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Long Term Effects of Gizmodo CES Prank 426

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the mischief-is-funny-when-it's-not-you dept.
theodp noted that someone from Gizmodo brought a TV-B-Gone to CES and used it to turn off a wall of monitors during demos. Funny yes, it earned him a ban for life and may have repercussions to other bloggers struggling to be treated as equals with traditional journalists in the future. But also this might lead to a future with encryption on remotes.
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Long Term Effects of Gizmodo CES Prank

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  • by Bazman (4849) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:00AM (#22014264) Journal
    Yeah, or presenters sticking electrical tape over the remote sensors on the displays.

     
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      No need for Electrical tape. Most of those tv have a serial port in the back where you can send commands to the LCD and, in most case, you can lock the input from a remote control. On some LG models, there is a plug in the back for an IR extender and if you plug a 3mm connector in that, it locks the front IR receiver... Hell, most LG tvs have a SET ID that you can set, hook them up over serial cable and brodcast a command to all of them and they will only anwser if it's there set ID in it. You dont really n
      • by Bazman (4849) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:29AM (#22014546) Journal
        Wow. Looks like we'll have to go back to chucking bricks at monitors to turn them off...

      • How many people install serial cables, etc. at trade shows? Not many...there's enough things to fail without relying on having a working PC with a dozen serial ports installed in it.
        • by 0xygen (595606) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:47PM (#22015354)
          It is normally not a PC though, there are dedicated AV control systems out there (AMX, Crestron et al).
          Being a control systems programmer, I happen to know many of the sets at trade shows, especially AV trade shows, are under RS232 control!

          Often this is because of the impracticality of the remote - many only have a single on/off button on the IR remote.
          You press it, half of the displays turn off.
          You press it again, some of the display toggle from on to off, some toggle from off to on.
          You end up using a rolled up sheet of paper to go around each one to set it on / off.

          Unfortunately not many of the models have the ability to lock the IR out via the serial port!
      • by dpete4552 (310481) <.slashdot. .at. .tuxcontact.com.> on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:58AM (#22014826) Homepage
        ROFL. Yeah no need for all of that complicated electrical tape business. Just hook into the serial port on the back of the screen and send commands to the LCD to lock the IR port. And thank you to the mods who modded the parent "Informative" To think of all the time I would have wasted with electrical tape if this "informative" post wasn't pointed out to me!
      • by cecil_turtle (820519) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:10PM (#22014972)

        No need for Electrical tape
        What, is it really expensive where you live?

        ... a serial port in the back where you can send commands to the LCD ... most LG tvs have a SET ID that you can set, hook them up over serial cable and brodcast a command to all of them and they will only anwser if it's there set ID in it...
        Yeah, because that's easier than using 1/2" of electrical tape. I'm sure there's a joke about engineers in here somewhere but I'm too tired today.
  • Electrical tape (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rlp (11898) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:00AM (#22014272)
    Electrical tape over the IR port at shows. Problem solved.
  • by DingerX (847589) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:01AM (#22014280) Journal
    The only reason to put encryption in would be to prevent people shutting these things off at product demos and restaurants. Turning them off at restaurants isn't a widespread problem (unfortunately), and at product demos, duct tape is going to be a lot more popular in the future.

    I wish they would stop calling these things "gates", and worry about the future of bloggers. Yes, the CES created two classes: "press" and "blogger", and yes, members of that underclass acted in a juvenile manner, bad enough to cause a stink that will appear in the "press". It will appear in the "press" tomorrow. See, yesterday it was all over the blogs, and now it's hit the aggregators. Sooner or later those with press credentials will catch on to the story.
  • by Crasoum (618885) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:06AM (#22014326) Journal
    Well if the blogger's aren't willing to act like professionals, then they won't be treated as professionals.

    In the article it stated they weren't being taken as seriously as the Press; and when someone decides it'd be cute to do some practical joking, at the expense of others, it just reaffirms the assumptions they aren't to be taken seriously.

    • by Migraineman (632203) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:17AM (#22014422)
      Didn't they learn this lesson as a child? "If you want to sit at the adult table, you have to behave like a big kid."

