Hacking+2600 magazine+coke machines=crime in San Diego County?

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I'm located in southern California, and have noted an interesting sequence of events;

1)In a Barnes & Noble bookstore, I notice a copy of "Hacker 2600" magazine, buy it, and then read an article in about the fact that most modern soda machines have an accessible "machine status" menu, that you can reach by pressing a special sequence of the push buttons on the front of the machine. Once in the menu, you can retrieve various reports of the status, including how much money is in the machine.

2)I walk accross the street from the mall where the bookstore is, and wait for the trolly at the station. I notice there is a soda machine there. I try out the "hack" and it works. No one was watching, but I stopped before attracting attention.

3)About a week later, I watch a news report about multiple robberies of soda machines in San Diego County, with a slighty different M.O. in the three parts of the county where they were robbed (i.e. sometimes a cutting torch to open the security cage, sometimes a prybar, sometimes an abrasive cutting disk.)

I think that nefarious types used the info to determine which machines to target for robbing. Each machine can apparently hold about $700. Ironically, the magazine editorial spoke about freedom of information, and the usefullness of hackers discovering errors et al in various systems and that what is done usually a "service" to the citizens of the world.

I think that that can be correct, but in this case, it wasn't. However, it doesn't seem that there is any self regulation, or ethical code enforcement.

Has anyone else here read that magazine, have any opinions on my little tale, or care to share thoughts on this topic?

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Joined: Aug 15 2004
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underlying fallacy

Yo,

If no soda machine had been robbed before publication of the article then a corrolation might be drawn between the publication and the brutal assaults on the dumb machines. But soda machines have been vandalized for coins long before there was computers or 2600 magazine. So there is a leap of faith in your logic: that the robbers are 2600 readers and targeted machines that held more money than other machines by reading the codes. But there is no evidence of that. I'm thinking desperate kid with a crowbar but then I've always been a romantic.

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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When I worked at apple, we ha

When I worked at apple, we had an old pepsi machine that if you jiggled the 2nd pepsi button at just the right time while it was dispensing a soda, it would pop out a second one. In fact you could keep doing it, but the timing was really tight. Well, I had a competition with another guy who had been trying for year to "get a six pack". The most he ever got was 5. One day my soda zen was perfeclty aligned and I got 7 before my maniacal laughter got out of control.

After that we kinda lost interest in the sport. Then on take your offspring to work day, I showed a 12 year old girl how to do the trick. 2 hours later tha machine was empty, and next week they put in a new machine.

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Hahaha!

Dr Bob... that made me laugh more than anything else today.

;D

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Joined: Dec 19 2003
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Greetings, You've m

Greetings,

You've made a correct observation: that more data would need to be collected to make a more informed determination. What was the robbery pattern like before publication? What are the patterns like for similar crime increases, but not directed at soda machines? What are the year to year, month to month, week to week and day to day patterns like?

However the reason that I brought it up at all was that then news reported that this was a marked increase in occurences of this crime, within less than a month.

"Romance"? I suppose that any emotion can be sublimated into any action or response. If a kid were "desperate" for money there is always a job in the fast food industry.

Mutant_Pie

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That's funny... it reminds me

That's funny... it reminds me about a candy bar machine in one of the university buildings where I grew up. When I was in elementary school/junior high there was one button on this one machine that if you pressed it fast enough repeatedly for about 5 seconds, the machine would not only give up a free candy bar but it would occasionally give you back change! Usually from 50-75 cents (back when candy bars were only 25 or 30). It was there for years and I was pretty bummed when it was gone. But yeah, you can't go to the well too often or else it spoils it for everybody.

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Re: That's funny... it reminds me

dead_elvis wrote:

That's funny... it reminds me about a candy bar machine in one of the university buildings where I grew up.

In the residence hall I lived in when I was in college, there was a soda machine in the basement that did a similar thing. It was only for a weekend, but you didn't even need to buy anything...every 5 minutes or so, it would plunk down about $.75 in change. I managed to collect about $10 from it just while I waited for my laundry in the dryer. Of course, come Monday morning it was fixed.

