Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

7/27/2012

Steal a BMW in 3 Minutes

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, I’m not advocating that you actually do this!

But, in Europe, it’s already been done.
Apparently, the special key that costs you $160 for your super-secure BMW isn’t really all that much of a deterrent after all.  According to a story that ran recently on ExtremeTech, hacker-thieves have found a way to bypass the BMW security system and, in a separate step, decode the information needed to actually start the car without having the special, expensive key.  It seems that the on-board diagnostic port on the cars gives them complete, unsecured access to the data in the car’s computer, which allows them to get the codes they need to program up a new key and drive away in your very high-end car.  Interestingly enough, they’re able to do this because BMW is required by law to keep the codes and on-board diagnostic information unencrypted to allow competing firms to service the vehicles and not get locked out by BMW to form a monopoly.
Although the article focuses on BMWs, likely this is happening to other cars that use a similar technology and for the same reasons.  It’s just that right now, the expensive, high-end BMWs are what the thieves are stealing, and in fact they’ve always been popular targets for thieves due to their general popularity, so they’re getting all the attention.

Frankly, when I first heard about these “special” keys and ignition systems, I wondered how long it would be before they were subverted.  I just generally distrust systems like that, which operate over easily accessible networks.  Too many points of failure.  Anyway, check out the video in the link.  It’s pretty scary how quickly they can accomplish their goal of stealing the car.
But, what an amazing, real-world test of that security system!

So, how is this “fun” for a Fun Friday link?
Okay, it’s not really, but it seemed appropriate to share while I was out at DEF*CON in Las Vegas.  But, all you criminal types, don’t get any ideas!  My house is being watched and I’ll be back by the time that most of you read this!

7/20/2012

More Free eBooks!

Filed under: Art,Fun,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:11 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Well, at least if you’re a Kindle user.

Recently, I acquired an older Kindle from a friend who had upgraded and was in the process of shedding “extra baggage” before moving.  I’ve passed it on to the woman I’ve been seeing for the past several months.  (If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you already know this and her name.  And, if you’re not, you don’t need to know her name!)  She loves her “new-to-her” Kindle, of course, and has transferred her books from her PC Kindle app to her new device.  But, we’re both pretty cheap, so when I saw OneHundredFreeBooks.com I got excited for her.  This site, which is updated regularly, as in multiple times a day, shows you Kindle books offered on the Amazon.com US site for free.  Yes, free!
But, of course, prices change, so these books may not stay free.  The only thing the site owner promises is that they were free when he put them up for you.

So, what a great way to add to your Summer reading; free books!
And, you know, since it’s Friday, you know you aren’t really doing anything important, so you might as well go take a look at the books they have listed!

7/13/2012

Small Demons

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Today is Friday the 13th.

In the past, I’ve posted some of the possible history of the negative superstitions around Friday the 13th, but I’m not going to mention that today.  I think it’s unseemly, especially since I’ve already talked about the history and traditions surrounding Friday the 13th earlier in the year.
No, I thought I’d share something else.

Have you ever wanted to visit the restaurant in your favorite novel?  How about collect all the magazines they mention?  Or, possibly, even get some special item of clothing or unusual houseware item worn or used by your favorite character?  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a website that had all that little bit of data sliced, diced and indexed for your browsing pleasure?  Well, as it turns out, there is.  It’s a genius little site called Small Demons.  You need to sign in, but, so far, it’s free.  It’s a fun site with all the “stuff” in popular novels, including my favorites from William Gibson, with links to where you can find everything.  I mean, really, they have everything from restaurants to shops to particular brands to, well, everything.  Everything that’s branded or mentioned by specific location is pretty much there.  It’s brilliant.

And, what the hell, it’s Friday, right?  You weren’t doing anything anyway, so why not go check it out?

7/6/2012

Summer Reading

Filed under: Art,Fiction,Fun,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:38 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Don’t worry, I promise it will be a fun list.

Hey, remember when you were a kid in school and they’d give you a Summer reading list?  You know, those painful “classics” that we were forced to read because they were supposed be so good, but were really terrible to read because of the archaic language and tired, dusty old plots?
Well, these are nothing like that.

One of my favorite magazines, Wired, has put together a list of new-ish science-fiction and fantasy reading for your Summer vacation.  While I have to admit that I haven’t actually read any of these books yet, I can vouch for the authors who are all pretty much the latest thing in science-fiction.  (And, in some cases, the latest thing for the second or third time in their, hopefully, very long careers.)

So, if you manage to take some time off this Summer, grab one of these and give them a try!


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