The Best of 2019

Here is my fifth installment of the best things I’ve found, learned, read, etc. over the past year. These things are listed in no particular order, and may not necessarily be new.

See the 2018 post here!
See the 2017 post here!
See the 2016 post here!
See the 2015 post here!

This annual “Best Of” series is inspired by @fogus and his blog, Send More Paramedics.

Favorite Blog Posts Read

I end up reading a lot of articles over the course of the year, and cannot possibly remember all of them. Here is a good selection of that ones that I can recall:

Articles I’ve Written for Other Publications

I’ve continued to write outside of my own site in 2019, but all of this material has gone into NODE VOL 01. Below is a list of articles included in that volume. All articles are freely available by downloading the zine.

  • “Editor’s Letter” – An introduction to the zine.
  • “Dat Project 101” – Overview of the Dat protocol, including an explanation of underlying technologies and usage.
  • “So God Made a Farmer” – A look at farmers as hackers and tinkerers, highlighting issues the idea of ownership and involvement in the Right to Repair movement.
  • “Chattervox Tutorial” – Shows how to use Chattervox, an application that allows cryptographically secure chat over amateur radio.
  • “Ricochet IM” – Explanation and usage of Ricochet IM, secure chat over the Tor network.
  • “Bulletin Board Systems Today” – A list of currently-running bulletin board systems you can access today.
  • “Mesh Networking Basics” – Introduction to mesh networking technologies and examples of current mesh groups.
  • “MNT Reform: Open Source DIY Laptop” – Showcase of the MNT Reform laptop.
  • “Deciphering the Lexicon” – Definitions of common terms for the decentralized world.

Number of Books Read

A disappointing number this year 🙁


Still Need to Read

Dream Machines, Literary Machines, Design Patterns, 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10

Favorite Music Discovered

John Maus

Favorite Television Shows

Mr. Robot (2015)

Favorite Podcasts

Reply All, 99% Invisible, My Brother, My Brother and Me, Darknet Diaries

Favorite YouTube Subscriptions

Johnson’s Gee-rage, Vinsauce: The Full Sauce, GameGrumps, DIY Solar Power with Will Prowse, Techmoan

Programming Languages Used for Work/Personal

Java, JavaScript, TypeScript, Python, Bash, Batch, PowerShell.

Life Events of 2019

Life Changing Technologies Discovered

  • Othernet – Low-cost satellite datacasting.
  • DreamPi – Present-day online play for the Dreamcast using the ubiquitous dial-up adapter interfaced with a Raspberry Pi.
  • Plex – While I had previously heard of Plex, I got to use and run it for the first time this year. A big step up from Kodi and Samba shares.
  • Anderson Powerpole Connectors – The best power connectors for DC electrical power.
  • iFlash – Aftermarket SD card adapters for various models of the iPod. Perfect for replacing againg hard disks with more abundant, more reliable, less expensive storage.

Favorite Subreddits

I’ve taken a lot of steps away from Reddit this year and only reduced what I check down to a handful of subreddits.

/r/amateurradio, /r/retrobattlestations

Conferences Attended

Unfortunately, BarCamp Philly 2019, Pumpcon 2019, and Radical Networks 2019 were all booked for the same weekend this year. I hope to make it to Pumpcon in 2020!

Completed in 2019

Plans for 2020

  • Write for stuff I’ve written for already (NODE, Lunchmeat, Neon Dystopia, 2600).
  • Write for new stuff (Do you have a publication that needs writers?), maybe Paged Out!
  • Participate in more public server projects (ntp pool, etc.).
  • Do more work with packet radio.
  • Get a fully-working PBX on NPSTN and connect my vintage phones.
  • Restore a vintage payphone I already own.
  • Restore a vintage Ms. Pac-Man cocktail cabinet I already own.
  • Play with LoRa.
  • Build a blue box.
  • Start a dial-up ISP?

See you in 2020!


Belated News: NODE VOL 01 and Presenting at Radical Networks 2019

I was quite busy in 2019 and worked on two big things that were never shared here. Both were fairly large undertakings for me, and I figured it was good to make note of them here.


I served as the editor for the premier issue of the NODE zine, a really cool publication to come out of NODE (which you may likely recognize from its video offering). Production of the first issue took many months, and while I had worked previously writing content for NODE, editing proved to be a new and different animal. That said, I also ended up writing a handful of articles for the issues, and am currently working towards production of a second! The zine is licensed under Creative Commons, and is available freely to download via the Dat network. A physical version was released but is currently sold out.

NODE VOL 01 is an 150 page zine for the NODE community. Volume 1 is packed with features on P2P projects, such as Dat, Beaker Browser, Ricochet IM, Aether, and more. There are many tutorials showing projects like the new NODE Mini Server, how to 3D print long range wifi antennas, how to chat via packet radio, and how to do things like Libreboot the Thinkpad X200. There’s also a handy open source directory at the back, along with lots more.

Radical Networks 2019 — BGP: The Internet’s Fragile Beast

In October of 2019, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Radical Networks conference in New York City. My talk was on Border Gateway Protocol, the sort of invisible glue that holds the Internet together. The talk is available for download in odp format as well as pdf!

BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) manages how all of our packets are routed across the Internet. It is one of the most powerful and important protocols currently deployed on the ‘net, but it is also incredibly fragile. Devised as a quick fix 30 years ago (without concern for security), BGP is constantly blamed in the news as Internet outages occur worldwide due to misconfigurations by multinational telecommunications conglomerates or hijackings by government actors.

This talk will demystify the misunderstood protocol that is BGP, and explain how entities exchange giant flows of data across the Internet, highlight past misuses, and consider what we may be able to expect in the future.

See you all in 2020!