CueCat® Links

Note: some of these links currently return messages re: existing but publicly unavailable software.

This seems to be related to the fact that several of the developers received letters, with lots of lawyers' names at the top, encouraging them to stop making their software available to others. For more info, and probably the best collection of links and related info, see The CueCat Driver Mirror List . The flyingbuttmonkeys site has a link to current discussion on slashdot, as well.

No active development here, just a jumping-off place for finding CueCat-related info. Linux-related links will be emphasized, though I'll gladly link to other resources as well, particularly those whose source code is freely (speech) available. Please submit relevant links if you don't see them here (other than the well-known corporate sponsors / early adopters who, if you need the reminders, may sound like but are not named,, Ray D. O'Shack, WhyRed, & Forb's).

And no, unless suitably threatened by TM-holders, I won't be using colons in the name, as listed in the mfr's adverts. They make it annoying to type, and even more annoying to search for. However, if pressed, I'll gladly follow the lead of one /. discussant and refer to this item as the colon cat (is that how it gets read via text-to-speech interface?)


[OT] If anyone reading this has expertise on drivers for the SV-2020 (infrared remote trackball), please drop me a line (see below). It's also known as the "Web.Remote Professional", and was made/sold by InterAct. I've put together some links to SV-2020 Resources to help anyone who is working on this thing.

Slashdot is where I first read about the cuecat device, in their Aug 22 edition . A number of the comments are informative and/or thought-provoking. Searches for cue & cat via the usual search engines turned up little of interest, unless you count messages re: an old vulnerability in HPUX. I recently submitted this link to Google; lessee if this gets any more traffic going (as of Sept 12, they're still mum on the subject, except for the commercial cuecat sites--but look below).


I owe an extra "Hi!" to the lovely folks at that cuecat place (you know, the one that's not named, who finally followed the mirror trail here (from According to the web logs, the blessed event took place Tuesday morning [12/Sep/2000:08:11:34 -0600]. Thanks, guys--I was starting to feel left out.

Linux-friendly (Linux-specific or platform-independent)

An excellent source of cuecat-related info is the CueCat project page at; this is the host site for Pierre-Philippe Coupard's driver and related items. They've got a nice list of barcode-related links as well.

Pay a visit to to read about Michael Rothwell's "foocat barcode" project. Mr. Rothwell's page also links to a document that nearly answers the question, "Can a letter contain the words 'flyingbuttmonkey' and still be considered a 'persuasive communication' ?"

Possibly Platform-Independent

I've been informed that Greg Kearney has taken down his "nice :Cue:Cat to UPC Database page..."; It appears that such a page has been re-created at:

The nice folks at have put up a rather interesting CueCat Reverse Engineering page, complete with links to generic barcode info and color photos of a cue-feline dissection. They've even put a form for direct cuecat data entry on their page, that lets you scan an item in the (relative) privacy of your home and get the translated version of the data via your browser (after disabling your CRQ software, of course).

Other links gleaned from slashdot discussion:

Mark Duell tells me that no longer has a cuecat.html page up; nowadays you can read (just a little) about his Reverse base-64 decoder at

Updates: Sept.1, 2000

As DigitalConvergence sends "interesting" letters to developers (see for the first known example), some people have decided to keep information available. Links to mirror sites may be found at The CueCat Decoder Mirror List

Get the insider's view of the cuecat at

Christopher Curzio's CueCat resource page

So What's The Catch? (TANSTAAFL)

As far as we can tell, when the CueCat successfully completes a scan of any bar code, it transmits not only it's device-id but also a code that appears to be a serial number--a unique, unit-id identifying number. It's true. [cue: gasp; astonished look].

See the above-referenced Slashdot announcement and ensuing brawls ^H^H^H^H^Hgenteel discussions following the original article and a second, "slashback" discussion on SlashDot for details.


Of course, I must presume that all of the commercial enterprises, currently involved in so generously sharing these valuable technical tools, are doing so from the purest of intentions--the desire to ease the lives of their consumers and potential customers, while making it simpler for them to stay on the correct and brand-loyal path.

Despite my gratitude for their wonderful gesture, however, I must admit feeling some uneasiness about this happy event. A small, nagging voice persistently suggests that someone out there--totally unrelated to any of our benefactors, of course--has another plan in mind. It would seem probable that software could be compiled and distributed, giving no clues to users, that could enable the wonderful and obvious features ascribed to the :Cue system, while covertly enabling other things.

For instance--since the cuecat sends its unit-id to the computer, the software could convey that information to the target web host easily, secretly--and unnecessarily. Just one registration-form later, and the owner of the web site may have the user's name, cuecat unit-id, and some typical cookies, all at once. This could provide enormous "marketing value" to the website owner, who is now in a position to sell the user's identity to targeted-marketing interests. The user unknowingly gives up yet another layer of privacy, while someone else profits by that very loss. The privacy implications rival those of Intel's ill-fated unique processor-id, which similarly enabled the long-term, definitive identification of specific computer hardware over the network, by covert means. In this case, however, the risks could be easily sidestepped by making the software source code public.

Those who developed and distribute(d) the currently closed-source software for the CueCat, would seem to have incentives that do not favor rigorous privacy protections for users. Keeping it closed-source further heightens the risks to users while retaining maximal benefits for the advertisers. This requirement, that users blindly place trust in this software as given, without means to verify its security and privacy protections, creates a stiff price of admission for the use of the CueCat device. Revealing the code to the software would be one clear way to demonstrate goodwill, and to prove that unit-id information is not being made available as a customer-tracking device for the paying corporate customers. And for the user, it wouldn't feel so much like they were being asked to let the fox guard the henhouse. Developers could verify that unit-id information is masked at the driver level, thus reducing the risk of deliberate or inadvertent privacy disclosures.

[End Rant]

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