Ephemera LXXXII: Absolute unit of a snapping turtle

Anthony Bourdain travel tips. “… provoke nerd fury online. Go to a number of foodie websites with discussion boards. Let’s say you’re going to Kuala Lumpur — just post on the Malaysia board that you recently returned and had the best rendang in the universe, and give the name of a place, and all these annoying foodies will bombard you with angry replies about how the place is bullshit, and give you a better place to go.”


Whole Foods CEO looking forward to being called “crazy John” after years of having right-wing opinions “muzzled” [Rob Beschizza / Boing Boing]


Watch Andrew Yang fastidiously avoid believing in anything [Rob Beschizza / Boing Boing]


Watch this time-lapse of a 700-pound pumpkin gaining 49 pounds a day [Mark Frauenfelder / Boing Boing]


Cops suspended after being filmed vandalizing homeowner’s security camera by homeowner’s other security camera [Rob Beschizza / Boing Boing]


This weekend, I watched a hacker jailbreak a John Deere tractor live on stage [Cory Doctorow / Pluralistic]

Last Saturday, I sat in a crowded ballroom at Caesar’s Forum in Las Vegas and watched Sickcodes jailbreak a John Deere tractor’s control unit live, before an audience of cheering Defcon 30 attendees (and, possibly, a few undercover Deere execs, who often attend Sickcodes’s talks).

The presentation was significant because Deere – along with Apple – are the vanguard of the war on repair, a company that has made wild and outlandish claims about the reason that farmers must pay the company hundreds of dollars every time they fix their own tractors, and then wait for days for an authorized technician to come to their farm and type an unlock code.

Deere’s claims have included the astounding statement that the farmers who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on tractors don’t actually own those tractors, because the software that animates them is only licensed, not sold:

They’ve also claimed that locking farmers out of their tractors is for their own good, because otherwise hackers could take over those tractors and endanger the food supply. While it’s true that the John Deere tractor monopoly means that defects in the company’s products could affect farms all around the world, it’s also true that John Deere is very, very bad at information security:

The company’s insistence that they are guardians of farmers and the agricultural sector is a paper-thin cover for monopolistic practices and rent-seeking.

So to recap: the company says it has to block farmers from having the final say over their own tractors because they could create security risks and also threaten Deere’s copyrights (the company even claims that locking down tractors is necessary to preventing music infringement, as though a farmer would spend $600k on a tractor so they could streamrip Spotify tracks).

But in reality, the company itself is a dumpster-fire of information security worst practices, whose unpatched, badly configured, out-of-date tractors are a bonanza of vulnerabilities and unforced errors. What’s more, the company – which claims to be staunch defenders of copyright – use their copyright locks to hide the fact that they are committing serious breaches of software copyright.







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s