Sunday, December 31, 2006
It's New Year's Eve, 2006. Do you know who's in your boxen?
In an incredible break from tradition, I actually received an invitation to a social occasion! The invitation was to spend New Year's Eve with Sebastian, a German computer science student who Richard and I had met at the 23C3. Richard was not keen on the idea because he had his heart set on seeing the fireworks at the Brandenburg Gate, not sitting inside with a bunch of geeks. Also, as Sebastian observed shortly after meeting Richard his "life follows a sad pattern". I persuaded Richard that we should go to Sebastian's apartment, assuming he would leave at some point to go to the Brandenburg Gate. Sebastian's apartment was wonderful. The interior was very modern and it was quite spacious. I was surprised when he told us how low the rent was. It made me think about the standard of living here in Berlin compared to that in Rip-Off Britain, and how much I hate the UK.
Sebastian's brother and some of his friends came over. Everyone was friendly and interesting. And clever. Guess which one is most important to me:)
Somebody cooked great pizza at some point. Richard and the others drank B52's, a three-layer cocktail consisting of Bailey's, Grand Marnier and Kahlua. For reasons that were never made clear, it was decided that the drinks should be set on fire and then drunk through a straw. This proved to be quite a dangerous course of action as the straws caught fire and molten plastic dripped everywhere.
Throughout the night I spent quite a bit of time playing Street Fighter 2 on MAME. I've always considered SF2 to be a console game as most of my friends played it on the SNES. I felt it was very inferior to Final Fight, a side scrolling beat 'em up that Dr Edward Bearskin and I used to play for hours on end. I was never into console games as a teenager, being an owner of an Amiga.(A REAL computer) It was still good to see the game and all the characters I had forgotten: Guile, Chun-Li, Dhalsim, Ken, Ryu, Blanka etc.
It was somehow decided that we should all go to the Brandenburg Gate for the countdown to midnight. We traveled by bus and arrived to find what appeared to be a small war. Fireworks were being set off in the street and were flying around just a few feet from people's heads. The ground was covered with broken glass. At midnight champagne and wine glasses were produced. Despite some minor peer pressure from Richard, I didn't drink any.
When we got back to Sebastian's apartment we ate more pizza and discussed various issues relating to cryptography, steganography and anonymity for many, many hours. Eventually it was past 4 am and time to go home. All in all, probably the best New Year's Eve I've ever had.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
I walked into the second half of a talk on unusual security bugs. From what I could gather it was mostly ANSI C Standard stuff and poor coding practices. Towards the end of the talk I fell asleep. This wouldn't have been a problem except that I had forgotten to turn off my mobile, and I received a call from Richard. Mobiles are dumb.
This talk on podcasting started out poorly, largely because it was not funny enough, despite a dumb girl in the front row laughing continuously, presumably she was a friend/enemy of the speaker. It improved a lot towards the end. A Frenchman was involved.
I missed Mitch Altman's talk about his invention TV-Be-Gone at HOPE this year, so it was good to have a chance to see it at the CCC. TV-B-Gone is a simple device but Mitch's talk was mainly about the role television played in his childhood and about how this had led him to building a device for turning off TV's. Great stuff.
While checking me email, I spotted what appeared to be a Japanese hacker. I asked her to sit down so I could question her. She obliged, so we sat down and discussed various topics related to Japan, Web 2.0 and technology in general. Although she wasn't really a hacker, Fumi Yamazaki was very cool. She works for Technorati, a blog search engine. Fumi said it would be ok to interview her sometime using Skype, I'll try to get it done next month sometime.
Culture Jamming & Discordianism
Fumi and I watched this rather weak talk given by Autumn Tyr-Salvia, an American girl. It had all be said before, and in far more eloquent ways.
The 23 Chaos Computer Congress Closing Ceremony
The 23C3 has passed more quickly than any conference I have attended in the past. Tim Pritlove reviewed the congress and shared some insights into various things that had gone on. Lots of people were thanked. Photos were taken. Sadness mixed with pride. I said goodbye to Fumi and I resolved to return to Japan next year, even if it's just for a couple of months. Many of us here will be getting together in the summer next year for a hacker camp, and of course it's only 12 months until the next mother-fucking Chaos Communication Congress.
During this last day of the 23C3 I grew older in a short space of time. When I draw my final breath on this vile planet will I say "Shit, I thought we'd only just got started..."
Friday, December 29, 2006
Got to the CCC at 10:30 am, I would have preferred to stay in bed for another couple of hours, but I wanted to watch Jacob Appelbaum's talk, which was in the first session of the day.
A talk on security of Apple FileVault, an encryption system built into Mac OS X. Like many good hacker talks, it started with a song. Jacob Appelbaum and Ralf-Philipp Weinmann then discussed their investigation into FileVault security and a tool they had built. Special guest Hikari (David Hulton) then demonstrated a high speed password cracking method using an FPGA on a Compact Flash card.
Fuzzing In The Corporate World
Talk on the use of fuzzing in software testing by an Israli security consultant. He began his talk by asking the audience how many of them had sold out and were now working for big corporations. He was quite embarrassed when nobody put their hand up. European hackers don't sell out as easily as hackers in the US and other countries do. The talk was basic but so is my knowledge of fuzzing, so things worked out well. I was sitting at the back of the room and couldn't really see the speaker. There was, however, a good wireless signal so I was able to watch the speaker on my laptop using the IP streaming that had been set up.
This was a nice talk on reverse engineering the Nintendo DS handheld games console. I don't like games consoles, but reverse engineering interests me greatly. A good talk overall, although my low opinion of consoles still stands.
"An Introduction To Traffic Analysis"
Most of the examples in the beginning of the talk were covert channel attacks, not traffic analysis. The speaker tried to emphasise the importance of traffic analyis but didn't have any strong examples in his talk. Afterwards, someone asked for a concrete example and the speaker showed a map of Indymedia nodes. From the map a list of the top 100 nodes was made. Killing the top 100 nodes would probably destroy Indymedia.
"Security In Cardholder Data Processing"
This talk didn't contain any information on credit cards, instead it detailed standard security auditing of companies which run credit card systems. I found it to be both interesting and useful, although the delivery was poor.
"On Free, And The Differences Between Culture And Code"
A silly American saying a lot of silly stuff about copyright. The presentation was well done, but ultimately, the guy had nothing to say. Talks like this bring out the worst in the hacker community. Speakers know that if they talk about free software, open source, hackers being clever etc., they will get a good response. Stupid people talking to stupid people.
"Automated Exploit Detection In Binaries"
Luis Miras gave this presentation on a software project of his which uses automated reverse engineering techniques to look through compiled programs and find possible buffer overflows in them. Even with my limited knowledge of C and assembly, I was still able to follow it without difficulty. The software is designed to be multi-platform and therefore uses a virtual machine. Simply coding the VM itself is a difficult task, so the whole project is a serious undertaking. For reasons that weren't made clear, the code was being written in Objective C.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Sleep deprivation has impaired my ability to think coherently, I sat at the breakfast table with my notepad, failing to write anything of value. The food in my hostel is really good and eating breakfast is already having a positive effect on me. In 2007 I'll aim to eat breakfast more often...
