Magnetic Stripe Reader Teardown

In April, I started reverse engineering the MSR605X magnetic stripe reader. Progress has basically paused at this point as I handle other affairs, but I figured that I may as well document what I have learned so far. My code for this little project is on Gitlab. This post won’t describe how magstripe readers work. If you’re interested, Major Malfunction gave an excellent in-depth talk on the subject. For this post, we only need to know that chip on the magstripe reader measures some stuff and sends us some bytes via USB.

Rice, Rice, Baby

I promised an update on my (Thinkpad X200) laptop upgrade, so here it is. Hardware I swapped out the old miniscule 120 GB (!!!) hard drive with a new and shiny 1 TB drive. Moreover, I went and upgraded the ram in the laptop from a single PC3-10600 4GB board to two 4 GB PC-8500 boards. I also went ahead and replaced my delapidated keyboard (where the Super and / keys were broken) with a new keyboard.

Bye Bye Capslock

Hate Capslock? Me too. Nobody uses it on purpose. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used the Capslock key unironically. Time to rebind it to escape. That’ll be far more useful with vim. xsetkbmap -options caps:escape Good riddance.

New Computer Setup

I just got to the dorms, and I’ve got my room setup. Here’s what I’m running with: Thinkpad X200 4GB Memory 120 GB HDD Full disk encryption with LVM OpenSUSE 13.2 External 500 GB (unencrypted) HDD Auxillary monitor (1280p is nothing though) Initial Thoughts OpenSUSE is pretty cozy. Zypper seems like a nice upgrade from the old apt-get in Debian and Ubuntu. I personally haven’t used YaST too much, but it seems pretty well done… too bad I use command line more than the GUI.