How to bypass locks on hotel TVs

[Original article written on August 12, 2013]

I recently went on vacation to a Fairmont hotel in Quebec for a week. I decided to bring along my laptop and HDMI cable so that I could watch some movies and TV shows from my laptop at night since the hotel TV channels are pretty shitty and not to mention that most of them are in French. Some would argue that you can just buy movies on demand but I wasn’t about to pay $8 for a movie considering how much I was already paying for everything else.

I got into my room at night and connected my laptop to the TV using the HDMI port on the back and got ready to relax and watch me some Zero Dark Thirty. I went to change the TV inputs using the buttons on the side of the TV aaaaaaannnnddd it didn’t work. Why would anything ever work on the first try? I tried some other buttons but none worked except for the volume and power buttons.

I tried using the remote that the hotel provided but it obviously had no button dedicated to changing the TV inputs. I was deeply saddened by the realization that I wouldn’t get to learn how Seal Team Six killed Osama bin Laden.

Luckily, I’m not the type of person to just give up, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I called the hotel staff and was told that nothing could be done to change it (bullshit).

Then came the time for me to really take matters into my own hands (literally). I checked around the TV for anything that looked out-of-place and happily found a little device screwed to the back of the TV. Two wires connected the device to the TV and one connected it to the cable channels. I realized that this must be what was stopping me from watching my movie.

Two of the cables had some plastic cylinders surrounding them that prevented them from being easily unplugged. However, one wire was identical to the ones used for connecting home phones (if anyone even uses those anymore).

Anyways, I tried unplugging the phone-like cable and tried changing the inputs once again. My heart was pounding. My hands were trembling. I pressed the button and was greeted by my computer’s beautiful desktop displayed on the TV. I was immensely happy but at the same time, I felt like I was doing something terribly wrong. Maybe this is what a hacker feels like when s/he gains access to a restricted server. Except maybe a bit more intense. Nevertheless, it felt great. I watched Zero Dark Thirty that night and was able to watch whatever else I had on my computer’s hard drive since I wasn’t going to pay $17 per night for the hotels lacklustre internet service.

I’m not sure if any hotels aside from Fairmont do this, but if they do, I’m sure you can follow the same method regardless of the hotel you stay at. That being said, I won’t be held responsible if you get into any trouble doing so although I’m not sure if this is against any laws or rules. Just remember to plug the cable back in once you’re done so they won’t notice anything changed and enjoy your stay!

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