The Wall Street Journal today brings us an amazing story of a few smart engineers, a couple of big-money backers, and one enormous hardware hack. But today's tale of Libyan rebels and a few international telecom experts hijacking the Libyana cellphone service from strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi's government isn't just another chapter in an ongoing story. It's poignant--perhaps even prescient--reminder of the way 21st century technology is reshaping the geopolitical landscape.
It has become inevitable. A day or two after a high-profile gadget hits stores, two stories pop up on the gadget blogs, the tech sites and magazines: A review, and photos of the gadget taken apart, most often courtesy of a website called iFixit. The latest and most evolved actor in the storied history of "teardowns," iFixit is the logical conclusion of the entire idea of stripping a gadget down to its barest components, photographing and disseminating the findings. An iFixit teardown is at once a 21st-century repair manual, a work of art, an exhibition of a curiosity, and an activist gesture.
White-hat hackers (that's the good, helpful kind) Michael Gough and Ian Robertson have created an Android app that's capable of breaking into the very popular cardkey-type door locks with a single click. It's not foolproof, since it requires some information about each cardkey system that not everyone will have, but it's still pretty amazing/uncomfortable.
The app (which is not in the Android Market, so don't even bother looking for it) is called Caribou, and relies on a vulnerability in these sorts of security systems that allows them to be unlocked remotely. It's actually a surprisingly lo-fi sort of app: You have to input the IP address of the system you're trying to hack, and then the app will perform a brute force attack (basically trying every single possible combination) until it lands on the correct one. Then the app will unlock the door for 30 seconds while you scoot inside the not-so-secure door.
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 02.21.2011 at 10:37 am 2 Comments
Gambling just to win silver coins can get boring. Instead, play for a perfectly crafted cocktail. The BarBot was built by a team from the hacker collective NYC Resistor as part of a hacking competition co-sponsored by the videocontent company VIMBY and the carmaker Scion. The group started by buying a decommissioned slot machine from Japan on Craigslist. They added graphics to give it a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas theme, figuring that would be the perfect way to tie together gambling and booze.
Johnny Lee wanted a telepresence robot, but he didn’t want to pay thousands of dollars for one. So he did what any good hacker would do: bought a netbook, bought a roomba-like iRobot, and built a simple one himself for about $500.
If you thought Apple’s dictatorial stranglehold over the devices that you bought and paid for only extended to the company’s vice-grip control over its operating system and its app store, think again. According to the hardware hackers over at ifixit, Apple is switching to new kind of tamper-resistant screw that aims to keep you from dismantling your iPhone or Macbook at home, ensuring that the only person who can get at the guts of your device is wearing “Genius Bar” insignia.
Oliver Kreylos, the Kinect-hacking pioneer who you might remember from our earlier roundups, can't seem to stop pushing the Kinect's 3-D holographic capabilities. This newest hack involves two Kinect sensors, a virtual office, and, improbably, a Nintendo Wii controller, but the end result is pretty amazing: Holographic video chat in full 3-D.
The Kinect's more official uses, namely its games, have pretty much avoided tracking of individual fingers in favor of full-body tracking. That's fine for traditional motion games of the sort pioneered by the Nintendo Wii, but the Kinect has potential far beyond ping-pong and dancing games--and a lot of that future depends on finger tracking for more delicate controls. Luckily, MIT's Robot Locomotion Group and Learning Intelligent Systems teams took it upon themselves to show that the Kinect can absolutely recognize ten fingers and some relatively minute gestures.
"Anonymous," a group of hackers perhaps best known for their attacks on the Church of Scientology, have appointed themselves the protectors of Wikileaks. To that end, they've begun a full-scale attack on those who have harmed Wikileaks in the past. This is no cute hacker's mission--it's a full-on crusade that has already taken down Mastercard.com.
The holidays are here again, and with them all the usual trappings: joy, good cheer, and the crippling fear that someone might be harboring explosives in his or her nether regions. But don’t let the TSA bogart all the intrusive holiday fun; you can build your own handheld microwave body scanner at home, ensuring the safety of your holiday guests. All you need is a feedhorn for a satellite dish, an optical mouse, and a handful of other low-cost parts.