Changing Modalities of Work Is The New Work; or, Linux Mint Talked Me Down Off A Ledge

“It became work just to refresh and relearn my tools enough to work.”

Amarok 1.4

This is Amarok 1.4, a music application that turns me into Archie Bunker.

Huh, it’s been a while since I marked this bloggy territory. Oh well.

Anywho, those who have seen my computer desktops, or even had the misfortune to inquire about them, have been treated to an earful about how “they’re gonna have to pry Natty Narwhal out of my cold, dead hands!”

(Translation: “I run a particular version of a Linux desktop that was released in two-thousand-freakin’-eleven and refuse to give it up for you kids and your fancy tablet-style touchy-feely huge icon crap, dagnabbit!”)

Listen, I know I’m quickly becoming a greybeard, but now that I’m old and cynical, I can at least explain how it happens.

But first, the TL;DR, which is that I finally dumped Linux Mint onto a laptop. You … Read the rest

Overclocking, wire tripping, and further adventures with Tor

Tools of the Trade
Tools of the Trade
Yesterday I was at the OTI offices again for a workday. For a chunk of the day I worked with Dan Staples on reviewing some things I’d learned about network settings in Commotion, and testing a Tor-enabled Commotion build. (More on that in a separate post.)

A couple of funny things happened on the way to the Internet. First, running Tor on a Ubiquiti PicoStation wireless node caused the little machine to overheat and reboot within 30 seconds of the process starting! Ha! We niced the process and managed to get it to stay up long enough to properly start up. I’ll do some more troubleshooting to figure out why it’s running so hard and see if there’s a way to (literally) cool it down. But I thought that was a pretty awesome problem.

At the same time, I successfully connected to the Internet … Read the rest

Tor basics in plain English

Here’s a cheat sheet that I wrote up for myself about two weeks ago after I’d gotten my bearings with the basics of Tor.  I actually wrote it as an informal status update to my mentor and realized that if it was helpful to me, it might be helpful to someone else.  If you see any errors, don’t be shy about setting me back on the right path!

First, though, please bask in the glory of this super awesome clickable graphic that demonstrates what network traffic is and isn’t obscured by Tor and HTTPS (encrypted HTTP).  This snippet below is just a teaser.  Click it to go to a page where you can click buttons for Tor and HTTPS and see how they work.

Tor and HTTP
Tor and HTTPS

After a visit to the OTI offices and an overview of Commotion with my project mentor Will Hawkins, I felt like the fog … Read the rest

Week three is the new Tuesday

Last week I was chatting with one of the GNOME internship program mentors who asked how the internship was going for me. I said that I felt pretty good, but that I was in a little bit of a lull. I’d learned about all I needed to know to get my feet wet with the technical end of my project, and now I needed to get better clarity on the question I am asking/problem I am solving to be able to really dig my heels in. I was floundering a little, but also having open-ended conversations with people who might be interested in the work. I didn’t know at that moment that those conversations would lead to a significant breakthrough the next day, resulting in a much clearer goal for my internship term.

It was nice to hear, then, that apparently a bunch of the interns in my cohort were … Read the rest

OPW Internship: Organizing My Thoughts

As I wrote previously, I started a work-from-home internship with the Open Technology Institute last Wednesday. The project I was placed with has me working on boosting privacy and anonymity in wireless mesh networks. I spent some time orienting myself with the task and organizing my thoughts.

The stated goal of the project is to integrate Tor with Commotion. More specifically:

Tor Integration:

Commotion mesh nodes are capable of being configured to enter directly into the Tor network. We need an intern to configure, package, and document the process of making a tor-entry node. If the intern completes this task within the time frame they will have the opportunity to tackle custom configurations that will allow for Tor exit nodes on the mesh that allow small bandwidth Tor traffic from elsewhere to be run over the network to further obfuscate it.

Great! So….what does that mean? This … Read the rest

In Which Chaos Computer Club Makes Me Feel Warm And Fuzzy

 

Add another C to CCC, this one for Classy.

