We're in the final week before Summercon 2008! Come out Friday night @ 7PM and meet at the Wyndham Hotel bar, a.k.a. "The Mojito Lounge". Don't be shy, just look for someone wearing a Summercon t-shirt and introduce yourself. They won't bite or fight... probably. We'll plan on hanging out at the hotel for a bit and then herd everyone to another fine drinking establishment. Friday night is an ice-breaker, so come out and get to know your friendly neighborhood hacker. Don't sleep in much past noon on Saturday, presentations start at 12:30PM.
Seriously, here's the deal. Yes, the origins of Outerz0ne were a bit dubious. I'll be the first to admit it. The second year, we tried to get away from the original idea for OZ1, and I think we did a decent job. This is the third year. We're not competing with any other cons, we're on our own timeframe, and we're not meeting in a hotel room. It's still a small, social type con, but we've grown large enough to have a small ballroom this year.
Why are we doing this? Frankly, because it's a blast. We get a chance to get together with our friends and people we've only talked to online, and hang out, exchange ideas/knowledge, and party a bit. We've got some good talks lined up, some great social activities, and some of the coolest people on the planet attending. YOU. The price is right, and it should be a great time. Come hang out with us and relax for the weekend. Bring the cool toys you've built and show them off.
THREAT LEVEL's Year in Review -- 2007 | Virgil is still cooler than any of us...
6:31 pm EST, Dec 28, 2007
It was a year of soul searching at THREAT LEVEL, every day a fresh challenge to our fundamental beliefs and convictions: Alberto Gonzales made us pine for John Ashcroft; Google made us love roving surveillance cams; and Jammie Thomas' internet spoofing defense was enough to make us secretly root for the RIAA.
If you missed any of it, not to fear: here's the year-end wrap up that will push your personal threat level to code orange.
One of the things singled out in Threat Level's Year in Review was, as expected, Virgil and his WikiScanner.
Readers also carried the water when graduate student Virgil Griffith released WikiScanner, a web tool that mashes up whois IP records with Wikipedia logs to unmask corporations and government agencies making anonymous changes to Wikipedia. Readers found hundreds of self-serving edits and revisionist cuts by the likes of Diebold, Dow Chemical and ExxonMobil -- the latter tweaked the entry on the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill to whitewash the effect on Alaskan wildlife.
For many of us, this will also be remembered as the year Virgil set the bar really fucking high for cool. Billy wrote a book which has been released to wide critical acclaim, but Virgil was on the Colbert Report. Elonka hasn't been on the Colbert Report. Mike's shenanigans didn't make the Daily Show.
It's going to be hard to top. I think the smart money is on Cyan..
Barbie Becomes an Authentication Device for Pre-Teen Friendship | Threat Level
8:57 pm EST, Nov 5, 2007
The idea is, Sally brings her Barbie Girl over to her friend Tiffany's house, and sets it in Tiffany's docking station -- which is plugged into a USB port on Tiffany's PC. Mattel's (Windows only) software apparently reads some sort of globally unique identifier embedded in Sally's Barbie Girl, and authenticates Sally as one of Tiffany's Best Friends.
It's sort of like an RSA token, but with cute fashion accessories and snap-on hair styles. THREAT LEVEL foresees a wave of Barbie Girl parties in the future, where tweens all meet and authenticate to each other -- like a PGP key signing party, but with cupcakes.
As far as that goes, it's time has come..
Without the device, girls can only chat over Barbie Girls' standard chat system, which limits them to a menu of greetings, questions and phrases pre-selected by Mattel for their wholesome quality.
In contrast, Secret B Chat lets girls chat with their keyboards -- just like a real chat room. But it limits the girl-talk to a white list of approved words. "If you happen to use a word that's not on our list (even if it's not a bad one), it will get blocked," the service cautioned girls at launch. "But don't worry -- we're always adding cool new words!"
OMG, no lolz? This could be really strange. If the tweens of America are forced to use nothing but proper english, rather than talk about only proper things, I think they will develop strange codes.
wrote this great list of reasons to attend PhreakNIC. I will be there as well, and I look forward to seeing everyone.
PhreakNIC is an annual gathering in Nashville, TN, for hackers, makers, security professionals, and general technology enthusiasts. Hours upon hours of both informative and entertaining presentations are given by volunteers and many areas are set up with the intent of encouraging socialization. In our 11th year, we are now the longest running non-commercial hacker convention in the United States.* PhreakNIC is organized by the Nashville 2600 Organization, which is a 501(c)(3) tax deductible charity. However, it takes many resources to organize, and help is given to PhreakNIC by other 2600 groups in the South East United States, as well as the Nashville Linux Users Group. Our thanks go out to all who contribute.
