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Spy Gadgets: A Visit With the Real-Life Q 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the cone-of-silence dept.
AlistairCharlton writes in a neat article about night vision watches, video recording glasses, and other real-life spy gadgets. "Q (real name Jeremy Marks) has run SpyMaster for 20 years and has three branches in central London. The company sells a wide range of covert equipment, from recorders disguised as chewing gum wrappers and watches with night vision cameras, to body armour and home security. Far from meeting our Quartermaster deep in the bowels of MI5 or at an abandoned Underground station, we were invited into SpyMaster's flagship store just off Oxford street; it's a glass-fronted shop just like any other - no M, no whiskey cabinet (so far as we could see) and no ejector seats in sight. "
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Spy Gadgets: A Visit With the Real-Life Q

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  • Vague title (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by cripkd (709136)
    I was thinking of the other Q and was wondering just how much of what Q from Star Trek (TNG) could do can you achieve today in real life, aside dressing in a starfleet "pijama".
    So the article was a bit disapointing. Plus there were 2 videos about DotCom autoplaying at once on that page.
    • I'm just confused because I'm not sure whether this is a slashvertisement for the new 007 movie or this SpyMaster store.
      • by hutsell (1228828)

        I'm just confused because I'm not sure whether this is a slashvertisement for the new 007 movie or this SpyMaster store.

        My guess would be for the later. It's a most likely a "staged" product interview for Jeremy Marks' London SpyMaster Stores using the latest Bond film as a segue; similar to the scenarios when writers and actors do the interview circuit promoting their soon to be released book or film. This isn't the real-life Q of MI5 expected; instead, this is a real-life Q using the moniker for marketing purposes.

        However, if his company comes up with that jet pack or flying car everyone has been waiting decades for -- or

        • Q of MI6

          FTFY

          • by hutsell (1228828)

            Q of MI6

            FTFY

            Thanks. Fwiw, having been a fan of Fleming's books, I did sense something wrong as I ignored the idea and wrote MI5 anyway. However, in (my somewhat) delayed defense, I couldn't help noticing the cause: that TFS, taken from TFA, both had made the error of referring to Q as an employee of MI5.

            If I were to give SpyMaster the benefit of doubt, remembering MI6 wasn't officially recognized until the 1990's, they probably said the wrong department intentionally, misnaming it due to a combination of old habits

        • I could maybe understand 1 video set to autoplay but 2 is begging to be added to AdBlock.

          what i find bizzare is the BBC thing of having video "ads" on A SERIES VIDEO PAGE (hint if im going to a page to see an episode of a series that is the Only Video That should be on that page).

    • Same. I got really excited thinking they visited a basically omnipotent being.
  • Are these gadgets too costly? I wonder if i have one video recording glass.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Not sure, did a quick search on amazon. Many of the better rated smaller 'spy' cam devices run into $50's+.
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Good ones? yes they are costly. But there are a ton of garbage quality spy cameras on ebay and amazon.com at prices under $500.00 the good ones that actually look right and will record decently enough to get evidence that is admissible in court cost over $500. which is dirt cheap considering what it cost just 10 years ago.

  • by madprof (4723) on Friday October 12, 2012 @03:57AM (#41628217)

    This an ad for a well-established shop in London that allows individuals to invade other people's privacy, run on the premise that you could imagine the security services using this stuff. Which they don't. The shop isn't new or novel.

    • Re:Curious (Score:5, Funny)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:09AM (#41628275) Journal
      I'd rather see a shop for outfitting an evil criminal's lair:
      - Shark tank, with trap door to dump disloyal henchmen into said tank.
      - Electric wheelchair complete with controls for remote control helicopter (helicopter sold separately)
      - Brushed stainless steel paneling
      - High backed leather swivel chair (comes with fluffy white cat)
      • by ewanm89 (1052822)

        I guess sharks with frikin lasers attached to their heads are also sold separately?

        • by Sulphur (1548251)

          I guess sharks with frikin lasers attached to their heads are also sold separately?

          They keep sinking the wood boats. Fishing is dangerous.

          • That's why you need my new patented MirrorBoat(tm), it's sharks-with-frikin-lasers-attached-to-their-heads-proof!

        • by kat_skan (5219)

          I'm afraid we're fresh out of sharks, but perhaps I could interest you in an ill-tempered sea bass?

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        But where do I buy my metallic silver collarless lab coats? An evil genius needs to look good when taking over the world.

        Or even a basic white but with some Flair! I must get Doctor Horrible's tailor's number.

