Saturday, December 31, 2005

One Small Step: New Year Resolutions

Projects for 2006:

Build the KaraDome, a dome owned and built by me, Karamoon.
Get a decent computer job, preferably one which is very hard.
Present a weekly radio show.
Read every computer book I own.
Resist the urge to buy any books for a year.
Give a talk at HOPE in New York.

Happy New Year

I returned home from Berlin to a hero's welcome. 2005 has been quite a bad year for me, despite being full of good stuff. It's very much going to be a case of sink or swim for me next year. If things don't work out then I'll just go find something difficult and dangerous to do.

Friday, December 30, 2005

CCC Day 4: It's All Over For The Unknown Soldier

About half the people at the CCC have left so there's quite a strange feeling here.

"Quantum Entanglement"
I find it hard to get interested in anything quantum-related. I spent most of the talk using my laptop to read the Hack-A-Day website which is a daily listing of interesting projects on the Net for you to try at home.

"Covert Communications On A Dark Network"
Social networks are really, really interesting. Seriously interesting. Before this talk I had not thought about the "6-degrees of separation" theory which states that packages can be delivered anywhere in a system in 6 steps. This was explained in the first few minutes of the talk so I spent the rest of the hour thinking and writing about the theory.

"Lightning Talks Day 4"
I sat through a bunch of lightning talks but few caught my interest. I still think lightning talks are a great idea though.

"The Very Early Computer Game History"
This talk covered computer games from the 40's and 50's. It was a very fun talk but it was more interesting to see old computers than the games that were played on them.

"22C3 Network Review"
Although I didn't directly use the network much, it was nice to know that it was there. The CCC had several connections to the Internet, totalling 20 Gigabits. This is more Internet power than THE WHOLE OF AFRICA.

"22C3 Closing Event"
Lots and lots and lots of clapping. Rop talked about the reactions that he had got from the talk "We Lost The War" which he gave on the first day.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

CCC Day 3: H4RDC0R3

"Academic Tools And Real-Life Bug Finding In Win32"
This talk made me miss maths so much! The first part was on computerbility and the halting problem. The second part was on how to use software tools to search through source code and find security holes which may be there. Great stuff.

"Private Investigations In Searching"
Fravia was one of my favourite speakers at the CCC last year. He looked a bit different this year and may have been someone else... The talk was the same subject as last year but a lot of the techniques had been updated.

"I See Airplanes!"
I've been interested in passive radar for a couple of years now. This talk explained a lot of the science behind the idea and talked about several current passive radar projects.

"Lightning Talks Day 3"
Some interesting lightning talks, covering a wide variety of stuff. One that stood out was a talk by Christian Tan about how hard it is to run an record company that supports the free distribution of music.

"Learning JavaScript With The Google Maps API"
I've played around with JavaScript a bit, and for a long time I've been meaning to make some nice things for the Tokyo Robotnik website with JavaScript.

"Random Windows Stuff"
Ollie Whitehouse failed to turn up to give this talk, hopefully nothing harsh has happened to him. Fortunately Dan Kaminsky decided to give an impromptu talk on interesting things he has been thinking about recently. If Kaminsky joined the dark side he would be so much cooler. Whitehat hackers just don't get it.

A basic but interesting talk on the different satelittes that exist and how they can be explored with very common equipment.

"Intrusion Detection Systems"
A rather straightforward talk on IDS's and how they should be linked up on a LAN using a common data format.

A good technical talk on a way to actively discover what techniques malicious websites are using to attack computers which visit them. Kathy Wang, who I met last year at HOPE, is doing interesting things in this area.

"Breaking Down The Web Of Trust"
Americans generally shouldn't be allowed to talk about identity issues in an international context because they fail to understand that identity in some countries is not as big of a deal as it is in the US. In particular, the US uses social security numbers for so many things in daily life and also driving lisenses are used in many transactions whereas in many countries this would be unacceptable.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

CCC Day 2: Picking Up The Pace

"A Way To Fuzzy Democracy"
I don't find fuzzy logic massively interesting, but it is quite useful. This talk covered voting systems where the votes aren't of equal weight eg. with a vote on a local issues, the closer you lived to the area the stronger your vote would be.

"3G Investigations: GPRS/UMTS"
I've always considered GPRS to be too expensive, but it's something I'd like to use in the future. This talk covered some basics on how Internet connections work with mobile phones and other handheld devices that use GPRS/UMTS.

"Military Intelligence For Terrorists"
This was really just a talk on GoogleMaps. The only surprising thing was how much people in the audience knew about aeroplanes. They were able to identify most of planes at various airbases that the speaker had found on google.

"Black Ops Of TCP/IP 2005"
Dan Kaminsky's "Black Ops Of TCP/IP" talks are always interesting and always entertaining. I love TCP/IP and it's great to see that there are people in the world who continue

"Search Engines: Oracles Of The Information Society"
Three random guys talking about search engines.

"Old Skewl Hacking: InfraRed updated"
I saw this talk last year at the CCC, and it hadn't changed much. I'm glad I watched it again though because it was very entertaining and besides, you can never know too much about infrared devices.

"Technological Art Off The Trodden Tracks"
This talk started with an overview of various new media art projects, many of which I was already familiar such as stuff from the IAA and the Critical Art Ensemble. The talk then tried to address the question of whether spoof art projects were just as effective as real art projects.

