Subversive Technology:  I'm not sure if anybody still does pirate radio on the shortwave bands, but we may be seeing the rise of a new generation of pirate radio fanatics, with an entirely new spin on the topic. People are sneaking Wi-Fi gear into rock concerts, and transmitting packetized audio of the concert to accomplices outside, who then feed it live out onto the Internet. I've heard of other interesting ideas as well, and won't say where—it sounds like a great way to get into trouble, and I'm not going to help them get into that trouble by naming names. But here's a scenario: A guy sits on a park bench in Chicago's Grant Park reading a book, his briefcase at his feet. In the briefcase is a laptop or perhaps a custom Mini-ITX lashup with a very fat hard disk, and a high-bandwidth 802.11g Wi-Fi access point. The hard disk contains 100 gigabytes of MP3 audio files. Alerts were posted in strategic places a few days before, indicating that a wireless MP3 download station would be live in Grant Park a few days later. Up and down Michigan Avenue, people open windows from offices and aim Pringle's cantennas at the park, scanning for music. (The smarter ones use spaghetti sauce cans.) People wander the park with laptops, connecting and sucking down illicit music. W00t w00t! Pirate radio returns!

As I said in my entry for April 18, 2003, high-density data storage may well be as subversive a technology as ubiquitous networking. The server box itself need be little larger than a CD player, and it can be run off a single solar panel. Sneak it up to a high, sunny place in an urban setting, and see how long it will run before the RIAA can find it. A Mini-ITX model could be built for under $600 now with all new parts, and way less using scavenged P-133 components sealed in a water-tight ammo can. The device itself could almost be considered expendible, and since it has no Internet connection, there's no way to tie it to any particular person or organization. RIAA-baiting is getting to be an Olypmic sport in certain circles, and boy, this would be the equivalent of three triple-axels in fifteen seconds.

Now, ask yourself: What if WiMax hardware (range: 30+ miles!) got cheap? (See my entry for May 21, 2003.) You could park a creature like this on top of Skull Mesa north of Phoenix and serve illicit MP3s to the north half of the city, and just getting to the gadget (assuming you could zero in on it) would be to risk life and limb, especially in the summer. (They don't call it “Skull Mesa” for nothing!)

You want subversive? Ha! Nothing beats Wi-Fi! (Not even a ratsnest 6146B AM lashup on 9 MHz!) [Jeff Duntemann's Diary]

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