I’m laying in bed with a cup of coffee trying to think back 17 years and what Doc’s interests were.
I’m coming up with:
First of all, back the fuck up because I don’t know actually how much a frequency spectrum analyzer costs, it would have been stolen off of some truck. Where the fuck did I even come up with a number like $20,000 anyway? Out of my ass, that’s where.
Which reminds me of other things that always seemed to fall off of a truck. I had forgotten all about those Panasonic Toughbooks from SBC/Ameritech with some kind of app called NIMH that mapped out every single inch of cable and telephone infrastructure in the city of Chicago. Doc carried around a test set and knew things like where to find a copper pair to call me from where my caller ID would say “City of Chicago.” Back when, you know, copper pairs were a thing. The cops knew about this and made a point of willfully ignoring the fact that anyone in the crew was in possession of one. It would be returned to Ameritech. No charges would be filed. No mention of it would be made. It would not be in the news, on your inventory list, or in the police report.
Substations. He was obsessed with exploring substations, vaults, tunnels. What was so interesting about this shit, it’s just wires and shit, right? Boring! But he would point at the mains encased in concrete in those tunnels and tell me that they carried 12,000 volts. He would point out the third rail on the CTA and tell me it runs at 600VDC and about 1,000 amps. Then he’d hop up on the rail and take a piss, to my utter horror. He’d point out a transformer and say this one steps down from 2400 volts to residential line voltage. Or hey this one is a point to point transmission line, they convert it to 175,000VDC because it’s more efficient to transmit at DC than AC. Ok I am following you. But then he continued on about some other shit that I probably had better not elaborate on. Not because I’m afraid it’s incriminating but because naming it or explaining his observations about it disturbs and scares me. He said China knows, everybody knows, everyone is in it. And I was like, but nobody does anything to it or with it? He answers, no. I thought he was slightly autistic or something and this was his thing, you know how some of them geek out on airplane tail numbers or whatever? But he was looking for something.
He had a Primeco cellphone that never emptied its airtime tank for outbound airtime due to an accounting loophole he found.
He tuned his scanner into the encrypted MDT channels (these are the terminals the police communicate on) and all you’d hear is screeching like a computer modem, right? Well the motherfucker takes the speaker jack from his scanner and plugs it into the line in on his sound card, and compiles some shit to decrypt it and read everything they were talking about. This included bust activity and information on juveniles. I had forgotten all about this one. I don’t know what to tell you about this one, those MDTs were usually Panasonic Toughbooks. And this guy always had some shit going one with extracting the secrets contained in some god damned Panasonic Toughbook whether it was over the radio waves or with a crowbar against some glass. I don’t know what the hell gets discussed confidentially on an MDT to be honest. The only time I was given a first hand demonstration, the De Pere police were chasing an octogenerian doing 35MPH in a white Toyota Camry. I wish I was kidding but I am not. Anyway there’s a lesson in this: Maybe it’s not always the cops or the government you should be worried about, you probably have an even bigger problem when third parties can access their confidential lines of communication.
Never mind making “keys.” He could take a HID reader and splice in a PIC that would retain the last 10 successful badge swipes, and then swipe his badge and have the reader interpret that swipe as one of the other successful cards serial number instead of his serial number. I never asked him what doors he might have accessed with that technique. I asked him how this worked and in short order he procured a god damned HID reader, an electric door strike and transformer. He installed Linux and MySQL on some shitty 386 desktop computer, and then right in front of me wrote his own mother fucking rudimentary access control program that would be checked for his badge number and unlock the door strike or reject the swipe if there was no match.
This are just examples of what a normal day of hanging around with the dude looked like. I have no idea what else he knows.
And then you have to go, if some guy from Green Bay can do stuff like this without asking Google for instructions, then what the hell kind of parlor tricks does the NSA know?
“How could you be friends with such a person?”
Uh, I don’t know. He’s fascinating as fuck and I learned interesting shit from him?
Bbbbbbbbbb but he’s a “terrorist.”
Yeah and if I thought anyone would be injured or killed I’d be picking up a phone and telling you that without delay. I have friends and family and people I love who ride the god damned red line every day.
And if he’s something other than a “terrorist,” well, my bad, you probably shouldn’t have lied to me (and about me) then.
I’m re-reading my own statement about how after 9/11 everything would be viewed through the lens of terrorism instead of vandalism of mischief.
Well isn’t that convenient.
I already said I was aware that that was a problem and tried to warn him. We pretty much never spoke again after that and he just kept doing stuff that was no longer “vandalism” or “mischief” or whatever other verbiage we would have cared to toss around before 9/11.
I’m telling you this because I think it would be a mistake to ignore his letter as the ramblings of some crazy person or an idiot. He doesn’t talk about shit he doesn’t understand.