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MIT Hacks XKCD Talk With AACS key 161

Posted by kdawson
from the hacking-101 dept.
Reader Hanji alerts us to a hack pulled off when Randall Munroe, author of the popular webcomic XKCD, spoke at MIT by invitation of the Lab for Computer Science. MIT hackers dropped hundreds of labelled playpen balls onto the audience from hatches in the ceiling. The labels bore XKCD's logo as well as the recently discovered 16-byte AACS processing key. At another point in Munroe's talk he was stalked by remote-controlled mechanical velociraptors; but fortunately he had been supplied with a squirt gun full of grape juice.
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MIT Hacks XKCD Talk With AACS key

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  • by evwah (954864) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:49PM (#19139135)
    thats better than being stalked by remotely controlled mechanical MPAA lawyers
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:49PM (#19139137)

    Ask a liberal to define the word "hacker" and he would probably give you a rose-tinted answer. To the liberal, a hacker is a harmless tinkerer. It's unlikely that a FBI agent would agree; nor would anybody who has to commute by air, drive a car, raise a family or pay their taxes.
    All sensible patriots should demand [shelleytherepublican.com] that these atheist hackers are sent to prison. (At the very least, they are suspicious and should be reported to the FBI for going to a "technology" college instead of Bob Jones University!!). I have a modest proposal to go further than the sober ideas presented in that beatiful and well researched article: those who have inflicted cyberterrorism on our great nation by illegally watching HDDVDS should be given the death penalty. This is the only way we can live through these troublesome times, when the rapture is near [shelleytherepublican.com], without losing to inferior and dangerous communist [shelleytherepublican.com] computing [shelleytherepublican.com] products [shelleytherepublican.com].
    • What was the name of that Internet "law" (more like an observation) that once you reach a point far enough to the political right, your viewpoint becomes indistinguishable from satire?

      I assume you posted this in honour of the late Jerry Falwell.
      • by Thundersnatch (671481) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @09:35PM (#19140447) Journal

        Extremisim in any form is pretty tough to distinguish from satire. For instance, it's hard to tell if the thousands of the inane "OMG Linux+OOo+Beryl rocks M$ is the sux0r!" posts here are satire or not. I hope at least some of them are.

      • by OECD (639690)

        What was the name of that Internet "law" (more like an observation) that once you reach a point far enough to the political right, your viewpoint becomes indistinguishable from satire?

        You're thinking of the law that "once you reach a point far enought to the political right, your viewpoint becomes indistinguishable from your liberal girlfriend's."

        Oddly, it's equally disturbing for both parties.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by compro01 (777531)
        What was the name of that Internet "law" (more like an observation) that once you reach a point far enough to the political right, your viewpoint becomes indistinguishable from satire?

        i believe you're refering to Poe's law:

        "Without the use of a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to make a parody of fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing."

        • by dreddnott (555950)
          Yes, that's exactly it.

          I think the reason I couldn't recall it was because I conflated the general concept of fundamentalism with the current political situation. The way it's actually phrased is much more universally applicable.
    • Well, to be perfectly precise, that's all a real hacker is. But those who released the key were crackers. Not to be confused with the fucking hilarious racial epithet.
    • by niXcamiC (835033)
      I find it amazing that of all the moderation that comment got, not one of them was +1 Funny.
  • LSC != LCS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:56PM (#19139203)
    The xkcd talk was hosted by the MIT Lecture Series Committee, not the MIT Labratory for Computer Science (which was merged with the AI Lab to form CSAIL a few years ago, and thus no longer formally exists).
  • by daranz (914716) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:59PM (#19139235)
    For some reason, I expected him to be really thin, and wearing a black hat.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:04PM (#19139289)
    how odd we don't see the two tags together more often
  • it's (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Mazin07 (999269)
    It's a little late to be jumping on the spread-the-AACS-key bandwagon, isn't it?
    • Never to late to pass on the solution to idiocy.

      Honestly, I wish the DRM enthusiasts of the world would get a clue. There is nothing you can try to protect digitally that someone can't break digitally. It's bits of data and there is always a combination of 1 and 0's that will open Pandora's chastity belt.

