The Resistors - Part 001
The not-too-distant future
Chapter 0: #NYCResistor
========================== #NYCResistor on Freenode =============================== ====Channel Topic: We're busy :) Talk to the bot. /msg georgyo if you need a human ====Type INFO for info topics, or HELP for more commands =================================================================================== JB1998: INFO ResistorBot: What would you like to know? Type INFO ResistorNet INFO ResistorHQ INFO WhoIsResistor INFO ResistorBot INFO ResistorReplication JB1998: INFO ResistorNet ResistorBot: ResistorNet is the network of ad-hoc wifi nodes scattered throughout the city in strategic locations, providing access to up to 16,384 concurrent connections and more than 27 million individual connections so far. New nodes are being added all the time, and we need help keeping the network up and growing. Your access to the internet depends on it. ResistorNet is installed and maintained by the volunteer members of NYCResistor with support from various government and private partners. Type INFO WhoIsResistor for more information. JB1998: INFO WhoIsResistor ResistorBot: NYCResistor was founded in 2008 by a group of individuals in NYC to encourage creativity around electronics, hardware, software, and to provide a community space where members could hack on projects. With the motto "We learn, share, and make things" the group taught classes, advanced now well-known open technologies such as RepRap and Arduino, and hosted technologists from around the world. After the Oil Crash of 2011, the members of NYC Resistor rallied along with staff members of the former telcoms and other network support providers (especially Google -thanks Google, we <3 you) to keep as many people in NYC connected as possible. The rudimentary infrastructure and networking they provided was crucial in keeping communities together, helping coordinate rescue and emergency efforts, and stabilizing the region. 6 years later, the network continues to grow and serve a vital role in maintaining and rebuilding NYC, as well as keeping regional networks connected to the main wireless backbone and online. JB1998: Not for long. JB1998 disconnected.
"Heya Pip!" - Adam yelled across the rooftop, his voice cutting across the breeze on the roof, while the wind and heat on the black tar-paper swirled together, making the edges of his vision dance.
Across the roof and meters above, a petite woman looked towards him from her perch on the side of the water-tower and let out an excited squeal. "Phooky!" She yelled, and jumped up and down a few times while waving, soldering iron still in hand. The rickety supports around the water-tower turned network antenna groaned under her movement, but held tight.
"I'll be right down!" she shouted as she waved. She started to bound towards the ladder, and stopped herself short, muttering a quiet "shoot" as she turned back to quickly finish her soldering and unplug the iron.
Adam stepped under the rusting metal supports and into the bright, hot sun on the rooftop. He pulled the goggles from around his neck and used them to hold his longish hair back in the breeze. Around him stood the skeletons of half-finished condos, the remnants of a new Brooklyn long since abandoned. He could just make out the antennas hanging off the edges of the buildings, bouncing connectivity to their central hub on the water tower. As he heat rippled upwards, he imagined he was seeing the data flow from this roof - their roof - to the rest of the city, and so much farther from there.
Adam's mind wandered amid the gains and reflections of a veritable symphony of phantom signals tantalizing his imagination. Time slipped away and the world became noise, soon to be squelched. If not for the explosion of sound emanating from the stair well, a quantity of precious time would have been squandered on a world far removed from the reality that quickly came rushing back, and with it the urgency of a new age. The fires of warehouses burning had lit up the skies as the once invincible gotham real estate market finally collapsed under it's own weight. The rising plumes of smoke were the last escaping breaths of a metropolis who would now face death or rebirth at the hands of it's uncaring caretakers. Turning his back both on the realities of the day, and the burning sun, Adam sought the source of disturbance that had wrested him from his reprieve.
Adam was nearly crushed as an overly large black mass was catapulted through the doorway he was now approaching. Following the now identified duffel bag was George, obviously the source of the bags brief flight. George had long since given up his once trademark afro and now his cranium glistened under the looming blaze of our celestial fulcrum. Inquisitiveness overpowered anger at the lack of proper precautions in the duffel's preflight preparations, and Adam found himself staring at the duffel as George greeted him with another launch. This time Adam was able to react in time and quickly pulled the doomed bottle of club mate from the sky. The coolness of the glass temporarily jamming his senses became the object of his attention. Only after having downed the first few mouthfuls of the liquid did Adam's attention return to the project that was quite literally unfolding before him. The 18 foot diameter balloon was being quickly unfurled.
"Uhh, George?" Adam asked, one eyebrow raised, and a smile creeping across his face.
"Server's down," George offered.
"So, um, what's with the balloon?"
"Oh. I gotta get to the Etsy building and reboot it by hand," George said, as he worked quickly to unpack the balloon and rig it to some contraption nearby.
"Naturally," Adam said, taking a swig of mate. "Why not walk?"
"It'll take hours to cut through the market on Flatbush, it's so busy now, and I've gotta get up to the roof there anyway, and..." George stopped for a moment to look at Adam while he spoke as the balloon inflated and sprang to life behind him, quickly filled from unseen source. "and besides, have you ever, in 9 years, known me to do something the easy way?" he finished, smiling broadly as he stepped onto the wicker platform at the base of the balloon.
