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Ritz Disposable Digital Camera Hacked 542

morgue-ann writes "The $10.99 Dakota reusable digital camera announced in July was usefully hacked on November 6. First attempts to extract picture data took 10 hours to read out 16MB, but new code for Linux and Mac and Windows lets you get pictures quickly over USB and view or print them without Ritz's help (and with fewer of your $$)."
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Ritz Disposable Digital Camera Hacked

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  • What... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Stile 65 ( 722451 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:15PM (#7460013) Homepage Journal
    ...no secret Ritz crackers on the inside?

    I want my money back.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) * on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:15PM (#7460014) Journal
    Ritz will probably use the DMCA to stop it. There's a good story [washingtonpost.com] in today's Washington Post regarding the DMCA and how businesses are being ensnared even under "fair use". In Lexmark's case (detailed in the Wash Post story), Lexmark claimed that their copyright was violated.

    As silly as the law is let's hope that it's repealed/reformed and soon.
    • Funny (Score:5, Interesting)

      by msgmonkey ( 599753 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:17PM (#7460037)
      That would truely be funny, using the DMCA to stop you from transfering pictures that you have taken and hence own the copyright to.
      • Re:Funny (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Pieroxy ( 222434 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:28PM (#7460139) Homepage
        The DMCA prevents you from viewing the images on your DVD (you own the thing) that you just bought if you don't own a "preapproved" DVD player. A mere DVD-ROM + Linux can't do it legally.

        Actually, it doesn't prevent you, but if you find a way to do it, it prevents you from publishing/sharing it.

        So no, it is not funny.
        • "So no, it is not funny."

          The grand-parent post meant "funny weird" not "funny, laugh".

          And it is most certainly funny/weird.
        • Re:Funny (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Narcissus ( 310552 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:39PM (#7460245) Homepage
          You might own the DVD, but you don't own the copyright: two very different things. As the parent noted, you own the copyright on your photos, so it would be interesting to see what Ritz can do.
      • Re:Funny (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:30PM (#7460565) Homepage Journal

        No, the copyrighted work being "violated" here is the camera firmware.

        Lawyers will argue that, in order to use the copyrighted firmware in the camera, you must be licensed to do so. (This is false, but that hasn't stopped them so far.) Thus, by cracking open the camera and pulling the data out, you have made use of the camera firmware in an unlicensed manner. This constitutes copyright infringement.

        Also, since the protection racket... er, mechanism in place to keep you from yanking the photos out is probably also the same mechanism that protects the firmware itself. Thus, by circumventing the method that "protects" your photos, you have also circumvented the method that protects the firmware. This is illegal under the DMCA.

        Note that it is in no way whatsoever immoral, unethical, harmful, or wrong. It's merely illegal.


        • Re:Funny (Score:3, Interesting)

          by c_oflynn ( 649487 )
          So how long until someone rewrites the firmware?

          The camera just has a normal FLASH part, so you could re-flash the chip, and all is good!
        • Re:Funny (Score:3, Insightful)

          Lawyers will argue that, in order to use the copyrighted firmware in the camera, you must be licensed to do so.

          Just like you need a license to read a copyrighted book. How they can use the above argument is beyond me.

          Nobody signs an "EULA" before buying one of these cameras, so any argument about its usage is just a bunch of babies whining because their business model had a flaw it - one that the market has found and used to its advantage. And I think it's important to keep in mind is that people are bu

        • I know I'll probably be kicked off /. for saying this, but I don't see how you can say hacking this is not immoral, unethical, harmful or wrong. They are selling this camera at below wholesale cost so they can make their money on the back end, in the prints. As I understand it from when I first read about these cameras (this may have changed), they even give you a CD-r with your pictures on it when you get the camera "developed", so you can even print more copies without going through them. I think their ap
          • Excuse me, but THEY decided to use this hardware that could be hacked easily. Don't feel sorry for someone just because they made a bad business plan. Do you think people felt sorry for MS when Bob flopped? Do you think people felt sorry Apple when the Apple /// flopped?
      • Re:Funny (Score:4, Insightful)

        by KFury ( 19522 ) * on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @10:16PM (#7460868) Homepage
        "pictures that you have taken and hence own the copyright to."

