Day-After-Report: Personal Digital Home Meetup, July 30

Future Posts For PDH Will Be On DHMN Civic Hacks Blog, Not On Events Wrangling

tl;dr — Three of us met and discussed the Personal Digital Home project for 3 hours on July 30. We decided:

[If you’re not familiar with the Personal Digital Home project, it is “the starting point for your digital life.“ The PDH concept is essentially One Site To Rule Them All, your data storage shed, control panel and cyberspace digital presence. A PDH website is intended to let you Own Your Data, give you more control your presence in the metaverse, and make you more effective at interacting with all things digital. Two other projects closely related to PDH are IndieWeb and The Decentralized Web initiative.]

July 30 Meetup Summary

Three NE Wisconsin TIME community members met on July 30, 2016, from 1 – 4 PM CDT at Tom’s Drive In on Westhill Boulevard in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA, to discuss and work on the Personal Digital Home (PDH) project. This post is an overview of the July 30 meeting.

I had proposed an agenda for this meetup, but we pretty much ignored it. This was Chris’ first exposure to PDH, so Mike kicked off the meeting by explaining to Chris what Mike’s understanding and vision of the project is. Unfortunately, I can’t repeat here what Mike said, so for now only Chris and I got the benefit of how Mike sees PDH.

[At the next PDH meetup, I’m going to record Mike (and others if they’re ok with that) when they paint a picture of what PDH means to them. Then I’ll put that in cyber-writing, and we can refine the descriptions. That will help us see what the commonalities are between people working on the project and how each one aligns with the big picture I’m working to solidify for PDH.]

To me, Mike’s description of PDH sounded pretty close to the IndieWeb project, with a strong emphasis on OYD (Own Your Data) and POSSE (Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere). So I expanded on what Mike said and explained that PDH is intended to help people better manage all their digital “stuff” online and offline now and twenty years from now when people’s lives will be even more digital than they are now. That means it will include things like:

  • Your own website (using a URL or domain name you registered for yourself ).
  • The POSSE content you create, e.g. for Twitter, Facebook, other social media, blog posts, Google Docs, photos, etc.
  • A reliable, secure, and private backup system for all the digital data you don’t want to lose.
  • A portfolio or repository for all your education, learning, knowledge, and expertise.
  • An umbrella site for all your ventures, side gigs and residual income streams.
  • Whatever other digital components your life has (or pointers to those components if they are under your control elsewhere).

Think about your digital and online life ten or twenty years ago. Then think about how much more digital, cellular and internet-connected you are today.

NOWextrapolate forward twenty years. The concept of PDH is to be the digital interface you’ll want to have twenty years from now, when even more of your life is locally-networked and internet-connected via cellular, WiFi, and other wireless or wired protocols, blending reality, augmented reality, virtual reality, holography, wearable computing, robotics, and other digital-life tools that haven’t been imagined yet.

After Mike and I told Chris how we see PDH, he asked a few questions, then we started talking about different components of PDH and how the overall concept might function. That was sort of Talking Point 1 on my agenda, or at least part of it. Mike and Chris didn’t have an interest in talking about or working on secure and reliable backup systems for people’s current digital data and lives, so I’ll have to connect with someone else if PDH is going to create a reliable, secure and private backup system people can build in upcoming months.

Toward the end of the meeting, we talked a bit about Next Steps for PDH. All in all, it was an excellent meeting, and I feel we made good progress. I’m looking forward to working on PDH over the next few weeks and meeting up again in person in a few weeks.

PDH Communications

We agreed that, for now, most of our communications will happen via the NE Wisconsin Slack team in the #dhmncivichacks channel.

I’ve been publishing posts about the PDH project on the Events Wrangling blog, but will move those to the DHMN Civic Hacks blog since we’re putting it under the DHMN (Distributed Hacker/Maker Network) umbrella, at least as a starting point. I’ll leave a pointer on the Events Wrangling blog telling people interested in PDH to look at DHMN Civic Hacks.

For communicating and collaborating regarding software, firmware, hardware, services, and project design, we’ll use GitHub as a central point for now. I’ll probably do some work on a GitHub wiki. The IndieWeb project appears to use a MediaWiki wiki as their central organizing hub, with two freenode irc channels for their discussions (you can also connect via Slack).

