You may recall that shortly after its launch, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 was hacked by the Chevron team, allowing users to install homebrew apps without a pricey developer account. Microsoft asked the devs to pull it down as the tool interfered with updating devices, but promised to work with the developers to officially support unlocking. Well, the day has finally arrived. Official Windows Phone unlocking is available for a nominal fee, and users won’t even have to void warranties to do it.
Hackers set their sights on cracking a new video game console just as soon as it arrives. Their tenacity can usually bear fruits within months of the console's release unless the machine happens to be the PlayStation 3, which has remained unconquered for more than 3 years.
But finally, a hacker claims to have sneaked past the PS3's supposedly inviolable defenses. The PS3's ramparts may have successfully fended against hackers and the prospect of unsigned code for “3 years, 2 months, 11 days” but it took an eminent hacker just 5 weeks to come up with a hack. The man behind the crack, George Hotz, aka Geohot, has a penchant for hacking impregnable gadgets. A couple of years ago, a 17-year-old Geohot became the first person to jailbreak the iPhone.
Hotz revealed on his blog that he cracked the PS3 using a combination of hardware and software hacks. Although he claims to have gained full read/write access and the power to “make the system do whatever I want,” Geohot is in no hurry to release his hack, which is avowedly quite unstable and needs some fine-tuning. "If I posted what I have now, people would get fed up with it," he told El Reg in an interview.
Taking DIY to a whole new level, Steve Chamberlin, a Belmont, California, videogame developer, rolled his own 8-bit CPU for an aptly named project he calls "Big Mess of Wires," or BMOW. The project took him 18 months, $1,000, and 1,253 wires to complete.
"Computers can seem like complete black boxes," Chamberlin said. "We understand what they do, but not how they do it, really. When I was finally able to mentally connect the dots all the way from the physics of a transistor up to a functioning computer, it was an incredible thrill."
The project began with a 12x7-inch Augat wire-wrap board with 2,832 gold wire-wrap posts purchased on Ebay for $50. Over time, BMOW came to encompass 1,253 pieces of wire painstakingly wrapped at a rate of 25 wires per hour to create 2.506 individually wrapped connections. More than just a prototype, Chamberlin has added a keyboard, LCD output, USB connection, three-voice audio, and VGA video to demonstrate a working computer.
For those of you in the San Mateo area, Chamberlin's BMOW will be on display at the fourth annual Makert Faire this weekend, May 30-31, as one of 600 DIY exhibits.