Ain’t No Party Like a Crypto Party?

The roles I play in the resistance to Trump seem to be expanding.  Comments from a few activists lead me to think I am in some way like Templeton “Face” Peck from the 1980’s TV program “The A-Team”.  I’m the guy who can interact with more mainstream progressives like “Indivisibles” and then pass info along to allies.

I also continue to explore the role that my technical skills may play.  My recent trip to B-Sides Rochester was one step deeper down that rabbit hole.  Between issues of The Nation, or when there’s nothing else on television, I have been watching videos from the 2016 Hacker On Planet Earth, or HOPE, conference.   One video that piqued my interest was on starting a “Crypto Party“.  Now I immediately though of a political party, and when I saw that the video was about something more like a “Meet Up”, I could have easily turned it off.

I am glad I did not.  I could see actually running one of these in Harrisburg.  We have a large activist community that may be concerned about keeping their information and activities private.  Also, the communities most under attack from Trump may find information about apps like Signal, Cell 411, Virtual Private Networks. or VPNs, or programs like TOR  useful.

Do I know everything, far from it, but I know more than many people.  I feel this knowledge may be useful to other people.  What I don’t know, someone else may.  It’s now just a matter of figuring out how to put one together.

The 42-Year Old N00b

On Saturday, April 22, I made my first appearance at a “Hackers” conference.  The Rochester Institute of Technology played host to the 7th annual “B-Sides” conference.  The theme “Crypto Cold War” could not have been more appropriate, as we seem to now be embracing the old “Evil Empire”.

I did have a good time, but realize that I have a lot to learn.  The two technical talks I attended; one on Assembly Language and the other about hiding code had me in a bit of a haze.

The non-technical talks were a little easier to bear.  A talk on physical entry made me realize that once one gets into a building, they usually have fairly free rein.  A talk on robust defense got me to thinking that when it comes to security, one may need to “think small”.  A talk on communication made me wonder how often a company tries to make itself the victim, instead of the customers.

A final talk on outwitting “Crackers”, folks who attempt to break into systems, given by an Army Intelligence Officer was a bit of a disappointment.  His focus was more on innovation then exploitation.

I would have never thought two years ago, I would be at an event like B-Sides.  Of course, I didn’t expect the country to decide to make such a hard right turn either.

America Is Still Standing–UP!

It has been two weeks and one day since Donald Trump took office.  There has been a flurry of executive orders, riled up allies, and gaffes like the “Bowling Green Massacre”.

There have also been protests, literally since day 1.  His second day in office brought one of the largest protests in history, that my hometown area even got into the act.  There were demonstrations at airports and tech companies.  Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had over 2000 people for an rally in support of immigrants.  Harrisburg’s turn is tomorrow, February 5th.

Trump and his authoritarian followers have to be surprised and perhaps a bit aggravated that these protests are ongoing.  They may have figured that after the election that progressives, especially millennials, would go back to the “safe spaces”.  I am sure a lot of them have, but many are taking to the streets.

There is more where this came from, there are events in April in the works and it seems that most actions Trump take produce a reaction from activists.

I am still reading Peoples History of The United States, so I am becoming aware that America’s true history may be one of repression and resistance.  What is happening in opposition to Trump may just be another generation taking their turn.


Plan B-Sides

A few of you may remember that I had expressed and interest in attending the annual Defcon computer conference. I actually viewed a few videos from past events and realized that even a 42 year old newbie would have a place.

Alas, Uncle Sam and H&R Block had other ideas.  A little part-time side job had me having to owe money to the government, and H&R Block to prepare my taxes.

It’s not a total loss, I had been taking money out of my checks from this gig, and can cover the amount I owe and the cost of preparation.   I will have to set my sights on Rochester’s annual B-Sides conference.  An added bonus is that I’ll be joined by fellow blogger The Radical Geek!

I just have to see how much rooms cost and how long it would take to get there.

Where Do I Go From Here

Once the Democratic Primaries were over, I saw that some of Bernie Sanders’s supporters may not be fully on board.  I also realized that this could make a Trump Presidency a possibility; I also realized that many of Bernie’s millennial backers may thing that hashtags and memes would be enough, and rather than be blindsided like in 2000, tried to make others ready.

The results of the election were still a bit of a blow to me, and the incidents in the aftermath; including one involving my high school alma mater really have me asking “Where do I go from here?”

I’m realizing more and more that this is a case where I may need to treat comforting the afflicted; Latinos, refugees, Muslims, etc, and afflicting the comfortable as separate tasks.

I think my avenue for afflicting the comfortable may be through the Anti-Fascist community.  It may be a matter of effectively harnessing my skills to assist those that see that Trump and his allies may have to be beaten in the streets.

To comfort the afflicted, I think my best bet may be the Catholic Worker House in Harrisburg.  I have worked with the man who runs that organization in the past.  The issue is that he may not like my collaborations with the Anti-Fascists.  I may have to keep the two groups separate, and mind what I say.

Continue reading “Where Do I Go From Here”

What Downtime?

My Dad’s job had him spending a good amount of time on the phone, so now that he’s retired, he doesn’t like to talk on the phone.

You would think someone who is on a computer 8 hours a day would be all for getting off of them; except for me.  My work on Android development has cleared another hurdle, I have my Python and networking studies, my Security+,  and my HTML/CSS.

Now I’m not all coding, I also hope to take some pics over the weekend and trying to get back in shape.

So much to do, so little time.

Calling Out Trump?

As part of yesterday’s entry, I referenced Anonymous’s declaration of a “Total War” on Trump.

That announcement came complete with a date of April 1st, April Fools Day.  Now it’s likely that this could be a ruse of some sort.  That the actual ‘attack’ may come earlier or later.

I think this because it seems like poor tactics to let your target know when you are coming.  Why would Anonymous give Trump a chance to harden his systems, etc?

Do they doubt the technical sophistication of Trump’s campaign.  Yes, Trump’s base is mainly lower-class, less-educated, rural, white males, but there have to be a few IT types in his inner circle.

Also, a person who has some connections with Anonymous told me this is kind of out of their scope.  Anonymous does not concern itself with politics and elections.

Of course, any group of people can call themselves “Anonymous”.

Could It Happen Here?

Be advised, I have been a bit under the weather the past few days.  I may be doing a lot of posts over the next few days to try and get caught up.

On Tuesday, the 22, while making one of my weekly visits to the plasma center, I tuned my tablet into the daily feed of the Diane Rehm show.  The segment was on the battle between Apple and the U.S Government over trying to gain access to an IPhone that one the San Berandino shooters had.  One detail that I think has been overlooked is that the phone was company-issued.  If the company has given the O.K to have the phone be searched, then the rest may be moot.

But what worries me, is that could we see more attacks on privacy should Trump somehow win; I could see him trying to supress dissent and intimidate “outgroups” like Hispanics and Muslims by making phones, etc less private.

It’s possible that tools like TAILS Linux, designed to combat authoritian regimes in other places may find themselves used in America.