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TI vs. Calculator Hackers

CmdrTaco posted about 5 years ago | from the this-never-ends-well dept.

Censorship 463

Nyall writes "So a bunch of TI calculator programming enthusiasts got together to factor the keys Texas Instruments uses to sign the operating system binaries for the ti83+ (a z80 architecture) and the ti89/v200 (a 68k architecture) series of calculators. Now Texas Instruments is sending out DMCA notices to take them down."

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first post (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29491917)

55378008

Re:first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29491979)

867-5309?

Re:first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492033)

How is this off topic?

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492053)

Nice try, but this doesn't cleanly divide any of the TI keys. Especially not that 2nd function key.

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492055)

60696016 - 5318008

tfify

Math (5, Funny)

daveywest (937112) | about 5 years ago | (#29491959)

Somehow, this just doesn't add up.

Re:Math (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29492089)

TI has a new calculator based on the original Pentium?

Re:Math (0, Redundant)

joaommp (685612) | about 5 years ago | (#29492251)

no, that one would have rounding and divide errors

Re:Math (0, Redundant)

Vintermann (400722) | about 5 years ago | (#29492365)

whoosh

Re:Math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492497)

No, not "woosh". Here's a hint: every time anyone has said "woosh" it's been non-funny and every other time it was just as deserving of its own "woosh". Please shut up and die.

Re:Math (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about 5 years ago | (#29492633)

Calm down, joaommp...

Wikileaks link (5, Informative)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 5 years ago | (#29491971)

I'm a lurker in that community and I have to say I'm extremely disappointed with TI. The community has had to reverse engineer every component of the hardware with no help from TI, and has done an amazing job writing development tools and mapping out which memory addresses do what.

Here's the wikileaks link [wikileaks.org] to the keys.

Re:Wikileaks link (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492045)

And thousands of people will mirror it....

What will they do with people outside the US where the DMCA does not apply?

The ease of which students can make their own programs is one of the reasons my college asked us to buy TI-brand calculators and not Casio (which is the other choice they give.. hp is not supported at all :-p)

Meh...

Re:Wikileaks link (5, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 5 years ago | (#29492233)

What will they do with people outside the US where the DMCA does not apply?

Get the US government to invade them?

Re:Wikileaks link (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492259)

And here's the Freenet [freenetproject.org] key for the zip file: freenet:CHK@cua6vt6OGoe8dBOY2D4PR13jt~FvyvmHlMJKXPcXUgs,gFqVGC6lWjlSdE0cizGzWcyE5Y9f5J0QyWo-GNmLluY,AAIC--8/keys.zip

Re:Wikileaks link (0)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#29492741)

How many countries are left where the DMCA doesn't apply?

Pretty much every major country has signed onto the WIPO WTC and WPPT which are the basis of the DMCA. In other words, the DMCA or something very similar will apply and the countries who signed on are obligated to enforce it or their version of it.

Its the usual castle gate mentality (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 years ago | (#29492247)

While the TI engineers would probably be happy to share the info, a bunch of management suits still living in the 1960s want to keep everything secret and in-house because they're sure They Know Best as to what everyone wants. Well we all know where this sort of blinkered thinking leads - users eventually just give you the finger and move elsewhere especially if a large part of your core market is the very type of hacker (in the old sense of the word) that they want to stop.

And who are they kidding anyway , these are just fscking calculators! They can't even argue that installing new stuff on them is going to lose them any income anyway. Its not like the average user upgrades his calculator OS every year!

Re:Its the usual castle gate mentality (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29492337)

The weird thing is that TI is actually quite good about open source support in other divisions. They make OMAP reference platforms available at very reasonable price (BeagleBoard, OMAPzoom) for open source hackers.

Re:Its the usual castle gate mentality (4, Insightful)

644bd346996 (1012333) | about 5 years ago | (#29492381)

The TI calculator division is all about placating teachers and standardized testing agencies. If it's too easy to install custom software in a relatively undetectable fashion, then the calculators won't be approved for testing and classroom use.

It's not TI that's the control freaks - it's the teachers.

