Hackers for charity… but where are the hackers?

I just saw a post from my good friend Johnny Long about why he won’t make it to defcon this year. Johnny is one of the greatest human beings that I know inside or outside of the hacking community. He said the same thing that I have been feeling for years and has the same frustrations. I know EXACTLY how he feels. He started a wonderful project with hacker for charity, but as so often happens, you only have a small number of people on whom you can rely. It ends up being a lot of work and if no ones comes on board and steps up to assist, then it becomes a one man show. Eventually, that one man hits a wall.

I was very fortunate to have a lot of great friends in hacking that helped get binrev and all of our assorted projects going. Sadly, most of the projects have fallen to the wayside or have been abandoned completely as real life pulled people towards other priorities. Most of us still hack. I know that ntheory and I are working on some things right now. dual pops his head up every once in a while with something kool. I talk to decoder all the time still. But we are only a few people that are doing things while everyone else consumes. I could segue here into a rant on consumerism, but it is ironic that hackers, a bunch of seemingly anti-consumers, are such mindless consumers of information without actually creating any new content of their own.

Take a note from Hacker Public Radio. Those guys and girls are doing it right. Please support them. Support hackers for charity. Support can mean anything from finances, to time, to knowledge, or just mentoring someone in these very forums. Find a way to support ANY/ALL hackers. If not, we will regress as a community instead of growing as a family. We are all family…aren’t we?

The Big Bad Dawg in the Big Bad City

I just got back in town from a business trip to NYC and it was a stressful trip as far as work goes, but a blast from a personal standpoint.

I went up a couple of days early (I went up a day early on the last trip also) and crashed with ntheory and hung out with him and decoder and some other friends in the area. Actually, by total coincidence, it turns out that I was on the same plane with my buddy Greg Conti two weeks ago and didn’t even know it! When we arrived at LGA airport and I stood up after we landed and looked around, I see Greg in the back of the plane! I was like WTF? So he gave me a ride from the airport where he had parked his car and we caught up on the ride since I had not seen him since Defcon in July.

ntheory and I talked a lot of tech and went to see an open Fios box that he knew about and it is a good thing that we did. Before we could go back again, it was closed and locked up. We took a few pictures, but it was late at night and I am not sure what kind of quality they were. When I rip them from the camera, I will upload them to the gallery. We looked at a lot of code and bitched a lot about technology. We also discussed some options to being back Phreak Phactor and even got the site back up and running. I also found out that he loves the TV show called “Hell’s Kitchen” although he is a bit embarrassed to talk about it.

Anyway, back to this particular trip, after hanging out and hax0ring the planet with ntheory, I went down to Brooklyn Saturday night to hang out with Front. Actually, we met up at a party that he told me about and hung out until about 1 or 2 AM. While there, he invited back down Sunday to drop some beats for him that he might use on the upcoming album. Now I have no delusions about being a famous beat boxer, it is just a fun thing that I have done since I was young, but I figured what the hell and did it just for the fun of it. If he actually got anything useful recorded, then great. It actually was a strange experience for me since I have never actually beat boxed into a microphone before and heard myself … well, actually I think I might have done that with my mac one time to try out the camera and posted it in the financiers forum, but that wasn’t the same. I actually learned a lot about audio engineering…not much of it stuck in my head, but I now understand and appreciate the equipment and audio quality more than I ever thought about before. When you beatbox, you are basically spitting directly into the microphone and we had to really do some adjusting to get the audio levels right, but he knew exactly what he was doing and got it to sound just right. The other weird thing was that I have never used an actually real microphone before. I am more of an old skool beat-box-into-your-hands kind of guy. I like that natural sound. I tried to use a few of my “tricks” as it were and I am not sure if they sounded good recorded or not. I still prefer just freestyling. Anyway, I heard a few of the early beats for the new album that he is just starting on and I can’t drop any docs on anything, but they were pretty awesome. The album title is near and dear to my heart as well. Keep watching his site for any official news and join the VSP while you are there. You will get announcements early and access to extra songs and live tracks.

