Message from the front line..
Saturday, 9:30 local.
We are at the Chaos Computer Camp, some 50 km north of Berlin, Germany.
And we are surrounded by hackers, some 3000 of them. That also means some 5000 computers and 10.000 network cables, also in the wireless::village where I live.
The atmosphere in the camp is completely different from what we are seeing at the Ham Radio camp in Friedrichshafen. The average age of a hacker seems to be around 22, and you know you are talking to a ham when the person is over 50. 50% of the hackers wear their long hair in a tail, and the standard dress is baggy shorts and T-shirts with interesting messages on them. And from most of the big tents you can hear the onk-onk-onk of 2kW audio woofers, all asynchronously outputing the same type of 'music' until 4:00 local. The days of Howling Wolf, John Mayall and Eric clapton seem long gone.... By the way, the equipment is so good you cannot hear the pskmail beacons on it.
The food you can buy is esoteric at best. No solid hamburgers but indian curry, tomato noodles, crepes and ah... bratwurst (saves the day). All people here feel they are part of an army, and the enemy is the government, the industry, Microsoft(TM), the police, politicians, C++, and the establishment at large. The world is ok here, divided in 85% Linux, 15% windows. And most speakers openly pity the people who have to work for M$ to earn their money. And most campers here have taped off part of the licence plate so if the anti-terror administration comes to video everything they won't be recognized. All in all this gives a warm feeling of togetherness.
We are well prepared. All laptops have a tight firewall, and we have been warned to back up all computers before connecting to the network, and remove all personal information from any hard disk present. After being here for 5 days now pskmail still has not been hacked, so it must be reasonably secure.
10:00 and I am looking at the fldigi screen. No beacons on 30. Since the start of the conference on wednesday the S-meter of the FT897D is at a steady S8-9. Which means that I can send APRS beacons, but I cannot hear the QSL's. I can check on findu that the beacons get through o.k.
PA3DSC is also here. We use pskmail APRS messaging to chat. For that I have hacked the code so that the messages are also displayed when no server can be reached... This works well over a distance of 200 meters as his signal is S9++.
10:10 the first hackers are leaving their tents to have the first sanitary and buy the first coffee. They don't look healthy, must be due to the evening before. But that will change until 11:00 when the first lecture is scheduled ('Hacking WEP in 60 minutes'). Then they will be in one of the big hangars of this former military airport, with their laptop charged so they can read the latest news during the speech.
This is our last day here and I have to hurry. Still have to do the dishes and must be in time for the lecture.
So far the stay here has been quite succesfull. 5 demos, 2 newspaper interviews, 1 radio interview, got more people interested... Somebody interested to start a server in Italy. More than I hoped for.
Looking forward to seeing the S-meter drop to zero when this is all over. But it is good to know pskmail would actually work as soon as the network went down...