        This is key.

        Being able to capture, retain, and download pictures is my own DRM system. An encryption scheme that forces me to take my pictures to Ritz is a circumvention of my DRM.

        Therefore Ritz is in violation of the DMCA for forcing a circumvention of my DRM, extorting money from the rightful and noble copyright holder.

        What, you say Ritz never agreed to my EULA? Sure they did, when it was the first photo I took with the camera. And let's not even think about the violations if they keep a copy of the file.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      So a camera costing hundreds of dollars and provided on a rent and return basis can effectively be stolen and the company goes bust?

      Get a clue buddy, digital cameras don't cost $10.99 to make, and if you try and abuse this, this will stop!
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:56PM (#7460355)
        Was it provided on a rent and return basis, though? If it was presented as a sale and the customer exchanged money for it rather than having to agree to any leasing T&Cs then it's hardly the customer's fault the company are idiots.
      • MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Insightful)

        Ritz has an honest business model, and consumers shouldn't download their own pictures from the camera.

        Even if using the DMCA to combat this is morally wrong, so is downloading your own pictures, in this case.

        Certainly you have to sign a contract to rent the camera?

        Of course, you could place your own favorite pics on the camera, and send it in. :)
        • by the_mad_poster ( 640772 ) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:23PM (#7460518) Homepage Journal

          Well, go ahead and mod the parent up because it is a legit argument, but... if the business model falls apart because someone is "circumventing" an idiotic law that shouldn't exist to begin with, the business model is the problem, not the person who was savvy enough to figure out the work on their own.

          Any company who's business relies on a shaky, ambiguous, morally (and quite probably legally) reprehensible law that a bunch of big business suits bought with some extra cash they had lying around isn't going to make it and doesn't deserve to.

          • I hate ditto posts, but EX-FRICKING-ACTLY! I am getting so tired of companies these days coming up with "business plans" that wouldn't survive a week in the real world, just because they can hide within the labyrinth of laws and smash anyone who acosts them. If they are "selling" those cameras at a loss, then that is *profoundly* stupid and they deserve to take a beating on it. (and they will since, now that the crack is out, it's never going to go away no matter how many people they sue)
          • by groomed ( 202061 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @11:01PM (#7461144)
            The more often I hear this argument, the shallower it sounds.

            All business is based on some assumption of law. For example, you can't just beat up your competitors. Is it moral that the law protects the weak from the strong? I think so, but there is a case to be made for the opposite.

            In this case, we're the strong, and it's the artists, writers, programmers who are the weak. The DMCA is an effort to protect them. Is it therefore a shaky, ambiguous, and morally reprehensible law? Or just inconvenient to us?
            • by Pedersen ( 46721 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @11:56PM (#7461442) Homepage
              Maybe I shouldn't reply to this, but it sounds like a sincere statement, so...

              Here's some food for thought (and I admit that this may be a philosophically weak argument, but I've yet to find anybody to help debate this and make it better), and in particular, this is a basis for some sort of morality (yes, an attempt at a universal right and wrong, good and evil, etc).

              When a person is born into this world, that person has a fixed amount of time until death. That person is then able to trade their time (eventually) for stuff which is either desired or needed, such as food, shelter, entertainment, etc. In our society, we tend to use money to represent the value of said time (quite literally, time is money). Yes, there is much more to this, and I need to write it all down someday, but this summary will do for this discussion.

              Now, where does this idea tie in with the discussion? Well, anything which takes time from me without giving me back something that I value equally could be considered to be wrong or evil. For instance, if somebody steals $20 from me, then I have lost the time it took me to earn that $20, and it cannot be recovered. Hence, stealing is wrong in this system.

