The Origin Of Cut, Copy, And Paste

I’m always fascinated that someone designed just about everything you use, no matter how trivial it is. The keyboard you type on, the light switch you turn on, even the faucet handle. They don’t just spontaneously grow on trees, so some human being had to build it and probably had at least a hazy design in mind when they started it.

Some things are so ubiquitous that it is hard to remember that someone had to dream them up to begin with. A friend of mine asked me the other day why we use Control+X and Control+V to manipulate the clipboard almost universally. Control+C for copy makes sense, of course, but it is still odd that it is virtually universal in an industry where everyone likes to reinvent the wheel. I wasn’t sure of the answer but figured it had to do with some of the user interface standards from IBM or Sun. Turns out, it is much older than that.

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Share Your Clipboard Across Machines Using MQTT

Many of us regularly move from one computer to another for work, play, and hacking; every now and then finding yourself wishing you could copy something on one machine and paste on another without additional steps in between. [Ayan Pahwa] was well acquainted with this frustration, so he created AnywhereDoor, a cross-platform clipboard sharing utility that uses MQTT.

Some cloud-based solutions already exist to do this, but that means sending your private clipboard data to someone else’s server. Not keen on that idea, [Ayan]’s solution makes use of a MQTT broker that can run anywhere on the local network, and lightweight python clients to run on Mac, Windows and Linux. The client checks your clipboard at specified intervals, and publishes new data to a topic on the broker, to which all the clients are subscribed. The data is end-to-end encrypted using Fernet symmetrical key encryption, so the data won’t be readable to anyone else on the network. Currently, AnywhereDoor only supports copying text, but media is planned for a future version.

We like the relative simplicity of the utility, and see it being very handy for hackers bouncing between machines in the lab. Simple software utilities that solve a specific and real problem can are very useful, like a wiring documentation tool, or Kicad to isolation routing patchwork converter.

Hackaday Podcast 073: Betrayal By Clipboard, Scratching 4K, Flaming Solder Joints, And Electric Paper

Hackaday editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams review a great week in the hacking world. There’s an incredible 4k projector build that started from a broken cellphone, a hand-cranked player (MIDI) piano, and a woeful story of clipboard vulnerabilities found in numerous browsers and browser-based apps. Plus you’ll love the field-ready solder splice that works like a strike-on box match (reminiscent of using thermite to weld railroad rail) and we spend some time marveling at the problem of finding power cuts on massive grid systems.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Direct download (~65 MB)

Places to follow Hackaday podcasts:

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Copy And Paste Deemed Insecure

Back when Windows NT was king, Microsoft was able to claim that it met the strict “Orange Book” C2 security certification. The catch? Don’t install networking and remove the floppy drives.  Turns out most of the things you want to do with your computer are the very things that are a security risk. Even copy and paste.

[Michal Benkowki] has a good summary of his research which boils down to the following attack scenario:

  1. Visit a malicious site.
  2. Copy something to the clipboard which allows the site to put in a dangerous payload.
  3. Visit another site with a browser-based visual editor (e.g., Gmail or WordPress)
  4. Paste the clipboard into the editor.

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Type4me Is A Hardware Clipboard For Your Digital Copy And Paste Needs

type4me-hardware-clipboard

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and again we find ourselves wanting for a more extensible cut and paste experience. Most notably we’ve searched for something that makes is very easy to keep multiple things in the clipboard and paste them as needed. Although we’ve tried several software offerings nothing really made it up to grade, but this hardware clipboard looks very promising. [Luca Dentella] calls it Type4me as it functions as a USB keyboard.

The PIC 18F14K50 enumerates as a USB keyboard, allowing it to send characters anywhere the cursor is located. It sends whatever string is stored inside, with an optional return character at the end. In addition to its keyboard properties it also establishes a serial connection, which allows you to push new strings to the device. This setup does require you to do copy or type your strings into a serial terminal, along with one of four special commands which are parsed by the microcontroller. One of these commands allows you to save the string to EEPROM so that it will be persistent through a power cycle.

The pasting back to the computer takes a mere push of the button. We’ve embedded the video demo after the break. It’s in Italian but there are English subtitles. Near the end [Luca] shows off the device as a macro button for gaming.

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