Annoyingly I didn't arrive at the CCC in time for the talk on infrastructure hacking. It discussed weaknesses in backbone routing protocols and sounded very interesting. Yesterday I met Raven, the woman who was giving the talk. She said she had been investigating insecurities in routing protocols in the US and had found some massive security holes. She contacted the Internet Service Providers concerned and got some pretty stupid responses including "Please don't publicise that weak password you found because we're not going to change it". All talks at the CCC will be available for download at some point in the near future, so I'll download it then.
"Detecting Temperature Through Clock Skew"
This talk was on identifying computers remotely across a network by using a side channel attack. It was given by a Scottish(?) guy called Steven J. Murdoch who works at the Cambridge University computer lab. He was an excellent speaker, and that talk was full of deep hacker magic. The basic idea is that the various clocks used in computers tend to drift due to the temperature inside the computer case. This drifting(clock skew) can be measured using TCP timestamps and is unique enough to be useful as a fingerprint for the specific make, model and even individual PC.
"Tor And China"
This talk was mainly about Tor, an Electronic Frontier Foundation project for anonymous communication which uses a series of tunnels. It was all quite silly. I'm starting to think that the EFF are fighting battles which have already been lost and that they lack understanding the big picture. The talk began with a series of very questionable assumptions upon which Tor is based. People think Tor is important because it is fun and it sounds cool. Currently, for whatever reasons, the people involved with developing it are not people with a good understanding of the nature of the world or the nature of security. This may change in the future, but it's likely that Tor is fundamentally broken, and unless the project is seen as nothing more than a way to learn about some interesting topics, its value is limited.
Quick break for food and coffee, followed by talk on RFID:
"A Hacker's Toolkit For RFID"
The talk covered RFID jamming and spoofing as well as auditing RFID systems. The speaker was a young American woman, and she was quite good, all things considered. One of the problems she suffered from was common to many hackers: she talked about how to make bad stuff slightly better instead of talking about how to destroy the bad stuff. This is wrong.
The Apple Powerbook's crap wireless is really starting to piss me off. Everyone around me seems to be using the wifi here with ease, but due to the crummy Apple wifi card and the poor built-in aerial, I get nothing.
Another talk on RFID, this one given in three parts by three different people, Karsten Nohl, z0ccor and Henry Plotz. The first part was about making a fake ticket for a World Cup game. It wasn't very detailed but was still interesting. One of the most interesting things was a photo of a ticket that had been placed in a microwave for 2 seconds. You could see the charred paper around aerial and battery of the RFID tag. This suggests that although microwave ovens can be used to destroy RFID tags, it's not a useful method if you then had to present a document containing the tag at a checkpoint etc. Part two covered privacy issues with RFID. The concept presented was that tracking people by RFID is easier than one would imagine. This is a very important point, because most previous studies had always assumed the person would have a single tag. In fact, over the next few years most new clothing will be tagged, so it won't be unusual for people to be wearing 6-10 tags. Part 3 gave a practical blueprint of how to reverse engineer an RFID card system. The speaker lived in university accommodation which used RFID cards as keys. He was able to successfully spoof the key to his room using an Ipod and a homemade transmitter. He went step-by-step through the whole process, using tools such as GNUradio and USRP.
This talk covered rootkits, trojans, viruses, worms and other nice things. It was given by Joanna Rutkowska. At the first CCC I went to(21C3) I saw her give a talk on passive covert channels in Linux. Although is was basic, and she had got a few things wrong, the talk was still very good and it got me very interested in the stegonographic use of TCP/IP. Her talk on malware was interesting, but nothing special. A bit like Rutowska herself.
"Homegrown Interactive Tables"
This talk was in German, but was still very cool. It was given by a team who built their own version of Multitouch, a giant touch screen which can recognise multiple points instead of just a single point. The touch screen they built is in the lounge area of the CCC, I played around with it a bit and thought it had a lot of potential. I'm going to look into building one.
Black Ops of TCP/IP
Although Dan Kaminsky is selling more of his soul each day, his talks are still very interesting and very entertaining. This year his talk covered graphical tools for analysing bineries, various SSH issues and fuzzing. Kaminsky's style is great, and he has a knack for looking at old tech in new and interesting ways.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
A very poor keynote speaker from the EFF. He claimed that hackers are a serious threat to the public and must be dealt with by the hacker community. He talked about hackers working for mafia in eastern Europe etc. Very lame.
The Grim Meathook Future
I was planning to go to a talk on a CCC RFID project, but the room was completely packed so Richard and I ended up in a talk called the Grim Meathook Future. It was a complete surprise to find that the speaker was eloquent, funny and had some very serious stuff to say. The talk focussed on false assumptions made about the future summed up by the phrase "In the future everything will work". This is the reason I come to hacker cons, not the tech stuff, but the few talks which hit very hard, and tell you things that you knew were true but that you don't allow to affect the way you live your life. I didn't agree with much of what he said, but the general thrust of the first part of the talk was that many hackers are in love with their toys and run around telling everyone how such tools will change the world.
Privacy In Web 2.0
Web 2.0 is a bunch of crap. This fact should be reflected on deeply. Regardless of this, I still attended the talk. Although I've often said that the European hacker scene is more advanced than that of the US, one of the negative aspects of the advanced nature of the hacker scene here is that people here seem to talk more about things in a theoretical and abstract way.
Got stuck in a talk in German. Fortunately the talk contained some videos, some pictures and a demonstration. Although I couldn't understand what was being said, it seemed to me that a lot of it was just talk about toy helicopters with mounted cameras and video senders. Certainly not drones, but still quite cool.
We Don't Trust Voting Computers
I have no interest in voting and voting computers. I attended this 2-hour talk simply because the speaker rocks. The speaker, Rop Gonggrijp, headed a campaign against voting computers in The Netherlands. Being 31337 haxors, Rop and his team were able to obtain some voting computers, find some insecurities in them and publicise them widely.
Arriving at the Berliner Conference Centre and seeing The Heart Of Gold, the Chaos Computer Club's rocket affected me more than I could have imagined. It means that, at least for the next few days, I have a chance at living my life in a better, deeper way.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Slept for the whole of the flight. Got from the airport to Alexanderplatz without difficulty. Found my hostel. Waited an hour for a member of staff to turn up. My room is clean and warm but there's little else to say about it. Slept for a couple of hours then walked back to Alexanderplatz.
Arriving at the Chaos Communication Congress feels wonderful. It's 19:46, there are already a couple of hundred people milling around, sitting on the many sofas, setting up projects, infrastructure and generally making magic.
Ate some pizza and soaked up the atmosphere of the lounge area. There are lots of projects set up around the lounge, and there's a dj as well, so it's a good place to spend time.
Queued for an hour at registration, somehow 500+ people had arrived without me noticing. The CCC is using wrist bands this year instead of the usual lanyards. Also, we weren't given a programme. Change is inevitable.
