Kevin Warnock

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Archive for the ‘Wi-Fi’ tag

Smoke detectors should send activation warnings via text messages via Wi-Fi

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Natural gas detector (picture from

Natural gas detector (picture from

Technology to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi networks is small and inexpensive. Mobile phones and even camera memory cards accomplish this task.

I have an idea of how to use this technology to improve safety.

Combine a smoke/carbon monoxide detector with Wi-Fi circuitry so that when the detector activates text messages can be sent to people and entities that should be alerted.

There are already ‘Wi-Fi smoke detectors’ for sale, as a quick search will reveal. But these detectors are not for detecting smoke, but for covert video recording of a room. These products demonstrate that it’s easy to put a Wi-Fi transmitter into a smoke detector case.

The best of all worlds would be to combine an actual smoke/carbon monoxide detector with a video camera so that when the detector activates that a text message can be sent that includes a link so the message recipient can sign in to a webpage to observe the room the detector is located in. In this way, false alarms can potentially be identified from afar.

Current video fake smoke detectors cost a lot, but that’s because they are made in tiny volume. I bet a combination smoke, carbon monoxide, video Wi-Fi detector could sell for under USD $100 if they were required by building codes.

Finally, I think it’s time to add another feature to smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. I think detectors should also sense unburned gas such as natural gas and propane. For reasons I can’t understand, modern gas stoves don’t stop the flow of gas if there is no flame, so it’s possible to fill the house with gas without warning, other than the bad smell. Smell based warnings do no good for sleeping occupants. Gas detectors typically need more than a 9 volt battery to operate, so gas detectors usually are plugged into AC power. I think that’s fine, provided there is a battery backup to carry through power outages.

I would certainly pay USD $200 per detector for a gas/smoke/carbon monoxide/Wi-Fi/Video detector.

Would you?

Written by Kevin Warnock

July 23rd, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Hacking neighbor from hell

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Cracking WEB using Backtrack (image from

Cracking WEB using Backtrack (image from

I have four roommates. I love having roommates, especially since we are all interested in urban homesteading.

One of the first things new roommates ask for when they move into my house is ‘what’s the wi-fi password?’

I have to write it down and hand it to them, because I use a complicated password dozens of characters long.

Am I being silly?

I don’t think so.

Have a look at this Wired article entitled Hacking neighbor from hell.

Here’s the first few paragraphs that sumarize this crazy story rather well:

“A Minnesota hacker prosecutors described as a “depraved criminal” was handed an 18-year prison term Tuesday for unleashing a vendetta of cyberterror that turned his neighbors’ lives into a living nightmare.

Barry Ardolf, 46, repeatedly hacked into his next-door neighbors’ Wi-Fi network in 2009, and used it to try and frame them for child pornography, sexual harassment, various kinds of professional misconduct and to  send threatening e-mail to politicians, including Vice President Joe Biden.

His motive was to get back at his new neighbors after they told the police he’d kissed their 4-year-old son on the lips.”

Fortunately, one of the victims is a lawyer, and his firm had access to a network specialist that installed a packet sniffer to figure out what was happening. The sniffer logs led the FBI to raid the home of the neighbor, where lots of incriminating evidence was found, including the child pornography the criminal posted in the name of the victim.

This episode reminds me of the 1990 Melanie Griffith and Michael Keaton movie Pacific Heights, where a tenant terrorizes his landlord in an effort to get the landlord to sell the duplex at a low price to the tenant. The tenant stops at nothing, I recall, and even deposited a big box full of large cockroaches into the landlord’s unit via gaps around common water pipes that connected the units. Pacific Heights is one of those movies you remember a lot about even years after seeing it.

Written by Kevin Warnock

July 16th, 2011 at 5:00 am

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