              Now, put it in terms of the DMCA and the limitations which are placed on those subject to its rule. I buy a DVD with the expectation that I will be able to enjoy the contents on that DVD. I have equipment which is sufficient to allow me to do so (to wit: A computer equipped with a DVD-ROM drive), and so this would seem to be a reasonable expectation. I bring it home, pop it in, and find out that, for no better reason than I choose to use Linux (instead of Windows), I am unable to play the contents of this media.

              Now, nobody will give me a refund on this opened DVD. The best I can do is exchange it for ... the same DVD. Which I can't use. However, fortunately for me, other people have found themselves in the same boat. And they have the smarts to be able to figure out how to make this work. Unfortunately, the DMCA makes it illegal for them to tell me this information.

              Under the DMCA, it is very possible for me to find myself out the money for a DVD which I might actually enjoy. Somebody has stolen some time from me, and I have no recourse. Now, before you tell me to use Windows, keep in mind that I must buy Windows, somehow, some way. Which means that I am out even more time. Or a stand-alone DVD player, which has the same issue.

              The DMCA steals from me the ability to help others make use of the items which they have rightfully purchased with their time.

              Now, for the counter-argument: The DMCA is meant to stop mass copyright infringement as has been enabled by the internet. I'll simply point out that mass infringers are already convictable under other laws. The DMCA gives no other benefits to help prevent actual infringment. None. It only allows producers of content to steal from me (and yes, they are stealing my time, by virtue of requiring potentially pricy extras that I may not already have to enjoy what they produce).

              Gah, it's getting late here, and my brain is shutting down as I type this (I think the first part is more coherent than the second part). Thoughts from you?
              • I'll buy that argument for the first time you buy a DVD - if you weren't aware of the DMCA, etc.

                But now that you are aware of the DMCA, if you buy a DVD expecting to play it on a Linux system, then you're an idiot, pure and simple. From the point the law was passed, that was THE LAW and being ignorant of it is not a valid excuse.

                No - they are not stealing your time. If you buy a DVD, then you are a willing participant in the so-called "theft" of your time and it is not really theft anymore.

                If you happen
              • Yeah, it was a sincere comment.

                I buy a DVD with the expectation that I will be able to enjoy the contents on that DVD. I have equipment which is sufficient to allow me to do so (to wit: A computer equipped with a DVD-ROM drive), and so this would seem to be a reasonable expectation. I bring it home, pop it in, and find out that, for no better reason than I choose to use Linux (instead of Windows), I am unable to play the contents of this media.

                Obviously, your expectation was false. You should have some
              • I'm fascinated by your argument...and I'll be spending several days thinking about it. The economist in me is amused.

                For the most part, humans do think this way, but there is one area we don't: children. The loss of a child's life is amazingly tragic, whereas the loss of an adult's life is less so. This doesn't make much sense, in that the adult had more time on them, and more learning...consider a 30 year old has 30 years of investment for life, whereas a newborn does not, and a newborn is easily replicat
          • Well, go ahead and mod the parent up because it is a legit argument, but... if the business model falls apart because someone is "circumventing" an idiotic law that shouldn't exist to begin with, the business model is the problem, not the person who was savvy enough to figure out the work on their own.

            Every law is "idiotic" to those who don't like what it means.

            Using the DCMA to protect digital cameras of this type isn't an injustice. Many people cannot afford to buy expensive digital cameras or have on
    • Ritz will probably use the DMCA to stop it.

      Exactly - just like the MPAA used it to stop people from downloading DeCSS. The most that they can do now is simply to come up with a better design.
      • The obvious answer is to encrypt the pictures with Ritz's public key and have the private key kept only in their machines. Don't fight technology with stupid legislation, fight it with better technology.
    • I did a HOWTO on the cable. I demand a C&D!
    • As silly as the law is let's hope that it's repealed/reformed and soon.

      Well if the DMCA was repealed, another would sprout up in it's place. That cycle would continue until the DMCA itself was encrypted, and any attempt to repeal it would result in jail time!

