Weaponized Networked Printing Is Now A Thing

It’s a fairly safe bet that a Venn diagram of Hackaday readers and those who closely follow the careers of YouTube megastars doesn’t have a whole lot of overlap, so you’re perhaps blissfully unaware of the man who calls himself [PewDiePie]. As such, you might not know that a battle between himself and another YouTube channel which uploads Bollywood music videos has reached such a fever pitch that his fans have resorted to guerrilla hacking to try to sway public opinion towards their side. It’s perhaps not the dystopian future we imagined, but it just might be the one we deserve.

To briefly summarize the situation, a hacker known only by the handle [TheHackerGiraffe] decided to help out Dear Leader by launching an automated attack against 50,000 Internet connected printers. When the hack was successful, the printer would spit out a page of digital propaganda, complete with fist ASCII art, that urged the recipient to go on YouTube and pledge their support for [PewDiePie]. There’s some debate about how many of the printers [TheHackerGiraffe] targeted actually delivered their payload, but judging by reactions throughout social media, it was enough to get the message out.

While the stunt itself may have come as a surprise, the methodology wasn’t. In fact, the only surprising element to the security researchers who’ve weighed in on the situation is that this hasn’t happened more often. It certainly isn’t the first time somebody’s done it, but the fact that this time its been connected to such a high profile Internet celebrity is putting more eyes on the problem then there have been in the past. Now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag, there are even websites springing up which claim to be purveyors of “Printer Advertising”. Odds are good this won’t be the last time somebody’s printer starts running off more than TPS reports.

We here at Hackaday don’t have much interest in the battle for YouTube supremacy. We’re just pulling for Dave Jones’s EEVBlog channel to join [AvE] in breaking a million subscribers. But we’re very interested in the technology which made this attack possible, how likely it is we’re going to see more people exploit it, and what are we supposed to do now that even our own printers can be turned against us?

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Make Christmas Commercial Again With This Tiny TV Ornament

Readers of a certain age will remember a time when the Christmas season in the US officially kicked off after Thanksgiving. That was when advertisers began saturation bombing the communal mind with holiday-themed TV commercials night and day. Broadcast TV no longer holds sway like it did back then, and advertisers now start their onslaught in September, but you can put a little retro-commercialism back to Christmas with this 90s Christmas commercial-playing ornament for your tree.

The idea came to [SeanHodgins] after stumbling upon a collection of Christmas commercials from the 1990s on YouTube. With his content identified, he set about building a tree-worthy display from a Pi Zero W and a TFT LCD display. An audio amp and tiny speaker from an old tablet and a LiPo battery and charger form the guts of [Sean]’s TV, which were stuffed into a 3D-printed TV case, appropriately modeled after the TV from The Simpsons. The small fresnel lens that mimics the curved screens of yore is a nice touch. The software has some neat tricks, such as an HTTP server that accepts the slug of a YouTube video, fetches the MP4, and automatically plays it. We prefer our Christmas tree ornaments a little quieter, so a volume control would have been nice, but aside from that this looks like a ton of fun.

This isn’t [Sean]’s first foray into tricked-out ornaments, of course; readers might recall his IoT cheer-measuring Christmas ornaments from last season.

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Raspberry Pi Camera Built As Part Of Advertising Campaign

the-rpi-camera

Here’s yet another example of well targeted advertising. This camera built around a Raspberry Pi is a giveaway from Sprite. The “lucky” winner of the camera will have the pleasure of seeing the Sprite logo as a watermark on all of the images they snap with it. But in the right hands it’s a simple hack to remove that “feature” (they published the Python script that adds the watermark) or to just scrap the parts for another project. Either way, Sprite got us to say their name three times in this paragraph so the campaign worked.

The most obvious part of this build is the custom cast resin case that they came up with which is a gaudy cartoon-like monstrosity. It protects the case-less Raspberry Pi board, and mounts the Pi Camera board so that the lens is positioned correctly. The lipstick-sized module mounted in the lower back half of the case is a 2400 mAh portable power supply with a USB charging port sticking out the side. This makes us wonder, do you have to wait for the RPi to power up before snapping a picture? If the size and color didn’t get you noticed by everyone the shutter sound will. it shouts the name of the soda company whenever you press the shutter release button.

If you’re more of a high-end photography enthusiast this DSLR wedded with an RPi will be of more interest.

Webcam Eye-tracking Moves Robot-powered Skittles Candy

robot-powered-skittles

This is a great hack, and it’s an advertisement. We wish this were the norm when it comes to advertising because they’ve really got our number. Skittles enlisted a few engineers to build a web interface that moves robot-powered candies.

When we started looking into this we figured that a few robots were covered with over-sized cases that looked like Skittles. But that’s not it at all. What you see above is actually upside down. The top side of the white surface has one tiny wheeled robot for each candy. A magnet was embedded in each Skittle which holds it to the underside of the surface. The user interface was rolled out on a Facebook page. It uses a common webcam for eye tracking. When you move your eyes, the robot controlling your assigned candy moves in that direction. See for yourself in the cllip after the break.

So we say bravo Mars Inc. We love it that you decided to show off what’s behind to curtain. As with the Hyundai pixel wall, there’s a whole subset of people who might ignore the ad, but will spend a lot of time to find out how it was done.

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