We also agreed that the success of PDH is dependent on it being a hybrid project — some online interaction and some in-person, some asynchronous communication and some synchronous. The majority of the work will be done in a distributed fashion with online collaboration and communication. The distributed functionality will enable the project to build a global team if we can develop a good project base and effectively communicate compelling reasons to participate in the project.

But we’ll also have periodic in-person meetups, especially for recruiting new members to the project, for working together on hardware and other physical aspects of PDH, and for FUN and general relationship building. Plus maybe some Stuc’s pizza and Great White or Moon Man beer…

Security And Privacy

Security and privacy are critical to PDH being a viable concept and a usable digital tool. A couple NE Wisconsin infosec people expressed interest in the project, and I hope to have them at one or more of our upcoming meetings. My approach to PDH is that it will only be reliably secure and private if we have security people involved right at the beginning. It makes no sense at all to build PDH with only casual and incomplete or incorrect security measures, then expect to bolt on true security as an intermediate or last step. Won’t work.

We also discussed how security and convenience are, to a certain extent, on opposite ends of a spectrum. What I’d like to discuss with the security specialists is the concept of designing for the most secure system possible at three different levels of convenience.

  1. Convenience Level 1 — very convenient; preferred by 90%+ of the people who are online.
  2. Convenience Level 2 — medium convenience, preferred by tech people who want a middling amount of convenience with as much security as possible at that convenience level; 3 – 9% of people who are online.
  3. Convenience Level 3 — only use Tor or similarly-secure browser, use auto-obfuscation tools, encrypt all email and other communications if available, etc; 0.01 – 1.0% of people who are online.

Gravatar / IIRW / Pluggable Software Components

Mike’s goal is to figure out and build some type of elemental software chunk that performs along the lines of Gravatar, which is, I think, a POSSE widget. I’m not a coder, so I’m sure I’m mangling terminology. Mike can unmangle this paragraph to explain what his first PDH goal is. Or even better, he can write a separate post for DHMN Civic Hacks or a description for GitHub to describe what he’d like to initially work on for PDH.

We talked about creating modular pluggable software components for PDH, maybe along the lines of plugins for WordPress or extensions for the Chrome browser.

In addition to the Gravatar analogy, Mike used the example of the “Is it recycling week?” (IIRW) Android app civic hack he spearheaded. He started out by writing the AppletonAPI, based on some things he learned from a Madison civic hacker. Then he wrote the IIRW app. Along the way, another Mike got plugged into the civic API and recycling civic hack, and he developed a civic API discovery service with standard contracts, then he wrote a Greenville API. Chris and Ross also jumped in building a web interface for the recycling information, an Outagamie county API and a Pebble Watch app.

So Mike wants to figure out a small but useful component or building block of PDH that he and others can improve, build off of, and work toward the big picture of a fully functional PDH.

IPFS

Chris is starting on PDH by figuring out whether IPFS can be a useful component or building block for the project. IPFS is the acronym for InterPlanetary File System. (TechCrunch article about it for background)

As with Mike and the Gravatar / IIRW starting goal, I’ll let Chris write a paragraph to explain how or why he wants to build IPFS into the PDH. Or he can write a post instead of a paragraph! 🙂

Raspberry Pi 3 Hdwe Stack / AWS Virtual Stack

Raspberry Pi 3 was discussed as a possible hardware first demonstration platform for PDH.

I see the PDH development process as a dual-focus iterative process.

One focus is the design of the system. We don’t know exactly what PDH should look like yet, because we’re just starting to figure out what we want it to do. So part of the time we’ll be thinking about, researching and discussing what PDH should do, and what components will enable it to do those things. We’ll keep working on the design until we get to a v.0.1 design. Then we’ll iterate on that design and come up with the next incremental version.

Meanwhile, the other focus of the PDH project is building the modular pluggable components we think we want to use. Some of those components will be hardware, some will be software, some might be firmware or services. But we will be building things, not just discussing and designing them. What we learn from building and using those components will inform the next iteration of design, which will then inform the next iteration of build.

Based on what we discussed on July 30, Mike and Chris think a Raspberry Pi 3 might be an interesting starting point for PDH hardware. The three of us will research and think about that more and if, after the next PDH meetup, it still looks like the Pi 3 is a good hardware starting point, I’ll get a Pi 3 and start on the hardware build cycle.

Mike and Chris also mentioned the possibility of a minimal hardware instance of PDH which would likely use AWS, so one of them may start defining and developing that in parallel with the Pi 3 or other hardware-focused solution.

