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Slashback

Slashback: Cats, Snaps, Pixels, Diagrams 96

Nooooooo! Noooooooo! Not another Slashback! Especially not one dripping with the not-unexpected but unexpectedly-quick news which will let you use your spankin' new Rat Shack Scannin' Cat for other things. And with tons of pictures and a superb wrap-up of LWCE which puts mine to shame! Not to mention ... well, you will have to read more.

LWCE, from our "compulsive recording" files. marcmerlin writes: "I have just finished my full report on Linuxworld expo summer 2000 which features, just like my previous Linux Event reports and reports, hundreds of pictures and a virtual visit of the expo, with a full report of all the keynotes, conferences, tutorials and parties I attended
I'm sure you'll agree the wait was worth it :-)"

Thanks, Marc! Hey, he should charge an admission price for this one. This is perhaps the most comprehensive coverage of LWCE I've see yet, and if you're considering going this is a great way to whet your appetite for the next one.

Don't be alarmed, but we're going to have to give you a cat scan. MP3Car writes "The Dudes over at MP3Car have decoded the protocol used by the CueCat which you can get for free at Radio Shack. they have a Web page where you can scan in any barcode and it will tell you the number. Very neat and hightech space age hack. CueCat HACK"

A free package of Slashdot goodies to the first person who can make my Visor into a CueCat basestation so I can scan random items at the grocery. Note: As of 23:55 GMT, a search for "Radio Shack CueCat" at Google yields a grand total of zero (0) matches. Updated: 3:15 GMT 26th August by timothy: An unnamed correspondent writes:

"This comes straight from linux-kernel@vger.kernel.org:

'Hello all,

I picked up my free CueCat reader at RadioShack the other day, so I
wrote a small driver for it based on Andrew Stellman's perl script. It's
available at :

ftp://oss.lineo.com/drivers/cuecat- 0.0.1.tar.gz

Have fun :)'"

"First, there were the dinosaurs ... " If you enjoyed the visual map of Unix history that CmdrTaco posted the other day, here's your chance to spread a little joy in the world in return. As if Unix weren't enough to cover all by itself ;)

Auckerman writes "It seems someone wants to put all standards and platforms for the entire history of computing on one graph. Pretty ambitious, if you ask me. Though, it would be nice if someone began recording these relationships before they are permanently lost forever."

Heck, I'd like to see this even if it covered only a history of video games!

Q: Will you visit my apartment? A: Yes. Speaking of collaborative knowledge systems, GutterBunny writes: "This week's I Cringley talks about Chris McKinstry's latest project - the Mindpixel Digital Mind Modeling Project. It's a pretty cool idea. Take about 900 million mindpixels (basic nuggets of truth about the human condition), throw them into a neural net, then let the neural net think out the next 100 million mindpixels. The article goes on to talk about how McKinstry's going to make money from it and some of the ideas behind it."

If the therapy was scuccessful, you may recall the fascinating interview that Chris gave to Slashdot a little while ago. Looks like some of the questions that people had then about Mindpixel(s) will be answered by reality.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    re: tie it to Amazon to catalog books... Amazon returns information in a highly unstructured format, so this might be tricky. However, somebody just released a package [freshmeat.net] on FreshMeat to do queries against the Library of Congress, which can return information in a structured format for nice, easy database insertion. It's a Perl script, and it comes enabled for Oracle, but I haven't been able to test that. Too busy porting it to MySQL.
  • Well, for one thing these are free at RadioShack. That's a $20 savings right there.

    Also, you must keep in mind that it's not the functionality that people seem to be after (what the hell am I going to do with a barcode scanner??); it's taking something that's made to do one thing and converting it through software or some other means to do something different. In other words, it's the hack that's important, not the fact that you can read barcodes with it.

    Just look at the whole I-Opener thing. Face it, to hack that thing into something useful you'd have to dump a couple hundred bucks into it, which would instantly negate the novelty of a "$99 computer". You could assemble a faster system for about the same money and some spare parts. But where's the fun in that? The beauty of the I-Opener was the plethora of creative things you could do to it. I don't know that a scanner would offer the same diversity, but wouldn't it be goofy to check it out?

    Your idea of buying a canned solution is too practical. There's no fun in that. Taking a Cat thing and plunking away at some code to make it do something other than send remote commands to Netscape is fun. I'll probably throw the damn thing away when its lost its novelty... But it's free, so who cares? There's something to say for disposable fun...
  • yep. Just for my personal use...

    ---

  • by Booker ( 6173 )
    I was just thinking about how to do this... I knew there were escape codes... awesome!

    ---

  • so don't use the included software. A bunch of cool stuff will spring up that gives you complete privacy...

    ---

  • If there's a license agreement, and you're not shown it until you download and install the software on a platform you don't even own, are you still violating the license and giving out trade secrets?

    I ask because according to the license agreement, so much as hooking up the CueCat to your computer and scanning a barcode is enough to bind you to the agreement. Furthermore, supposedly as soon as you hook it up, you can't reverse-engineer it and tell the world. (Oddly enough, you can reverse-engineer it and tell them.)

    Apparently you don't own it either; it's on loan to you.

    We've seen issues dealing with click-through licensing agreements before. One issue that comes to mind is the issue of DeCSS, where a commercial player was reverse-engineered to get the CSS decode codes.