    • According to a Mercury News story [siliconvalley.com] , the camera is nearly unhackable through its proprietary interface (aha! those wily hackers will never figure this one out!).

      "Hackers will have a hard time making Dakota Digital cameras reusable at home. The cameras have a special plug, so you can't use any standard computer cable for connecting to a personal computer. Also, you can't erase more than one picture and the images are stored in a raw format that won't be recognized by photo-editing software."

      Really... how ma
  • they will require a deposit

    seriously, how many people will go to these lengths to have a digital camera with these limitations..

    you jump thru hoops, and get a crappy digital camera for 12.99.. instead of a better digital camera, with support, for 99..

  • by astrashe ( 7452 ) * on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:20PM (#7460068) Journal
    I don't understand why this seems to happen every time.

    Why can't they use something like RSA to encrypt the photos so that only the Ritz people can read them?

    Do these people shy away from proven algorithms because they don't have the processor power, because they don't want to pay licensing fees, etc? Do they use proven algorithms and implement them badly? Or do they just figure that they can make up something on their own, and that it will stand up to attack?

    • Maybe all of the above to make the product as cheap as possible. I was thinking who their market is - people who want a cheap camera to take on vacation (who cares if it gets lost or stolen). Your typical consumer of these cameras are not going to hack into them nor will they care to.

      The last time I checked, $15 for a (film) disposable + $10 processing vs. $11 digital camera + $11 "processing". $25 film vs. $22 digital. I'd still go with the film just because of the better quality of photos. They're going

    • I'm not knowledgeable w/crypto, but I haven't seen anyone question how much RSA encryption would:

      1) Increase amount of computing to save pic
      2) Increase amount of time to save pic
      3) Increase amount of power to save pic

      Maybe they weren't so dumb... just naive :)
    • Why can't they use something like RSA to encrypt the photos so that only the Ritz people can read them?

      Public-key crypto might be a good idea for this... although it would depend on Ritz's ability to keep the secret key secret. All it would take is one bored, low-wage camera shop employee to leak the secret key, and all would be lost.

      I suppose you could take steps to physically control access to the PC's doing the decryption, so that a cashier couldn't extract the key, but the technicians would still
      • Vary the keys. Give each camera a serial number when it is manufactured and after each processing, store the private key in a massive database (storage isn't that expensive, and I doubt this would be *that* widespread), then load that up when it's sent back in. When a camera is sent in for processing, read its key then deactivate the key so it can never be read again.

        Okay, there's a problem if someone gets their hands on the database, but that would be much harder to do. And remember, this is what a colleg
  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:21PM (#7460074) Homepage Journal
    Damn, damn, damn, damn! Damn, damn, damn, damn! Damn, DAMN, damn, damn!

    I was just at Walgreens last night to try to find one of these suckers (who offer a different packaging, but same concept and circuitry). They didn't have them. I was going to go to a couple area Ritz to see if they had them. But noooooo. Slashdot broke the story and now Ritz will yank them off the shelves or others will grab them first.

    Damn, damn, damn, damn! Damn, damn, damn, damn! Damn, damn, damn, damn!

    • why? why? why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:30PM (#7460165) Journal
      it's a fairly crappy camera; for 11 dollars.

      you can get a logitech pocket digital for like 37 dollars; basically same specs, but looks a whole lot nicer and does exactly the same thing - except maybe actually storing more pictures on the internal memory.
      With parts and time invested, I think it is more than worth the 26 dollars difference.

      Yes i know there is the geek "i hacked my cheap-ass camera" factor, but come on... if you want to be a geek, there are more worthwhile projects on which to spend your time!
    • Wait a while and you'll find it on eBay.

