Bitmessage and Tahoe-LAFS at Crypto and MeshNet Meetup

Little MeshOn Wednesday, August 28, the Solid State Depot had crypto and meshnet meetup with lightning talks, general discussion, and installation for Bitmessage and Tahoe-LAFS.

Ben Burdette started off the meetup with a presentation on Bitmessage. Bitmessage is a P2P communicationns protocol used to send encrypted messages to another person or to many subscribers. It is decentralized and trustless, meaning that you need-not inherently trust any entities like root certificate authorities. It uses strong authentication which means that the sender of a message cannot be spoofed, and it aims to hide “non-content” data, like the sender and receiver of messages, from passive eavesdroppers like those running warrantless wiretapping programs.

Zooko talked about Tahoe-LAFS.  Tahoe-LAFS is a free and open cloud storage system. It distributes your data across multiple servers. Even if some of the servers fail or are taken over by an attacker, the entire filesystem continues to function correctly, preserving your privacy and security.

Aspects of Tahoe-LAFS of interest at this meetup:

  • LAFS cryptography: Public/private keypairs are per-file, not per-user, digital signatures are everywhere, public-key encryption is not used, secure hashes and merkle trees are a beautiful data structure, akin to git.
  • The open source project: We have dozens of hackers from around the globe extending LAFS in different ways ; Want to contribute? We use a development process with complete unit test coverage and mandatory code review on all patches. We are nice. We have weekly meetings. Join in!
  • Usage: How to get the source, build it, deploy a grid of storage servers, share files and directories with your friends; who runs storage servers and gives you access to their storage server—friends sharing storage space with each other? Strangers meeting in the darknets? You can lease storage from my for-profit startup.

See more about this event on its Meetup.com page.

Machine Learning Meetup

Machine Learning Survey MeetupAt the machine learning meetup on August 18th, 2013, topics covered introductory basics leading up to basic support vector machines and basic artificial neural networks. Various applications of machine learning were covered, such as beating experts at wine tasting, predicting housing prices, predicting which products from a chip manufacturing process will pass testing, doing optical character recognition (OCR), email classification as spam or not spam, reducing color palettes in images, detection of anomalies in a manufacturing dataset, and how to make a movie recommendation system. Based on the Coursera/Stanford course by Andrew Ng, who used machine learning to teach model helicopters to fly stunts.

Raspberry Pi Roadshow

Raspberry Pi Roadshow (August 14, 2013)

Rob Bishop, an engineer and evangelist for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, stopped by the Solid State Depot Boulder Hackerspace as part of the Raspberry Pi United States Roadshow! Rob’s talk “Raspberry Pi — One Year On” covered both the origin story of the Raspberry Pi as well as outlining recent developments. The talk presented technical information about the Raspberry Pi alongside a discussion of the Foundation’s educational aims. After the presentation, there was an opportunity for an in-depth Q&A on both educational and technical matters.

We basked in the glory of the useful little microcomputer known as the Raspberry Pi!  Useful for education, hacking, productivity, and even playing games like Quake 3 Arena—rather nice for low-cost computer! Several people brought their Raspberry Pi related projects for show and tell—including a digital music keyboard synthesizer and a MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) system. See the event listing on Meetup.com for more information.

Raspberry Pi Roadshow 2013

Fix-It Clinic with Eco-Cycle

Volunteers of the Solid State Depot Boulder Hackerspace, along with Eco-Cycle, coached and assisted citizens of the Boulder, Colorado area in need of electronic equipment repair as part of the Fix-It Clinic event on Sunday, August 11th.  By not only helping fix, but also helping teach and educate by demonstration, the Solid State Depot volunteer fix-it coaches aided those from the community in the process and approaches required to fix their appliances instead of throwing them out.

The Fix-It Clinic coaches repaired appliances vacuums, toasters, two blenders, a scanner, and various other appliances.  Of note was a broken plastic part for a blender.  To replace it, Solid State Depot member Rob Bryan rapidly, algorithmically defined and modeled a replacement part using OpenSCAD, and then Bryant Hadley handled the 3D printing of the modeled part at the hackerspace.

Replacement Part Modeled in OpenSCAD

Replacement Part Modeled in OpenSCAD

This is even more recently relevant, since last month Colorado followed suit with 19 other states and banned the dumping of electronic waste into its landfills. Notably, the health risks associated from heavy metals from various electronics potentially escaping out of the landfills and into groundwater has prompted this movement.  There are electronic waste handling facilities, but the processes required to recycle the electronic equipment can also be rather toxic. Thus, by repairing instead of disposing, we reduce the negative impact upon our environment.

3D Printed Blender Replacement Part

3D Printed Blender Replacement Part

Facilities such as the Solid State Depot offer an important venue in the community — allowing people to get together and have access to tools and resources for tinkering, creating, making, and repairing that are often collectively too costly and take up too much space for most individuals to have all in one spot. In the end, fun and excitement was had by all in the exploration and discovery of the household devices around us all.