Fun Hacking Secrets or Useless Hacking Secrets?


Crazy and usless hacks

by JR – brainlessworld

Click edit above to add content to this empty capsule.

This little secret works with most Canon calculators. All you have to do is to enter a sequence of numbers and you can play Pong.

Play Pong On Calculators! – video powered by Metacafe

Does it work? I don’t know, I don’t have a Canon calculator. But the video shows that it does. Makes me curious enough to go test drive one at the local electronics store.


TiVo digital video recorders

Whether it’s a simple trick, like turning your TiVo into a clock, or a serious hardware hack to increase the amount of storage space in the device, there are several tips and tricks so you can get more out of your TiVo time.

(Modifications or additions to your TiVo hardware may void your warranty. Program changes made through the remote control should not affect your warranty.)

Simple Screen and Remote Control Tricks

With 34 control buttons to push on its remote there are bound to be some surprises inside your TiVo waiting to be explored with a dozn menu items.

An ‘Easter Egg’

Many electronic devices and software programs have hidden features–often called “Easter eggs”– (just like video games have) tucked away behind obscure keystroke combinations. TiVo is no different. To see a TiVo Easter egg, follow these steps:

Enable closed-captioning display on your TV. Using your TiVo remote, go to Browse by Name. Select the characters SHAGWELL. Press Thumbs Up.

You’ll be presented with a short video hidden inside your Tivo.

If you look closely, there are more Easter eggs inside this one.

Check the Time

Your TiVo and television can become a clock vy entering the following button sequence:

Select, Play, Select, 9, Select

Progress Bar, Be Gone–Quicker

Hate the lingering progress bar at the bottom of the screen? Make it fade out faster by entering the following button combination:

Select, Play, Select, Pause, Select

Navigation Shortcuts

The number buttons on the remote allow you to jump quickly to some of the more common screens without navigating through the menus; using the buttons will save you time while also allowing you to demonstrate your TiVo savviness. (These shortcuts are undocumented and could change in different software versions.)

From the TiVo Central screen (press the “TiVo” button to get there), press the following keys to jump to their respective functions:

0 = Show the TiVo cartoon introduction1 = Season Pass Manager 2 = To Do List 3 = Search Using Wishlists 4 = Search by Title 5 = Browse by Channel 6 = Browse by Time 7 = Record Time/Channel 8 = TiVo’s Suggestions 9 = Showcases TiVo = Now Playing The 30-Second Skip

Series 1 TiVos (those that don’t feature a USB port on the back panel) can have the benefit of the 30-second skip-past-commercials feature found in Series 2 boxes. The Advance button that normally brings you to the end of a recorded program will become the “30-Second-Skip” button:

While viewing a recorded program or live TV- enter the following sequence on your remote:

Select, Play, Select, 3, 0, Select

If your TiVo plays three Thumbs Up “blings” in a row, the Advance button is now reprogrammed to skip forward by 30 seconds. This bit of reprogramming is not permanent–you’ll have to redo it if your TiVo reboots.

Sorting the ‘Now Playing’ List (Series 2 TiVos only)

To sort the “Now Playing” list, call up the list from your TiVo Central screen, and then enter the “S0RT sequence”:

S = Slow Play button0 = Zero buttonR = Record buttonT = Thumbs Up button

You’ll hear “three blings” sounds and see “Press DISPLAY for sort options.” Press Enter to see the following choices:

1 = Newest (most recent items first)2 = Display the list ordered by expiration date, oldest first3 = Display the list alphabetically

Press 1, 2, or 3 to try out a sorting order. Pressing “Enter” will prompt you to make one of the choices permanent.

Sorting the ‘Now Playing’ List (Series 1 TiVo)

If you have an 1 series TiVo, you too can sort your “Now Playing” list. It requires opening a back door into the software. If you’re running TiVo OS 3.0 (to find out the version of software running in your TiVo, go to the ‘Messages & Setup’ menu and select ‘System Information’), follow these steps:

Head to either the Browse By Name or the Search By Title screen, where you can enter letters and numbers.

3 0 BC

Now press the Thumbs Up button. You’ll hear three thumbs-up blings, and your TiVo will briefly display the words, “Back doors enabled!” (To disable back doors, reboot your TiVo.)

Enable sorting, head to the Now Playing screen and enter the following sequence:

Slow-Motion, 0, Record, Thumbs Up

You’ll again hear the three thumbs-up blings and see a menu bar appear at the bottom of the Now Playing list, stating “Press Enter for sort options”. When you press “Enter” (the small “Enter/Last” button at the very bottom of your remote), your TiVo will zoom to a ‘Now Playing Options’ screen.

