This work got a boost from the recent introduction of Xbox "mod chips"-black market add-ons that can be soldered to the Xbox main circuit board to defeat copy-protection measures and enable the unit to run unlicensed software. A Microsoft representative said the company is considering legal action to shut down the makers of mod chips, which also make it possible to run pirated copies of games. Sony has shut down several operations that were making mod chips for its PlayStation 2 console. For now, though, the chips are welcome shortcuts for hackers around the laborious task of breaking down the Xbox software bit by bit. "The mod chips have already opened the door halfway when it comes to developing homebrew software," says David Becker (no relation to this writer), an upstate New York college student and Webmaster for the Xbox Power site.