Loyal readers will remember that I popped over to Berlin this summer to speak at Chaos Communication Camp.  It was a blast, kind of like a really clever camping rave for geeks.  Laser light shows every night, roaming art projects on trucks, invigorating conversation about internet freedom, and incredibly tight organization and comfortable infrastructure to support about 3000 smart, curious, mischievous people in the woods for 5 days.  I was incredibly impressed by how well the event ran, how creature comforts were taken into consideration, and how nice the organizers were.

I also noticed that every single time I looked around, I saw women.  I didn’t feel gendered, and I never felt like my credentials were in question.  As Bl00 has said, it felt like people assumed that if you were there, it was for a good … Read the rest

Chaos Communication Camp reportback Friday, 7-8:30pm

Salutations to Comrade Disco Lenin

This Friday evening, BernieS, Far McKon and I will be at The Hacktory at 1524 Brandywine St. to share pictures, short videos, and stories from the absolutely awesome Chaos Communication Camp in Berlin last month.  Come join us!  It’s BYOB, The Hacktory will provide popcorn.

Announcement on The Hacktory blog

Write-up in Technically Philly

Previously on this here blog

E-waste slides, e-waste video

Open data slides, open data video

Thanks to my favorite Shiva for reminding me to include links to the slides and videos.  :-)

 … Read the rest

Maker Faire Redux, or I Love Meeting Philadelphians in NYC

This weekend, Maker Faire touched down in New York.  Sponsored by O’Reilly publishing’s Make and Craft magazines, Maker Faire is a craft and tech expo that happens in several cities throughout the year.  Exhibitioners included robot makers, tee shirt makers, garden makers, radio makers…seeing the trend?

Sculpture by John Belardo made from laser cut perforated metal, inspired by Bucky Fuller's geodesic domes. Got me thinking about the potential for decorative solar concentrators.

It happened at the New York Hall of Science in Queens.  It was definitely a welcome recharge, and by the end of the bus ride back to Philly I discovered that I’d filled nine pages of a notebook with new sketches and notes.  Here are some of my favorite participants that are making me re-think my stance on working alone.

Reboot clothing

Green lace hoodie from Reboot

I had a blast talking to Brie and Michael … Read the rest

Keeping you busy this weekend

If you didn’t have plans this Saturday, now you do. The Hacktory and the Prometheus Radio Project are offering a bilingual (English/Spanish) workshop to build your own radio transmitter, and Azavea is hosting an intro to Python for women and their friends.

At The Hacktory, staff and volunteers from the Prometheus Radio Project will be teaching a workshop on how to build a small radio transmitter that can reach across a room.  It’s an easy way to get music or speech across a short expanse wirelessly and it’s a great intro to basic electronics and soldering.  Here’s an interview that Tek Lado did with the instructors.

If that’s not your bag, you might like to try your hand at basic coding in Python, described as “incredibly intuitive.”  Python tends to be known as a simple but very accurate language that’s great for prototyping because you can build things quickly, … Read the rest

Sex Toy Hacking at The Hacktory this Sunday

DIY flogger, courtesy of QuixoticGoat
DIY flogger, courtesy of QuixoticGoat

 

Ever wanted to make a pair of undies that light up when the wearer hits a certain body temperature? How about a flogger made of old bike tubes? Ever wondered about reprogamming the vibration pattern in your favorite silicone friend for lots of fun and zero profit? On Sunday, Hacktory friend and instructor Maggie is leading a free-form workshop on hacking sex toys at The Hacktory and you’re invited! Registrations are filling up for this fun, respectful and creative workshop that requires no tech expertise, so head over and register for the workshop. You can also forward it around on teh schmacebook.

For some wildly creative ideas linking sex, electronics, galvanic skin response sensors, gender politics, and art, check out Elle Mehrmand and Micha Cardenas’ Bang Lab at UCSD. They do amazing things like monitor their heart rate and temperature and sending the info … Read the rest