Showing posts with label hardware. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hardware. Show all posts


lessons learned

what we learned from the pirate box experiment

- induction coils can work through skin to power a device

- the resin coating is bioproof

- it is possible to share wifi from inside yourself

- miniaturisation is very important

- the power pack is difficult to work with but functions well

- with some work this may be a great way to smuggle data

- its function as a source of cool data led various people to upload / download content

- chicks dig scars

i should also clarify that the docs are saying the damage to my ulnar nerve was NOT caused by the box or the surgery to remove it. they don't know what did cause it but i have been referred for a nerve conduction study to get an idea of what exactly's going on. will update as i get more information.


experiment failure

okay so the pirate box experiment gave its best shot but ultimately failed. things were fine from the installation in May 19 but at the end of December i whacked it on the door of a taxi, which hurt a lot but didn't worry me too much. however it got red and irritated looking and ultimately, i called the 111 service (free medical advice line) and they told me to go to hospital. hospital docs were pretty skeeved and clearly thought this was an utterly bizarre thing to have done, and immediately admitted me for removal. they insisted it be removed and at this point a hole had opened up over one corner of the device, through which a lot of nasty goo was issuing, so i went with their opinion and let them take it out.

so i spent New Year's in hospital, and now i have a second badass scar to show off. there's also a bit of nerve damage to my right hand which will hopefully heal up over time (it's pretty damn irritating, i have lost the grip strength in those fingers and it makes it very hard to type right).

so, cautionary tale. don't put enormous devices in your arms, folks.


grindfest 2019 and the big ol prototype

it's been a long time since i wrote anything for you guys. i will get the health stuff over with first: i'm having the Mental Health Fun Time, basically. things have escalated pretty badly in the last couple of months, & when this happens i pretty much can't do anything else. once again, i'm really sorry if you've been contacting me & didn't get a reply. the bigger my inbox & DMs get, the worse it is, and stupidly i know i'm making it worse by not checking them but that doesn't make it any easier to break through the barrier. right now the biggest problem is me, really. i shan't go into gory details, but it's been rough. i am very grateful for the access i have to doctors, psychiatrists, hospitals etc. - but also for the care & support i get from everyone in the biohacking community who knows me. you have all been fantastic.

as for Grindfest: it was incredible. i haven't been as happy as that since i was a kid. i got to travel to a beautiful place - the desert was gorgeous, and the butterfly migration we saw was like something out of a fantasy novel (a river of thousands of red and black butterflies all flying towards wherever their destination was. it was awe-inspiring.) i also got to meet Cassox, and see many friends, and everyone was lovely. we had a BBQ, we learned some useful practical techniques, there were electric knife fights, i tried every American junk food item i could. it turns out Twinkies are weird, but tasty. i brought back Lucky Charms too.

more importantly, i also had an experimental device installed. for legal reasons i'm not going to go into which of us did what during the actual install procedure, but it started off when my friend Mixael brought this little "pirate box" device in. tiny little guy, has USB storage and wifi antenna, users just connect to it via their phone or PC and they can download / upload files, anonymously chat, etc. we started to think about taking the cover off it, and at that point we all sort of looked at each other because it was immediately clear this might make an interesting subdermal device. so over the next few days it got gutted; more talented people than me took off any extraneous components, replaced the battery with a wireless charging coil, soldered the USB storage down, and filed off the corners. because we took the battery out, the device is now operated through use of a wireless charging pad held close to it on the skin; that's not ideal, but this is a prototype after all. Cass coated it with about a hundred layers of resin-type stuff (it's proprietary, i'm not sure what exactly it IS but it performs like a dream) to bioproof the device. after that had cured it was time for the installation.

there's film of this somewhere around, but the op was done very professionally in Cass' lab. the lab is an absolute dream - spacious, easily cleaned, with two main working rooms and one sort of clinic room. it's all organised to perfection and has pretty much any equipment or supplies you could possibly want for a biohacking project, from weird cell biology shit to full on opening someone up and stuffing in large electronics. the latter, obviously, being what we were doing.

we chose to put the device in my upper right arm, rather than the thigh as intended, due to worries about chafing. then we injected shitloads of lidocaine, and made a horizontal incision in the arm, which was then held open with retractors while a pocket big enough to hold the device was carved. at some point i recall we had to stop and put more lidocaine in, i think because the corners hurt more to carve out than i thought they would? anyway i bawled like a big baby at some point but it got installed in the end, and stitched up with a drain to help get rid of some of the fluid. i went off home (via a missed flight, but friends helped me sort it out & it was all OK in the end) and once i got back, pulled out the tube. this caused a large backup of about 50ml of fluid to spurt from the incision, completely overwhelming the little bit of sterile gauze i was trying to clean it with, which in turn surprised the hell out of Paul and kind of ruined the rug. was worth it if you ask me.

the incision healed up well, but slowly. this is probably due to me smoking or something rather than the quality of the work done, which was excellent. i took the stitches out a couple weeks later with no problems. the fluid buildup did cause the implant to look very raised, but this has subsided over time & didn't require draining like i thought it would. overall the install went pretty smoothly, i think. it's all healed over now, save one corner that's still a little red. no idea what's up with that but if the device fails, it fails, & we've gained some valuable information about how long these devices can last, positioning, usage and things like that.