Met Glen, a guy I had met at What The Hack in The Netherlands last year. He always gets involved in running hacker cons, which seems to be a very sensible thing to do.
Richard arrived. We wondered around a bit, then went to our hostels, Richard using the train, myself on foot.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Got to the airport around 6 pm. Said goodbye to my aunt and followed the signs to Departures.
There was a sign on the door to the terminal building. It read "We are fucking stupid cunts. We don't give a fuck about anything or anyone so we've decided to close the terminal building until 2 am tomorrow. You can go sit in the chapel, or fuck off, the choice is yours." I decided to walk into Luton town centre, and find somewhere comfortable to kill some time. At this point I had my Christmas dinner. It consisted of a 500 ml bottle of tap water.
People and roads don't mix. Everything around the airport was designed for cars, not people. I walked along endless roads, most of which were without pavements. I eventually found a footpath, the sign next to it claimed that that the town centre was a mere 1.25 miles away. I had been walking for 25 minutes so this was a welcome relief. A few metres down the path I found my way blocked by a temporary fence. Attached to the fence was a sign saying that the path was being closed for vegetation clearing, and that it would be open again 4 months ago. I climbed around the fence, and continued walking. After 10 minutes I came to a huge pile of earth which looked too difficult to get around. I turned back.
Almost 2 hours after I had left the airport, I was in the town centre, standing outside a junk food place. I went in and ordered a set meal. There was a constant stream of customers, mainly taxi drivers and Indian teenagers. My order took ages but it was cheap and filling so I wasn't too annoyed.
It seemed much colder when I went outside again. Nothing was open so I took a taxi to the airport and looked for the chapel.
I got to the chapel shortly before 10 p.m. All airports have chapels, so that if there is a plane crash people have somewhere to chill out. This was my first time to visit one. Like most things, it was very silly.
Bigm000 called me up. He arrives in Berlin in the evening, so I'll probably meet up with him in Alexanderplatz.
There were quite a few people in the lobby of the chapel, some sitting, but most lying huddled against the walls. In the chapel itself, there were another 10 or so people, sleeping in the darkness.
Slept on and off until midnight. Sleeping on the floor was surprisingly painful. I had my fleece as a pillow and my raincoat as a blanket but it was still uncomfortable and cold.
Only in England can things be so utterly pathetic.
By 12:45 there were 20 people in the lobby. It was far too noisy to sleep. There are no toilets here so I'm avoiding drinking the water I have left.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Struck by the cultural diversity while we drove through London high streets. Huge variety of ethnic shops etc. In Norwich we have neither culture nor diversity, let alone cultural diversity itself.
Spent a couple of hours in London, talking to some family members.
Came home on a coach at 6:30. Tried to sleep but was kept awake by screaming kids and their mother.
Stayed up until around 2 am reading.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
I met Keiko by chance in the city centre. We went to my house and ate delicious Japanese curry.
Met a friend in the afternoon to borrow a copy of "The Book Of Strangers" from him. Looks like it's going to be an interesting read.
Listened to a couple of episodes of Brain Damage from the late 1980's. They can be downloaded from www.2600.com
Friday, December 22, 2006
In the evening I watched the film THX-1138 with some friends. After the film we discussed many of the issues that it raised. I didn't leave until past midnight. I should have gone straight home to bed but instead I spent some time in a phonebox, enjoying freefone numbers while they still last.
Got back home around 1:30 am. Read about the UK phone system for an hour before falling asleep, text file in hand. I dreamt of crossbar, SS7, routing, switching and multiplexing.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Being the third Thursday of the month, I attended the usual poor lecture on Japanese history and culture. It was some bollocks about the Jomon era of Japan, 10,000 BC to 300 BC.
After I went to dinner as usual at the Thai Dragon. My friends and I were joined by Hiroko, a Master's student studying translation. I don't know much about translation so I very much look forward to learning about it from her next year.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The following is used without permission. Anyway, the BBC are a bunch of cunts, so I don't give a fuck...
'Paris Syndrome' strikes Japanese
By Caroline Wyatt
BBC News, Paris
Sacre Coeur church in Montmartre, Paris
The reality of Paris does not always live up to the dream
A dozen or so Japanese tourists a year have to be repatriated from the French capital, after falling prey to what's become known as 'Paris syndrome'.
That is what some polite Japanese tourists suffer when they discover that Parisians can be rude or the city does not meet their expectations.
The experience can apparently be too stressful for some and they suffer a psychiatric breakdown.
Around a million Japanese travel to France every year.
Many of the visitors come with a deeply romantic vision of Paris - the cobbled streets, as seen in the film Amelie, the beauty of French women or the high culture and art at the Louvre.
The reality can come as a shock.
An encounter with a rude taxi driver, or a Parisian waiter who shouts at customers who cannot speak fluent French, might be laughed off by those from other Western cultures.
But for the Japanese - used to a more polite and helpful society in which voices are rarely raised in anger - the experience of their dream city turning into a nightmare can simply be too much.
This year alone, the Japanese embassy in Paris has had to repatriate four people with a doctor or nurse on board the plane to help them get over the shock.
An encounter with a rude Parisian can be a shocking experience
They were suffering from "Paris syndrome".
It was a Japanese psychiatrist working in France, Professor Hiroaki Ota, who first identified the syndrome some 20 years ago.
On average, up to 12 Japanese tourists a year fall victim to it, mainly women in their 30s with high expectations of what may be their first trip abroad.
The Japanese embassy has a 24-hour hotline for those suffering from severe culture shock, and can help find hospital treatment for anyone in need.
However, the only permanent cure is to go back to Japan - never to return to Paris.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
My boss has decided to decorate our computer school himself. Today he painted one of the walls blue. Once all six walls(L-shaped room) are painted, it will probably look quite good. Currently, with one blue wall and five white walls, it looks rather silly.
Went to a pub in the evening for a meal with my family. The food was great, although some of the combinations on the menu were a bit strange. The service was very good and the atmosphere was reasonable.
Not much to report on the Ipswich serial killer. Nothing at all, really.
Monday, December 18, 2006
As regular readers of this blog will be aware, a serial killer is currently operating in Ipswich, a crap town near here. While I was reading a news update on the BBC website which stated that a suspect had been arrested, I thought it would be a good idea to save a copy of the news page onto my laptop, and edit it to make the news a bit more interesting.
I made a few edits, implicating a colleague of mine in the murders. The colleague in question teaches maths, and used to be in a detective in London. I wrote that the suspect had been released, and that the police were now looking for a retired cop in connection with the killings.
One piece I added read "The police believe the suspect may be using his knowledge of forensics and trigonometry to evade capture". It was quite a struggle to edit the page without laughing too much, especially as Chris, a guy I work with, was sitting just a couple of feet away.
I showed Chris my handy work. He realised almost straight away that it was a local copy of the website that had been edited. He told my boss to have a read of it, without pointing out that it was fake. My boss was amazed by what he read. It was at this point that my laughter caused me to cry. My boss got Christine, the office manager to have a look as well.