      I hear that these days they sell just about anything, even satellites ;-)
    • RTFA

      "This is a very cheap ($12) "disposable" digital camera sold at select Ritz/Wolf Camera stores. Note that this is NOT the same as the one sold at Walgreens."
  • I clicked on the article, read a liitle bit, clicked a link, then came back to find the only content was an entry reading "I am stupid" Not sure if it's because he allowed himself to be slashdotted, or because he posted the info and fears the ol' DMCA C&D letter.
  • Business Model? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThisIsFred ( 705426 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:21PM (#7460085) Journal
    Does their business model (the manufacturer, not the hacker) depend on remanufacturing these things? I don't know about DMACA (digital millenium anti-competition act) violations, but I'd think a simple deposit on sale system what fix any issues with consumers keeping the cameras. It works for car batteries, it can work for these cameras.
    • It depends on the deposit. If it's too large, it will negate the point of getting a 'disposable' (I know it's not actually disposable) camera. If it's too cheap, people will just take it anyway.

      For example, no one will put down $60 as a deposit on the camera, being told they'll get $50 back when they return the camera. And if the deposit is only $20 (for a total of $30 for the camera) people will still just walk away with 'em.

      I think it'd be really hard to come up with a deposit cost that would both be ke
  • How... predictable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by downix ( 84795 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:27PM (#7460129) Homepage
    Ritz did the same mistake that most companies do, they opt for the obscurity is security model. A smarter model is to instead follow the open source model that uses equipment that is prohibitive for the average user to purchase.

    Example, rather than use, say, USB cabling, use some proprietory GPIO system that only Ritz controls. Heck, patent the heck out of it. Only needs a $5 CPLD to impliment a controller, but most casual hackers don't care to get into hardware-hacking on this scale. Sure, someone will break it, but then those capable will be a limited subset of the market, and damage is minimized.

    Shoot, I should apply to be a corporate consultant!
    • Nice. Except that you will have to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into developing custom ASIC chips and such. Which is rather cost-prohibitive, when you can go with the cheap off-the-shelf variety. Which is what ritz did -- they used an off-the-shelf design and exactly the same chips as extremely cheap 1mp cameras.

      Also, if someone will actually bother to make a custom USB cable, they can probably use a microcontroller as well.
    • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:35PM (#7460595) Homepage Journal

      Example, rather than use, say, USB cabling, use some proprietory GPIO system that only Ritz controls

      Too much effort and cost. This problem can be handled in software; much cheaper.

      How? I haven't seen these cameras, so I don't know for sure, but for $11 I really doubt they have an LCD display, which means that the camera has no need to be able to read the images it has taken.

      Since that's the case, Ritz could just add a little bit of code to their camera and encrypt each image as it's written to flash. Simplest case, just give each camera a DES key, stored in ROM or NVRAM, and have it encrypt each while writing. DES is fast enough that it can be implemented in software on itty bitty microprocessors with no problem. AES is even faster, but DES is simpler (and there are a zillion PD implementations in whatever language you like). Users can feel free to find ways to download the images, but they'll get nothing useful.

      Of course, if you could hack your camera to dig out the encryption key, you could get your pictures out without paying for "developing", but that's way too much effort.

      If that's not secure enough, Ritz should just have the camera generate a random 3DES key for each image, encrypt with it, encrypt the 3DES key with a Ritz RSA public key and store the key with the photo. To break that one, someone would have to either break RSA or find a way to monitor the internals of the camera and extract the 3DES key while it's still in cleartext. Doable, but you'd pretty much have to have your camera hooked up to a bunch of equipment while taking the photos. So you could get "free" pictures of your basement... Might actually be easier just to hook inside and read the image out before it gets encrypted.

      All of the code for either solution (on-camera code, manufacturing code for injecting keys, download and decrypt code for the printing) can easily be written, tested and debugged in two weeks by a competent programmer familiar with such things.

      Shoot, I should apply to be a corporate consultant!

      Me too!

  • by Trillian_1138 ( 221423 ) <slashdot@NoSpam.fridaythang.com> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:30PM (#7460163)
    Serriously. Could you please raise your hand?

    . . .

    . . .


    . . .

    . . .

    Wait, do I see one in the back? Yes? Care to explain yourself?

    . . .

    . . .