here is the device while it was healing up:

looks pretty dramatic, no? it's all gone back to the right colour now, & there's a badass scar where the incision was. this is what it looks like today:

kind of gnarly still but i wasn't a beauty queen to begin with, ha. hopefully the device remains in situ for a good six months or so, i'd consider that a success. (and the scar is cool as fuck.)

speaking of gnarly, the janky finger was also fixed at Grindfest, much to my surprise. a lot of weird shit came out, all tiny pips of neodymium scattered throughout the white tissue making up the lump. the incision wasn't too big, probably about 1cm length, and sealed up perfectly. i took the stitches out on the plane home & had to explain what i was doing to the poor woman seated next to me. i don't want to get the person who did it in trouble so i'll just say that this procedure (and the installation of the device above) were done with superlative skill and care, and i'd recommend them any time.

that's pretty much everything. i won't be able to make it to Defcon, for those asking, but may well be able to come to "Please Try This At Home" in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in September. i'll figure that out in time. meanwhile love and best wishes to you all, especially D, Vicarious, Mixael & Cyberlass. you have all been wonderful people.



handy guide to RFID type chip implants

(handy. do you see what i did there)

this is a short overview of what i've learned over time about the various identification and/or data-carrying implantable chips: regular RFID ones, rewritable ones, NFC chips etc etc. these chips are all very similar: the basic idea is you have a little microchip encased in some outer object (like a card or keyring), alongside a little copper coil of antenna that lets a powered reader cause the chip to power up and burp up its ID, or its data, or start up an authentication process or whatever. the chip itself has no power source, but it works on the principle that when a copper coil comes into contact with an electrical field, the coil will resonate with electricity of its own. it's that electricity which powers the chip and allows it to give out its ID as long as it remains within the field. there are many, many different types of tags both NFC and RFID, long-range variants, different frequencies and outer forms, some come with onboard sensors that they can report the data from, etc. i'm going to concentrate on the ones we can use as implants, which are the glass ampoules. they're very useful in my opinion, but most require a little bit of further programming and/or hardware setup before they can really be used for something.

{this is a Dangerous Things NFC implant in its sterile container, picture from just before it was installed in my right hand by the lovely Jenova Rain}

these are the three types you'll be most likely to encounter:

plain RFID chips
these are exactly what i described above. they're fairly old as a technology, generally cheap, and very simple - they're just a chip with a coiled copper antenna, encased in a variety of coverings that enable the chips to be used in various different settings: stickers, identity cards, wristbands. just about anything can contain one of these so long as the object isn't dense enough to block the electrical signals, and there are long-range versions for use in things that are too thick for the standard ones. some come in bioproof glass; these are called ampoules, they're generally suitable for implantation (though you should always test it first) even if they have to put a disclaimer on the packaging that tells you not to implant them. all of these types require a powered reader to detect them, as the chip isn't powered except by its coil and therefore doesn't do anything when no reader is present. i like the Phidgets reader, which works for older and newer tags and just plugs in to your machine via USB.

this basic, oldest type contains no other data than its unique ID number. they're guaranteed to be unique and they're set in the factory, so you can't change the number or use the chip to carry any other data - more on this further down. they're simple and very easy to start working with in your projects. you can get them from many robotics, hobby and electronics shops online - a shop called Atlas stocks loads of them & ships worldwide, and there's hundreds of them on Amazon. if you wanted an entire starter kit, Codegate sells some in the UK.

there are various subtypes of these, using various different radio frequencies and able to read across varying distances, and also some which can send sensor data (like temperature, or movement) alongside their ID, but for implant stuff you are basically only going to want the short-range little glass ampoule tags like these. other, longer-range tags exist but are too large to consider putting under your flesh in my experience.

these ampoules have some downsides: they're old, and therefore they are vulnerable security wise. they have no defences whatsoever and will ping their ID number whenever any reader comes into range of them. that means if you were using the ID as a key for something important, anyone can walk past you with a reader in their pocket and grab that key even if the chip is embedded into your hand; all they'd have to do is get close enough, snatch the ID number and copy it onto a rewritable RFID tag for access to whatever you were using your tag to secure. the plain chips are also limited in terms of what you can do with them, since they can't carry any extra data and can't be altered.

rewritable RFID
later chips' ID values are re-writable, so you can do stupid things like grab the ID from your access card for a building using your own reader, rewrite that ID onto the chip in your hand, and then go to work and ~magically telekinetically open doors with your miiiind~ or whatever. (it will amuse the security guy if nothing else.) they're also what you'd use to duplicate existing RFID tags' numbers so you can back them up, or as part of an attack on someone else's tag-secured system. other than this they're the same as the regular RFID tags: they still can't carry extra data (it's limited to just changing the tag's ID value usually), they're still relatively simple and easy to learn your way around, and they're still grabbable by rogue readers.

you get these from the same places as the regular ones; here's some from JM Prime. i used to get mine from Core RFID, too.