From there, you can sort by Newest (by record date), Expiration (by expiration date), or Alphabetical (by program name). You can also enter 1, 2, or 3 at the ‘Now Playing’ screen as a shortcut to these options.

Change Your TiVo Banner

You can change the style of the TiVo banner strip by following these steps:

While watching live TV, press the Right Arrow button repeatedly to sequence through three different TiVo program banners:

The blue banner that runs across the top of the screen. The blue banner plus a large, transparent description box that fills most of the screen. A tiny blue banner only in the top right corner, with the channel number and name.

You get only the first two options if you do this when watching a selection from ‘Now Showing’.

More Advanced Tips

More things you can do with your TiVo.

Control the Power to Your Sound System

Your TiVo remote can be programmed to turn your TV on and off, but did you know it can also control your sound system? Hold down the TiVo button and the power button just as you do to put in the TV remote code, then enter the remote control code for your sound system. The remote will now control the power to both the TV and the audio. This can also give you volume control for some systems.

Add Unlisted Channels

TiVo provides a method to add your own channels, although without TiVo-provided program listings for them. For those times when you switch to local on-air programming, or need to play your VCR into your TiVo system, the ability to add a few channels is handy. To insert your own channels, follow these steps:

Enter a channel number manually. Press Record. While recording, press Record to cancel the recording.Repeat for each channel you want to add.Go to Setup, then Channels You WatchPlace checkmarks next to each of the channels you entered.

This process will leave behind listings in ‘Now Showing’ that you may want to delete.

Reboot TiVo Without Unplugging

Computers need a restart once in awhile, and TiVo isn’t any different. The TiVo Setup menu provides a ‘Restart Receiver’ option that restarts without wiping out your personal settings. Do not select ‘Full System Reset’ unless you need to do a complete reboot that will wipe out all of your settings.

Tivomatic (Keep Those Commercials–or Don’t)

With a feature known as IPreview, TiVo (in partnership with NBC and ShowTime) may prompt you to “press thumbs up to record” during an advertisement. This feature lets you record what is being advertised and then return you to your show. When you see the prompt you have the following options:

Press Thumbs Up or Select to bring up the recording screen. Press Clear to make the icon go away until the next preview or you rewind past the point where the preview begins.

Get TiVo Connected

First, there were hacks to add TCP/IP networking into Series 1 TiVos, which allowed you to extract recorded program files. You could save the files or play them on your Windows or Linux PC. Then came the TiVo Home Media Option service, which allows to remotely program your TiVo from anywhere you can surf the Web.

Now, there’s TiVoToGo, which allows you to legitimately download programs from your TiVo to your PC for recording onto DVD.

Network Your Series 1 TiVo

If you own a TiVo Series 1 box, you need to install a network interface like a TurboNet card and install some custom Linux code that allows copying raw TiVo video files to a computer.

To enable network access, you’ll need to hack into your TiVo with a terminal program, such as HyperTerminal or ProComm through the serial interface to install and set up network file transfer capabilities. Details on the hack and the code you need, a program known as mfs_ftp, can be found online.

Once your TiVo is accessible over your LAN, follow the steps in the mfs_ftp forum topics mentioned previously and in the documentation provided with the program to upload the program from computer to TiVo; configure the files; then launch the mfs_ftp program so the TiVo is ready for you to move files back and forth.

Once you have TiVo content files on your computer, the next obvious step is playing them, which can be accomplished using the TiVo MPlayer (available here). There are flavors of MPlayer for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. You can also convert TiVo files to standard MPEG format using TyStudio, available here.

Make TiVo to Go

If you own a TiVo Series 2 box, saving recorded programs to DVD is much easier- but more costly- with TiVo’s new TiVoToGo feature. Series 2 TiVos feature a USB port, to which you’ll need to connect a USB-to-ethernet or wireless network adapter, in order to connect your TiVo to your home network.

Once you’re networked, you’ll probably want to sign up for the TiVo Home Media Option, which will allow you to program your TiVo remotely. To use TiVoToGo, you need to be sure you’ve got version 7.1-X or later of TiVo software in your device. To check your software version:

Go to ‘TiVo Central’. Select ‘Messages & Setup’, then ‘System Information’ with your remote.

If you don’t have the latest software, you can go to and request the site to push the upgrade to your unit. While on the site, download and then install the TiVo Desktop software. TiVo Desktop collects and presents a list of the programs stored on your TiVo and allows you to download them to your PC. While on the site, click the link to download the 15-day free trial of SonicMyDVD–the recommended software for saving recorded programs from your TiVo onto DVD. (It will cost to use after the trial period.) This solution is a bit pricey, but it is the simplest nonhacker-level method to save your favorite shows.