      • by laron (102608)

        I think you can find all that (or reasonably priced alternatives) at http://www.villainsource.com/ [villainsource.com]

      • by RDW (41497)

        All this and more:

        http://www.villainsource.com/ [villainsource.com]

        "Evil On A Budget, Inc. presents the Mini-Lair, a 30 x 30 x 20m corrugated metal lair with incorporated mini-dome, suitable for small missile launches, medium-sized lasers, or other small-to-midsize superweapons. Includes convenient, obvious self-destruct mechanism. A/C and electricity extra."

        • I'm really debating about ordering 20 Scud missiles. On one hand, where would I put them? The wife is would be more upset than the last time I tried to bring a sailboat home.

          If one you could get one or two. Shipping wouldn't be nearly the hassle. I'm sure UPS could handle a couple of them.

  • Corrections (Score:5, Funny)

    by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:00AM (#41628233) Homepage

    Spy Gadgets: A Visit With a Real-Life Guy Who Runs a Shop

    Far from meeting our Quartermaster deep in the bowels of MI5 or at an abandoned Underground station, we were invited into SpyMaster's flagship store just off Oxford street; it's a glass-fronted shop just like any other - no M, no whiskey cabinet (so far as we could see) and no ejector seats in sight.

    Yes, because he doesn't work for MI6 (which is where Bond works, not MI5 as above). He runs a shop.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, because he doesn't work for MI6 (which is where Bond works, not MI5 as above). He runs a shop.

      Oh, please! That's just a cover!

    • by craigtp (1356527)

      What you don't know, though, is the shop is a front for his more surreptitious and covert activities. Apparently, his superiors in MI6 were a little uneasy with him specifically running a shop selling spy equipment as his "cover", but he successfully convinced them that its the best disguise. You know, hiding in plain sight and all that!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:25AM (#41628343)

    I used to work down the road from them in them, so I thought I'd pop in and see what they had for sale. They are the the most insufferable arseholes I have ever met. Basically they gave me the bum's rush. Every word, every gesture, their condescension, their posture, in fact every fibre of their being indicated that normal people were not their customers. I asked to see their catalogue and they told me it cost £600.

    Buy from someone who values your custom.

    • You're not their customer, you were never their customer. Normal people (funny how that word works) are not wanted. They cater to the wealthy, and as a member of the non-wealthy, you had no place there. £600 is a pittance, if you were actually a customer you could afford that easily. It's like someone off the street wanting to kick the tires of Sun Enterprise gear. It just ain't gonna happen unless you represent a company with a million dollar budget.
    • by smugfunt (8972)

      Every word, every gesture, their condescension, their posture, in fact every fibre of their being indicated that normal people were not their customers.

      I had exactly the same experience at a similar emporium in Washington DC. I thought perhaps I should have worn a dark suit instead of shorts and a Hawiian shirt, but maybe it's just spook culture.

  • by UnresolvedExternal (665288) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:05AM (#41628509) Journal

    Dear god this must be a slow news day - I have never seen such a blatant slashvertisment in all the time I have wasted here.

    If you are tired of reading ads then read about the interesting stuff the mars rover found the other day [nasa.gov], or maybe about this interesting comet [astronomynow.com]

    Please Slashdot - don't make me hate you!

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Dear god this must be a slow news day - I have never seen such a blatant slashvertisment in all the time I have wasted here.

      Obligatory you must be new here.

      • *Sigh* yes true obligatory [xkcd.com]
      • by Like2Byte (542992)

        Dear god this must be a slow news day - I have never seen such a blatant slashvertisment in all the time I have wasted here.

        Obligatory you must be new here.

        Don't forget to introduce him to this!

        1) Have slow news day
        2) Post slashvertisement
        3) {{eyeballs}}
        4) PROFIT!!

        p.s: Did I screw up? Opps, I forgot to use '????' on step 3. Now our secrets out! My bad!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Small fry... I had a tour and a wander round one UK police Force's Scientific Support unit a few years ago. Crazy stuff going on there.

    Wiring up a villain's target vehicle with covert gps, monitoring equipment etc and leaving it looking 'untouched'. Same done to vehicles left as bait for car thieves.

    Calls pulled off mobiles, sms intercepted, mobiles of criminals used as gps units without their knowledge. Phones can be remotely turned on and the data read...

    Yes this stuff happens. Not to small time criminals

  • Ob (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:34AM (#41628637) Homepage Journal

    no whiskey cabinet

    Why would there be? A gentleman wouldn't touch anything other than a single-malt Scotch.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      for weekdays.
      Jameson isn't bad for the price, iirc(can't drink nomore).

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Why would there be? A gentleman wouldn't touch anything other than a single-malt Scotch.