NFC (Near Field Communication) chips
these are the next generation of implanted chip technology after RFID. they work in a different way but the basis is still the same: whenever they come into contact with a reader, the chips are passively powered up and can interact with it. they're a lot more complex than RFID - this allows for things like passcode protection (example: you can't access anything stored on the NFC chip in my hand without my 4-digit code) and proper data storage (like contacts for your phone, vcard data, custom hex or binary or whatever for your projects, etc).

the biggest advantage with these in my opinion is that you don't need a separate hardware reader in order to interact with the tags. you just use your smartphone, provided it's NFC capable (most are nowadays i think, but you can check your model online to see if it is.) you just install an app like tagInfo / tagWriter which then acts as a reader and can write info to tags, etc.

these can also be bought from the places i suggested up there, but the easiest thing to do if you are wanting one of these for implant purposes is just to buy an entire kit from Dangerous Things. Amal crowdfunded these kits for biohackers, they contain everything you'd need to install the chip as well as the tag itself preloaded into a syringe for injection (i'd definitely agree that needle installation is superior to scalpel use if the thing you're installing is that small). you can even buy a patch with topical anaesthetic to numb the site if you're worried about pain (but don't be, it's less painful even than having blood taken for tests or getting immunisation jabs.) the Android app Dangerous NFC is made to secure these tags once you have them installed, but currently doesn't function as a reader/writer (you'd need tagInfo and tagWriter for that as usual).

other cool Dangerous Things developed tags
Dangerous Things are actively developing new kinds of tags for implantation all the time. you can see their kind of "beta testing" stuff and possibly buy some here. their regular shop contains stuff they've already done, and there is some really nice gear in there: i personally am coveting the temperature sensing one (due to medication side effects i still have trouble sensing how cold my body is or isn't, and i no longer have the implant i cooked up to do the job) and i also love these little NFC light-up sticker guys except i would stick those suckers in some hot glue and put them on top of the long bones in my fingers i think.

installation of ampoules
if you didn't get a preloaded syringe kit for your tag, the easiest way to put them in is with a sterile piercer's needle. it's a very minor wound and the process is pretty simple:

1. find the best place to put the tag. this is generally the triangle shaped part of your hand made by the thumb and index finger bones. use your non-dominant hand if you can and place tags far apart from each other if they use the same frequency (e.g you can put your NFC tag right next to an RFID one, but don't put two of the same kind close to each other or they will confuse the reader.) mark the place with a biro dot or tattoo pen.

2. sanitise everything, your hands, the work surface, fuckin everything. bleach for your surfaces, Milton for your tools, Hibiscrub for your hands (because you can't wear sterile gloves when you're working on your own hands, tho i do sometimes put one on the hand i'm not installing anything on).

3. numb it up with whatever (ice, lidocaine cream) if you like, although the process is so easy that i honestly don't consider it necessary at all.

4. make a hole where you marked it using a fresh needle. get that sucker like at least 3 or 4cm in, it needs to pierce right through the skin and into the gap below. you don't want to actually pierce the stuff underneath, though, so be careful with it and push the needle in at an angle of like 45 degrees. it takes a surprising amount of force to do these things btw so again, be extremely careful and go slowly if it's your first few times.

5. retract needle, push tag into the hole. make sure the tag is all the way underneath the skin.

6. hold clean cotton wool over the hole and press down gently until bleeding slows, which it will do quickly because you only made a tiny teeny baby's first biohack hole. put a wee dressing of some sort on the little hole, maybe a steristrip under that to hold it closed if you're worried. a plaster will do, anything as long as it came from a sterile package. keep it clean and change dressings each day over the next week or so and it should be healed and ready to go.

remember always to be as over-the-top careful with this shit as you can be. infections suck, they ruin your projects, and it's better to spend a little bit of extra money on sterile dressings, wound cleaning spray with chlorhexidine, etc and use up a little bit of extra time sterilising everything and cleaning up all the wounds, than it is to spend a fuckload of money sorting out a raging infection. as usual, i also ask you not to do this if you're under 18, or you're not completely responsible for yourself legally; i don't want to mess anyone up and i don't want to get anyone (including me) in a mess with the law.

the bigger question once you have your tags and reader set up is usually what to do with them. the book Amal wrote, RFID Toys, is an old but good guide to the sorts of things you can do, but in general you can use implanted tags to make your machines only log on when you're present, you can connect them to home security systems as disarm tags, you can use NFC ones to carry important data or unlock your phone only when your tag is nearby. you could use a secured Dangerous Things tag to hold your private PGP/GPG key. Maplins also carries a few different pre-made RFID home security and other implementations you can have a look at replicating or adapting.

the tags are endlessly useful and probably will get more so as time goes on. you lot are also endlessly smart, and i know you'll come up with some interesting shit and/or already have. i hope this screed was slightly useful to any of you considering installing one, or working with them. let me know in the comments or on twatter if you have questions, or additions/clarifications you think i should make to this article. and tell me about your own tags, i love hearing what others have done!

carpe corporem




okay this is super late since it was very hard to type with fresh implantation wounds all over one hand but last Thursday night i had a couple of upgrades at Jenova Rain's studio in Leicester, for Paul's documentary project - got a couple of nodes put in so he would have something to compare to my own procedure, both in terms of the surgical procedure Jenova used vs. the one i've developed and in terms of the atmosphere of a professional piercing studio with legit equipment / supplies vs. ...well, my place and whatever shit i can get hold of. as you all know though the other major difference is that piercers are expensive as FUCK since they have to pay for their studio rent, huge expensive bits of equipment like autoclaves, a constant flow of sterilisation stuff, needles, jewellery, aftercare stuff etc etc etc so of course it took a big fat chunk out of the funds i had saved up. to be fair it was two nodes plus an XNT chip from Amaal that i got offered on the night and couldn't say no to, plus the train fare to and from Leicester and an Uber to the studio on the way which turned out to be fucking stupid because the place was ten minutes from the station and it was city centre rush hour so the fucking thing charged us about twenty quid for this tiny little journey.

