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Hardware Hacking Toys Build

Make Your Own DHS Threat Level Display At Home 132

Posted by timothy
from the sir-it's-off-the-charts dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This guy put together what most law-abiding Slashdotters have always wanted for Christmas: a stylish, wall-mounted homeland security threat level display. A perfect accent for the living room."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Make Your Own DHS Threat Level Display At Home

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  • Cost-cutting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Senes (928228) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @05:18AM (#34606080)
    You can save money by leaving out the three colors which aren't actually used.
    • And now everybody go watch 'Brazil' again.

    • by jkmartin (816458)
      And it would be compatible with the proposed new system that only has 2 settings: "elevated" and "imminent".
    • by RDW (41497)

      Will the audio warnings also be implemented?:

      http://www.theonion.com/articles/orange-alert-sirens-to-blow-24-hours-a-day-in-majo,135/ [theonion.com]

    • not so fast, cowboy (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pohl (872)

      That would be true if we were to use this display for the uncreative purpose of displaying whatever threat-level the DHS is currently at.

      I would pay for a display like this. Back in 2004 I had to resort to using the various colors of the dry-erase-marker rainbow to create a threat-level display on the whiteboard in my office. Back then my team's product had a memory leak somewhere in it, and nobody believed me. The servers would be up for a handful of days, and then just when everybody was lulled into a

      • by Nethead (1563)

        "..which was on a steady incline with no sine of abating."

        Clever pun or misspelling?

    • by AndGodSed (968378)

      I would have been extra impressed if it was automated and took the setting from something like this site online:

      http://www.geekandproud.net/terror/ [geekandproud.net]

      Or, for the less ernified among us: http://www.terror-alert.com/ [terror-alert.com]

      I bet with a little work I can make one that merges into my current desktop wallpaper... Some imagemagic, curl and grep in a script should do nicely...

    • by mysidia (191772)

      You can save money by leaving out the three colors which aren't actually used.

      He used a $25,000 milling machine to engrave letters on a sign, and you're thinking about saving money based on the number of colors. He would have money by not having bought the $25k machine, which is out of most Slashdotters budgets anyways :)

      He could have saved money by using stick-on letters and spray paint on a transparency, and a LED for backlighting.

      Or just print the display on photo paper... and put it in a p

      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        It's not 25 000$, however you weren't far from the actual retail price [rolanddga.com] (21 000$ USD for those interested).

        • by mysidia (191772)

          It's not 25 000$, however you weren't far from the actual retail price

          Maybe the base unit won't cost 25k. But you need additional accessories such as CAD and CAM software to make the machine do what it's supposed to.

          CAM Software starts around $2000

        • Yeah, but that's without any tooling.
    • by formfeed (703859)

      You can save money by leaving out the three colors which aren't actually used.

      Right.

      I bought a string of orange LED lights on sale right after Halloween.
      It now displays the security threat level.

  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @05:20AM (#34606092)

    Outside the bathroom door. The rest of the family will appriciate it.

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      You will need to add a HC and NOx sensor in the bathroom to allow for automatic updates.

      But I think that the road administrations around the world should have this kind of signs - to list the current danger level for the road in question. That would probably save more lives than any terror alert warning.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Sunday December 19, 2010 @05:20AM (#34606094)

    The "low" (green) and "guarded" (blue) levels have never actually been used, and probably won't ever be, so they're only really there in theory.

    Perhaps a more realistic version would've had the cutout for those two levels, but not bothered to install the color backing, because the switch would be rigged so selecting them is impossible.

    • by troll -1 (956834)

      The "low" (green) and "guarded" (blue) levels have never actually been used, and probably won't ever be ....

      True. They prob won't ever be used because then Congress would cut their funds. What a racket.

    • by ethanms (319039)

      After the complete release of all major nuclear weapons results in the total annihilation of civilization (and most life) I'm pretty sure they can drop that baby down to "Low"... there won't be much a homeland left to worry about securing...

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      The "low" (green) and "guarded" (blue) levels have never actually been used, and probably won't ever be, so they're only really there in theory.

      All those blue screens never happened?

  • When you set it to green it explodes.
  • He's Michal Zalewski (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 19, 2010 @05:23AM (#34606108)

    Michal Zalewski [wikipedia.org] isn't just some guy. He's a well known security researcher.

  • Waste of time (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 19, 2010 @05:31AM (#34606126)
  • I've gone low-tech. I just have the following video playing on the telly:

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xg5m2n_janet-napolitano-and-wal-mart_news [dailymotion.com] ...and have a more 'current' theme of Security Scare Theatre over the now decommissioned threat level display.

