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iPhone App Review: Trickmaker

iPhone App Review: Trickmaker

December 15th, 2010 by

Playing a trick on your friend’s or co-worker’s computer is a tradition as old as computers themselves. In the past it usually involved loading a floppy disk (look it up) or installing some software that would create some zany effects, usually involving something along the lines of making the user think that they had just deleted their entire hard disk. Ah, good times.

Trickmaker for iOS devices has come along and shown us what they think is a better way. With the ubiquity of networks and the remote control ability that having an iPhone brings, the pranking possibilities are almost endless.

Features

  • With Trickmaker on your iOS device and the server software on the “target” computer, you can:
  • Move the mouse cursor.
  • Start the screensaver.
  • Switch off the monitor for two seconds.
  • Open and close the CD/DVD tray.
  • Open a “chat” dialog with the computer user.
  • Play an assortment of sounds from the speakers, including text-to-speech with a variety of voices.
  • Basically everything you need to make someone think that their computer is actually possessed.

How It Works

As I alluded to above, you not only need the Trickmaker app on your iOS device, but you need the free server software running on the target computer. Once installed, the server shows you a “pin” that is actually just the computer’s IP address and the port number through which the Trickmaker server will listen for commands from your app.

Make sure you are on the same network via WiFi that your target computer is on, then tap “Add Connection” on the Trickmaker app. Give the connection a meaningful name (“Home office”), enter the “PIN Code” (the port number should default to 9191, but you can change this if you’d like), and you’re ready to go. The first time you run the Trickmaker service file on your Windows PC, Windows firewall may ask if you would like to unblock the software. You need to do this in order for the app to work.

Once connected you are shown a control panel in the app with all of your choices. They are all fairly straightforward in their titles, giving you a good idea as to what the command will do. Some, like the sound-based collection tricks, launch a deeper menu to choose from. Most however are simple one-tap tricks that let you wreak havoc on the computer of your choice.

Pros and Cons

The setup of the system is simple: the server app that you download for the target computer is just a single executable file (Windows only for now, sorry everybody else in the whole world), which launches immediately into server mode when you open it. You can also set it to load at computer startup, which seems to me could lead to endless fun as well as a visit to the HR department if you’re ever caught.

The tricks themselves are all great and work very well. The text-to-speech thing is a terrific trick, but it may give away your gag too soon. The chat window is brilliant: it looks like something out of a TV show and allows you to chat anonymously with the person at the computer. My personal favorites though are the hardware-based tricks, like opening and closing the drive drawers or randomly moving the mouse pointer. Closing the user’s programs is a mean and potentially data-losing trick, but could also helpfully contribute to making someone think they’re insane.

Within the app itself the tricks have clear titles and descriptions, though they are grouped in arbitrary sections of numbered tricks (“Trick Set 1”, “Trick Set 2”, etc). There is some loose relationship between the tricks in each set, but it’s not very consistent. Trick Set 4 seems to consist entirely of browser-based tricks (so… why not call it something like “Browser Tricks”?), but Trick Set 3 has a grab-bag that includes opening the drive drawer, switching off the monitor, starting the screensaver, and opening the Start menu. This loose arrangement of tricks is not a huge deal, it’s easy enough to scroll through and read them all, but it would be nice if they were better organized.

There is also the issue of safety and trust: I scanned the executable for viruses, but running a random file from a website is always at your own risk. Please exercise due caution whenever you download and run an executable, especially given that you will be running this on a computer that is not your own!

You should also ensure that your network has the capability to allow this software to run before plunking down the money for the app.

Overall

Trickmaker is a great app that works very well, and has a huge variety of tricks to play on some unsuspecting computer user on your network. I encountered no crashes, all of the tricks worked as advertised (on my Windows XP machine), and the app and server software were simple to install and set up. All in all a great app if you’re looking to drive someone thoroughly batty.

You can download the server software, as well as view a demo video of the app in action, at the developer’s website. http://trickmaker.dyndns.org/

  • Rosa222010

    why does it take so long to run the server

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  • Ahmed

    i have download trickmaker its work fine for few days after that its shows in my pc that clent is not connected.what is the problem is there any solution.

    • alex

      have you download the last version ? of iphone and windows client ? bye

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