Re:Its the usual castle gate mentality (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | about 5 years ago | (#29492573)

This is exactly what I was thinking. Playing the devil's advocate, I'd be concerned if I worked for TI I'd be concerned about these kinds of situations. They make a killing off of the requirement in schools to use their calculators. When I worked for Staples during back to school season, we'd get a line to the back of the store for 3 days surrounding school starts and over 50% of the line was looking for a TI 83+, so we'd sell hundreds of them a day. I remember large programs 8-9 years ago in high school that had lists of problems with inputs for variables, etc. I doubt it'd be hard to make a program that brings up a screen like the TI83/89 empty program menu, since this is all teachers check for before SATs and the like. As much as I love customizability, if you were in their shoes, would you risk it?

Re:Its the usual castle gate mentality (3, Interesting)

ElSupreme (1217088) | about 5 years ago | (#29492711)

I had a TI-83 in high school. I wrote tons of programs (although they all just used TI Basic) to do various math functions. I also made a "Memory Cleared" program. I hated clearing all my programs ever 3 weeks when a test came around.

I didn't use pre-made programs during my tests, I did make programs during the tests to do repeat processes. But I got to keep my Drug Wars and Indycar racer games, along with all my other math programs after the test.

Re:Its the usual castle gate mentality (1)

sjdude (470014) | about 5 years ago | (#29492837)

And who are they kidding anyway , these are just fscking calculators!

Perhaps TI's actions have more to do with what will happen if the calculators, when cracked, are turned into "computers". Due to export restrictions, could it be the cracked machines might violate export controls in places where TI can legally sell them as "just fscking calculators"?

Re:Wikileaks link (3, Insightful)

VernonNemitz (581327) | about 5 years ago | (#29492377)

TI is certainly mistaken about the reach of Copyright Law in this matter. Out of all the code in a calculator, which they might copyright, then according to that Law, it is:
A. Fair Use to publish two numbers!
B. Not Applicable if the numbers were never in the calculator code!

Re:Wikileaks link (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 years ago | (#29492479)

Even worse, how can publishing two primes which multiply into a particular third number be unlawful? It's just a math result, you HP crooks! :p Now get over it and design stuff that people want.

Worst move ever, (2, Insightful)

Icegryphon (715550) | about 5 years ago | (#29491973)

If TI really wants to sell them calculators they would push the hobbyist market more.
Instead they stifle the enthusiast groups, but whatever I never really got into TI programming and hacking anyways.

Exactly. (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | about 5 years ago | (#29492009)

If they want to be as successful as HP calculators, they need to do more to encourage more enthusiasts...

Re:Exactly. (4, Informative)

plague911 (1292006) | about 5 years ago | (#29492059)

They are more successful than HP calculators. As a MS/Phd engineering student I haven't seen a HP calculator in 6 years except at a store.

Woosh (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 5 years ago | (#29492401)

Perhaps you didn't see the "ellipsis of sarcasm" at the end of the sentence.

That's because HP calculators are too powerful. (3, Interesting)

maillemaker (924053) | about 5 years ago | (#29492591)

I've been using HP scientific calculators since the 32S (the one that opened up like a book). At the time, in 1989, they were state-of-the-art, and math teachers had no idea that they could do definite and indefinite integration and differentiation.

Now, of course, math teachers have figured out that modern calculators are essentially full-blown computers. The last calculus course I took a year ago did not allow any calculators, but the last time I was in a math class that allowed them only TI calculators were allowed. I could not use my HP50G as it was too powerful and would enable me to cheat.

I think we've seen the end of high-end calculator development because the main market of those devices - college students - can't use them anymore in their classes.

Re:That's because HP calculators are too powerful. (2, Informative)

644bd346996 (1012333) | about 5 years ago | (#29492681)

While math classes like calculus and ODEs typically ban calculators from tests, there are still all kinds of chemistry, physics, and engineering classes where a 50g is both allowed and incredibly useful for homework and tests. More than any other feature, the efficient units system in the 50g really helped me in physics and was a great check that my calculations were correct.

Re:That's because HP calculators are too powerful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492779)

What the hell type of math course was that? So what the calculator could do integration but was there some sort of "show your work" where you would have to pencil out the non trivial integration problems as more than "calculator gave me the answer". I mean when you get beyond basic mathematics, computation matters less and concepts start to matter more. I really don't buy those asinine rules.

