1. "Open?"

    16 April 2011

    The other day I'd gotten sufficiently comfortable with my cellphone (an HTC Hero) to take the next step and root it (which is to say, I used the z4root exploit to get admin privileges). I mentioned it in passing to Lyssa last night and she made an observation that caught me off guard: "If you had to jailbreak your phone," she said, "how can you call Android 'open'?"

    How indeed.

    Let's set up an example. The Android OS is based on the open source Linux kernel as well as a suite of applications and systemware different from those of your …

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  2. Project Byzantium: Development Sprint #2.

    14 April 2011

    During the last weekend of March in 2011, a few dedicated hackers met at HacDC for the second development sprint of Project Byzantium. Our goal this time was to improvise devices by which gateway nodes of two mesh networks could relay traffic beyond the range of wi-fi to solve the mesh density problem (not enough nodes covering enough ground for complete connectivity). We had a couple of ideas for making a serial link between two mesh nodes that would act as network gateways on each mesh to forward traffic. Traditionally, the easiest way of linking two different systems was over …

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  3. Mythic Faire 2011.

    20 March 2011

    While few people will admit to it, just about everyone I've ever met seems to hold one sort of myth or another close to their hearts. Some are die-hard fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and decorate their homes with memorabelia from the show. Others have the full set of (kind of crappy) Babylon-5 action figures in the packaging, and have a habit of asking people what they want. Some find their muse in fantasy rather than science fiction, and are known to dress as medusae, sprites, dryads, or Sidhe nobles at festivals for fun. Steampunk has brought a whole …

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  4. I've been choc-rickrolled!

    17 March 2011

    As a late birthday gift, AJ (who flew into DC last night) gave me a gimmicked chocolate bar that rickrolled me the moment I tore the wrapper open. If you look carefully you can see a speaker glued to the foil. The circuitry consists of a solid-state audio chip that can record a few minutes of sound, the necessary driving circuitry for the recording chip, and a miniature amplifier that boosts the recording to audible levels. A cleverly placed nonconductive tab was pulled out of position when the wrapper was peeled back, closing the circuit and dropping the bomb on …

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  5. Photographs from Chinese New Year 2011.

    16 March 2011

    I didn't get a chance to post about it at the time, but Lyssa, Keely, and I went to Washington, DC's Chinese New Year Celebration downtown. Once again, I went in cold because I was curious about the experience, mostly because barely-remembered memories of television shows about Chinese New Years from my childhood aren't really anything to go on. I knew in some hazy fashion that fireworks were involved, but I hadn't realized that they'd be unrolling gigantic strings of firecrackers - Black Cats, we used to call them. Specifically, they were strings that, when coiled up, were about three feet …

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  6. Project Byzantium: Sprint #1.

    15 March 2011

    EDITED: 20110318 @ 0955 EST5EDT. See end of article.

    A few weekends ago at HacDC a small team of highly skilled hackers gathered to work on practical solutions to a problem which has risen its ugly head time and again in the past few months: a lack of connectivity. Most of the time, when your DSL line goes dead for a couple of hours it's no big deal. If your phone service is tied into DSL (e.g., you're a voice-over-IP customer or the line is physically damaged) it's a bit more of a problem if you don't have an alternate …

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