Archive for June, 2005

The Digital Picture Frame / Walltop

Folks who know me in person know about my ongoing interest with ripping apart old laptops in order to build a digital picture frame. I’ve already built a prototype a few months ago which enabled me to experiment with a few things and find out what kind of show stoppers I could expect while building such a thing. One of my biggest issues with the old laptop I used in my prototype was that it would not pass POST (hardware boot) without having the built-in keyboard and mouse connected. This caused me some issues because of space considerations and having to work with multiple fragile ribbon cables.
I came across a posting by Christoffer JärnÃ¥ker today while reading through my RSS feeds. He definitely was thinking outside the box when he built his version of a digital picture frame. I took the time to pull apart most pieces of the laptop I used, but when I came across the keyboard/mouse issue I mentioned previously, my solution was to include them as-is in the frame, which took up a lot of space. Well Chris took a different approach that I wish I would have thought of. Realizing he would need to have the original keyboard and mouse connected, he decided to strip the components down to their bare essence. Internally, all a keyboard is made of is a thin sheet of plastic, like a piece of cellophane. Since all the parts will be assembled in a frame and the computer will be accessed through the network, we don’t really care if the keyboard and mouse are usable, we only want the motherboard to be able to detect their presence so that the unit will boot up. So, while I was pre-occupied with ripping apart the laptop itself, I should have thought about ripping apart some of the components, such as the keyboard, in order to furthur realize some space savings, as well as make the mounting of the parts more manageable.
So, thanks to some great ideas from Chris, I’ll be working on Version 2 of my Digital Picture Frame prototype this weekend.

Update: Adrian had exactly the same issues I’m having with the software side of my frame. His posting with his solutions is here.

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Wireless Security and Hacking, Redux

Wi-Foo - More info from Amazon
I was recently given the book Wi-Foo, The Secrets of Wireless Hacking as a present for my birthday, and I have been reading it extensively for the past few days. I have been involved with wireless security for a few years now, giving security talks to members of my community and helping out friends and family stay secure while enjoying the wonderful advantages of wireless computing. Over the past couple of years, I have slowly built up a small reference library of books related to wireless technologies and security. I even got involved in a small antenna building hobby which enabled me to better understand some of the ways RF works.
Upon reading the first few chapters of this book, I realized that this tome was different. The information contained within its pages wasn’t a re-hashed compendium of information that could potentially be gathered across the internet and spoon-fed to the reader. In this case, the author brings us along as the many vulnerabilities of wireless computing are brought forward, how those vulnerabilities are exploited by nefarious individuals, and the ever-expanding variety of tools availble to assist in exploiting these vulnerabilities are described.
Don’t get the wrong idea here; this isn’t the run-of-the-mill Howto put together from various information sources freely available on the internet. The authors take painstaking efforts to explain how the various wireless encryption/security options, such as WEP, WPA, LEAP, TKIP, PSK, etc, work, and how they can be defeated. The tools are not only defined, but described in relation to how they leverage and exploit the vulnerabilities and why they work.
As you can imagine, I’m definitely going to be reading this book from cover to cover. The information within is fresh and very comprehensive. While extensive in its depth, I still believe that this is an ideal book for anyone, from beginner to expert, who has a desire to better understand wireless computing technologies, its advantages and disadvantages, and how to protect oneself from evil-doers, out to take advantage of the stealth that wireless provides.

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Many Thought it would Never Happen

Pigs flew and Hell Froze Over. The Fat Lady not only sang, she leapt out of her office chair, partied till dawn, and lost her voice screeching like a madwoman somewhere on the Internet while surfing the night away.
After close to a year, I finally updated my site and hopefully begining a new ‘era’ of more frequent postings. Sure, many of you have laughed at me in the past, mocking my every mention of my work on the site. Well, I’m on a roll now; just a few weeks ago, I finally cleared out our garage after a couple of years of it being a huge mess of a storage area. The garage was something I wanted to get done for a long time, and now, I’m ready to apply that same level of dedication to this website.
Laugh if you wish; hopefully, I will have the last laugh.

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