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LA Weekly: Enhancing the Scanner - Can Digital Convergence stop hackers from making the CueCat useful?

Oct 01, 2000, 20:33 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Judith Lewis)


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"With the help of software developer Pierre-Philippe Coupard, [Michael Rothwell] 'ported' the software - he wrote a version of it that could run on the Linux operating system - only with added features. In addition to its cataloging capabilities, the 'CueCat Decoder' derailed Digital Convergence's data-gathering mechanisms by sending the letters ACTIVATION CODE instead of the actual numbers; it also launched the appropriate page at Amazon.com when a user scanned a book. But instead of being grateful that Rothwell enabled the CueCat to live up to its full potential, Digital Convergence was furious."

"Linux developers have a long history of porting the drivers that run hardware to other operating systems, sometimes with the help of technical information provided by the original equipment manufacturers; other times by 'reverse engineering' - working backward to unravel the software's algorithms and rewrite them. Rothwell's offense, it would seem, was to have reverse-engineered Digital Convergence's software to make the CueCat perform functions more specific to his needs, and eliminate the possibility of its violating anyone's privacy."

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