the XNT is healed up, more or less, just a bit of extremely light bruising around the area where the chip settled and a tiny scab from the needle hole:

and the incisions for the magnetic nodes have also scabbed up. they're still just barely noticably redder than normal because of the internal damage done when creating a "pocket" inside the fingertip for the node to fit in (this is inevitable, more on the procedure differences in a sec) but there are no signs of any infection or any non-essential damage and they are now secure enough that they don't require a tight binding dressing and can just be protected with medical tape and a bit of gauze or melolin dressing. this is them an hour ago, taken at the same time as the chip:

of course there has been no sensation from them as of yet - it seems to take a week or so in a person who has never had any installed before, and about five days in someone who already has some. i think this is because if you already have some, your brain has already got some connections associated with receiving that sort of input, whereas if you didn't, it needs a bit extra time to make those in the first place. a couple of things have set them off magnetically which as i remembered before is super mondo uncomfortable with the internal wound still healing. the pain is gone completely, although it probably helped that i had heavy pain medication, so idk if that's typical or not. yesterday was fine too in that regard, it was mostly Friday and Saturday where it really hurt and Saturday wouldn't have been that bad if i hadn't fucked it up trying to type stuff.

re. the actual procedure i found that Jenova was using a 1.7mm diameter cannula needle - the ones i use are 5mm diameter and they're not cannula ones, meaning they are sharp on only one edge of the tip, rather than both (and obviously the ones i use are way bigger.) the actual incision she needed to make was just as wide as the one created by the needles i use, and she also needed to remove some tissue from the centre of the finger pad in order to make a big enough pocket for the node to fit in, which is something you don't need to do if you're using the great big ones as they just punch a big fuck off hole by themselves. because of this need to make a pocket, i think using the 5mm one is faster overall; Jenova's procedure is a lot more delicate, though, since i have to use a considerable amount of force behind the needle to make my incisions and she didn't need to do that at all. i think her way is a lot less likely to come up with complications like the needle potentially going all the way through the finger pad and out the other side or making a much deeper hole than was needed (i've never run into either one of these myself but they're possible i think.) i'm not sure which one would hurt less - sharper, smaller needles would hurt less with ordinary piercings, but the larger one is also probably faster and doesn't need any excision of flesh. as ever i said fuck a lot and felt awful - didn't white out though like i usually do with my own stuff. i am gonna guess they're probably about the same when you take it all into account, although Jenova's obviously a professional so it would be way safer to have someone like her do it if you can afford to pay for it.

overall, it was a perfectly fine experience, and pretty nice to have the luxury of someone else doing it for a change. Jen herself is a lovely person, it was really nice talking to her and another biohacker from France who showed up for a small meetup, and Paul did a full interview with both of them so you will get to hear from other people than just me in the finished film (also others too, he is not finished getting content / contributors). he got some good nasty footage of the installations too, & if the film people at UoB complain that it's too gory i'll get him to upload it to a Google drive or Megavideo or somewhere so you can all see it (would go youtube but it deleted both my older surgery videos last time i tried that so i'm not even gonna try this time. fuck youtube) pretty much the only bummer is that she's moving to Spain within the next week, so i can't make it a regular destination. would fucking love to go see once she gets set up in Spain. i also nicked half a tube of EMLA cream. result.




recent escapades

recent experiments seem to suggest the possibility of using acetone to dissolve various RFID and contactless devices to gain useful components. i also found the local Rag Market selling 100% acetone for cheapsies, which is always good. by "useful" i do of course mean "useful for installing beneath one's sliced open and surgically retracted flesh in order to further one's admittedly bizarre experimentation". biggest problem right now is making coiled-copper antennae, which are very delicate, suitable for implantation (i.e. bioproof) whilst still retaining functionality. it seems that a square shape, not filled in in the middle, with the chip connected to the coil on the outside (and the whole thing coated in whatever) is the best proto-dealio to be manufacturing, as it seems like that's the most stable construct that maintains the original shape of the device somewhat but also has the smallest surface area. as everyone probably figured out by now, items with a small surface area are far more likely to take beneath the skin than larger ones, and for related reasons, stuff with holes in is better than stuff without, so long as the holes don't compromise the bioproofing (whatever it is you've used for that). but i've had a few failures (conceptual and otherwise) & now need further supplies to fuck with. i'm going to be messing around with a contactless, refillable bus pass they sell around this area of Birmingham this time (sort of like an Oyster card if you're familiar with those). more as it happens / doesn't happen / gets horrifically infected and results in loss of limbs.

in other recent escapades i went with Paul (the documentary bloke!) to the Circus of Horrors a while ago. it was pretty amusing, although the posters led me to expect less than the quantity i actually witnessed of midget cock, balls and/or arsehole (how does he lift that weight, even with what are proportionally rather large tools?!) we accidentally bought VIP tickets and thus Paul calmly appreciated the artistry while i drank both of the little bottles of red wine we were given, plus a complimentary vodka lemonade, and spent most of the evening thinking a mixture of "HAHAHA WOW YAAY" and "I LIEK FISHNETS, I LIEK CORSETS" which i'm pretty sure is exactly what you're supposed to do anyway. it was immensely fun, they gave us free snacks and a tiny box of delicious truffles, and we even got to talk to the ringleader/owner afterwards (i did not say anything retarded, surprisingly.)