Just when I thought I couldn't laugh harder, Christine's husband called her, and mentioned that someone had been arrested for the murders in Ipswich. Christine then read my spoof news update to her husband, saying that it must be breaking news. I escaped into the office where I found Chris, doubled-up over a desk, laughing as hard as I was. Eventually my boss came in to see if we were ok. Gasping for air, I explained that I had edited the page a little....
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Sometime in the afternoon I went to see Edward Pacman with Richard. Ed is now the proud owner of a house, and a very nice house it is. I borrowed some Woody Allen videos from Ed, I'll probably watch them at the weekend.
Spent some time redesigning the Tokyo Robotnik website. I haven't uploaded the new pages yet, but it will be soon. I've been looking for other websites on Tokyo and Japan, so far all of them have been crap. When I eventually sort Tokyo Robotnik out, it will cause the owners of other Japan-related websites to weep with shame.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
In the afternoon I went to "China World", a very small Chinese shop in the city centre. I was going to buy some Japanese curry roux, but it was over 3 quid. Instead I bought some instant ramen. I suddenly felt the need to support the Chinese community here so I bought some cheap Chinese batteries and some chopstick rests. I still spent less that 3 pounds.
I ventured into the main library in the city centre in order to borrow a DVD. I was shocked by what I saw. There were about 50 emo kids sitting on the floor, giving the place a refugee-camp atmosphere. My friend Spoon, an employee of the library, was dealing with a technical problem on one of the PC's so we had a chat while he worked.
My friend Anwar and I went to Wagamama for some very poor food. We followed this by taking average tea at a bad cafe. After a walk in a quiet part of the city centre to look at the cathedral, we went to Take 5, a reasonable cafe/bistro. At one point Anwar suggested that we start hanging around in saunas.
After all was said and done, once the war was lost and won, I went home and watched the Woody Allen film "Sleeper" which I had borrowed from the library
At this point you have a good idea of how I spent my day. Happy now?
Friday, December 15, 2006
Woke up shortly before 6 am. Had lost all my confidence. Went back to sleep and slept until around 9 am. Fell asleep again and woke at 11:30 am. Fuck.
Had to drop a repeat prescription off for a family member. When I got to the doctors' surgery I found that it had closed for lunch and would reopen in 30 minutes. I headed into a nearby park to kill some time. Hanging around in parks on grey days is my idea of fun.
Keiko came over to get some help in an art history essay. She spent some time watching me improving my CSS, and then we watched music videos from the 1980's. Then she left. Art history is crap anyway:)
Hung around beside a road for part of the night. I took a photo of it for the enjoyment of everyone out there in Internet Land.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
BAE Systems is a corrupt UK arms manufacturer. Saudi Arabia is a jolly unpleasant country, located in the Middle East. It was a match made in heaven.
I hate this fucking country.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I decided that today was the day that I ought to learn about the flag of Mauritius. It has four stripes: red, blue, yellow and green. According to wikipedia "The red stripe represents the struggle for independence. The blue stripe represents the ocean around the island. The yellow stripe represents the sun and golden light of independence. The green stripe represents fruitful soil and vegetation."
Started reading "Smiley's People", A Cold War thriller by John le Carré that I've read several times before.
Discovered a great music video site: www.999videos.com There are plenty of great videos from The Doors, Soft Cell, Kraftwerk, Radiohead, Davo, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Daft Punk. If you find something there you like, please post a comment on this post.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
When I got home I watched part of Annie Hall, the part in which Annie, Max and Alvy go to LA. I'll watch it again tomorrow night.
Chatted on SDF until 3 am. I hadn't chatted online for ages and was pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of my old friends were still hanging out in the SDF chatroom.
Monday, December 11, 2006
My boss designed a Christmas card for us to send to some of our more important customers. When I say "designed", I mean he just found some stock photos and stuck then in a Word file. The resulting card sucks, but not as much as Christmas itself.
There's a serial killer operating in Ipswich, a town near here, murdering prostitutes. Three bodies have been found, two more young women have gone missing. Welcome to the cheap seats.
Spent the night correcting Keiko's essay on Christian art and reading my new book on CSS.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Near the station, outside a nightclub, there was a massive crime scene. 5 cop cars, 2 unmarked cars with cops in, police vans, mobile office/lab etc. There must have been a terrorist incident or some kind of massacre.
Read Phrack on the train. Due to engineering works(read: transport in the UK is run by stupid cunts) I had to make part of the journey by bus.
When I finally got home I checked some local news websites to see what had happened in Ipswich: Triple Shooting, Fatal Stabbing, Non-fatal Stabbing.
Several prostitutes have been killed in Ipswich recently. Another was found today. Could be the start of something big, something to put Ipswich on the map.
Some stuff I had ordered from Amazon had arrived: "CSS: The Missing Manual" and "How To Draw Anything" and the CD "Dengue Fever" by Dengue Fever. For a few seconds I almost felt happy.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
We spent most of the day working on a couple of websites. When the hunger became unbearable, I made some poor pizzas, using ready-made pizza bases from a supermarket. It was not a meal, it was a cry for help.
We watched the Woody Allen film "Annie Hall" in the evening. One of the titles possible for the film was "It Had To Be Jew", it was considered unmarketable though. The film is insightful, and very funny. It's packed with great one-liners, my favourite being "He gives great meeting". I've watched Annie Hall many times but it is still warrants being watched many more times.
We watched the short film "Electronic Labyrinth THX-1138 4 EB". Gemma didn't get it, Simon was very impressed by the cinematography.
At around midnight we watched Threads. Although I had brought Threads with me on DVD and we had use of a video projector, we watched Threads on Google Video on my laptop.
Friday, December 08, 2006
When some other people arrived, I started the workshop on web design. I talked for many hours and answered lots of questions. Simon has a video projector so I was able to demonstrate a lot of HTML and CSS stuff.
Teaching people to build and maintain real websites is surprisingly difficult. People want to know all about formatting and positioning without understanding protocols, standards, inheritance, usability, accessibility and all the other stuff that makes up 80% of real web design.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
In the evening I took the train to Ipswich, the town which would be my home for the next few days. My friend Gemma met me at the station. She showed me some of the sights of Ipswich. I did a very good job of not laughing. Ipswich is silly.
When we got to her house, Gemma cooked some butternut squash soup for us. It was very good, but very late. I've come to think of cooking as being something that happens very quickly. I think this is due to the fact that I mainly cook Asian food. We watched the film "Le Jetee" on my laptop. Although the screen is only 12 inches, the picture on the Apple Powerbook is great.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I downloaded the Thin Lizzy track "Whiskey In The Jar" and found the lyrics.
