Portable Wii

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Not content with Nintendo’s current portable video game offerings, fifteen year old hardware hacker [Xteaphn] (pronounced “Steven”) has come up with a series of hardware modifications to make a battery-operated Wii console. The hacked console features a folding laptop-like screen, which apparently includes the IR emitters necessary to make the Wiimote operate properly, as well as a set of tiny stereo speakers. To show how tiny the modified console is, [Xteaphn] provides size comparisons with thirteen- and fifteen-inch laptops as well as with a classic Nintendo Game Boy. The only potential hindrance to its long-term durability, as best as we can tell from the video, is that the battery pack and its associated connecting wires hang crudely off the back of the console like a sort of electric colostomy bag.

Check out [Xteaphn]‘s YouTube video after the break.

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Defcon calls for new CTF organizer

Kenshoto, organizer of the official Defcon Capture the Flag contest for the last four years, has stepped down from the position, and thus Defcon is looking for a new organizer for the event. If you’re highly competent, and maybe a little crazy, this might be your chance to step in and run one of the most well-known and prestigious hacking contests in the world. Please understand that the staff is looking for someone who wants to take ownership of the contest and make something new, unique, and challenging, and that Kenshoto has left extremely huge shoes to fill. Merely offering to replicate the existing contest and keep things mostly unchanged isn’t going to cut it.

If you’re up to the challenge, check out Dark Tangent’s post on the Defcon forums (which, for some odd reason, sounds strikingly like his 2005 post calling for a CTF organizer), where he comprehensively lays out what the staff is looking for in a new event organizer. If it jives well with you, get in touch with the Defcon staff, and maybe we’ll be covering your contest later this year.

High voltage cable inspection

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Have you ever wondered how they inspect high voltage cables without taking them out of service? Check out this video which offers a glimpse into the life of a professional high voltage cable inspector. There are parts of the job you’d expect—namely perching on the cable like a bird, trying to not fall off—but the part of the job you wouldn’t expect is the suit. This suit is made of 75% Nomex, to prevent it from catching fire, and 25% stainless steel thread, turning the suit into a wearable Faraday cage. Of course, because he’s got a Faraday cage mere millimeters from his skin, the cable inspector spends his workday surrounded by half a million volts.  To avoid electric shock, he equalizes the voltage potential between himself and the line before touching the cable.

Depending on your specific phobias, this video might make your job seem really dull… or really really safe.

[via Gizmodo]

Interview with an adware author

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Philosecurity has an interview with [Matt Knox], a former coder for Direct Revenue, an adware company which was sued in 2006 by New York governor Eliot Spitzer. The interview contains some interesting details of how the adware code worked internally: it created a Browser Helper Object, then ensured that the Browser Helper Object stayed up by creating a poller to check every ten seconds and regenerate the Browser Helper Object if it had stopped running. The poller ingeniously masked itself partly by exploiting Windows’ Create Remote Thread function to run itself as a series of threads instead of as an executable.

The truly fascinating bit of the interview is how [Knox] defies your initial suspicion that he’s a complete scumbag; he started off writing spam filtering software, was hired by Direct Revenue to do traffic analysis, started writing tiny bits of code to improve the adware, and eventually wound up knee-deep in the code.  [Knox] notes that you can get ordinary people to do incredibly distasteful things if you break those things into small enough chunks and introduce them gradually.

[via Waxy]

[photo: xcaballe]

Apple forces Wired to take down netbook OSx86 video

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Wired Gadget Lab has taken down a video made by [Brian X. Chen] in which he gives a brief overview and demonstration of how to install OSX on an MSI Wind netbook. This apparently didn’t sit well with Apple, who contacted Wired and complained; Wired agreed and removed the video. Frankly, we’re disappointed with Wired’s response. While they were technically posting content which is questionable at best—in the video, Brian mentions that this is illegal and that it would be a good idea to have a retail copy of OSX on hand, but then goes on to point out that you can also download the hacked operating system off The Pirate Bay, Isohunt, etc—the video in and of itself wasn’t illegal, and thus Wired comes off as susceptible to what amounts to bullying by Apple. We’re all about creativity and innovation, and stifling that innovative spirit has never worked well in the long run.

Fortunately, if you’re feeling like you’ve missed out on the video, don’t despair: Gizmodo has posted the video on their website for you to view and enjoy.

[photo: Brian X. Chen]

NoiseAXE minisynth

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The NoiseAXE is a miniature synthesizer based on the Picaxe 08M microcontroller.  Its operating principle is fairly simple: a conductive stylus touches the leg of one of eight resistors to play one of eight notes, while a photoresistor controls the amount of modulation, creating a variable vibrato effect.  While the synthesizer’s output is rather limited (the NoiseAXE isn’t exactly a Yamaha DX7), it’s still a pretty cool little project; you could use its unique sounds to add that gritty analog touch to your next electro hit.  Check out the video clip below to see and hear it in action.

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Robot that shovels snow automatically

Those of you that live in snowier climates will drool over the I-Shovel, a battery powered robot that shovels the snow off your driveway, saving you countless hours of backbreaking labor over the course of a single winter. Its inventors claim that, despite its relatively underpowered motor, it keeps the driveway clear even in heavy snowfall; the trick, apparently, is that the robot constantly monitors the amount of snow on the driveway and springs into action whenever a significant but manageable layer has built up. Unfortunately, the I-Shovel is still a prototype, but with any luck you’ll be able to actually buy one soon. If you’re impatient, of course, you could always try building your own.

[via Toolmonger]

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