while that has exhausted my "fun stuff" budget for a while, i have got some cash left saved for experiments, so worry not. i'm not spending scalpel money on drink like some sort of *crazy person*.




chip upgrade

hey all. recently i upgraded my RFID chip to a writable version of the same basic protocol type (close-range passive and if i remember right it's still an EM4102 chip.) it's one of the ones from Dangerous Things (Amaal Graafstra's shop), which i'd happily recommend - he was able to arrange fast shipping, the chip arrived very well protected, etc. i also managed to source a newer, sleeker USB tag reader, although its range is awful compared to my old Phidgets one so i might just carry on using the old one. i even got hold of some topical benzocaine cream which is a first. that stuff was extremely useful & i might have to try it the next time i do any fingertip installations, since a lot of the difficulty with those comes from the pain and the toughness of the fascia in that area - having the area numbed might well mean i can go a bit slower, be a bit more precise with the depth of the needle puncture incision.

i did the chip installation at home, with my standard bleach-and-alcohol treatment for the table i was using and hibiscrub to sterilise the hand alongside sealed tools and glove for the other one. i figured out a long time ago that it's better to use a needle than a scalpel, so in the pix i'm gonna share here you'll see me making the incision with a 4mm sterile piercer's needle blade. i did also acquire two of the weird pre-loaded needle syringes a vet would use to install an animal's ID chip, but those turned out to be difficult to unload (you can't use an animal ID chip on a person cause they're specialised things that hold animal-specific information, can't be overwritten with any other info, and require a specialist reader and software what is very expensive.)

so here's some pix:

the needles and the reader. you can see some of the other gear in the background like the dressings etc.
the anaesthetic cream tubes i was using
preparing to do the incision. i don't have a static photo of when i actually put the bastard in unfortunately but there is video which will be released in one form or another later (see below).
this is the dressed wound; you can see the incision site by where the dot of blood is. i used a steristrip wound closure under there as well just to hold the site as closed as i could but it was pretty much overkill, it was a tiny hole that healed up exceptionally well.

the whole thing is very well healed now, had no healing problems whatsoever, changed dressing daily for a week and then it was pretty much done. the whole procedure was filmed too, by both Paul and some professionals, but i don't know what's happening with that footage so i can't release it to you yet or talk about what it's for. in all likelihood nothing will come of it and i can put Paul's video up here or on rutube for you after i get the go ahead, so watch this space or my twitter & i can let you know what goes down. i'm also currently working on something else, but no point posting about it until i know whether it's a viable experiment or not. if it fails spectacularly i'll post pix of that too just for the lulz.

carpe corporem




it begins! (again.) i think living independently is good for me. i feel like a burden when living off other people, and having my own place is always nice. more or less settled in now, all the account information has been updated, bills set up etc. had a slight hitch on Thursday (08.10.15) when my old Fedora laptop finally gave up the ghost. the HDD made an ominous, bomb-like ticking noise for a few minutes, the system abruptly stopped responding, then the power died and refused to power back on. no luck with diagnostics/repairs that night or the morning after, until one last Chinese reboot convinced the machine to power on and load GRUB. from here i was able to get into Fedora, but only after about seven or eight minutes of loading and fan noise... when i actually got the window manager up, i found it responding slower than if i were sending commands via satellite from the fucking Moon. the terminal was no exception. i'd click or press a key, and literally several entire minutes would go by before the machine reflected what i'd pressed by opening a menu, showing the typed character onscreen, switching windows or whatever. with this excruciatingly slow method, i transferred my WIP novel to an SD card (it was the only irreplaceable file, i'd lost its backup on USB in the moving chaos). the machine itself is unusable and not worth buying a replacement hard drive for, so i haven't lost any data this time, but i have lost that. a new one's coming in a few weeks. it's one of these nice cheap preloaded Ubuntu ones for poor people so it should suit me fine. i don't need an SSD or fifty terabytes of disk space or 16G RAM, i just need some form of Linux laptop so i can function.

and meds. i also need lots of pain meds so i can function.

this Hallowe'en i will be speaking about transhumanism and biohacking in Nottingham, not sure of the exact place and time yet. i'll put up a post and a twatter update when i do, it shouldn't be very expensive if anyone wants to show up.

other news: next planned work is to upgrade my first ever implant, the little RFID ampoule tag i used for the various access hacks i took out of RFID Toys. it's very old and not writable or secured, so i've been wanting a replacement chip for a long time & am now in a position to replace it. (i say "replace", i really mean "install a new one and just stop using the old one because it's a pain in the arse to get things back out from under the skin of the hands and i can't be bothered".) i have a few ideas re where to source a suitable tag. will update you all as i get there.




data loss

hdd totally fucked, power's on the fritz as well now. random outs. fans don't work all the time so i have a desk fan belonging to my roommate sitting behind the machine while i try to answer emails.

i've also lost the HOWTO files i was working on, and the list of people that wanted them, and all the operation documents/photos/videos i had before. fuck.

