Hotel break-ins blamed on flaw in keycard system

Back in August, I blogged about a presentation at Black Hat, where a security researcher named Cody Brocious presented a paper on a vulnerability in hotel-door locks made by Onity, showing a method for opening many hotel-room locks with a simple, Arduino-based device.

Now comes the first reported case of a hotel-room break in using this technology "in the wild." A Hyatt in Houston's Galleria district was broken into using this method, according to the hotel, which had not replaced its locks even though it knew about the vulnerability.

In a statement sent to me, a White Lodging spokesperson says the company became aware of the vulnerability in its Onity locks in August, based on reading one of the stories I wrote about Brocious’s lock-hacking technique over the summer. But White Lodging says Onity only implemented a fix for that flaw in its locks after the September break-ins at the Houston Hyatt, around two months after I first alerted Onity to Brocious’s work.

Following those September incidents, White Lodging resorted to plugging the port at the bottom of its Onity locks with “epoxy putty,” according to the letter it sent to guests at its Houston location. The hotel company says it’s now working with Onity to put a more permanent solution in place, either plugging the locks’ ports or replacing their circuit board at every location it manages. “We sincerely regret that these thefts occurred, and hope that measures we have taken satisfy your concerns,” reads the letter to guests from White Lodging vice president Thomas Riegelman.

Security Flaw In Common Keycard Locks Exploited In String Of Hotel Room Break-Ins [Forbes/Andy Greenberg]

Great moments in pulp fiction: "Lady, That's My Skull"

Cover scan link.

John Elmslie of Toronto shares this in the Boing Boing Flickr pool and writes,

Vintage paperback. "A Harlequin Book", Toronto, 1951. So Harlequin was publishing more than romances in 1951. The original paperback book is quite faded looking. The scanner pepped it up quite well, even though I hadn't asked it to. I'll have to look into that. :)

Meet Sveta, Pussy Riot’s perky, pro-Putin antithesis

In the NYT, a piece by Sophia Kishkovsky on Svetlana Kuritsyna, "the very antithesis" of the imprisoned protest-art group Pussy Riot. Sveta is described as "a disarmingly direct, red-cheeked, 20-year-old Putin supporter from an impoverished rural region" who stands out "for her very normality and has become an accidental celebrity after an innocent, and somewhat inarticulate, video interview in which she glowingly praised Mr. Putin." The clip became a meme, with more than 2 million YouTube views, she now has her own reality show.

Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi) on "pay what you want" show archives

In this Mother Jones video interview, Ian MacKaye, co-founder of Dischord Records, discusses why he decided to offer the Fugazi show archives on a pay-what-you-want scale, but did not offer them online for free. Here's a longer-form text piece about MacKaye at MoJo.

A visceral, passionate, politically astute post-punk band that spurned music industry conventions, capping ticket prices at around $5 and insisting on playing for all-ages crowds, Fugazi won over hordes of loyal fans and helped kick off a nationwide movement of DIY bands and record labels. Fugazi and Dischord were living proof that starting your own band, making your own records, and booking your own shows worked. "It was the label that was very exciting at the time," says Ian Svenonius, whose former bands the Nation of Ulysses and the Make-Up released several albums on Dischord in the '80s and '90s. "It had a staunchly anti-commercial outlook and it was explicitly independent and local."

MacKaye at Dischord HQ (photo: Mother Jones)

Collaborative critical study of one-line BASIC program written for the Commodore 64


Nick sez,

Remember those BASIC programs you typed into your C64? Now there's a book written about one. And the program is only 1 line. And 10 people wrote this book. As one. And they're not lunatics but teach at MIT and USC and other fancy places. And they even wrote programs to study it.

10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 is a book of Critical Code Studies that looks at the code and culture of a 1-line program that ran on the Commodore 64. This book uses that 1-liner to explore BASIC programming culture in the 1980s and to reflect on its role in inspiring programmers to take the next step. By Nick Montfort, Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost, Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. Marino, Michael Mateas, Casey Reas, Mark Sample and Noah Vawter

10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 (Thanks, Nick!)

Tor Project is hiring support assistants and translators

Runa from the TOR project sez, "We are hiring support assistants and translators who can help us handle support requests via our ticketing system and our new Q&A website, as well as make sure translations for software and documentation are up to date. We are looking for candidates who are fluent in one of Arabic, French, Mandarin, Burmese, Vietnamese, Spanish, and English. All must be fluent in English." Cory

Raising money for "American Commune," a documentary about The Farm

SF writer Spider Robinson sends along this Kickstarter for "American Commune," a documentary in production about The Farm, a famous hippie commune in Tennessee, being made by two women who were raised on The Farm as small kids, then moved to Los Angeles. They need to raise $50K to finish their post-production (they've already shot and edited the movie, with the help of Emmy-winning editor Michael Levine).

I have a couple of friends who are ex-Farmies, and they're some of the sweetest folks I know. I'm sure that's not a coincidence.

In 1970, 300 hippies founded a commune in the backwoods of Tennessee and set out to change the world. Members shared everything, grew their own food, delivered their babies at home and succeeded in building a self-sufficient society. By 1980, The Farm had 1,500 members and hosted 10,000 visitors a year. Their socialist experiment sowed the seeds for many of today’s most progressive movements, including organic farming, natural birth, vegetarianism, and solar power. Countless reporters—everyone from Dan Rather to Walter Cronkite—have covered The Farm in news segments, but we are the first insiders to tell our story.

American Commune (Thanks, Spider!)

