Hacking Rhetoric

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Hackee Response

Despite knowing a hack on my account was inevitable, I was still thoroughly surprised when it finally did arrive. Meagan orchestrated a spamming hack, which felt both very real and strange. On the blog posts of other classmates, Meagan utilized my account to leave comments that were, in essence, advertisements for her own blog posts.I felt very uneasy seeing my name used to write posts I had not endorsed. It was almost like having an evil twin or being a ghost– watching your posts but having no control over them whatsoever… I felt like I had really been hacked! It was awesome how Meagan used a format for her hack that was very different than the rest of the classes– It was totally unexpected and so similar to the spam bot hacks I see on twitter or facebook that it felt totally real. After my initial shock, I found it totally hilarious!

Meagan alerted me to the spambot hacks through an update to my own lifehacks post. Im glad she enjoyed the post! It was fun to experiment with beer. In Meagan’s hacker statement she mentioned the hacking assignment as a fun way to get to know someone better in class who you may not have gotten to know otherwise– and I feel this certainly goes the same for getting hacked as well! Live Oak HefeWeizen is my all time favorite beer too:)

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Hacker Artist Statement

The ‘target’ for my hack was Sammy! Luckily she friended me on facebook (possibly as a guise for my true hacker Meagan??) before I could add her, so I hoped this coincidence would give my hack a certain ‘element of surprise’. After a little stalking, I deduced her password and logged in… now… time to hack!!

Sammy’s 3D printer story particularly struck me because I’ve gotten to play with a 3D printer once… and it was awesome. But here was this horror story about something I had seemingly thought was so mundane! All I made was a little wood carving, yet hackers were making spare keys to someone’s home with a mere photo of the lock. I found 3D printers utilization to make keys extremely disconcerting. Her phonetic ‘encryption’ of keys are no longer private really grabbed my attention as well; I wanted to learn more about that, too. With my hack I choose to incorporate a similar format to Sammy’s original post, but instead show another facet of 3D printing. The medical achievements 3D printing facilitates are truly astounding– from affordable prosthetic limbs http://www.iflscience.com/technology/man-makes-3d-printed-prosthetic-hand-son-only-10 to printed organs, 3D printing will revolutionize access to medicine in terms of affordability and availability for patients. Not to mention the innovations yet to be built!

But, Just as Sammy discussed in her summary of a hack on making keys with a 3D printer, not all printed items are so beneficial nor heartwarming…

“It’s about liberation of information. It’s about living in a world where you download the file for the thing you want to make… As the printing press revolutionized literacy, 3D printing is in its moment….

…With the free and distributed nature of file sharing on the internet there is no longer the threat of certain information, and thus, certain material objects, can be denied provision to men and women who need them.” -Cody Wilson

These quotes from the video, once distanced from the source, are ideologically appealing, ringing of free information and open access. Yet, I find open access in regards to guns thoroughly chilling. As with many new technologies, there is often a duality of benefit and harm. Defense Distributed and the Wiki Weapon certainly open up the dialogue of tech frontiers in the age of the 3D printer– and one giant can of worms.

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SQL Injection Hacks

During our analysis of “Hack This Site”, I noticed the header ad for the “NETSPARKER”– a tool that would scan your website searching for SQL injection vulnerabilities. I just happened to learn what this particular hack was last night while browsing Kevin (security consultant and hacker icon) Mitnick’s twitter timeline:

I did not get what was so funny at all, but it seemed to make all these hackers lol– I had to figure out what was going on!

Search bars, login portals… entry fields on a website can be a vulnerable point of access hackers may attempt to exploit. As I understand it, (and I could very well be wrong, so if any of y’all have a better explanation please jump in!)SQL is a programming language utilized for database management. A hacker may enter interjection commands into the entry field, such as the ones seen healthcare.gov’s search autocomplete above, in order to gain access to the database. These interjections seem to be a fairly simple hack, as well as fairly simple to secure against. I found an article on hackthissite.org discussing sql interjections– learning how to hack a site is a good way to understand how to make your own site more secure. Yet, the site does encourage curiosity, as well as ‘sticking it to the man’. Maybe some trainees from the hacker underground were looking for vulns??

