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ex machina

something tells me that this isn't the last we'll hear of cuecat's continuing woes:
"Hackers quickly figured out the simple base64+XOR system used to scramble the CueCat's output, and wrote a Linux device driver for the scanner. Others launched web sites that could read the cat's output. Another programmer pitched in with a decoder written in skintight Perl code. Nevada engineer Stephen Satchell published a detailed analysis of the barcode cues themselves, and a Wisconsin hardware hacker physically dissected his CueCat and discovered a way to neuter the device's electronic serial number with a careful slice of an X-Acto knife. "The serial EPROM is easily accessible," said Michael Guslick. "By cutting one of the traces, that effectively disables the serial number."

Digital Convergence was aghast. "If people take over our cat and start using their own databases, the world becomes cloudy," says Mathews. "Our revenue model is being the gate keeper between codes and their destinations online."

By way of example, Mathews points to one hack, created by network engineer Michael Rothwell, that allows users to scan the ISBN number on the back of a book with the CueCat. "You could swipe a code, and it would serve up a page on But what if [the publisher] doesn't want it to go to, they want it to go to web site under their control... By the Linux community taking over and redirecting where these swipes go to, they were circumventing our software.""
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9/20/2000 11:06:00 PM 0 comments


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