Microsoft Redesigns the Apple iPod

The music is annoyingly reminiscent of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, but this video about what might happen should Microsoft re-design the iPod box is pretty funny. Apple, more than any other company I can think of has mastered the “out of the box experience”, which makes unpacking its products a truly wonderful and unique experience. If this has been a major factor in the company’s recent success is hard to say, but other tech companies like Dell and Microsoft have totally failed to match Apple’s design aesthetics.

Line Rider – My Favorite Flash Game!

There are a lot of great games that have been developed with Flash. Tangerine Panic and Flight of the hamsters come to mind as some of the most entertaining web browser diversions to date. Until now that it! Last weekend we had some pretty serious upgrades to do at work and while we were waiting for all our servers to pull themselves together, we found Line Rider.

Line Rider is a game where you design a track upon which a little sledding figure rides. You can throw him, catch him and wreck him. If you get him going too fast and pull him too hard around a corner, his little sled will crush beneath his weight. The game is designed in such a way that you can return to design mode and make changes to your track as often as you like. You can even save your track and come back to edit it later.

My track involved a lot of air and catches, but others have done some pretty amazing things by incorporating an interesting track with amazing artwork. This video is just one example.

802 – Hip Hop Vermont Style

Long story short, I do not like hip hop, but these two guys who wrote this song about living Vermont did an outstanding job of commenting on life in the Green Mountain Sate. The video was made entirely in Montpelier.

From a distance, Vermont seems like an idealic place that is pristine, progressive and filled with artists and craftspeople. While this is somewhat true, there are other, less attractive aspects as well. Being a rural state, you tend to get a lot of back woods types that are in love with the idea of “protecting” their property from imagined threats with ridiculously large arsenals of firearms and so on. Still, despite their vast differences, the most radical Vermont communist tends to get along fairly well with the most fiercely patriotic Vermont redneck in ways that you would never think possible. It’s a cool state, but not entirely without its annoyances.

Fly Your Motorcycle To Work

With my miserable 49 mile commute to work every day, I’ve been constantly wishing I had a way to turn my drive into a flight. The Moller Skycar has, of course had me dreaming since I first saw it, but its been vaporware so long that I have all but given up. Furthermore, there is now evidence that the company might be scamming investors, and with a price tag of$500,000 to $1,000,000, I can’t imagine buying one even if they hit showrooms tomorrow.

The Super Sky Cycle made by Butterfly Gyroplane, might just be the ticket though. It can take off and land in just a few feet, making it handy for flying to places that don’t have an airport. It can fly at a top speed of 100 MPH, meaning I could get to work much much faster than the 1 + hour it takes me now. An for the best part, you can fold up the rotors once you land and drive it in motorcycle mode to your final destination! I have to wonder if it will fit into a standard parking space.

My days of driving to work aren’t quite over though… I will still have to save my pennies if I’m going to pony up the $37,195.00 to buy one. Still, the Super Sky Cycle is the most promising alternative to driving I’ve been able to find so far.

Hat Tip: Roderick for the pointer!

Diebold Key Copied From Photo

Diebold makes electronic voting systems. In fact they make a lot of electronic voting systems! They advertise “Over 130,000 Diebold electronic voting stations are being used in locations across the United States to assist voters in exercising their most fundamental constitutional right: the right to vote.” With the 2000 and 2004 elections being shrouded in suspicion of voter fraud, you would think that Diebold would make every effort to ensure the security of their product. They have not.

The guys at Princeton have put together a video that shows just how insecure these systems really are. Aside from the multiple logical attacks that work against them, the ways to defeat the physical security are countless. They seem to use a “wafer-tumbler” type lock that can be easily picked in under 5 seconds. Don’t know how to pick locks? No problem. Just unscrew the bottom and you have access!

As if all this was not disturbing enough, Diebold had put a picture of the master key to these systems up on their online store and Ross Kinard of SploitCast used it to create a working key of his own. While this may seem difficult, it is not. Using the image, one can determine which key blank to use fairly easily. This is because there are really not that many key blanks in use; especially for “wafer-tumbler” type locks. Once the key blank is determined, all that is left is to figure out how deep make the cuts. This can be quickly determined by referencing the photo that was so kindly provided by Diebold on their online store. Granted, there are a few more details to be aware of, but anyone who has invested much time in learning how to defeat locks should have little trouble in figuring them out.

Ross writes:

I bought three blank keys from Ace. Then a drill vise and three cabinet locks that used a different type of key from Lowes. I hoped that the spacing and depths on the cabinet locks’ keys would be similar to those on the voting machine key. With some files I had I then made three keys to look like the key in the picture.

He then sent the keys to J. Alex Halderman at Freedom To Tinker.com who quickly confirmed that two of the three keys would, indeed, open the door to the memory card on the Diebold system. This video shows the key Ross made opening the voting machine used in the Princeton study:

Didbold has finally removed the picture of the key from their website, but it would seem that it’s too little too late. The picture is out there along with more than 130,000 voting machines on which a key made from it will work. It looks like this is one company that has some explaining to do!

DEA Agent Shoots His Own Foot


Zach showed me this video yesterday, and I just couldn’t get enough of it! I mean is there anything better than a cop standing around a bunch of school kids bragging about how nobody is more qualified to handle a handgun than him, and promptly shooting himself in the foot? I submit that there is not!

Actually I really can’t believe it! First, why would he bring a loaded firearm into a school? Secondly, how in the world did he manage to touch it off? Finally, how did we all get so lucky to have a video camera running when it happened? It seems like the stars just lined up this time. I know I tend to be hard on the cops, but the attitude that this guy displays really gets under my skin. So many times they take that annoying superiority attitude, and it’s nice to see that it finally came full-circle… Even if only this once.

Louise Trewavas Irons at 452 Feet

The Dive Girl crew won a special place in my heart the day they antagonized the DIR guys by releasing their Doing It Wrong “Stroke” T-Shirt. I’ve been trying to find one for myself ever since. So, it was with great joy that I realized that the Dive Girl herself, Louise Trewavas, reclaimed her extreme ironing record last month by ironing a shirt at 452 feet.

The extreme ironing underwater record was first set by the 39-year-old Londoner in 2003 with an impressive display of linen-pressing at 100m. Last month, however, Teignmouth-based diver John Rudolph challenged for the title by ironing a T-shirt on a 129m dive.

Not to be out-laundered, Louise Trewavas sank to new depths to reclaim her title. “Records are there to be broken, but the boys will have to do better than that if they want to beat me. Bring it on,” Louise says.

Hat Tip: ExtremeIroning.com