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Tag Archives: Hacks

Hackers Break Kindle DRM


By Chris Scott Barr

How many of you actually appreciate having your legally-purchased digital media locked down by DRM? I’d be surprised if a single one of you said yes. The only thing it’s truly good for is aggravating the loyal paying customers. When you take away the DRM, people will still purchase the goods, as proven by Apple with iTunes. Amazon doesn’t seem to think along these lines, at least not with their ebooks. Fear not though, as you can now take those files you download from Amazon and strip them of their pesky DRM.

That’s right, a group has finally cracked the code on the AZW files and has provided the tools to convert them to simple PDF files. If you purchase an ebook, all you need to do is follow their instructions and you’ll have a file that you can actually do something with that doesn’t specifically involve the Kindle. Will this encourage piracy? Perhaps. However I think more people will be inclined to buy ebooks legally if they can actually use them on multiple (non-Kindle) readers.

[ I?Cabbages ] VIA [ Dvice ]

Hacker Hijacks A number Of Jailbroken iPhones, Requests Ransom


By Chris Scott Barr

There are a number of reasons why a person might want to jailbreak their iPhone. This list includes data tethering, using it on another carrier and running unauthorized apps. Of course if you aren’t careful, you could leave your device vulnerable to a rather simple attack. Recently a number of people discovered a rather troubling message on their jailbroken phones, informing them that they had indeed been hacked.

The message, seen to the right, was left on a number of people’s phones with a link to the hacker’s website. Originally the hacker was asking for €5 in exchange for a fix, though he has now simply posted the fix on his site. So how did he pull it off? It’s simple really.

He used port scanning on the T-Mobile network (in the Netherlands) to find iPhones running SSH. This is something generally necessary when jailbreaking an iPhone. Armed with the knowledge that many people don’t bother changing the default password, he was able to gain access to a number of phones. He then changed the wallpaper to make it look as though there was an SMS alert being displayed.

It’s good that the hacker changed his tune and made the fix available for free. It does bring up a very, very valuable point. Regardless of what we’re talking about, be it desktop, phone or server; change the root password!

[ mr09 ] VIA [ Ars ]

Encrypt Your Flash Drive With The Konami Code

By Chris Scott Barr

When you’re a geek, you tend to be creative about the things you do. You like to pay homage to the nostalgic geekdom of your youth when you can. Take this awesome NES controller hack. Sure, we’ve all seen someone put a flash drive into a game controller, but this guy takes it to a whole new level.  After all, what’s more nostalgic than the Konami Code?

Unlike ordinary flash drives, when you plug this one in, it won’t actually show up on your computer. That’s because the flash drive won’t actually get power until you enter the correct sequence of buttons on the controller. If you don’t know what that sequence is, then don’t even bother watching the video above. This hack is definitely one of the harder ones out there, but totally worth it.

[ Protodojo ] VIA [ Crunchgear ]

8 Lines Of Code + 1 CD-ROM = Auto Baby Rocker

By Chris Scott Barr

I can do some pretty awesome stuff with my computer, however, I rarely use it to interact with other physical objects in my office. Generally, if you want to use your PC to move other physical objects, you need some fancy hardware and/or a good bit of programming knowledge. Of course, if you’ve got mad MacGuyver skills, you can use nothing more than an optical drive and 8 lines of code to rock your baby to sleep.

Alright, so it doesn’t provide the most smooth rocking experience, but it’s good enough to put the baby in the video to sleep. I’m not necessarily going to recommend this hardware hack for two reasons. First, if anyone else sees this, you probably won’t live it down. Second, you might damage your cup holder.

[ YouTube ] VIA [ Technabob ]

Netbook Battery Hacked Into iPhone USB Charger


By Chris Scott Barr

Have you ever needed to recharge your phone, or other USB gadget and wish that you could just use the USB ports on your laptop to do the trick? Sure, if you happen to be using the laptop at the time, you can plug it in, no problem. But what if you don’t want to mess with powering it on, simply to get a little juice for your phone? Well one enterprising modder decided to come up with his own solution. It’s not quite as simple as plugging into an available USB port, but it gets the job done.

