There’s a well situated irony in purchasing a hardcover book on the third wave of computing technologies, but that’s the only version currently available (no Kindle version, ah!). The MIT Press released it earlier this year, and based on a recommendation from Panayotis Antoniadis, a theorist in the social aspects of wireless community networks, I immediately purchased it.

I’m halfway through, and it’s shaping up to be an incredible influence on how to consider the social, cultural and community aspects of ubiquitous computing, from embedded devices to networking technology. The affective and emotional perspectives on technology that move away from non-Cartesian coordinated notions of spacial mapping are incredible.

I’m already beginning to apply this to the social software I’m developing, and am eager to find out what this exploration leads to.

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After experimenting/configuring the Ubiquiti antennas, I flashed openWRT on a TP-Link WR1043nd Gigabit-N router. Working with embedded linux operating systems, in this case on the router itself, can be a bit tricky I found out. First step, ssh to [email protected], or wherever the default gateway is.

Basic navigation within the file system of openWRT, then figuring out the wonders of fdisk and USB mount packages to read/write to external USB memory sticks / drives attached directly to the router.

Installed lighttpd (a lightweight web server running on the router, to deliver web pages, etc.). After realizing that WiFi Dog wasn’t able to work for basic captive portals without an authentication server, I switched over to nodogsplash, a branch of WifiDog (combined with the original nocatsplash), which was able to easily redirect all pages to this default one, for now.

This mess of cabling represents a fully operational, multi-access point to router/server setup. Now, when one connects to an AP through the nanostations or bullet, they are automatically re-routed to a HTML file on the router. This will be the first step in the Red Hook Housing Projects setup. One last crazy point with Ubiquiti was a problem I had when trying to connect devices to the APs…had to disable AirMax and set the channel width to 20mHz.

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This past Saturday was spent experimenting with the crazy range of options available through the AirOS interface on the Ubiquiti network antennas. This equipment was developed for ISP (Internet Service Provider) solutions, but their low cost and ease of flashing custom firmware have made them prime targets for experimental mesh networks. The equipment comes with no documentation, other than the default IP gateway/login info to connect to, after creating a manual IP ethernet connection. The majority of my research came from a combination of blind testing and searching Google for basic questions answered through online forums and scrapped together step by step guides.

Ubiquiti Nanostation M2s (Directional Antennas) and a Ubiquiti Bullet M2 w/ 8dBi omnidirectional antenna. Each was broadcasting as an Access point (so regular computers/devices can connect), with maximum power on each device, and separate channels.

The AirOS interface seen above, experimenting with Station + Bridging, Access point + Routing, setting up DHCP assigning/IP range, etc.

Testing range of each antenna with the wonderful Android app “Wifi Analyzer.”

Check the channel interference from other networks (the two nanostations are seen in red, overarching the access points)

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Discussion on my current involvement with technical/theoretical partners in the mesh world, create this graphic to represent these connections:

After that, an overview of my current work with the Red Hook Housing Projects and physical challenges that have come up so far, such as the inability to run cabling down the building side into a pre-drilled hole (as it’s completely sealed), so we will be running the cable through an AC duct, using industrial CAT5e cable designed for those purposes.

I also discussed another, secret (unbroadcasted SSID) network I’m running in the 12th floor MFADT lab at Parsons, as a testbed for the software and hardware I’m working for Red Hook. The primary purpose of this network is to provide Internet to students, because the DHCP on the school network wifi has run out of leases (unable to connect more people) and questionable software is required to connect, which could possibly be spyware.

Also, I talked about research work with Jeetu & Erle of eBrainPool, on the best options for service discovery when dealing with decetralized software that runs on mesh networks (there’s a protocol called zeroconf which is able to find other zeroconf running computers/devices on a network by sending out bursts of “hellos” in all directions).

Lastly, I mentioned some further ideas involving the idea of Web 3.0, user-assistant agent style uses for a home router or device connected to a mesh, in that local machines could converse directly with each other, providing seamless information to users.

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Beginning work with Tony Schloss from the Red Hook Initiative on a network for the Red Hook Housing Projects (~10,000, Spanish and English speaking residents, with little Internet/computers in their homes. Majority of information accessed through Android smartphones). Initial plans involve setting up a location specific captive portal (splash screen that pops up when users connect to WiFi), that will have community specific content, such as streaming (and user feedback) of the community radio that Tony works with, as well as other communication tools.

First day of surveying Red Hook Housing Projects area. We decided to start the network from the roof of the Red Hook Initiative, using either directional antennas (ubiquiti nanostation m2s) or an omnidirectional (ubiquiti bullet). The next step will be setting up these antennae with a basic splash screen to test range.

Future plans involve connecting omnidirectionals to Coffy Park, which sits near the middle of the Housing Projects. Currently in contact with NYC Wireless, consulting on how they dealt with the NYC Parks Dept. when setting up other WiFi connections in NYC parks.

From an earlier meeting, a hasty drawing of the layout of the Red Hook Housing Projects that Tony and I plotted out future growth of the network on.

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Topics covered in this writing update:

Social Network & Community Theory Convergence
Studying and creating a dialogue around the correlation between virtual and physical community relations through network theories.

Occupy Wall Street & Hybrid Communities
Studying the ad hoc community infrastructure of Occupy Wall Street in relation to virtual and physical information and reciprocal exchange economies and hybrid community merger theory.

Red Hook & Organic Communication/Infrastructure
Conceptual and technical development with the Red Hook Housing Projects to provide a mobile-powered social software, community interface while answering specific research questions in the process.
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This will be produced into an After Effects short at some point, but sketching out these storyboards helped to conceptualize and articulate the abstract madness of mesh networking and real world applications.

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Creating a narrative motion graphics video to help layout how a mesh functions and how my work plays into this. First round of sketches, larger frames + flesh out story next week:

After discussing mesh logistics with Isaac from Freedom Net Foundation, I was able to document how their “Freedom Tower” (directional antenna array) and dual 4G hub (with load balancing) works, running Funkfeuer router firmware:

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