66% or better

Hackit: Ideal conference badge?

assembly

In 2006, Defcon 14 premiered a unique electronic badge. All it did was blink, but it raised the bar for what was expected from a hacker conference badge. In 2007, they went from 2 LEDs to 95 in a scrolling marquee. Along with a POV mode, the badge had two capacitive switches to let the user edit the displayed text. Defcon 16′s badge featured an IR transmitter and receiver for transferring files from an SD card. It worked as a TV-B-Gone and had pads to access a USB bootloader. That was the same year that The Last Hope debuted their RFID tracking badges.

This year the official Defcon badge reacted to sound, but they were no longer the only game in town. Ninja Networks brought their 10 character party badges with a built in debugger. The Arduino compatible HackTheBadge 1.0 also made an appearance. With these new entrants into the field, we wondered what you’d want to see in your ideal badge. What badge would you want to see at next year’s Defcon? Leave you comments below and keep in mind that it should be an idea that is easy to cheaply mass produce.

UPDATED: Forgot to mention the Neighborcon 2 badge based on the GoodFET20.

[Photo: Ninja Networks]

Hackit: Boxee now on Windows

Boxee, the free media center management and streaming application, is now available for Windows platforms. We’ve been following the developments of Boxee since we first announced its alpha this time last year. At that time, it was only available for OSX with promised Ubuntu support. We were a bit skeptical about the interface noting, “Unfortunately all the dynamic resizing, animated, sliding, floating info boxes make it behave like the zooming user interface’s retarded cousin”. Our interest in Boxee was almost entirely based on it being a fork of XBMC, the media center project developed for initially for hacked Xboxes. It was interesting to see Boxee become the interface of choice for hacked Apple TVs and then go mainstream with a big push at CES.

Have you been using Boxee as your media center? What do you love/hate? What about alternatives like XBMC, Plex, or MythTV?

Hackit: Xbox 360 hardware failures on the rise?

e74xbox

Joystiq has been tracking the new starlet of Xbox 360 failures: the E74 error. It appears as the lower right light on the console turning red and an on-screen message telling the user to contact support with the error E74. The number of reported E74 errors seems to have risen since August 2008 and people are wondering if the more recent increase in errors are related to the release of the New Xbox Experience (NXE) Dashboard update. Did Microsoft reclass Red Ring of Death (RROD) failures as E74 to avoid warranty replacements? [Read more...]

Hackit: Consumer RFID

Touchatag

RFID seems to have invaded every part of our lives. Sure, the technology has been primarily used in government and industry, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have consumer applications. Recently, we posted about [max's] RFID dorm room lock, that he built to provide a safe, convenient way to access his room. A while back, we talked about an RFID spatially aware address book that used a combination of rfid tags and post-it notes to control the NFC enabled Nokia 3220 cell phone. Both of these projects highlight unique applications where RFID is used. We bash on RFID from time to time, mostly due to its security (or lack there of). That said, there is an interesting consumer solution out there for people who want to voluntarily use RFID called Touchatag (formerly known as Tikitag). The cool thing about Touchatag is that it uses a combination of RFID and QR (2-D barcode) tags to trigger applications on the Touchatag website. The starter kit, which includes 10 tags and a USB RFID reader, goes for about $40; a decent price considering the hacking potential for the RFID reader. In addition to using the reader, you can also use any NFC enabled phone to read the tags. While NFC enabled phones are currently few and far between, the technology will likely be implemented in many of the new phones released in the coming year.

We’re curious, what do you think is next for consumer RFID? What kind of innovative project ideas do you have?

Hackit: Hackable Bluetooth bracelet?

bluetooth-1

We spotted this odd piece of geek couture on DVICE today. It’s a bracelet that displays incoming calls via Bluetooth and also vibrates. The intended use is kinda interesting, but we wonder what else could be done with it. Could you update it with any text you want by creating fake caller ID messages? You could have your laptop in your backpack and have the bracelet update when it finds an open access point or any other sort of notification. The display shows the word “Connecting” in pictures, but apparently only displays numbers for incoming calls. It also includes a button to reject calls.

Do you have a project that needs a wireless display? Are there other options like this? At $25, this might be worth a try.

Hackit: DTV converter boxes?

zenith

An anonymous Slashdot reader asked today what was the best digital television to analog converter box. He was looking for one with the best hacking potential. We actually purchased a Zenith DTT900 HD converter box this summer specifically wondering about the hacking potential. We did a teardown and you can find a full gallery on Flickr. Our conclusion was this: there’s not much there. You’re talking about a box that takes a digital RF signal and turns it into a crappier looking analog signal over composite. There isn’t much you can do outside of its designed use. Do you have any ideas what else can be done with it?

Slashdot commenter [timeOday] did mention a Tivax brand box that features a serial port. You can use it to issue remote commands to the box.

Not much has been said about the actual coupons. We’ve got a scan of them embedded below. The $40 coupons are essentially credit cards. We ran ours through a magstripe reader confirming this. Even though the card isn’t stamped with the recipient’s name, it is stored on the magstripe.

[Read more...]

Hackit: Netbook haters?

eee

Gadget blogs have been a fluster the last day about TechCrunch stating that netbooks “just aren’t good enough“. Writing a response post hasn’t proven very hard given the number of factual errors in the original. Boing Boing Gadgets points out that the low-end of the spectrum that TC post seems to cover are almost impossible to purchase because they’re so outdated. Liliputing rightly states that comparing the browsing experience to the iPhone isn’t worthwhile since it’s entirely a software problem. Laptop goes so far as to recommend the HP Mini 1000 and Samsung NC10 specifically for their keyboard. TechCrunch isn’t alone in their opinion; this week Intel stated that using the ultra portable devices was “fine for an hour“. TechCrunch is designing a web tablet right now using the collective wisdom of blog commenters. Looks like they’re just reboxing a netbook for the prototype.

We cover the netbook market for different reasons than most: Their low low price makes people much more willing to hack on the device. For the price of a smartphone, you’re getting a fully capable laptop. The low performance doesn’t matter as much since we’re running different flavors of Linux that are much lighter than Windows. People running OSX86 are doing it to address a market that Apple doesn’t.

What’s your experience with netbooks? Do you have one that you adore or are you annoyed by their shortcomings? Models we’ve covered in the past include the Acer Aspire One, Asus Eee PC, Dell Mini 9, and MSI Wind.

[Photo: Onken Bio-pot]