    Ahh. Well, we have one guy in the back who was in a coma. Anyone else not see this coming?

    . . .

    . . .

    As I thought.


  • by mackman ( 19286 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:30PM (#7460164)
    of failed business plans, right next to my collection of mint condition CueCats.
  • I have a feeling that the makers of these cameras will start to spin how the computer community is to blame for hacking every consumer product and making it do things that the manufacturer never intended. They can say stuff like "We can't make any good products because when we do, someone finds a way to hack and ruin it!" They then run behind the DMCA so that they can make money on a plan that is shown to be flawed. Do they make a better product? Nope. They just get behind their lawyers and try to cram
  • Woo hoo! (Score:4, Funny)

    by AussieBastard ( 587090 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:35PM (#7460206)
    Now you won't have to get all embarrassed taking your home-made digital pr0n pictures back to the store for processing!
  • Saw this on the page: "Note to self: Make this page so that ordinary users, who double-click on this page, can't edit this page..."

    And uh, I guess he hasn't fixed that yet. Wonder how long before someone decides to delete it all?
  • Personally.. i think this is a SMART move for a company, to not enovke the DMCA.. as another posted stated there only available in select cities.. well im in Canada.. and i can tell you ill have one in my hot palm by Xmas, as im sure most of my buddies will.
  • Dumb Joke (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anne_Nonymous ( 313852 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:45PM (#7460289) Homepage Journal
    That's not a Ritz hacker, that's a Ritz Cracker!
  • by Bendebecker ( 633126 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:47PM (#7460299) Journal
    Starting when someone sucessfully extracted the cheese from the middle of two ritz crackers. It was the first time in history that crackers sucessfully cracked other crackers, though I hear a few tried too hard and went 'crackers'.
  • by Pivot ( 4465 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:55PM (#7460344)
    is available here [prohosting.com].
  • by telstar ( 236404 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:03PM (#7460404)
    It's interesting to see so many people respond that this is a bad thing. How is this any different than people that hack their XBOXs to run Linux? You're essentially using a device differently than its intended use, and depriving the manufacturer of an expected revenue stream. What's the difference? I'm not saying that people shouldn't have the right to do whatever they want with something they buy ... I do ... but there seems to be a big difference in how the slashdot community interprets two very similar situations.
    • Just as I am very curious why there are always individuals on slashdot that question the integrity of the whole group based on reactions of (different) members.

      XBOX hacking good : YES (xxx %) NO (xxx %)
      Camera hacking cool : YES (xxx %) NO (xxx %)

      This is a forum, with many people, some agree with you, others don't (even on this point there will be people who agree and people who don't). Some may be hypocritical, but I don't agree with you on this point, where do you see the many people saying this is a bad
  • by acomj ( 20611 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:04PM (#7460408) Homepage

    Those film disposables are actually reuseable.. The film is in a normal 35mm cartridge.. The trick is the winding mechanism rolls the film into the camera when a shot is taken (most cameras do it the other way around). so reloading the camera is practically imposible and not worth it (you'd have to do it complete darkness)

    I'm surprised they didn't do something similar to the digital cameras. Don't make it imposible, just not worth the effort. I gues they didn't try hard enough.

    • I think the problem lies in that businesses use standard formats inside their "proprietary" system, meaning once the "outer layer" encryption and protection is broken, the hracker sees everything in plaintext. Clearly, in using a chip that is the base chip for other cheap digital cams, once the hacker reverse enginered the USB pin scrambling, the game was pretty much over as the rest was just a matter of following the tech docs for the chip.

      If Ritz had bothered to comission a modifed version of the chip th
  • Deja vu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Blue Master ( 675893 ) <wiesener&samfundet,no> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:06PM (#7460421)
    Hmm, anyone else remember the I-Opener [iopener.net]?

    A $99 computer with a proprietary (QNX-based) OS on a flash disk, that was sold at a loss because the company figured they'd make money from their dialup service... Until someone found the IDE connector on the motherboard and installed something else.

