This Project Will Be Stolen Again

The Travelling Hacker Box is the physical implementation of the community. While most of what happens on happens online, sometimes the activities leak out to the real world. One such activity is a box, filled with random electronics stuff, shipped around to different members of the community.

hackerboxIt’s a great idea in theory. In practice, people are bastards. The first Travelling Hacker Box was stolen by a member of the community. After travelling 14,167 miles through Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, New York, Boston again, and the middle of Texas, the first travelling Hacker Box met its fate along the Georgia border, two hours outside of Atlanta. Who is responsible? We’re not going to talk about him. He knows who he is and what he did.

All is not lost, even though hundreds of dollars in electronic doo dads are. There’s a new Travelling Hacker Box already on its way around the US. It’s slowly being filled up with goodies, and has already visited Wyoming and upstate New York, and is currently somewhere around Anchorage, AK. The latest update shows this box is filled with goodies including a mini CRT assembly from an old camcorder, stepper motor drivers, and other weird electronics paraphernalia.

The travels of the current Travelling Hacker Box
The travels of the current Travelling Hacker Box

The current plan for the Travelling Hacker Box is the same as the old box: put 25,000 miles on the odometer while taking advantage of the economics of a USPS flat-rate box. From there, it will go further afield, travelling the circumference of the Earth a second time, hitting stops in Europe, Africa, Asia, India, Australia, and South America. If you’re a subcontractor for Raytheon, part of the NY Air National Guard, or are otherwise able to receive mail in Antarctica, you are encouraged to email me.

Feel like you’re up for adding a few hundred miles to the Travelling Hacker Box? There’s no set process to get on the list; destinations are chosen by distance from the current node, trustworthiness, and distance to the next node, if planned. The best way to get on the list is to click the ‘Request to join this project’ link on the Travelling Hacker Box project. Then, hang out in the Hacker Box chatroom, and you might have a chance at receiving a magical box of random electronics.

63 thoughts on “This Project Will Be Stolen Again

  1. We should just put up a barter system where people can trade items instead. I’m sure i have tons of useless things to me that someone else would want and vice versa. Like i have two PXI-1031 chassis from NI that i dont even use anymore just sitting here in my room taking up space. Would love to trade it for something i would actually use.

    But otherwise. Good luck to this next box of parts. Hope it travels far.

      1. Well they are each worth about $400 on ebay if i wanted to sell them. What do you have worth $400? older gen ipad? i dont know. Doing a quick google search i found a couple barter sites. not quite hackaday type stuff. but maybe ill post some things on there and see what happen:)

      1. I, too, will sign in with A Basement Full Of Random. One man’s standard junk is another man’s electronic exotica. Witness the retrocomputing movement. A barter website might not work somehow, Because People, but I’d give it a try if it was up and running. I’d like some stonking old stuff, but if someone gave a good enough (or interesting enough) case for needing my oddments I’ll just probably send them on.

    1. Sort of, although I live in sweden, and I currently don’t know about shipping-costs within EU. I know sending a package to USA is quite expensive, as I payed almost $60 (But the package was recieved within 7 days).
      If the shipping-fairs are do-able, count me in.

  2. It seems like this wasnt worked out very well.

    you could make it a sturdier box then well… cardboard a flight case perhaps with internal-lock that only opens when you scan the QR-code on the box itself that checks your telemetery of the phone your scanning with.

    meaning someone that quickly wants this open just enters his Hackaday login – get authorized , high-pitch tone or bluetooth or whatever opens the box or even just give you the code how to open it and change it for the next one.

      1. Especially electronic locks. Maybe make this a challenge? Send around locked box which measures how long does it take you to open it. When someone opens it, they have rank displayed next to their name in chat or forums.

      2. Sure, they will have the knowledge but a thief/random citizen will not and will probably ditch it since they cannot open it.

        A simple “Scan QR-code to open the box”-sticker that redirect to a login-page on HaD will deter most.

        Make it a community project to create the ultimate safe-box to send.

        1. The way things are around the world now, If the post off cant open it then it will not go very far.
          But I love the idea. if only we could get the delivery company in to let it go.

        2. @Xtremegamer
          If a random thief can’t open the box, he/she would just break the box. Yeah it may break the contents, but that’s still better the zero percent chance of positive outcome they’d get throwing the whole thing away.

          And I’ve never seen a reasonably transportable box that can’t be opened by throwing it down corner-first into a hard floor.

        3. We don’t all have cell phones.
          A QR code would be absolutely useless to someone like me, so I would have to break in. Since I never learned how to electronically break locks (a subject I couldn’t care less about), I would have to resort to my locksmith training, which would ruin it for everyone else down the line.

      1. Or someone snatched it from their doorstep. Or a roommate took it. Or the post office left it on the wrong doorstep and the recipient didn’t have a way to get it to the right person.