  • Too late (Score:3, Informative)

    by jhylkema (545853) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @05:32AM (#34606130)

    DHS has recommended dropping the colour-coded terror alert system [www.cbc.ca].

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      I thought that Robot Chicken [adultswim.com] had established a long time ago that we'd replaced the color coded terrorism alert system with one that uses rubber duckies.

    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      The same government also recommended plastic sheeting and duct tape, and at one time, the concept of "Duck and Cover" [youtube.com] for dealing with nuclear weapon detonation.

      • by khallow (566160)

        at one time, the concept of "Duck and Cover" for dealing with nuclear weapon detonation.

        Beats "stand up and fry". Sure, odds are fair, you won't be in a situation where a colossal explosion, nuclear or not, intentional or not, goes off near you, but not too near you. If you do happen to be in that situation, you have a better idea?

        • Yeah. Making sure that those that could cause such an explosion don't have shelters. It kinda increases their interest to NOT start such a nonsense.

          Why try to avoid something after the fact? I'd consider it a better idea to avoid making something a fact that you cannot protect yourself from.

          • Yeah. Making sure that those that could cause such an explosion don't have shelters. It kinda increases their interest to NOT start such a nonsense.

            You assume that US government officials not having a shelter would somehow deter Soviet leaders from dropping the bomb. That's like the idea of putting a 10-inch spike on the center of a steering wheel to make the driver have a interest in driving safe. It only works if the driver is driving the only car on the road.

          • by khallow (566160)

            Making sure that those that could cause such an explosion don't have shelters.

            Not going to happen. You have any more fantasies you'd like to waste our time with?

            Why try to avoid something after the fact? I'd consider it a better idea to avoid making something a fact that you cannot protect yourself from.

            Because such things happen. Avoidance is never perfect.

        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          Beats "stand up and fry".

          I'm pretty sure that the life and death during a nuclear holocaust isn't determined solely by how many inches you are from the floor. And if you ever find yourself in the center of a nuclear holocaust, I assure you, the ones that instantly fry are the lucky ones. Even as a kid in the 60s and 70s, we were glad we lived next to a primary Soviet targer (B-52 base), because we knew we would die instantly instead of being the unlucky ones that wandered around in the aftermath. As grue

          • by khallow (566160)

            I'm pretty sure that the life and death during a nuclear holocaust isn't determined solely by how many inches you are from the floor.

            I doubt you can find one of those videos that does claim otherwise. They probably also talk about dealing with blindness, burns, radiation poisoning, lack of infrastructure, etc. But if you do end up near, but not too near a large explosion, then your life span past the next few seconds is in very large part determined by how many inches you are from the floor.

            • by Pharmboy (216950)

              I doubt you can find one of those videos that does claim otherwise.

              Do you realize what all is involved in a nuclear explosion? Not a dirty bomb, but a good old fashioned thermonuclear device? I understand that most people don't really, and perhaps my military training gives me a little edge, but you are talking about something hotter than the surface of the sun (ie: measured in megakelvins), and by the time you notice it, at any distance that "ducking" could be even conceivably effective, you are already b

              • by nmb3000 (741169)

                It is like holding your break when released into the vacuum of space: too little, too late.

                Ah, you had me all ready for a car analogy there. :(

              • by khallow (566160)

                Do you realize what all is involved in a nuclear explosion? Not a dirty bomb, but a good old fashioned thermonuclear device?

                Yes. Yes. Any other questions? I must admit to being surprised by your self-contradictory claims given your alleged military experience. You admit that one can (though not necessarily does) survive at a certain distance from a nuclear explosion via "duck and cover" yet continue to waffle on about the power of the nuclear bomb somehow precluding this. We don't have to take your word for it though. There's plenty of evidence from the atomic bombings of the Second World War (the larger, Nagasaki at 21 kilotons

      • And it worked just as well as our anti-terrorism measures work! Or have you or anyone else in the US ever been killed by a nuclear bomb?

        See? The system works!

    • Yes. Of course. And why? Because the whole color coded nonsense was (rightfully) mocked from here to Albuquerque. It's the staple of jokes related to homeland security or the war on terror in general. I'm honestly wondering why we didn't get yesterday, when discussing the dropping of the DADT practice of the army, "DADT gets dropped? OMG! Set threat level to mauve!"

  • Would prefer one.
  • I made my own CNC milling machine for less than $1000 plans http://www.drzib.com/projects.php [drzib.com] (Google drzib projects)
    • by robi5 (1261542)

      That's nothing! In my youth, my father had to build his own welding apparatus just so he can build his concrete mixer whih he then used to build our family house.