Other General Discussion

Since I didn’t record the meeting or take extensive notes, I’ll just include bullet points for the rest of the discussion we had on July 30. Mike or Chris can expand on these if they want, and I’ll update the post with their verbiage. Or the bullet points below can just stand as reminders to the three of us, as well as potential starting points for questions from others who are interested in PDH.

  • Blockchain; contracts for all components — Mike P can explain to Mike R his view on those being part of PDH
  • Make Something People Want
    • Mike’s example of group of students who are friends coming up with new uses for Minecraft and Pi
    • Josh G can help by giving input re what students he works with might want
  • Pluggable components for both software and hardware
  • Consumer WiFi router ⇒ consumer server
    • Chromebook update and near-zero maintenance model ⇒ consumer server
  • Minimum personally-owned hardware is encryption key (Mike)
  • Chrome profile (Mike)
  • ownCloud (Chris)
  • Sandstorm (Bob)
  • Folding At Home (Mike)
  • HTML local storage (Mike)
  • GitHub / Git (Mike)

Next PDH Meetup

The next PDH in-person meetup will be a Monday night — either August 15, 22, or 29. I will contact a few people this week to see which of those three work best, then I’ll publish a post and make a whole bunch of people aware of the date for the next meetup. PDH will be the main topic for Coder Cooperative (CC) on the Monday we select. CC runs from 7-9 PM at the Appleton Makerspace, but I’ll be there at 6 PM if a Makerspace member will have the door open by 6 — I’ll highlight in the pre-meetup post whether to come at 6 if you want to talk about PDH before the 7 PM official start time.

Ten people were interested in PDH and the July 30 meetup, but due to typical busy summer weekend schedules only three could make it. So I’m looking forward to having somewhere between five and fifteen people talking about and working on PDH in a couple weeks! 🙂

Future Posts For PDH Will Be On DHMN Civic Hacks Blog, Not On Events Wrangling

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[contact Bob Waldron at bwaldron (at) gmail {dott} com if you have questions about PDH]

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Personal Digital Home Meetup, July 30, Appleton, Wisconsin

Tom's Drive InThe second meetup to work on the Personal Digital Home (PDH) project is tomorrow, Saturday, July 30, 2016, at Tom’s Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

We’ll meet from 1 – 4 PM in the upstairs area at Tom’s — it’s a little bit quieter up there and we can put a couple tables together.

As mentioned in an earlier post, this meetup will be a discussion-work session. If interested in more PDH background, see “IndieWeb and PDH: Talking Points For Coder Cooperative June 20 Meetup.” My proposed agenda for the second meetup has three main items, but I’m open to talking about or working on other aspects of PDH. The three tentative talking points are:

  1. Refine definition of PDH.
  2. Develop reliable backup system.
  3. Work on alpha version of WordPress PDH.

Here’s an expanded version of what we’ll talk about to start the work session, and we’ll see what happens from there.

  • Refine definition of PDH
    • Functional description — what will it do
    • Component description — what parts we think are needed for above functions
    • Hardware, software, services
  • Develop, document, and build reliable backup system
    • Learn from recent Google account deactivation and take action
    • Secure and private
    • Onsite and offsite
    • Maximum automation, minimum user responsibilitiesWordPress Personal Digital Home, tagline
    • Long term plan (50-year?)
  • Work on alpha version of WordPress PDH
    • IndieWeb has done a lot of work on using a WordPress approach for the Decentralized Web
    • WordPress powers 25%+ sites on the web; immediate traction for PDH
    • Philosophy of Automattic and Matt Mullenweg appear to align well with PDH
    • Quicker start for alpha version because we’re not building from scratch

A number of people expressed interest in learning more about the PDH project and maybe working on it, but they had previous commitments for July 30. To accommodate busy summer weekends, we’ll probably schedule another meeting for a weeknight in a couple weeks.

Hope to see you at Tom’s tomorrow!

Tom's Drive In, Google Maps

Tom’s Drive In, Westhill Blvd, by Woodman’s (see also Google Maps link on address above)

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Next Meetup For Personal Digital Home

2nd Meetup For PDH

It’s time to organize the next meetup for the Personal Digital Home (PDH) project.

red flagThe recent articles about Google deactivating an artist’s account, essentially deleting over a decade of writing and art, raised a red flag and were the kick in the butt I needed to schedule the second meetup for PDH.

What’s PDH?