Re:Exactly. (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about 5 years ago | (#29492807)

As a MS/Phd engineering student I haven't seen a HP calculator in 6 years except at a store.

I used to have a HP48G+ until it let me down too many times in various exams and other assessments over the first 2 years of my biotech degree. I really preferred the RPN input and really liked the firm, clicky buttons with the nice big fat "enter" key right under the index finger where it belongs.

I replaced it with a TI-89 which has been good, in that it is much faster. In some ways it's much more powerful, e.g. it does implicit differentiation and integration by parts if I want, amongst a host of other things. But if only I could depend on the HP I would still prefer it despite its deficiencies in functionality.

Re:Exactly. (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | about 5 years ago | (#29492245)

In my 4 years of undergrad and beyond (started as a EE major and switched to chemistry), I never saw a HP calc.

Re:Exactly. (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 5 years ago | (#29492307)

I once saw an HP calc in the discount bin at office depot. Buried deep, under a pile of rubbish, scrawled on the back in angry sharpie it read:
 
Not a TI-83!
 
I left it there and went to find a TI calc

Re:Exactly. (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | about 5 years ago | (#29492453)

Hang on - it's 2009 and we're still arguing about calculators? Has this been going on since before the Amiga / Atari stuff?

(Comptometer ftw!)

Re:Exactly. (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | about 5 years ago | (#29492519)

Students still need calculators, and handheld technology is progressing as fast as ever. Graphing calculators these days are just low-end pdas with keyboards and smaller screens. If anything, it's easier for graphing calculators to differentiate themselves these days. For example, HP's graphing calculators include ARM processors and SD slots while TI is still using 68k and Z80. On the other hand, the TI-89 has a much higher resolution screen than any HP.

Re:Exactly. (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 years ago | (#29492835)

Students have never needed calculators to learn math.
And they never will.

Oh, you're talking about the STUPID students.
Carry on.

If I were to teach a math class at any level, there would be no calculators of any sort allowed.

Re:Exactly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492655)

Real engineers who do daily calcs use HP.
Take a look at pawnshops, only the TI crap gathers dust there. No one sells their precious HP's.

Re:Exactly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492871)

Let me guess, you are a windows user?

Re:Worst move ever, (4, Insightful)

qoncept (599709) | about 5 years ago | (#29492061)

I really have to wonder what dope modded the parent post as insightful. Enthusiasts aren't any manufacturer's target audience. There are (say) 10 million kids who need a graphing calculator for college or high school, and (say) 100 that are hacking them. Claiming those few are the key to success is just plain wrong.

Re:Worst move ever, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492291)

Enthusiasts aren't any manufacturer's target audience.

Really? What about Parallax?

Re:Worst move ever, (4, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | about 5 years ago | (#29492309)

Those few calculator hackers (there are a lot more than 100 of them; they're a minority, but not that small a one) aren't just a few users. They're busy writing games and other useful programs. Those programs appear on just about every TI calculator out there, and plenty of people who aren't even remotely enthusiasts or geeks are using them. The enthusiasts have a disproportionate influence on how popular the platform is, because they make it more useful for everyone.

Re:Worst move ever, (2, Insightful)

LarrySDonald (1172757) | about 5 years ago | (#29492811)

The point isn't that they're the target market, but that they are somewhat useful and completely harmless. I hacked on every calculator I used (you have to do something while watching the dry as paint lectures and they're an allowed tool in school. Hey, perhaps I do think this English lecture needs some mathematical analysis, who are you to judge?) and I have no earthly idea how exploring their deeper workings did any harm at all to the maker. Also, this is the group that will (I've noticed) be asked what calculator you should buy. I bought all that were allowed in school pretty much, so that won't help you, but I was also the go to guy for 20 and by extension hundreds for "Ok, so what's the deal here? What should I buy?". It's crazy. I'm not sure what they're trying to prevent. They sell hardware and pretty much that only. They're not razorblade - they charge full price for the hardware they sell. What's the point in even trying to prevent people from doing what they feel like with it? Of course they have certain amounts of right to do so, just as we have every right to not buy their crappy locked down platforms, but it's hard to see where alienating the enthusiasts, which by secondary steps will alienate a ton more who asked them "So what about TI?" and got the answer "Assholes sued me for trying to write a better point graph fitter. Don't buy it" while gaining nothing useful.

