From a company that always thinks of the children!
Immediately after calculating the price.
A Bluetooth phone designed to evoke the carefree days of early childhood has been found to instead threaten the very adult prospect of being surveilled in your home. The phone is the Fisher Price Chatter Special Edition, a device that adds Bluetooth and a speaker to the smiling, brightly coloured, wheeled, rotary dial phone on …
That's modern education for you. Kids must be officially occupied all day long. Not a minute should be spent doing nothing, much less something that's not on the program. Parents are dragging their spawn to club after club during the week. Dancing, sports, horse riding, anything but having them at home where they need to create their own fun.
These kids have now grown up and are ruining the fun for their kids.
But hey, can't have a brat bothering you all the time, now can you ?
Couldn't be less true in *this* house. In point of fact, I'm glued to by son's xbox and playing forza horizon, whilst he is hiding in his room playing minecraft (java ed) on my old laptop. No phones or tablets in sight.
See? Much sharing and sociability :-)
"I think we as a species have pretty much run our course"
It has that potential, it used to be that kids ran around, climbed up and down trees, swung on a swing and played cricket ... all physical exercise that helped us strengthen and enlarge our muscles and bones, while keeping our weight down ... but nowadays kids sit on the sofa, post on social media and play Animal Crossing etc., on the TV or their phones.
The result may be weaker, fatter kids with finger problems and poor eyesight.
Shame on the lot of you in this thread.
First, this thing isn't really aimed at kids. It's aimed at nostalgic millennials. And yes, I mean millennials, because this thing isn't the Fisher-Price phone that us gen-x-ers had, ours had wood in it and wasn't quite as annoyingly cheerful looking.
And so what if it was aimed at kids? Here's a little secret: Kids have phones now, and there's nothing wrong with that. Stop it with the bemoaning "lost childhood" crap. I'm over 50, and do you know what I had as a kid? A PHONE. Sure, it had a cord on it, but it was a phone, and it really made calls. I also had walkie-talkies, and by the time I was 10 I had a computer.
I'm sorry you were so deprived as kids that you only had sticks and rocks to play with, but the rest of us grew up with technology.
(And as Americans, we had guns too. I was 6 the first time I fired a gun.)
As a nostalgic millennial you are half correct and half wrong hence the even up/down. Whilst yes if I bought one it would be a novelty for me if my kids were still younger (we are only talking 7-9 years) I would not because they already had one that they both loved playing with.
As for tech I like you started from a very early age, mine was Atari/BBC Micro B and everything in between up to the age of the PC and DOS. I think what you are missing here is it's not about the tech it's the way it's being used. Sure I had computers but they weren't used as something to distract me. They were something I would play with and use for maybe a few hours a day (more if the weather was crap) after spending all day out and about and that's from a very early age. These days tablets and phones are used as a distraction so if the poor kid gets upset or wants something and the parents first response is to fire up whatever app or game and shove it in the kids face rather than interact and actually do the job of a parent. I see it all the time. That right there is the problem and what people are pointing out.
As for the gun. I don't think firing a gun at 6 is a good idea. We had pellet guns but real guns at that age? That right there is a Darwin Award in the making.
In the words of Monty Python (OK late boomer credentials): "Luxury! We had cocoa tins and string...etc.etc.". The fun with technology in those days was (and indeed still is) in trying to make it do what you want it to do instead of what its provider thinks you should want it to do (Thank you Bill G!). To quote Douglas Adams 'Very nearly almost but not quite like...'
Not really the best logic. Something could be a frivolous complaint today but not yesterday, and also vice versa. If there are reasons to believe it might be different this time it's still a concept worth discussing.
As an example of a reason to believe it might be different, let me point out that in the past most of this moaning has been largely inter-generational where older people whined endlessly about how the kids today are different from them. Different was automatically assumed to be worse, but it was really about how generations differed. Now take a good look at the posts in this thread, is anyone complaining about the kids or their characteristics? The kids aren't being discussed at all, it's the parents. This is a matter of people looking at the other people /in their own cohort/ and saying 'jeez we collectively shouldn't have been parents'. That, to my knowledge, is somewhat novel.