      For a short-term chuckle, they've managed to damage the long-term credibility of bloggers who were actually trying to earn proper press credentials. The trade show guys all know each other; the news will get around. The event organizers have a choice:
      . (a) inconvenience the paying customer by recommending that they cover their IR ports on displays
      . (b) inconvenience the non-revenue-generating bloggers by showing them the door

      The smart ones will do both, though they'll play the good-guy with their customers and issue an article in a newsletter that provides helpful tips to "Make your booth time a better experience!" Bloggers will be downgraded to the status of the great unwashed masses ...
      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:35AM (#22014600)

        The event organizers have a choice:
        1. inconvenience the paying customer by recommending that they cover their IR ports on displays
        2. inconvenience the non-revenue-generating bloggers by showing them the door
        What a poor set of choices you've picked. Did you do that to try to mislead people? Are you a politician?

        What does being a blogger have to do with playing a prank? Anyone on the floor can play a prank. Having a press credential doesn't make an iota of difference. Kicking out bloggers won't reduce the risk of interference any more than kicking out the white males or the booth babes would.
        • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:47AM (#22014716) Homepage Journal
          While I don't agree very much with treating an entire group the same, there is a point to it. The trade shows are by professionals, for professionals. If you're working for a competitor, you risk getting fired because you exposed your employer to legal liability, because you represent a company when you're at the show. If you're a pro journalist, then you're NOT going to risk your career over a prank. In comparison, most bloggers have nothing at stake.
        • by Migraineman (632203) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @03:08PM (#22017002)

          What a poor set of choices you've picked. Did you do that to try to mislead people? Are you a politician?

          Not a politician, but I have worked my share of trade show booths. You pay a pretty penny to put your wares on display at a trade show, and as the customer of the trade show, you have expectations as to how the event organizers run the event. If someone pranked my display, I have every expectation that the event organizer will eject said prankster. I didn't include the "do nothing" option because it really isn't an option for the event organizer.

          Having a press credential doesn't make an iota of difference.

          Whoa, clearly you haven't been to a trade show on a press pass. There are tons of perks for the press - give aways, press-only days, non-public demos in the hospitality suite ... The primary point of attending the trade show is to get exposure for your products and services. Demoing to Joe Sixpack might garner a sale (or a handful if he does the word-of-mouth thing.) Demoing to a tech reporter can result in a magazine article that garners hundreds or thousands of sales. The trade rags (electronic or dead-tree is irrelevant) have the audience. The reporters are the focal point that brings your products into view of the desired audience. The reporters are definitely a different class of people at a trade show.

          There are a bunch of bloggers who are trying to establish that blogging is as valid a "press" medium as the traditional outlets. If they're successful in establishing that expectation, they and their peers move up in the food chain. The pranks executed by this handful of bloggers will reflect poorly on the perception of all bloggers. Members of the press are expected to behave in a certain manner - they're supposed to present an unbiased report of events. An individual who is effectively vandalizing a trade show booth can hardly be considered "unbiased." Similarly, if the local NBC affiliate was caught pranking a trade show booth, I'd expect the event organizer to black-list them permanently.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Andrew-Unit (798862)

        Bloggers will be downgraded to the status of the great unwashed masses.

        Oh please. Downgraded? I thought the neat thing about blogging was that it was done by people like me... a member of the unwashed masses!

    • by BeanThere (28381) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:27AM (#22014514)
      It's not clear to me why all bloggers should be lumped together or treated as a "community". A blog is just a medium, like a blank piece of paper. If one painter behaves unprofessionally, nobody assumes it somehow reflects on the "entire community of painters as a whole". Likewise for cartoonists, or movie actors or directors, or radio DJs, or stand-up comedians, or writers, or "real" journalists for that matter. Treat professional individuals like professional individuals, and unprofessional ones like unprofessional ones, and scrap this silly obsession with regarding all bloggers like one single borg-like entity.
    • Vandalism. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xtracto (837672) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:35AM (#22014606) Journal
      I just saw the video. I did not know what was this about. At first, I thought it was hilarious. Yes, the prank was nice. But then I thought that such acting is vandalism. I mean, the company (maybe motorlola?) that got their monitors turned off while it was presenting really should be able to sue these guys for vandalism. I know they should grow a sense of humour, but at the very least the guys should apologize publicaly to the companies that they affected.

      This kind of stuff is what you do only *ïf* you are prepared to face the consequences, and even though maybe turning off TVs would not have a lot of effect at the doctor's office or at some random public area, in this kind of technology shows it really affects the people.