    The license agreement follows:

    :CRQ(TM) Software and :CueCat(TM) Reader Hardware License

    Please read the following license agreement carefully before using this software or hardware as you are agreeing to be bound by the following terms and conditions of this license. You agree to the terms and conditions of this license by performing ANY OF THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS: (1) using the :CRQ software; (2) using the :CueCat reader (3) pressing the "agree" button below; OR (4) printing out a copy of the agreement, signing the agreement and returning a copy to Digital:Convergence(TM). If you do not agree to the terms and conditions of this license, do not press the "agree" button or engage in any of the foregoing acts.

    Not all actions may be available with each copy of this agreement.

    Copyright

    :CRQ and :CueCat are trademarks of DigitalConvergence.:com Inc. Copyright 1999-2000 DigitalConvergence.:com Inc. All rights reserved.

    License

    This is a license, not a sales agreement, between you, the end user, and DigitalConvergence.:com Inc. ("Digital:Convergence").

    The software, documentation and any fonts accompanying this License whether on disk, in read only memory, on any other media or in any other form (the ":CRQ software") are licensed to you by Digital:Convergence. The :CRQ software and any copies made and/or distributed under this License are subject to this License.

    The :CueCat reader is licensed to you by Digital:Convergence. The :CueCat reader distributed under this License is subject to this License.

    Digital:Convergence retains all title to and ownership of the Software and reserves all rights not expressly granted to you. All rights, title, interest, and all copyrights in and to the software, documentation, and any copy made by you remain with Digital:Convergence.

    Permitted Uses and Restrictions

    This License allows you to install and use the :CueCat reader and :CRQ software on a single computer at a time. This License does not allow the :CRQ software to exist on more than one computer at a time. You may use the Software only on a stand-alone basis, such that the Software and the functions it provides are accessible only to persons who are physically present at the location of the computer on which the Software is loaded. You may not allow the Software or its functions to be accessed remotely, or transmit all or any portion of the Software through any network or communication line. You may make one copy of the :CRQ software in machine-readable form for backup purposes only in support of your use of the Software on a single computer, provided that you reproduce on the copy all copyright and other proprietary rights notices included on the originals of the Software. The backup copy must include all copyright information contained on the original. You acknowledge that the! Software and :CueCat reader contain trade secrets and other proprietary information of Digital:Convergence and its licensors. Except as expressly permitted in this License, you may not decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, modify, rent, lease, loan, sublicense, distribute or create derivative works based upon the :CRQ software or :CueCat reader in whole or part or transmit the :CRQ software over a network or from one computer to another. The :CueCat reader is only on loan to you from Digital:Convergence and may be recalled at any time. Without limiting the foregoing, your possession or control of the :CueCat reader does not transfer any right, title or interest to you in the :CueCat reader. Except as expressly permitted in this License, you may not reverse engineer, disassemble, modify, rent, lease, loan, sublicense, or distribute the :CueCat reader. In any event, you will notify Digital:Convergence of any information derived from reverse engineering or such other activities, and the results thereof will constitute the confidential information of Digital:Convergence that may be used only in connection with the Software and :CueCat reader. Your rights under this License will terminate automatically without notice from Digital:Convergence if you fail to comply with any term(s) of this License.

    Disclaimer of Warranty on :CRQ software

    YOU ASSUME FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE SELECTION OF THE SOFTWARE TO ACHIEVE YOUR INTENDED RESULTS, AND FOR THE INSTALLATION, USE, AND RESULTS OBTAINED FROM THE SOFTWARE. YOU EXPRESSLY ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT THE USE OF THE :CRQ SOFTWARE IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION RISKS RELATED TO ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS IN LINKS. THE :CRQ SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. DIGITAL:CONVERGENCE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES AND/OR CONDITIONS, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDED, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND/OR CONDITIONS OF MERCHANTABILITY OR SATISFACTORY QUALITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT OF THIRD PARTY RIGHTS. DIGITAL:CONVERGENCE DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE FUNCTIONS CONTAINED IN THE :CRQ SOFTWARE WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS, OR THAT THE OPERATION OF THE :CRQ SOFTWARE WILL BE UNINTERUPTED OR ERROR FREE, OR THAT DEFECTS IN THE :CRQ SOFTWARE WILL BE CORRECTED. FURTHERMORE, DIGITAL:CONVERGENCE DOES NOT WARRANT OR MAKE ANY REPRESENTATIONS REGARDING THE USE OR THE RESULTS OF THE USE OF THE :CRQ SOFTWARE OR RELATED DOCUMENTATION IN TERMS OF THEIR CORRECTNESS, ACCURACY, RELIABILITY, OR OTHERWISE. NO ORAL OR WRITTEN INFORMATION OR ADVISE GIVEN BY DIGITAL:CONVERGENCE OR A DIGITAL:CONVERGENCE REPRESENTATIVE SHALL CREATE A WARRANTY OR IN ANY WAY INCREASE THE SCOPE OF THIS WARRANTY.