And let me give you a second reason, millenials are the first ones to be raised with all this crap available throughout youth to varying degrees, and thus have a first hand knowledge of how technology interacted with their own development. This knowledge is likely to inform a stance much better than that of anyone older than a millenial. The simple fact is that if you're an Xer, boomer, etc you have no clue what kids really get up to where they intersect with technology because in this case 'I was young once too' is at best irrelevant and at worst leading you down the wrong path.
>I'm sorry you were so deprived as kids that you only had sticks and rocks to play with, but the rest of us grew up with technology.
>(And as Americans, we had guns too. I was 6 the first time I fired a gun.)
Americans used to have a lot more disposable income than British people so of course you'd have more toys. This isn't necessarily the case these days -- there's a lot more debt and structural poverty stalking both societies. "Things" are a lot cheaper, though, so you may not notice it (until you come to buy a house, that is).
Guns are not unknown in the UK, they're just not such a fetish as they are in the US. Gun safety is important to teach children here (US) because of the number of accidental shootings that involve children. You never left loaded weapons lying around in the UK** but the message has been difficult to get over here -- people are obsessed with the idea that they can defend life and property so often keep a loaded gun in a drawer. This idea of home defense is a fantasy (as statistics and any PD will tell you) but its difficult to counter fantasy with facts. As for children owning or using guns, a child's first gun is likely to be a BB (as it was in the UK when you could buy such things); they're relatively harmless but still, to quote the movie,"You'll shoot your eye out, kid".
(**Back before Dublaine it was possible to get a permit for a privately owned handgun in the UK. Among the conditions of that permit was the requirement to keep the gun in a locked safe when not being used -- and to keep its ammunition in another locked safe, never with the gun.)
"Edutainment"- only if one operates like Humpty Dumpty in "Alice in Wonderland" for whom any word meant anything he wanted. 'Educate' derives from the Latin meaning 'to draw out", implying that innate talents can be brought into action by teaching. 'Entertain' derives from late Middle English, meaning 'to retain'. implying (now) to hold the attention. Neither 'edu' nor 'tainment' on their own mean anything at all.
Apart from which (but importantly) the idea that education is intrinsically boring and must be tarted up to make it acceptable derives exclusively from common experiences of lousy teaching. It has a hidden danger that eventually the amusement factor comes to dominate at the expense of learning. Commenting on the general approval of "Sesame Street" by educationalists, Neil Postman stated "we now know that 'Sesame Street' encourages children to love school only if school is like 'Sesame Street'" [Neil Postman, Amusing ourselves to death, Heinemann 1985].
Being bored and not being subject to constant stimulation is good, it allows you to just think and come up with ideas.
Also how does this prepare kids for dealing with call centres and ‘your call is important to us’ for 30 minutes.
Well I suppose this ‘toy’ does the latter?
I had clubs and activities as a kid but that might be judo on Monday night, archery on Thursday and swimming on Saturday morning. The rest of the time outside school and fmaily outings was all mine to do whatever I wanted, sit about daydreaming, playing or going out to play with my mates.
The problem is that we now have a generation of kids cacooned indoors and parents at their wits end with what to do, too afriad to let our little darlings outside to face rapists, murders, paedos and terrorists that the Daily Fail warns us about every day!
"Here lies the grave of 'childhood'. Taken from us January 2000.".
"Here lies the grave of 'childhood'. Taken from us January 2000.".
Born, 1838 (or thereabouts). For most, there was little "childhood" before the Victorian era. Actually having a childhood, and education, was a great advance for the human race. Such a shame it seems to be ending.
Not like the good ole days, where the Dad rarely interacted with their children at all (other than to give them a good smack),
Your comment reads like those left by 70 year olds on the Daily Mail website. It's a bit of a push to suggest leaving children outside pubs to "make their own fun" is better than them doing sport and dance clubs..