      • Re:it's (Score:5, Insightful)

        by inviolet (797804) <slashdot.ideasmatter@org> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @08:50PM (#19140111) Journal

        Honestly, I wish the DRM enthusiasts of the world would get a clue. There is nothing you can try to protect digitally that someone can't break digitally. It's bits of data and there is always a combination of 1 and 0's that will open Pandora's chastity belt.

        The greatest mistake anyone can make, is underestimating one's enemy.

        The RIAA is not stupid. They, of anybody, have money to burn on purchased expertise. They already understand that bits are inherently copyable. And they've been told many times that crypto will always fail in finite time when Eve is given the ciphertext, the plaintext, and the key.

        What DRM is, is their attempt to tilt the economics of copying in their favor. In the same way that we are attempting to tilt the economics of spam in our favor. In both cases, the root problem (copying or spam) is intractable... but it can be satisfactorily tamed by a change in the economics.

        By raising the cost (i.e. the hassle, the legil peril, the hardware requirements, the software expertise, etc.) of copying, and of receiving copies, above the price of retail media, they'll solve the problem enough.

        Yes, you've told us a thousand times that the problem cannot be conclusively solved, but everyone already knows that. They aren't seriously trying to do that. They're just trying to tame it, and they're succeeding. You are blind to this because you've underestimated them. You hang out here on slashdot talking about how stupid they are, but meanwhile BluRay is taking over the world, and most of your and my friends have closed down their bittorrent servers in fear.

        • by symbolic (11752)
          By raising the cost (i.e. the hassle, the legil peril, the hardware requirements, the software expertise, etc.) of copying, and of receiving copies, above the price of retail media, they'll solve the problem enough.

          That's will be an ongoing challenge, since at the same time they're trying to increase the cost of copying, they also have to overcome the tremendous wave of crap they've managed to continue dumping into the market. I envision one of those two-headed Escher-esque snakes.
        • And they've been told many times that crypto will always fail in finite time when Eve is given the ciphertext, the plaintext, and the key.
          Obligatory XKCD. [xkcd.com]
        • Re:it's (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Fred_A (10934) <fredNO@SPAMfredshome.org> on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @07:08AM (#19143403) Homepage

          The RIAA is not stupid. They, of anybody, have money to burn on purchased expertise.
          However large amounts of money with no in-house expertise also tends to attract large numbers of sellers of snake oil. Which has been amply demonstrated by a number of rather silly DRM implementations we've seen floated around so far.
        • by arevos (659374)

          By raising the cost (i.e. the hassle, the legil peril, the hardware requirements, the software expertise, etc.) of copying, and of receiving copies, above the price of retail media, they'll solve the problem enough.

          The problem with this strategy is that it's effectiveness is inversely proportionate to the amount of bandwidth and harddrive space available on the open market. The RIAA and the MPAA are betting their strategy on the assumption that bandwidth and diskspace won't significantly increase any further than it has done already. This does not strike me as an assumption I'd wish to put money on.

          For instance, it's pretty easy to tell who is downloading a particular bittorrent. But if bandwidth is not an issue, we

  • Some notes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hanji (626246) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:15PM (#19139381)
    • It was LSC, the Lecture Series Committee, not LCS, the Lab for Computer Science (now known as CSAIL) that invited him. They're a student group that shows movies and sponsors talks like this.
    • /. linked to the second page of photos; The first [mit.edu], which isn't entirely obviously linked from the linked page, has some excellent photos of the balls falling from the hatch.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Shabbs (11692)

      They're a student group that shows movies
      No doubt with the express permission of the MPAA. ;) Is it me or is it totally hilariously ironic that they have "Like free movies" written on the chalk board? Couple that with the AACS processing key attack and it's pretty funny. Indeed.