This XKCD also humourously references an SQLI attack (with explanation!): http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php?title=327:_Exploits_of_a_Mom

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Artist Statement: Hack of a Summary of a Hack

The hack I summarized last week was a “phone phreak”. I focused in particular on phone phreaker Joybubbles, a hacker born blind with perfect-pitch, who would whistle various frequencies to gain access to the inner workings of the telephone network. By using his whistles, he could place long-distance calls for free. He first figured out this hack when he was 8 years old, but his fascination with phones would continue throughout his life. Abused and lonely as child, Joybubbles could escape into the auditory world of the telephone. It was a great joy for him to hear the dial tones, speak with operators, and make tele-friends the world over. For my hack of the summary, I wanted to utilize sound in order to convey Joybubble’s fascination with aural aspects of the telephone, as well as further illustrate the means by which this hack was carried out- tones and whistles.


My popcorn video incorporates vintage footage from telephone ads, as well as clips from the PBS television show Borders in which Joybubbles is featured. Also utilized were audio recordings of Joybubbles himself and friend and fellow phreaker Steven Gibb. The recordings were compiled by artist Rachel Morrison as part of “JOYBUBBLES: TELEPHONE PROJECT”. The audio project may be listened to in full by dialing (718) 362-9578.

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Blue Blog: Ada Lovelace Day

Yesterday was Ada Lovelace Day! But, I found myself asking, who exactly is Ada Lovelace?
I took to the web and found this video: a succinct introduction to the legendary lady. Ada is heralded as ‘the first computer programmer’ for her algorithm for Bernoulli numbers, but just as impressive as the program itself is her communication of Babbage’s analytical machine(the precursor of today’s computer) through extensive notes, as well as her visionary foresight for the machine’s capabilities. I think in someways this makes her one of the first ‘computer hackers’ as well. She took Babbage’s machine, and demonstrated an even deeper understanding than the creator himself! Tinkering, exploring, she wrote her algorithm out of fascination for the new technology and the math. She saw what many of her contemporaries could not see- a future where this kindof machine could compose music, create graphics. It may be a stretch to call her a hacker, but to me, she embodies the true hacker ethic.

The day serves not only to honour Ada, but all heroines of science and tech. I dedicate Ada Lovelace day 2013 to my heroines– my science and math teachers growing up. To Mrs. Green, who didn’t think Pre-K was to young to grasp the elegance of evolution. To Mrs. Larry, who made physics awesome (and let us go to a theme park for a field trip!!). To Mrs. Schafer, the kindest, most patient, encouraging teacher I have ever known. To Mrs. Brogenski, for being a total badass and teaching us from a virtual classroom.. on a volcano… in Antarctica… To Mrs. Angus, for turning me on to my favorite STEM field– biology! To Prof. Cooper, one of the most effective, elegant science communicators I have ever encountered– if not for your class I would not be in CNS at UT today. And to Mrs. Wright, who let me take the 3rd grade sci-class bunny ‘vanilla’ home with me for a whole summer… he was so cute ^-^

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Blue Blog: Life –> Hacked, Beer –> Hacked

Late post on my week of life hacks! This week I attempted to hack the universe within– my brain. I utilized suggested memory techniques from lifehacker while studying for two midterms.http://lifehacker.com/how-your-memory-works-and-three-ways-to-improve-it-1370487727 When it came time to take the test, the technique I ended up implementing most was ‘verbatim memorization”. This memory hack was somewhat risky in that I felt it utilized the most ‘brain space’ as well as time. The key to this memory technique is choosing the specific memorization target– which information will prove most relevant to the test. Though it took time and effort, the questions I answered thanks to this hack made it worth wile. I also feel that I have retained the studied material far better than if I had just ‘crammed’ it all in there. I believe the effects of this hack will be long lasting and prove to strengthen my comprehension of forthcoming concepts.

