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Music Media Hardware Hacking Technology

XM Radio Hacked by Car Computer Hobbyists 189

An anonymous reader writes "There is an article over at that talks about a small Florida company called Hybrid Mobile Solutions, that hacked XM Radio. They created a cable and software that makes the new XM Commander and XM Direct units work just like an XMPCR. They are in negotiations with TimeTrax to allow recording of XM Radio to MP3's. XMPCR was canned due to this late last month."
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XM Radio Hacked by Car Computer Hobbyists

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  • Hackers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Underholdning ( 758194 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @11:35AM (#10535743) Homepage Journal
    I wouldn't call it hacking. More like reverse engineering the old service and building a new.
    Call me a nitpicker, but the term hacker is growing too wide for my taste.
  • Re:Hackers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by julesh ( 229690 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @11:37AM (#10535764)
    Actually, I think this is pretty close to the original meaning of 'hacking' -- cobbling together a piece of equipment to do what you want when there's no commercially available system to do it.
  • by samberdoo ( 812366 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @11:43AM (#10535828)
    It's not like they are trying to get the service for free. This is for subscribers who want to use the service differently. You can make MP3's off of broadcast radio too.
  • by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @11:44AM (#10535834)
    Isn't it stange that the FCC says that they can't regulate satelite TV, but then they turn around and prosecute people who hack the signal?

    Either you can regulate satelite transmissions or you can't. Make up your mind!

  • by artifex2004 ( 766107 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @11:44AM (#10535839) Journal
    Someone recording sub-CD-quality music from a device they're required to have a subscription to use is a hack, yes, and may even be a good one if there are no native outputs... but it's not hacking the company.

    Saying "XM Radio got hacked" brings to mind ideas like

    1) someone's broken the subscription requirement,
    2) someone's broken into XM servers,
    3) someone's taken over XM's broadcast satellite system,

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday October 15, 2004 @11:53AM (#10535925) Homepage Journal

    You and this guy [] totally missed the point. Hacking is just making a system do something it wasn't designed to do, or making it do something it WAS designed to do but the functionality was not enabled for one reason or another. Writing code is hacking because you're adding new functionality. Finding a better way to do something and replacing original functionality is also covered by this term. So, perhaps unfortunately, is unauthorizedly logging into computer systems through hook and/or crook, though many of us have campaigned for that meaning to be replaced by the word "cracking" so as not to tarnish the word "hacker".

    Getting XM to do something it doesn't normally do is hacking.

  • by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @11:57AM (#10535964) Homepage
    I remember in the good old days, not only was it legal to hack the stuff you bought, you actually OWNED the stuff you bought. Heck, I'm old enough to remember back when all electronics came with schematics! I'd love to have schematics for the stuff I buy now.

  • by TrentTheThief ( 118302 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:03PM (#10536037)
    No one has "hacked" XM Radio.

    Several companies have come up with a way to add and PC-controlable tuner interface between the XM Direct radio. No big deal.

    This issue does not concern the FCC since the service itself is not being stolen as was the case with sat TV service.

    I own three of the XMPCR boxes. Two are in use, one at work and one at home, and the third is my spare (gotta have my XM.)
  • by tooloftheoligarchy ( 557158 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:04PM (#10536051)

    ...that what I'd really like in my car is time-shifted:

    • News
    • Traffic
    • Weather

    Of course, the radio station's business model depends on my sitting through mind-numbing ads to catch the 20-second blast of traffic info, but with a subscription service, it seems like a perfect fit. I hope this idea goes somewhere.

  • by christowang ( 590054 ) <> on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:09PM (#10536109) Homepage
    You can record though. That's like saying who would buy cable and a tv if you can't record.

    All you need is any of the units and a tape deck instead of a vcr, or you could output it to your computer, or anything else that accepts audio input.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:17PM (#10537020)
    By plugging it into your PC, your PC can control the radio and start/stop the recordings when the songs start/stop.

    This means individual MP3s on your hard drive.
  • The Only Way... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trolling4Dollars ( 627073 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:01PM (#10537601) Journal
    ...the music industry is ever going to prevent piracy is if they take away the ability for the average person to record. There is no way in hell that they can do that without getting some kind of law passed that requires you to be a licensed professional in order to record audio or video. I can't see things going that far yet. But like it or not, the average person has a lot of options for recording these days.

    Back when I was in high school and was lusting after a 4 track reel-to-reel multitrack deck from Tascam, there was a financial barrier to high quality recordings. But today, there are so many options out there that even if you aren't using AES/EBU digital connection (no SCMS DRM) you can still get much higher quality copies than you could with a cassette deck back in the 80s. So, even if the RIAA and MPAA do get DRM so intertwined into newer audio and video gear, it's going to be next to impossible to prevent older decent quality devices from recording. This is a battle that can't be won without draconian mesaures.

    The shame of all of this is that nearly everyone with a computer has the facilities for making their own music and therefore bypassing the RIAA altogether. I do remember a period of time in the 80s when it was illegal to own a 4-track recorder in a residential area in my state. I wonder if they are going to try that with software based virtual studios? Likely not since most people with the ability and talent are just too lazy to make their own music. (It's easier than you think. If you can set up a Cisco network, you can make your own music.) So, what can the RIAA and MPAA do to stop people from pirating? How about they take away all sound cards and video caputre cards, digital audio and video recorders, and software based audio? They can't. The genie is out of the bottle.

    With that out of the way, is it right to distribute music that you aren't authorized to distribute? Absolutely not. Quite a problem, ehhh?
  • Re:XMPCR? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PriceIke ( 751512 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:08PM (#10537693)

    > You can go to bed and wake up the next morning with several hundred mp3s on your machine all labeled correctly and ready for distribution.

    You just assume that everyone who uses TimeTrax does so for the purpose of distributing music.

    Let me ask you .. what is the point of this? Do you really think people get a CD and go, "ooh, I can rip all of these songs and UPLOAD them to thousands and thousands of people I don't even know! W00T!" No. The point of TimeTrax was so people can listen to what they want whenever they want on whatever they want .. PC, Linux box, MP3 player, sunglasses [], what the hell ever. They're paying for the music by subscribing to XM .. by using TimeTrax it gives them more control over the music than the RIAA wants them to have, so ipso facto it must be a "crime"?

    The electronics industry are more and more doing their damnest to limit and restrain the freedom of their customers to use their products however they want. By assuming every customer might actually use their brain and think of a new way to apply the product, they work on the assumption therefore that each customer is a potential criminal.

  • Does it matter? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by javaxman ( 705658 ) on Friday October 15, 2004 @04:23PM (#10539328) Journal
    XM is likely to be over in a few years anyway [], right?

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal