The Future Of Annoyance


[Garrett] posted about ThinkGeek updating the Phantom Keystroker to support random capslocking. You may remember that [Garrett] built the Stealth USB CapsLocker for April Fool’s day. The tiny device would randomly turn on the victim’s Caps Lock. This update to the commercial product has inspired him to refresh his own design. He suggests few possible options: random inserts, erratic volume control, or random sleeps. He’s also planning on making it more accessible to hacking. What would you add?

44 thoughts on “The Future Of Annoyance

  1. Oops, I didn’t know my rant was hack-a-day worthy…now I *have* to do it!

    Basically I’m just going to make a CapsLocker with an ICSP header so you crazy hackers can do things against my conscience, like Alt-F4 and other destructive possibilities.

  2. How about making the device pop up outlook? Just like the internet key on many a keyboard… except that this is no accident while looking at porn! No! This should be porn activated… have it check the humidity in the room for sudden changes, and then open up outlook if it detects more saliva fueled fist banging through sound and moisture testing. Bah. It’ll never work. It’d be funny though

  3. How about a wireless remote to enable/disable at will? This way, the ‘victim’ will randomly complain about the problem, then it just ‘goes away’..

    Also, the ability to update the random inserts remotely..

    (“I’m watching you”)

  4. @medix: I have some miniature SMD IR remote receiver modules in my part box right now, for that exact purpose. :) They’re very sensitive so I don’t think line-of-sight would be necessary. But for true interactivity, you only need to buy a cheap wireless keyboard and mouse with the tiny USB dongle.

  5. Once upon a time there was a TSR virus for MS-DOS (I forget the name) that would monitor the typematic rate of the user and when the user sped up, it would randomly transpose two characters, making the user think that they had made a typo to correct. For people that normally type relatively quickly, this would be hard to detect and supremely annoying.

    It’s probably beyond the scope of a project like this since it’s unlikely that the device could monitor a keyboard’s buffer to do this, but if it could be done it would be a throwback to the genius behind the original.

  6. I think pressing a random letter would be nice, but only if another key was pressed (IE random keystrokes when there are no keys being pressed isnt convincing).

    control+A is a good one (will highlite all while typing, and the next keystroke erases it).

    F1 is another good one, I mean, with these problems, who wouldnt be flocking to ‘Help’?

  7. @sam: I had this problem with a version of Mandrake Linux I was running. Whenever I would type mount, it would always say I typed monut or moutn.
    However, I was rather new to the Linux scene, and I found out it was my PS/2 Keyboard and the offbrand KVM. Regardless, I wish I would’ve known about aliasing commands. It got pretty annoying after a few days.

    @will: The idea to add an annoyatron? Pure evil. I wish I had a dollar for every time I lost mine while it was on. :(

  8. Random words or phrases ‘typed in’ at random intervals, such as “redrum”, “help I’m trapped inside the disk drive” etc., or better yet it automatically loads up notepad and starts typing stuff in like there’s a ghost at the keyboard.

    Another would be to press the left & right arrow keys randomly, that wayyo u would end up with entsences lie thkis.

  9. I really like the ghostwriter idea. Make it so it only kicks on when the user hasn’t touched the keyboard or mouse for a long time. As soon as they touch the mouse or keyboard, have it quickly close out of notepad so that the user is left wondering what was going on with their computer.

  10. @ winfreak – I’d like to think your victim found the annoyatron, then moved it just to mess with your head… >:-)

    The ctl-a idea from wizzard1 is a good one, as is the random left/right arrows from haku – and that one would be better yet if there was a way to make it speed sensitive…

  11. Some kind of time delay. You press a key and a few seconds later it registers on the computer. Could be annoying for word processing! “omg my computer’s so slow. It takes 5 seconds to bring up a letter in word”

  12. wouldn’t it be nice, if the device could be plugged between the keyboard and the computer (does not work for notebooks). If you could listen directly to the keystrokes and alter them, that would open the door for much more subtle jokes or even for very useful applications like computer and os independent key macros.

    but i think it needs a bit more complex hardware to catch the keystrokes of the keyboard. you’ll need a usb host device or you have to analyze the physical usb protocol. Do you have any ideas how to do that?