      Well, I don't know about you, but I'm not even a gentleman and I've got four different single malts in my liquor cupboard. (That's how ignoble I am, it's a cupboard, not a cabinet.) Sometimes you want a Macallan (I don't care if it's the most popular scotch on the planet, I'm not a hipster) and sometimes you want the Yamazaki.

  • All that junk is on eBay, Maplins have been selling half of it for years.
  • None of that stuff got anything on stuff created by the real OTS or whatever the MI6 version is called.

    Besides the real trick is not building the gadgets, it's getting them in place in a secure location. I challenge one of you guys to buy any of those 'bugs' and get the in place at even a low security national security site, like an embassy office or something. Try it.

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      None of that stuff got anything on stuff created by the real OTS or whatever the MI6 version is called.

      Besides the real trick is not building the gadgets, it's getting them in place in a secure location. I challenge one of you guys to buy any of those 'bugs' and get the in place at even a low security national security site, like an embassy office or something. Try it.

      Can you post from Wornwood Whatchacallit?

      • by f3rret (1776822)

        Can you post from Wornwood Whatchacallit?

        Considering I haven't got the slightest idea what you're talking about, probably not.

        • by Sulphur (1548251)

          Besides the real trick is not building the gadgets, it's getting them in place in a secure location. I challenge one of you guys to buy any of those 'bugs' and get the in place at even a low security national security site, like an embassy office or something. Try it.

          Can you post from Wornwood Whatchacallit?

          Considering I haven't got the slightest idea what you're talking about, probably not.

          If you get caught placing a 'bug' in a low security national security site, like an embassy office, or even trying, then you could go to a prison like (yes I'm guessing which one) Wormwood Scrubs.

  • It's nothing special.

  • Was watching Star Trek TNG the other day so the context was just all wrong for me.

  • Minimum I'd have expected for the voice activated recorder built into the power connector would have been that it stores a compressed audio format, and optionally supports PLC to be able to retrieve the data without entering the room and without making it visible via WiFi...
  • Ebay and amazon.com. Sorry buy people that run these "shops" are never experts, and never truely honest. From what I see most of their gear is the cheap china crap. I also highly doubt that they have enough knowledge to make anything custom.

  • Greetings new SlashDot editors. Please understand that "the real life Q" = John de Lancie on this forum.

  • by darkmeridian (119044) <william.chuang @ g m a il.com> on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:12AM (#41631601) Homepage

    I read a very interesting book called Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda. The book chronicles the history of the Office of Technical Services, which provides bugs, cameras, radios, forged documents, and other tools of the trade for spies in denied areas. I was surprised to learn that America had been operating so blatantly and effectively in the former Soviet Union.

    A great story concerned a US operative on a sting operation trying to buy weapons from an arms dealer. At the closing table, the arms dealer asks for the operative's (fake) passport, and looks it over. He hands it back and says, "You told me you were in Yemen so I wanted to check your passport." Of course, the operative was never in Yemen, but the CIA techs had even forged an Yemeni entry stamp onto the fake passport. The OTS also forged the documents in Operation Argo, now playing in a theater near you.

    On top of all the tech are many stories of humans. A touching story concerned three OTS agents who were betrayed, arrested for spying in Cuba in 1960, then imprisoned for three years. The US government disavowed them, but despite harsh conditions and torture, they never admitted they were CIA agents. Instead, to a man, they steadfastly maintained their cover stories that they were just tourists who happened to be carrying high-tech spy equipment. From the book:

    Sometimes the questions would vary, with the interrogators accusing them of working for the FBI. Bad Teeth would often claim that the other two prisoners already confessed, so not telling the truth was pointless. During one session, a young guard incessantly played with his gun, flipping the cylinder open and then pulling the trigger. "Tell him that men don't play with guns," Wally ordered Bad Teeth. "Only kids do." Bad Teeth obliged and the guard looked suitably chastened.

    Our attitude was that we didn't know what our fate would be. I was convinced I was going to be shot. I figured I'm expendable, but I'd never do anything to disgrace my children or the Marine Corps," explained Andy, who had served in the Marines from 1944 to 1946 and again between 1950 and 1952. "I made my peace with God, but it never happened, thank God.

    And while in prison, they used their technical skills to defuse a bomb that guards had planted as a self-destruct contingency if the US invaded, and also built a radio from discarded scrap. Their arrest was a secret even within OTS. An agent working as part of a team preparing care packages for operatives in the field saw an old tech preparing a care package by himself. He asked why the old timer was working by himself, and the guy said, "This is for our boys in Cuba. The others don't know that." Eventually, the CIA swapped them for four Cubans arrested in NY for espionage.

    It's a great book, and I highly recommend it for nerds like us.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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