      Cheers.
    • by Cheapy (809643)
      The line that said: "Page 2 out of 2" and had the arrows on it didn't make it clear that it was the second page?
    • Anyone confused about why playpen balls and velociraptors should see:

      Grownups [xkcd.com]
      Velociraptors [xkcd.com]
  • by Spazntwich (208070) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:16PM (#19139389)
    Pfft, everyone velociraptors fear nothing besides traffic cones.
  • Mr. Moose [wikipedia.org] did this first, and better [youtube.com].
  • Genericon is trying to get him to come to RPI next year, so with any luck I may get my chance to meet him. Until then I'll just keep plastering comics on my door.
  • References (Score:3, Informative)

    by mu22le (766735) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:23PM (#19139475) Homepage Journal
    The playpen balls [mit.edu] were a reference to one of xkcd's more popular comics, Grownups [xkcd.com]. The message on the playpen balls was a reference to some of xkcd's comics "My hobby...".
  • ...that someone, SOMEONE, comes to my local city to chat that is even 1/2 as interesting. It has been YEARS since I was at a guest lecture... seem some good ones (esp Douglas Adams - talking about his book Last Chance to See). Wonder how you get on a mailing list...
  • They really need a new lecture hall. Most uncomfortable seats ever!
    • by belg4mit (152620)
      a) We have new lectures halls (See the white elpehant known as Stata)
      b) You should try 26-100
      c) The reason 10-250 blows for this, or rather why LSC sucks, is that this was not a large enough venue.
      • by JelloJoe (977764)
        Hey chief, I know u have new lecture halls, i sat in them all last year. but i also was stuck in that poor excuse for a lecture hall for ALL of my freshman classes
        • by belg4mit (152620)
          Then why do you say such stupid things you silly millenial super-frosh?
          And why do you gripe about one of the nicer halls, when the real back-breakers are 26-100, 4-270, etc.?

          Things could be worse. You could have to treck out to E50 or climb the three flights of stairs to 54-100.
          • You say such things about the 54-100's but it's six flights below the best classroom A4-100e?
            The bathrooms have bidets.
            Nonetheless, your point has been made prof.
  • Now I know why the XKCD site is sooo slow. I just discovered it yesterday and was going through the back posts. Little did I know the site had been slashdotted.
    • by spinfire (148920)
      Lack of adequate TCP tuning to deal with that many incoming connections. Things should be better now.
  • Velociraptors (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kuvter (882697) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @08:47PM (#19140091) Homepage
    For those who may have missed the Velociraptor [xkcd.com] joke, another one here [xkcd.com], and one more for good measure [xkcd.com].

    I love xkcd!
    • by McBruce (977972)
      Another fun thing about xkcd is that Randall put extra jokes as popup text for the comic images.
      As an example, more raptors may be found here [xkcd.com].
  • You'd think that a comic like this would appeal only to those of the dorky persuasion, but I think I know why it has broader appeal. (I know at least one non-dorky person who doesn't know the technical background of the jokes, but still really likes xkcd.) It's because the comic isn't really about dorky things; it uses dorky jokes to talk about themes like loneliness which even non-dorks can appreciate, and does this often enough that many non-dorks find it worth the time to read. Compare this to, for insta
    • But there's so much in there that is so exclusively geeky.

      Monroe is like the collective overmind of the entire geek population on the internet. I don't know if his thoughts radiate out mind control beams to our subconscious, or if he's a manifestation of all our thoughts but with a better vocabulary. Either way, I feel like I should worship him like I would any other overlord.

      If you need any convincing: http://xkcd.com/c239.html [xkcd.com]
      Pay special attention to the alt-text for this one. He takes an entire world of
  • by Zackbass (457384) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @10:28PM (#19140883)
    LSC..

  • I say =) (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cervantes (612861) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @12:04AM (#19141473) Journal
    Having only recently been introduced to xkcd (and having read the entirety of the strip in one sitting) I have to say this entire thing is quite amusing. The balls, the raptors... obviously the folks who pulled this have read and understood the strip.

    If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. Geek humour at it's finest (and sometimes most touching)

    Hey Rob, where's my 20 questions with the xkcd author???
  • by gsn (989808) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @12:15AM (#19141553)
    The comics have the Title attribute defined. For example http://xkcd.com/c253.html [xkcd.com]. I read them all and noticed this a week later and then had to go back and read them all again.

    I love xkcd.
  • Heh (Score:4, Informative)

    by glwtta (532858) on Wednesday May 16, 2007 @02:40PM (#19150003) Homepage
    So, like 27 people link to the playpen balls comic, but no one mentions that someone actually baked him a cake shaped like the internet [mit.edu] - a deliciously(!) multi-layered reference to XKCD?

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken

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