"Corp vs. Corp: Profiling Modern Espionage"
This talk was given by a couple of Italians. They basically said that corporations use very well-known hacking methods to spy on eachother.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

CCC Day 1: It's Good To Be Back

Nothing beats a good hacker conference. The CCC(Chaos Communication Congress) has been taking place every year since 1984 and is one of the most important events in the hacker calendar. 150 talks, 3000 hackers, computers, phones and phun.

"Private Investigations Keynote speech"
Joi Ito used his keynote speech to assert that democracy is broken but that there is still lots that can be done to improve things in the world. Ito is a member of several important international committees so he tends to say stuff like that...

"Understanding Buffer Overflow Exploitation"
A standard talk on the consequences of slack coding on VN architecture. Nothing special.

"Hopalong Casualty"
This talk covered ways of getting video surveillance systems to recognise varios types of activity, using weak artificial intelligence. There are several talks on machine learning, fuzzing, and other AI-related stuff at the CCC this year. Usually I'd say it's something that interests me greatly, it was, in fact, a big part of my life when I was younger, but with something practical like CCTV it seems silly to focus on what's interesting instead of what works.

"Hacking CCTV"
Fuck. Trapped in a German lecture. I had though that this talk would be in English because the description of it in the CCC programme was in English. Fuck.

"Hacking Data Retention"
A good overview of data retention but not much that isn't obvious.

"Bad Trips"
A decent talk on how the WTO fuck people over through the use of trade regulations to assert Intellectual Property rights.

"We Lost The War"
This will be the defining talk of the 22nd Chaos Communication Congress. Rop and Frank said a lot of things that people didn't want to hear, let alone believe. The talk mainly covered the emergence of the surveillance society and the technology behind it. My favourite quote from the talk: "We need to build crypto and we need to build it fast".

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Packing For Hacking

My good friend Richard will be over in less than 7 hours to drive to Gatwick airport and I'm still struggling to pack. Like always, I want to take just hand luggage if at all possible. I have three main issues: which coat to take, which books to take and which shoes to take.

I've been listening to talks from hacking conferences all day so I'm feeling pretty psyched-up.

I settled on taking a yahting jacket, a copy of "The Art Of Deception" by Mitnik and a pair of army assault boots.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Karamoon's Christmas Address

Highlights of 2005:
Giving a talk on culture jamming at Norwich EASF
Getting a "Borders" bookshop in Norwich
Attending "What The Hack" in Holland
Attending "BrumCon", the UK's best hacker conference
Reading "Beneath The City Streets"
Going to Armenia
Being interviewed by the BBC four times!
Speaking to Tim Ireland on the phone
Making loads of amazing friends in Norwich

Aims for 2006:
Speak at a hacker conference
Pass lots of computer exams
Turn Norwich 2600 into a decent group
Publish Tokyo Robotnik Magazine

Watching Them Watching Us.

My good friend Dr Edward Bearskin came over this morning. Like all sensible people, we decided that the best way to get into the Christmas spirit was to stay inside all day watching cool stuff. First we watched "This Is What Democracy Looks Like", a documentary about the 1995 demonstrations against the World Trade Organisation. We then watched "The Yes Men", a documentary about the subversive infiltration of commerce conferences by anti-capitalist agents. Very inspiring stuff.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I Dream Of Jeannie

When I awoke this morning I recalled a strange dream I had had last night. In the dream I stabbed a man in the eye with my thumb. At the time, I thought I had destroyed their eye but it later turned out that the injury wasn't has serious as it had first appeared.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Pass The Porcelain

This evening I attended the 50th lecture on Japanese culture organised by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts & Cultures. The lecture was given by Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, the director of the Institute. Dr Rousmaniere's lecture covered the emergence of porcelain in Japan, a subject which is of little interest to me although the porcelain was exquisite.

On my way home I met Pete Smith from Ipswich. I've met Pete several times at the East Anglian Social Forum and have always found him to be a source of stimulating conversation.

I watched an episode of the Japanese anime series Outlaw Star before going to sleep. I should probably watch much less anime, or much more. Either way, the amount of anime I'm watching at the moment is clearly sub-optimal.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Jar For A Head

I managed to obtain a ticket to a preview screening of "Jarhead". The screening was at a cinema I had not visited before. The reason I had not visited it before is that the cinema is in heart of "Riverside", an area of Norwich where the streets often flow with blood and people speak a strange tongue, as different from English as a monkeys are from chips.

The film was quite good. Essentially it was a remake of "Full Metal Jacket" set during Gulf War I. Harsh, but not harsh enough.

Attending the preview screening reminded me how much I hate students. If they are ouyr future, we're well-and-truly fucked.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

My Mate Marmalade

After some shopping in the city centre, I hurridly baked a marmalade cake to take to the house of my friend Peter. I'm always wary of cooking things to take to other people's houses. I find it jolly embarrassing to eat a meal at someone's house, all the time knowing that my desert will put them to shame. Fortuanately Peter's wife Jacky is a great cook, so the meal wasn't upstaged by my fantastic, although slightly over-cooked, marmalade cake.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Got Wood?

Regular readers will know I often feel depressed after watching Woody Allen films. Today I felt the need to watch the 1979 film "Manhattan" while eating my lunch. Woody Allen films are depressing for me because they remind me that (1) I'm not anything like Woody Allen, and (2) that my life is not like a Woody Allen film.

Watching Manhattan made me think about how culturaly dead Norwich is. One of the major issues in the UK is that there are so few places to hang around. So much "public" space is in fact owned by various companies.

My good friend Suzi called my around 11pm and I discussed the cultural things with her. She seemed to genuinely understand my pain. We are going to start a book group in an effort to inject some culture into our lives. It will fail.