    Disclaimer of Warranty on :CueCat reader

    YOU ASSUME FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE SELECTION OF THE :CUECAT READER TO ACHIEVE YOUR INTENDED RESULTS, AND FOR THE INSTALLATION AND USE OF THE :CUECAT READER. YOU EXPRESSLY ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT THE USE OF THE :CUECAT READER IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK. THE :CUECAT READER IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. DIGITAL:CONVERGENCE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES AND/OR CONDITIONS, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDED, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND/OR CONDITIONS OF MERCHANTABILITY OR SATISFACTORY QUALITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT OF THIRD PARTY RIGHTS. DIGITAL:CONVERGENCE DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE :CUECAT READER WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS, OR THAT THE OPERATION OF THE :CUECAT READER WILL BE UNINTERUPTED OR ERROR FREE, OR THAT DEFECTS IN THE :CUECAT READER WILL BE CORRECTED. FURTHERMORE, DIGITAL:CONVERGENCE DOES NOT WARRANT OR MAKE ANY REPRESENTATIONS REGARDING THE USE OR THE RESULTS OF THE USE OF THE :CUECAT READER OR RELATED DOCUMENTATION IN TERMS OF THEIR CORRECTNESS, ACCURACY, RELIABILITY, OR OTHERWISE. NO ORAL OR WRITTEN INFORMATION OR ADVISE GIVEN BY DIGITAL:CONVERGENCE OR A DIGITAL:CONVERGENCE REPRESENTATIVE SHALL CREATE A WARRANTY OR IN ANY WAY INCREASE THE SCOPE OF THIS WARRANTY.

    Limitation of Liability

    UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE, SHALL DIGITAL:CONVERGENCE BE LIABLE FOR ANY INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, INDIRECT OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF OR RELATING TO THIS LICENSE. SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE LIMITATION OF INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES SO THIS LIMITATION MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.

    Digital:Convergence shall have no liability for any claims you may have relating to any third party act, obligation, assertion or omission or your use of any third party product or service regardless of whether you have used the Digital:Convergence software and/or hardware licensed hereunder to link to any third party web site. Without limiting the foregoing, Digital:Convergence disclaims that there is any endorsement, authorization or other association between parties (or among such parties and Digital:Convergence) related to ISBN, UPC or other codes or materials, on the one hand, and the sites or pages to which they are linked by the :CRQ software or otherwise, on the other hand. This disclaimer includes, without limitation, any claims you may have under any product liability laws, statutes, codes, or regulations.

    Complete Agreement

    This License constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the use of the :CRQ software and :CueCat reader and supersedes all prior or contemporaneous understandings regarding such subject matter. No amendment to or modification of this License will be binding unless in writing and signed by Digital:Convergence.

    Governing Law

    This agreement shall be construed, interpreted and the rights of the parties determined in accordance with the laws of the State of Texas (without reference to its choice of law provisions).

    Your Signature

    ____________________

    Agreement may be sent via facsimile to Digital:Convergence at (214) 292-6001.
  • "Nooooooo! Noooooooo!" is right.

    I mean, interesting quickies, too much fluff around them. I've complained before, but why does timothy feel like he has to be some weird unfunny MC for Slashback? If the news is boring, don't publish it, nothing you do will make it interesting. If it's interesting, publish it with as little surrounding junk as possible.

    Here's how to convey the same info in just one paragraph, saving many people a click and reading more annoying attempts at humor (I didn't bother putting in the links):

    marcmerlin published a detailed Summer LinuxWorld report / MP3car Dudes have decoded the free Radio Shack barcode scanner protocol / someone wants to map not just unix, but all of computing history / GutterBunny informs us of a Cringely article on Chris McKinstry's Mindpixel Digital Mind Modeling Project.
  • sometime before the october issue comes out. so if you go for the trash shack one now, you'll have two to play with! I was hoping I would be able to do something else w/ these little things. My first instinct was to just take them appart.
  • In the Slashdot McKinstry interview [slashdot.org], there's no posts archived in the discussion section. What happened?
  • No, not a typo. They are manufactured by Tandy Corp. but as far as data collection and all of the back-end process (the software, the operation, etc), they don't have anything to do with it. They are a partner that happened to mass-produce the product and distribute it and license the technology. :)

  • Come on. It's "News for Nerds". By reading it, you agree that you are a nerd.

    Right? :-)
  • Nope (as far as I know). I was trying to demonstrate how much I find the idea of getting rewarded to help with an AI project appealed to me. Attractive though Ms. Portman may be, and as widely admired in the eyes of Slashdotters (okay, at least Slashdot trolldom) as she is, Ms. Jolie is still the one for whom I'd crawl ten miles naked and face-down, over broken glass, simply for the opportunity to lick butterscotch pudding off the small of her back. ;)

    OK, maybe not that extreme (I'm trying for humour here, not a restraining order) but you get the idea.

    OTOH, I hope Billy Bob Thornton gets on his knees every morning and fervently thanks his God for his unbelievable good fortune. I know I would. ;)

    -TBHiX-
    I've seen run-on sentences, but that one was a five-lane highway pile-up.

  • Admittedly, they are going to be feeding it what they consider to be atomic facts. I highly suspect they will be filtering for opinion on the side of caution, i.e. an attempt to introduce the mindpixel of "Natalie Portman is hot" by one or more of our, shall we say, more fervent congregation would be altered to "Some people who write comments on Slashdot say that Natalie Portman is hot". The latter version, of course, is indisputable fact in the truest sense and therefore qualifies as a mindpixel.

    -TBHiX-

  • when i want my slashdot - i want it now dammit.
    thank god for valium otherwise i wouldve cried.
  • "Imagine a beowoulf cluster of these!"