    Well, after a short war between the hackers and the company (including state of the art protection mechanisms as epoxy glue on the bios, torx screws, clipped IDE pins etc) the company finally had to raise the price of the unit, resulting in the sales plumeting, and in the end bankrupcy.

    Now, I'm not saying it's a bad thing to hack devices like this, heck I've got an iopener (running jailbait [sf.net] linux) standing next to my main computer. But there is a good chance that soon nobody will use the $11 developing deal, resulting in the cameras getting pulled from the stores.

    Just as there were lots of people happily using iopeners as they were intended, I'm sure there are lots of people happy with the service that Ritz is providing, and if so it's a shame if we, the hacker community, proceed to destroy yet another service for other consumers.
  • by cr0y ( 670718 )
    What kinda battery does this thing have in it? It would be cool if you could recharge it, but the work is worthless to take 25 or so pictures and to have to go and hack another one.
  • OK, so we can now read the data ourselves instead of paying twice as much to have Walgreens do it. But how reusable is the camera itself? Are the batteries replaceable? How long do they last?
  • by iamatlas ( 597477 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:14PM (#7460471) Homepage
    Now, of course I'm included in this, but for this article and accompanying comments, I can see the wheels not turning too quickly.

    How many people in society use disposable cameras? many hands raise How many of you know or care about taking a few hours to go to the lengths needed to get this hack done? few hands raised. To sum up for everyone crying doom for this business model:

    Hacking value for fun: 8 out of 10 points.

    Hacking value for ...um.... actual value: 1 out of 10 points.

    In short, RTFA if you think Joe and Jane six-pack will care about this. If you still think this matters to the business plan after readinging TFA, keep refreshing untill you slashdot it again and get the I'm stupid page.

  • I mean this is like breaking into the Louvre and stealing a crayon drawing
  • by irving47 ( 73147 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @11:29PM (#7461298) Homepage
    Found this on a messageboard... Camera autopsy / dissection [terrainhost.com]
  • by BillX ( 307153 ) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @11:38PM (#7461351) Homepage
    Actually, some of these points are not in the articles, and (not surprisingly) seem to be causing some confusion based on some of the comments I have seen above.

    1) The cameras are purchased, just like any ordinary (non-digital) disposable camera. There is no rental agreement, nothing to sign, no deposit, etc. Some previous comments have asked about this. Also, the camera IS cheap; the hardware itself costs probably no more than $25-50 to manufacture, and likely pay for themselves in 1 or 2 processings. The big draw is that you can use them in potentially hazardous environments, and if it gets destroyed or stolen, this only sets you back $11 + a few minutes to solder a new connector into a new camera.

    2) The batteries are changeable by the user - they are ordinary AA alkalines. They will last much longer than 1 25-picture cycle (I haven't yet managed to exhaust a set), but when they do run down, just open the battery cover and pop in fresh ones.

    3) The sensor is actually 1.3 megapixels, not 2MP as claimed on the package.

    4) The picture quality is mediocre - but not nearly as bad as these [terrainhost.com] samples would have you believe (I don't know what happened to that guy's cam). Try the samples here [cexx.org] and here [maushammer.com] (middle of page) for other samples. The biggest problem seems to be motion blurs from not holding the camera steady enough (the "shutter speed" is pretty slow). The other problem is that the lens is adjusted to be in-focus at some specific point probably between 4-12 feet from the camera. In practice, your subject will usually not be exactly at the in-focus distance. While you've got the camera open to solder in a little USB socket (or whatever), you can rotate the lens to adjust it for other distances [cexx.org], up to within [cexx.org] an inch of the lens.

    5) Concerns that this hack will be singlehandedly responsible for driving the cameras off the market, driving Ritz out of business, etc., seem largely unfounded. They will probably go off the market anyway - last time I was in Wolf Camera, the sales associates were actually warning people away from these cameras, saying that they would get slightly better image quality from the film disposables (for less $$, and 27 vs. 25 pictures - it's a no-brainer, come to think of it...)

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