Commentary

My Son, The Hack

Okay, so a high school kid from New Jersey hacked an iPhone so it will work on a real mobile network rather than the default, sissy-ass AT&T network. He got his picture in The New York Times, was interviewed on network TV news, and got his well-deserved 15 minutes of fame. My concern is the envy with which other geeky guys will view this exposure, setting off a race to hack the Next Big Thing. Wait, here are a few coming in over the wire already....

Billy Madison, a 15-year-old from Fargo, has hacked his iPhone to work with a 42-inch plasma TV. "It's really cool," Madison told CNET. "You can sit in your TV chair and talk at the TV and it acts just like a giant speaker phone. You can route your friend's voice through the home theatre system and hear, 'Dude, I am SO wasted!' in surround sound."

Another interesting feature is that the device can launch the audio of DVR-recorded TV shows into the phone stream. "If I am pissed at one of my friends, I just start one of Dr. Cox's tirades at J.D. from 'Scrubs' and wait for the silence at the other end," says Madison. The downside, he notes, is that it takes up an entire seat on the commuter train or bus, so that you really have to bury your nose in the paper to pretend you don't see that sweaty, 8-months pregnant woman staring longingly at your iPlasma's seat.

New Hampshire high school junior Gene Forrester has hacked his XM Satellite car radio receiver to work with his backyard pool equipment. "When the filter pump comes on in the morning, you can hear country music from Bluegrass Junction. When you hear Top Tracks, you know that the polaris is crawling the bottom, sucking up dead leaves. When the heater kicks in, it is accompanied by light classics. When I turn on the landscape lights at night, The Joint starts pumping out reggae," says Forrester. "So far the only problem I can't solve is that when somebody pees in the water and raises the temperature, the Enlighten channel plays gospel music for about two minutes."

Jeff Spicoli, a Ridgemont (California) High dropout, claims that he has hacked his sister's vibrator to activate the garage door openers in their suburban Los Angeles home. "As long as she stays on the low setting, the doors just kind of crawl up and down. But as soon as she shifts to high speed, they roll around like a broken film. I guess she is too busy to notice the commotion."

Sixteen-year-old Fhu Kew Jaq, whose family emigrated from China to Chicago four years ago, has hacked his car's electronic door key to interface with roulette wheels and force the balls to drop on red or black. "I press the unlock button and the ball stops on black. I hit the lift gate and it stops on red," says Jaq. He hopes to monetize the 700 hours it took him to reconfigure the key electronics by marketing the item as a novelty. "Otherwise, I can't think of a good use for it."

James "J.J." Evans, Jr., also from Chicago, says he hacked his QWERTY keyboard to set off different car alarms depending on the keystroke combination. "I go alt+4+f4 and every Saab within a half mile of the apartment goes off. Since there aren't a lot of Saabs around here anyway, I hit shift+k+ctrl and the Cadillacs all start honking. Now that's some serious noise," says Evans. "You see some really interesting folks flying out the door in their underwear. Gives 'Who's Your Daddy?' a whole new meaning."


The story you have just read is an attempt to blend fact and fiction in a manner that provokes thought, and on a good day, merriment. It would be ill-advised to take any of it literally. Take it, rather, with the same humor with which it is intended. Cut and paste or link to it at your own peril.