Aelita, Queen of Mars: Soviet Science Fiction film from 1924

In vintage ad archivist Paul Malon's excellent Flickr stream, I stumbled on this beautiful Soviet film poster for a film titled "Aelita."

A quick Googling revealed that this was for the motion picture Aelita, Queen of Mars, which Wikipedia describes as "a silent film directed by Soviet filmmaker Yakov Protazanov made at the Mezhrabpom-Rus film studio and released in 1924 (...) based on Alexei Tolstoy's novel of the same name."

Some describe it as the USSR's first sci-fi flick. Archive.org has the entire 80-minute film available for online viewing here, though the quality isn't great. It's also on YouTube, and here's part one.

You can also buy it in higher quality on Amazon, and here's their review:

Read the rest

Adolph Hitler's I Dream of Ants

Lavie Tidhar writes, "Adolf Hitler's I Dream of Ants is World Fantasy Award winner Lavie Tidhar's graphic novel collaboration with British artist Neil Struthers. Originally serialised in the pages of now-defunct magazine Murky Depths, it is the story of a man named Adolf Hitler who becomes obsessed with the ants 'infesting' his suburban home."
Cory

Fantastic slow motion video of sprinting cheetahs

Few things are as fun as attaching a toy to a string and dragging it behind a jeep at 60 mph to videotape a cheetah chasing it.

Cheetahs are the fastest runners on the planet. Combining the resources of National Geographic and the Cincinnati Zoo, and drawing on the skills of a Hollywood action movie crew, we documented these amazing cats in a way that’s never been done before.

Using a Phantom camera filming at 1200 frames per second while zooming beside a sprinting cheetah, the team captured every nuance of the cat’s movement as it reached top speeds of 60+ miles per hour.

The extraordinary footage that follows is a compilation of multiple runs by five cheetahs during three days of filming.

Investor Jeremy Grantham: "We're Headed For A Disaster Of Biblical Proportions"

Enjoy these 14 depressing slides from a Business Insider article about investor Jeremy Grantham's report on exploding commodity prices.


"The ever-increasing-yield per acre, by the way, is the result of heavy fertilizer use. And most fertilizers are commodities, too (potassium, for example). So there's no infinite supply of fertilizers, either."

The other 13 graphs in the article (about oil, metals, crop yields) are also going in the wrong direction.

This Grantham dude is bumming me out.

Business Insider: We're Headed For A Disaster Of Biblical Proportions

Sponsor shout-out: ShanaLogic, font t-shirt, and big sale today!

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Russians enraged with bureaucrat motorcades creating massive gridlock on a daily basis

Russians are pissed off at Kremlin bureaucrats who stop traffic with frequent "blue bucket" motorcades.

From the Financial Times: “When you have to close down half the city so that some official can get to his meeting a little faster, you are understandably going to create dissatisfaction. They close the streets to everyone – to fire trucks, ambulances, everyone,” said Pyotr Shkumatov, head of an organisation known as the “Blue Buckets” devoted to “democratising” Russia’s roads. The name is a joking reference to the blue strobe light atop official cars.

In July, a woman in Kamchatka had her car sideswiped by a van in a motorcade apparently belonging to Mr Medvedev. The footage, recorded on Olga Kuklina’s dashboard camera and featuring her infant daughter screaming in the back seat, has been an internet sensation.

Ms Kulina said the federal bodyguard service blamed her for the collision until they realised she had filmed it.

According to an article in the Argument I Fakty newspaper about the incident, one official was overheard telling another: “If this bitch didn’t have everything on camera, we could do a 1937 on her,” apparently referring to the year at the height of Stalin’s terror.

Here's a GIF of a protestor jumping on a blue bucket car. The driver gets out and knocks the bucket off the protestor's head only to find that the protestor is wearing a smaller bucket under the first bucket!

Check out the Blue Bucket website for more videos of Blue Bucket motorcade abuse.

Popemobile available for rent: stags, hen nights, and photo-ops

The 1979 Irish Popemobile, an armoured car designed to exhibit the Pope on his visit, has been through a €60,000 makeover, and is now available for private hire:

According to a promotional pack, the vehicle has 15 seats, including the original “pope’s chair”. Mr Dunning plans to charge up to €300 an hour plus VAT for use of it .

He said the chair used by the pope was kept in his mother’s home in Greenhills, Dublin, while the vehicle’s makeover was completed.

“Nuns over from Rome were in my mother’s house to see it,” he said.

The promotional pack lists a number of possible uses, including “hen and stag [nights], debs and photo calls”.

Debs, hens and stags to make holy show of Popemobile [Irish Times] (via Memex 1.1)

(Image: Irish Times)

Mad Max meets zombies in indie Aussie movie "Wyrmwood"

Here's a seven-minute teaser for "Wyrmwood," an indie zombie movie from Australia that merges zombies with Mad Max. It's really a very, very good little short on its own, and convinced me to kick in $20 towards the production fundraiser on Indiegogo. I want to see this movie get made!

About two years ago my brother and I came up with the idea to meld Mad Max with Dawn of the Dead and make the best zombie film ever produced in Australia. Cut to now and we’re about a third of the way through the film and still going strong.

We’ve assembled a cracking cast & crew of disgustingly talented actors, filmmakers & make-up artists who are all working their guts out in order to deliver a piece of ‘Oz-ploitation’ cult cinema that will sit easily next to the likes of Evil Dead, Bad Taste & 28 Days Later …

WYRMWOOD: An Aussie Zombie Film (Thanks, Sam!)