          1. Brian – could you clarify if he died before or after stealing the box? Was he killed by a falling drone? Where were you at the time? :P

            But, assuming you know who did it, haven’t you got law enforcement involved?

          2. So, did a certain amount of time go without him sending it or was the last thing you heard from him, “Thanks, suckas!”

            Obviously, if it took a month, he probably had no intention of shipping it. But, there’s also a possibility he was working on something extra special and had to wait for a part from China (we know how long it can take from there). Or maybe he was arrested for trying to ship a bomb or bomb-making supplies? I know the first option is MOST likely, but still…

            If he does ship it, will there be a retraction/update?

          1. From my experience, unless it’s a “restricted delivery” any adult at that address can sign for it, or it can be left in a “secure” location. The last time I had work done on my house, one of the construction guys signed for a package for my wife. The time before that, a package was left under my pickup. I didn’t know this and ran right over it, ruining a pair of replacement screens for my kids’ DS.

  3. You should expose him or at least take some measures to “punish” him, otherwise he will do it again and again.
    Uncivilized people cannot be treated like all other people because they simply don’t follow social rules: let a burglar free and unpunished, and he will rob a different house every night. Think about Pavlov and the dog: you can’t reason with some people because they’re not social beings, so you need to make them associate their wrongdoing to a bad experience, hence the punishment.
    It’s not revenge, it’s just the way you make less appealing for them to reiterate.

      1. lol – didn’t see either

        People are not as different as some expect. And most people will behave the same way when exposed to the same experiences and environments.

        Elitism causes some to express superiority and to justify the ‘big stick’ approach to resolve. This approach only serves to satisfy, in part, the desire for revenge of the elitist.

        This has been very well demonstrated in the US with the failure of the “slums” projects and the use of capital punishment, that in effect increases serious serial crime and mass murder. That alone must make you ask – “Then what purpose does capital punishment serve?”

        1. Referring to capital punishment – which I strongly oppose – in this context sounds somewhat like a Godwins Law equivalent, but I see your point. Problem is: once you have either no solution or a partial solution to a problem the only logical choice is to use the one that brings the highest chance of success. Exposing ones wrongdoing is probably a way to make him less comfortable with it.
          I am sure if I stole groceries from the shop down the street and they put my photo in sight, I would never return there.

          1. Well if you oppose capital punishment then at least you have an interest in the real problems unlike those who pour fuel on the fire with the big stick approach.

            You say: “Problem is: once you have either no solution or a partial solution to a problem the only logical choice is to use the one that brings the highest chance of success”

            Let’s take a look at that and try to understand the meanings of “problem”, “solution” and “success”.

            The problem I suppose by your definition is ~”uncivilised people who don’t follow social rules” or even perhaps criminal behaviours.

            This leads to the next question – “what are the social rules?”

            Well if you grew up where this fellow did then stealing some parcel is probably acceptable within their “social rules”. So perhaps the issue isn’t social non-compliance but rather a difference in social rules.

            Now – “solutions” – well we can offer a solution but that makes little difference because we are not the ones that decide. It’s politicians that decide and they have a very broad range of solutions before them – many that would go some way to “solving” the problem.

            Then comes the real problem and that is what is the meaning of “success”.

            Well, as it’s politicians that make these decisions then the meaning of success is at their discretion and to them the the meaning of “success” is more political brownie points and that means “looking” like they can make change by the way others believe will be most successful ie the “big stick”.

            Well the “big stick” has the opposite effect. You take a person who feels they have been subject to hardship and social injustice and then punish them for the way that has effected them when in reality any person would have a similar outlook if they to were exposed to that very same hardships and social injustices.

            So in effect you just galvanise this persons retaliation to authority and their likelihood of re-offending.

            And lastly you say “Exposing ones wrongdoing is probably a way to make him less comfortable with it”

            Well that could be the case, it depends on the person. If it *were* to make them feel less comfortable then they probably wouldn’t have done it in the first place. Perhaps they get a kick out of it and brag about it???

            This is why making laws that would deter “normal” people is useless.

            I am 50+ and I have never been to prison and I am am never going to go to prison so what’s the point in making laws that would deter *people like me* from offending? I’m not going to offend anyway (give or take a little J walking).

            Instead we need laws that deter those who are criminally inclined.

            Personally, I think the situation with law/social justice is beyond recovery in the US. You have the highest incarceration rate in the world. You have industrialised prisoner detention providing financial and political incentives for unscrupulous actors to promote the occurrence of re-offending.

            Ah, and do I need to make a reference to Hitler or the Nazis?

          2. @RÖB- “if you grew up where this fellow did then stealing some parcel is probably acceptable within their “social rules”. So perhaps the issue isn’t social non-compliance but rather a difference in social rules.”