Re:Worst move ever, (1)

hardburn (141468) | about 5 years ago | (#29492389)

Those 100 release things that make the calculator more useful to the millions of others.

TI is in the business of selling calculators, and only makes an OS for it because a calculator this sophisticated without an OS is just a circuit board. If a bunch of hackers wants to make a better OS, it's in TI's best interest to let them.

Re:Worst move ever, (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 5 years ago | (#29492585)

Because those '100' other features aren't certified, tested or controlled.

As someone said above, if you let in a ton of extra features, this won't be certified for use on standardized tests. When I took it the TI-89 was allowed on the SAT.

Imagine a hacker putting in 100x extra functions which could do almost anything the CPU could handle, including stuff the original TI-89 couldn't do AND that the SAT board doesn't want it to do. Is it TI's fault? Is the student 'cheating'?

It wouldn't be too hard to create an OSS calculator. One that ran a bare linux and you could hack to your heart's content. Good luck getting it certified for any standardized test.

Re:Worst move ever, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492735)

Why the hell do you need ANY calculator on ANY test? To push buttons? WTF?

Real math requires no calculator. Heck, even most arithmetic in math is "int(x**2+yx+3,dx)" or solve x*y+x=y for x. That's what I would expect they have on some SAT math exam.

Mathematicians use graphing software to illustrate things or to get a quick feel for a function. But I have yet to see any prof using a graphing calculator. It is just a poor tool when you have Mathematica or Maple available.

I remember using calculator for exam in high school. It was utterly worthless test though. They may just as well have "keyboarding" on SAT.

Re:Worst move ever, (1)

Jahava (946858) | about 5 years ago | (#29492435)

I really have to wonder what dope modded the parent post as insightful. Enthusiasts aren't any manufacturer's target audience. There are (say) 10 million kids who need a graphing calculator for college or high school, and (say) 100 that are hacking them. Claiming those few are the key to success is just plain wrong.

There are countless instances where enthusiasts, with or without support from the parent company, have been a source of significant innovation. Smart companies realize this and encourage that innovation, both for product advancement and as a vast source of design feedback. Even TI could take some very minimal steps to greatly enable enthusiasts (i.e. release these keys, or just not have them).

Look only as far as Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft series for a very vivid example. Enthusiasts built massive tools and communities centered around modifying their games, and Blizzard engaged them and they responded by greatly opening up future releases. DotA [wikipedia.org] started as a map mod and has progressed into its own complete video game [wikipedia.org] . In expansions (and even moreso in new games), Blizzard has identified the enthusiasts' interests and worked to further enable them. Their appreciation of enthusiasts and community has them labeled as a Smart Company in my book.

If TI were smart, they'd make their calculators as open as possible. There's clearly an interest among the capable, and I'd infer from that a greater interest among the general populous. They could do workshops, partner with schools, market it as "open", and even recruit from the enthusiast base.

Ultimately, interest is interest; even non-enthusiasts appreciate the work: "Hey, I can load games onto this calculator!"

Re:Worst move ever, (1)

qoncept (599709) | about 5 years ago | (#29492645)

What makes them so smart? Is TI selling more calculators because you can play games on them, or because some kid has to buy one to do his homework? I had a TI-85 in high school and played games all through whatever math class I was in at the time, but I would have had one regardless of whether it did anything other than my homework.

Re:Worst move ever, (3, Informative)

PotatoFarmer (1250696) | about 5 years ago | (#29492825)

In expansions (and even moreso in new games), Blizzard has identified the enthusiasts' interests and worked to further enable them. Their appreciation of enthusiasts and community has them labeled as a Smart Company in my book.

It's ironic that you use Blizzard as your example here, given that their response to bnetd established the precedent of using the DMCA to shut down reverse engineering.

Are HS kids their target audience? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 5 years ago | (#29492543)

If they were they would be a bit more aggressive with pricing - some of their competitors have graphing calculators for under $50 on sale.

If I were a large school district or state school board I would weigh that heavily when recommending what calculators to recommend or buy for my students.

