Summer Update: The Aaron Swartz Day Solar Survival Project

The Aaron Swartz Day Solar Survival Project #ASD-SSP leverages the expertise of VR Destination Advisory board member Matteo Borri to promote  the invention of technologies using solar power to improve people’s lives.

We are excited to announce that our “Vampire Charger” which we submitted to the #Hackaday #PowerHarvesting Challenge has advanced to the Semi-Finals!

Here’s more about our Solar Survival Project (soon to have its own website! :)

We have a Facebook Page for this project too!

From our Vampire Charger Submission:

The Aaron Swartz Day Solar Survival Team (led by Matteo Borri and Lisa Rein) has developed a “Vampire Charger” which enables a cell phone to be charged safely from whatever random batteries happen to be lying around after a disaster, while protecting the phone from blowing up.

After a disaster, this can be used with any kind of source of power that still has a battery in it. When you don’t know the voltage or current – and you don’t even know which is plus and which is minus or if it’s AC or DC – that’s the perfect time for the Vampire Charger!

Just connect the two input terminals to your “unknown,” and it gives you reasonably clean 5VDC to run your GPS or emergency radio with. Connect its two alligator clips to ANY two contacts of the part in question.

Chelsea Manning at Hope XII With Yan Zhu (via Hackaday)

Mike Szczys wrote up a nice synopsis of Chelsea’s talk last weekend at Hope XII:

HOPE XII: Chelsea Manning

Yan Zhu (left) and Chelsea Manning (right) at Hope XII, Saturday, July 21, 2018

What a treat for us, to see this last weekend. We have been hanging out on the Hackaday website generally, since we submitted our Vampire Charger to it’s #PowerHarvesting Challenge. (Update July 25th: We made the Semi-finals!)

It’s always nice to see people finally getting to know the real Chelsea – and truly understand her ideas and techniques.

From the article:

I was lucky enough to get a seat very close to the stage in the main hall. The room was packed front to back. Even the standing room — mapped out on the carpet in tape and closely policed by conference “fire marshals” — was packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder. The audience was alive with energy, and I think everyone lucky enough to be here today shares my feeling that moments like these tie our community together and help us all focus on what is important in life, as individuals and as a society…

Hardware in hand, she started whittling away at the topics necessary to get back into the now. Among these, getting up to speed on virtual machine platforms, advances in network security, new warning systems, and the requisite mailing lists to stay on top of the latest research were on her short list. She mentioned that she thinks a lot of what once were tedious tasks have been tamped down through automation.

All of this, however, is the small part of her readjustment. When Chelsea entered prison she was only 22 years old. She had never lived by herself, and just learning how to find and rent an apartment was a big adjustment. Prison social dynamics do not jive with life on the outside and her discussion took the audience through what it has been like making the mental pivot to rejoin society.

Summer Update: The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project

We’ll be posting “Summer Updates” all week regarding our endless hackathon projects that we kept going from last year’s event.

The first is our new quick tutorial with templates for our Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project – or #ASDPSP.

These templates enable you to compel the Police and Sheriff Departments for a given City and County to hand over all documentation on all known surveillance equipment. (Including documentation and information regarding all software used and any data it collects and stores.)

If you’re wondering what the situation is exactly with all of the surveillance equipment (and the data about the public that is being collected via this equipment) – in most major cities across the country –  you’ll want to read my latest interview with Tracy Rosenberg of Oakland Privacy.org, entitled “The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project #ASDPSP – Reports Back: Here’s #WhatWeFound In Sacramento.

Tracy created the templates, and explains even more about the different types of equipment our templates ask about.

Here are the first two detailed interviews with Tracy on this topic:

Interview with Oakland Privacy’s Tracy Rosenberg On The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project

How a little “working group” stopped Oakland from becoming a mini-fusion center for the Department of Homeland Security.

The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project  is all about developing a larger strategy for determining what types of surveillance equipment a city’s police and sheriff departments have already purchased and whether or not a surveillance policy is in place to monitor that equipment – regulating how that equipment is used against their citizens.

This project started during Aaron Swartz Day 2017’s Sunday hackathon. Before that event was even over, it was clear that it had been really successful and we were all very pumped and had decided to just keep going until next year.

The results of doing so are just starting to pour in, and I’m going to be doing my best to give you the full story – both here on the Aaron Swartz Day website, and over on Mondo 2000, over these next few months, leading straight into this year’s event.

We just added two new templates (Zip file of all templates in .PDF, Zip file of all templates in .DOC) to our tutorial – one for Police Departments (City) and one for Sheriff Departments (County) – that include the use of facial recognition software, since it came out recently that Amazon has been literally giving away its facial recognition software to law enforcement, in the hopes of getting a number of early implementations. Not a bad marketing strategy, and we’re not saying the software shouldn’t be used; just that there should be a surveillance policy framework in place that regulates how it can be used against citizens.

Special thanks to Muckrock, without which this project would not be possible.