"No, no I haven't," Adam answered, smiling, as George steadied himself and the balloon's rigging strained against the platform he was standing on.
George was startled by the pull of the balloon as it was caught in a sudden gust of hot winds. Before he knew it he was hurtling down the cavernous lanes of fulton mall. With a deft hand, a steady eye, and the most girl like screams a man has ever expelled from his lungs, George was off on a new adventure. One he would not soon forget...
Back on the rooftop, Alicia poked her head over the lip of the upper railing and simply stated "I could have sworn I heard George up here." Adam coolly sipped his mate as his free hand directed the attention of Pip to the absurd spectacle quickly making its way toward Etsy. Alicia, often capable of commenting on any event was literally at a loss for words as she came to the full realization of what was occurring. Finally she mused "I wonder who gets to tell Bre his high altitude balloon has become the property of privateers seeking plunder in distant labs." Adam's wry look was proof enough she had successfully achieved her normal level of conversational success. Rolling back from the ledge she found herself again underneath the shadowy recesses of resistor's new satellite dish. She was unanimously selected at the prior meeting to be the one to install and configure the transmitter. "French, why is it always French!" she cursed as she attempted to decrypt another page in the installation manual.
Adam picked up the remnants of George's balloon upon finishing his mate. He could hear, through the wafting breeze, the sounds of Alicia as she argued with the manual she was now tasked to translate. Looking to the west he could see the shift in color that heralded the coming of twilight. He made his way inside. The Resistor headquarters had been on Bridge Street since it's inception in 2008. The building itself had been one of the tallest on it's block and thus avoided demolition as the area became the proposed site of the next "wall street" so to speak.
Of course that never came to pass.
As economies the world over failed one into the next the once infallible real estate market of New York City soon found itself for the first time in many decades without footing. Multinational companies consolidated or collapsed, and smaller businesses had already been forced out of the city. It was soon apparent that there was no longer any reason to develop new real estate. Manhattan had become an island in so many more ways than it had ever been before. As the world collapsed the economically powerful clung together in their penthouse strongholds. The city remained a bastion of luxury and safety for those that could afford it, but even that was a lie these days.
The subway is the root system of this city. Power, plumbing, culture... it all pumps through those concrete veins. But now, the disease of poverty had begun to infect Manhattan as it had the rest of the nation, and in a distant reality, the world. However, Manhattan did not have a monopoly on luxuries, while Fulton Mall itself had never been more popular, the buildings in the area had never been more empty. What had once been a workshop confined to a single lopht space had grown. Now the entire building, with the exception of the 4th floor had become Resistor. Ironically, our once nemesis on the fourth floor had now become a god send. The racist idiot holed up there had connections with the local police and a general reputation as being unstable which had protected the building from the riots, and general crime.
In a way it was comforting to know that even now, in the dying days of this city, old New York was there a steady constant upon which this city could still yet find purchase.
Adam descended 3 floors. He entered "The Club", a common space for members who were in downtime. As more and more members found themselves stranded by the failing subways, and dangerous streets the need to provide quarters to those who needed them climbed. A floor of the building had become devoted to housing those working long hours or who were visiting from other spaces. Visits were rare these days. With an exhale of stale air the couch Adam slumped into accepted him into the finite depths of its comfort. Adam closed his eyes.
It had been a long time since anyone visited. The airline industry had been nationalized 5 years ago, when Jet Blue the last remaining giant filed for chapter 11 for the third time. At that point, the TSA had already taken over so much of the day to day operations of airports throughout the nation that simply nationalizing the infrastructure was making formal what everyone already knew to be a fact of life. Declining availability of fuel, and the slowing economy had made flight a luxury in cost, and a prison like experience. Now, no one traveled.
Adam couldn't sleep, the mate had done it's job well. He fought off the gripping warmth of the couch and made his way towards the kitchen. An aroma caught his attention.... it smelt like... cake. Alicia's latest concoction sat under wraps, but the clues to it's capabilities provided Adams appetite with a touch of apprehension. There in the trash was the safety seal for what looked to be a small propane tank. Where had Alicia even gotten propane?
Fuel shortages were now a way of life. Since the 23 day war that occurred in the middle east, the oil capital had become pure anarchy. It began with a kidnapping, this time by the Israelis. But soon it was a 4 way battle royal as Israeli, United Hezbollah, Sunni, and Pakistani forces went to town on each other. Watching the highlights on CNN was almost cathartic for a time. It was as if the world had finally hit rock bottom, and maybe now once the dust had settled things would get better for everyone. Looking back though, it was a foolish thought. As the borders disappeared, and the UN turned a blind eye, the region collapsed into what can best be described as utter instability. Israel and Pakistan retreated, and the world community looked on unwilling to bloody their hands again in another war. Oil prices soared. Rationing was put in place in most countries. The US simply placed higher and higher taxes on the oil it did have still flowing into its market. Terrorist actions throughout europe have supposedly been on the rise, but news blackouts have become common practice over there. Most of the news resistor received these days came over the teletype from other spaces. The teletypes have been silent for days now. Not unusual, most everyone is keeping their head down, hoping simply to be safe, well fed, and alive.
