Shortlog - a log of everyday things



UPDATED: video from c-base added.

Wow. The past four days have been a nonstop high. What a wonderful way to end a calendar year!

The third and fourth days of the CCC were as fantastic as the first two. I met with the lead developers of sigrok and netzob, and introduced them to each other. I finally saw a Beagle 480 in real life (that thing costs 1400USD...thanks, pytey!) I learned more about how NAND and NOR work. I have a lot of talks to catch up on. I did make it to Harald Welte's talk about cellular protocol stacks for the Internet, in which I learned about 60 acronyms in 60 minutes, and that I should start reading all the thousands of documents pertaining to cellular network protocols. I also got to hear Bunnie Huang's talk describing a man-in-the-middle attack on HDCP, and his completely legal, noninfringing, legitimate business application of the HDCP master key. Since conferences are about people, not just talks, I spent the majority of my time outside the presentation rooms, chatting with folks, thinking about open problems, or hacking on stuff together. I believe the general policy I heard from Andy Carle regarding CHI is "if you're going to more than two talks per day, you're doing it wrong." Note to self for next year: don't plan to hang around Europe for 11 days after the Congress again; you need that packing space for electronics, not clothing.

After the Congress ended, we packed up our things and a decent group of us (6) went out for sushi for dinner. The sushi was mediocre, but the fellowship was great. After dinner, we walked to the c-base which was configured as a bar/dance club for the evening. The music reminded me of the parties on 5E. I had a couple of the traditional CCC drink, called a tschunk. I chatted for a good while with many of the folks I'd met, and we exchanged (or updated) contact information.

The c-base also had a multitouch table, on which people collaborated at a game of Untangle, or played 4-player Tron, or multitouch Pong. Reminds me, we should get the BiD multitouch table working again.

As it is the tradition of the console hackers to do something awesome to the bar computer each year, marcan and I took over the bar computer and got to work. The machine in question is this ancient Via C3 Samuel 2 machine (it doesn't even support cmov!) packed inside a C64 case, hooked up to a CRT monitor. The keyboard was replaced with a USB keyboard taken from an iMac G3. It was running some slooooow version of Puppy Linux copied into RAM from a 1GB USB flash drive. It didn't even have python. Nor did it have a functional package manager.

First, we installed Debian on marcan's 8GB flash drive. This was nontrivial. marcan wound up fetching the cdebootstrap .deb (and several dependencies), hexdumping the file and searching for the gzip header for the tar file contained therein (because dpkg didn't work) to do an incredibly hackish install of cdebootstrap. From there, we had to alias gpg to /bin/true, because gpg was using a libcrypto or a libssl that used cmov (which the CPU trapped with Illegal Instruction). Finally, we partitioned the flash drive and (with a couple tangles not worth the space needed to explain them fully) successfully installed and booted Debian.

We'd had a couple of ideas of how we might use the Kinect (that I happened to still have in my backpack) to do interesting hacks, but the bar machine didn't have USB 2.0 (only USB 1.1), so that was strictly impossible. We kinda liked the idea of doing something with microphones, but we didn't have any. Or at least, not what you think of as a microphone. Technically, any permanent magnet speaker and coil of wire can act as a microphone, albeit probably with the wrong impedance and a weak signal. marcan plugged his earbuds into the microphone port on the motherboard, and we tinkered with settings until we could see some difference in the data when you hollered into the earbuds.

We wrote a super-simple oscilloscope that just read in samples from the microphone and drew them on the 80x25 character terminal in real time. It pulsed in time with the music, or whenever anyone spoke, and really fit nicely with the rest of the ambiance of the space station.

I'll link a video of our hack as soon as either bunnie or marcan posts it somewhere on the net. Video below. Thanks, marcan!

Me: "marcan and I installed Debian on marcan's flash drive so that we could write a (um) python script to watch the audio input. But this device doesn't have any audio input so we're using marcan's headphones as a (uh) makeshift microphone. (And, uh, yeah) so we wrote this (uh)..."
marcan: "This OSCILLOSCOPE!"
me: "Awesome."

There was a girl with beautiful, incredibly long straight blonde hair - it went down past her thighs. I asked if I could French braid it, and she let me. Hmm. This sounds much sketchier when I write about it now than it was at the time.

As the night dragged on, friends one by one took their leave. At 0500, marcan and I were the last remaining from our original group, and we set out. The sun will be up soon. (In hindsight, staying up this late is NOT going to help my ongoing jetlag. Oops.)

I have made many friends here, and I look forward to collaborating with them in the future. Until the next Congress, we have the internet. And in the case we find ourselves in nearby regions, we'll meet up again.

The year in review:


avatar from Gravatar

Elaine Berdy | 2011-12-31T20:23:45.625380

It sounds like you've met Kindred Spirits. I loved your talk. Have fun with the rest of your trip. Next year you will know what to expect. :) Elaine