iPhone Controlled Dorm Room Door

From Chris@localhost:

Life at MIT can be tough. With all the problem sets, and projects taking up time, when I come back to my dorm room to crash, I don’t want to waste time opening doors myself! That’s why my room is outfitted with an iPhone controlled hydraulic door opener and unlocker. Just tap the “iDoor” app on my phone’s home screen, and the door opens for me. Its 2009 after all, about time we stopped carrying around shaped bits of metal to open up locked doors.

(via Hack a Day)

How 4Chan Hacked the Time.com Poll

From MusicMachinery.com:

Looking at the poll results we see clear evidence of the hack. The first letters of the top 21 finalists in the poll spell out ‘Marblecake, also the game’. Evidence of precision hackery for anyone to see. And yet, Time says they rebuffed all attempts to hack the poll. Quoting from the time article: “TIME.com’s technical team did detect and extinguish several attempts to hack the vote”. Which leads me to wonder whether Time.com is being dishonest or is just plain incompetent. Considering Hanlon’s razor , I have to go with incompetence. (And if you have any doubt about Time’s incompetence, take a close look at the Poll. Notice that Oprah Winfrey and Ratan Tata have the exact same number of votes. That’s because they both shared the same ID in the poll. A vote for either one was a vote for the other. Same goes for Michael Bloomberg and Gustavo Dudamel. If you vote for one, you vote for the other.)

How did the hack happen? I’ve already described in great detail the steps that the loose collective known as ‘Anonymous’ took to hack the poll. This group probed for weaknesses in the poll protocols and wrote autovoters to stuff the ballot box with votes that would put the candidates in the proper order to spell out the Message, adapting as necessary whenever Time adjusted its protocol in a meager attempt to keep the hackers out. But two weeks ago, Time got serious about poll security. They modified the poll so that you needed to prove that you were human (via a captcha) in order to vote.

This instantly shut down all of the autovoters. Anonymous was offline – no longer able to submit thousands of votes per minute. And what’s worse, when the autovoters were shutdown, the Message ‘Marblecake, also the game’ soon decayed into a meaningless “mablre caelakosteghamm”. It seemed that Time.com had won – the Message would not survive the next two weeks of voting. But Anonymous didn’t give up, they considered it a challenge to restore the Message. Here’s how they did it.

Hackers discover how to download streaming movies from Netflix

It was just a matter of time:

Earlier this year Netflix announced a new service that would allow you to watch a limited number of videos online instead of waiting for the DVDs to come in the mail. The service is free with your regular subscription. If you pay $17/month for access to 3 DVDs at a time, you can watch 17 hours of video per month. If you pay $5 per month for access to 2 DVDs per month, you can watch 5 hours of video online.

There’s just one problem. You have to watch on Netflix’s terms. The video player is browser based, and the movies are encoded using Windows Media DRM. If you want to begin a movie now and finish it later, you’re out of luck. Or if you want to copy it to a portable device for viewing during your morning commute (on the train, not while driving, of course!), no soup for you.

Well, the smart folks over at the Rorta forums seem to have cracked the code, using Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player 11, FairUse4WM, and Notepad. The solution involves finding the URL of the video file, downloading it, acquiring the license key and then stripping the DRM. It’s a bit involved, and will probably take longer than just sitting down and watching the movie. But hey, it’s the principle of the thing, right?

Build a Cylon Roomba

Here’s how to make your very own Cylon Roomba. Like the projects in the book, this one doesn’t harm or permanently modify your Roomba. After you’re done playing Cylon with it, you can turn it back into a music box, painter, or even a vacuum cleaner (I hear they do that too). You don’t need the book to do this project, but it might help if you’re not that experienced with electronics and programming.

Soda Can Solar Panel

I’ve had a few days during the HMX build while I’m either waiting for parts or waiting for something to dry and had some free time. I’m not exactly one to sit and watch TV when I have nothing planned, so I set out on another project.

While I have electricity out to the garage now, heat has been an issue all winter long. Mattar graciously lent me his kerosene heater, which did an okay job of taking the bite off the chill. Insulating the garage would go a long way to help keep the bitter Vermont cold out, but that’s a project for another day. I decided instead to take advantage of the south-facing side of the garage and build a solar furnace to collect some of that sunshine just bouncing straight off my garage. My dad built one years ago and said he recorded a 110-degree temperature differential between inlet and outlet. And I had enough scrap materials around the basement to do something similar to what my dad built.