HOPE X: Interviews with Ellsberg and Snowden

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Two of the talks at HOPE X Saturday revolved around Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of Snowden when he leaked thousands of classified NSA documents to several media outlets. The older readers may remember Ellsberg who released government documents, known as the Pentagon Papers, pertaining to government decisions made during the Vietnam War. It was a popular topic here as all three conference rooms were dedicated to the the talks and all three were completely filled to the point that staff again had to turn people away. Luckily, even if you couldn’t make it into a conference room you could still watch it as all talks are streamed live via the HOPE website.

Regardless whether you feel these two are heroes or traitors, the talks were interesting with both giving accounts of their story. Each interview was about an hour long.

Ellsberg, who was here in person, talked about his entire experience and why he felt it necessary to reveal the classified documents he had secretly made copies of. Even though Ellsberg did release what he felt was evidence that the government knew that the war could most likely not be won and would cause many more casualties, he does still feel that some things are necessary for the government to keep secret. He gave an estimate that 95% of the documents classified are over-classified at the time of document creation and after a few years only 0.5% of the those documents are still classified correctly, the remaining 99.5% still over-classified.

Snowden, who was available by video, was warmly welcomed and applauded by the attendees of the conference. During the talk he discussed that he did not feel that some of the NSA’s actions he was aware of were constitutional, specifically collecting enormous amounts of data of not only ‘people of interest’, but of everyday american citizens. Snowden feels that we, as a community, give too much trust in our electronic devices. He went on to suggest that the population do what it can to minimize the capability of organizations to monitor communications and track data. He urged that people, with the capability, help educate others on how to interact with technology safely, reliably and in a way that serves the interest of all people, not just a select few.

Let us know what you think below in the comments.

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HOPE X: Commodore 64’s Are Back, Baby

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Maybe they weren’t really ever gone but even so Commodore enthusiast [ALWYZ] is here at HOPE X spreading re-awareness of the Commodore 64 and that there is still a community of Commodore fans out there who have been up to some pretty cool projects.

One of those projects is a Quantum Link-esque service called Q-Link Reloaded. Quantum Link was an online service available for Commodore 64 and 128 users that offered electronic mail, online chat, file sharing, online news, and instant messaging. It lasted from the mid-80s to the mid-90’s and later evolved into America Online. In 2005, a group of folks reversed-engineered the original server code and the resultant Q-Link Reloaded lets the Commodore folks once again communicate with each other.

Also on display is a Raspberry Pi running a C64 emulator complete with a controller to GPIO adapter. Hackaday has covered this emulator just a few months ago and it is great to see it working in person.

C64 emulator on raspberry pi

 

HOPE X: Hackaday Shirt Gets Hacked at Hacker Convention

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In my last post I mentioned that we are meeting a lot of interesting people here at HOPE X. One of those interesting people is [Miriam] who is performing Logo Removal in the vendor area. If you don’t know what that is, you are not alone, neither did we. She doesn’t much like the idea of being a walking bill board for any ole company and has been removing logos from cloths for a while now.

[Miriam] did us a solid and removed a logo from one of the shirts we are giving away. The process starts by flipping the shirt inside out. A piece of scrap fabric larger than the logo is pinned in place in the logo area. The shirt is then flipped right side out and a shape is sewn around the logo, joining the shirt with the scrap fabric. Scissors are then used to cut the logo out of the shirt being careful to only cut the shirt and not the fabric underneath. The shirt is then flipped back inside out and the excess scrap fabric is trimmed away. That’s it.

What about the shape? [Miriam] likes to make them up as she goes along and admits that they aren’t anything specific. She likes the design to be whatever the viewer feels it is. It’s a fun project that invites conversation.

Leave us a comment below telling us what you ‘see’ in the now non-HaD shirt shape.

Logo Removal at HOPE X

Logo Removal at HOPE X

Logo Removal at HOPE X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOPE X: Lock Picking and Lock Sport

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HOPE X is happening. There are tons of people here. Tons. So many that people (including me) have been turned away at the door for popular talks. Overall, we are having a great time and meeting some interesting people.

