By - 4/27/09 - 9:25 am

Well, maybe "atop" is too strong a word, since it's not actually at the very top, but, still, it's not every day you see a Red Line car that far off the ground.

By - 4/24/09 - 8:50 pm

The Tech reports a dorm's attempt to drum up publicity for a party by leaving a large concrete "bomb" on a lawn outside resulted in a visit from the actual Cambridge bomb squad:

On Friday morning, students watched as bomb squad members sent a robot to inspect the concrete block, which was painted black with "DTYD" written in orange letters. A man in a protective suit inspected the block up close. A small explosive charge was detonated near the block.

By - 3/20/09 - 8:45 am

The Tech reports that two MIT police officers were put on leave without pay for throwing roughly 300 copies of the paper in a recycling bin, apparently out of anger that the paper had reported on the arrest of an MIT cop on drug charges in East Boston.

Wait, MIT students still get their news on paper?

By - 3/14/09 - 8:38 pm

D'AmelioCity, state and federal agents today arrested an MIT police officer after watching him get out of his cruiser and take delivery of a package stuffed with OxyContin and Roxycodone tablets, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office.

Joseph D'Amelio, 38, was arrested, while still in uniform, around 6 p.m. at Advanced Automotive on London Street, the DA's office says, adding officials were alerted by FedEx workers who had opened what they thought was a suspicious package. The package contained 340 80-mg Oxycontin tablets and a number of 30-mg Roxycodone tablets, officials say.

Also arrested: Anthony Cristallo, 39, of Derry, NH. In addition to the drugs, officials seized $12,000 in cash.

Both men will be arraigned Monday in East Boston District Court on chages of trafficking in more than 100 grams of OxyContin, which could get them 20 years in prison.

Innocent, etc.

By - 3/6/09 - 9:31 am

The Tech reports on what was no doubt an epic battle of wits at MIT the other night:

... Leighton arranged two 9" by 10" triangular pastries into a 90 square inch rectangle, shifted them diagonally, and sliced off the protruding two trangular corners to form two new baby hamentashen.

If hamentashen can keep growing and reproducing, he said, their exponential growth could solve world hunger! Of course, you can't do the same with round latkes. "Latkes don't have sex," he said. "They are shredded potatoes!" ...

By - 2/24/09 - 9:13 am

The Tech reports two people were mugged on the MIT campus on Sunday. The perps are described as four black males, between 20 and 25, wearing puffy black jackets:

... In the second robbery, outside the Media Lab, the student walked through the group of four perpetrators, one of whom grabbed the victim. Once grabbed, the victim was held "in a choke hold" and then punched, the police said. ...

By - 11/22/08 - 7:43 pm

MIT Police report one student used her Dunkin' Donuts card to unlock the door to the admissions office earlier this month. Unfortunately, for her, that also set off an alarm that brought campus police to investigate:

... The Dunkin Donuts card was retrieved from her backpack and she identified it as the tool she used to slip the lock on the door. ...

She was arrested and charged with breaking and entering in the daytime and possession of a burglarious tool.

Via The Tech, via MassCops.

By - 10/17/08 - 8:55 am

Maureen Rogers implores MIT to stay true to its nerdy ways:

... My MIT buds were just unfailingly smart and interesting, though. And really good at their jobs.

Frankly, I don't see the attempts to normalize MIT will get all that far. After all, even the sex advice column in the newspaper is called "Talk Nerdy to Me." ...

By - 10/10/08 - 11:10 am

Here's a good reason to secure your wireless internet. Hari Balakrishnan and Samuel Madden have been helping themselves to your WiFi to collect traffic data, a lucrative commercial field. They've been doing it for more than a year, rather than pay for internet connectivity like everyone else.

By - 10/3/08 - 8:17 am

The Tech reports on tomorrow's anniversary of the Boston area's contribution to the field of weights and measures.

A Salute to Smoot.

By - 9/9/08 - 4:34 pm

The Globe reports that Frank Wilczek, a Nobel-winning physicist at MIT, has been getting death threats because he's publicly said he doesn't think the world will actually end tomorrow when Europeans turn on the world's largest particle collider.

Wilczek is discussing his new book, on the latest advances in physics, tonight, at the Harvard Bookstore.

By - 8/27/08 - 9:07 am

$3-million MIT project includes snow retention systems and snow melters.

So they won't be needing a sign like this one (on a state office building in Montpelier, Vt).

Watch out below!
By - 8/20/08 - 8:48 pm

Steve Nadis reports on his smashing meeting with an MIT bicyclist at Mass. Ave. and Memorial Drive.

By - 8/19/08 - 3:03 pm

Associated Press reports they can now talk about their own documents, the ones the MBTA put into the public record, on insecurity at T stations and with the CharlieCard and CharlieTicket system.

Via Dave Wieneke.

Electronic Frontier Foundation: The Court found that the MBTA was not likely to prevail on the merits of its claim under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Dan Kennedy: [N]ot much of a victory for the First Amendment:

... It makes a mockery of the principle that prior restraint is to be reserved only serious issues of national security, obscenity and incitement to violence.