The flight itself was pretty interesting as well because I was on one of the planes that has wifi available. It costs 9.95 per flight to use it or they had other options for all day or all month use I think. I forget, but I started putting together a short article about it. Of course I did not pay. Pssshh… But I did get connected and had a lot of fun trying to chat in IRC from tens of thousands of feet in the air over the East coast. I even took a few pictures and uploaded them. I will try to post them later as well.

Look for the Dawg coming soon to a city near you!

Convention season is over!

I just finally got settled back in after my recent trips to HOPE #6 in NYC as well as DEFCON in Las Vegas. I spent 9 days at each location and met lots of interesting and intelligent people (and a few a$$holes as well).

I was scheduled to present the first episode of season 4 of Binary Revolution Radio at HOPE in front of a live audience, which was something that I was looking very forward to. We also had a very special guest in attendance for that episode as well in the form of MC Frontalot who even performed live on stage for us (sans band). It was incredible for those in attendance, but thanks to the on-site film crew, I cannot share this memory with everyone since the recording stopped right in the middle of Frontalot performing! Not only that, but the end of the show had the entire crowd participating in our closing catch phrase (“Same Hack Time, Same Hack Channel”)in unison. It was a very special moment for me personally, and it is a memory that was not captured on film and lost forever. It really was a crushing feeling to find out that they had screwed up such an important event for me and I am not sure that I want to set myself up for that again by speaking at a place that simply didn’t seem to care about its speakers. But let’s not dwell on the negative, there were a lot of other great things that happened on my trip!

Speaking of filming, even though I had bad luck with the people who were recording mine, I did a little camera work myself over in track 1 which was surprisingly fun! Our good Friend Rax volunteers every year to do camera work, and after 2 long days of filming, I gave him a short break to grab some food and took the seat behind the camera for one of the presentations. I was a regular Scorsese behind that thing! OK, I exaggerate, but it was fun and I made it a point to really focus on the content of the speech and keep the camera trained on the speaker and the slides when appropriate so that hopefully it came out better than the recording of BRR that I mentioned earlier. If I go to HOPE again, maybe I will simply volunteer to run the cameras instead of speaking.

But the radio show wasn’t the only presentation that I gave. I always have presentations on my laptop, usually for my local BR407 meeting, that are ready to give at any time. When one of the speakers was unable to give their talk (airlines all backed up due to weather) I stepped in and presented “The Art of Electronic Deduction” which I had previously given at interz0ne in Atlanta. I originally thought this to only be a small presentation for a small group of people, specifically my local BR561 meeting at the time. Now here I was at a conference of 3000+ people giving this very same presentation and it went over surprisingly well! I had a lot of audience participation, which is what the presentation was designed to elicit, and people seemed to enjoy it! Several people came up after the talk saying that they were glad that they stumbled into the presentation, since they were not expecting this talk. I had run out quickly and placed some cardboard signs up at the last minute to try and let people know about the talk. The best thing was that the volunteer who was working in that area running that speaking room (track 2) came up to me and said some very kind things about it, which meant a lot. He had seen all of the speeches that whole weekend and for him to compliment me was very much appreciated. He was the only volunteer there who made me felt appreciated. Plus he had this 31337 Nigeria soccer jersey with the number 419 on the back and NO ONE SEEMED TO GET THE JOKE! I gotta get me one of those.

Shadowing MC Frontalot every step of his way was a film crew from Vaguely Qualified Productions that was filming a nerdcore documentary. I had to make some accommodations with the conference organizers to get them in, but it worked out well as they got some good footage and probably some really bad footage any time I ended up in the shot. The Frontingest one and I even sat down to do an interview for the documentary and discussed how and why nerdcore music was interesting to hackers and geeks. We also discussed some general tech topics, how and why I host his web site, and of course spent an unusually long amount of time on everyones favorite subject, pr0n. The crew there was not only VERY qualified, but they were extremely nice and fun as well. They were good people, and so was MC Frontalot guitarist/bassist (and friend) Brandon who was super nice and really seemed to be getting into the vibe of the conference itself.