i'll start the skeletons off again tonight and when i finally do write the docs, i will just post them here and on some filesharing services. sorry if you emailed me and were told you'd be sent a copy - you won't, i had all your addresses in a text file and it's gone.

also i do know how to use PhotoRec etc. but the HDD was too far gone - recovery tools turned up fuck all on initial scan and i didn't have another disk to recover to anyway so i just zerofilled and reinstalled everything (plain reinstall failed and fucked GRUB up). now for the moment it works, but idk how long it will last. i wish i was better at repair work.

in meat news, i missed the last two days of this week but have gotten to more than average classes still. the Xanax isn't really suitable for listening intently to lectures though and one day i ended up just composing replies to people instead of taking notes, like a fucking slacker. well, i am a fucking slacker, but you know.

myself and Muad-Dib are down to £1.40 between us or so, now, apart from the change pot. my roommate uses so much TP that i think said change is gonna have to go on that instead of something a bit more useful (MD thinks she eats it.) Student Loans still haven't paid me or sent any letters, but it could just be slow post - still freaking me out. we're gonna go scouting Marks'n'Spanks for 10p discount food tonight on a tip from Daz, our homeless friend who lives in front of the alleyway to the flat.

here's hoping for 10p belgian truffles and 20p pork roasting joints, motherfuckers. otherwise we're gonna be the ones eating TP.


UPDATE: the bastard rich people in their Jimmy Choos and pashminas fucking beat us to it, and by the time we got there they'd already filled literally cartloads of the reduced stuff and were trailing the staff waiting for them to reduce more. we got basically nothing - a sausage roll and some lemonade. assholes. they don't even need all that, they could at least leave some for other people - just a few bits. we saw one lady in gold jewellery and a fur coat cleaning out an entire shelf of reduced meat - so there was literally none left for us - then paying for it with her debit card and saying "See you tomorrow" to the cashier. i hate people with no concept of sharing. we didn't want ALL the food, we just wanted SOME, you fucking dicks. we need to fucking eat.

shit. sorry. i'm just worried.



laptop's hdd is screwed. unmountable from any kind of bootable media nor from the OS itself, which isn't even getting to GRUB before it freezes. looked at it from a miraculously functional Ubuntu 10 live disc that had been loose in Muad-Dib's pocket - fucked. can't mount the encrypted volume that contains the Fedora distrib i've been living off for years, upgrading it again and again, waiting for the memory, or the hdd, or something else i can't fix without money, to break. looks like it has. the touchpad, DVD drive button, volume controls and keyboard all went long ago.

conducting memtest anyway. maybe it's actually a RAM problem somehow plx and i can just scavenge someone else's spare gig for it or see if i have some around here i might have stolen from somewhere... can't really remember what's in the box of gomi. i'm pretty sure it's fucked though. i'm gonna try to reinstall F14 (only disc i have and the DVD writer is on the fucked machine) then download another image and upgrade to... what is it now, 17? 17 beta? i'll lose all my bookmarks (pissed) but the fiction and all that shit is backed up or posted on the blog. if the box is completely boned i'll gut it and see if i can use the hdd as an external, scab the memory for something.

you know what caused this, the loss of my main frankenmachine and my current reliance upon a tiny, dying XP notebook my mum gave me for taking notes in lectures with?

fucking auto kernel updates. all i did was run the auto yum update and click the happy little YOU NEED TO REBOOT ME! icon on the taskbar. fuck.


PS. Xanax better than Valium. supply limited, but feeling less dead for the moment. pray to nothing it lasts; sometimes wish i believed in that shit for sheer placebo effect. the Suboxone stopped working completely this week and now i remember why i started taking morphine. working on finding an alternative, outlook piss poor though.

edit: memtest finds no problems. reinstall commencing. cock.


the things i do for biohacking, part 2

here is footage of the latest node-siting, completed about an hour ago. in this little flick you can see yours truly, in hood and surgical gloves, trying a new way to do this operation: i have my hand on an ice pack, and it's been in the freezer for about ten or fifteen minutes before the footage starts. this time i asked Muad-Dib, the other guy you see in the video, to do the puncture and shove the node in - doing it myself takes such a long time and is so fucking painful that we thought this way would be better. as it happens, it is; i still scream, but the process itself is far quicker.

i did try to strip the sound, but it wouldn't fucking encode, and i got pissed off with it, so fuck it. y'all can hear me screaming like a little girl. i've been told i sound like Jack from Mass Effect II, if that makes it any the less disturbing. also it came out all weird and high-pitched, fuck knows why. the quality is, as expected, godfuckingawful. apologies.

