Author: Jonathan Zdziarski

Day 3: Bass Camp Makes You Walk Funny

Imagine if you could plan your entire life before you were born. What you would do, when you’d do it, what you’d accomplish every step of your life. All of your goals. Now imagine if, when you were born, you walked them out verbatim as if you were following a script. You’d be utterly bored with your entire life. Victor was speaking about preparing for our upcoming concert: he doesn’t like to over-prepare, because just as the audience likes to be surprised to see what happens, so do good musicians. Musicians like to be creative; we like to improvise. We live and breathe music, and always have a tune going through our heads. As Jonelle Mosser (who was also there today) put it: musicians can never get any peace and quiet, because even when it’s silent around us, something’s always going through our heads. In life, we walk through certain things as though we’re following a script, but the real joy is in the unexpected surprises that we encounter. They excite us; they make us feel alive. Seeking out new things is what makes us thrive. Walking out some script for our lives causes us to dry out and wither. Vic and I share an affinity for aimless driving. Even the tiny things in life can be exciting when you’re exploring.Your life is a reflection of your music. What kind of passion do you have inside of you? Whatever’s on the inside is going to come out: both in your music and in your life. If your life is exciting and full of spirit, that’s going to come out in your playing.

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Day 2: Fear, Destruction, and Using Our Senses

Day two was an eventful day at woot camp and full of fun surprises. The morning felt more like an opening ceremony to the camp. Bass / nature camp isn’t so much about bass as much as it is about music. Before I discovered Vic’s videos and books, I was somewhat torn on music. I played it as an expression through my time with various church bands, but overall thought music was something to compete with. Picking up the bass had originally felt as if I had resigned myself to a lifetime of frustration and competition. While I knew there were ways to serve with music, Vic taught me that music is something to fellowship with, similar to a relationship. It’s something you grow with and learn to become familiar and affectionate with. And if you stick with it, you and music will grow old together and learn to appreciate the trials and frustrations you’ve faced together; the pain is someday replaced with joy in your playing.

Our nature instructor, Richard, proceeded to build fire in only a couple of minutes using the bow and drill method, while Victor serenaded us to some smooth bass. Every native culture has fire as an integral part of their makeup, and soon we’ll be making our own fire building sets. Fire produces warmth and companionship, just as music does. It gives life just as music does. Much of what we have learned so far about music, in fact, comes from our understanding of nature. Richard made the point that what you don’t take the time to get to know something, you fear it. When you don’t take the time to get to know nature, you can fear it too, such as strange bugs or animals, but also in life. How many things have I feared in life because of mere ignorance? How many opportunities did I have that I’ve abandoned because of ignorance and fear? Richard continued, saying that what you fear, you also destroy. Whether it’s a non-threatening spider crawling into a tent, or bigger things in life; how many things have I destroyed in my life simply because I feared them or failed to understand them? I’m no more innocent of making bad decisions in my life than anyone else, and have plenty of regrets in my 34 years on this planet. Have fear and ignorance robbed me? What have I destroyed, or almost destroyed, in my past simply because I was afraid? What you fear, you also attract, and the things you fear in life keep popping up; you can’t run away from what you fear because you call to it. Your fears haunt you like old ghosts.

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Victor Wooten’s Bass/Nature Camp: Day 1

I’m in hot, humid Only TN just outside of Nashville. Three weeks. Thirty students. Vic Wooten and his team of extremely talented instructors are going to pump as much theory, technique, and wisdom into us as we learn the difference between playing around with an instrument, and being a world class musician. If you haven’t heard of Victor Wooten, check him out on YouTube. He’s well respected across the world as quite possibly the most proficient bassist alive. If you want to learn something, go to the best. We’ve got three weeks to whip into shape, and I’d better pay attention as we’ll be performing at a concert in the French quarter of Nashville in three weeks time. I asked Vic if I could blog about my experience, and he cleared me to talk about anything I want, especially if it’ll help people who are reading it. I’ll try and blog every day, and can already tell you my expectations are set high.

This is technically bass/nature “camp”, but being that I can barely focus on bass in this heat, let alone the poor hygiene to ensue, I checked myself into a nearby bed and breakfast down the street. So technically, this is bass/nature/bed and breakfast camp for me. I’ve already taken a reasonable amount of flack for that, but that’s OK: I’m the one sitting here in a nice comfy bed tonight, having had a long cool shower after a sweaty day. Come the first rain storm, or the first 100 degree night, the scoffers will suffer, while I’ll be appreciating my soft, comfy bed, air conditioned room, walk in shower, and mints on my pillow. Chestnut Hill Ranch is a quaint Tennessee farm that’s been converted into a Bed and Breakfast. Hot coffee, juice, and noms await me every morning. I have my own bath robe, rustic furniture in my room, and some of the most comfy pillows money can buy. After all, you spend 1/3 of your life on pillows. They’re worth the money to have the best. And that’s the difference between Chestnut Hill and a La Quinta Inn. That, and the fact that from the minute I left my vehicle, three roosters walked over to greet me, taking turns crowing. Thank goodness I have shades in my room so I don’t scare all the small woodland creatures.

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Al Capone’s Original Thompson Machine Gun

Just when I thought my trip to Chicago would be average, some of the sergeants at the Chicago Police Training Academy, whom I’m training in iPhone forensic investigative methods, took me to the firing range in the basement and brought out an old dusty case. What came out of that case was an amazing piece Read More

Handguns in Canada!