Re:Worst move ever, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492621)

I really have to wonder what dope modded the parent post as insightful. Enthusiasts aren't any manufacturer's target audience. There are (say) 10 million kids who need a graphing calculator for college or high school, and (say) 100 that are hacking them. Claiming those few are the key to success is just plain wrong.

It isn't the 100 people hacking them that matter. It's the millions of people that use programs the hackers create. Why do you think Intel dumps money into Moblin etc.?

Re:Worst move ever, (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#29492861)

Really, that's funny because who is it that implements software that the manufacturer didn't think of or didn't want to spend time on? It's kind of an odd statement to make, because having a thriving enthusiast community is something which sells an awful lot of units. People tend to be pretty jaded about certain things like marketing, having enthusiasts to make the recommendations and help out new owners is a pretty significant resource to have.

Re:Worst move ever, (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 5 years ago | (#29492083)

I have to agree. I never got much into writing my own apps for my calculators (which have been predominantly TI - I started on a TI-83 in high school and moved to a TI-89 in college), but man on man did I download and install a lot of community apps. They really added a lot of usefulness to the machine (particularly the TI-83 whose built in feature set was very lacking compared to the TI-89). If those apps weren't available I likely would have looked for a calculator that did have them.

It's strange too that in these "there's an app for that!" times that TI would be trying to crack down on the 3rd party application community.

Re:Worst move ever, (2, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | about 5 years ago | (#29492231)

This is exactly why they are not a big fan. The reality is there is very little difference hardware wise in the lesser and more expensive models. If all you need to do is upgrade some software to get your cheaper model to behave like the more expensive then TI loses a ton of money. It's all about trying to get people to upgrade to a model with a higher profit margin.

Re:Worst move ever, (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 5 years ago | (#29492575)

Well, aside from the obvious architectural difference separating the TI-82(83,84) and the TI-89(92) lines, there's also varying degrees of internal hardware differences between the models. Even newer revisions of the same calculator can have wildly different hardware (the 83+ for instance has internal flash that the classic 83 lacks entirely.)

My TI-89 is now 11 years old, I'm fairly sure the most recent 89 revisions are internally different to some degree from the older hardware. The only reason that TI is pissed about this is that it removes total control of the software load of the devices from their hands.

Re:Worst move ever, (2, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 5 years ago | (#29492637)

This isn't about 3rd party apps. This is about signing for the OS.

TI doesn't care what programs you write, in assembly OR TI-Basic. They do care if you overwrite their OS.

Re:Worst move ever, (4, Insightful)

UncleTogie (1004853) | about 5 years ago | (#29492865)

TI doesn't care what programs you write, in assembly OR TI-Basic. They do care if you overwrite their OS.

Funny, I don't remember agreeing to a EULA when I first opened the box and powered it up. Their right to ANYthing concerning their equipment ended when I bought it.

old new (-1, Troll)

Gendo420 (656068) | about 5 years ago | (#29491987)

must be another slow day for /. this was already reported on a couple of weeks ago

So a bunch of... (0, Offtopic)

mrboyd (1211932) | about 5 years ago | (#29491999)

"So a bunch of".. really? I don't expect the summaries to be worth a Pulitzer but that's pretty low even for slashdot.

Re:So a bunch of... (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | about 5 years ago | (#29492477)

It's a colloquialism. Deal with it. Contrary to popular belief, abstract, proper grammar has nothing to do with content or literary value. Now, there are awkward constructions, and there are incorrect usages, but this is a pretty standard colloquialism that in no way obscures the meaning of the text.

Re:So a bunch of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492639)

I just get sick of people starting every sentence with "So."

Screw calculator binaries; how about x64 drivers? (3, Interesting)

gblues (90260) | about 5 years ago | (#29492003)

Texas Instruments makes damn fine graphing calculators, but would it be so hard to write a damn x64 driver? I can't use the USB interface with either my home PC or my laptop because both are running x64 (7 Pro on the desktop, Vista Home Premium on the laptop). And I'll be damned if I go back to 32 bits just to make the calculator happy.

I did googling and didn't find anything existing; has anyone tackled writing a homebrew x64 USB driver? I think all the information needed is already out there, but I don't have the time/motivation to write the driver myself (especially having never written a driver before).