As I was going over the Cork and Kerry mountains
I saw Captain Farrell and his money he was countin'
I first produced my pistol and then produced my rapier
I said "stand and deliver or the devil, he may take ya"
Musha ring dum-a-do-dum-a-da
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar-o
I took all of his money and it was a pretty penny
I took all of his money and I brought it home to Molly
She swore that she'd love me, never would she leave me
But the devil take that woman, for you know she tricked me easy
Being drunk and weary, I went to Molly's chamber
Taking Molly with me but I never knew the danger
For about six or maybe seven, in walked Captain Farrell
I jumped up, fired my pistols, and I shot him with both barrels,
Now some men like the fishin', and some men like the fowlin'
And some men like to hear, to hear the cannonballs a-roarin'
Me: I like sleepin', especially in my Molly's chamber
But here I am in prison, here I am with a ball and chain, yeah
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Uploaded some photos from my camera. Here is one of my favourites:
Spent most of the day reading. I've almost finished "Funeral In Berlin". It will be the last novel I read for a long time.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
We arrived in Cambridge early, and it was quite pleasant to kill some time on Mill Road, a vibrant street with some interesting independent shops. I bought a refreshing can of lycee juice at the Post Office/Arab supermarket.
Cambridge EASF was certainly the worst EASF there's been for a long time. It was good that only a few people attended; if a large number of people had come it would have mattered more. We started with a workshop on email encryption, which confused everybody, followed be a talk the Plane Stupid campaign by two girls who weren't sure what they were doing. There was a screen printing demonstration which was quite good and a talk on ID cards which was great.
I doubt I'll go to the Japanese exam tomorrow because I don't feel very well and the journey is going to be a nightmare. There are engineering works taking place so part of the journey has to be made by bus.
Spent a long time looking for some documentation for the Japanese exam. I couldn't find it, so if I decide to go to the exam tomorrow I have to arrive early to obtain an exam voucher. Fun.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Cooked fried noodles with Chinese five spice and pork for lunch at Keiko's house. There was very little interference from Keiko, so the food turned out well.
Not sure why I took so many photos of the noodles. Keiko's laptop had a built-in card reader, so I could upload the photos even though I didn't have the camera's USB cable with me.
Takako joined us after lunch for the English lesson. We had to have the lesson in Keiko's bedroom instead of the kitchen, which is where we usually have it. It was a bit strange but we were still able to get through quite a lot of material.
Richard, Keiko and I had tea with Anwar. Richard zoned out quite a bit. It may be because he's vegetarian. Richard stayed the night at my house so we could go to Cambridge together tomorrow for EASF.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Heard an amazing group on a Giant Robot podcast called "Dengue Fever". They are a group from LA who play psychedelic Cambodian rock. The lead singer, Chhom Nimol, has a great voice. All the songs are in the Khmer language so I have no idea what the songs are about but it doesn't matter. On the strength of the fragment of "Hold My Hips" included in the podcast, I've ordered one of their albums from Amazon. One of the best groups I've heard for years. Sadly they have a crappy website made in Flash. Degue Fever Music
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The 2 GB SanDisk card for my camera arrived. It holds 1050 4-megapixel photos. Way too many.
Richard came over. He refused to eat anything probably because he felt embarrassed. This meant I couldn't eat. It sucked.
Listened to some of the Giant Robot Magazine podcasts.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Like almost every computer ever brought in to work by a student, the laptop was full of porn. Quite sad when you consider the student is almost 60 years old. The point of the story though, is not the porn. The student said his son had taken the laptop to a computer shop. The computer shop charged him 30 pounds to look at the laptop. When the son collected the laptop he was told that there was a problem with the motherboard and that it would be uneconomical to repair. When I opened the laptop it was obvious that the computer shop hadn't opened it, they had just turned it on, seen that it wouldn't power up, and then did nothing. Thirty pounds for someone to look at a laptop...
Monday, November 27, 2006
Despite being 90% dead, I went to work today. I had very little choice in the matter as two other members of staff are off on business.
I'm almost looking forward to my weekend. Cambridge on Saturday for the East Anglia Social Forum and London on Sunday for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
Ordered a 2 GB SanDisk memory card for my digital camera. Expect lots more photos over the next few months.
Played with Photoshop using a photo of my friend Richard.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
After the lesson I ate a late lunch at a bad restaurant with Keiko and her housemate Maria. We argued about the life of Mishima Yukio for three hours. Time well spent.
In the evening Richard and I went to Tootsies, an over-priced burger restaurant. We had expensive milkshakes and a fine old time.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Got a call from my friend Gemma. She wants me to run some web design training in Ipswich. The training should be lots of fun, unlike Ipswich which is a dump.
Purchased supplies at the shit convenience store. I didn't buy enough. Even while I was standing in the shop I knew I wasn't buying enough. It's hard to explain. I was in a shit convenience store, surrounded by crappy products. I knew I had to buy lots of stuff, but it just wasn't possible. If the human race can, one day, comprehend all the causes and consequences of what happened at the shit convenience store, we will be significantly closer to understanding the human condition.
Watched lots of Seinfeld. It's like Friends but less repulsive.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Spent the morning teaching web design and administration to a woman who is interested in doing some courses. I talked for about 3 hours straight. I like talking. Not so keen on listening.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Read about Seinfeld on Wikipedia. He has 270 million US dollars. I don't.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Read the new issue of Giant Robot magazine. It's a constant reminder that I'm going nowhere fast.
Richard came over with a new book, "Programming Linux Hacker Tools Uncovered". Even an 31337 book can become lame in our hands. We watched about 6 episodes of Seinfeld.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Went to the cinema to watch the new James Bond film, Casino Royale. A bunch of us went: Richard, Emily, Penny, Edward Pacman and Guillaume. I enjoyed the film, but I don't consider it to be Bond film. It was far more violent and grim than older Bond films and was spoiled to some extent by stupid product placement for Sony mobile phones and laptops. Judi Dench is miscast as M, the head of MI6. Contrary to popular belief, Dench is not a good actor.
Friday, November 17, 2006
I had no breakfast this morning. No breakfast, no hope, no reason.
English lesson with Keiko and Takako. Took lots of photos of the two cats at Keiko's house. After the lesson we took lunch at an organic cafe near the telephone exchange.(Do you know where your local exchange is?) Takako and I had soup, Keiko ate a baguette. Silly Keiko.
At the cafe I read an article in the Guardian newspaper on passport security. The article was written by a Guardian journalist who had spent some time with Adam Laurie and Phil Booth. Laurie runs a secure hosting company called The Bunker, Booth is the national coordinator of the campaign against ID cards. I met Laurie at DefCon in 2004. One day I'll be somebody who people meet. Maybe.
I walked home listening to MP3's on my watch. Whatever next! Monkey tennis?
Thursday, November 16, 2006
We went for dinner at the Thai Dragon where we were joined by my friend Anwar. Anwar didn't eat, instead he looked into people's hearts. Hiding things from him is useless. Some people can see deeper than others.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Met my friend Anwar in the city centre on the way home. He gave me some brownies. People don't usually give me things, and I don't usually give much to others. I will give more in future.
