Technological Disobedience (and Lifehacking/SLEEP MACHINE!, Air Gaps, Extreme High-Threat, Wikileaks/Mediastan)

This is beyond cool. The tremendous lack of well, everything during the 90s meant that Cubans became world class hackers… hacking non-rechargeable batteries to make them recharge, doing “there I fixed it” repairs to washing machines, even learning to cobble water pump engines onto bicycles to create crude, illegal, and highly dangerous motorbikes.

Probably helpful was official encouragement. The government published garage-hacking handbooks and “do it yourself” remedy books. (“Self responsibility” as a policy was in evidence in many other ways, too. The Cubans decreed that anyone who wanted to grow crops on public land —
even the city park across the street — and create a neighborhood farm could do so. I believe this is still done.)

Yes, Communism sucks. However… and oh so ironically… it does seem to be very good at getting people to take responsibility for their own shit when everything breaks.

East Germany saw something similar, if less visibly. I was once talking with someone who grew up there (and who’d been a Stasi informer) and the guy made an interesting point. Since the springs for everything in your house were made by the same factory, you could use your coffee maker to fix your motorbike… and people did that and a whole lot more. It got to the point where there was a whole cottage industry/black market of repairs and “DIY” fixes.

And commenters suggest that the same was true for communist Poland, etc, etc. By the way, check out the comments – some great stories there.

(Maybe we’ll see a new “who needs government services anyway” spirit after enough US federal gridlock? Probably the best fate many of you can hope for, sadly.)

Lifehacking: SLEEP MACHINE!

Disclaimer: I have no idea if this will cause brain damage. It probably will cause brain damage, death, and premature pregnancy.

However, the following message crossed my desk. Redactions have been made in the name of discretion:

“A friend of mine […] who worked for […] and built a square wave generator making 3 cycles per second [555 IC]. He personally told me that the 2 of them drove a van non stop
from LA to New Orleans and back. A third one, a medical doctor, measured blood pressure and gave them reaction time tests on the drive. When one was driving the other one would lay
on a cot with the machine clipped to his ear lobes. 30 minutes of treatment gave them 8 hours of driving each. If they felt sleepy, they would use the machine. They did not sleep for the entire drive.
They did blood tests and cognition tests before the drive and several days later when they returned.

Blood chemistry showed an improvement in blood, they were in better shape at the end of the drive than they were when they started. He told me this in 1976.

They adjusted the voltage so that they had a tingling sensation.

They did not go to sleep, just relaxed when using it. Timer switch set for 30 minutes.

They handed the data over to […] and that was the end of it.

Today, I personally would use the Lilly wave [differentiated square wave]. I would also use sticky gel pads, one in the middle of the forehead and one behind each ear on the mastoid
bones. The mastoid electrodes to one output and front electrode to the other one. Balanced output. Balanced emitter follower to pull the signal up and drive it down with an 18 volt battery. The middle will be ground.”

Schneier on air gaps: Schneier details his personal air-gap setup.

I would add — watch what filesystem you use for transferring data between machines! The possibility of “autorun” malware and side channel data exfiltration exists for *any* operating system if the attacker can find an exploitable hole in the way the filesystem works and gets mounted.

Also, the comments are full of world+dog coming up with insanely paranoid ideas:

Extreme high-threat situation — everyone remember Wikileaks/Bank of America? This is what happens when you trust things you don’t understand while (usually unwittingly) playing on chessboards that exceed your level of defensive security understanding:

Media types — Wikileaks has shown enormous media savvy responding to the “Fifth Estate” film. Quite masterfully done, at least WRT the Twitterverse. (Whether the studios’ marketing will trump in the “real world” or whether the entire moviegoing audience for the Fifth Estate are Internet junkies, well, we’ll see.) Also, could someone leak the script to Mediastan already? I don’t have time to watch movies these days… I mean, when Mediastan is available for free download worldwide, of course.

Also, “Producer Julian Assange?” The guy really does have a lot of time on his hands…! Somehow I feel like this means “Mediastan” will need an emergency intervention by a professional film editor.

“fter the U.S. left Cuba back in the 60′s, most of the engineers went with them, so [Fidel Castro] told the citizens to learn how to make stuff themselves. They were called the National Association of Innovators and Rationalizers (ANIR), and that’s exactly what they did. This was the beginning of Cuba’s backyard innovation.

Fastforward a few decades and the 90′s were a very difficult time for Cuba. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a severe economic downturn almost crippled the country, and as a result a Cuban DIY culture began to flourish even more — out of absolute necessity. No money, no imports, only what they already had. Making and fixing things became a part of life, you couldn’t just go out and buy a solution to your problem, you had to do it yourself. This might be one of the greatest examples of what a full-flung maker/DIY society would be like — well, maybe minus the communist part.”

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