I take my child to softplay quite often. There weren't any such places when I was young. But I'd prefer her climbing in a place made for that rather than creating a makeshift sledge out of a cardboard box and breaking her neck riding it down the stairs.
I had a NES when I was 10, followed by an Amiga, so I don't see why you find phones/tablets are an issue now, generations use the different technology that's available at the time.
I don't think it is a toy. It's like a bunch of the Mario Brothers stuff, where some people assume it's for kids, but really it's for adults that are collecting Mario stuff. Same thing here I guess.
That said, who knows why it doesn't use a pair button like any headset etc. does. And why it would not cut the mic until the handset is off hook.
1000% true, my daughter now has the tech related stuff as she's more advanced for her age, but she also has the imaginative things where she sits for hours talking to herself and making up scenarios.
People think these are "cool" but in reality you are starving your child from early learning and being independent.
"Or go for the latex onesie! ------->"
Retro! I don't know what they wore in the UK, but in the USA my early 20th century ancestor wore a Union Suit until the day he died. (His son wore boxers until Y fronts were invented, then Y fronts until bikini briefs were invented --- oddly appropriate, given that he served at Bikini Atoll.)
Someone who actually founded a virtual telecom operator a decade back had apparently never encountered rotary dial phones, or even seen someone operate one in a movie.
"Yes, you stick your finger in the hole with the right digit, then you ROTATE the dial until your finger hits the stop, after which you let go of the dial which will rotate back. Just sticking your finger in and poking doesn't achieve anything."
I was at a friend's party a few years back, and the neighbors showed up. We thought they might have been concerned about the noise but they joined the party.
Then they asked about the phone mounted to the wall, said they'd never seen one and wanted to make a call (to their cell phone) on it.
"So, you've never seen a rotary phone?"
"No, I've never seen a landline."
I suppose it's likely true; stores may have a landline going to the building, but then would have it hooked to a portable phone base and be using the DECT cordless phones with it. Made me feel a bit old though!
not for myself but for the alledged production engineer sitting opposite me
Sneak over while hes off for a day, pair it with his smartphone, then replace his desk phone.... and let the mischief begin.....
Damn sure the boss will see the funny side of making him use a fisher price toy phone... as will anyone else..
...when they're about to hand a child a device that permits them to make and receive calls. Shouldn't that be what really sets alarm bells ringing?
(on the other hand, it would be great for adults who would enjoy trolling cow-orkers)
I'll bet it's not actually Strowger-compatible, clicks and whirrs and all, however. And it does look a bit weird with the extra * and # keys snuck on the end of the dial, that we never had in the olden days! At least it is a rotary dial, though, and not just push-buttons in the appropriate places on a non-moving "dial", as I have seen on some faux-retro phones.
I think we can be virtually certain that it's not pulse-dial capable.
(Chances are that unless it was in a museum you've never used an actual Strowger-type switch. If you're old enough you may have used a crossbar, but I'm over 50 and the first 1ESS was deployed before I was born, the vast majority of Strowgers were long gone.)
This old git has not only seen Strowger "in the field", but stood there in the room watching it do its stuff. Not to mention watching a Post Office (sic) engineer working on one section and explaining to me the clever tricks which routed the call to an Operator when "0" was dialled or to an Emengey Opertor when "999" was dialled. In those days,any call outside a local area had to be manually routed. (Some of the "local"areas - like the London Director Service) were quite large, but ours was something betwen 10 miles ant the closest and 17 miles at most, IRC.)
But then I am also (just) old enough to rember being in a house where the phone had no dial and all the local connection/routing was done by a human operator in a back room at the local Post Office...
As a kid I built a telephone exchange in the garden shed, Strowger pre-2000 type. Mum and Dad were less than impressed as their lawn mower and garden implements were exposed to the elements. I won't go into the stand by generator I constructed, just in case of power cuts.