Gemma and Rebecca came over. They were both in a slightly odd mood. We drank herbal tea and discussed living and killing.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Met my friend Takako in the library for an English lesson. It was wonderful to be teaching English seriously again. I remembered how exciting language learning and teaching is. When I was in Japan I was teaching English while studying Japanese which allowed me to have a much deeper understanding of language acquisition mechanisms than I would have had otherwise. I'm lucky that Takako really wants to learn which makes her a joy to teach.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Spent most of the day reading about the games Elite and Frontier. Frontier was one of my favourite games on the Amiga. Like many Amiga games I used to play, it has had a profound impact on my psyche.
Downloaded some MP3's at work, mainly stuff by Belle And Sebastian and Hot Chip.
Met Richard on the way home from work. We stood in the street, reading a book on C++ together. People looked at us and wondered what it would take to be able to join our club.
Watched all 4 episodes of Chad Vader on Youtube. Quite funny.
Some day my blog entries will consist of more than just a list of stuff I did. There will be insight, wisdom, humorous observations and photos. I might get some friends too. And be able to code properly.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Might quit my job tomorrow.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Bought lots of Chinese takeaway. Ate most of it. Vowed never to buy crappy fake Chinese food again. My vows mean nothing.
Studied assembly for a bit.
Installed Debian over the Red Hat install.
What a day.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Had lunch with Keiko at her house. We cooked a simple pasta dish. Keiko, as usual, tried to fuck it up. Watched "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me". A very poor film. Watching it reminded me of why I don't watch crap films.
Very tempted to quit my job on Monday. Not sure I'll even turn up to work.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Ate some stupid food when I got home then listened to Phone Losers Of America calls most of the evening. The PLA save me again and again and again. Phonelosers.org
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Got the new issue of 2600. It's dire. I really ought to write some articles for it soon.
Applied for a job online. The web form was completely fucking broken so my application looked pretty dumb. I was very, very close to giving up halfway through on the grounds that I wouldn't want to work for an organisation that was unable to create a simple web form.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Been reading about working conditions at Google. Looks like fun. I half-wish I was working in that kind of environment. I'd probably get tired of true happiness and job satisfaction after a while, but it would be nice to experience it once in my lifetime.
Played around with Facebook. It's crap. There is an SDF group on Facebook, started by Hapiworm, an SDF user in the US. Hapiworm is cool, but Facebook is still crap.
Remembered a great comic strip that I used to read.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
At 8 pm we met up with Keiko's friend Hiroko before meeting Edward Pacman and Richard at the cinema. Richard had just shaved his head, which made it look like an egg. I waited for Ed to produce a spoon and try to eat the egg, but it didn't happen. Ed was very tempted.
The film we watched was "The History Boys", an adapation of an Alan Bennet play. I enjoyed it greatly and the others seemed to enjoy it too.
Friday, October 13, 2006
A friend of mine was in the library. We went to a church to talk and then went to the park to fight. We'll look back on these days as the best we've ever known.
Rushed home to wash and sing.
Went back to the city centre to meet some friends for dinner at the Thai restaurant. Takako, her husband and two other students were there. The food was great and the Thai dancing was wonderful.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Bal joined us, and we visited the Birmingham Museum And Art Gallery. The museum and art gallery is full of crap. It has the largest collection of bad paintings outside the US, and the staff are double-fucking dumb. The only thing it has to recommend it is the fact that it is free.
We took afternoon tea and looked for wifi networks. After about an hour Lylah and her boyfriend joined us, and we went to China Town for food. We chose Cafe Soya again.
On the train home Richard and I watched Appleseed on my laptop, followed by Sneakers. Sneakers is a terrible film. The people who made Sneakers are all very bad people. Fortunately we didn't watch all of it.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Woke at 4:30 am. Met Richard at the station. 4 hours from Norwich to Birmingham. I finished off my presentation on the train and read up on my subject.
We met PHM and Bal at the hotel. Bal is an old friend, PHM is a fellow SDFer.
My talk was scheduled for 2 pm, before a break so I could overrun a bit. The room was the same one as last year, and it got hot as it started to fill up.
The first talk was "IPv "what?": yeah what !!!" by Zipser. Zipser usually talks about remote telemetry systems so it was a bit strange hearing him talk about TCP/IP. The talk consisted of an overview of IPv6 packet structure, and little else.
My talk, "What's On The Cards: Security Issues Surrounding Card-based Authentication" went quite well. Everyone got the jokes, and the video I showed about ID cards went down very well.
There was a very short talk called "Mobile Java programming: For fun, profit and voyeurism" by LSL. It lacked any real content.
"All Your Email Belong To Us: The meat and guts" described SMTP email headers. Nothing more.
"Your Games 0wn U: Please Update Me." pointed out that online games contain spyware and automatically install updates...
Sneaky Russian gave an eye-opening talk called "UPnP NAT Manipulation: Yeah that's (U)n(P)rotected (N)etwork (P)hun" all about the UPnP standard for remotely configuring low-end network devices. The content was good, but by this point I was passing in and out of consciousness due to the heat and the fact that I had been up since 4 am.
The hacker panel was a bit disappointing as the audience were too tired to come up with many questions. Still, I'm glad we had a panel as it was my idea.
After BrumCon I went to China-town for dinner with Bal, Richard, Lionfish, PHM and a mystery hacker. We ate at a cafe I used to go to years ago called Cafe Soya. The food was first class and reasonably priced.
Friday, October 06, 2006
In the evening I went to the Thai restaurant that I frequent. There was amazing Thai dancing while I was there. I should probably buy a decent camera soon and start taking lots of photos to make my blog more interesting. I should also make more time for blogging, even if it means giving up my job and not talking to any of my friends anymore.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Listened to a lot of Phone Losers Of America stuff at work today.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Found out that my friend and colleague Emily has quit work. It will be very strange to go in to work and know that she is not going to come in ever again.
Had a very pleasant afternoon sitting outside a street cafe with my friends Jan and Luzie, discussing various tech and social topics.
Spent the evening chatting on the SDF public access unix system, and on various instant messaging networks. I *may* have an exciting interview for my blog soon. I'm approaching several people to do interviews on the redistribution of fame.
Talked to a friend in the US about the history of the UK phone system and about the state hacker-scenes world-wide.
Monday, September 11, 2006
War Plan UK is a very important book. It details the UK government's plans for continuing governmental control after a full-scale nuclear strike. A perfect companion to the films "Threads" and "When The Wind Blows".
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Started to think seriously about returning to Japan. Looked into the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, an exam held once a year. I will take the first exam, which although pretty basic will still require a lot of revision for me as I haven't studied Japanese for so long.
A friend came over for tea and chat. We went for a walk in the evening sun. Norwich suddenly looked very beautiful.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Had a very strange dream this morning. I was caught by some police while taking some books from a skip. I was not arrested, and was chatting with a friendly policeman, thinking everything was ok. A police woman then said that it had just gone past midnight, so I had to be arrested. I was taken somewhere on a bus with lots of other people who had been arrested. There were other buses with us, probably 5 or 6 in total. At one point, all the buses stopped for a break. One of the people on my bus broke free and drove the bus away from the police. It was so exciting to escape, but frightening as well. At some point I woke up.
