Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Well, we have been getting ample information here on cyber crimes. My readings related to cyber crimes gave me a chance to encounter some rather interesting informations about hackings. Tech knowledge is like a force. It can be used for good or for evil. And the greatest hackers in history are the ones who used their powers for good, to take technology to exciting places it was never intended to go. Well, I wish to throw some light on great hacks that were meant for good here(for a change.)

You can hack your TiVo, your AppleTV, your Canon PowerShot, or (of course) your very own PC to make it do things its creators never intended. But we can perhaps go even further in our list of history's top ten hacks. I've looked back to computing's earliest days to find the most inspiring examples of hacker brilliance—in our entirely subjective opinion, of course and it so happens that i found something as interesting as these hacks. And none of these hacks are crimes—or at least, they shouldn't be.

(1)Spacewar! (1961)

The PDP-1 mainframe was not designed to play computer games. Computer games were pretty much unknown in 1961. Then Steve Russell designed the first action-packed, graphics-based, shoot-'em-up game, controlled by the mainframe's front-panel switches. It was a hack, using the PDP-1 for a purpose it most certainly hadn't been intended for—and entertainment hasn't been the same since. Play it live today to re-create the glory.

(2)Saving Apollo 13 (1970)

NASA has made many brilliant hacks, but most of them have been about squeezing extra performance out of automated systems, such as the Mars exploration rovers, the Hubble telescope, and Pioneer 10. We'll give the prize to the hack that saved lives. After a fuel tank explosion severely damaged Apollo 13's command module, ground control and astronauts turned the ship's moon-landing module into a lifeboat, slingshotted around the Moon using the lunar module's tiny engine, hacked a system for removing carbon dioxide from the lunar module, and made it back to earth safely.

(3)The Internet Coke Machine (1991)

Back in the early '90s there was a fad for connecting soda machines (and one coffee maker) to the Internet. The idea was that from the comfort of your dorm room, you could use the Unix "finger" program to find out how many Cokes the local machine had, and whether they were cold, computer science students could avoid wasting energy by leaving their desks unnecessarily. The machine at the Rochester Institute of Technology had the best interface: It used graphics and actually let you buy drinks online. But as far as we can tell, the Carnegie Mellon machine, brought online in 1991, was the first of its kind.

(4)MIT's VU Meter (1993)

Hacking is basically part of the standard curriculum at MIT, so picking our favorite MIT hack was tough. Many of the student hacks just involve making fun of other schools or disrupting events, which seemed kind of boring to us, because we're stodgy old grown-ups. But we loved the 1993 hack which turned the top of a classroom building into a giant VU meter (volume units, which indicate signal strength, or loudness) that was synced to a Boston Pops concert. As with the Internet soda machine, a lot of people have turned office buildings into light displays since then, most notably Blinkenlights. But MIT's was among the first, and still one of the best.

(5)The Greasecar (1998)

With alternative fuels on everyone's mind, let's tip our hats to the Greasecar's creators, who run their cars on leftover fry oil. This isn't biodiesel; it's a car that smells like French fries. Engineer Carl Bielenberg first hacked a Volkswagen Rabbit to run on straight vegetable oil; the design was later modified by Justin Carven to run a $300 used 1983 Volkswagen Quantum on waste vegetable oil. Carven's company, Greasecar, now sells waste-oil conversion kits to anyone who wants to drive around smelling like a McDonald's advertisement.

(6)DeCSS (1999)

The battle between the forces of good and the forces of DRM is epic. The forces of good say that you've bought a DVD and should be able to play it on any device you own. The forces of DRM say no; they want you to buy the same content over and over again. Programmer Jon Lech Johansen, who helped write DeCSS in 1999, is the poster boy for the anti-DRM fight. DeCSS decrypts DVDs so that you can play them anywhere you like. Johansen has gone on to write all sorts of other un-DRMing code, including several applications to knock the protection off purchased Apple iTunes Music Store files.

(7)Ben Heckendorn's Opus (2000-present)

Ben Heckendorn is a genius at fitting square pegs into round holes. Specifically, he takes large, clunky pieces of classic computing gear and turns them into heartbreakingly beautiful handcrafted handhelds and laptops. His most famous project was the handheld Atari 2600 game system, but he's also turned an Xbox 360 Elite and my favorite classic PC, the Atari 800, into elegant laptops. His work takes attention to detail, a steady hand, comprehensive engineering knowledge, and a lot of time.

(8)TCP Packets by Pigeon (2001)

What's the slowest Internet connection you can think of? How about a 106-minute ping roundtrip? At 56 bytes per packet, that's 0.95 bps. That's a wireless connection, of course—by carrier pigeon. In 2001, a Linux user group in Norway decided to try to implement a joke protocol written in 1990 specifying how to transfer Internet data by pigeon. They pulled it off, but we're not too sure about the practicality.

(9)OSx86 (2005)

For years, crossing over between the Mac and PC worlds required either physically clunky coprocessors or logically clunky emulators. Then Apple switched over to Intel processors, which could have let OS X run on any homebrew PC system. Apple being Apple, its engineers wrote code into the OS so that only Apple machines could boot OS X. Enter the hackers. Within months, a team of pseudonymous hackers churned out software patches that create versions of OS X that will run on standard, homebrew machines constructed from parts you can buy at any PC retailer. They've tracked Apple's updates ever since. Although running a "Hackintosh" can involve a lot of code twiddling and software hacking, it's an exhilarating project.

(10)The Port-O-Rotary (2007)

I'm the cell phone guy, so I had to put a phone hack in here. Lots of people have tried to bring the classic midcentury rotary dial aesthetic into the cell-phone age, most notably Hulger, which sells a line of rotary-phone-style handsets for standard mobile phones. But Sparkfun's Port-O-Rotary ($199.95 direct) puts a full GSM mobile phone inside an authentic old rotary phone, with the dial, ringer, and even the dial tone still functional. We strongly suggest walking down the street while talking on one of these. It will draw stares. So, there you go. Those are the Ten Greatest Hacks of All Time. Hope it did open our eyes to another part of hacking which was manipulated for something more beneficial.:)



  1. OOOhh my god! that internet coke machine is really cool!thanx 4 d information...

  2. i like this post. very refreshing, informative and funny at the same time :)

    nadhirah na'iemah

  3. yeah, i found this info interesting n cool as much as gurls feel abt it too!
    guess it's worth publishing after all. :P

  4. i'm just amazed by all these hacks..haha..