PDH is “the starting point for your digital life.“ The PDH concept is essentially One Site To Rule Them All, your data storage shed, control panel and cyberspace digital presence. A PDH website is intended to give you more control and make you more effective at interacting with all things digital. The first step for each person who wants a PDH will be to create their own website.

You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain, but you feel it.*

You want to be in control of your digital life, and you’re not. PDH changes all that — it puts you in control of your digital life!

Matrix, you know something

To learn more about PDH, see “WordPress: Default Personal Digital Home (PDH)” and other posts linked at the bottom of that initial post about the PDH project.

The first PDH meetup was at the June 20, 2016, session of the Appleton Makerspace Coder Cooperative (CC).

2nd Meetup — What We’ll Do

2nd meetup PDHThe second PDH meetup will be a three hour discussion-work session on July 24, 30, or 31, depending on which day works best for others. During the next couple days I’m going to contact a bunch of people who might be interested in getting involved with PDH to see which of the three days are open for them. If you’re interested in participating in the second meetup, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

There are so many different concepts and issues involved in the PDH concept that it’s hard to prioritize what to work on first. My proposed agenda for the second meetup has three main items, but I’m also open to talking about or working on other aspects of PDH. The three tentative talking points are:

  1. Refine definition of PDH
  2. Develop reliable backup system
  3. Work on alpha version of WordPress PDH

We’ll definitely start out by talking about what PDH is or should be. But depending on what others are interested in, we might spend the rest of the meetup on aspects of PDH other than a reliable backup system and alpha version of WordPress PDH. Below is an expanded version of what I’m proposing we consider working on.

  • Refine definition of PDH
    • Functional description — what will it do
    • Component description — what parts we think are needed to have the desired functionality
    • Hardware, software, services
  • Develop, document, and build reliable backup system
    • Learn from recent Google account deactivation — take action
    • Secure and private — foundations of backup system
    • Onsite and offsite
    • Scheduled data recovery / restore
    • Maximum automation, minimum user responsibilities
    • Long term plan (50-year?)
  • Work on alpha version of WordPress PDH
    • WordPress Personal Digital Home, taglineIndieWeb has done a lot of work on using a WordPress approach for the Decentralized Web
    • WordPress powers 25%+ sites on the web; immediate traction for PDH
    • Philosophy of Automattic and Matt Mullenweg appear to align well with PDH
    • Quicker start for alpha version because we’re not building from scratch

We’re still working out the details of where we’ll meet. I’ll post an update after the location is determined.

If you’re interested in the concept of the Personal Digital Home, I hope to see you at the second meetup!

* paraphrased courtesy of The Matrix and IndieWeb

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Personal Digital Home & The Dangers Of Google

Red Flag Warning!

red flag 2A red flag warning was issued by the internet last week.

That red flag said you CANNOT rely on Google, Facebook, Apple, Dropbox or similar tech companies to store your data or files and always make it available to you.

If you want to always have your pictures, writings, songs, ebooks, email, and other data, information, files, or content available, you need to backup your data and consider getting involved with a project like IndieWeb, the Decentralized Web, or the Personal Digital Home.

Google Deactivates Artist’s Account

Last week I saw the Fusion.net article “Google deletes artist’s blog and a decade of his work along with it.” The article told how an artist and writer can no longer access deactivated google accountmost of his personal data and files from more than a decade of his life because Google deactivated his account. This article reaffirmed my commitment to developing the Personal Digital Home. According to the Fusion.net article:

Artist Dennis Cooper has a big problem on his hands: Most of his artwork from the past 14 years just disappeared. It’s gone because it was kept entirely on his blog, which the experimental author and artist has maintained on the Google-owned platform Blogger since 2002…”

A friend of mine saw a related Guardian.com article, “Dennis Cooper fears censorship as Google erases blog without warning,” and sent me a link to it. He is interested in working on the Personal Digital Home and knew I’d want to read about Cooper’s problems. The Guardian.com article gave a few more details regarding Cooper’s data “loss.”buh bye

Two weeks ago, writer and artist Dennis Cooper was checking his Gmail when something peculiar happened: the page was refreshed and he was notified that his account had been deactivated – along with the blog that he’d maintained for 14 years…Cooper updated DC’s blog six times a week, highlighting film, fiction and music he enjoyed…

The ramifications of the deactivation are severe. His newest gif novel, Zac’s Freight Elevator, which he’d been working on for seven months, was exclusively hosted on the blog and is now lost. His deleted email account also contained more than a decade’s worth of contacts, as well as offers to talk and perform…”

Free Speech Not In Terms Of Service

The Guardian.com article makes the point that Cooper’s account deactivation by Google may be related to censorship. It also points out that although the US Constitution (as ammended) guarantees free speech, that applies to public censorship, not censorship by a private corporation such as Google, Facebook or Apple. Those companies are free to define the terms of use for their services, and you have to decide how those terms of service may free speech noaffect you.