Phreaknic is this weekend in Nashville. If you have never been to Phreaknic before, or a hacking conference, or are getting burned out on some of the other security conferences I encourage you to make the drive to Nashville and come see the show. I've gone for the last 5 years and it is, without a doubt, my favorite small conference. I love going to Phreaknic because:
Its a hacker conference Let face it, when you are eating freshly sliced roast beef and drinking at a open bar on Microsoft's tab, you are not at a hacker conference. There is a certain air of authenticity about a conference room full of ugly gray towers covered in peeling stickers with CRT monitors lighting the faces of a group of people huddled around it, typing excitedly on a keyboard. I sure love me my big east and big west cost cons, but most of them replaced this feeling long ago with sponsor tables and free bottled water. And there is something a little sad about that.
It's small. This is good for many reason. First, you can easily meet up with people which is the big reason I go to cons. The speaker rooms aren't all over the place. Lunch trains don't end up being 20+ people. I'm not standing on a stage in front of 400 people with a good 30 feet between be and the front row. I don't have blinding lights in my eyes. I can see the crowd. I can talk with them, not at them.
It's cheap I haven't paid to attend a hacker conference, in, well, I can't think of a time. However I do remember being a poor college student saving money so I could fly to NYC for Hope or to San Diego for Toorcon. I remember Tom or Mike or Matt giving me a place to crash on floors and couches and flea bag motels. I remember being poor and getting poorer to go to a conference. Phreaknic's price doesn't prohibit the smart (but poor) from attending and expanding their horizons and they should be saluted for that.
There is one track I don't have to sacrifice one talk to see ano... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]
As the labor union strike finally came to a close a couple hours ago, protest leader (and Italian IBM staffer) Barillo Kohnke looked out over the crowd of several dozen still there at the IBM Italia region, and declared victory:
IBM employees protested in Second Life. The "attendance" was cited as being 1850.
Someone sent me a link to woot.com this morning. I exclaimed that there is a special place in hell for the person who decided to use that domain for a commerical purpose. That hell involves having nothing to do but sit on efnet for millenia. Then I noticed the linked Thinkgeek page.
w00t belongs to gamers the world over. It seems to have been derived from the obselete 'whoot' which essentially is another way to say 'hoot' which itself is a shout or derisive laugh. But others maintain that w00t is the sound several players make while jumping like bunnies in Quake III. Still others want you to believe that it comes from the phrase 'wow loot' used in multiplayer RPGs many moons ago. And if you can believe it some folks even think it was derived from the gaming phrase, 'We Own the Other Team!' Fiction or fact? I suppose you'll just have to decide what 'w00t!' means to you...
Fiction you fucks. There is another special place in hell for people who think words like pwn and w00t are the recent inventions of multiplayer gamers. This word had become popular and then gone out of fashion long before Quake III was released. The first time I heard it was on efnet in a hacking related channel in 1992 or 1993. Its a combination of Woohoo and Root; as in "Woohoo, I got Root!"
Words like pwn and w00t are so obviously hacking related that its hard to understand why gamers would rationalize that they have something to do with quake. However, it is really interesting that these words have been appropriated by that scene and become extremely mainstream. When I saw Cartman say pwn on national television a few months ago I almost jumped out of my seat. I don't really know who invented the term, but that person is likely only one degree of separation from the folks who hang out at summercon.
Bruce Sterling wants to fund the Industrial Memetics Institute.
"I'm shocked that I understood every damn thing Benkler's saying. Online experiences need to be granular, modular, and integratable. Furthermore, I didn't know about self-selection, humanization, and trust construction. I'd love to see that industrialized. Norm creation, transparency, peer review, discipline, yeah, all of that's lacking today. Internet institutions lack sustainability. They have the lifetime of my skin. They get bought out. The available platforms for self-expression are terrible. I use seven word processors, all of them terrible."
"Why are social applications businesses? Why aren't they political parties?"
"I hang out at a lot of gigs like this. Everybody's sticking it to the man; nobody's the man. What if the state of Vermont gets metal-spined ubiquitous broadband? If it leaks over state borders, are you going to sell connectivity? Will they make sure nobody in New Hampshire can 'steal' Wi-fi? What if New Hampshire becomes the next Baltic-style e-state, the next Estonia?"
What you build, you cannot contain or control. "I'm a cyberpunk. Information wants to be free. It used to be hard to find, but Google was my apotheosis. We now have this unbelievable tidal wave of information. There's no end to it. It's endlessly seductive. Suddenly, your skills at ferreting out obscure information are almost worthless. Now they don't want to pay you. I say, follow your bliss. I spend more time with Google now than with novels and magazines. I'm swimming in it. I'm marinating it."
"Follow your bliss into the abyss. That's my new bumper sticker. This is the abyss. This is where my explorations led me. You guys are the denizens of the abyss. I strap on my diver helmet and go into the internet as far as you can go. You're the guys laying the pipe. It's a cyberpunk Mariana Trench in this room. I have to cheer you. Thank you for having us here."