Posts tagged ‘key’

Do Hotel Key Cards Contain Personal Info?

By Chad Upton | Editor

I’ve been saving hotel key cards for years because I want to see exactly what is on them.

Years ago, somebody told me that hotel room access cards contained personal info and credit card data. The rumor was that this info was necessary for you to charge items to your room during your stay.

I recently got my hands on a magnetic card reader and started swiping all my old cards. The results fit into three categories.

1. 77% of all the cards could not be read at all. This should not be a surprise to anyone who has ever stayed in a hotel with magnetic card keys; some are notoriously poor at holding their magnetic charge. Another reason they may appear blank is that some systems use non-standard data encoding which make it difficult for an ISO card reader to extract information. Whether the charge is weak, distorted or proprietary, specialized card readers may be able to extract data from these cards. Still, that data would likely fall into one of the two following categories. (more…)

February 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm 13 comments

Finding Home and End on a Mac Keyboard

By Chad Upton | Editor

I use both Mac and Windows computers and I appreciate some attributes of each. For example, I really like the home and end keys on Windows keyboards. These guys make it a breeze to select a single line of text or jump to the end of the line to keep writing after an edit.

Because Apple market share is at an all time high, I’m sure a lot of people are going to notice the absence of these keys when they switch. Unless you’ve got the full-size apple keyboard, the “home” and “end” keys are absent on your desktop or macbook keyboard. But, if you hold down the fn (or control) key, you can use the left and right arrow keys as home and end keys respectively. Hold shift while doing this to select the characters between cursor positions.

Speaking of the Mac keyboard, the delete key is equivalent to the backspace key on a Windows computer — it deletes characters to the left of the cursor. But, you can make Mac’s delete key function like the Windows delete key if you hold the fn key while pressing it — deleting characters to the right. Another favorite keyboard shortcut on Mac OS is fn + F11 which will temporarily hide your windows to expose your desktop, allowing you to easily select files without going to the finder or minimizing all of your windows. Then press fn+F11 to bring all your windows back to their original positions.

By the way, you can plug a Windows USB keyboard into a Mac, although not all of the task keys function the way they do on a PC.

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January 10, 2011 at 2:00 am 41 comments

Lock Your Car Better With Your Chin

By Chad Upton

I think everybody has done it. You’re walking away after parking your car and you can’t remember if you locked it. You turn around to lock it and you’re too far away – or – maybe your car has remote start and you want to warm it before you leave work in the winter. You can see it in the parking lot, but you’re too far away.

There is something that may help.

If you push the car remote against your skin, and then press the button, your body will act like a giant antenna to extend the signal. I don’t know how safe this is, but it works.

I first heard about this a few years ago and I was in disbelief, until I tried it. Not only does it work, according to New Scientist, it can almost double the range of your key fob.

When I first heard about it, I was told to push it against my chin. It turns out you can push it again your arms or other body parts too. It relies on a principle called capacitive coupling, the same principle that the capacitors on electronic circuit boards rely on.

This doesn’t work for all types of radio frequency remotes, it works best with relatively low frequency signals with rapidly changing currents, which is what many car remotes use.

You may have heard that the iPhone 4 is having signal issues when the exterior antenna is touched in a certain way and you may be wondering why it has the opposite affect on the iPhone. The difference between the iPhone problem and capacitive coupling is that there is no insulator between the transmitter and your body with the iPhone, but with your car remote, the plastic case acts like an insulator. Again, this is precisely how capacitors on circuit boards work — two conductors are separated by an insulator.

It should be noted that some car remotes may use a different frequencies and types of signals, so you’ll have to test yours to see if it works for you.

Big thanks to Max Surguy for reminding me about this one, such a great tip!

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Sources: New Scientist

Photo: nailkennedy (cc)

July 9, 2010 at 5:00 am 5 comments

The Space Bar Scrolls Down in Your Browser

This is an awesome week and I mean that figuratively. The Book of Awesome arrives in stores this Wednesday and I wanted to celebrate by sharing some broken secrets from the website 1000AwesomeThings.com.

One of my favorite “Awesome Things” is “Learning a new keyboard shortcut.” Since I’m talking favorites, I want to share one of my favorite keyboard shortcuts: the space bar.

If you’re reading this in a web browser or you do a lot of reading on the web, this is one shortcut you should learn before all others. To scroll your browser down exactly one page, press the space bar.  To scroll up one page, hold shift while you press the space bar.

It’s that simple, happy reading.

Broken Secrets

Written By: Chad Upton

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Photo: jakebouma (creative commons)

April 11, 2010 at 9:59 pm 5 comments


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