Many years ago someone told me this interesting fact about how people receive compliments and it went something like this:

“If a person receives a compliment, even if they know it is disingenuous, they still feel better about themselves.”

What? This made no sense to me, how would that even be possible. If I was having a terrible day and someone I knew didnt care said something nice about me I’d feel better? Madness, our brains need an upgrade. But I started reading the paper for some clues – at present I cant find the initial one, but there are a few others here and here. The second one actually talks about people performing better after receiving a compliment, but you get the picture.

But after reading this I had an idea to build a compliment printer, something very basic where you press a button and receive candy .. a compliment. So I set off building one. I had the parts from various other projects it. The biggest hassle was fitting everything inside the printer, but I think it came out nicely :)

Check out this video of the Printer in action!

Where is it?

I figured I would put it at a bar as often (myself included) people find it easy to go to a bar if they are feeling down. I also LOVE punk rock and its often played at Surfarosa, one of my favourite bars. I don’t know if it will get rekt or have beer poured all over it or be taken, but its at the bar at the moment. So if you want to go get a compliment head on down there!













Also one of the bartenders left a comment on my Facebook post which is kinda awesome:

Build process after the break!
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Over the years, halloween has always been fun for me, I basically wish I was American so that I could dress up excessively every year!

This year I decided that I would like to build my own costume. Naturally I wanted all the blinken lights, but without all the hard work of having to build the frame around it. Sadly while soldering together LEDs and piecing together some code to get them to work was something I could do, building the non electronic parts of the costume to make it look good was far out of my reach.

The costume came out as follows, how I put it together after the break:

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Usually I have a blog post about building/breaking something with the intention of actually building or breaking it. This one however is not like the others.

It started about 2 years ago, I got a POV fan from the Lockheed Martin booth at Blackhat, it looked as follows:

This is how I destroyed that fan. I made a lot of dumb mistakes and learnt a couple of things too.
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Hacker badges of Defcon 2017 (25)
Defcon every year has many many different electronic badges that you can play with / hack / blind your friends with.  I was lucky enough to get one of these really cool badges and I wanted to figure out the lock codes from the hardware/firmware rather than trying to use the interface.


I didn’t end up going into the firmware beyond strings since they released it on github eventually and there were no other unlocks, but the basics of doing it were as follows:

— Get an FTDI cable ( the hackerwarehouse badge is 3.3v and I have one similar to this: )
— Connect the wires up correctly to TX and RX
— Make sure the device is found ( lsusb on linux and system_profiler SPUSBDataType on OSX )
— Get the lastest esptool from
— Put the badge into firmware mode by booting and holding the down button
— python ./ –port /dev/tty.usbserial-A106AUUX -b 74880 -c esp8266 read_flash 0 0x400000 badge_flash.bin
strings original_contents.bin | grep -B 15 -A 15 LRLR


region perm unlocked
region unlocked
see if I don't!
with my blurglecruncheon,

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After the fairly successful ZACon badges I did in 2014, the BSides team in Cape Town (where I now live) asked if I’d like to be involved in building another one. Naturally my response was abso-fscking-lutely not. However with a combination of alcohol, begging and offers of whatever we wanted ( mostly from our marvelous sugar pony ) they did manage convince Mike Davis (@ElasticNinja) and myself to do them for 2016. So we set off with a couple of cynical attitudes and some fantastic hangovers to start some brand new badges.

This is a much longer post than normal and one I’ve split into two separate parts, a brief coverage of the hardware and then a longer explanation of the software. If you are just interested in the code, you can head over to

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