    Sorry, it had to be done... :-)


    Fawking Trolls! [slashdot.org]
  • Sure - but use it for What, exactly?


    Fawking Trolls! [slashdot.org]
  • What database will that track against? One in your home? I guess that would work without telling "Big Brother" too much about you.


    Fawking Trolls! [slashdot.org]
  • Hey, sorry to be off-topic, but if you are who I think you might be, I just wanted to let you know that it was cool meeting you @ Anime Expo '92. (I was a gopher there.) The game show that year was great!

    Peace! And if I'm not making any sense, peace anyway. O_o

    BTW, there will be a Mac-compatible USB version of the scanner soon. I snagged my PS/2 version a couple of days ago.

    < tofuhead >

  • I've seen the cat in action, and it is pretty cool when it works.

    As for google not coming up with anything, bah.

    By the way, the cat is also being distributed to all subscribers of Forbes [forbes.com] magazine; the FAQ is here. [forbes.com].

    The 'official' site is www.getcat.com [getcat.com].

  • I wonder if one of those devices to capture keystrokes could be used. Scan the items, then take it back to the computer and input the codes. Some of them are disguised as AT/PS2 adapters, so they are small. You'd just need a battery or some other way to supply the power.
  • http://www.fleacircus.org/~mdu ell/cuecat/cuecat.html [fleacircus.org] is the project im working on. The current version is pretty basic, the next one (in a day or two) will have support for barcoded letters (which none of the other projects convert ATM).

    Mark Duell
  • No.. The physical complexity moves it well beyond the realm of standard uname/passwd.. Not only does the cracker need a 10 digit number, he needs all 10,000,000,000 of them printed on paper, or a device capable of emulating the CueCat generating said number..

    Physical brute force is less appealing..
  • The thinker will think and think about whatever you ask it to, in each case comparing its thoughts to the world previously defined by all those mindpixels and by its subsequent thoughts. When one of those thoughts doesn't fit the mindpixel world yet seems to be true, it is an original thought that extends the total corpus of human thought. And because it's your thinker, that thought is your property.

    I doubt anyone will make much money using Mindpixel in this way. All of the good ideas have already been thought up by the Megamonkey project.

    --

  • I liked it a whole lot better last year. Then, the .orgs were given a rectangular area in one corner of the floor and their individual booths were set up around the perimeter. Someone had donated the (free) use of a couple of pinball machines and a video game which were set up in the middel. It was kind of cozy. You got a real sense of community, and it was easy to socialize and meet people if you wanted to; but it was equally easy to just put your head down and hack away on your laptop if you were so inclined -- and many were.

    This year they had a row to themselves at one end of the floor, and each .org got a little tiny cubicle all to itself. Not the same at all, and nowhere near as rewarding to hang around even that didn't mean you were standing in the aisle.

    One more thing that sucks is that I missed seeing Nitrozac while I was there. You can't have everything, I suppose.

  • So, what you are saying, is that this nifty little device (when connected to my tv, and left running 24/7) will keep loading pages all day long? Gee.. aren't there programs out there that PAY YOU to do that? They might be able to complain about hacked browsers, but this is a LEGITIMATE product. Who says I wasn't watching TV all day long, and letting my computer bring up the web pages?

    Nipok Nek
  • Word on their website is they'll have a USB version in November.
  • Apparently you don't have to go into RadioShack to get one. You can order one here (http://www.1on1golf.com/getcat_form.html [1on1golf.com] ). You just pay shipping and handling.
  • I'm rather hoping that someone will develop a neat little app that will use CDDB or something along those lines to pull tune info so that I can quickly catalog my CD collection just by flipping through my CD cases and scanning the bar codes. Isn't there some sort of central repository for bar codes, since they would overlap like a bastard and not with every POS system if anyone could just slap any bar code on their product? If there was an online access point to that data, that would absolutely rule, as you could use these goofy looking bastards to catalog CDs, tapes, records, books, electronic gear... anything that uses bar codes to ring up on a POS system. Probably just wishful thinking...

    Deo
  • Is anyone else bothered by this quote?

    When one of those thoughts doesn't fit the mindpixel world yet seems to be true, it is an original thought that extends the total corpus of human thought. And because it's your thinker,
    that thought is your property.

    Given the recent behavior of the US Patent Office, the DeCSS case, MPAA/RIAA & Napster... the general trends in IP law these last few years... this sounds positiviely scary to me!

    --jrd

  • What's your definition of a real OS?
  • At my local Radio Shack they were just opening the box as I walked. Try again later after they get their next shipment.
  • Forbes sent me a free Cue Cat, which I immediately trashed because IT DOESN'T SUPPORT MACINTOSH.

    Haven't those Dilberts ever heard of USB? Sheesh!

    Now, what would be cool is a hack that upgrades my Mac Optical Pro Mouse (or Microsoft Intellimouse) so that it can use the little camera as a barcode scanner as well. More convenient, too, because it would mean one less thing hanging off the laptop.

    In the meantime, I think I'll fish the cat out of the trash -- and feed it to my AIBO.

    Robert "Grumpy? Damn right!" Woodhead
  • Uh... Minimal qualification would be something that's not commonly mistaken for a virus.
  • I've posted a Perl version of Taral's full decoder at http://www.mit.edu/~colin/cat.pl [mit.edu] (for those of us who don't speak python!)

    Most of the decoders people have posted use a lookup table, which only works for numeric valued barcodes. This one decodes all barcodes correctly - for example, UPS tracking codes (which have letters in them), and the type field, which actually says UPA for UPC A codes.

  • I was the first at my local RadioShack. I don't know what I'm going to do with it, really, but it will decode the big, long barcode on Netflix address labels. From the number of 0's, I'd say they are planning on being around a while. :)

    Of course, since I'm in Windows and didn't want to reboot or spend the time to track down a Windows decoder, I made my own. I just wonder what all the other information it send back is... guess I'll have to search after all.

  • I think you have your dates backwards... OOG wrote unix before he wrote the abacus before the human race was created?

    odd.


    You should never, never doubt what nobody is sure about.
  • MindPixel seems to have much in common with Lenat's CYC (which is much further along). See here [cyc.com].
  • actually, b.c. in this case isn't "before Christ" (or "before the common era"
    if you prefer), but B'nai Cthulhu (Hebrew for the Cthulhu covenant, wherein
    He promised, with the sign of the beached squids, that He would never again
    destroy the Alpha-Centauri system with a deluge of Jell-o). Besides, everybody
    knows that OOG isn't that old (:

    p.s. Yes, you're right...I got them backwards because I was in-between VTs (:
  • How about a portable device that can read data from a ps/2 port?

    Since there are serial to PS/2 adapters, the hardware for this thing might work with a Palm Pilot by just chaining adapters together.

    The harder part is creating a driver on the Palm, though with the speed that people have created filters, that shouldn't be to long!

  • It would be interesting to see how it handles issues with high variance of response. Asking it about politics or religion could get really entertaining after a while.

    Also, what on earth is going to generate all the questions, and make sure they are a useful sample? The initial question set could strongly affect the direction the system goes in.

  • Ooops. The CueCAT scanning is enabled only on our site's sell-trade-ins page, which is here [spun.com]. Sorry for the confusion!
  • Or, you can buy it on ebay [ebay.com]. The April market hiccup not withstanding, I wonder how long the era of massive redstribution of wealth [slashdot.org] will continue... :-)
  • How about a portable device that can read data from a ps/2 port? With a built in interpreter to decode the data from the cuecat...

    In theory, such a device could be about the size of a calculator.

    Any smart hardware hackers out there? I'm sure there are ;)

    --
  • Interesting walking around the house finding things to scan, but is there a way i can _use_ these numbers? What about a big database of codes and the item they relate to. Does any such db exist? (Other than the radio shack list of products from their book) Is it possible to make a database to work for any barcode from anywhere? (or do different types use the same codes for different items?)

    --
  • An interesting idea, but not practical -- this would be the equiv. of carrying around a card with your password printed in plaintext on it, and using software to read it and authenticate you.
    It would work, but anyone who sees the card knows the password. In your system, it wouldn't be possible for a human to see and interpret the barcode, but all they'd need is a camera, scanner, barcode reader, anything to capture the data on the card, and they'd have access to your system.

    --
  • If that's Buckaroo Banzai in your sig, the exact wording is:

    Where are we going?
    Planet Ten!
    When?
    Real soon!
  • I made the cuecat.mp3car.com [mp3car.com] page. Radio shack didn't even take my information. Me and my friends got four cuecat's with no questions asked, so they won't be tracking us. I also wanted to point out that on the bottom of the cuecat it says its made by a division of Radio Shack Electronics. If tracking was built into the software, it wouldn't matter anyway, the whole point of our page was to not have to use their software. And why use the thing?? Jesus, its free!!! What more could you ask for! I bet if I got it to run linux, you would want two of them!!!!
  • by mmca ( 180858 )
    Great now I can attach a Cat and a mouse to my computer. (Those radioshack marketing guys must have really worked some over time on this one.)
    As for the hack I would love to play with one but my local radioshack says they don't have them yet. Anyone else having problems getting them from their local store?
    I guess I'll have to get it online at cuecat.com [cuecat.com]
  • I've got one, and unexpectedly I found that when I was trying to fix my trackball that it is a handy flashlight (if you don't mind red light). Damn, the thing is bright.

    It's good to know that when it dies I should be able to get a new one...

  • No, it really didn't have to be done.

    --

  • Mine only scans the barcode "000000001176", but it does differentiate between the type (ISBN, UPC, etc.) and the last period-separated field is always different. What's going on? I didn't install the software; does the CD somehow initialize it?
  • Never mind, misinterpretation of the :Cue:Cat info on the site referenced; I was interpreting the first field, which is obviously the ID of the company since most of the stuff I scanned was from Tandy (Radio Shack). So how does that work? It's wierd how both the first field and the third seem to be parseable in the same way; I haven't seen all the source from all the hacks out there, but that seems interesting to me, and makes the difference between the first and third field unclear on cuecat.mp3car.com.
  • I have a copy, of course, but I have not played it in quite some time.
  • they can bite my harry houdini.
  • At parties these days you don't exchange phone numbers any more, you exchange ICQ numbers and Emails. This is fun, but I want to be able to exchange public encryption keys too. How do I do that? The key is waaaay too long to write on the back of a napkin. So the easiest way I've thought of so far is to print it on a card as a barcode, and later scan it in. With a cuecat, I guess. Anybody with me on this?
    --
  • "Especially not one dripping with the not-unexpected but unexpectdly-quick news which will let you use your spankin' new Rat Shack Scannin' Cat for other things."

