By now I am sure that you have read about the untimely demise of the Canadian research project known as HitchBot. Brendan Spaar was following the robot’s journey across the United States of America and was sad to learn of its fate in Philadelphia earlier this month.
In case you were wondering if the City of Brotherly Love had something against robots, radio station 93.3 WMMR is here to set the record straight. The radio station has created a robot pope named PopeBot in an effort to spread the gospel of robots to humans that may not understand them. Residents of Philadelphia will be graced with its presence this week and should be able to have all of their non-working electronics healed by “His binaryness.”
While PopeBot looks a little like HitchBot had a baby with a laundry basket and pool noodle, this effort is picking up where the previous robot left off. You can follow PopeBot’s journey on Twitter and can catch him at landmarks like Charley’s Philly Cheese Steaks restaurant and local bars.
Anyone that’s used a computer regularly has probably experienced a frustrating “oh no” moment when the computer decides to slow down, lose your data or just generally make life a lot more stressful than you’d like. While we’d all love to do something destructive to it so we’d feel better, few of us ever do. The exception to this is a man from Colorado Springs, CO named Lucas Hinch. He decided to put the computer and himself out of it’s misery.
It seems that for months Lucas Hinch had been fighting with issues with his computer. After taking it for as long as he could, Hinch took the computer into an alley and fired 8 shots from his handgun into the computer. While he might have felt better after doing this, he has now been cited by police for discharging a firearm within city limits.
It seems like it could be considered premeditated. Definitely sounds like a crime of passion. Brendan Spaar has gotten frustrated with computers in the past but never to that extent. Maybe Hinch thought he was dealing with “Hal” from 2001 Space Odyssey. Whatever the reason, Hinch will face a judge to explain his actions. Let’s hope the judge has experienced similar computer issues and will be sympathetic.
Most of us use our printers for normal everyday things like printing resumes, copies of important papers, or making flyers about that dog you found. Well, Brendan Spaar found that a UK security researcher has taken the Canon Pixma wireless printer to a whole new level. Before you buy your next printer you might want to see if it will do what this Canon Pixma did.
Michael Jordon (no, not THAT MJ) is a security researcher who wanted to demonstrate the security problems surrounding devices that would form the “internet of things”. The Canon Pixma wireless printer can be accessed by using the internet so you can easily check the device’s status. The web interface has no user name or password on it,” he said. That meant anyone could look at the status of any device once they found it,
At first, the remote access feature didn’t look like a problem, until Mr Jordon realized it was possible to update the printer’s firmware, via the interface too. Even though the firmware was encrypted,he found it was possible to crack this protection system to reveal the core computer code. Reverse engineering the encryption system used by Canon also meant that if Mr Jordon wrote his own firmware the printer should accept it as authentic.
Of course this made Mr Jordan curious to see what he could do. So he came up with a plan to try to get the Doom video game to run on the printer. He believed that successfully running Doom would prove that you could control the printer. Being a video gamer and security researcher gave him the skill and determination necessary to spend the time to make it work.
The printer has a 32-bit ARM processor, 10 meg of memory and even the screen is the right size but it was a coding problem to get it all running together. The biggest problem, he said,was that the printer’s firmware lacked functions provided by the operating system on any PC or other device it was running on. A version of Doom does exist that runs on Arm processors, but a lot of coding and trial and error was needed to convert this so it could handle the quirks of the printer.
This wasn’t a quick and easy hack. It took months of writing code and testing in his spare time, and he finally got it to run two days before he was due to give a speech about the project at the UK’s 44Con hacker conference.