Played around with my Apple Powerbook for most of the day. Getting to love my Apple more as I get to know it.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
My boss is taking us to a really shit restaurant tonight. This is in an attempt to impress an organisation that we sometimes work with. I can't think of anything less impressive than being taken to a shit restaurant.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Watched Suede videos on YouTube. Suede is rapidly filling my head again, after years of silence. I used to listen to early Suede almost every day while at school. I would close my eyes and see concrete.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
www.hope.net The streaming doesn't work well so it's best to download the talks.
Went swimming in the evening. As usual, my time at the pool was mainly spent in the steam room, the sauna and the jacuzzi.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
I had set the alarm on my mobile to wake me up at 10:30 am. When I woke up, my watch said 3 pm. After almost a minute of panic (I had to get a train at 1:30 pm or pay 40 quid+ for another ticket) I realised that my watch actually said 9 am.
I left while Ed was still asleep and made my way to London Liverpool Street station. Slept on the train home.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Makiko and I had lunch in an Indian restaurant. The food was very good, but the cost bought tears to my eyes. London is double-fucking expensive. And crap.
When Makiko went home, I walked back to Covent Garden to sit in a church courtyard, and read a book on codebreking.
Shortly after 6:30 pm I traveled by Tube to Tooting Bec in order to attend Dr Edward Bearskin's leaving party.
I had been slightly apprehensive about going to an all-night party where I would only know 2 people out of 30. My worry turned out to be unnecessary as everyone was very friendly and I had some fascinating conversations. The food at the party was very good. There was nothing exotic, but everything was good quality and very tasty.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Bumped into my friend Akira in the city centre. It was good to catch up with eachother.
Good Norwich 2600 meetings are now becoming the norm. There was a new person at the meeting, and we had a lot of tech stuff to play with.
Chatted on SDF. Managed to make several people leave the chat room, mainly by talking about cable-ties:)
Wondered how many of my friends are now dead. All of them?
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Richard and I went to my house where we played with a Cisco router that he recently bought off eBay. I sometimes wish I had more friends, and was happy.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
On the way home from work I stopped at the library to borrow "Security Engineering" by Ross Anderson. Read some of it on the way home. The book has a reputation for being about the best text book on security ever written. From what I read, the reputation is justified.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Monday, August 21, 2006
"Tat down" is a term used to describe the process of taking down camp and packing everything up and leaving. I left the camp before Tat Down, whcih was probably a wise move.
Spent the day sorting out my stuff from camp, and trying to remember how you live in a house.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Went to the Centre For Alternative Technology. There was a distinct lack of alternative technology but it was still a pleasant place to be. Most of my time was spent eating various plants. I hope that my friend Gemma feeding me plants knew what she was doing.
Lunch was very, very expensive. When I was told the total cost of the handful of food on my plate, I had to use all my self-control in an effort not to destroy the world. The food was ok, but not great.
Spent many hours on the train with Helen, John and Gemma. Finally got home and went straight to sleep.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Ran a personal awareness workshop in the morning. There were about 14 people there, and everyone seemed to enjoy what I taught them
Attended the daily Morning Meeting. The atmosphere was fantastic, about 50 of us together in a marquee discussing the camp. Being in tents with good people, sitting on strawbales and feeling good are all things I will try to do more often.
Went to a workshop on the Faslane 365 campaign which aims to close down the Faslane nuclear weapons base in Scotland for a whole year. After a few minutes it became evident that I knew as much, if not more, about the campaign as the two women running the workshop.
Although the Nukewatch workshop was run by one of the women who had run the Faslane workshop, it was much better. After the workshop I talked with the woman, Anna, for 2 hours straight about the future of activism in the UK.
Gemma moved into my tent because the friend she was sharing a tent with was planning to stay up quite late each night. Suddenly my tent seems quite a bit smaller, but it's lovely to have some company.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
When we arrived in Wales we took a bus to the village where we would be spending the next five days. The bus dropped us 5 minutes from the camp. Someone gave out a yell when they glimpsed some tents in the distance, which was very funny.
We reached the site at about 6 pm. Rebecca and her friend Kirsty had been there for a day already and had put up their tents in the quiet area. I got my tent pitched while the others were debating whether they too wanted to be in the quiet area. In the end they decided that they did, and I tried not to laugh. There was loads of room in my 2.5 person tent with only me and my huge rucksack! I ate some bagels for dinner, and realised how hungry I had been for most of the day.
Found that I was running a workshop at 9:15 am the next day.
Decided to do the 4 am to 8 am gate shift with my friends.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Most of my time on the Internet was spent reading about various people in Wikipedia, including but not limited to:
Peaches, a Canadian electroclash musician.
Iggy Pop, a musician who is rapidly becoming more interesting and important to me.
Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, a group I don't know much about.
Couldn't go out to the convenience store because it was raining, and also the store doesn't stay open very late. (so not very fucking convenient) I stayed inside and became bitter. This is both sad and inevitable.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Monday, August 07, 2006
Sunday, August 06, 2006
TV is dead, long live the Net! I'm really getting in to watching stuff on GoogleVideo and YouTube. I found something called MomentEye, an Internet TV show from Hong Kong mainly made by British ex-pats.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
I saw this on the website of an artist/designer.
When I was younger, I pretended to be a ninja.
In my heart, I was an astronaut.
So, I told my mother that I was going to be an architect
and went to school to study psychotherapy.
Finally, I realized that I was never happier than
when I would draw on the walls with my crayons.
Never happier, I became an artist.
Norwich now has free wireless Internet access. I haven't tried it out yet, will do on Friday at the Norwich 2600 meeting.
Watched part of "Dead Man's Shoes" on TV. A very bleak and disturbing film. Don't watch it if you ever intend being happy again.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Fell asleep in the library while trying to study. This event may have been connected with the fact that I went to bed at 4 am this morning. Can't seem to beat the jetlag at the moment.
Continued listening to "Goodbye Horses" on repeat. Highly recommended.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Changed my left-over US currency back to Sterling. Went to the bank. Tried to study outside. Grew older without growing wiser. New York seems so far away. My time there is already fading in my mind.
Downloaded an mp3 of "Goodbye Horses", a song used in The Silence Of The Lambs and CLerks II. Listened to it again and again and again.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Very plesent evening. Had friends over. Cooked some awsome food which I'm not going to describe here because I talk about food far too much in my blog, or so I'm told.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Bumped into my friend Anwar in the city centre. We talked for hours while drinking Orangina. Back in the day, Orangina was unavailable in England. I used to drink it during my regular holidays in France. While in France I would eat Nutella and lemon polos, although not at the same time. Globalization sucks.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Slept for some of the coach ride back. The coach was very noisy and there was a strong smell of petrol/diesel fumes. I shall avoid traveling by coach in future. A wise man once said: "Life is too short to spend hours traveling on noisy, smelly coaches."
Very depressing to arrive back in Norwich. The sooner I leave this place, the better.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Got to the airport at 5 pm. Found an open wireless network. Drank some diet coke. Ordered some food which never came.