      • by Crasoum (618885)
        Mmm I see your point, but I don't think vandalism would cover it properly, you're not really destroying anything, and not trying to do it to sabotage the presentation. Trespass perhaps. *shrug*
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ucblockhead (63650)
        Yeah, it's funny until you think back to the last time you yourself gave a demo, and think about what it would be like if someone else was deliberately messing with the demo of the software you'd put months of sweat into.
    • by Crasoum (618885)
      Heh looks like I was wrong about the bloggers as shown by, "Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) on Saturday January 12, @10:37AM (#22014622)

      Yes, the CES created two classes: "press" and "blogger", and yes, members of that underclass acted in a juvenile manner, bad enough to cause a stink that will appear in the "press".
      According to CNET's Rafe Needleman
      Gizmodo attended the event -- and pulled their silly stunt -- with full press credentials, not second-class blogger badges."

      Reading deeper it shows Brian Lam w
  • by DrXym (126579) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:11AM (#22014364)
    Imagine you're a company presenting your new lineup of TVs and some dickhead in the audience decides to shut them down during your presentation. How do you even begin to calculate the damage that might have caused to prospective customers or partners?

    The guy should be banned for life. At least with IR remotes you can stick a bit of tape over the receive to stop it. I imagine that wireless technologies could be extremely vulnerable to similar pranks (and sabotage). Imagine the trouble someone could cause just by blocking signals, or sending spurious malformed messages designed to kill a device.

  • All this says is if you want to be treated the same as normal journalists, stop with the damn childish pranks.

    Funny, sure, but if PC World did the same their asses would be out the door as well.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What's funny is Brian Lam's comments over on Valleywag. He's basically saying "What's the problem? We're not really the press so we shouldn't have to act professional." In essence, he's reaffirming many people's stance that many bloggers don't deserve to be treated with respect.
  • by thethibs (882667) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:16AM (#22014412) Homepage

    Funny, no; childish, yes.

    It's a shame spanking is no longer deemed appropriate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Trailer Trash (60756)

      It's a shame spanking is no longer deemed appropriate.

      Do a google search, I'm sure you'll find spanking of adults is alive and well...

  • Any publicity is good publicity for CES, as well as for Gizmodo.

    Is there ANY use of TV-B-Gone that is not mischief? I doubt it. But it's no more mischievous than, say, flipping the light switch off as they left the hall.
    • Spoken like someone who has no experience in marketing.

      Bad publicity has bankrupted people and destroyed companies. It definitely does exist. I'm not saying this is such a case, but that statement is just wrong.
  • Not funny... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:35AM (#22014604)
    Immature, unethical, and unprofessional.

    A ethical line is crossed when a blogger creates the news instead of reporting it.

    • by filterban (916724)
      I agree with you to some extent, but you need to account for gonzo journalism. Hunter S. Thompson's work was brilliant.

      Now, Gizmodo was just being a bunch of assholes, which is a lot different from Thompson. But stating that all times a journalist "creates" the news is bad is simply not true.
  • I hate TV-B-gone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Egdiroh (1086111) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:43AM (#22014676)
    I really think that the only reason for such a device to exist is to make a list of all the self centered arrogant people who buy one to purge them from society.

    The device is designed to turn off other people's TVs. If you don't like TV, or televised sports, avoid those places that have them on. Be a discerning consumer and create a market for places that will provide and pleasant atmosphere for you. Don't be a petulant child and turn the TVs off. I don't come into your place and turn your computer, or stereo off, or slam shut the book you are reading. If I did you'd take great offense, and would feel violated. Well the world is not all about you. Get over it. Don't do things whose analog you wouldn't like done to yourself.
    This might have been a rant. It might be a troll. But I really would love to hear a justification of this device that does not amount to a fascist imposition of one person's will upon others. And these things do not have enough buttons to really validate the rudimentary universal remote argument, and they are targeted at individuals not institutions, so I won't buy that some institutions with large numbers of TVs might find it useful for start/end of day stuff.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fireboy1919 (257783)
      ut I really would love to hear a justification of this device that does not amount to a fascist imposition of one person's will upon others.

      This is not normally associated with fascism. [wikipedia.org]

      I would have thought this would be obvious. Are you one of those people who finds humor sinful? If your company can't handle having itself be the butt of a joke, then it can't handle business with my company. On the other hand, if it can, then we can probably work around whatever other communications problems exist.

