My book, BeagleBone for Secret Agents, is now available

My book, BeagleBone for Secret Agents, is now available. The title is slightly misleading as you need not be a secret agent to enjoy this book. ūüėČ There are five self-contained projects involving electronics, cryptography, and various software packages but I wanted to write a book that was more than just a collection of projects. In BBfSa, I tried to motivate the social and individual importance of using software like Tor, GPG, and OTR. While the projects are cool, IMHO, I’m hoping that readers will appreciate the need for and difficulty of developing privacy enhancing technologies.

I picked projects that were explicitly more detailed than one could describe in a blog post. Most of them combine hardware and software and I would describe the projects as challenging, but attainable. If you decide to buy it hopefully you not only enjoy it, but learn something as well.

The book is available as a DRM free eBook and as a bound collection of printed dead-trees. I’ve stopped reading with eBooks readers, but there are just over 100 references, most with URLs, and I can appreciate the convenience of using one. You can visit my BBfSa page to see its availability or buy it direct from Packt Publishing.

Thanks to the many people at Packt who helped with the direction, editing, and layout. I was lucky to have very talented reviewers. Lastly, thank you Nate for writing an incredibly insightful forward and to SparkFun, without whom the projects in this book would not have been possible.

Banned Books Week 2014

Banned Books Week 2014

My initial reaction to Banned Books Week, which is this week, was “oh, this when we remember how we used to ban books back in the 50s.” I went to the Banned Books Week website and found a pamphlet that shows the banned or challenged books, in 2013! Looking over the list, I’m incredulous that books like the Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, and Diary of Anne Frank, which a Northville, Michigan middle school try to ban, are still routinely challenged.

Continue reading “Banned Books Week 2014”

Running a Tor Relay on the BeagleBone Black for about a year

I have been running a Tor relay on a BeagleBone Black since last August. It’s been reset twice. Once after Heartbleed, which effectively destroyed the uptime calculation since it looks like a new relay. The other was when I accidentally unplugged it.

Bandwidth graph on my BBB for the last month from Tor Atlas
Bandwidth graph on my BBB for the last month from Tor Atlas

Continue reading “Running a Tor Relay on the BeagleBone Black for about a year”

Hulu Blocks Tor

I run a Tor relay on my home network on a BeagleBone Black. It’s certainly not the fastest Tor relay out there, but it’s inexpensive, small, and doesn’t affect my home network. But more importantly, it allows users who are censored to access the Internet and the Tor project helps protect privacy online. The Tor project, IMHO, is one of the best open source projects around.

Bandwidth graph of my BBB relay over the last 3 months
Bandwidth graph of my BBB relay over the last 3 months

As a non-exit relay, one does not typically encounter many issues as none of the Tor traffic exits my relay to the open Internet. For those seeking a description of Tor traffic, there is a great infographic on the EFF site. Anyway, I tried to watch Family Guy and I was presented this:

All Tor relays have their IP address publicized; this is how Tor clients can find them. There are some exceptions with things called “Bridges,” which I won’t go into any detail here. It’s pretty easy to collect a list of public Tor relays, since well, they are public and simply blacklist all of those IP addresses. Which is what I think is happening here.

I sent the following email to Hulu support; we’ll see if I get a response. There was a response on the Tor-talk mailing. I like Family Guy, but I like Internet freedom more.


I run a non-exit Tor relay on my home network. This allows Internet users, who are censored, to access the Internet and protects users who wish to keep their privacy while online. There is a great description of who uses Tor at:

As you can tell, my IP is based in the U.S. and I would like to access Hulu. Can you please lift the blacklist on my IP?


Oh, February 11th is the Day We Fight Back against Mass Surveillance. Bloggers and website admins can add some javascript on their pages to show support but users are out of luck. I added this support¬†request to¬†If you are on, maybe you can “me too” the post to show some support!?

Received my Tor t-shirt!

