Saturday, 29 October 2011 at 00:16
I've been active online a lot more in recent months, far moreso than shortly before I graduated from college back in 2003. Somewhen late in 2001 or early in 2002 I began developing symptoms of repeditive stress trauma
in both wrists. The most commonly reported symptom is throbbing pain in one or both hands, which I had in spades, followed by a loss of mobility in the digits I use the most. I'm sorry to report that it's started all over again. More specifically, the symptoms began to reappear about a month ago, and within the last few days they've gotten to the point where the pain's been keeping me up at night. I've been logging about four hours of sleep a night since I got home from ContactCon, not all of it due to the weird barrage of viruses and effluvia often referred to as con crud
that'd been driving me like a rental car. I'm also starting to lose some dexterity in my fingers, and the pain is also beginning to radiate up into my biceps. Now it's time to do something about it.
The only thing that really helps RST is minimizing use of one's hands as much as possible to give the inflamed muscles and tendons a chance to rest and re-contract to normal dimensions. That takes the pressure off of the nerve trunks and eventually (usually within a few weeks) everything more or less goes back to normal. So I need to go through my daily routine and cut out a few things.
There are some things that I can give up and some that I can't. I can't give up my day job as a BOFH
. As the saying goes, I gots needs and paying rent is one of them. I'm also not going to give up on Project Byzantium. You may as well degauss
my cortical backups and give me a 9mm retirement plan if it comes to that. It looks like, once the essentials are off the list I'm going to have to stop hanging out on IRC
and save what I've got for more important stuff. I'm not pleased by this turn of events because I have a lot of friends scattered across a half-dozen IRC networks and I'd really like to keep in touch with them, but if I continue to do so at some point my hands are going to degenerate into such a state that drastic measures
may be necessary, and I really want to avoid that if at all possible.
I am well aware of the irony
in announcing another period of ABSEND
on my website, but sometimes that's the best way to get the word out. I love you all - I really do - and it's been a pleasure to work with you these last few months, but I need to take care of myself if I'm going to be able to do anything in the medium- to long-term.
You have my PGP key. You have my e-mail address. If you are willing to be patient I'll get back to you. Be seeing you.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 at 21:25
As you've no doubt guessed, the reasons for my radio silence have been many and multi-layered, and now things have calmed down a little. I've been scrambling with the rest of the development team to get Project Byzantium
in such a state that it was ready to show off at ContactCon. ContactCon
, held late last week, was an unconference
dedicated to showcasing and networking the developers of next-generation communication technologies that was driven by the attendees presenting their work rather than gathering to listen to people speak on stage. Most of us who attended are working on technologies that are decentralized and user-driven in nature, and not run by monolithic entities that can have a disproportionate degree of control over how they're used. In short, they are our
technologies, not someone else's that we happen to be allowed to use. Most of the projects at the conference were software-based in nature (many of them implementing online services) but there were a few hardware projects on the docket that eventually cleaned up all across the board and not a few social projects, but I get ahead of myself. There were too many projects for me to list individually so I recommend that you check out the official list
which has already been compiled.
The trip up to New York by Amtrak was, as usual, surprisingly short and productive. Compared to flying or taking the bus, there are few more enjoyable ways to travel assuming that one packs lightly. I'd sprung for business class when setting this trip up which gave me the advantage of both extra legroom as well as a pair of regular power outlets for equipment. On the Amtrak website, I recommend a little bit of patience and some flexibility in your plans because you might get lucky and find a good price on a basic ticket with an upgrade to business class for $30us-$40us more. That's what I did. I brought a power strip with me just in case two power outlets weren't enough (one never knows when one will wind up with a seatmate) but through an odd stroke of luck that wound up not happening. I worked the entire time cloning and testing bootable USB keys loaded with the pre-alpha of Byzantium Linux on them. Sadly, I think Dragonfly bought the farm by the time I'd tested the third or fourth key because my netbook stopped recognizing any USB storage devices and began having problems booting. Time will tell.
More under the cut...
Sunday, 23 October 2011 at 17:22
I got back from ContactCon
last Friday evening. Between the stress of travel and prepping to participate and present at a conference, the fact that ContactCon was standing room only, general lack of sleep, hauling too much equipment around and dehydration, I don't have the strength right now to write up the conference or post any pics. Suffice it to say that I haven't forgotten anyone - your contact info is neatly stacked up next to my keyboard, and I'm going to write back to everyone - but I need to recuperate a little.
Please stand by...
Sunday, 16 October 2011 at 12:26
Wednesday, 05 October 2011 at 12:37
On Saturday, 8 October 2011 I will be at HacDC
giving an impromptu class on personal privacy, online anonymity, and operational security for activists. I will be talking about some of the online surveillance technologies in use right now, risks inherent in organizing online and how to mitigate them, practical cryptography, practical anonymity, and operational security. If you are not familiar with using PGP or GnuPG and would like to generate and distribute a key or learn how to send and receive encrypted and signed e-mail, I can walk you through the process during the class. I will probably be giving some version of my Tor presentation
as well. There will be a hands-on component so bring your smartphones and laptops.
Class begins at 5:30pm on Saturday. Spread the word, and I hope to see you there!
Suggested tags: privacy, anonymity, operational security, opsec, activism, opsyria, opiran, occupywallst, occupydc, encryption
UPDATE: 20111007 @ 2055 EST5EDT: Official announcement at HacDC!
Tuesday, 04 October 2011 at 11:33
Friday evening the Byzantium
development team met once again at HacDC
to determine where all of us are in the engineering and development process and figure out what we have to do before we can put the alpha release
online and announce open testing. Ben the Pyrate has been hard at work setting up the infrastructure and is constructing an automated build environment
for the Porteus project
(whose distro we're basing Byzantium on), and which we can leverage to make it easier to compile Byzantium Linux into a bootable .iso image. Right now the installation process
is entirely manual, which is fine for testing and debugging but unsuitable for more than that. I've been busy working on the web control panel
which will make it easy as well as fast for someone booting a mesh node up to get everything configured and running without needing a lot of knowledge about Linux.
The tricky thing about mesh networking (with any protocol we've tested) lies in making sure that each node is set up properly. During testing we ran into such frustrations as forgetting to put the wireless interface into ad-hoc mode
(D'oh!), the cell ID
not matching the rest of those in the mesh, and configuring the initial states of routing tables
on the nodes correctly. The development sprint on Friday and Saturday was dedicated to identifying these problems, developing solutions, documenting them for future reference and repeatability, and assigning people to development tasks. We were joined on Friday night by a number of new people who are interested in the project and offered various forms of support, which we accepted gratefully. We even gained a few developers.
Now, on to the nitty-gritty.
More under the cut...