After hacking the mind all week, I wanted to try hacking an object I interact with every day– my french press. I was interested in some french press hacks as I had been trying out cold brewing as well as using my press to make maté. I stumbled upon this site, http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/05/randall-at-home-use-a-french-press-to-infuse-beer-with-hops-spices-cocoa-nibs.html, and knew I had to attempt this hack. I thoroughly enjoy sampling new, exciting libations of the beer variety. The grapefruit ginger infused IPA looked particularly appealing to me.

Step 1:  Zest grapefruit and ginger

Step 1: Zest grapefruit and ginger

Add zest and some grapefruit to the press, pour in IPA of your choosing.


Let fruit, zest, and beer steep. Instructions suggested 3 minute wait, but we had better success with a 2 minute steeping period; the beer’s carbonation was better preserved this way.

Now... press!!

Now… press!


A delicious IPA with refreshing, vibrant citrus notes.

A delicious IPA with refreshing, vibrant citrus notes courtesy of a hacked french press!

I decided to hack this post for no reason other than I love beer (of course) and I definitely want to try this hack at home. Live Oak Hef and Blue Moon are two of my favorite beers which are zesty and citrus flavored- so I am excited to try this! I don’t have a french press but I have a friend that does and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind letting me borrow it.

I also will give the memory hack a try- having multiple exams in a week is definitely stressful for all of us. I am guilty of cramming the night before an exam and always tell myself that “I do better under pressure” but that is probably not true. Maybe after a stressful finals week, I can try the beer hack.

I chose this blog post because life hacks are my favorite category of hacking. Life hacks can be done by virtually anybody and are there to make life easier and more efficient for people of all ages. I was pretty nervous when I enrolled for this class because I am not exactly the best with computers and technology but I found my place in the hacking world through life hacks.

Your hacker
(Meagan Milligan)

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Blue Blog: Memory Hacks

Lifehacker’s guide to improving memory is the lifehack I will be attempting this week. I plan to implement their three memorization tips while studying for my neural systems exam this week. I am looking forward to taking such a cognitive approach to my studies as I study the brain.

The three techniques lifehacker provides are:

1. The Memory Palace

2. The Peg System

3. Memorization of Text, Verbatim

I do not feel that I study very effectively. I have never settled on one method and I am easily distracted. I hope these mind tricks well help me hone in on a study style that will work best for my brain. I am eager to give these a shot and see how effective they really are! Once midterms are done, I may give this hack a shot, too: http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/05/randall-at-home-use-a-french-press-to-infuse-beer-with-hops-spices-cocoa-nibs.html?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+seriouseatsfeaturesvideos+%28Serious+Eats%29


Blue Blog: Hackerspaces and Safespaces

I found the  reading  “Feminist Hackerspaces as Safer Spaces?”  very thought-provoking. I have visited very inclusive, open, and friendly hackerspaces, and though they were not specifically for women,  I felt perfectly safe and at ease. Many of the spaces’ by-laws worked to construct a “safespace” environment for all members of the community– the #1 tenet of the first havckerspace I ever visited was “Be Excellent (to each other)”. The wiki on safe-spaces quotes Advocates for Youth, defining a safe-space as:  “A place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability ; a place where the rules guard each person’s self-respect and dignity and strongly encourage everyone to respect others”. I wish for all communities to strive to be safe-spaces. But, the term safe-space is unsettling to me,  and maybe others are perturbed by it as well. To me, the word ‘safe’ has connotations of being safe *from* someone. It conjures images of both a victim and a predator. Safe is a word with weight, and I worry it may serve to exclude rather than facilitate inclusion.  I feel like this sense of ‘other’ that ‘safe’ can convey is detrimental to all members of a community– queer or straight, male or female.

The author mentioned the term ‘radical inclusion’ early in the piece– perhaps this could be a more fitting moniker? A google search of radical inclusion lead me straight to burning man–It is one of the ten principles of the festival. “We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.” Bullying, harassment, and violence can not be tolerated. All deserve safety. Yet, I cant help but feel that ‘safespace’ just isn’t the right word for the ideal it connotes.  This piece really was a sort of can of worms for me– got a lot to contemplate on!