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Trump Dash Button speeds donations to ACLU

Jay MacDonald

While it didn’t take long for a socially aware techno-cat to cook up an ingenious response to the sometimes ALL CAPS feeds from America’s Tweeter-in-Chief, nobody saw the Trump rage button coming.

Credit that mic-drop moment to Nathan Pryor, a 41-year-old Vancouver, Washington, computer programmer turned witty freelance tech tinkerer. The subhead on Pryor’s website, HaHaBird.com, says it all: “Less Artsy, More Fartsy.” He credits a fellow Trump worrier with lighting this particular spark.

“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 wrote on Medium. “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?”

To calm his friend’s dyspepsia, Pryor decided to reprogram a “buy now” Amazon Dash Button, those portable, Wi-Fi-connected, credit card-linked household devices that reorder laundry detergent or snacks at the push of a button. He wasn’t the first to do so; hackers have been repurposing Dash Buttons to auto-order pizzas and other less-savory purposes for more than a year, finally forcing Amazon to release a programmable IoT (Internet of things) Button in 2016.

Armed with his programmable IoT Button, it fell to Pryor to figure out how to make automatic $5 donations flow seamlessly between button owner and the ACLU.

“Using a prepaid gift card so that my bank account wouldn’t empty if the script got stuck in some kind of infinite donation loop, I clicked the ‘Test’ button on Amazon’s site. Success!” he writes. “The button resides near my laptop now, and every press sends another $5 into the fight. Sure, I could set up a recurring donation every month, but then I’d lose the tactile thrill of the press, and I wouldn’t have learned my way around this technology.”

Pryor was happy to share with Medium readers the code he used to turn Dash into ACLU cash. Contacted via email, he also gladly responded to a couple of our questions.

Q: What has the feedback been like since you posted your “Trump button” piece?

A: The feedback has been mostly positive. So many responses along the lines of, “I need this! But I’d be bankrupt in a week.” A few negative from the other side of the aisle, but they’re welcome to follow the instructions and build a button for their own cause. I’ll even help if they have questions.

Q: Do you expect, fear or relish the thought that the Trump team may react?

A: I’d consider it a badge of honor. Called out in a tweet? You’d better believe that’s printed up, framed and hung on the wall!

Finally, how much has the ACLU raised through Pryor’s “donate now” ACLU Dash Button? The ACLU says it has no comment.

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