By - 8/18/08 - 9:13 am

This Globe story is a decent enough, if largely repetitive, background piece on those three MIT students and the MBTA. Reporter Michael Levenson actually talked to one of them - even if mainly to reveal the guy's been playing with computers since fourth grade and likes doing uber-geeky stuff.

But the headline is: T hacking exposes a deeper clash

What clash has been laid bare here? I think it might be the reference, way, way down in the story, past the recap of the whole incident, to the three types of hackers: "White hat" hackers, "Black hat" hackers and "gray hat" hackers, who are sort of the Snapes of hackerdom.

Only thing is, that's not new and there's no clash of ideas over the point in the story, unless you count a mild comment from an "old" hacker (dude was hacking way back in the 1990s) about how he can see how the T might not like being hacked.

By - 8/15/08 - 12:35 pm

Here is the T's latest filing in its effort to shut up those three MIT students. And here is part of the T's arguments to force the students to tell all:

It is unlikely that Professor Rivest would award an "A" for the work represented in the Report and the Presentation, indicating that additional sensitive materials exist in the possession of the Individual Defendants. The MBTA notes that the Individual Defendants have been unwilling, to date, to produce the "A" paper they prepared for Professor Rivest.

But keep reading the brief, down to the part where the T argues the students have forfeited their First Amendment rights, in part because their talk was "commercial speech" and in part because they were planning on giving their talk to a convention of hackers (and also computer security experts, most of whom probably aren't working for the MBTA), and that alone shows how they would have incited illegal activity. The T also cites as proof a photo the students took of an MBTA networking switch - without noting that the students were able to take the photo because the T failed to lock the room at Park Street where the switch was located.

The T got its temporary restraining order extended to at least Tuesday.

By - 8/14/08 - 12:58 am

Janice Loux distributes a report by those MIT students, calls for an external audit, the Globe reports.

By - 8/11/08 - 9:08 am
Pure evil

EVIL MIT HACKER steathily infiltrates the T with EVIL MIT HACKER SHOPPING CART (Source).

In focusing on the OMG EVIL MIT HACKERS angle (but also, to give them credit, the First Amendment/prior restraint angle), the media are completely overlooking the first part of the students' presentation, which discusses how easy it is to get on the T for free without using EVIL MIT HACKER WAREZ, such as, for example: Walking through unattended Charliegates and Green Line rear doors, looking through the windows in those high-tech all-seeing security kiosks, walking into unlocked rooms at Park Street that house switches connecting Charliegates to the MBTA network, etc. In case you missed it, Kaz has more.

For some reason, Dan Grabauskas doesn't seem upset about this, or maybe reporters just aren't asking him about it, because it's not as sexay as OMG EVIL MIT HACKERS or they haven't actually read the presentation themselves, or both.

By - 8/9/08 - 9:59 am

UPDATE: The MBTA won a temporary restraining order that will keep the students from discussing their findings. Read the judge's order (in PDF). Read the MBTA complaint (in PDF).

Wired reports the T wants to stop three MIT students from giving a talk at a hacker convention this weekend on their efforts to crack the CharlieCard system.

The transit authority, known as the MBTA, is also seeking to prevent the students from "publicly stating or indicating" that electronic passenger tickets used on the transit system have been compromised until the MBTA can fix security flaws in the system. It further seeks to bar the students from releasing any tools or providing any information that would allow someone to hack the transit system and obtain free rides.

A hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. in U.S. District Court in Boston on the T's request for a temporary restraining order to keep Zack Anderson, RJ Ryan and Alessandro Chiesa from giving a talk at the DefCon conference in Las Vegas on Sunday on The Anatomy of a Subway Hack: Breaking Crypto RFID's and Magstripes of Ticketing Systems:

In this talk we go over weaknesses in common subway fare collection systems. We focus on the Boston T subway, and show how we reverse engineered the data on magstripe card, we present several attacks to completely break the CharlieCard, a MIFARE Classic smartcard used in many subways around the world, and we discuss physical security problems. We will discuss practical brute force attacks using FPGAs and how to use software-radio to read RFID cards. We survey 'human factors' that lead to weaknesses in the system, and we present a novel new method of hacking WiFi: WARCARTING. We will release several open source tools we wrote in the process of researching these attacks. With live demos, we will demonstrate how we broke these systems.

Human factors? So they managed to sweet-talk some T employees to inadvertently help them out.

Anderson told the Register the trio initially contacted the T to offer their help in fixing the vulnerabilities and that they weren't planning to release specific enough details to let somebody else replicate their feats.

By - 5/30/08 - 7:33 am

JPBeat photographs an only-at-MIT happening:

In addition to great bike-paths, the MIT campus provides generous right-of way for freight trains. My son and I watched this CSX engine 6241 pull a load of shredded scrap metal and refrigeration cars through the campus last weekend. A few cars, including a police cruiser, ignored the flashing Railroad Crossing lights and bell. ...