An alternative to using TiVo’s TiVo Desktop software is the open-source JavaHMO project at It includes several more features than the TiVo software, including viewing RSS feeds, images from NNTP postings, and NOAA weather alerts, reading e-mail, and playing MP3 file.

More Advanced TiVo Hacking

(Making additions or changes to your original TiVo hardware will likely void the warranty.)

Get More Recording Time

A group of Linux geeks have figured out how to replace your original hard drive with a new one, or add a second drive to your TiVo. It allows you to upgrade the number of hours on your TiVo while allowing it to work with the TiVo service.

There are forums dedicated in helping with this procedure at the TiVo Upgrade Center.

Check out the TiVo HAQ FAQ site for all the latest details and other hacks you can do. explains how to upgrade for yourself and also sells kits to upgrade storage space, while specializes in upgrade kits for all manner of DVRs.

Hacking Xbox is possible now, and there’s a book devoted to it. “Hacking the Xbox” is now brought to you by No Starch Press. The book begins with a few step-by-step tutorials on hardware modifications that teaches basic hacking techniques as well as essential reverse engineering skills. The book progresses into a discussion of the Xbox security mechanisms and other advanced hacking topics, with an emphasis on educating the readers on the important subjects of computer security and reverse engineering. Hacking the Xbox includes numerous practical guides, such as where to get hacking gear, soldering techniques, debugging tips and an Xbox hardware reference guide.


RoombaCtrl: Drive your Roomba with your cell phone

Bluetooth adapters for Roombas control Roomba with a cell phone. Devices like a devkit for a phone is expensive and phone-specific. Developing J2ME (aka “JavaME”) applications for cell phones has been a mess, especially for non-Windows users. But Mobile Processing wraps up the uginess, like Processing does for normal Java. It makes writing little programs for your phone pretty easy, and makes whipping up a program to control a Roomba possible.

So here’s “RoombaCtrl”, a small Java program for your Bluetooth- and J2ME-compatible phone that works with the build-your-own Bluetooth adapter shown in the book “Hacking Roomba.”

You can download RoombaCtrl compiled, ready to install: – roombactrl-1.0.jarroombactrl-1.0.jad The “jad” file is if you’re doing “over-the-air” (OTA) installation. Grab the jar file and copy it over with Bluetooth file transfer.

You can also download the Mobile Processing source: – Unzip that into your MobileProcessing sketch folder, open Mobile Processing, and choose RoombaCtrl from the available Sketches. Or if you want to see the entire source code right now: – roombactrl.pde

You’ll also need a slightly patched Mobile Processing Bluetooth library: – In the “libraries” directory of the Mobile Processing application, move the existing “bluetooth” library directory out of the way and unzip the above zipfile in its place.

The patch for Mobile’s Bluetooth library is only a few lines long: Mobile-0005-Bluetooth.patch

All the patch does is allow one to specify short UUIDs when searching for services. The standard Bluetooth Serial Port Profile (SPP) has a short UUID of 0×1101. All the Roomba Bluetooth adapters appear as normal serial ports using SPP.

This patch allows you to search for Bluetooth serial ports (instead of other Mobile Processing apps) by doing:

Bluetooth bt = new Bluetooth(this, Bluetooth.UUID_SERIALPORT);

Conceivably, you could add additional static defines for the other pre-defined Bluetooth UUIDs.

Installing a program on a cell phone can be mysterious; some cell providers even prohibit you from downloading programs. If you have Bluetooth on your phone, installation becomes a simple file transfer.

Building MIDlets (Java applets for cell phones) can also be a little puzzling. Mobile Processing makes it easier, but it still assumes a little too much knowledge. Mobile Processing is still pretty new so perhaps as it ages it’ll get easier. Of course, it doesn’t help that Sun doesn’t make a cross-platform toolkit for developing MIDlets.

* Do-It-Yourself MIDP on Mac OS X

* MPower free MIDP SDK for Mac OS X

* Avetana Bluetooth implementation

* J2ME Javadocs

* Bluetooth library source code from Mobile Processing

* Java APIs for Bluetooth


What I’d like to know is why would anyone care to use these hacks? Why would anyone care to control an electronic vacuum cleaner, Roomba, with their cell phone? Why go to all that trouble and expense to hack it?

Tivo I can understand. It has a purpose- to make life and luxury easier. But the vacuum cleaner that’s already robotic? Are we getting lazier, or do we just like a good challenge nowadays? Too much time on our hands?


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