We were connected to Morecambe Telephone Exchange (manual in 1973, with operators and no dial). We were on a "party line" - no not that type of party.
We shared the line with a neighbour off the same pole. To make a call you picked up the 'phone and listened to see if the other party were in conversation. If they were then one "should replace the receiver" and try later.
Needless to say as an inquisitive 14 year old I listened to Miss Warrington chatting about the price of corned beef to anybody who would listen to her. So I guess Fisher Price could market the toy as a "Party Line" and get away with it.
Come the 6th November 1974 at precisely 1.00 PM (dull Wednesday afternoon) the operators put through their last calls. We never heard from Miss. Warrington again.
All we got was a purring sound.....
There's also Tim Hunkin's The Secret Life of Machines series, which featured the Telephone in one programme. I recall the episodes were once on the web, but the last I checked was nearly 15 years ago.
I believe it covered why Strowger (who was actually an undertaker) invented an automatic switching system: he was losing business to a rival whose wife was a telephone operator.
Actually, I think these are the original original sources, also apparently provided by the man himself. And I think this is the site where I first encountered them.
And the videos appear to be mirrored:
In this case, getting the unsuspecting youngling(s) to type in a code into someone's laptop, or other nefarious activities.
The possibilites are endless!
Molly Guard won't work if someone can simply read back the code off the back of the router, or press the WPS button when asked.
Security problems aside I just find it really sad that children's toys are now almost invariably made of flimsy plastic and are not built to last.
My kids still play with some of my wife's old toys which are almost bomb proof, some of which were already hand-me-downs in the early 80s so they're easily over 40 years old.
I was truly stunned by this Twitter thread https://twitter.com/Foone/status/1454230585933631488?t=26v95n--FxciXetRjMFugg&s=07 recently, where the writer does a tear-down of a new version of the old fisher price record player.. It beggars belief that they have abandoned a really simple Clockwork music box in favour of a crappy little electronic speaker and fake music box sounds coming off a chip, of course immediately requiring batteries to function.
What's truly amazing is the big reveal at the end which shows how they've achieved a clockwork mechanism to make the fake plastic records turn.
I've just wrapped a BBC branded cuddly toy which has a sound box in it and comes with a warning on the box that the batteries have an estimated 6 month lifespan based on occasional use and are not replaceable!
I feel like there should be strict laws about this - if the manufacture really feels it necessary to put risky functionally such as Bluetooth into a child's toy then it should be compliant with a minimum set of safety and security standards (although I can't help thinking that a dumb toy would be a better idea), and non replaceable batteries should be illegal.
Needless to say: Challenge accepted! I may well find myself unstitching the toy and replacing the batteries just to stick two fingers up at them.. A bit like my recent repair job on a Christmas 'robot' biscuit tin from Debenhams which my wife loves. Not only did that practically require a can opener to reach the circuit but the 3x LR44 batteries had been riveted to the board for good measure!
A few years ago I bought some cheap plastic drinking glasses that have multi-coloured LEDs in the bottom. They light up when there is liquid in the glass. A surprise was the simple instructions on how to change the CR2032 coin battery in the base. Had expected it to be sealed permanently into the base.
OK, so it's slightly insecure, but it's a kid's toy, not a banking terminal. If memory serves, the old $15 walkie-talkies were also completely insecure, yet civilization continued on in spite of millions of kids calling in air strikes, X-Wings, and artillery barrages on an insecure channel. It's a kid's toy, don't be so serious.
Points away for security (lack of) but I can understand why they did this.
I make Bluetooth enabled equipment, and getting customers to understand how you pair things is really difficult. That's partly because every single computer's Bluetooth stack can be subtly different so we have trouble doing a step-by-step guide. For eg some Win10 installations on our computers have different ways of making it work, and one won't work at all for no very good reason.
The only way we've been able to make it simple for people is to provide a pre-paired dongle.