Muad-Dib does drop the node three or four times before he gets it in there. i had to evacuate the house so i wouldn't scare my roommates with the yelling, not that it bothered any of us. the guy filming is a buddy called Mike, who's a photography genius and remarkably unbothered by this.

goddamn, i do some fucking nasty things in the name of transhumanism.


the things i do for biohacking, part 1

okay, so i finally managed to get the photos of the pre-insertion test blob operation up here. i will try to format this shit correctly, but do bear in mind i went through with the node insertion itself about an hour ago and i'm consequently just a wee bittie fucked up. here is the blob of Sugru i made as a test node:

here it is next to a standard Swann-Morton 24 blade so that you can see the size; it's about 4mm diameter, i think:

this is both of them - the other one is the hot-glue blob. i sterilised both components in standard surgical spirit before i did anything, in a fucking teacup of all things:

then, like the idiot i am, i started cutting holes in myself (the goal of this particular session of batshit insanity, as you recall, being to get the neodymium node out of the back of my hand and then to insert the test blobs of Sugru and hot glue into the hole left behind.) as ever, the initial cuts are bad, but as soon as you do any real damage to yourself, you get an adrenaline rush to the area that inhibits bloodflow and turns you into a bad enough dude to finish the job. it took me a very long time to get the node out from under my skin; it was pretty deep down, and all this fibrous, stretchy shit had grown around it that just didn't wanna let go. i had to use my fingernails to grab the bundle of fibrous crap, pull it out of my hand as far as it would go, and slice its "roots" out from under it with the scalpel blade, then cut the remains from around the node once it was out; i couldn't photograph that both because it was fucking nasty and because i needed both hands. this is the resulting mess:

and this is the freed neodym, kicking about in the teacup of ethanol:

note the rust you can see on its side; that's where a snick in the silicon/gold coating had caused some damage. i fixed it with superglue last night, but fuck knows if it will hold; i figured i'd find out. if anything does happen, at least it won't be toxic to me. after i finally fucking got that out, i shoved the two blobs under the lips of the wound and cleaned it up. here you can see the size of the incision, and the Sugru blob at the south end. the glue blob was at the north end, but as previously and reluctantly stated, i've now lost the fucker.

in this photo you can also see the weird, white area around the wound where no blood is flowing; i am half-sure that this is because of adrenaline from where i shoved in the blobs. see also the little scar next to the opsite, which is from an old and rather pathetic attempt of mine to see how much i could make myself bleed by opening veins; i got nothing from that save a patch of numbness around the area, since in severing the vein i also severed a nerve. gg, Anonym. here is a rather cool-looking picture of the blade i used for this episode:

and here's the hand all bandaged up with some totally unnecessary Overkill 9000-size dressings i had lying around:

then i went and had a bowl of muesli. the end. oh, and here are some Arduino shock shields and press-buttons invading my workspace in the lab to get to a Penguin caffeinated mint:

biohacker out.



progress bar

no infection or irritation so far; in fact the site's doing pretty well, although i had to put superglue out of the toolbox in it yesterday. if all is still calm by next week, i will take it that Sugru doesn't cause major immediate damage to the interior of the human body, although it could still be damaging in the long-term. i'm not so bothered about that, since anything that fucked me up over a long period of time has historically been detected by people giving me biopsies and scans and shit and sliced the fuck out before it could do any real damage.

if it works, then, i'll probably use the sugru to coat up both the parts of the modified Northpaw for implantation and two plain pieces of Nd in order to complete my array. i have the node that came out of my hand the other day ready for re-insertion, but i'm waiting on supplies.

and i'm scared shitless of how much it's gonna hurt, of course. i'll have a spotter to video that one. pictures of the blob-siting tonight with any luck.



blobs sited

i didn't manage to get the crackberry filming (too hard to rig a position where its tiny field of view can see enough shit - needs someone holding it), but i did take pictures. i'll be posting them up as soon as i can get them off that fucking excuse for a phone. (at least it isn't a fucking iPhone, i guess.) also if anyone knows of a good way to zero-fill or strip the EXIF data, i'd appreciate the entire technically-savvy biohacker underground not getting hold of my crackberry PIN.

experimental blobs of bright fucking orange Sugru and freshly melted hot-glue are now present in a gaping wound in the back of my hand, no anaesthesia required. i have filled said wound with ethanol. i dunno exactly how long it'll be until we see whether or not they'll decay, but i'm sure i'll find out.

irritatingly i snicked the node when i was getting it out, and although the gold appears unscratched, there's a big fuckoff hole in the silicon. i intend to hotglue that shut and all, once i'm sure it's sterile (it's sitting in the fridge in a coffee cup full of industrial bleach, HiBiScrub and surgical spirit, where it'll remain until at least tomorrow.) cross your fucking fingers, fellow hackers.

(brb, hospital.)



note on positioning

something i should warn you guys about: when placing nodes in the fingertips, they have to go on opposite sides of each finger than the one next to it. for example, if you were starting with your left hand, you would (for practical reasons) only use the three fingers starting with the little one and ending at the middle; you would put the nodes on the left side of the middle finger, the right side of the next one and on the right side again in the little finger.

to my annoyance, i discovered weeks ago that i'd failed to observe this, and thus the nodes in my left two outermost fingers set each other off every now and then when i'm trying to sleep or type or what have you. another fuckup for general education.



haptic compass: hardware

i've just recieved a rather large amount of money at an award ceremony, and i know what i'm going to spend it on. food, schmood, because i think i have some better ideas for the control of the haptic compass than using my colleagues' original circuitry, which is rather large.

enter the very tiny MSP430, a little microcontroller i think would do a better job. all i would have to do would be:

- figure out a way to attach the little compass module to the MSP430
- get some fucking neuroelectrodes and attach them to its outputs (jesus christ, but it's hard to get hold of those things)
- bioproof the bundle thereby created (not hard, since all it takes is a hot glue gun)
- stop! scalpel time.