“…First amendment rights to free speech in the United States are constrained when one is operating in the world of corporations such as Google or Facebook. “In America you have first amendment rights but that only protects you against public censorship,” said Pati Hertling, an art lawyer and independent curator. “Because it’s Google, they’re a private corporation, it’s a private realm, they can do whatever they want.”

Google’s terms of services state they can “suspend or stop providing our services to you if you do not comply with our terms or policies or if we are investigating suspected misconduct”…”

Smokey The BackupBear: Only You Can Prevent Data Loss

smokey the backupbearFusion.net’s article points out this isn’t just Cooper’s problem. It’s not just the problem of the miniscule 0.0001% of Google’s users who have had their accounts deactivated. And it’s not just Google. Facebook and other tech companies work the same way. It is simply unwise and foolish to blindly expect Google or other companies on the web to store your data and rely 100% on them to make your data available to you for the next 100 years — or even for later today or tomorrow.

“…this doesn’t just reflect the archival woes of an experimental writer. It’s another reminder of Google’s role as arguably the world’s most powerful organization when it comes to preserving and storing information.

Google says that its “mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” But whether or not it’s interested in maintaining a record of the past, or helping others do so, remains unclear…most of the archival projects Google touted in the early 2000s, such as Google News Archive and Google Groups, were quietly abandoned several years ago…

So the removal of Cooper’s blog doesn’t necessarily feel like a surprise so much as it does part of a quiet trend. As Baio puts it, “We can’t expect for-profit corporations to care about the past.” It’s a trend that suggests a conclusion that’s at once obvious and sad: if the internet is your archive, your archive isn’t safe.”

Even some people who work at Google are upset that Cooper’s Google account was deactivated, that Cooper can no longer access the writing, artwork, emails and other content he created, and that neither Cooper nor anyone else can view the artist’s blog. Guardian.com’s article says:

“…Three followers who work at Google launched simultaneous internal investigations into the blog’s closure. One senior Google staffer worked with Cooper to resolve the issue until 2am one night to no avail….”

data backupIf you want your data to always be safe and available, you need a reliable data backup system.

Most people don’t know how to set up and maintain a reliable data backup system. Also, people are lazy and they procrastinate, so even if they know how to set up and use a reliable backup, they might not do everything they should to keep their data safe.

Technology changes. Frequently. So the reliable-when-designed backup system will inevitably, at some point, no longer be reliable.

A reliable backup plan for data must include periodically copying your files to new data storage media. Your computer files have a limited shelf life on data storage media, like floppy disks (remember those?), CDs (remember those?), USB flash drives and hard drives. You can’t copy files onto storage media and expect it access it 50 years from now. Your grandchildren certainly won’t be able to access it 75 or 100 years from now. The data may be corrupted on the storage media. Or you might not even have the computer hardware, like a 5.25” floppy drive, to try and access the file.

Cooper was like just about every other computer user and internet services user. It is certain that the number of consumers who have a reliable system for backing up all their data and files is less than 10%. The number is probably less than 1%. Cooper knew he should have his data and files backed up. He just didn’t do it…

Back Up Today (And Tomorrow…)

In closing, the Guardian.com article quoted Cooper.

“…His advice to other artists who work predominantly online is to maintain your own domain and back everything up. “As long as you back everything up. I don’t see really the danger,” he said. “But if you’re at the mercy of Google or some place like Google, obviously I’m a living example of not to be blind like that and think that everything is hunky dory.”

Cooper lost his digital life.backup

If you don’t want to lose your digital life, do the work required to set up, properly maintain, and update a reliable backup system.

Somewhere between 90% and 99.999% of the people who read about Cooper losing his digital life will not change and do the work required to make sure they won’t lose their digital life.

IndieWeb, Decentralized Web, Personal Digital Home

If you want to help improve the web so people can own their data and not be in danger of losing their digital lives, start working on a project like IndieWeb, the Decentralized Web, or the Personal Digital Home.

