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“Shadow engineering” for WSRA

November 9, 2014

Someone on WSRA pointed out while talking about shadow infrastructure, most topics, from food to medicine, have been covered, and people are working to make them somewhat “cool” to attract people to working on them. Since no one’s started on it, and it’s more or less what I’ve been trying to focus on in my AO, I thought I’d throw a bit out on engineering.

For our purposes, people who design, and people who make, can be combined, divided simply on skill. Masters design, others help make if needed. People design machines, buildings, electronics, chemicals. Sounding familiar? For the most part, we can lump these into buildings and infrastructure, and devices and doodads. You probably won’t have bachelor’s degrees available in all of the above though, so getting to caught up on names is pointless.

People who fix things won’t have the same expertise as makers, but shouldn’t have to. For the most part, these will be the people using stuff, and so will have their own motivation to learn, and only a few areas will have dedicated fixers. That guy who has a knack should be taken good care of.

For the most part, people that break things will be in other areas. Guns are decent at putting holes in things, but if you need really big holes, or holes in really tough things, or things that are hard to hit, you need either a special item, and/or someone with special skill, and an “engineer” will probably do. Put it two ways: you have guys who make guns, and guys who make and use BIG guns.

So we have:

A machine guild, that does everything from guns to cars.

“Civil engineering” guild, that does buildings and infrastructure.

Electronics guild that gets that specialized gear that can’t quite fit anywhere else.

Chemicals, that probably also covers a good bit of medical stuff too, for the petroleum products, gunpowder, medicine, and stuff.

Repair guild, that does fixing to specialized for the field, but too general to mess with a maker(armorer would go here, as compared to a gunsmith in a field unit, or the guy with a rifling machine).

Combat technology guild that does specialized blowing stuff up.

Notice the quote marks, I’m horrible at using proper terms, and for this essay, I’m deliberately abusing a few for simplicity. In case any real civil engineers for example take issue with my definition, the quotes do indicate a loose use of the term. At the same time, you can see I’m staying away from “engineering” now, since few of these are truly engineering, and few people working with them will fit the dictionary definition.

Using “guilds” which might spread to other areas, we can start using those skill levels: apprentices who are learning, journeymen who can do most work without supervision, and masters, who supposedly know it all. This also embraces the non-academic training system. While classroom learning will still have it’s place, an apprenticeship system can provide decentralized progression of knowledge, important for a shadow organization.

If definitions are good, we can start splitting the effort, with others writing within their specialties. This blog was intended to cover 3D printing and other such technologies, so I’d like to keep my focus on those, despite their potentially limited use in Freefor, at least at first. Since I’m not a civil engineer, it’s even more ideal for someone else to talk about that.


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  1. Boon Vickerson is out there permalink

    Good piece you wrote here. Let me tell you you hit on something near and dear to me.
    The guild system has everything going for it, except how people think in today’s industrial manufacturing world.
    I’m not going to say some things here cause I’m bitching, but because they are realities which sorely need to be addressed.

    Difficult to define, but here goes.

    Use myself as an example. I’m 58, been a welder/fabricator since 16, lots of years there. I made it my business to expand my knowledge and skill into almost every facet of metal fabrication. Entirely self taught. I know things, lots of things, it is practical knowledge, applied. Here is the thing, without a formal education, the idea I have such a broad practical applied range of skills and handcraft knowledge is literally unconceivable to most people I work with. Even applying for a job, every human resources person I interview with don’t seem to grasp the level of experience and knowledge I have. Because I don’t have a sheepskin. It quite frankly horrifying how ignorant, and i mean that in a respectful manner, many people are, that an individual could be so devoted to his craft that they could squire and build an encompassing set of skills.

    When I began to work as a kid i dreamed of being a welder. That is what I wanted to be, still do. I love making things, I love getting better at doing it, and believe I can always learn more and be better at it, no matter the discipline.

    But to convey that concept and ideals, to engineers, managers, co-workers, it is almost impossible. And it threatens many people. When I began, welding was a trade, something respectful, you had to prove yourself to the foreman’s, experience was everything, but most of all, there was esteem and pride in the trades. The buck stopped with the shop foreman. And merit ruled. You better be better than you claimed or your arse was toss and out the door.