I admit to having zero lock picking experience. It’s something I’ve thought would be neat to learn about for a long time. Well, today was the day…. I attended the “Lockpicking, A Primer” presentation and it was great. They started with the basics, discussing the appeal of lock picking and where organized Lock Sport started. The presentation consisted of excellent graphics and clear explanations of the lock picking process. They went over the anatomy of a lock and how they work as well as the tools used and tool types. The talk also progressed into more advanced topics. There is even a lock picking village where you give it a go. I’ll be trying it out for sure.

Couldn’t make it to NYC for the event? All of the talks are streamed live. You’ve probably heard that Hackaday has a booth at HOPE this year. Swing by and say hi. You could probably convince us to give you a shirt!

hope x lockpicking

We’re at HOPE X

For the next three days, Hackaday will be live, in the flesh, at Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC. It’s HOPE X, the biennial conference for hackers, code crackers, and slackers put on by the awesome folks at 2600.

Highlights of the event include a keynote from [Daniel Ellisburg]a video conference with [Edward Snowden], and a whole bunch of other stuff. Hackaday has a booth (thanks, overlords!) on the mezzanine right with the other vendors, right behind the Club-Mate table.

We’ll be putting up random updates from HOPE the entire weekend. If you’re visiting, stop by and we might have a t-shirt for you.

Backyard Brains: Controlling Cockroaches, Fruit Flys, And People

[Greg Gage] and some of the other crew at Backyard Brains have done a TED talk, had a few successful Kickstarters, and most surprisingly given that pedigree, are actually doing something interesting, fun, and educational. They’re bringing neuroscience to everyone with a series of projects and kits that mutilate cockroaches and send PETA into a tizzy.

[Greg] demonstrated some of his highly modified cockroaches by putting a small Bluetooth backpack on one. The roach had previously been ‘prepared’ by attaching small electrodes to each of its two front antennas. The backpack sends a small electrical signal to the antennae every time I swiped the screen of an iPhone. The roach thinks it’s hitting a wall and turns in the direction I’m swiping, turning it into a roboroach. We seen something like this before but it never gets old.

Far from being your one stop shop for cockroach torture devices, Backyard Brains also has a fairly impressive lab in the basement of their building filled with grad students and genetically modified organisms. [Cort Thompson] is working with fruit flies genetically modified so a neuron will activate when they’re exposed to a specific pulse of light. It’s called optogenetics, and [Cort] has a few of these guys who have an ‘I’m tasting something sweet’ neuron activated when exposed to a pulse of red light.

Of course controlling cockroaches is one thing, and genetically engineering fruit flies is a little more impressive. How about controlling other people? After being hooked up to an EMG box to turn muscle actuation in my arm into static on a speaker, [Greg] asked for a volunteer. [Jason Kridner], the guy behind the BeagleBone, was tagging along with us, and stepped up to have two electrodes attached to his ulnar nerve. With a little bit of circuitry that is available in the Backyard Brains store, I was able to control [Jason]‘s wrist with my mind. Extraordinarily cool stuff.

There was far too much awesome stuff at Backyard Brains for a video of reasonable length. Not shown includes projects with scorpions, and an improved version of the roboroach that gives a roach a little bit of encouragement to move forward. We’ll put up a ‘cutting room floor’ video of that a bit later.

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum

Don’t call it an arcade. There are arcade-like things about it… like dance-based video games, Skee-ball, and tickets — oh so many tickets. But Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum is a one-of-a-kind that you need to visit next time you’re in the North suburbs of Detroit, Michigan.

[Marvin] was there in person, as he is many days. He talked with us for a few minutes and we’ve folded his interview, along with footage of many of the attractions, into the video above.

He’s been collecting for more than three decades. The attractions are packed into every bit of floor space, spilling up onto the walls, and hanging from every spot in the ceiling. There are true antiques from both home and abroad that could be referred to as automatons, rows of fortune tellers, a track of large airplane models that make a loop around the establishment when fed a quarter, and much more.

Some of the attractions were build for him, like the robot band you can make out behind [Marvin] during the interview. It is a MIDI-based build that allows songs to be selected from a touchscreen. Soon to be on exhibit is a Tesla-coil-based offering which [Marvin] commissioned after taking second place to [Nicolai Tesla] on a list of oddest museums.

[Read more...]

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