A Security Researcher’s Attempt to Prank the DMV Backfired in a Spectacularly Expensive Way

tommaso79/iStock via Getty Images
tommaso79/iStock via Getty Images

A security researcher known as Droogie took to the DEF CON hacking and security conference stage last weekend to regale the audience with his story of getting bested by the very bureaucratic system he was trying to exploit.

As Gizmodo reports, it all started when Droogie decided to register his car with a vanity license plate that read “NULL,” a word that computer programs use to designate something that has no value. He thought that the Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) systems might misinterpret his license plate as an entry with no value and fail to catalog his car’s data.

ALPR systems are built into surveillance cameras on police vehicles, streetlights, highway overpasses, and elsewhere, collecting license plate numbers along with the time, date, and location. The cameras don’t just catalog your car’s data if you’re speeding or doing something otherwise suspicious—they'll capture license plate data whenever it comes into view. It’s not exactly clear when and why the systems keep track of your whereabouts, let alone who’s watching and how they’re using the information, so Droogie’s scheme was more about protecting personal privacy, rather than trying to dodge tickets.

His hypothesis proved partially correct: The systems didn’t properly process his “NULL” license plate, but the outcome was basically the opposite of what he was hoping for. First, upon trying to renew his tags, the DMV website informed him that his license number was invalid. Then he was hit with a barrage of parking tickets that totaled more than $12,000, because a processing center had used “NULL” for all parking misdemeanors committed by unidentified vehicles, and the system mistakenly attributed them all to Droogie’s car. According to Mashable, he told his DEF CON audience, “I was like … 'I’m gonna be invisible.' Instead, I got all the tickets.”

After Droogie contacted the DMV and the Los Angeles Police Department, they helped erase the fines from his account and advised him to change his plates so it doesn’t happen again, since there are no plans to alter the processing system that was assigning him the tickets in the first place. He refused, insisting he "didn’t do anything wrong." As of his DEF CON presentation, Droogie has received another $6000 in misattributed tickets.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Autumnal Dessert Spices and Cubed Meat Collide: Pumpkin Spice SPAM Now Exists

David McNew/Getty Images
David McNew/Getty Images

Does sipping on a pumpkin spice latte ever make you think: “Man, I wish this were cubed meat”? Soon, it will be. According to NBC News, Hormel will start selling Pumpkin Spice SPAM on September 23.

It all started back in October of 2017, when Hormel announced via its Facebook page that pumpkin spice SPAM was coming—as a joke. The post clearly stated that it wasn’t real, but that didn’t stop scores of people from making comments about how it would probably taste delicious and asking where they could purchase a can.

Now, a Hormel publicist has confirmed to NBC News that the limited-edition, fall-themed flavor will soon be available to order online from Walmart or Spam.com.

"True to the brand’s roots, SPAM Pumpkin Spice combines deliciousness with creativity, allowing the latest variety to be incorporated into a number of dishes, from on-trend brunch recipes to an easy, pick-me-up snack,” Hormel told NBC News.

While Pumpkin Spice SPAM might not yet be accepted into pumpkin spice canon alongside lattes and muffins, it’s far from the strangest product that has been imbued with the mysterious, cinnamon-y spice blend to date; we’ll leave automotive exhaust spray and light bulbs to duke it out for that designation. And the Facebook commenters might have actually been onto something when they dared to suggest that Pumpkin Spice SPAM had palatal potential. After all, ham recipes often include sweet ingredients like maple syrup, brown sugar, and honey. And, according to TIME, the word spam was invented as a portmanteau of spiced ham.

Wondering what other SPAM innovations you might be missing out on? Check out these recipes from around the world.

[h/t NBC News]

Marathon Karaoke Session Lands Man in Hospital With a Collapsed Lung

cookelma/iStock via Getty Images
cookelma/iStock via Getty Images

While over-imbibing is the usual culprit behind a fun night out gone wrong, it turns out that too much karaoke can be bad for your health, too. According to Newsweek, a 65-year-old man from eastern China was hospitalized with a collapsed lung after singing 10 high-pitched karaoke songs in a row.

“I was very excited in the heat of the moment and after singing a few songs with very high notes, I found myself having breathing difficulties,” the man, who was identified only by his last name, Wang, said in a video posted to the Chinese platform PearVideo.

Since Wang had belted out the same tunes plenty of times before, he decided to ignore the pain that he felt in his left lung as he was performing and simply sing through it. After his condition worsened over the next day, Wang was taken to the hospital.

In the same video, Dr. Peng Bin-fei confirmed that the injury was most likely a direct result of the man’s energetic commitment to hitting the high notes, and advised that karaoke enthusiasts should limit their performances to a maximum of two hours. (For everyone's sake.)

A collapsed lung, or pneumothorax, happens “when air leaks into the space between your lung and chest wall. This air pushes on the outside of your lung and makes it collapse,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Medical professionals can suck out the air with a needle or small tube, but the condition can be life-threatening.

Since sometimes a pneumothorax can occur on its own, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention if you suddenly experience uncharacteristic chest pain or shortness of breath. Often, it’s the result of a blunt-force injury to the chest or damage from a lung disease. Newsweek mentioned a recent pneumothorax case that was caused by yet another perhaps unexpected culprit: electronic cigarettes. Doctors found black spots and a hole in the collapsed lung of a Florida teenager.

Unlike electronic cigarettes, there’s no compelling reason to quit karaoke altogether, as long as you’re doing it safely. But if you feel like your lungs are straining against that High C, maybe pass the microphone off to the nearest soprano.

[h/t Newsweek]

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