HOPE badge proximity sensor

The HOPE conference was last weekend and [Nathan] spent some time with fellow members of Makers Local 256 developing this badge proximity sensor. They took one of the HOPE badges, which have a radio on board for the tracking network, and wrote code for its MSP430 to detect other badges nearby. It uses a Geiger counter they brought with them as an enclosure, re-purposing the analog gauge to reflect the level of active radio signals in the area. You’ll find their demo clip embedded after the break.

If you managed to get your hands on one of these badges, don’t be shy about sharing your hacks. We want to see them.

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Impressioning at LockCon

impressioning

[Steffen Wernéry] has published a video of the impressioning contest at LockCon. We learned about key impressioning at this year’s HOPE conference. You start the process by inserting a key blank into the lock. By turning the lock until it stops and then moving the key up and down you create marks on the blank’s face. Take a file to those marks to remove the extra material and then repeat the process. Once the pins are set properly, they’ll stop leaving marks on the blank. It takes a lot of skill to do this right, but you end up with a perfectly functional key. [Barry Wels] managed to win the competition in 5:30 with second place coming in at 6 minutes.

HOPE 2008: YouTomb, A free culture hack


YouTomb is a research project designed by the MIT Free Culture group to track video take downs on YouTube. To succeed, the team needed to track every single video on YouTube… which is close to impossible. Instead, they built several “explorer” scripts to track what videos were interesting. One explorer tracks all of YouTube’s lists: recommended, featured, most active, and more. Another explorer picks up every video submitted to YouTube, and a third crawls Technorati.

The explorers just find the videos; a separate group of scanner scripts checks the current status of videos. It checks both the new videos and ones that have been killed to see if they return. YouTomb archives every video it finds. They display the thumbnail of the video under fair use, but they’re still determining whether they can display each video in full.

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HOPE 2008: Methods of Copying High Security Keys


[Barry Wels] is well known for his lockpicking talks, but this year he wanted to talk about how he copies high security keys. If a key blank is available, you could make a copy just by viewing the original. High security keys generally have profiles with more side cuts, which means you can guess at how deep a specific pin is by observing how many cuts it crosses. He also showed that you could imprint your arm with the key and use that as a guide. If a blank isn’t available, you could fill a similar key with solder and file that down.

[Barry] showed two different kits for casting keys. The first used soft clay in a clam shell to make an imprint of the original key. The form is then filled with a low melting point alloy (probably Wood’s metal) to create the new key. A second style uses a metal form and two part silicone to create the mold. This method works for most high security keys, but will not work on keys with active elements like sliders or magnets.

Finally, [Barry] talked about his favorite method: impressioning. Unlike picking a lock, when you’re done impressioning you have a funtional key. You start with key blank and file off the top layer. Place the blank in the lock and turn it till it jams. Then, you rock the key up and down. Observing the key under light you’ll see a small mark where each pin is. File a bit where the marks appear and repeat the process. You can’t use too much force or you might break the blank. This also works on dimple keys and as this video shows, laser cut keys. [Barry] highly recommends the impressioning book by [Oliver Diederichsen].

[photo: Rija 2.0]

The Next HOPE announced


Against all previous indications-including being called The Last HOPE-the conference will not only be returning in 2010, it will be at the Hotel Pennsylvania. We’re looking forward to The Next HOPE, which will probably followed by The Last HYPE, which in turn will be followed by: We’re Super Serious This Is The Last HOPE.

HOPE 2008: Community Fabrication


Today at The Last HOPE, [Far McKon] from Philadelphia’s Hacktory presented on community fabrication. Over the last few years we’ve seen a lot of different accessible rapid prototyping machines created. There’s the RepRap, a fabrication machine that has achieved self replication; our friends at Metalab have gotten their own version of the machine running too. The Hacktory has recently acquired a Fab@home machine. Fab@home hopes to make manufacturing using multiple materials accessible to home users. Multiple materials means people have constructed objects that vary from embedded circuits to hors d’oeuvres. We can’t talk about edible prototyping without bringing up the CandyFab machine, which fuses sugar. The Hacktory has enjoyed their machine so far, but have found the learning curve fairly difficult. While it’s great to see the cost of rapid prototyping dropping, we’ll be much happier when the ease of use improves.

HOPE 2008: Wikiscanner 2.0


[Virgil] presented the next version of Wikiscanner at The Last HOPE today. To build the original Wikiscanner, he scanned the monthly database dump of anonymous edits and compared that against a purchased list of known company IP addresses. The 34.5 million edits account for nearly 21% of all edits. The idea was to unearth businesses and groups white washing critical pages. This only handles anonymous edits though. Users could log in to avoid having their IP reversed.

In the new version, [Virgil]‘s team developed a Poor Man’s CheckUser. If you spend too much time editing a talk page, your session could end and when you hit save it attaches your IP. Most regular users will then log in and remove their IP. They found 13,000 username/IP address pairs by searching for IPs being removed and replaced with usernames. These are some of the most active users. Using this list, they could potentially uncover sockpuppets or potential collusion by top editors.

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