I am lost in a maze of twisty narratives, all different.

Jun 02 2018

It's been an interesting couple of weeks, to be sure.  While lots of different things have been going on lately, none of them are related in any particularly clear or straightforward fashion, so fitting all of this stuff together is going to be a bit of a struggle.  You may as well kick back with the beverage of your choice in a responsible fashion while I spin this yarn.

I suppose it all started with wardriving in northern Virginia many years ago.  In a nutshell, I had loaded Windbringer up with a rather small for the time USB GPS unit, installed Kismet, put the wifi NIC into monitor mode so it would pick up frames from every access point within range, and went driving around for a couple of hours.  The idea is that the software records the datestamp and GPS coordinates at which you picked up the strongest signal from a wireless access point.  Rinse, repeat for as long as your power cells hold out, or as long as you care to drive, bike, walk, ski, or employ any other means of personal transportation to move around.  At the time I was uploading my results to wigle.net to contribute to their crowdsourced global map of wireless coverage.  Then I moved, and I seem to have accidentally tripped Wigle's bot detector (probably because I was going out for many hours at a time to cover very large areas).  End result, I didn't go wardriving for a very long time.

A couple of months back I decided that I needed to get more exercise than I could get at home (which I'll probably ramble about in a later post) so I joined the local gym.  Doing so gave me access to a much more broad selection of equipment to work with, and a lot more space than my office at home.  There isn't much to say on that particular point other than it's been a great investment, and I spent a nontrivial amount of downtime there working out.  While I haven't lost weight per se, I do seem to be trading some amount of body fat for muscle mass.  I don't know how much adipose tissue I've actually lost but my clothes are getting tight against my body in different ways than before.  I guess that's something.

Then... and remember, I did warn you that this would be a bit of a ramble... I found myself at BSidesSF in May, where I spent much of my time completely forgetting that I'd signed up for some workshops (I didn't know they were hands-on, so I didn't bring my laptop... fail) and hanging out in the locksport village practicing.  I also spent a couple of hours geeking out with the guys who founded wigle.net and, after they were kind enough to unlock my account after so many years, I started kicking around some of the random ideas I'd been toying with to get back into the wardriving game.  Take a RaspberryPi, a USB power bank, and a USB GPS receiver, add a small touchscreen to control the device with, and I'd have a compact wardriving rig a little bigger than a Rubik's cube.  Or, depending on how I patched everything together, about the size of a paperback book.  No electrical engineering involved, just a neat wiring job.

If this was a certain television show from the very early 1990's, this is where the narrative freezes suddenly as the unseen narrator hits the pause button.  Now let's talk about hardware upgrades...

A week before BSidesSF, both Lyssa and I discovered that our phones were on their way out.  We got them at roughly the same time just after we settled in out here, which meant that they were wearing out at roughly the same rate.  Add to that the fact that even replacement power cells weren't helping, which caused a couple of minor emergencies while running errands, and we had to drop a chunk of change on new phones all in one night.  Aside from having working wifi and GPS (they'd both been getting dodgy on my old phone), my new phone has a not inconsiderable amount of onboard storage (64 gigabytes, up from.. wait for it... 4 gigabytes on my old phone).  Which meant that I suddenly had rather a lot more onboard storage to work with.


The Wigle folks informed me that they had a very useful Android application available for war-whatevering, and I might want to give it a try.  (Play store, F-Droid package repository, source code on Github)

So, I did.  And I must admit to being flat-out amazed, not only with a new smartphone that's reasonably up to date for the first time in a couple of years, but at how well the Wigle app works.  Many years ago (go ahead and laugh) a nontrivial amount of setup went into my average wardriving expedition.  Make sure Kismet was up to date, configure Windbringer to not go into hibernation when the lid was closed, fiddle with gpsd to make sure it would still work with the GPS I was using (because I had to patch it to work)... now I just turn on wifi and GPS on my phone and activate the Wigle app.  Into my pocket my phone goes, and by the time I get to where I'm going I've got a bunch of coordinates to upload to Wigle.

Now, let's back to my earlier mention of getting more exercise... I've noticed myself walking a lot more for the fun of it, rather than because I had to go someplace new.  I think that how easy warwalking has gotten for me has been a positive addition to getting regular exercise.  Sure, I can pick a direction and hit the bricks, and maybe listen to something along the way (lately, I've been listening to On Her Majesty's Secret Podcast both on the road and while exercising), but the added incentive of finding new wireless points and adding them to the map makes me want to get out more and walk to new places.

I don't think that I have anything else to add to this post.  At least, nothing that would add anything to the text.  After reflecting on the last couple of months this is a pattern that's emerged which, for a change, I'm okay with.  It's been making a positive change in my life and I can't say I'm sorry to get more exercise.  Plus, I can definitely stand to get out a bit more.