I received my Tor t-shirt the other day!  One can receive a t-shirt by meeting one of the following criteria (from the Tor Project website):

Very cool back of the Tor t-shirt.
Very cool back of the Tor t-shirt.
  1. A large enough ($65+) donation to the Tor Project.
  2. Operate a fast¬†Tor relay¬†that’s been running for the past two months: you are eligible if you allow exits to port 80 and you average 100 KBytes/s traffic, or if you’re not an exit but you average 500 KBytes/s traffic.
  3. Help out in other ways. Maintain a translation. Write a good support program and get a lot of people to use it. Do research on Tor and anonymity, solve some of our bugs, or establish yourself as a Tor advocate.

I run two non-exit relays, one of which is on a remote server and qualified for #2 above. ¬†The other is my BeagleBone Black relay, which doesn’t quite meet the traffic requirement but makes up for it in coolness. ¬†ūüėČ

In the case that the coolness factor didn’t win them over, I also mentioned my Internet privacy class at my local hackerspace, Loveland CreatorSpace.

Practical Internet Privacy with Tor

I was happy to give Loveland CreatorSpace’s first class on how to use Tor! By the end everybody knew how to install, run, and verify that Tor is working and they could all connect to a hidden service!

I recorded the class, so if the video and audio quality is acceptable, I’ll put the video online, but for now, you’ll have to live with just the slides. There was a reporter there, so I maybe in the local news…

Crypto for Makers: Slides from Loveland CreatorSpace Kickoff

I’m posting my slides from last Wednesday’s Loveland CreatorSpace (LCS)¬†show-and-tell. ¬†There was a great turn-out for our first meeting and¬†an impressive display of art, jewelry, electronics, CNC¬†milling, Daft Punk Helmets, and chickens. ¬†I decided to lay off some¬†of the technical details with my project and instead present a¬†Bildungsroman of how¬†I became interested in cryptography and Internet privacy. ¬†The slides probably don’t mean much without the presentation behind it, but I expressed my motivation for free and open source software, open source hardware, the BeagleBone Black, and my latest project, the CryptoCape.

Me (right) in my EFF shirt, bringing Crypto to the Makers.  Maybe the chicken is the most interested? ;)
Me (right) in my EFF shirt, bringing Crypto to the Makers. Maybe the chicken is the most interested? ūüėČ

This Wednesday, I’ll be hosting a class entitled Practical Internet¬†Privacy with Tor. ¬†If you go, you’ll learn how to download, install,¬†run, and verify that Tor is working. ¬†I’ll also talk about other fun
browser extensions.

If you don’t go, we are recording the class and the video and¬†slides will be posted. ¬†But, it will be better in person :p

My upcoming CryptoCape and Internet Privacy talks

I’m excited to help kickoff Loveland CreatorSpace (LCS), a new hacker¬†space in Loveland, Colorado, with a presentation and a class!

LCS Show and Tell Kickoff

On Wednesday, November 13th, LCS will be hosting a show and tell kickoff event.  The location and list of presenters are still TBD, but there will be mix of hackers, makers, and creators showing off their projects.  Yours truly will be giving an introduction to the BeagleBone Black and my CryptoCape.

RSVP on Meetup.

LCS’ first class, open to the public: Internet Privacy & Tor

I’m honored to start LCS’ impressive class offerings with a workshop on Wednesday, November 20th at RoadNarrows Robotics:¬†Practical Internet Privacy with Tor. ¬†I’ll provide an overview Tor and show¬†you how to download and run the Tor Browser Bundle.

If you want a more technical details on Tor, the best information is at the Tor Project Website. ¬†If you would like to hear me attempt to explain Tor, you can view my slides or watch this screencast. ¬†But honestly, this presentation from one of Tor founder’s, Roger Dingledine, is much better.

RSVP on Meetup

Follow LCS

If you are in the area, come out and check out the awesome creators at LCS at these two events.

You can follow LCS on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Tor and Hardware Acceleration with the BeagleBone Black

I’ve made some progress with using hardware acceleration on the BeagleBone Black (BBB) and running Tor. ¬†It appears that OpenSSL cryptodev engine does not use all the algorithms that the linux-cryptodev module makes available. ¬†I believe this can be changed with a patch for the OpenSSL cryptodev engine. ¬†But otherwise, at least from running Tor as a client, initial results seem better than before.

Continue reading “Tor and Hardware Acceleration with the BeagleBone Black”