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Google TakeoutFor starters on your data backup work, if you use Google services, like Gmail or Blogger, go to Googe Takeout RIGHT NOW and create an archive of your Google data, then download it to your personal storage media (probably an external hard drive?) as soon as you get the download links from Google.

If you’re interested in discussing the issues in this post, including the Personal Digital Home, contact Bob Waldron at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

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Day-After-Report: 920_sec Meetup, July 2016

July 920_sec Meetup

Last night was the second gathering of 920_sec, the monthly Information Security meetup network for NE Wisconsin infosec professionals, IT professionals interested in learning more about security related topics, Researchers, Hackers, and all things in-between!

920_infosecThe meetup happened at The Bar Holmgreen Way in Green Bay. When I arrived at close to the listed start time of 5:30 PM, the meetup organizer and one other participant were sitting at a large table between the front door and the pool tables. Between 10 and 15 people came to the meetup, with some of them showing up pretty close to 5:30 and others straggling in between 6:30 and 7 PM. If you thought about coming but decided not to because you could get there fairly close to 5:30, no worries. Just show up whenever you can make it. I think the people who arrived at 7 PM enjoyed themselves just as much as those who got there close to the listed start time.

As of July 14 there are 28 people registered for the 920_sec meetup group, and 8 had RSVPd for last night’s event. Most people seemed to be from the Green Bay area, but Appleton and Milwaukee were also represented. As word spreads about the group, we should be able to get people participating from a variety of NE Wisconsin cities. The first few meetups moon man 2will likely be in Green Bay because that’s where the group organizer lives and where a majority of participants are located. If there is significant interest in the Appleton and the Fox Valley, 920_sec might schedule a meeting there.

There was no agenda last night, just talking with the people sitting near you, getting to know each other a little or catching up with those you already knew, chatting about random topics, and telling war stories or tall tales whilst swilling water, soda, and beer and eating supper or munchies (mozzarella sticks were my favorite). Last night was strictly a social gathering. It was fun to meet some new hard-core geeks from NE Wisconsin and hear what things they were working on or interested in.

Future 920_sec Meetups

social meetup in barI’m looking forward to seeing what happens at the next several meetings. The format of future 920_sec meetups will no doubt take a few months and a number of side conversations to figure out. The group has a lot of really smart people in it, but they’re also busy people, so they’ll have to find significant value in the meetup if they’re going to add another event to their already-full schedules. That’s a perennial problem for Meetup.com groups and for member groups in general. Some of the group’s members may just want a social gathering, while others might prefer a short presentation followed by group discussion, an informative talk, just an organized group-presentationdiscussion about a high-interest infosec topic, or other type of coordinated group activity.

The meetup organizer, with input from group members who strongly prefer specific types of meetup activity, will need to decide whether to push the group toward one meetup format or a combination of formats. Then the group members will decide if they get value from that type of infosec meetup, and they’ll vote yea or nay with their feet. A few topics that a coordinated group activity could involve are:

  • Security challenges or incidents related to NE Wisconsin companiescybersecurity digital lock
  • Security incidents outside NE Wisconsin
  • Open source security practices
  • 920_sec organizing an infosec event for local organizations or general public
  • Meet onsite at NE Wisconsin companies (w/ food and beverages sponsored and delivered)
  • Invite lead security people from NE Wisconsin companies to talk to the group or to discuss a security challenge with the group to get their input
  • Group members sharing infosec skills in demo or workshop
  • Discuss and work on an infosec presentation topic for a NEWDUG meeting, NEWCodeCamp, at a school or university, or to local organizations
  • Ethical hacking session
  • Practice CTF wardriving in preparation for Cyphercon
  • Acceptable-risk variant of walll of sheepishness to demonstrate mobile device insecurity at a public meetup location
  • Distributing Playboy flash drives in random parking lots
  • Building well-designed Unsubscribe buttons to get high click-through rates
  • Security-related Pokémon Go outing

Connecting The NE Wisconsin Infosec Community

I’m not an infosec practitioner, just a tech enthusiast who is aware of some of his shortcomings in the area of security knowledge and practices, a tech community builder WordPress Personal Digital Home, taglineand events wrangler who sees value in a connected NE Wisconsin infosec community, and someone who is working on a major initiative which has a foundational need for strong security. There is also a second major initiative I’ve proposed which has infosec as its primary focus. It would be fantastic if that initiative could get some traction, but the project requires a lead infosec person with a passion for improving the overall security of organizations and residents in NE Wisconsin.