      Humor i
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Have Blue (616)
        Humor is, IMHO, the single most important facility in interpersonal relations.
        Its what lets unlike people work together without fighting


        But the TV-B-Gone isn't used on people you have any sort of relationship with- if you did, you could ask them to turn the TV down or off and they will usually oblige. All it's ever used for is anonymous passive-aggressive pranks and asserting that what you want the TV to do is more important than what everyone else in the immediate area wants, which usually includes the
  • Especially given the recent news about somebody controlling a cities tram system with a remote control unit, leading to derailments and injury.

    IR remote control in public places? Just say no.

  • noo (Score:3, Funny)

    by sveard (1076275) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:01PM (#22014868) Homepage
    omg they can not be allowed to encrypt remotes!!! information wants to be FREE!!!
  • by danielk1982 (868580) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:02PM (#22014882)
    What an asshole thing to do. It wasn't funny at all, and their 'apology' was worse.
  • by Picass0 (147474) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:06PM (#22014916) Homepage Journal
    I would expect Gizmodo's chances of attending future press events are circling the toilet now. A shame, they have always done minute by minute coverage of the "One more thing..." and Macworld keynotes.

    If I were a marketing staffer or PR guy I wouldn't want them anywhere near a press conference. People can lose their jobs over press demos not working, so they aren't going to take the chance of inviting four year olds in the future.

  • prank (Score:4, Insightful)

    by v1 (525388) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:13PM (#22015002) Homepage Journal
    an entertaining prank to be sure, and a surprise that no one's tried it before on this scale. There's no excuse for there not to be black electrical tape over every IR receiver on that set of displays.

    If you leave something THAT open to pranking at a public or semi-public event, it's going to happen. That's like leaving LAN jacks open all over the place at the conference and having an unsecured credit card processing machine on the same network. You deserve what you get for that level of carelessness.

    On a completely different take, this is not possible with every remote. For example, all Apple remotes have the ability to "pair" with a computer, to prevent a computer from responding to any remote besides its own This is not rocket science, and it's not new. Pairing of remotes to equipment has been going on for years and won't cost them a nickel more to add to the chip. It involves each remote having and transmitting its serial number along with the command, and the computer can simply be told to only listen to commands from one (or a small group of) serial numbers. The only thing they will have to deal with is the occasional tech call from a customer that's managed to pair a different remote to their unit.

    I for one would like to see this happen several more times until the manufactures get their heads out of the sand. This is unfortunately what it takes to motivate them. They won't lift a finger until it starts to cost them.

    Additionally, it's sometimes hard to find where on a set the IR receiver is at. On the Apple's it's behind the big apple on the front of the unit or the black dot near the latch on the laptops. On some sets, where they have a large black border, it can be hard to locate. Also, the prankster should have been very easy to spot for anyone educated in such things. Most digital cameras are VERY senstitive to IR light, and to anyone with a digital camera looking at the LCD preview screen, or to anyone with a web cam pointed into the audience, that remote would go off like a strobe. It should have taken them less than 20 seconds to find this joker.
  • by dindi (78034) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:45PM (#22015336) Homepage
    When even at your local gym they know how to put a little piece of tape over the IR receivers' port, how comes this is not accomplished by high-tech show operators?

    You could also use non transparent IR blasters to control and block unwanted nerd attacks out.

  • Gizmodo Sucks (Score:4, Informative)

    by Apreche (239272) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @01:20PM (#22015682) Homepage Journal
    Earlier this year Gizmodo pulled a prank on supposed sister-site Kotaku, putting the infamous and inappropriate tubgirl image to the Kotaku front page. After that I pretty much stopped reading, and lost all respect for, Gizmodo and it's writers and editors. Apparently that was justified. Maybe they should think about exactly why Engadget is kicking their asses.
  • by rob1980 (941751) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @01:51PM (#22016056)
    The CES's Blogger-B-Gone device is working just fine.
  • Fallout (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @03:39PM (#22017332)
    I wouldn't at all be surprised if the main fallout from this stupid, purile prank, is that the manufacturer of TV-B-GONE gets in trouble over it.
  • by SteeldrivingJon (842919) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @11:13PM (#22030706) Homepage Journal
    And charge him union rates for the labor.

    That'll show him. It'll probably bankrupt him.

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