Random Parcel Launches Steganographic Compulsion

A mysterious CD arrives in the mail with a weird handwritten code on it. What should you do? Put it in the computer and play the thing, of course!

Some might be screaming at their screens right now… this is how modern horror films start and before you know it the undead are lurking behind you waiting to strike. Seasonal thrills aside, this is turning into an involved community effort to solve the puzzle. [Johny] published the video and posted a thread on reddit.

We ran a similar augmented reality game to launch the 2014 Hackaday Prize solved by a dedicated group of hackers. It’s really hard to design puzzles that won’t be immediately solved but can eventually be solved with technology and a few mental leaps. When we come across one of these extremely clever puzzles, we take note.

This has all the hallmarks of a good time. The audio spectrogram shows hidden data embedded in the file — a technique known as steganography. There are some real contortions to make meaning from this. When you’re looking for a solution any little hit of a pattern feels like you’ve found something. But searching for the decrypted string yields a YouTube video with the same name; we wonder if they’ve tried to recover steganographic data from that source?

[Johny] mentions that this parcel was unsolicited and that people have suggested it’s a threat or something non-sensical in its entirety. We’re hoping it’s a publicity stunt and we’re all disappointed in the end, because solving the thing is the best part and publicity wouldn’t work if there was no solution.

The bright minds of the Hackaday community should be the ones who actually solve this. So get to work and let us know what you figure out!

Thar be Beer in These Walls

When you need a cold one and walking downstairs to your twin-keg refrigerator just won’t do, it’s time to break out the tools to deliver that frothy goodness where it’s needed. And so began [DaveLondres’] inspiring tale of piping beer through the walls of his home.

Now we know what you’re thinking… that beer is going to get mighty warm sitting in long lines from the fridge up to the ground floor. [Dave] thought about that too and designed a double-pipe system to overcome the issue. A run of PVC pipe for each keg connect the in-wall taps to holes drilled in the side of a second-hand fridge. An ingenious branching job yields an extra port for each run which was fitted with computer case fans to keep the cold air circulating. Plastic tubing is snaked inside of the PVC to carry the beer.

Rounding out the craftsmanship on this one is the inclusion of a plumbed drain to whisk away the drippings. If you’re not going to have a beautifully adorned chest-freezer-gone-kegerator in your livingroom this is the best alternative we’ve seen.

[via reddit]

Kitchen Computer Hides in Pantry Door


You might look at the images above and think “oh neat” and then go about your business. But you’d be missing a great motorized hidden computer build. We simply must insist that you click on that link and look at all that went into it. Do it. DO. IT.

Still here? Okay, we’ll give you the gist and then you won’t be able to help yourself. First off, [Designforhire] built that door completely from scratch using skills that your average hacker wields. At first glance you’d think it was a retrofit or done with serious woodworking tools (quality table saw, router table, etc.). This actually started with a simple frame out of 2″x3″ pine studs. This is faced with Masonite which was affixed with glue and brads. From there the upper half was outfitted with a dry-erase panel, and trim pieces were added.

Now the hack really starts to get interesting. The opening for the monitor and the keyboard are both motorized. An old cordless drill (borked handle and dead battery) was cannibalized for its motor which is run using the two black switches just above the left corner of the monitor. When closed, a dry-erase calendar covers the monitor and a blank panel keeps the keyboard secret. The computer itself is actually in the basement, with cables running down the hinged side of the door and through a hole in the jamb.

We didn’t see a video showing off the build, but you can satisfy that craving by looking back at the Kitchen HAL installation from a few years back.

Images carrying an encrypted data payload


This is a tidy looking banner image. But according to [Ian] it contains 52KB of source code. You can’t just read out all of that data. Well, you can but it will be gibberish. Before hiding the bits in plain sight he encrypted them with two different keys.

He’s using AES-256 encryption to keep his data away from prying eyes. But if that wasn’t enough, he also wrote a PHP program to hide the bits in a PNG image. Not just any picture will do (otherwise your eye will be able to see something’s awry). The post linked above focuses mainly on how to choose an image that will hide your data most easily. We asked him if he would share his techniques for actually merging the encrypted file with the picture and he delivered. Head on over to his repository if you want to take a look at the generator code.

Door hidden by bookcase is a marvel of DIY engineering

Taking on a giant build just to hide your shotgun collection may seem a bit over the top. But we couldn’t be more impressed with the project. [Korostelevm] did an amazing job of hiding a small closet with a bookcase-door. It’s something straight out of a Hardy Boys novel.

Possibly the most important part of the build is figuring out how to hinge all the weight a bookcase will carry. His solution was to use a set of four heavy-duty casters. He cut off the wheels from one pair and the mounting brackets from another. By welding the brackets on in place of the wheels he has a sturdy way to mount both the frame and the bookcase. When closed the unit latches using a strike plate and lock set from a door. This is connected to a book using some cabling and pulleys. As you’d expect, just find the right hard-cover and tilt it toward you to open the hidden storage behind. [Korostelevm] shows off the final product after the jump.

Continue reading “Door hidden by bookcase is a marvel of DIY engineering”

Dead HDD smartphone stand still holds secret data

We’ve actually got a few dead hard drives collecting dust so when we hear about a project that finds a use for one we perk up a bit. But we were somewhat disappointed when we discovered this was a smartphone stand, pen holder, and LED lamp in one. We just don’t have a use for this kind of triple-tasker. But wait… the dead drive has a secret. It still serves as data storage, if you know how to enabling the drive within.

As you can seen, [Samimiy] removed all the guts of the HDD, repurposing the platters and mounting brackets as the phone holder, and mounting plate for a couple handfuls of LEDs. The lamp portion can be adjusted thanks to the articulated based from a small desk lamp he had in his parts bin. The device receives power from the USB connector you can see in the upper right. That’s where the first part of the secret comes in. This isn’t just supplying power, it provides a USB connection to the thumb drive hidden inside the HDD case. But just connecting it to your computer won’t mount it. [Samimy] took the light sensor from an automatic nightlight and set it up below the pen holder. If you shine a flashlight down the hole in that piece of wood it will routed power to the secret USB drive causing it to enumerate on your system. Pretty clever! Take a look at his build video after the break.

We wonder if there’s a way to incorporate this light-based lock system into that mouse-mounted thumb drive.

Continue reading “Dead HDD smartphone stand still holds secret data”

This image contains a hidden audio track

This image contains a hidden audio track which you’re very familiar with. Well, it used to. We’d bet we messed up the careful encoding that [Chris McKenzie] used to hide data within an image when we resized the original.

He’s using a method called Steganography to hide a message in plain sight. Since digital images use millions of colors, you can mess with that color data just a bit and the eye will not really be able to pick up any difference. Each pixel has had the eight least significant bits swapped out for the data [Chris] is hiding. Since the image uses 24-bit color, the largest possible change (going from 0 to 255) in those bottom eight bits will only result in a color change of about 0.15%. And that’s only for one pixel; in most cases the change will be much less.

He shows his work, both decoding and encoding using Ruby, and even provides a one-liner which lets you playback the audio without downloading anything (just make sure you’ve got all of the dependencies installed). Never gonna give, you, up…

[via Reddit]