Saturday, October 31, 2009

Creepy baby

2009-10-31 20.35.07.jpg, originally uploaded by connors934.

It was getting close to trick or treat time, and I needed something quick. Looking around, I remembered the dismembered dumpscore doll under the desk. Glowing eyes. That's what she needed. Red? sure, but wait, how about these multicolored blinky ones from Jimmie's throwie workshop? Yeah, that'll work. Fire up the Dremel, do a little eye surgery.

Next the circuit. Cut up a piece of stranded CAT5 cable to bring the connections down. Test the polarity before soldering. Put a little heat shrink on the wires before soldering, then move it into place after the connection is cool. Next up, a red LED for the heart. I dug out a 2AA battery pack for the power. The last part of the circuit was a switch so that it could be turned on and off for dramatic effect. Stuff the blinky LEDs into the head cavity, fit them into the eyes, then put the battery pack into the back area. The head is held in place with a zip tie, and she's dressed in some old doll clothes. She took an hour or so of fiddling, but everything in the supplies was already in the room when I started.

Out on Halloween night, she was a hit. I carried her in a sling, just like her older sister when she was a baby. Every so often I would ask people if they would like to see my new baby. As they got close, I flipped the eyes on with the switch behind her neck. Good response. Surprisingly, she raked in a bunch of candy of her own.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Why Do Cyberthieves Steal?

A few months ago my debit card was compromised by cyberthieves who intercepted the data coming from my transaction at the local Hannaford's supermarket. They bought about $800 worth of stuff in Kuala Lampur. Fortunately, my credit union noticed that I was buying things locally and thought that the Malaysian purchases might not be legit. It took several months for the money to get credited back to my account because of delays in getting the police report done. The whole thing was at least mildly disruptive to my finances.

This has gotten me thinking. Why is it that people steal through online networks? Why do people hack systems? What separates the regular 'hacking for the fun of it' people from the 'hacking for the profit of it' cybercriminals?

As I have read through some of this information, I realize that I and many of my students may be considered Hackers. We like exploring systems and making them better for our own purposes. Personally, I have no real interest in exploiting these experiences for profit, my goal is to gather information about how things work and how to make them more capable.

There are many misunderstandings about Hackers. These misunderstandings come at least in part from the actions of people like those who stole my debit card information, and others who choose to cause chaos on our computer networks. I can't say I understand why people do this kind of thing much better now than I did before, but I do know that there is a lot of good to be done with Ethical and Productive Hacking.

Here are some links that I found on my quest for more information:

How to become a Hacker: The Cathedral and the Bazaar Link
The Five Principles of the Hacker Mindset (from Eric S. Raymond): Link
The Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric S. Raymond online at Link published by O'Reilly in book form as well.
Why I love hackers by Tim O'Reilly (presentation): Link

Defcon is an influential event in the Hacker community: Link
MIT/MBTA fare dispute discussion at The Tech: Link
- on Yelp: Link
- at Information Week: Link
- on The Bostonist: Link

Hackers by Steven Levy: Link
Cloud Collaborating, virtual worlds and the hacker mindset: Link
The Hacker Ethic by
Pekka Himanen: Link
Old and New Hacker Ethic by
Steven Mizrach: Link

Hacker Manifesto on Wikipedia: Link
Chaos Computer Club on Wikipedia: Link
Timeline of Computer Security Hacker History on Wikipedia: Link
It is useful to note that there are a variety of interpretations to the word "Hack": Link
The Happy Hacker: Link

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