Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Gumball Bandit - Part 1

In goes a quarter...rattle rattle rattle...out comes one...rattle, two...rattle rattle twist, no, make that six..., correction, make that ten gumballs. The whole thing reminds me of fourth grade when my pet mouse learned to crawl over the walls of the maze to get to the cheese.

Ten gumballs for the price of one. $.025 each.

If smoking marijuana is a stepping stone to doing other drugs, then stealing gumballs must be a stepping stone to stealing other trinkets. First its gumballs. Next its little rubber bouncing balls. Plastic rings. Necklaces. Punching balloons! Ultimatley, your sticking your arm up the drop chute of the Claw game at your local arcade, just to get that little stuffed frog that your dollar and skills couldn't. Mugging a carnival carnie can't be far off. WHERE DOES IT END???

So what does this blog entry have to do with software? Cue the "eek eek eek" slasher horror movie sound bite and imagine this:

Live Gumball Dispenser .Net 1.0 (beta)

I can just see it. It's an internet-connected gumball machine that runs on Windows CE and has been threat modeled and passed a full security review.

Here's the sceanrio. After lunch with your buddies, you have a hankorin' for some candy coated rubbery goodness and just happen to have some money in your smart card account. You walk to the LGDDN1(b), wave your smart card near the built-in card reader, touch the "I Accept" button on the touch screen and viola! Out comes one gumball stamped with a four-color logo and the text "Powered by Windows CE". It even has a trademark notice.

I know. You're probably thinking "how cool!" but consider this. When you touch the "I Accept" button, you are accepting the provision that allows the LGDDN1(b) to collect your personally identifiable information. In addition, it records the date and time of your visit. What's more, it got your quarter. In return, you get a cavity and we all get higher dental insurance premiums.

I don't write this just to be funny. I'm genuinely concerned about this growing problem on the Mother Ship. Some day I may go to buy a gumball only to be disappointed because the machine is empty. And I fear the LGDDN1(b). You should too.

Beware. The Gumball Bandit is out there...