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Jon
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As note: 2600 has been publi

As note: 2600 has been published for 20 years. No open criminal organization will survive being open and public for that long. If I wrote and article describing how to tell if a store cash register had alot of cash in it or not, and then news reports tell if increases in store robberies, am I to blame? My method is very proprietary, but I'll share it here: buy something cheap to get them to open the drawer, then peek when they are making change. You'll know quite quickly if they have alot of cash in there. Don't blame me if robbers use this meothod of scoping the scene. It's an oversimplification, but you can't blame Ford when the bank robbers use a Crown Vic for the getaway car either. Criminals are criminals, and will use any information they can get to commit crimes, no matter where that info comes from. Thousands of people read the same article and likely never used or will use that info for crimes. We can't blame 2600 for the actions of a few criminal people.

This went like a rant, but people are very quick to blame others for a correlation of things that they notice. Is there really an increase in vending machine crime, or are you noticing it more now that it is a topic of interest after the article? Is it also being reported more in the news because of the article and the reporters feelt hat it is more newsworthy? Much if the news is subject to the personal whims of the stations and reporters in the name of airtime and print space.

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Association, correlary and logical falacies, real world example

I'm becoming more interested in epistemology; the theories of the nature of knowledge.

I should have stated in my first post: "The following association of facts comprises conjecture on my part."

Jon states;
"As note: 2600 has been published for 20 years. No open criminal organization will survive being open and public for that long."

It is true that the magazine has been published for that long. However, at least one person listed as contributer, Kevin Mitnick, has been arrested, prosecuted, and jailed multiple times. "Captain Crunch" the phone freak who used a tone generating whistle that was a toy prize give-away in boxes of Captain Crunch cereal to manipulate AT&T phone access computers, was jailed multiple times. The name of the 2600, refers to the sound frequency that the whistle generated, and in fact there is an ad selling the same type of whistle in the current issue.

The statement that no criminal organization can operate that long in the open is misleading if not false. Sin Fae (sic?), the political arm of the Irish Repulican Army, is the propaganda segment an illegal organization. Most of the poorer parts of Sau Paulo Brazil are controlled by drug gangs. There are several distinct parts of Los Angeles that the police don't want to enter without full tactical assault teams, and if a crime is perpatrated on you there, the first question that is asked is "what were you doing there?"

Information is a tool. Specialized information disseminated for those who covertly use other peoples property illegally, is currently protected speech. I think that it should continue to be so. It has academic and historic importance. However its' use and misuse should be accurately tracked.

Mutant_Pie

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Good reply. :) [quote]Infor

Good reply. Smile

Quote:

Information is a tool. Specialized information disseminated for those who covertly use other peoples property illegally, is currently protected speech. I think that it should continue to be so. It has academic and historic importance. However its’ use and misuse should be accurately tracked.

And a hammer is a tool. Specialized methods utilized by those who covertly break other peoples property illegally, is currently protected speech, ie. the news can report how a burgler used a hammer to break out a shop window. In other words, hammers can build, and they can break. It all depends on who is using them and for what ends. There is little reason to track sales of hammers just because they make it really easy to break windows. Rocks do so as well. Just as crowbars make it easier to open locked vending machines. The codes to gain info on vending machine contents can be found by semi-random button pushing. Just because something could be used for bad intents does not mean that is should be thought of in that light in every application.

I do understand your points about persons involved with 2600 magazine having had criminal pasts. They are a part of the organization, but the organization as a whole is not criminal, and has never supported direct criminal acts. There are cases where criminal acts could be interperted, but the very laws that they break could well be illegal laws in the first place. That is a discussion of another time, I guess. As for there being those former criminals invloved with 2600, I like the phrase "it take's one to know one" ie. Who better to cosult about what is could be used for good or bad than someone experienced with both?

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Only once did that pepsi mach

Only once did that pepsi machine give back change, and I felt odd keeping it. I didn't want any more sodas, so I put it int he candy machine.

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