  • by Smivs (1197859) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Sunday December 19, 2010 @05:39AM (#34606158) Homepage Journal
    But it's no use if it's not automatic! What if you forget to switch it to the appropriate level?
    • Exactly! I was wondering what he used as a random number generator, but it turns out that a human needs to supply the random numbers. Lame!
      • Connect it to your computer, and have it display the risk associated with your computer's current state:
        * Computer off: Low.
        * Computer running Linux: Guarded.
        * Computer running Windows: Elevated.
        * Computer running Windows and accessing the Internet: High.
        * Computer running Windows and accessing the Internet using Internet Explorer: Severe.

        SCNR

    • by tchdab1 (164848)

      Exactly.
      One thing this project has shown is that Homeland Security needs a threat-level website and a threat-level radio frequency. They can broadcast the threat level continuously, not in a small handful of discreet levels but in a nearly granular spectrum from blissful to bowel-blowing terror. Say, update the threat level 100 times a second based on CIA/NSA intercepts and analyses, local input from around the country ("who are those guys over by the water tower? Barney, notify DHS!), and presidential dire

      • by vlm (69642)

        Grats on reinventing the NWS weather alert SAME system

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_Area_Message_Encoding [wikipedia.org]

        There are perfectly good DHS compatible "you should be scared" messages like CEM, EVI, BHW, DEW, etc

        You'll find the market for notification devices has not been as big as you expect, but it keeps some manufacturers in business, so I guess its not too small.

        It is, of course, completely cryptologically insecure so you occasionally read news stories in the back pages about the occasionally goofball

      • They could broadcast with a carrier frequency of 1 kHz. Nobody else is broadcasting at that frequency.

    • by Arlet (29997)

      You might as well print out the levels on several pieces of paper, stack them all up, and put the correct one on top.

    • Then the same happens that happens when they forget to set the level in the "real" one: Nothing.

    • by Ksevio (865461)
      Well it's been at Orange for the past few years and now they're ditching the color system so you're probably safe leaving it at that.
  • Wasn't the colour-coded threat level discontinued? I thought I remember reading about it on Schneier's
  • You could just stick to the good old Muppet threat level by embedding http://www.geekandproud.net/terror/terror.jpg [geekandproud.net] into your site.

  • For extra fun, sew it into a Yankees jersey and wear it to Boston. They love [wikipedia.org] blinking lights [boston.com] in Boston.
  • by RoverDaddy (869116) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @06:32AM (#34606300) Homepage
    Of course making the plaid epoxy color filter would have been a little bit more complicated.
  • Even Oceania had DIY fans. Thinkpol was really happy to see that.
  • The new kdawson.

  • by h00manist (800926) on Sunday December 19, 2010 @07:53AM (#34606534) Journal
    The modern-fad "doomsday clock" would perhaps be inspired after the nuclear-war doomday clock, counting how close to implosion Wall St gets. In any case, it's neared midnight a number of times now. People like apocalypse clocks. doomsday clock [wikipedia.org], US Debt clock [usdebtclock.org], ipv6 countdown clock. [twitter.com] Impossible to tell how many fear and how many hope for a "Wall St Doomsday" -- but a clock just counts time.
  • Homeland Security should provide the threat level via WWVB, the time hack sent out of Colorado. This threat level device or something like it could update nationally in real time automatically like a clock.
  • Surely this needs some way of communicating at the DHS. For example, I might spot my neighbour with a pair of binoculars, a book and a pen. We should report such suspicious activity to the authorities!!
  • But I like Dial A Yield better.

  • All 3 of them?

  • You too can give the gift of Big Brother to your loved ones.
  • Once the real DHS finds out he stole how they actually do it LOL.
  • Not to mention the maximum level of alert: The cover of Rush's seminal album "Moving Pictures".
  • I just stapled a piece of orange construction paper to my wall. It never moves off orange.

  • Such services are available now. There are "Christian ISPs" [truevine.net], with heavy filtering at the server. They have very few customers.

    • by jroysdon (201893)

      Thing is, you can use OpenDNS to filter 99% of things for free and it is so easy to set up. Why bother paying?

  • Frankly, I don't care. Seriously, who even pays attention to these 'threat levels'?
  • As pretty as thas is, this is Slashdot and I'd have expected one or more of the following features:

          (1) Internet connection
          (2) Out of circuit, redundant internet connection
          (3) A link to some DHS Threat Level status source with automated update of the status on the device
          (4) some stupid social networking linkage (since it's so bloody ubiquitous...)

    But, nice box.

  • "Make Your Own DHS Threat Level Display At Home"

    In what world does using a fucking CNC MILLING MACHINE qualify as "at home". 99.999% of people do not have machining tools worth more than a car sitting around their house.
  • So this is a kind of home "theatre" system, then?

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