Re:Screw calculator binaries; how about x64 driver (5, Insightful)

Xtravar (725372) | about 5 years ago | (#29492111)

1. Get a USB traffic sniffing application
2. Run the TI driver on a Windows XP VM and record the traffic as you transfer files.
3. Write your own driver with libusb-win32 and pray that it works
4. Become hero to the TI community!!!

Re:Screw calculator binaries; how about x64 driver (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492187)

Unfortunately there is now a step 5:

5. Get defecated on from a great height by TI

Re:Screw calculator binaries; how about x64 driver (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 years ago | (#29492211)

5. Get sued by TI.
6. ???
7. Profit!

Re:Screw calculator binaries; how about x64 driver (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | about 5 years ago | (#29492249)

I think #6 in this case is 'counter-sue'

obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492687)

7. ???
8. Profit!

Re:Screw calculator binaries; how about x64 driver (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492693)

Actually, if all you want is to transfer files, you can get by with omitting steps 1,3, and 4 from that list.

Re:Screw calculator binaries; how about x64 driver (2, Interesting)

whoisisis (1225718) | about 5 years ago | (#29492173)

Try TiLP 2 [ticalc.org] . Made by said TI-homebrew community.

Re:Screw calculator binaries; how about x64 driver (3, Informative)

AresTheImpaler (570208) | about 5 years ago | (#29492177)

Have you tried installing a 32 bit OS on a VM, like say, virtualbox [virtualbox.org] to talk to the calculator? I know it's not exactly what you want, but it might do the trick.....

Streisand Effect (5, Interesting)

quanticle (843097) | about 5 years ago | (#29492005)

You'd have thought that Texas Instruments would have learned when the Blu-Ray consortium tried to stop the spread of the '09 F9 ...' key.

Re:Streisand Effect (4, Informative)

spinkham (56603) | about 5 years ago | (#29492159)

And just in case you forget how badly that went down, here's a reminder...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSQIoXf294E [youtube.com]

Re:Streisand Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492235)

Some parts of that video are very easy to watch...

Re:Streisand Effect (1)

EkriirkE (1075937) | about 5 years ago | (#29492731)

What?

Re:Streisand Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492813)

You'd have thought that Texas Instruments would have learned when the Blu-Ray consortium tried to stop the spread of the '09 F9 ...' key.

Exactly. And what's more, the "spread it all everywhere" strategy may be what runs the DMCA up against the constitutional limits: A decryption key in a DVD ripper may be an illegal circumvention device, but the same key posted on the top of every blog in the world is protected political speech in opposition to the prohibition of circumvention devices. The bloggers and their readers aren't using it to decrypt DVDs, merely to make a statement about the law, which means it's hardly a circumvention device anymore and any attempt to prohibit what they're doing is an abridgment of political speech. But that makes the prohibition on distributing the key in circumvention devices totally meaningless because anyone who wants the key has a billion and one places to get it.

DMCA Misrepresentation claim viable (5, Informative)

zavyman (32136) | about 5 years ago | (#29492043)

It's highly unlikely that the factors of an RSA private key are subject to copyright protection. Therefore the groups may have a viable claim for DMCA misrepresentation under subsection (f):

(f) MISREPRESENTATIONS- Any person who knowingly materially misrepresents under this section--
    (1) that material or activity is infringing, or
    (2) that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification,
shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys' fees, incurred by the alleged infringer, by any copyright owner or copyright owner's authorized licensee, or by a service provider, who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing, or in replacing the removed material or ceasing to disable access to it.

Texas Instruments may just have Diebolded [eff.org] itself.

Re:DMCA Misrepresentation claim viable (5, Informative)

Nursie (632944) | about 5 years ago | (#29492205)

Copyright?

Wouldn't this be more likely come under the circumvention of cryptographic protection techniques which the DMCA also outlaws?

Re:DMCA Misrepresentation claim viable (4, Informative)

zavyman (32136) | about 5 years ago | (#29492379)

Two sections of Title 17 (Copyrights) are relevant. 17 USC 512 (safe harbor) and 17 USC 1201 (anti-circumvention). The notice [brandonw.net] is styled as one under 17 USC 512:

It has come to our attention that the web site www.brandonw.net, contains material and/or links to material that violate the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"). This letter is to notify you, in accordance with the provisions of the DMCA, of these unlawful activities. Pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, we request that you remove any whole or partial reproductions of and/or disable links to the following:

...

