Xbox 360 Security

Ars has a short but sweet article on how the upcoming Xbox 360 is designed to be secure. I’m sure they thought that about the original Xbox, too, which they describe as being “hacked silly.” With as much processing power and I/O options as the 360 offers, I’m sure it will be hacked in short order despite any security they build in. Even if the hardware isn’t hackable, there will always be buffer overflows to exploit, like they did with the Agent Under Fire hack. Also, the SmartXX modchip team already has several Xbox 360 developer kits and have disassembled them. With any luck, we’ll have a 360 modchip at launch! Xbox Media Center 360 here we come.

Xbox 360 Security

Pacifist

It’s been a while since I’ve written about an application here, so I’ll start things up again with Pacifist. In a nutshell, Pacifist lets you explore and extract the contents of .pkg files, which are installed with Installer.app in the Utilities folder. It has proved valuable a number of times while investigating where a package has installed its files. Sometimes you may only want a specific file or component out of a .pkg, and Pacifict can pull this off with ease, as well.

Pacifist

iPod nano

Yesterday brought several new items from Apple, including a new iPod model, an iTunes compatible phone, and a slight upgrade to iTunes.

The new iPod, dubbed “nano,” is pencil thin but still sports the same features as it’s lager counterpart. The iPod mini is no more, and the iPod Photo is gone as well (or was the Photo part of the previous revision?). The new iPod lineup is simply: shuffle, nano, iPod, and U2 iPod. The nano is available in white or black. While I’ll have to see one in person to make the final decision, I think the black looks ultra sleek.

Apple partnered with Motorola to make the iTunes phone, however you can’t actually download music from the iTunes Music Store with it on the go. It just syncs music just as the iPods do, likely over USB. For the $250 the phone will run for, I’d much rather get a comparably priced iPod.

iPod nano

Inside Google Mini

AnandTech has a great little article on the inner workings of Google’s search appliance, Google Mini (a rackmount server which indexes your intranet). I knew for some time that the device existed, and I’d always been interested to know what’s inside and how you configure it. It’s worth a look if you’re curious. For all the Google related posts I do, you’d think by know I would have a dedicated category for them…

Inside Google Mini

Tagging Standards

Sites like del.icio.us organize data through the use of tags, which I think is a brilliant idea. However, I disagree with the occasional comment lamenting the lack of tagging standards. I think the absence of a standard encourages a diversity of categories, bringing in more related content that would not otherwise be found.

The idea behind letting users tag their own content goes beyond simple per-user categorization. The theory is that, when enough users have tagged the same piece of information, it should be possible to find similarities between tags and produce an “average” list of tags for that data. While some users may append not-so-common tags, if enough do, the popular ones will rise to the top with the rest and create a new commonly used tag.

I’m wondering, though, what cutoff should be used to gauge when a tag or grouping is “popular enough”? And what tag sample size is necessary to determine that, as well?

Tagging Standards

Ultimate Xbox HD Pack

While scouring Google for an image, I ran across this fantastic schematic of a way to get nearly every possible audio/video output out of the Xbox. It represents the bottom of the Xbox motherboard, where you would solder wires to the Xbox AVIP connector (the inside back of the Xbox A/V port). Using switches, you can control the video modes and get just about any format video you could possibly need from the Xbox.

Ultimate Xbox HD Pack

SmartJoy FRAG Insides

I recently purchased an Xbox SmartJoy FRAG PS/2 adapter to try it out, with the hopes of gaining some extra precision in Halo 2 (which I play less and less as my interest in Xbox modification grows). The SmartJoy does more than just connect the devices together — it actually emulates the signals an Xbox controller would be sending when you use the keyboard and mouse for movement. It allows you to play games on the Xbox as if it were a desktop computer game, moving around using the WASD key setup and mouse clicking for firing. While my long-range shots in Halo became much more accurate, close-combat and vehicle control suffered greatly. For now, I’ve switched back to my standard Xbox “S” controller.

Because I was curious how it worked, I opened up the SmartJoy to see what makes it tick. It’s nothing more than a Cypress USB chip and a programmed PIC microcontroller. The USB chip speaks the proper protocol to the Xbox (as the controllers and memory units are all just USB devices in disguise), and the PIC handles key programming and PS/2 interfacing. All in all, it’s a pretty neat little gadget, but not quite worth the $35 plus shipping from Hong Kong.

SmartJoy FRAG Insides