There are probably 100 to 500 NE Wisconsin people who didn’t show up last night who are responsible for infosec in area organizations or who are or would like to be (think “students”) involved in security as a personal interest. Seems like at least 25% of them would want to connect and participate in periodic meetups. So that’s at least 25 more people, and possibly 100+, who should know about the 920_sec meetups!

The dual challenge ahead for the group is (1) to develop a high-value meetup format and culture and (2) to make all the right people in NE Wisconsin aware of 920_sec.

Cyphercon Tickets!!!cyphercon

Tickets are scheduled to be available starting August 1st for Cyphercon, Milwaukee’s first and only hacker conference. The event sold out quickly last year, so make sure to get your tickets right away this year!

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Developing Event Participant Plan

Proper Planning and Preparation…

[There are many versions of the 6 or 7 Ps, but the US Marine Corps and British Army start their versions as shown above. That’s good enough for me!]7 Ps

Because I’m an engineer and because I want to get the most out of every event (whether I’m the events wrangler or a participant), I always develop an event participant plan.

This plan is especially important for event goers, but it’s also something events wranglers should think about. Walking a mile in the participant’s shoes enables the wrangler to provide helpful pre-event information and prep activities for the participants, helps structure the event and the venue so it will be participant-friendly, and assists in avoiding gotchas and other preventable annoyances.

keep calm and hack everythingI’m going to an infosec, cybersecurity, or just plain “security” meetup next week. The meeting is the 902_sec meeting organized on Meetup.com. It’s on July 13, 2016, at The Bar Holmgren Way, 2001 Holmgren Way, Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. The listed start time is 5:30 PM, but the meetup organizer said people will continue to arrive after 5:30 because of their work or home schedules. So it’s fine if you show up whenever you’re able to get there.

Here’s the (quite long) event participation plan for 920_sec. This one is tailored to meetups, but the same general format can be applied to conferences, unconferences, and other types of events. In a future post, I’ll present and discuss a checklist intended to better cover the needs of a conference or unconference.

Event Participant Plan (Meetups)

  1. smartphone checklistCreate a relevant Meetup.com profile, or update profile if you already have one.
  2. Invite others to the event. Let people know you’re going to it.
  3. Find out beforehand who is going, try to learn a little about them, including checking out photos of them.
  4. Make a list of any registered people you particularly want to connect with at the event.
  5. Have a goal of learning something new at the meeting; come up with a written objective if you have enough information about the meeting topic or purpose.
  6. Write down a couple questions for the speaker or topic leader. Also think of a couple questions related to the meeting topic to ask that other participants might answer.
    1. While preparing for meeting, also look forward to the ad hoc, “don’t know what will happen,” aspect of the event. Unexpected can be good. Serendipitous can be fantastic!
  7. Before the day of the event, review why you’re attending. Fix it firmly in your mind that you’re going to enjoy the meetup, and that you’ll be someone awesome to meet. (Make sure you actually figure out specific reasons you’ll be awesome to meet…)cybersecurity new north map
  8. Turn your smartphone off before leaving for the meetup, and don’t check it during the event. (Unless you’re on call or there’s some high-priority reason you need to be reachable.)
  9. Get to the venue early. Use that time to get to know others who came early, or ask the meetup organizer if they’d like you to greet people as they arrive.
  10. Focus on others at the meetup. Ask questions, listen more than you talk.
  11. Get the names of everyone at meetup, and contact info if possible.
  12. Find out specific goals of the meetup organizer if it’s the inaugural meeting.
  13. Take pictures and video; ask organizer afterwards if they want copies.
  14. Ask main organizer if they’ll do an Events Wrangling blog interview.
  15. Thank organizers for arranging the event.
  16. Contribute to post-meetup comments, documentation, and publicity.
  17. Follow up after the event by sending people promised links or other agreed-to items, by scheduling or requesting a post-event meetups, and by letting them know you enjoyed meeting and talking with them. Assuming you did.
  18. Contact the meetup organizer and offer to help in any way possible for the next meetup.

wisconsin and UP with starI’ve already done some of the stuff shown above. If possible, I’ll do every items on the list.

If you’re in the Green Bay area or the Appleton / Fox Cities region and are interested in security, consider coming to the 920_sec event on July 13. If you’re in the Fox Cities and want to ride up to Green Bay together, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com, and we can figure out if schedules allow us to roadtrip together.