  13. Back in the DOS days I wrote a TSR that toggled the caps lock at the system clock rate, 17 times a second. A coworker of mine used it to convince management that several obsolete machines were too broken to use and needed to be upgraded :-)

  14. Random:
    Sticky keys (shift 5 times)
    Windows-L > sleep. Sleeping takes too long, plus windowsL requires you to type in the password anyway
    Random page down/up
    Random insert(so ppl ovr their word docs)
    Random esc

    And that’s all the special function key combos I can think up now

  15. Remember it should only do what a normal mouse or keyboard do, so it doesn’t need special drivers and can be just plugged when nobody is looking.

    I would make it type strange “hacky” phrases like “FBI surveillance system activated – recording” or “Illegal activity detected – please keep still and wait for the officers to arrive”.

    If you work near the person a hack on a bluetooth keyboard would be better, as you could only strap one of those mini adapters like this:
    Today I saw one with a button for “driverless” pairing :P

  16. This device is nice and cruel! As Andrew mentioned I would have it do random key command shortcuts, maybe a switch that selects OS for the shortcuts would be a good idea (or some way for it to autodetect). I am not sure I would do alt-F4 and the other destructive strokes but having it popup the file explorer, start menu, system properties etc. at random intervals would be great!

  17. @cobolt- I like the idea of a type delay, in combo with a random letter insert or word insert they would think a bad virus is running on their computer, they might even go as far as to wipe their hard drive to “fix” the problem, and after all of that it still would be there, it would drive someone crazy!

  18. Randomly minimize programs, change contrast and brightness of screen, random incoherent error messages like “your constant visits to pornographic websites has loaded a plethora of viruses on your hardware”

  19. how about keeping a thesaurus on the device and replacing typed words with their equals
    very subtle, but would drive the writer insane in the estimation of his literacy – atleast until he figures it out

  20. Kill the screen for about 4 seconds about the time it would take someone to finally go to press the power button or make another action have the screen come back on then give it like 8 more seconds to do it again, but crank the volume this time and when it comes back on the victim will go to fix the volume only to have it mute and the pointer disappear and reappear somewhere else on the screen then for it to go back to normal and have it happen like an hour to a few days later. and in between kill the monitor on vowels and tab switch escape to open random windows only for 3 times thus causing a complete shutdown.

  21. How about some kind of code entry to trigger a blue screen? Or no keyboard at all… A little app to store random passwords they enter and pop up little malware like ad windows telling them that they are insecure and the last password they entered and to go buy some anti-keylogger software.

  22. How about some phrases like “i won’t type THAT in dude…”, “you’re so pervertet”(and then opening porn sites), “sorry, i wasn’t listening. What do you want me to write?”(first not typing in keys and then displaying this message)

    or no…. even better: chat bot like A.L.I.C.E that reply on every word or sentence you write!

    but things like alt-F4 or ctrl-alt-del or esc or ctrl-a and ctrl-c and then ctrl-v (at random times)

    yay why not a little code that turns desktop 180 degrees so its upside down (nvidia graphics can do so)

    pushing enter at random times

    inverting mouse direction

    making sound like mice gnawing on cable and then after few secs flickering the screen a bit or cutting internet connectivity or muting keyboard or mouse e.t.c.

    just shutting computer down via power-off

    forcing sound to turn up volume, playing a scream and popping up a zombie pic

    inverting colour

    changing date and time

    open random webpages like e.t.c.

    inverting keyboard so the button “A” is displayed as a “F” and so on (including esc, alt, F1-F12, numbers e.t.c.)

    there are loads of more ideas but writing them all takes me too much time ^^


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