Monday, July 31, 2006

Goodbye Horses

Strange to be back at work today. On my way to work I noticed how mean and unhappy the people all look. This city stinks. There is nothing here. Soon, even I shall be gone from this empty place.

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

Jet Lagger

Very bad jet lag. Didn't get to sleep until 5 am this morning. No idea how I'm going to get up at 7 am tomorrow.

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

Waking Up And Getting Up Has Never Been Easy

Woke up at 2 pm today. Did very little around the house, then went out late afternoon, to meet Suzi for some shopping. Didn't do any shopping. Shopping sucks, when you don't have much money, and when there is fuck all worth buying.

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

Returning Home

Arriving in Heathrow is like arriving in a slum. Everything was dirty and broken. Paid quite a bit of money for some crap food. No free wireless Internet access.

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

Last Day In Paradise

Went to a coffee shop for lunch. Couldn't get on any wireless networks. I almost went to Starbucks as they generally have wireless Net access there. So far I have managed to avoid all multi-national chains during this trip. I didn't go into Starbucks, and I feel cleaner because of that.

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

HOPE Day Two

I went to lots of talks today, some of which were very good:

Radio Communications.
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

HOPE Day One

After giving my talk I watched a talk on designing databases which are useful without having to hold personal information. The talk was pretty technical and very well presented.

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.

Books On Turing

For those interested in learning more about Turing, the following books provide a great start:

"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.

Turing Talk At Hope

In 30 minutes I'll be giving a talk on Alan Turing. If you are reading this far enough in the future that my talk is in the past, and you saw my talk, please post a comment.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Tom's Restaurant

Spent the day working on my presentation. In the evening I went to the Hotel Pennsylvania to register for the HOPE conference. Two huge posters for HOPE had been put up in the window of the hotel and in the 30 minutes I spent hanging around, about 20 famous people from the hacker world came to register. HOPE begins tomorrow, but an atmosphere is already forming...

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

15 Seconds Of Fame

At 6:30 pm I went to the studios of WBAI, New York's most prestigious non-commercial radio station. When I arrived there were 6 other people there for the show. People continued to arrive, and by the time we were ready to go on air, there were 20 people in the studio.

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

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

Caught In The Rain

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

Cruising For A Bruising (NYC Day 4)

Decided to talk the New York Harbour cruise. The full cruise is three hours long and costs $30.

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

Cheering For Turing

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

An Unnatural History (NCY, Day 2)

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.

Friday, July 14, 2006

NYC, Day One

First full day in New York. It feels very natural to be back here after two years. NYC is a city in which one is never short of things to do and never short of things to eat.

I spent a good part of the day in Central Park, watching the all the different people and soaking up the sun. I took some photos which can be found at

I visited the Museum Of Modern Art in the early evening. Not much to write home about. Saw some Van Gough, some Margruitte and some Monet but there was very little else of note.

Pizza in Little Italy then back home for Blog and Bed.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Safe Arrival

Made it to New York, in one piece. It's great to be back. The city is just as chaotic and wonderful as I remember it.

Flight was fine. Old, worn plane but reasonable service and food. Got quite a lot of reading done for my Turing talk although there's still loads to do.

Trouble with the hotel's wireless Internet access but I was able to use an open network from somewhere else.

I'm very tired and am looking forward to sleeping deeply.

Monday, July 10, 2006

What's On The Cards?

I'd like to say what I had for lunch because it was particularly good, I'm not going to though as I've taken a vow not to discuss food in my blog unless it's unavoidable.

I'm having lots of trouble getting my credit card sorted out. I have been meaning to get a second card sorted out for ages, if I had done, it would have saved me a lot of hassle in my current situation. Banks suck. Credit cards suck. That is all.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

It's Alive. Almost. Not Quite.

Attended a free seminar entitled "New Media Cheap And Easy". It was aimed at charities, campaign groups, non-gov orgs etc., presumably with a view to encouraging them to use Wikis, blogging and podcasting and other fun stuff.

Most of the attendees were utterly clueless. I don't mean that in a small way, I mean in the sense that they were silly people, doing silly things, and in some cases being paid to do so. Such people annoy me greatly.

The trainer was pretty good. Considering how dumb some of the people were, he did a reasonable job at informing them of how blogs, wikis and podcasts work, and why people should be using them. I enjoyed the seminar because the trainer was lively, funny and well-informed. As soon as I get back from New York I'm going to find some training on public speaking and presenting.

The best thing about attending the seminar was that it has given me a new enthusasm for blogging, and it rammed home the importance of using social networking tools to promote your blog.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Packing For NYC

I'm going to start packing for my trip to New York tonight. Here is a list of stuff I'll take:
Apple laptop
Power adapter for Apple
Book on Turing
NYC Guidebook
Business Cards
Suntan creme

Please give me your suggestions of what else I need by clicking on "comments" next to the time of this post.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fuck Work

Had a long and interesting conversation with one of our students about a job he had . He had worked at a printers, doing typesetting. He got very serious repetitive strain injury in his wrists and arms from typing 10 hours a day. Working shifts meant he couldn't spend much time with his kids while they were growing up. We talked about how strange it is that crap jobs can dominate someone's life, and why people accept this state of affairs. Interesting and depressing.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Position vacant: PA to Karamoon

Picked up my air tickets from the travel agent, called Air India to confirm my flight, booked a haircut, went to the bank, all in one day! I need a PA to do this sort of stuff for me. One day...

Been playing with my three websites. Still have loads of work to do, but I'm making progress.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Space Blues

Read a short science-fiction love story called Space Blues. (Click here to read)

Some sci-fi I like:
Pebble In The Sky
I, Robot
The Start Like Dust
The Time Machine

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Finders Keepers

Found some nice stuff today: a pair of glasses, an employee name badge and a baseball cap.

EASF went very well. About 35 people attended, which is usual for EASF. Food was great, people seemed to enjoy the workshops and my presentation went ok. I cooked onion soup, which everyone seemed to enjoy.

After EASF I went to a cafe with Richard, Jan, Suzi, Luzi and Noam. We sat outside for a couple of hours discussing how things had at EASF.

Got home very tired but quite satisfied.