As I trudge through my 6th decade, I look at the millenials and younger....
... and I think, I remember when childhood taught them values, imagination, the need to work for/achieve something
As those have been ripped from the childs grasp, it's little wonder that the youth of today predominantly is made of of grown up sparrow hatchlings, unable to do anything for itself.....
Where's that asteroid? Instead of diverting it away, can we divert it here? We need a reboot.
We can and do know how to handle config.sys, autoexec.bat and totally understand what ibmbio.com and ibmdos.com are for. The difference is that we decided to create tools to free the world from mundanity and complex implementation details.
That’s why we’re the generation which works from home doing as little as possible to earn as much as possible. Why work harder when you can work smarter? I pity the Gen X’ers which put “independence” ahead of living a happy and comfortable life. They were had. The last generation sold their souls for a life of wage slavery on the promise of a great retirement, while we work comfortably knowing retirement is nature’s biggest illusion anyway.
…and Gen Z? They will likely inherit the 4 day working week and extra holidays for “mental health days” and I say all the more power to them. The great resignation over in the states is just a warning of changes to come. Hard work will be a thing of the past and rightfully so.
I figure that given that its likely to be used sporadically at a person't home because its a novelty item. Because of this I figure that if anyone's going to the trouble of bugging this phone then I've got more problems than an insecure Blutetooth connection between this unit and my mobile.
If you need secure phone calls then you need a secure phone. Common sense.
I want one for the neighbors and their annoying dog.... Take it over.... Woof woof woof! Send it into a frenzy ;-) Walkies! You want a treat?! Squirrel Squirrel! The possibilities are endless.
p.s. a long while ago a few friends and I were walking past a house where one of those little yappy dogs was having a woof attack in the window, we all woofed back like crazy and the thing was going nuts - was slightly embarrassing when the little old lady appeared at the window wondering what on earth was going on.....
I have few natural talent -- I can't sing, I can't dance and so on. But.....I can do a very convincing imitation of a dog bark. I can stop dogs -- at least ones that don't know me -- dead in their tracks because "there's some damn dog around here but I can neither see nor smell it".
Judiciously applied it can be a lot of fun.
Incidentally, I really like dogs. A bark isn't just a random noise that dogs make, its a bona fide communication. Dogs are experts at reading humans and devising ways to communicate with them. You can communicate back just as effectively provided you remember that you're talking to a dog so the intellectual level's not going to be that great (think "human toddler").
Those folks are used to having everything recorded by this point. Security flaws are rebranded as "convenience" features. Almost a non-story, nobody will ever notice. There will be two or five stories about some creepy stuff happening with the device, but you'd get those whether it was full of smartphone parts or was just a solid hunk of plastic. Maybe a YouTube video where the eyes look at the camera without anybody noticing somehow as the kid is using it. Meh.
I can only see it as a kidnapping deterrent, where you get locked up with an infant and you take it with you with the sole purpose of entertaining the child.
Then you entertain the police with your whereabouts.
Even so, it would be a convoluted way to make it work, with a real phone stashed near you, already paired with it.
Well... Pen Test Partners previously reported on the "My Friend Cayla" doll and other similar devices. Cayla was not marketed as a Bluetooth phone but did contain a Bluetooth headset with insecure pairing. They showed that it was possible for an attacker to access the headset and then to have "private" conversations with the child. It doesn't take much thinking to realise that this is the sort of thing (access to a child without parental supervision) that would be of interest to the most reviled sex offenders. The absolute lack of concern from Genesis the manufacturer of Cayla was shockingly complacent. The CEO stated "Cayla was basically the subject of a tech prank," and then refused to consider improving security of the doll. In consequence the German Federal Network Agency instructed parents to destroy the dolls as it constitutes a concealed espionage device which is illegal in Germany. The Fisher Price telephone will also be illegal in Germany for the same reason.
In the UK and USA the government don't seem to care if someone tries to groom your kids remotely.