    There is another more obscure word for saying "not-unexpected". It's "expected".
  • Even though CueCat is giving away their bar code scanners free, it is blatantly obvious that they intent to make money off of the deal. Personally, on the surface I think it's a great idea (albeit a gimmicky one) to have items in a catalog barcoded for quick lookup on a web site. However, in reality, it could ultimately raise questions in regard to privacy, particulary with the "convergence cable" option, which I have seen little mention of so far on Slashdot.

    After hooking up a cable from your TV/VCR audio out to your sound card line-in jack, you will be instantly "whisked away" to the web site corresponding to the commercial you have just seen. With the use of cookies, marketers could be able to track which commercials you have seen, and which television shows you have been watching, perhaps even in real-time. (Wouldn't that be great for Nielsen ratings to have a hugely expanded poll set, in real time, without anyone's knowledge?) The web site also mentions encoding DVD and other movies, so it would be possible to track which movies you rented as well. So you like to rent horror movies? Pretty soon, you could be getting offers in the mail for Stephen King's book club.

    The danger lies not only in the convergence cable, however. The bar code software itself seems geared to using a central web site for lookups. This also presents another chance to gather valuable marketing data. In theory, you'll be scanning items that you at least have some interest in. In time, a valuable set of information will build regarding your lifestyle and personal tastes.

    Am I paranoid? I prefer to call it "progressively realistic". On the whole, few would really care if the world found out their shopping list, or if they watched Seinfeld re-runs; however, it seems that we are more often trading in privacy and personal freedom for the sake of convenience, one small step at a time. Once we become slaves to convenience, it's only a hair's breadth away from becoming slaves to those who provide it.

    All that having been said, I ran right out to Radio Shack and got one. I'll be watching the watchers, however.
  • ...last post in the last story?
  • According to the article, mindpixels will be provided by people who visit the MindPixel Web site (anyone know the URL?). Hrmmm... so obviously this "thinking neurel net" will have a skewed intelligence, thinking like your average Internet user. d00d, where's the pr0n?
  • OK, I'd like to donate some MindPixels... According to the article, it says this can be done at "the Web site," but doesn't provide a URL... anyone happen to know the URL for this?
  • Mindpixel responds:

    I think the answer to: Are the craters on the moon really made of goat cheese? is:

    TRUE

    Must be in its infancy, and therefore a litle gullible. Anyone want to break it to this AI that there's no Santa Claus?

  • The :CueCat reader is only on loan to you from Digital:Convergence and may be recalled at any time. Without limiting the foregoing, your possession or control of the :CueCat reader does not transfer any right, title or interest to you in the :CueCat reader.

    You have got to be fscking kidding me! This one goes in the Hall of Shame...

    Why am I not surprised that Radio Shaft would be pushing this? "You have questions, we have batteries."

    Schwab

  • It's the obvious choice [mindpixel.com]. It wants you to register [mindpixel.com], though, and as we all know, registration is the first step towards confiscation. No thank you. ;-)
  • I've written a JavaScript :CueCat decoder that you can download/use/modify/etc... that you can get here [xoom.com]. The program will output both the full translated barcode AND just the barcode value. If I'm bored, I will look into the various barcode types and implement type detection as well. Currently, for the purposes of validating the barcode, I have just assumed it is UPC. If you are scanning other types of codes, just ignore the Check Digit Valid/Invalid box. Have fun!
  • There is the start of an UPC database at:

    http://grover.mta.ca/upc/

  • RadioShack, in and of itself, has nothing to do with the Cue:CAT other than distributing it and awaiting results of items scanned in their catalog. DigitalConvergence.com developed this device. The serial numbers on the units have no relevance to Radio Shack. They don't have anything to do with that (they can't match the Name you give them with the unit, etc). DigitalConvergence will be using the data you supply them (or choose not to) for majority demographics. It's not a way to "find out what user 0129381023981 is doing at 3am". It's more to show the end advertisers/licensers how to advertise more effectively, offer special promotions, etc.

    I'm not 100% sure on the privacy policy, but I don't believe that your name will ever be released to the third party advertiser. Not unless you sign up for a contest/explicitly give them your data.

    It's not total big brother. There should be a privacy option, as well.
  • Damn it. Why can't slashback stay in the slashback topic?

    GARH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Instead of typing the password on the keyboard, you place the cat scan on the table and then run by a credit card size card to which you print random UPC with your printer.
    One of the principles of strong authentication goes something like this (I'm a bit fuzzy on it):

    Authentication should be based on 2 of the 3 following concepts:

    • Something you know (passphrase, pin, etc.)
    • Something you have (key, smartcard, etc.)
    • Something you are (biometrics - fingerprint, retna, etc.)
    Examples of this would be your SSH keypair / passphrase or a smartcard reader that also does a thumbprint scan.

    Having said that, one could do something like a barcode as a poor man's smart card. A user would scan and then enter a PIN. The trouble is, unlike a smart card, the barcode is likely to represent a very simple key. And it would be fairly easy to copy.

    A fun idea... but not very practical.