After our radio show presentation ended at around 12:30, we got a group of people together to meet and hang out. Unfortunately, there really isn’t anywhere around the hotel that can accommodate a group of 30+ people and not be uber-expensive, so someone made the suggestion (I think it was Black Ratchet, but it wasn’t me believe it or not) that I could get sweet iced tea at White Castle (one of my favorite restaurants) so we proceeded to moblog the local white castle at 1 in the morning. We met some interesting people there, had the cops stop by for a visit and ask us to leave, but it was all worth it when I saw the look on the face of the clerk when he watched me lead a line of 30 people right up to the register!

At Defcon, I didn’t have the burden of having to speak this year so I was free to hang out and meet people and do the whole Vegas “thing” (I highly recommend anyone to go see La Reve at The Wynn hotel if you find yourself in the area). We organized a group meetup at defcon, just like we did at HOPE, which went wonderfully. Since not everyone was over 21, we avoided bars and since buffets in Vegas are not cheap (that is a myth) we did the traditional food court meeting at a local mall right there on the strip. Even though we got started kind of late, we had probably around 30-40 people or more and I enjoyed meeting everyone. I got to meet up not only with my long-time friends like dual_parallel and Elonka, but also some new friends like verbal, upside-down, and many many friends from our forums. There should be some pictures up in the BinRev Gallery.

The other thing that I planned on doing, and was able to do very successfully, was to meet up with some people to discuss some specific projects that I had in mind. I made some contacts and began the process of collaborative projects with some good people. Some who were already friends, and some who were not. I was doing some similar, or related research on a couple of topics that they were also interested in, so I think we may work together on some things in the future. I will not get into details now, since it would be pointless, but look for announcements here, or on the DDP blawg, when they become a reality.

So it was a great vacation that included sightseeing to the hoover dam in Vegas, the WTC site in NYC, and lots of places in between. It was filled with wonderful people, and I hope to keep in touch with everyone and hopefully get back into some projects again. In fact, it has already begun. No matter how hard people try to stop it…The Revolution Will continue to be Digitized!

Article published – Summer 2005 2600

I got home from presenting at Defcon 13 and sometime over the weekend, the new Summer 2005 issue of 2600 magazine came out. It contained the article that I just presented on at Defcon entitled “Hacking Google Adwords” which can be found below if you keep reading.

This was my 9th article to be published by 2600.

The article was submitted to them around 6 months ago (give or take a month) and I continued my research on the topic as I put together my presentation for Defcon and I found a whole lot of other interesting things that were demonstrated in my presentation that I had not found when I wrote the article.

The article is posted on DocDroppers.org and the powerpoint presentation is right here: .

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HackTV episode 2 released

It took us over a year, but HackTV episode 2 is finally out!

We had quite a few things going on that slowed us down such as the weekly radio show, the new BinRev Meetings, preparing for my defcon presentation, and tons of other projects. Hopefully we can get this back on track and coming out more often. We certainly owe a lot of thanks to Dr^ZigMan as well as many others for their help in getting this released.

One of the most time consuming parts of putting a show like this together is that we are truly an underground show. What I mean is that we film this with mini-DV cameras (or 8MM) and we are usually on-location (many times in places where we possibly shouldn’t be). This means that the camera work is not as smooth as we would like. We are not filmed in a studio, a home, or other controlled environment like some other shows.

Also, due to the nature of the subject matter, it is necessary to blur/edit out a lot of the things that we capture on film for legal reasons as well as personal safety and privacy. These facts, combined with the jumpy camera work, make for a bad combination. It causes the editing process to be both time consuming, and painful beyond words.

Mix in a couple of hurricanes last year (and one coming already this year) and the fact that we are probably stretching ourselves to thin as it is, has caused the lateness of this episode (which required a large amount of blurring). Huge thanks to Dr^ZigMan who helped tremendously to get this done before defcon.

We already have a good bit of footage recorded for upcoming episodes and they should be much easier to edit. Hopefully, we can get these coming out on a more regular schedule.