Easter Egg Challenge


Often, hardware designers include nonfunctional additions into designs to make them feel more personal. Commonly known as easter eggs, these additions can often go unnoticed by the public for years. While taking apart an Atari San Francisco Rush: The Rock sound board, reader [Jason] noticed a hidden message on the PCB (see above). Other more recent hardware easter eggs include the inside of the Zune HD, which has the inscription “For our Princess” to commemorate a development team member who passed away, or the Amiga 1000 which features the signatures of the design team on the inside if the case (Pictures after the break).

What we want from you: We want to see the best HARDWARE easter eggs you have found or seen. Leave us a comment with a video, picture, or article that explains what you found, and possibly the background story behind it. Anyone can google easter eggs, and we all know about the easter eggs all over DVDs, video games, etc, but we prefer the kind you find when you are busy voiding your hardwares warranty.

Edit: good catch, that was the Amiga 1000 not an Atari 1000. Thanks to all the commentors.

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Surviving a hacker conference


With another hacker conference looming in front of us, it’s time to start thinking about hardware security. Hacker conventions have the most hostile network you’ll ever encounter. [Security4all] points out that 25C3 already has an extensive page on securing your hardware. It starts from the ground up with physical security, BIOS passwords, and locking down bootloaders. There’s a section on securing your actual OS and session. Finally, they cover network usage. It mentions using SSH for dynamic forwarding, which we feel is a skill everyone should have. We’ve used it not just for security, but for bypassing brainless bandwidth restrictions too. There’s also the more trick transparent version. Every piece of data you bring with you, you risk losing, so they actually recommend just wiping your iPhone and other devices before attending. It’s important to remember that it’s not just your own data at risk, but everyone/thing you communicate with as well.

Open source hardware inspires innovation

Technology Review turns the spotlight on the open source hardware movement. Open source hardware is hardly a new concept, but lately it’s been getting a lot more attention, with the help of magazines like MAKE and websites like Instructables. Chumby, a company that sells a modifiable cube with a screen, embedded computer, and a Wi-Fi connection, designed their product to be easily hackable. The openness of the product caused a community heavily invested in the product’s development to be created. The growth of such communities has also sparked interest from corporations such as Nokia, which is collaborating with MIT on open source video decoders. They recognized that opening up would cause development time to be reduced and provide greater flexibility, allowing them to allocate resources to other areas, including marketing and brand development. [Jamey Hicks], director of the Nokia Research Center in Cambridge, believes that the open source movement can even complement closed designs, as long as it’s handled appropriately. With greater access to sophisticated software tools and resources, the barriers to entry keep falling away, and it’s much easier for the world to discover the joys of tinkering and hacking.

[photo: Andreas Pizsa]

-hard plAYer- 8 bit tunes hardware player

For people who miss the golden age of Atari music, you can recreate the magic of 8 bit music with the -hard plAYer-. [Tolaemon] put a lot of thought and work into this hardware player. From the AY-38912 programmable sound generator, which used to be in old computers like the Atari or Colour Genie, to working with the YM file format, each piece is put together with the utmost care. [Tolaemon] also provides his design, firmware(ZIP), and parts list so that you can make your own hardware player.

[via Matrixsynth]

Arduino Duemilanove

The latest generation of Arduino hardware has been released. The Arduino Duemilanove (2009 in Italian) has the same form factor as previous generations. The specs are essentially identical to the Diecimila, but there have been a few changes to the hardware. The power source is no longer chosen using a jumper. A MOSFET and dual OPAMP have been added to the board to automatically selected between USB power and the external plug. Automatic hardware resets are optional now. Next to the USB port are two solder pads labeled RESET-EN. Cut the trace between them to kill the reset. If you ever want it back, just bridge the pads. The hardware was updated to correspond with the release of Arduino cofounder [Massimo Banzi]’s new book.

Defcon 16: Glimpses of the Network Operations Center

Wired’s Threat Level takes us on a photo tour of the Defcon Network Operations Center, giving a unique behind-the-scenes perspective of one of the largest computer security conventions. The Defcon Network Operations Center is run by a volunteer group named the “Goons”. They keep operations running smoothly and securely with both high and low-tech resources, like a Cisco fiber switch and an armed guard, to protect the router and firewall.

Name that Ware

Last month we mentioned [bunnie]’s Name that Ware competition where participants try to guess the functionality of a random bit of hardware. We thought you might want to see another example; pictured above is the June 2008 ware provided by [xobs]. You can see a high res version here and an image of the daughter card as well. Be forewarned that someone has already posted the solution in the comments. At first glance there are quite a few interesting bits: board is copyright 1991, the 8-bit ISA connector doesn’t have any data lines connected, just power, and it’s got a lot of analog circuitry. Take a guess and then check out the comments on [bunnie]’s site to see the solution.