  • I've written a decoder, available at:
    http://www.flyingbuttmonkeys.com/~rothwell/ [flyingbuttmonkeys.com]

    ... it understands ISBN, UPC, EAN, Code128 and parts of other barcode formats. I do not know what the actual protocol is, but I reverse-engineered a rather large lookup table. Digital Convergence replied to my request for documentation on its output format with "over our dead corporate body," more or less. So, lookup table it is, until I discover the true pattern, if one exists.


    ---- ----
  • Update: now understands everything...

    ---- ----
  • Has anyone looked into the feasibility of turning a :CueCat into a receiver for an IR keyboard?

    It looks like it's just a matter of hacking a PIC and putting it between the :CueCat's receiver and the output lines for keyboard clock and data.

    Anyone got timing diagrams for a PS/2 keyboard (and/or something like a Sejin 8630 as a generic example of an IR keyboard [sejin.com]) IR frequency is 38.4 KHz / 56 KHz depending on model.

  • Most, if not all, of the comments here & the previous CueCat story, have been about finding a way to use this unit as a real scanner, and not in conjunction with the bundled software. However, there is also a mention of a "convergence cable" on the CueCat site, which says (in part):

    Convergence cable is the system component that links your computer to your television, allowing special broadcast cues to automatically direct your browser directly to where you need to go! Connecting to the audio-out on your TV, the cable carries the cues to your computer via the audio-in. :CRQ software then interprets these special codes and serves relevant, helpful content automatically.

    So does anyone here any any idea what the heck they are doing with the audio to "interpret these special codes"?
  • The most interesting thing about that :CueCat page is the way it repeatedly seems to assume that the only thing you use the web (or indeed, your computer) for is to look up product information. "You'll probably find you barely need your mouse" or "your keyboard and mouse will still work, but you'll probably find yourself using them a lot less 'cause this way is just so much more mindnumbingly easy".

    The sentiment is even more pronounced in the idea of the :CRQ software that listens to TV broadcasts and sends your web browser on some merry (and no doubt Javascript + Flash infested) chase everytime a commercial or product placement spot goes by, presumably in case swiping a UPC code still required too much mental effort. It frankly worries me a bit that there might be people out there who would actually want that to happen on a regular basis. Hopefully there aren't, and it'll turn out that this company's economic theory makes no sense.

  • <i>Isn't there some sort of central repository for bar codes</i><p>

    Yeah, check out <a href="http://www.barpoint.com">Barpoint Systems</a>. Right now you can type in a UPC code and it will give you a product name, and with CD's you are a click away from the song list.
  • The first set of numbers (24 after the period) is your CueCat Serial number. They appear to have begun distribution on the west coast, because as you move east, the numbers get larger ("verified" using 10 people, could be very wrong). The second 4 letter firld is the UPC type (UPC, ISBN, etc.) The last section (usually 16 letters, can be more/less) is the Product UPC.

    How did i discover this? Im doign a similar project at http://www.fleacircus.org/~mdu ell/cuecat/cuecat.html [fleacircus.org]

    Mark Duell
  • If the AI will find humanity funny after being fed 900 million tidbits with none of the cynicism and 'I can't change it, so I don't give a damn'..

    Or to put it another way:

    Will his 'poodle' sketch be as ironically funny to an AI with only 899 million other bits of pop culture trash?
  • The guy who wanted library software on Linux to track his own personal library can use this as an entry device for his library system whenever he gets it going.

    Most books published in the last, oh, about 20 years, have one of two types of barcodes:

    1. an expanded UPC code which has part of the ISBN attached -- the beginning part of the ISBN is assigned to specific publishers and can be matched in a lookup table with the UPC
    2. an ISBN code with the full ISBN listed, after "78", and, optionally, the MSRP.
  • Windows users could just go to

    http://www.davecentral.com/12666.html

    and download the VB program (source code incl.) to decypher the data.

    -- Anubis
  • (anyone know the URL?)

    Give this URL a try: http://www.mindpixel.com [mindpixel.com]

  • OK, good start hacking the protocol...

    Now can someone figure out a way to make it so that CueCat [cuecat.com] isn't so god damn fugly?

  • How about using the cat scan device to make a password entry system? Instead of typing the password on the keyboard, you place the cat scan on the table and then run by a credit card size card to which you print random UPC with your printer.
  • by Skim123 ( 3322 ) <mitchell&4guysfromrolla,com> on Friday August 25, 2000 @07:28PM (#827065) Homepage
    Thanks for the URL...

    It was too tempting not to do it... so I registered and added my mindpixel: "Is registration is the first step towards confiscation?" Tee hee! :-)

  • by Skim123 ( 3322 ) <mitchell&4guysfromrolla,com> on Friday August 25, 2000 @07:30PM (#827066) Homepage
    Ah! It responded, FALSE. Stupid MindPixels.
  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @04:04PM (#827067) Homepage
    catalog your books or CDs, or keep track of stuff in your kitchen (before you throw the empty, scan it, and voila, a new shopping list... if you eat the same things every week.)

    :-)

    ---

  • by alhaz ( 11039 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @05:33PM (#827068) Homepage
    Except all I need is a pickpocket and a photocopier to break into your system. Maybe just a good camera and photoshop.

    password protected systems can include things like panic passwords - special password you give out when someone has a gun to your head, that works, but sets off alarms, destroys or encrypts sensitive data, etc.