of course, i would also have to program the MSP. i'll need to ask the Noisebridge guys, but i think the logic would go something like this:

while (poweron)
get north direction from compass module;
cast to a degree out of 360;
figure out which electrode's "domain" that number falls into;
activate that electrode;

i'm pretty sure the way to go is to have each electrode responsible for a segment of the compass circle, i.e. 0-45 degrees activates electrode no.1, 45-90 activates no.2, etc. if all went to plan following this design, it'd mean zero transdermal components - the whole thing would be subdermal, which is far easier to keep sterile and far more likely to heal, plus naturally waterproof. it would be a big, big cavity to carve out though; i might need some real anaesthesia.

still, sounds like fun, right guys?



i'm retired from the human race

due to the diligence of my newfound readership (hat tip Ian), you can find my queer ass on an obscure YouTube video from last year, hosted under my nasty ex-partner's account. it's about how to insert nodes on the back of your hand, which tbh is a pretty worthless procedure, but someone (i forget) asked me for video.

or you can find it at said abusive's account. bear in mind i haven't spoken to him in a year, so i don't want anyone going all OMG UR EX SENT ITS ARMY HERE CUZ YOUR A CUNT. he is a cunt, but that's beside the point; i was a cunt while we were together as well, albeit less so.

enjoy, marvel, speculate on what the fuck that is on the back of my wrist.



i'm not complaining, but

some shit i just don't understand. viz.: your average bus driver; paid cashmoney to be at the public's service, answer questions about public transport and interact reasonably politely with plebs; universally surly, often to the point of assholery.

tech guy Navid: paid to admin the University CSD's bigass new Sun Beowulf, does not have to deal with anyone who doesn't make it to his hermitage of an office. when accosted in the corridor by yours truly, jibbering excitedly about clusters and research institutes, not only does not tell me to fuck off, but gets other tech guy Nikhil to install two machines with the Sun Grid Engine in the public labs expressly for junkieface to play with. i'm just an undergrad. i don't know if it's because i'm president of CS or because i look like a cancer victim, but that was done purely out of Navid being awesome.

i fucking love university.



implant synergy, part 1: reed sensors

a reed sensor is a little component that detects the presence or absence of a magnet. i've been blethering with a colleague about using them in conjunction with the magnets in my hands - it has interesting applications; like if you had three of them (say two on your keyboard and one on the monitor of your laptop) you could use them to interpolate the position of your hands in real time. that is, you could program the laptop to only switch the backlight on when you're actually using it, or to lock the screen as soon as you step away.

what's even cooler is that you can factor in the RFID chip in my hand, too. that is, you could program the book not just to only let people in when they show an RFID tag with my hex code, but also to then make sure they have the same magnetic configuration i do (which would be pretty hard to fake.)

i'm gonna have to get some of these things to play with. sayonara, wages.


the curve, or why i'm glad i'm not dead

seems like the learning curve for your first research job is pretty steep, especially one where you're expected to be almost completely independent - here, i've just been given an overarching task ("see if this cool clustered Linux workstation idea is viable for what we want to use it for") and a lab full of hardware to set it up in, plus a knowledgeable superior to ask questions of if i need it. this is my third week now, and in two weeks i've learnt:

- better bash scripting
- the structure, merits and disadvantages of cluster systems Kerrighed and openMosix
- how to use Debian-based systems, especially Ubuntu and the NERC's BioLinux
- practical (i.e. kludge) networking
- Beowulf cluster theory and architecture
- how to patch and recompile the Linux kernel
- how to use vi
- not to fear machines without a monitor or keyboard
- all about PXE booting
- how to SSH into remote machines without being a floundering idiot
- not to fear setting up your own servers
- way too much about NFS, GlusterFS, and XtreemOS/XtreemFS
- how to get around a crappily-written government wiki and edit it without the European professors who contribute to it kicking your ass for being retarded
- how to use skype (yeah, i didn't know how before.)
- how to build machines from scratch without shorting anything out or electrocuting my part-metallic ass
- the difference between IDE and SATA drives (yeah, that's another fucking duh thing i shoulda already known)
- how to network printers under Linux

...and how to use a filter coffee machine that's older than i am.

my head is so full of new stuff, i'm fairly sure i'm gonna lose a language or something to make space, like all the Japanese or Python is gonna drain out of my brain because it's full of init.d commands. this has got to be the steepest learning curve i've ever encountered, and it's fucking brilliant - i have never learned this much in two weeks, ever. the best thing is that there's so much more to go - i've got another two and a half months of this, and next week a cluster guru from Milan arrives so i can pester him with questions he'd expect from his seven-year-old kid rather than his twenty-year-old colleague. and as if all that wasn't enough, i might get to go to Milan myself to go see said guru's research institute and help him build a cluster like my prototype - Linux and hardware and a chance to practice my Italian and my favourite summer food in the whole Union, delicious chocolate semifreddo!

the downside is that i've been getting up at six and going to bed at one, so i look... frightening. i'm as white as my coffee mug and the shadows under my eyes are getting frankly Gothtacular - like i've said before, i look a bit like Bela Lugosi dressed up for an all-night rave. (i'm gonna look even worse after i shave my head for Cancer Research.) i'm pretty much permanently exhausted, but it's so utterly worth it that i wouldn't mind surviving on four or even three hours a night indefinitely if it meant this kind of knowledge access.

knowledge, people, software, freedom and fun - man, i am so fucking glad to be alive.