I hereby confirm that I have a good faith belief that use of the Illegal Material in the manner complained of in this letter is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law, that the information in this letter is accurate, and that, under penalty of perjury, I am authorized to act on behalf of TI, the owner of the exclusive rights in the TI-83 Plus operating system software that are allegedly misappropriated using unlawful methods.

TI appears to be claiming that the copyright in the TI-83 Plus operating system software is infringing. This therefore appears to be a notice under 512(c)(3). Anti-circumvention is a totally different section of the copyright code, 1201. There is no takedown procedure for access control circumvention materials.

But with regards to anti-circumvention claims: It appears that TI is claiming that the signing keys circumvent a "technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title." This is a term of art.

(A) to "circumvent a technological measure" means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and

(B) a technological measure "effectively controls access to a work" if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.

Are signing keys necessary to gain access to the TI 83 Plus operating system binary? As far as I know, no. My understanding is that they are only used to prepare operating system images for installation onto the calculator.

Re:DMCA Misrepresentation claim viable (4, Informative)

Cubeman (530448) | about 5 years ago | (#29492757)

The keys are not required to access the binary. There is no encryption; the keys are just to verify that the OS image hasn't been corrupted. The entire binary has always been completely accessible from both the PC side (before transferring) as well as on the calculator. Furthermore, the community has had the ability to load its own operating systems on the TI-83 Plus since 2002. TI had stated in 2004 that they had no problem with independent third-party OSes being loaded, as long as (understandably) no one distributed modified TI OS files. The only new development here is that third-party operating systems can now be loaded onto the calculators without any hacks or preparation. In other words, they can be loaded in a user-friendly manner like the TI OS is loaded, and transmitted from calculator-to-calculator without having to run a special program beforehand. This is a huge deal in gaining acceptance for third-party operating systems, because end users do not want to have to pull out a battery during validation or run a strange program before loading the OS. They'd rather just click and be done.

Re:DMCA Misrepresentation claim viable (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 5 years ago | (#29492423)

Considering these keys do not "effectively control access to a work" I'm sure that while they may try (the DMCA is the be-all and end-all of corporate beatdown sticks, used regardless of merit,) it's doubtful.

After all, these are signing keys. All they let you do is load a new OS or your own signed applications on the calculator (signed apps are something they've done since the 89 was released back in 1998) and bypass a number of community-developed workarounds to get assembly programs on the calculator, along with the special resources available to such apps.

TI has no valid DMCA claim here, but they're a GRAND OLE CORPORATION to our government and thus deserve more power and leniency than the average prole.

Re:DMCA Misrepresentation claim viable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492271)

it isn't a matter of copyright protection for the keys. This is "circumvention of a technical control" -- which is allowed, but only if you do it solo and never tell anyone else how you did it or provide them with tools or otherwise enable them to circumvent the technical control.

The DMCA is a bad law, and not all of it is directly about copyright.

Re:DMCA Misrepresentation claim viable (1)

TrentTheThief (118302) | about 5 years ago | (#29492569)

And just in case, I think someone might have placed the keys, here: http://crystalwind.com/index.html [crystalwind.com]

MS ALARM (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492051)

"So a bunch of TI calculator programming enthusiasts got together to factor the keys Texas Instruments"

Only Microsoft employees start sentences with "So", so... SOD OFF!

Calculator vs. blonde (-1, Offtopic)

GPS Tracking Device (1360289) | about 5 years ago | (#29492085)

What's the difference between a blonde and a solar powered calculator? A blond works in the dark.

Two things. . . (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | about 5 years ago | (#29492135)

This is about calculator keys, right?

That shark jumping thing has just happened. DMCA, please go home now. You're drunk and you're scaring the remaining guest, the family dog and our kids are shuddering in their bedrooms in fear.

Also. . , you want a calculator hack? I'll give you a calculator hack!

Type the following number. . . "07734" on your calculator and then invert the screen for a pleasant surprise!!!!!