This guy decided to take out the battery from his MSI Wind netbook and install a USB port directly onto it. The port is no good for data (obviously), but it allows his to plug in his iPhone and get a couple of charges off it. The best part is that he can still use the battery as normal with his netbook. Unfortunately he does have to remove the battery pack to charge his phone, which can be a bit of an inconvenience. Still very cool. This is definitely something we need to see on more laptops. I recall Toshiba having a few notebooks that charged gadgets while asleep, but I’d really like to see this sort of thing become a standard feature.

[ Prusadjs ] VIA [ CrunchGear ]

Ben Heck’s C64 Laptop – Revision 2

C64 Laptop (Images courtesy Ben Heck)
By Andrew Liszewski

According to his blog, Ben Heck has just completed a revision 2 version of his Commodore 64 laptop. The updated model includes the newer version of the 1541 Ultimate SD card ‘disk drive’ and USB and ethernet ports that are now open and easily accessible on the front of the laptop. The best part though is that the laptop will actually be auctioned off for charity (the American Cancer Society he believes) and Ben promises to post more details about how you can maybe make this your own as they become available.

[ – Commodore 64 Original Hardware Laptop Revision 2 For Charity! ] VIA [ TechEBlog ]

Maker Faire 2009: LCD Guitar


By Evan Ackerman

We covered Ben Lewry’s LCD guitar back in 2007 when it was a prototype, but here at Maker Faire we got to check out the latest version in person. The “LCDetar” took him 3 months to build at a cost of about $5000; it comes with a Wiimote built into the headstock that communicates with the visualizer built into the body of the guitar so that you can alter the patterns with a thrash or two:

Each guitar is a custom job, but you can contact Ben Lewry at Visionary Instruments for more info.

[ Visionary Instruments LCDetar ]

Mazda RX-8 Controlled Via iPod Touch

Jonathan Oxer’s RX-8 is equipped with a 3G connection running on a tiny little Ubuntu Linux system that’s always on. Besides turning the car into a 24×7 internet hotspot, it gives Jon the ability to access the car’s systems from anywhere in the world, and using an iPod touch he can turn the car on and off, lock and unlock it, and even pop the trunk. The browser based interface also gives Jon the ability to monitor engine telemetry, and even shows the position of the car on Google Maps.

As if that wasn’t enough, the car has an RFID reader mounted in the back right window, so when Jon walks up to the car, it reads an RFID tag implanted in his arm and then unlocks the door and starts the engine. This means that he doesn’t have to worry about someone stealing his keys, but he does have to worry about someone stealing his arm, which is just the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.

[ Geek My Ride ] VIA [ Hacked Gadgets ]

Alarm Clock Hack Puts Your Alarm Under Lock And Key

Saefty Alarm Clock (Images courtesy dylan2106 via Instructables)
By Andrew Liszewski

There’s no shortage of novelty alarm clocks designed to force you out of bed in the morning, but I suspect if you were to build one yourself, you’d be less inclined to smash it to pieces when it’s time to wake up. So head on over to Instructables where you’ll find a tutorial by ‘dylan2106’ that cleverly adds a key lock to your alarm, forcing you to get out of bed and find where you blindly threw the key the night before, in order to turn it off.

As an added safety mechanism, the modified alarm clock also uses the 9V backup battery to activate and power a loud buzzer in the event the user tries to foil the alarm by unplugging it from the wall. As is usually the case you’ll need to know a bit about wiring, soldering and electronics to pull off the hack, and in the end it seems like an awful lot of work when you could simply wake up on time by just going to bed slightly earlier. But where’s the fun in that?

[ Instructables – Safety Alarm Clock ]