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Unlock Your Knowledge of Locks and Keys

By Alice Truong, Special for USA TODAY
May 5, 2012

A crucial but unnoticed tool in our everyday lives, keys grant us access to protected valuables. This week’s tools help you better understand the nature of locks and keys.


These days, when you’re at a Home Depot shopping for locks, you’ll notice far more options than just a few deadbolts and door knobs. Case in point: SimpliciKey, a high-tech lock for a high-tech age. The remote control electronic deadbolt can be unlocked via key fob, which sends a 128-bit AES encrypted signal up to 50 feet away; keypad, which can register up to 16 unique codes; and the old-fashioned key (how quaint). Everything’s included in the kit, and the only equipment needed for installation is a Phillips-head screwdriver. The six-pin lock, which is powered by four AA batteries, is made of heavy-duty metal and includes a full-inch bolt extension for security.

LaCie Cookey

USB drives and keychains go together like peanut butter and jelly. It was only a matter of time before a company came up with a smart design that takes advantage of this fact. Shaped like a house key, LaCie’s CooKeyuses proprietary software to encrypt and password protect files. But it’s not just the inside that’s safeguarded. The USB connector is water- and scratch-resistant, so you can put this on a chain alongside clanging keys. To further demonstrate the CooKey’s clever design, LaCie’s PC/Mac Lock software lets the drive function like a literal key, able to lock and unlock computers. The LaCie Cookey begins at $19.99.

Paper safe

Designer Rob Ives, who specializes in paper crafts and animation, details the instructions on how to create a DIY paper safe on his website. His paper version borrows the same principles of more robust locks, and the instructions are available for download. This project teaches curious learners the intricacies of the axle, rotors and how they work together. After all, locksmithing isn’t just about helping a locked-out person open a door. It’s a science that’s also centered on attempting to create uncrackable locks. While Ives’ paper combination lock project is educational, there are limitations. If you secured your bike with a paper lock, don’t expect to see it again.

MIT Lock Guide

Lock picking is an incredibly useful skill. It can be challenging to master, but it’s fun to play with something mechanical that relies as much on aptitude as it does artistry and analytical thinking. In short, this is nerds’ idea of a fun Friday night, followed by a Minecraft marathon. Widely regarded as a comprehensive exemplar to the craft, The MIT Guide to Lock Picking, readily available online, is a 1991 paper that details the nature and characteristics of keys, locks and the art of picking. The 48-page paper written by one Theodore T. Tool, who also goes by the moniker Ted the Tool, is suitable for people with varying expertise and includes exercises that teach and reinforce single skills and coordination.

TOOOL Emergency Lock-Pick Card

Locked out? It’s time to put those lock-picking abilities to the test. Get to work manipulating those springs and tumblers. For the folks who don’t have a set of tiny tools handy at all times, check out the TOOOL Emergency Lock-Pick Card. TOOOL, an acronym for The Open Organisation of Lockpickers, aims to enhance awareness of locks and their weaknesses, so consumers can better equip themselves. The credit-card sized kit, available from Maker Shed (a favorite among DIY geeks) for $29.99, should be in every picker’s wallet. When in a bind, the picks and tension wrenches can be snapped off. Once the tools have been removed, they can be kept on a keychain or in a wallet.

E-mail Alice Truong at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @alicetruong.

To read the original news article, please visit: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/unlock-knowledge-locks-keys/story?id=16285277#.T-lg2hc5Law