Saturday, August 11, 2007

Chaos Communication Camp 2007, Day 4

There was a brief rain shower in the morning. Although Chichan and I were outside eating when the rain came, we were able to get in to a bunker being used as the "Art And Beauty Area" before getting too wet. While we waited for the rain to stop we played virtual air hockey on a multitouch screen. It was sufficiently interesting that I shall describe the set up below.

Air hockey is a game that was popular before my time. It consists of a table with hundreds of hole drilled in, through which come jets of air. A small plastic disc floats on the air, and two players each use a larger plastic disc to knock the small disc into each other's goal, located at either end of the table.

Multitouch screens are touch screens which can recognise several points or even sets of points at the same time. They typically work by using a camera to see where the points(eg. your fingers) are, and a projector to provide the display.

After a few games of virtual air hockey we went to the hackcentre, where we found Mitch Altman catching up with his emails. Mitch kindly said he would get one of his "Brain Machines" for us to try out. We tried it. It rocked.

Mitch Altman's Brain Machine consists of a pair of glasses with an LED mounted in each eyepiece, and a pair of headphones which plugs into a small circuit board on the side of the glasses. The Brain Machine runs a 14 minute program of flashing lights and strange sounds. The lights and sounds are emitted at brain wave frequencies. Your brain syncs up to the light and sound, but as the brain waves are external it doesn't know what to do, so you can get some very nice hallucinations...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Chaos Communication Camp 2007, Day 3

Woke up at 8 am, full of energy and ready for a full day and night of hacker fun. Foolishly I went back to sleep and woke up again at 11:10 am, missing the start of the first talk and feeling very tired.

I bumped into Mitch Altman and asked him about someone I saw yesterday who seemed to have become ill from using the meditation mask that Mitch has been showing people at the camp. It seems that the guy had epilepsy but thought it would be ok because his last seizure had been a year ago. It must have worried Mitch a lot at the time, but the guy was ok in the end.

Chichan and I met up with Richard and the three of us decided to walk to the town to eat brunch and go to the supermarket. We got some take away Chinese food and then bought lots of water and Haribo at the supermarket.

In the evening we attended a live talk show-style presentation given by Monochrome, an Austrian artist collective. The presentation consisted of interviews with three guests, a couple of presentations, a film, a music performance and a bunch of other random things.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Chaos Communication Camp 2007, Day 2

Managed to get to the first talk of the day called "21 st Century Digital Bikes". It was essentially a talk on battery-powered bikes. Good, but not great.

Attended a very dry talk on Signaling System 7, the most common telephone system in the developed world. I struggled to follow it, partly because SS7 is a very complex set of protocols and partly because the speaker's English was hard to understand.

In the evening we went to a talk called "Life And Complexity" which was about how emergent complexity and the relationships between complexity, energy and information.
Got a free book from the Bookcrossing village for Chichan to read. Almost all of the books available were in German so our choice was extremely limited.

I may try to do some interviews tomorrow for my podcast. People I'd like to interview at the camp include Mitch Altman, Emmanuel Goldstein, Jacob Appelbaum, Bicycle Mark, Dan Kaminsky, English Glen, Tim Pritlove, Rop Gonggrijp and BigM000. Even if I just interview one or two of them it would be very cool.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Chaos Communication Camp 2007, Day 1

At 11 am Chichan and I attended the opening ceremony. CCC ceremonies are always very moving because there is a deep shared culture among hackers, particularly those in Europe.

Chichan and I had lunch with Mitch Altman, inventor of the TV-Be-Gone. We discussed the effects of television on the human psyche and how deeply TV invades every aspect of our lives. Mitch claims that the average person in the western world spends 13 years watching TV, a very frightening statistic.

We went to a talk on Sputnik, an open RFID platform. Although the speaker spoke good English, it was hard to understand because he spoke quickly and not very clearly. I got the impression that he spoke his native language in the same way. The Sputnik project is very popular at the CCC. At the conferences and this camp you can buy a Sputnik RFID badge which you register online, allowing people to track your location at the camp.

We took a "Power Nap", as my good friend Edward Pacman would say, and then went to a fantastic talk called "Dungeons And Hyperlinks" which was all about interactive fiction and text-based adventure games. One of the speakers has written a text adventure based around the Chaos Communication Camp called "Reconnaissance at Finowfurt" You can download the game here. Please play it and post some comments here.

We spent some time looking at all the beautiful lights of the camp, and saw some people releasing homemade hot-air balloons, which was truly magical.

