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In addition to being an ominous security problem for GM's incredibly successful OnStar service, this is an interesting perspective on how OnStar hardware works.

Article follows:

Ray and Elna Kawal hit the open road in the fall on an 8,000-mile trip in their 2002 Chevy Tahoe with General Motors' OnStar navigation system serving as their North Star.

From their home in Sequim, Wash., across to Denver and Chicago, down to Mexico and then homeward through Arizona and California, the Kawals followed directions to tourist destinations, hotels and their friends' homes using OnStar's Global Positioning System navigation -- just the kind of business GM covets for its subscription service. But in this case, the automaker didn't make a penny from the six-week excursion.

That's because Ray Kawal, a 57-year-old retired engineer, had pried the OnStar unit from behind the glove compartment and customized it to work with his laptop and commercially available mapping software. His wife read him directions right off the laptop that sat between them. The modified unit was no longer connected to the OnStar network, over which representatives could have provided the same service for a fee.

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and thats why I wana be an engineer. I think its cool, and I didnt know anything about that? weird?
 

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Wonder how long it will be before they make that more difficult to do. Sounds to me like it was just using the ONSTAR like a GPS to locate Lat/Long and use the mapping software with location and destination to give directions. Huhhh. Good idea. I will have to read more.

yep, that's it. Cool, I want an onstar car now.
 

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I think there was an artical to this effect in Car and Driver recently. That sooner or later, people would figure out that the technology that OnStar uses is common everyday stuff there there is no reason to pay a huge fee for.

I will admit, however, that the Onstar concierge service available in a Cadillac rental was particularly handy on our last trip to Santa Fe. There was something very cool about hitting the button and asking the service to call ahead to a popular restaurant for a table and having it ready when you arrive at the curb. Granted, you could do this yourself on a cell phone, but it was a luxury.
 

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That is probably a good point and will undoubtedly drive the price of the service down. It is a little expensive now IMO.
 

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hopefully they fix any problems like this... and lower the price a little bit of the service. GM making money on On-Star is a good thing, shame on those engineers, we need there smarts making better cars, not undercutting GM.
 

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Not to be the skeptic, but how exactly did Onstar lose money? Are people actually calling up OnStar and asking the representatives to read them directions to a destination...presumably paying by the minute. (depending on the plan)? That's just plain crazy...maybe in an emergency when you are lost or something...but come on. Wouldn't surprise me if OnStar's next move would be to include a USB plug or some wireless connection so that any device in the car would be able to take advantage of the GPS unit installed in the car.
 

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How long until Symantec has to release an
OnStar AntiVirus package so people do not
get the latest circulating OnStar trojans?
 

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I'm actually surprised that it has taken this long for someone to figure out that you can call a cell phone in the car, just like the emergency calls when the airbags go off. If you don't say anything, then you don't hear the call come in.
 

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I'm not sure why I continue to be amazed that people feel entitled to things for which they haven't paid. Sure, someone can intellectualize their behavior under crap like "Well, if they charged less, I'd buy it," or "if I'm an engineer and I know how to modify it, I'm entitled to do so; I paid for the installation." That's silliness. If you disagree with the price, don't buy the service or, better yet, start your own competing service. Eventually one or the other will force GM to charge a "reasonable" price.

Morals and ethics seem to stand for less and less, and behavior like this is so pervasive that no one even pays any attention to it. It seems pretty status quo to steal and feel justified in doing it! I wonder how those same engineers would feel if they spent their own money on developing a product that people copied, stole, and essentially robbed them of their commercial rights guaranteed through creations like patent protection and the like. Then again, antisocial people generally aren't capable of considering such scenarios... How demoralizing.
 

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From what I gathered they didn't steal anything. Get off your little self-rightous soap box. Their car has a GPS unit. He used it just like a hand held unit. No service required. That is his right. I hate when people try to tell someone they cannot do with what they buy as they please. If I want to use OnStar to monitor for aliens from Urainus, that is my business. This is where ideas are turned into inventions. This is how technology is progressed.
 

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How long until Symantec has to release an
OnStar AntiVirus package so people do not
get the latest circulating OnStar trojans?
I'd hope the OnStar unit isn't running some version of windows.
 

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Originally posted by sykboy@Jan 6 2004, 04:42 PM
From what I gathered they didn't steal anything. Get off your little self-rightous soap box. Their car has a GPS unit. He used it just like a hand held unit. No service required. That is his right. I hate when people try to tell someone they cannot do with what they buy as they please. If I want to use OnStar to monitor for aliens from Urainus, that is my business. This is where ideas are turned into inventions. This is how technology is progressed.
Thank you for proving my point.
 

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Originally posted by sykboy@Jan 6 2004, 06:46 PM
That you don't understand how GPS works? Your welcome.
Please, thrill me with your acumen!

Only people who rank among the galactically stupid cannot understand the point I'm trying to make. I'm not asking for agreement, here; I'm merely raising my opinion.
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam@Jan 6 2004, 01:31 PM
I'm not sure why I continue to be amazed that people feel entitled to things for which they haven't paid.
He did pay for the GPS unit and the cell unit when he purchased the vehicle. He hasn't payed any OnStar services.
 

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And I am pointing out a FACT. Perhaps it is your inability to make a point that is the problem. Your post was full of self-righteous blather aimed at a topic you obviously know little about, being the use of GPS hardware that happens to be integrated into a vehicle. GM has nothing to do with the GPS signal the unit was recieving. It is free. He is not using the OnStar sevices and thus has not done ANYTHING immoral by any measure of the law. If it is against your personal morals to use a piece of equipment you have purchased for your own purposes, that is YOUR issue.

Even though I don't see how he did anything wrong, you are of course entitled to your opinion. Just as I am mine.
 
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