I’ll let you know how the event goes.

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Additional online resources to help prepare for and get the most value from events:

Meetup Participation

5 Steps to Get the Most Out of Meetup.com
Getting the Most Out of the Technology Meetup Community
How To Get the Most from Attending a Meetup
The Brutally Honest Tale of My First Web Design Meetup

Conference Participation

How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
10 Insider Tips for Attending Tech Conferences
27 Things To Do Before a Conference
10 Things to Prepare Before Attending a Conference 
How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
Preparing for Conferences
Before You Fly Off to That Conference Have You Thought of Everything? 
10 Things to Do Before Attending a Conference
14 Helpful Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Conference

Meetup Plan From Host’s Perspective

Guide to a Successful Meetup Group & Meetup Events 
25 Best Practices for Meetup Organizers
8 Secrets to Hosting a Successful Tech Meetup
HOW TO: Organize A Successful Meetup

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920_Sec: NE Wisconsin InfoSec Meetup, July 13, 2016

InfoSec Meetup For NE Wisconsin Launches

meetupThe first meeting of 920_Sec, a Meetup.com group for NE Wisconsin people interested in infosec, is scheduled for Wednesday, July 13, 2016, at The Bar Holmgren Way in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. More details are below.

I’m planning to go to the meetup wearing two hats — the Stetson of an events wrangler and the 1950s detective hat of a tech person highly interested in security.

Events Wrangler Hat

stetsonThe person who scheduled this event and took the time to organize a Meetup.com group had reasons for doing so. If there’s an opportunity, I’ll talk with the founder of 920_Sec to find out what their reasons were for organizing the event.

Also from an event standpoint, I plan to keep track of various details that make this event successful or that could be improved on for future inaugural Meetup.com situations I attend or help organize. It’s hard for me to go to an event and not observe those types of things…

InfoSec Hat

blackhat hatFrom a security aspect, I’m going to this meetup as a generalist tech person who’s very interested in digital and information security, but I am definitely not an InfoSec Professional or ninja coder. I’m so far from being either of those that I don’t even know when it’s preferred to use, or not use, various terms such as infosec, InfoSec, information security, cybersecurity, spy vs spy hatsecurity, NSA, Snowden, and hacker. I couldn’t even decide which infosec hat seemed most appropriate, the Black Hat detective type or the Spy vs Spy hat.

However, even though I’m not a security pro, I’m deeply interested in infosec for three reasons.

  1. Desire to learn about and achieve better personal digital security.
  2. Opportunity to meet infosec people who might collaborate on future projects, especially the Personal Digital Home and the NE Wisconsin cybersecurity initiative.
  3. Opportunity to expand and connect the region’s TIME community (Tech, Innovators, Makers, Entrepreneurs).

Details From Meetup Organizer

As of noon today, there were eleven people signed up for the group and four people RSVP’d to attend the July 13 event. Below is what the launch email for this group said, along with a few details from the group’s page on Meetup.com.

920_Sec strives to be the Green Bay and Fox Valley Information Security Meetup Network for Info-Sec Professionals, IT professionals interested in learning more about security related topics, Researchers, Hackers, and all things in-between! Unlike other meetings, there are no “dues”, nothing to join, and no exploits to present! We’ll be at the tables in front of the pool tables right when you walk in. Don’t worry about being late, people will begin to roll in after work.

This first meetup happens on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, starting at 5:30 PM, at The Bar Holmgren Way, 2001 Holmgren Way, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Click here for a Google Map showing the meetup location.”

If you live in NE Wisconsin and are interested in infosec, I hope to see you on July 13! 🙂

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Blogging U, Blogging: Fundamentals, Day 7– Start Personalizing Your Site

Today’s virtual class assignment was:blogging university

  • Add a custom header image or background (or both).

Well, that was pretty easy. I’ve already uploaded and been using a custom header image, so I can check the box for that WordPress skill.

In order to learn something new for Day 7 in my class, I went to the tools & tips for this assignment, and read today’s section. I read about different ways to personalize my blog’s appearance, but carefully avoided adding to my lengthy To-Do list. I did find three relevant posts mentioned that I’ll be reading later today:

Create an Awesome (Free) Header in Ten Minutes
The Web is Your Oyster: Where to Find Free-to-Use Images
Two Free Tools for Non-Designers: Canva and Pablo

Yay — homework done for today! 🙂

[But I’ll be doing extra credit work later this afternoon…]

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