(Ooooh, it's so exciting and. . , welcoming!)

-FL

Re:Two things. . . (1)

superslacker87 (998043) | about 5 years ago | (#29492515)

I like this one better:

There as 1 girl.
She was 16.
She did a 69.
3 times.

Know what she was?

11669*3=35007

Re:Two things. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492551)

There as 1 girl.
She was 16.
She did a 69.
3 times.

Know what she was?

Inb4 "underage b&"

Re:Two things. . . (1)

Megane (129182) | about 5 years ago | (#29492673)

Hooray for the clash of '70s memes with 2k memes!

Now to figure out a way to mix 710.77345 with Iraq.

subterfuge (5, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | about 5 years ago | (#29492137)

Someone in TI's legal dept. who knows what the Streisand Effect is wants these keys publicized.

Well, we can hope that's the reason.

Re:subterfuge (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | about 5 years ago | (#29492415)

TI made more money in the 80s and 90s on legal action than they did on selling products.

DRM in a calculator? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492213)

I'm shocked to hear that TI is even bothering to sign things. What exactly could be in a calculator that you would want to protect from hackers or end users?

"Oh no, a virus has replaced all my Fourier transforms with Laplace transforms!"

Exam answers? (1)

argent (18001) | about 5 years ago | (#29492611)

When I was in college, we weren't even allowed to use calculators with memory, and in some exams we had to use slide rules only.

Someone could be sneaking in exam answers in a ROM that didn't show up until you entered 1337 and hit "=" five times to hide it from the proctors...

I've just lost... (1)

hj43us (728114) | about 5 years ago | (#29492223)

I've just lost any interest on using/buying any TI calculator. Well done TI lawyers! (Do they covertly work for CASIO?)

Re:I've just lost... (1)

cmdpwr (1366937) | about 5 years ago | (#29492485)

Casio? Look into the HP 50g. The keyboard is not quite as good as the HP 48GX, but it's much faster. When I was in school, the HP 48 GX wasn't "supported", but I always found that I learned more by figuring things out myself anyway.

Re:I've just lost... (1)

ElSupreme (1217088) | about 5 years ago | (#29492869)

++ for the HP50g.

RPN FTW!

This makes me wanna... (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | about 5 years ago | (#29492341)

...use some of my spare CPU time to help out. Any easy way?

Re:This makes me wanna... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492463)

Its very easy in either windows or linux.
All you need is ggnfs, perl and the .poly file. Precompiled windows binaries for perl and ggnfs are available.

Its much faster in linux though, where you can compile the experimental siever which is unavailable in windows at the moment.

Re:This makes me wanna... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29492629)

there is also the boink prject (like folding at home) thats hosted by one of the community members. you can participate through that as well

From a community perspective. (2, Insightful)

Deathlizard (115856) | about 5 years ago | (#29492817)

I've been working with Ti calcs and the Ti community for years, and Frankly, I feel that Ti have been giving us programmers a slap in the face.

First off, they keep resurrecting the Ti-82 series of calcs with endless versions and case updates while killing off more capable OS designs like the 85 series. I have a feeling the 92 series (which inclueds the 89, 89ti, and Voyage 200) is next.

Then, they remove program editing from their windows app as well as letting it stagnate with documented link bugs still included.

Finally, they release the Nspire. The Nspire is such a leap backward from their previous calcs that they actually had to make a version that emulates the 83. (again with the 82 love) It has a neutered programming language. no draw support. no 3d support, removed math functions, no proper input or output channels, ETC. I don't know who this calculator is going to appeal to. K-12 don't want it cause its more expensive than an 83, Higher education doesn't want it cause it's neutered vs other calcs in it's class and programmers don't want to touch it cause it's basically useless with no SDK or useful programming language to speak of.

I could probably talk about the SDK and it's lack of updates and support as well, but I'd rather let the Ti Flash community programmers do the talking here.

I'm not a fan of the key facoring, because it's just going to make Ti clamp down on the community that keeps their calc business (and my hobby) alive, but I don't blame the Ti Community, Not when Ti listenes more to a 9th grade teacher whining about little Johnny playing games on his calc instead of the professor or engineer thats using his calc as a cheap portable way of processing a complex algorythm or data probe accqsition device.

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