How freaking awesome is this: After I finished a forensics workshop in liberal Canada, where civilians aren’t allowed to own or even possess handguns, the most awesome regional cops let me come in and shoot at their police range. We tore through about 200+ rounds wearing bullet proof vests (which are required while shooting) and Read More

Do What Defines You

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

A friend of mine was going on about really knowing people; “people… are not defined by what they do”, he said. The point he was making was not to judge people by the cover of what they do in life. But the deeper point that he may not have realized, was the tragedy in the truth of that statement. How tragic it is that we aren’t defined by what we do. It seems to me that, given the finite amount of time we have to live and become, that we spend more of our lives thinking about what we want to do than actually doing it.

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Bypassing iPhone 3G[s] Encryption

Bypassing Passcode and Backup Encryption: Forensic Recovery of Raw Disk: What Data Can You Steal From an iPhone in 2 Minutes? These YouTube videos demonsrate just how easy it is to bypass the passcode and backup encryption in an iPhone 3G[s] within only a couple of minutes’ time. A second video shows Read More

Full Disclosure and Why Vendors Hate it

I recently did a talk at O’Reilly’s Ignite Boston party about the exciting iPhone forensics community emerging in law enforcement circles. With all of the excitement came shame, however; not for me, but for everyone in the audience who had bought an iPhone and put something otherwise embarrassing or private on it. Very few people, it seemed, were fully aware of just how much personal data the iPhone retains, in spite of the fact that Apple has known about it for quite some time. In spite of the impressive quantities of beer that get drunk at Tommy Doyle’s, I was surprised to find that many people were sober enough to turn their epiphany about privacy into a discussion about full disclosure. This has been a hot topic in the iPhone development community lately, and I have spent much time pleading with the different camps to return to embracing the practice of full disclosure.

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MIT Spam Conference 2008 Concludes

The MIT Spam Conference concluded today with some great talks by various researchers in the field. I was particular sorry that I arrived late to miss Kathy Liszka’s talk on “Neural Networks for Image Spam”, as the tail end of it appeared very good. One thing I did notice that was quite refreshing about this Read More

Tales From the Apple Store

Last night marked a unique event in history. The Apple Store in Cambridge MA allowed me to come in through the front door and deliver a keynote to some 200+ people as they hosted the Mobile Monday Boston conference. In spite of the sheer chaos of fitting so many people into such a small store, and the generally poor acoustics of a mall, what the conference lacked in elegance was quickly made up for in quality of content.

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The Ethics of Hacking

It looks like I missed the 1960s, but I’ve read that there were plenty of free drugs and free sex to go around. One thing that apparently wasn’t free, though, was telephone equipment. And behind all of the groovy things to do back then, the one thing nerds seemed to be into was having fun with the telephone networks. The digital telephone network was brand new, and so consumer ignorance was at an all-time high. This made for easy profiting – AT&T had made a killing by charging their customers not only for telephone service, but to pay usage and equipment rental fees for telephones, answering machines, and anything else you wanted to plug into your phone jack.

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File Vault’s Dirty Little Secrets

File Vault is the encryption mechanism used to protect user accounts on Apple’s Mac OS X file system. While disabled by default, many people rely on file vault to protect their personal data. Many criminals, no doubt, also use file vault to encrypt content that would otherwise be incriminating. The security offered by an encrypted volume comes at a price – Apple’s closed source approach has left a significant amount of ambiguity about how the system actually works, and many erroneous assumptions have left holes for data to be recoverable. Among these misconceptions are the idea that raw data inside a vault cannot be accessed, and the erroneous belief that mechanisms such as Apple’s free space wipe will remove deleted data. This brief how-to shows you how to obtain a raw disk image from a file vault, and illustrates that deleted data can be recovered. It also shows that mechanisms like Disk Utility’s “Erase Free Space” option doesn’t affect the deleted contents inside a vault.

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The Fallacy of the Prosperity Sermon

Countless sermons have been preached instructing people to give, and God will let you have the car you want, the house you want, and the life you want. Amusingly, my web logs indicate that this essay is found frequently by pastors Googling for prosperity sermons to preach on Sunday. It seems strange, though, that a people who profess to follow Christ are so anxious to convince the church that God wants them to be rich, when the Bible teaches no such thing – God has promised us no such prosperity, but only trials, tribulation, and possibly martyrdom. James teaches us that there’s something profoundly wrong with a miser, treating the notion of being rich as a sign of poor character in their lack of generosity. So are pastors just in error, wanting to see their congregation blessed in this consumer driven American culture, or are they preaching up promises of breakthroughs and finances because they know they’ll reap some of the benefits? In either case, Christians shouldn’t be so naive, given the role models we have in Jesus and the apostles.

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Restoring the Beauty of the Didache

I’ve spent many late evenings over the past month translating and researching an intriguing early Christian manuscript called the Didache. Greek for teaching, this first century Greek manuscript reveals the life and heart of the early Church. It has been the center of much academic interest and controversy since its rediscovery in 1883. Prior to this, it was once thought lost to history, although many early church fathers including Athanasius, Rufinus, and John of Damascas cited the book as inspired scripture. It was also accepted into the Apostolic Constitutions Canon 85 and the 81-book Ethiopic Canon. Many early church fathers including Barnabas, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen either quote or reference the Didache.

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Embracing Senility

A friend of mine proceeded half way home with lunch in hand after being delayed four minutes by an old, senile man who insisted upon checking his sandwich order. Shortly thereafter, she realized that her own turkey sandwich lacked an all-important ingredient – namely the turkey. They say that it’s counterproductive to turn back once you pass the halfway-home marker, and so she did what any other ordinary American would do –

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