At around 1 am we brushed the fairy dust out of our hair and went to bed, leaving at least half of the camp wide awake.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

One Day Of Waiting

The Chaos Communication Camp officially starts tomorrow, but already loads is going on and there are a couple of thousand people here. I've almost got to the point where I can ignore the Migs and other aircraft that are scattered around the site...

Chichan and I happened to be present when Hackers On A Plane arrived, a group of 38 people from the USA who had traveled to the camp together from DefCon, a commercial con in Las Vegas. The Americans looked really funny; it was obvious that many of them had never been outside before. When I organise a hacker camp in Japan there will be exercise sessions each morning and no doughnuts...

Monday, August 06, 2007

Arrival At The Chaos Communication Camp

Chichan and I checked out of our industrial hostel at 9:50 am and went in search of fuel for my camping stove. It was only at the third shop that we managed to find some. We also got some spare tent pegs and a collapsible water carrier.

At around 5 pm we got on the train to Eberswalde, the nearest train station to the camp. There were no seats on the train but the journey was less than one hour so it wasn't too uncomfortable. After quite a bit if delay we managed to get on the correct bus to the camp. The walk from the bus stop to the camp is about 4 km, so we were very lucky to get picked up by a couple of hackers who were traveling to the camp by car.

The camp site is actually an aviation museum on the site of a Russian military airbase. There is an airfield next to the site with light aircraft taking off and landing during daylight hours. Five large aircraft hangers are being used for the camp, two of them are for talks, one is the hackcentre, one is the art and beauty area and one if for the Chaos Emergency Response team which provides firefighting and medical services for the camp. The hangers are about 40 foot high, and although they are above ground they are covered in several feet of earth so they are cool in the day and warm at night, a lot like Earthships.

When the sun starts to set the lights start to come on at the camp. Many people have decorated their tents with coloured rope lights, there are search lights on top of the hangers and coloured neon lights lining the roads. Most impressive of all is the glitter ball hanging in a tree...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Man Walks Into A Pet Shop

A man walks into a pet shop and says to the girl behind the counter "I'm very lonely, and I have a small apartment. Can you recommend a pet that would be suitable for me?". The girl replied "We have a cute hamster which would be perfect for you!". So the man bought the hamster and a cage and took it home.

The hamster certainly was cute, and the man spent a very pleasant evening feeding and stroking the hamster, knowing he would never be lonely again.

When the man woke up the next morning he was shocked to see that the hamster had died. He took the dead hamster back to the girl at the pet shop after work and asked for a replacement. The girl said that they had no more hamsters but that they would order another one for him. "It will take a few days to arrive. While you are waiting, just pop the dead hamster in a blender, and spread the blended mixture over your garden." The man thought that this was a very strange suggestion, but he followed the girls instructions.

The next day the man went downstairs and checked his garden. To his surprise the garden was full of beautiful yellow flowers. The man rushed to the pet shop to tell the girl what had happened.

"I did what you told me to, and now my garden is full of the most beautiful daffodils I've ever seen!" The girl stared at him in disbelief. "Daffodils! Daffodils! That's very strange! You usually get tulips from hamster-jam."

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Karamoon Podcast Has Arrived

After what seems like an eternity, the first episode of the Karamoon Podcast is finally here. You will, I promise, be disappointed. Things will improve very soon though. The link to episode one is here Right click and choose "Save target as" or something similar.

Please post comments!

You can subscribe to the podcast by putting into iTunes or whatever podcatching software you are using. I'll sort out a subscribe button soon.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Departure To The Continent

Chichan and I got up at 5 am and took the train to the port of Harwich, a journey of 1 hour 30 minutes. We got on the ferry to Holland without any hassle at all. No customs, no immigration control.

On the ferry I recorded quite a bit of material for my podcast using the Edirol R-09 mp3 recorded. It will be posted soon.

When we arrived in The Netherlands we took the train to Amsterdam. The walk to our guest house seemed really far because of our heavy bags. After dumping our stuff we went out in search of food and found a good Indonesian restaurant.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

In Fairy Dust We Trust

Every few years a spaceship called The Heart Of Gold lands somewhere in Germany. The arrival of the ship is usually announced quite a few months in advance, and therefore there is always a large group of people to welcome the ship. Hackers, phreaks and geeks cluster around the landing site and organise talks, workshops, parties, film screenings and meetings in celebration. This is known as The Chaos Communication Camp.

Tomorrow Chichan and I begin our journey to welcome The Heart Of Gold.