Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dead drops: breaking open USB flash drives

I love it when people come up with interesting ways of using technology, and when I came across dead drops, I was immediately hooked. The idea is to concrete USB flash drives into walls in public places, and then see what people use them for. Unlike conventional networks, such as the internet, it's not immediately obvious what dead drops would be useful for, but given the last few years of restrictive new laws, teenagers and fat Germans being extradited for running websites, and now NTIA playing silly buggers about who gets to run DNS, dead drops are a green-field opportunity that hasn't yet been tainted by money and lawyers.

Here's how it works. You buy a USB key (this one was $20NZD and is 8GB), and admire it in its shiny new packaging
Once you're satisfied with how awesome your purchase was, you use scissors or a screwdriver to pry off the cover.

 For protection, we'll tape around the circuit board

And finally, we test that it still works (it does). Your dead drop is ready to be installed somewhere - just make sure you get permission first! Given it will cost your local council nothing, and is a novel new type of street art, it's quite possible the answer will be yes, as long as you ask first.

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