The flight home was very rough. The in-flight staff were rude. I cannot recommend Air India, despite the wonderful food. Food isn't everything, dear readers. I was very pleased to have issue 6 of Make magazine to read, as the flight felt very long.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
This talk covered the different parts of the radio spectrum and how they are used in the USA.
Phone Phreaking 101
Basically how the phone system in the USA works and its history. Didn't learn anything new, but enjoyed the talk greatly. The speaker presented well and had a good sense of humor.
Making Reliable Links Using WiFi
This talk mainly covered antenna design. I arrived late and wasn't in much of a mood to pay attention but the parts I did catch seemed interesting.
Password Cracking And Time-Memory Trade Off
Didn't see all the talk, spent some of the time checking email etc. The main thrust of the talk seemed to be that when cracking passwords you can do much of the work in advance and store the results in a database. The demonstrations were very scary. Longish passwords were cracked in seconds.
Hackers In Prison
Bernie S. and FiberOptik. Kevin Mitnik couldn't be bothered to turn up so his girlfriend sat on the panel in place of him. I hope that this marks the end of 2600's love affair with Kevin Mitnik. Mitnik has done nothing of value since being released from prison for breaking into computer systems.
Law Enforcement Wiretaps
This talk included live demonstrations of how to stop government phone bugging and pen recorders. Fantastic. Matt Blaze is double-plus leet.
Building A Hacker Space
The hacker spaces described in this talk seemed quite easy to set up. Just get a bunch of friends with a bunch of money, and find a space to rent which you can fill with computers.
One of the speakers at HOPE was arrested by the FBI a couple of minutes before he was due to be part of a panel. There are news reports floating around the Net, but there aren't any clear details yet.
Friday, July 21, 2006
There's decent wireless here, so I've had quite good Net access, despite the Apple's crap wifi card.
I watched RMS's talk on the video link up. He is very silly. At one point he donned a wizard's cloak and hat...
Tried Jolt Cola, a caffeine-rich cola, for the first time. When I get back to the UK it will be time to quit caffeine again. Might do some exercise as well:)
Attended "Europe Has Hackers Too" by Mc Fly and Frank from the CCC in Germany and Rop from The Netherlands. Rop is a god. He's very hard, very clever and he knows it. I feel he's come to HOPE with the sole intention of telling Americans off, which can only be a good thing.
The next talk was a panel called The Future Of Wireless Penetration Testing. It didn't go into much depth on anything, but it gave some good starting points.
Gave out a bunch of Super Dimension Fortress stickers to some of the HOPE volunteers.
Watched a panel on 2600 meetings. It mainly consisted of Rop telling people off. Great stuff.
"The Code Book" - Simon Singh
"Turing: The Enigma" - Andrew Hodges
"The Essential Turing" - B. Copeland
"Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" - Douglas Hofstadter
If you read them, please post comments here. If you can recommend other books on Turing, please do.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
As a speaker, I was given a special speaker's pack consisting of an envelope containing a green badge, a sticker, a HOPE program and a speaker's briefing sheet. Non-speakers get a red badge and a HOPE program.
I ate dinner at Tom's Restaurant, made famous by the Suzanne Vega song "Tom's Diner" and also the TV program "Seinfeld". The food was very good and the staff were friendly.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I managed to get on air a little bit, I think I spoke for about 15 seconds. You can download or stream the radio show from www.2600.com/OffTheHook/2006/0706.html
Everyone was very friendly and laid back. I got on particularly well with Mitch Altman, the inventor of TV-B-Gone. TV-B-Gone is a device for turning of TV's. It can turn off hundreds of different models and is small enough to be carried in your pocket.
We all went to the East Village to eat. Most people took the subway, but I and a few others went in the 2600 van. The 2600 van is painted in the style of a New York telephone van and therefore is often let into places where public vehicles are not allowed. The ride was quite uncomfortable as there were no seats in the back, but it was an interesting way to see a bit of New York.
The Italian restaurant we went to served great food and was reasonably priced. I sat with Porkchop and Redbird, both of whom were very interesting. After dinner we walked through the East Village to a coffee shop. East Village is an intellectual haven in New York. It's full of trendy young people, many of whom have laptops. I spent a couple of hours there and then started the journey back to my hotel. It was 1:30 am when I finally got back.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Spent all day reading about Turing and hunting for photos of him for my talk. I'm starting to feel the pressure.
Went to see a free firework show in Central Park. It was a good opportunity to try out the firework-mode on my digital camera. I was very impressed with the results
A minute or so after the
fireworks finished a torrent of rain started. Within seconds I was soaked to the skin. It felt to run through the warm night with sheets of rain coming down. I got to a very crowded subway station and took a train back to the hotel.
Got an email from Mike, a regular on the hacker radio show "Off The Hook" saying that I could join the show tomorrow night but I might not get to say much as the show would be very crowded. Mike didn't mention what time I should get there for so I'll just turn up at the WBAI studios on Wall Street an hour before the show and see what happens. I think it's going to be quite an experience...
Monday, July 17, 2006
Next to the harbour where the cruises start in the Chinese Consulate. Some practicioners of Falun Gong were staging a silent protest. As I stopped to take a photo, I was given a book and magazine about the Falun Gong and the persecution that they suffer in China:
The day before Chen Zixiu died, her captors again demanded that she renounce her faith in Falun Gong. Barely conscious after repeated jolts from a cattle prod, the 58-year old shook her head.
Enraged, the local officials ordered Ms. Chen to run barefoot in the snow. Two days of torture had left her legs bruised and her short black hair matted with pus and blood, said cellmates and other prisoners who witnessed the incident. She crawled outside, vomited and collapsed. She never regained consciousness, and died on 21 st February, 2000
The harbour cruise was great. The guide, although annoying, gave a very detailed commentary which included the history of New York City and its people.
After dinner I visited the Empire State Building. The sunset alone was worth the cost of the ticket. My camera has a sunset-mode, which worked well.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Spent much of the day in my hotel, reading up on Turing and trying to sort out my presentation. Still lots to do. Got an email from Kathy Wang, saying that she couldn't make it to HOPE this year due to her husband's job. It's a real shame as I was looking forward to hanging out with her and hopefully learning a lot. Kathy founded the hacking group Syn Ack Labs and has written some very impressive security tools, namely Morph and HoneyClient.
Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge in the evening. New York looks much better at night. Took some photos but they haven't come out very well.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Spent six hours in the Natural History Museum. Most of the museum was aimed at Americans/children so everything was dumbed down to a level which made it hard not to laugh.
I got a ticket which included all the extras: the planetarium, the Imax cinema, live snakes and lizards and a special exhibition on Darwin. The planetarium was pretty poor, the Imax was better and the Darwin exhibition was good. The lizards and snakes were just lizards and snakes.
After the museum I spent more time in Central Park before going to a Japanese restaurant for dinner. After dinner I went to a bookshop and bought the latest issue of 2600 magazine. All in all a great day.