            Prepare yourself as I take your entire thesis apart… the person in question voluntarily signed up for a chain parcel with the express purpose being “take a couple bits out, put a couple baubles in, mail it on to the next person”… societal norms or rules have nothing to do with it. The person submitted their name which was presumed to be as good as their word and failed to do what they agreed to do which reduces the validity of name being equal to word. Therefore the word needs to go out that this person does not live up to their word.

            For HaD to protect this ass-hat wearing shit-bag serves no good to anyone. Personally- if I lived in the area with this person I’d appreciate a heads up if, for instance, we shared a hackerspace it might serve as a warning not to leave tools or projects unattended when said person is around for fear of those disappearing as well.

          1. yes he did take your thesis apart:

            you say:
            Well if you grew up where this fellow did then stealing some parcel is probably acceptable within their “social rules”. So perhaps the issue isn’t social non-compliance but rather a difference in social rules.

            It doesn’t matter where he grew up, the fact is he subscribed to follow a set of rules.

            ” societal norms or rules have nothing to do with it.”

            or otherwise saying your “thesis” is based on a faulty premise.
            it’s taken apart because the argument behind it is invalid.

            He either grew up thinking it’s OK to lie cheat and steal – in which case publish his name, why should he care it’s “normal” for him!
            Or he grew up knowing that he shouldn’t lie cheat and steal but does it anyway. in which case still name and shame.

            I couldn’t agree more about exposing the guy, whilst *I* have no interest in the case (because I don’t live in the US and would have no reason to trust this guy with my part/projects/tools, those that live within the area or that may share facilities certainly do and they should be protected from the is understanding that they can trust someone who signs up to a program in order to steal or otherwise ruin it.

          2. @Dan,

            This view presented is extremely common and simplistic. It is also completely flawed and the cause of slow or no progress being made in this area.

            You compare some form of contractual obligation or rules to learnt social rules or norms.

            If think this is a worthy comparison then you would allow a paedophile to look after your children as long as they sign a child safety agreement first. I have absolutely no doubt that you would never do that.

            Quite clearly any set of rules or contractual obligation is irrelevant when compared to learnt social norms.

            You can go so some areas and ask kids what it means to be successful in life and they will happily tell you straight up, it’s to be a rich drug dealer with a white ass bitch and a full bling car. (No derogatory sexism intend on my part).

            Where does your suggestion of “knowing it’s wrong” fit in with this – it doesn’t – it’s irrelevant to them because it’s only your (Dan and most other “normal” people) perception in their opinion.

            Of course the example I have given is towards one extreme but in any case learnt social norms are above any contractual obligation or agreement. It’s simply the case that people like you or me will honour agreements we make because that is a condition of the social norms we have been taught.

            So I maintain, my so called *thesis* hasn’t been taken apart.

            Seriously this for me conjures up images of a public clerk racing up to a Mafia boss in the middle of a vicious gun battle to present an unpaid parking ticket.

            Ok, that last one was a big hook for Godwin’s law.

          3. It’s not irrelevant because its the rules of the society that we live in.

            it actually doesn’t matter if they consider what they did bad, because that is not the point.

            You make an interesting point regarding pedophiles. but if anything it only goes against your ideas that naming the person is some kind of barbaric punishment.

            Megans law requires authorities to publish details of the whereabouts of people who choose not to live up to that societal normal. the idea is that the law protects children as their parents will know if a predator of kids is in the area.

            Obviously being a pedophile is many orders of magnitude worse than stealing a box of shit, however, publishing the details of this person follows that same logic, protect your projects knowing that there is a “predator of junk” possibly being in your hackerspace.

            Megans law isn’t designed to name and shame, it’s designed to name and through the sharing of information protect.
            the same principal applies.

            to directly answer your question, I would not knowingly ask a pedophile to look after my children, no matter what they signed. not only that but I am quite pleased to know that pedophiles cannot work in schools (for example) a known pedophile is added to a register, and cannot work with children (regardless of how much they promised to behave) e.g. keeping a list, naming them works to protect society (in this case young society) from harm.

            here is a question for you?
            if I asked someone (who I believed was not a pedophile) to look after my children, and it turned out that they were a pedophile who abused them, your “thesis” seems to suggest that, well it’s just how they are, they can’t help their urges? perhaps they have a friend who is a pedophile too? (so it’s normal in their circles) or were abused as a child? maybe all they have ever known is inter generational physical love for minors. what about pedophile rings where groups (sometimes large groups) of people who abuse children as a collective, they all constantly re-enforce the view that it;s ok through thir actions, should they not be punished, becaus it is normal for them?
            should other people not be told that there is a large collective of “active pedophiles” because for that group it’s normal behaviour?

            do you believe that if this individual acts within their own personal rules, or in the case of a group of abusers, within the collectivly re-enforced rules of their group and abuses children that they should not be named?

            your “thesis” works entirely on the basis that the only reason to name the guy is to shame him for what he is done.
            you are of course correct that he may not feel any shame. but given that the point is not to shame him but protect others (and their belongings from him) your thesis is flawed – it missed the point!