    Carrying around the code to get into something is just silly.

  • by Taral ( 16888 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @05:20PM (#827069) Homepage
    The decoders so far published are rudimentary at best. I have a full decoder, now available on my web page [utexas.edu]. Enjoy!

    For those who are interested, it appears that the :Cat uses a modified base-64 encoding (not the MIME one!) and a little bit of XOR too. Check the decode() routine for details.

  • by TBHiX ( 26224 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @03:51PM (#827070) Homepage

    1. Shares in Mindpixel for helping define an artificial intelligence? To me, that's like saying, "I'll pay you $1000 to sexually satisfy Angelina Jolie on an ongoing basis. Is that enough?"

    2. He's coming out with a book, "Hacking Consciousness". The other day I claimed money was being hauled violently out of my wallet by the book then reccomended. With this edition, I forsee only one way of paying my bills next month: there is now enough of a vaccuum generated within my wallet by the outflow that I might be able to harness some zero-point energy via the Casimir effect.

    3. I'm going to be very interested to see if the thing develops a sense of humour, and whether it is conventional or not. I mean, some of those mindpixels have to be things like "Denis Leary makes a lot of people laugh", plus "Denis Leary said X". (Not necessarily those pixels, but some similar stream of pixels surely exists.) Can you imagine it being fed random pieces of data, and suddenly spouting back, "It would be funny if a strong wind pushed Bill Clinton over a cliff. He would have been blown to his death."

    How much intelligence would it need? Jerry Seinfeld manages it, after all. ;)

    -TBHiX-

  • by po_boy ( 69692 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @03:55PM (#827071) Homepage
    RadioShack, in and of itself, has nothing to do with the Cue:CAT other than distributing it and awaiting results of items scanned in their catalog.

    You mean where it says "Custom Manufacturered for DigitalConvergence.com in China by RadioShack A Division of Tandy Corporation, Fort Worth TX 76102" on the back of mine, that's just a typo? weird.

  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @03:47PM (#827072) Homepage Journal

    of 23:55GMT, a search for "Radio Shack CueCat" at google yields a grand total of zero (0) matches.

    Ever since the initial "You've got questions we've got answers" ad campaign, RadioShack [radioshack.com] has been all one word. And it takes Google [google.com] a month to update its indexes anyway.


    <O
    ( \
    XGNOME vs. KDE: the game! [8m.com]
  • by enneff ( 135842 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @05:39PM (#827073) Homepage
    It'd be trivial for anyone to crack a system like that.

    Although, it would be useful as a secondary means of identification. Say you go up to a terminal, type in your username, scan in your id card, and enter your password.

    Or what would be really cool, if you had a linux box set up somewhere with some custom written software, and two scanners outside and inside your front door. When someone wants to get in, they hafta use a standard lock and key PLUS they swipe their card (which unlocks an electronic lock). Thus you can keep logs of who goes in/out of your house.

    I've always wanted to do that, ever since a few years ago when I went to work at an IT company that had ALL it's rooms locked with keycard security. I visited the admins one day and they had a nifty map of everyone's daily activities. Muhahaha.

  • They still missed the fact that UNIX was originally written by OOG_THE_CAVEMAN
    in about 120,000,000 bc. Evidence of this is the primatively structured attempts
    at natural language through such grunts and gutteral sounds as "grep", "awk",
    and "sed". "ls" and friends, while having theoretically unpronouncable natures,
    seem to stem from the language of Cthulhu himself, after He and His Spawn
    filtered down from deep space in 119,999,998 bc to create the Human race as a
    joke.
    In regards to a previous topic, research has shown that the first operating
    system was, in fact, OOG_THE_CAVEMAN; they beat the hell out of him with large,
    blunt objects until he became the hardware abstraction layer between the rock
    (the "processor") and the neanderthal ("user"). Thusly, the abacus was born in
    119,999,999 bc.
  • by toybuilder ( 161045 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @05:18PM (#827075)
    I've already mentioned it here [slashdot.org], but you can visit our website [spun.com] to CueCAT scan your CD's and DVD's. (Includes track listings, reviews, and cover images.)
  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @08:03PM (#827076) Homepage
    http://www.debarcode.com/ might get you started

    ---

  • by alhaz ( 11039 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @05:04PM (#827077) Homepage
    Even better, Pierre-Phillipe Coupard of Lineo Inc. has written a driver for the CueCat that captures the escape sequences, decodes the data, and echoes it in human-readable format to /dev/cuecat (which you obviously have to create)

    This is a good thing(tm) because the escape sequence is alt-F10, which makes it a real pain to try and use the cuecat from a linux console (unless you have a useable vt on tty9)

    It's early code, so there's obviously work to be done, but I've tried it and it does work pretty well for v.0.0.1

    See the freshmeat appindex record at http://freshmeat.net/projects/cuecat/ [freshmeat.net]

  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Friday August 25, 2000 @03:47PM (#827078) Homepage
    From uscan.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net], a few people doing cool things... they have the protocol nailed down.

    http://www.new-sharon.me.us/upc.html [new-sharon.me.us]

    http://docwhat.gerf.org/software/per l/catscan/ [gerf.org]

    Other ideas... tie it into CDDB and/or Amazon to catalog all your CDs and books based on UPC/ISBN numbers?


    ---

"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin

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