The teletypes linked the different spaces. Resistor was just one of many hacker spaces like it. A few years ago, Bre decided to begin linking up the hacker spaces. Rather than go for cutting edge technology we had built out old teletype machines and linked them up over an APRS party line. In effect Resistor had been making use of HAM Radio repeater systems to contact distant spaces. It was through these teletypes most communication between the spaces now occurred.
Adam wandered past the job board. Resistor did well in these times. Acting as a general jack of all trades for people in the city looking for skilled labor we were able to keep most of the members financially safe. And our classes had become a very popular thing in Brooklyn as more and more residents came to our space looking to save money by doing things themselves. In a way we had become a community center, for two communities. Our own, and the people that lived and worked around us. However over the past few months the two had slowly begun to merge.
"Merde" Alicia muttered as she walked into the space. She smiled at Adam and walked over to him, giving him a hug.
"Well, on the bright side, your french is getting better" Adam joked.
"Ha ha. Well, the dish is up, but it's hell trying to lock onto a satellite. I keep trying different coordinates, but I'm not having any luck" Alicia said, as she reached into the fridge to grab a Mate, the glass of a dozen bottles of the stuff ringing on the door as she swung it open.
"I can give you a hand in a bit, I just need to get my bearings a bit." Adam said.
"Yeah. I mean... It's great to have you here, but what prompted the visit. Last I knew you were doing okay getting things set up in New Westport."
"Yeah... About that. Things are bad. I mean, they're getting better, but it's just not to the point where connectivity is what these people really need yet. They're close, and it's helping coordinate some of the more basic stuff, but it's really for the admin staff out there. Once I got them tied into the main backbone, the rest pretty much fell on deaf ears. I ended up helping with some of the labor for a while and realized they weren't going to have time to get wifi towers up for a while yet. I'll check back in in a while. For now, I figured I'd come back here and see what else needed doing." Adam said, looking over towards the teletype. Just then, it sprang to life.
"Does it always do that?" Adam asked, laughing
"It seems to know" Alicia joked, as she walked over and read the incoming teletype.
She was silent as she read, and Adam waited expectantly.
"Uh. Wow." Was all she said at first, reading more as the machine finished its run.
"What's up?" Adam asked, walking over to the teletype.
"It's from HacDC... I think this is good news. It sounds like Ma Bell is getting back on it's feet and wants to help with the buildout of our wireless infrastructure, but..."
"That definitely sounds like good news! We're really reaching the limits of what we can do ourselves... What was the 'but'?" Adam said.
Before Alicia could answer, the door to the space opened, and Bre let himself in. Bre was tall, with black-rimmed glasses and dark greying hair that he still managed to style, even now.
"So you got it too? I just got that downstairs and came right up." Bre said, striding into the space holding the teletype printout, followed by what appeared to be telex porn. It was still printing out on the teletype there, but Bre already had the full version.
(As an aside, I love that when you google telex porn, you get a flickr picture of Bre's copy of the one we have at the space)
"Am I right in thinking that there's something awry here?" Alicia asked, examining the bottom half of Bre's telex printout. It was a familiar iconic piece of telex porn, and there were already a few copies at the space, but this one was different. Every other "pixel" was missing, and replaced with either negative space or full color.
"Yeah, there's something encoded here." Bre said, and then stopped short, and looked right. "Adam!"
"Bre!" Adam exclaimed. At that, the two hackers embraced and launched into what can only be described as the Meposian Dance of Joy. It was over as quickly as it had happened, leaving the 3 of them laughing.
"What are you doing here? Wait, first, help us decode this, and then tell me everything." Bre said, putting the printout down on the table. "I'm thinking it's seven bit ascii..."
The three of them dutifully decoded the message bit by bit, matching the binary blocks to their ascii codes, and came out with a simple message. "Be careful. ATT == New Capitalist Party. Bad news. They're watching."
"Heya Pip!" - Adam yelled across the rooftop. Meters above, a petite woman looked towards him, and let out an excited squeal. "Phooky!" She yelled, and jumped up and down a few times on the rickety supports around the water-tower turned network antenna. "I'll be right down!" she shouted as she waved. She started to bound towards the ladder, and stopped herself short, muttering a quiet "shoot" as she turned back to quickly finish her soldering and unplug the iron.
Adam stepped under the rusting metal supports and into the bright, hot sun on the rooftop. He pulled the goggles from around his neck and used them to hold his longish hair back in the breeze.
Around him stood the skeletons of half-finished condos, the remnants of a new Brooklyn long since abandoned. He could just make out the antennas hanging off the edges of the buildings, bouncing connectivity to their central hub on the watertower.