            If your “point” is that this person should not be named and shamed then presumably it also stands that you’d be happy for a pedophile to live in your area without having any knowledge,
            presumably you believe that robbery (of any sort) should go unpunished.
            the kids you speak of in your posts should not be told that their ideals are, well, far from that.

          4. @[Dan]

            wow that was a long post lol.

            ok, first up, I am *not* disputing most of what your saying. There has been a *context error* in the translations back and forth.

            Q:”should this person be ‘names and shamed’?

            I didn’t attempt to answer this question. [Benchoff] and the ‘powers that be’ in his work environment have decided not to. I simply accept their judgement as they have all the facts before them and I don’t. [Benchoff] also pointed out that the recipient may have died – suggesting that there may be some other improbable but valid reason. They also are probably choosing to err on the side of caution – read – don’t want to be sued if they get it wrong.

            My point was asking what is to be gained by punishing the person?

            Naming and shaming won’t work if he/she has used a false identity.

            Other forms of punishment wont change behaviour.

            I agree – your point that naming a adverse person can provide protection. I wont go into Megan’s law as it’s country specific.

            The example of paedophiles serves well to demonstrate how *punishment* doesn’t solve problems. Here in my country, we have resorted to keeping these people in prison indefinitely because (quite predictably) once they serve their term of “punishment”, they were released only to re-offend because and *quite specifically because* the punishment did not alter their behaviour.

            Once again – I accept your assertion that parents and the community being aware of people like this in their environment *can* improve safety for children.

            OK without going to much into the rest of your post – it’s suffice to say that I agree with just about all you say.

            The single point I was trying to make was that simple reactive “punishment” often does very little or nothing to curb offending and a has a great deal to do with satisfying other peoples perception of retaliation, vengeance and justice.

            Oh, and Hitler and the Nazi’s etc.

          5. You’re back to whether punishment is deterrent, restorative, preventative, reformative, etc.
            The example of a paedo is difficult, as most of them will not reform, even if they want to, as it’s too hard-wired (though some do; probably depends on the causes).

            Most crimes are not like this though.

  4. Brian Benchoff – I really never knew about this. It sounds like a really cool project. HOWEVER, you know my brainstorming is an ongoing thing with me. I would like to make a PROPOSAL to HackADay for an improved method of operation I call O.H.M.S. Here is the proposal with pictures:

    Please feel free to critique it and use it as your own any way you like. My gift to you and HaD. And Mr. Phelps, if you choose to accept this mission, the password is of course: ovaltine

    This message will self-destruct in 30 seconds!
    (no not really!) :-)

    1. Brian Benchoff – I thought of other operational problems for OHMS which I think I just solved. See the document again and look for the PROBLEMS: section.

      Arsenio Dev (@Ascii211) – Yes I believe the GEOCACHE folks use an GPS app based on that ARG idea. It’s a little too sophisticated for us don’t you think? (challenge challenge challenge)…

      phreaknik – It’s only for HaD OHMS users to deal with the man (LEO). Not for all HaD users. You would not be required to have one. You can just explain to the park ranger WTH you are doing digging up a box and reburying it next to a trail. And if he is having PTSD flashbacks from Iraq days you’d better hope he doesn’t think you’re a Hadji planting a IED for hikers. And if the landowner is in Texas – well he has the right to stand his ground an shot first then ask for your HaD OHMS ID card… :-P
      “I KEED!!!”

    2. I think the buried treasure concept is the LEAST desired method due to lack of custodial care. A store, shop, pub, club, church, restaurant, owner or any mercantile operation is much more desired custodian of the package. This would only help them 0romote their business interests and maintain OHMS operational security.


  5. “South America”
    NOOO you surely aren’t aware of the CUSTOMS GESTAPO we have down here.
    How do I know? I live here! Brazil and Argentina are the worst, but recently Uruguay also joined the Customs Gestapo.

    First od all ALL boxes mailed are stopped at customs in Argentina. ALL, no exceptions. Second: it doesn’t matter if you label it “gift” or put a $5 value on the stamp, it will be treated like a COMMERCIAL IMPORT. Customs will not only stop the box and make the receiver go to the depot for “appraisal”, they will also demand a commercial invoice detailing all contents, and subject the goods to 50% duties of the price, and good luck convincing the Gestapo wannabes that it’s zero value electronics junk.

    Moral of the story: never ship anything to Brasil or Argentina, unless you want to hear it got stuck at some customs depot and that the guy can’t get it released.


  6. I would suggest to make public the name of the person, ok may be not this time, but for the following, so that’s a big incentive to don’t stole the gadget. Or for people that wants to take care of it because they are fair.

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