There are circumstances when you see something depressing or tragic in the news and you can't help feeling small and frustrated for not being able to do something about it.
Well, that is about to change after a developer hacked the Amazon Dash to let its owner donate $5 to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) every time he or she witnesses something bad.
Dedicated ACLU Dash
The Amazon Dash is primarily built to order you products such as detergents, macaroni, and candies when these supplies are depleted. Its physical button is programmed to automatically make an Amazon purchase once pushed. A virtual version is also available but all these buttons promise to get your ordered products delivered to your doorstep with one tap.
Nathan Pryor, a Canadian software manager, was inspired to use the device to help those of us needing to vent frustration or, more importantly, feel less powerless whenever a disturbing Donald Trump tweet gets published or when incidents where civil liberties are being trampled on gets reported.
"It was my friend Katherine who made the comment 'I wish there was an ACLU Dash button I could push to donate any time I read about the latest offense from Trump,'" Pryor said. "Her language was sliiiiightly more colorful than that, but it got me thinking: why reserve that instant gratification for physical goods? Why not push a button and do some real good?"
Amazon Dash Hack
Pryor purchased an Amazon's IoT button, which is a customizable version of the Amazon Dash. The device can be reprogrammed so you could create a button that suits your own need.
Unfortunately, the kit did not include any code for donation. Pryor, therefore, ended up creating his own script to automate the process of sending money to the ACLU.
Essentially, the script allows each Dash press to trigger a process that involves pulling the ACLU donation page, filling it with the user's personal details and their submission. Again, everything is automated so the process is fast. The donor will receive a text message if the transfer has been successful.
According to Pryor, the system is not yet fool proof so he used a prepaid gift card lest the button empties his bank account. This risk could happen if the script encounters an error that causes an infinite donation loop.
So far, Pryor has not met any glitch, receiving successful confirmation from ACLU for every push of the Dash button. If you are interested to try Pryor's Amazon Dash tweak, the code has been made available at GitHub. There is no word yet if he is planning to distribute or sell the hacked button himself.
There is, of course, a recurring ACLU donation option available. But, as Pryor noted, it will not compare to the experience offered by each button press. Indeed, you are rewarded with a satisfying click, reminding you that you are doing something to push back on issues that offend you.