn’t even have to do most of these changes myself, we would have communities built up around basically all of these devices so that people from all over would share their ideas and code to improve your device. I would hack them all, if I could.

Of course, some of these devices aren’t at all possible to upgrade since they’re produced and sold without that ability and for those I’d have to accept this (and buy a different model the next time around), but a lot of these things can be reprogrammed at will already if we only knew how.

If only the manufacturers didn’t hate us.

libcurl in less than 50KB

Gary Maxwell enlightened us that his build (of a slightly older libcurl) is way below 50KB on an ARM7 architecture, while Dan Fandrich could squeeze the latest libcurl release to at least below 100KB on x86.libcurl

Of course these particular builds are fairly stripped down builds with only HTTP support left, but they are built from unmodified sources. Full-fledged builds with all protocols will of course be significantly larger.

libcurl bindings

Christopher Smith blogged about improving curlpp and not only did Jean-Philippe react immediately, it also showed me how far away I am from these C++ guys and their ideas and views of the world.

Not only I am not even aware of what functors and facets truly are (nor do I really care), but I find it interesting that the choice of them and whether or not one or the other is used or supported is such a religious thing…

You know what? The older I get, the less interested I get in the maze that is OO concepts. I just so have no interest whatsoever in C++ nor Java!

Of course I’m primarily happy they use libcurl and that they keep enhancing the ways people access it. I have work enough on the C API so I never really dive very deep in the various bindings (there are more than 30 these days).

On a slightly related note, there’s a second Lua binding now called Lua-cURL – the other one is actually called luacurl and yeah the names are… not very imaginative and very very very similar to each other.

Ainol License Violation

Ainol V2000 is one of them Chinese portable media players we see pop up every now and then in a never-ending series – most of them never really reach the western markets.Ainol V2000

For this particular player the firmware is available, and by simply inspecting the contents of that we can see that it is packed with open source and free software, but nowhere is the source for this package to be found… (not all of these packages are GPL licensed of course)

GEMDOS, Mplayer (various parts), unzip by Gilles Vollant, MAME, Snes9x, FLAC, wxMusik, VisualBoyAdvance, SDL, FFmpeg, Avifile

The image also seems to contain code from Real and possibly also from Microsoft (based on a guess on the file name strings)…

And if you want to dig around more, here’s the 5.2 MB firmware file available for download. It seems Ainol’s official web site doesn’t even mention this V2000 model?

(Marcoen brought most of this to my attention.)

3gp movies on Debian

Sony Ericsson w580iI recently shot a little video with my phone (SE w580i) and when I copied it over to my Debian Linux box I of course immediately realized I had no video players that would show a 3GP film. Or rather, they all showed it but none of them played the sound! It seems the phone uses the ‘amr_nb‘ codec for audio, which is a non-free thing that my “Debian unstable” players (not very surprisingly) don’t have built-in support for…

Anyway, if you close your eyes for the problems with closed proprietary evil, I got pointed to the cool site www.debian-multimedia.org and then I could add the following line to my /etc/apt/sources.list

deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org unstable main

… and do a plain plain “apt-get update” and “apt-get dist-upgrade” and wham, my mplayer could now show the 3gp video with sound.Film and Sound icon

The only slightly quirk remaining is that I didn’t manage to transcode the movie with audio nicely with mencode, but I didn’t really spend enough time to figure out why.