    Today, I have to down play my experience to the lowest common denominators.
    It is terrible.

    The guild system brings legitimacy to trades, it reinforces craftsmanship and excelling. It brings in new blood, exemplifies tradition and wisdom. It weeds out nepotism, gives credibility to trades like nothing else can.

    I always envisioned small guilds, local, connected to each other as mutually beneficial. Local is very important, and small in size, it maintains a nucleus of masters, and encourages the creation of new guilds. In this way many unique characteristics specific to each guild is created. Gives journeyman, and masters greater opportunity of working in guilds, and the inverse too.

    I wish I had the funds to begin a guild, do it tommorrow in a new York minute.

    • Boon, I hear you. The guild mindset is still alive, but in disguise. Get a job, question everything as to WHY/HOW, take on increasing responsibilities, continuously get better at what you do. Then you do the dance with certification rules / requirements. I got my PE the long way, with over 20 years of OJT. It won’t travel well, but is satisfies ME.

    • bill permalink

      Boon, Im in the bastard trade of HVAC. I still need a electrical and plumbing License to BE qualified to work on a ice machine at walmart.. I like my job of making heat or ice. And H.R. is stupid to not see the years and work that went into the craft. Pack Sand trolls, I own you when the bill comes.

    • If you’re walking the walk, you’ll win. Meanwhile, find a bright kid or two, and pass it on…Godspeed…

  2. Mechanical engineer – industrial and building infrastructure / pumps, pipes and fans / cool s**t to do with compressed air / and more . . .

  3. permalink

    PhD in EE here.

    We’re already working this locally. Who wants to know where every radio carried by every police officer, DHS goon, sheriff, EPA agent, FBI agent, and IRS agent is within a 100′ radius? Because we’re already doing that. It costs $200 to cover 4 square miles. Parts available from Amazon.

    How about sniffing IMEIs in realtime? I point a directional antenna at $GIANT_FEDERAL_BUILDING and record cell phone parameters of everyone in the building for a month. Then throw out anyone who doesn’t appear in 60% of the days for more than 4 hours, and during government business hours only. (BTW, with my good yagi, I can even find out which people have the corner offices). Then drive around in the ritzy neighborhoods with a low power omni so you only get a hit if you’re close. Cross reference with property records. Presto, you know where all the higher ups sleep. This capability is about $100 per unit.

    Who knows what a femtocell is? IMEI authentication? (raises hand). Think that cell phones actually check whether a given cell tower is authentic before routing through it? They don’t. MITM heaven! $150.

    • There are two sides of the problem: using the capability, and acquiring the capability. You got use down, and acquiring things at this point in time isn’t really that hard, how about later, when feds are cracking down on distributors? If something happens and your original equipment is confiscated, how much can be hacked together McGuyver style from spare parts and an Arduino, and how much has to be bought whole? You have many spare Arduinos/PICs around to use?

      You might be one to bounce an interesting idea I’ve had off of–with software radio and a good broadband antennae, how hard should it be to pick up a frequency hopping signal, isolate it, and find the direction of it’s source? Or is that part of something you’ve already been working on?

      • No PICs. Runs entirely on RasPis or laptops.

        Anything with a wideband tuner/sampler I could see being restricted for “State Security”.

        FHSS is not all that wideband actually.

        Slow DFing of static FHSS is just an averaging problem and is easy enough.

        To do fast DF of FHSS you need enough receivers to simultaneously sample the entire bandwidth covered by the spreading code.

        For example, fast DFing something like SINCGARS which hops ~100ch/s within ~50MHz, you need ~5 RTLSDRs that you can buy for about $12 each and a solid state 30deg scanning array which can be built for $20, which should allow an azimuth lock to ~6deg within 5 seconds or so.

    • Who sez God doesn’t love hackers? Awesome!

  4. If a guild has access to a 3D printer the world is their oyster. Add in lost pva casting in metal and most parts can be made easily. And most disruptive of all to the establishment is that the idea for that part can be conveyed in ways not easy to detect.

  5. Reblogged this on Starvin Larry and commented:
    Great concept.

  6. Hi fabbersmith. Can you please ping me at my email? thx

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