Welcome! I am a freelance writer, and currently work as a contributing writer at Hackaday. I have also been a contributor at First Quarter Finance. I write on several other personal side projects as well, like my Project Blog. Some of my favorites from the rest of my professional portfolio are listed here..


Degrees Of Freedom: Booting ARM Processors

Aug 12, 2020.
Original Content Research/Deep Dive

An original content blog post for Hackaday that takes a deep dive into the boot process for ARM processors, compared to the security nightmare of booting x86 processors.

Any modern computer with an x86 processor, whether it’s Intel or AMD, is a lost cause for software freedom and privacy. We harp on this a lot, but it’s worth repeating that it’s nearly impossible to get free, open-source firmware to run on them thanks to the Intel Management Engine (IME) and the AMD Platform Security Processor (PSP). Without libre firmware there’s no way to trust anything else, even if your operating system is completely open-source.

The IME or PSP have access to memory, storage, and the network stack even if the computer is shut down, and even after the computer boots they run at such a low level that the operating system can’t be aware of what they’re really doing. Luckily, there’s a dark horse in the race in the personal computing world that gives us some hope that one day there will be an x86 competitor that allows their users to have a free firmware that they can trust. ARM processors, which have been steadily increasing their user share for years but are seeing a surge of interest since the recent announcement by Apple, are poised to take over the personal computing world and hopefully allow us some relevant, modern options for those concerned with freedom and privacy. But in the real world of ARM processors the road ahead will decidedly long, windy, and forked.

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Linux’s Marketing Problem

Oct 31, 2019.
Original Content Research/Deep Dive

An original content blog post for Hackaday invesitgating a possible non-technical reason that Linux on the desktop maintains a pitiful market share despite its technical advantages.

The cult classic movie Office Space is a scathing critique of life for software engineers in a cubicle farm, and it did get a lot of things right even if it didn’t always mean to. One of those is the character of Tom Smykowski whose job is to “deal with the customers so the engineers don’t have to”. The movie treats Tom and his job as a punchline in a way, but his role is actually very important for most real businesses that rely on engineers or programmers for their core products.

Engineers can have difficulty relating to customers, and often don’t have the time (or even willingness) to handle the logistics of interacting with them in the first place. Customers may get frustrated understanding engineers or communicating their ideas clearly to them. A person like Tom Smykowski is often necessary to bridge the gap and smooth out the rough edges on both sides, but in the Linux world there are very few Toms to rely on. The customers, or users, have to deal directly with the engineers in many situations, and it’s not working out very well for either group. Linux has a marketing problem, and it needs a marketing solution if it ever wants to increase its market share in the PC realm.

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Quantum Computing Hardware Teardown

Jan 22, 2018.
Original Content Research/Deep Dive

An original content blog post for Hackaday that takes a look into the inner workings of quantum computing, looking at hardware and specific methods of acheiving quantum computing rather than just the theory.

Although quantum computing is still in its infancy, enough progress is being made for it to look a little more promising than other “revolutionary” technologies, like fusion power or flying cars. IBM, Intel, and Google all either operate or are producing double-digit qubit computers right now, and there are plans for even larger quantum computers in the future. With this amount of inertia, our quantum computing revolution seems almost certain.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, though, before all of our encryption is rendered moot by these new devices. Since nothing is easy (or intuitive) at the quantum level, progress has been considerably slower than it was during the transistor revolution of the previous century. These computers work because of two phenomena: superposition and entanglement. A quantum bit, or qubit, works because unlike a transistor it can exist in multiple states at once, rather than just “zero” or “one”. These states are difficult to determine because in general a qubit is built using a single atom. Adding to the complexity, quantum computers must utilize quantum entanglement too, whereby a pair of particles are linked. This is the only way for any hardware to “observe” the state of the computer without affecting any qubits themselves. In fact, the observations often don’t yet have the highest accuracy themselves.

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Hitching a Ride on a Missile

Jul 18, 2017.
Original Content Historical Perspective

An original content blog post for Hackaday about NASA beating swords into plowshares

Before the Saturn V rocket carried men to the moon, a number of smaller rockets carried men on suborbital and orbital flights around the Earth. These rockets weren’t purpose-built for this task, though. In fact, the first rockets that carried people into outer space were repurposed ballistic missiles, originally designed to carry weapons.

While it might seem like an arduous task to make a ballistic missile safe enough to carry a human, the path from a weapons delivery system to passenger vehicle was remarkably quick. Although there was enough safety engineering and redundancy to disqualify the space program as a hack, it certainly was a clever repurposing of the available technology.

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Harrowing Story of Installing Libreboot on ThinkPad

Dec 16, 2016.
Original Content/Photos Personal Project

An original content blog post for Hackaday about a computer project I built to explore an issue the other writers and I were discussing on the blog. I also created the photos for this article, which is not common practice.

As an Apple user, I’ve become somewhat disillusioned over the past few years. Maybe it’s the spirit of Steve Jobs slowly vanishing from the company, or that Apple seems to care more about keeping up with expensive trends lately rather than setting them, or the nagging notion Apple doesn’t have my best interests as a user in mind.

Whatever it is, I was passively on the hunt for a new laptop with the pipe dream that one day I could junk my Apple for something even better. One that could run a *nix operating system of some sort, be made with quality hardware, and not concern me over privacy issues. I didn’t think that those qualities existed in a laptop at all, and that my 2012 MacBook Pro was the “lesser of evils” that I might as well keep using. But then, we published a ThinkPad think piece that had two words in it that led me on a weeks-long journey to the brand-new, eight-year-old laptop I’m currently working from. Those two words: “install libreboot”.

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Electric BMX With Friction Drive

Nov 26, 2020.
Blog Post Electric Bicycle Features

A feature of a dual-motor ebike build from the community

Electric bikes have increased in popularity dramatically over the past few years, and while you can easily buy one from a reputable bicycle manufacturer, most of us around here might be inclined to at least buy a kit and strap it to a bike we already have. There aren’t kits available for every bike geometry, though, so if you want an electric BMX bike you might want to try out something custom like [Shea Nyquist] did with his latest build.

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Student-Built Rocket Engine Packs a Punch

Oct 24, 2019.
Blog Post Rocketry

Boston University students testing their own liquid-fueled rocket motor

A group of students at Boston University recently made a successful test of a powerful rocket engine intended for 100km suborbital flights. Known as the Iron Lotus (although made out of mild steel rather than iron), this test allowed them to perfect the timing and perfect their engine design (also posted to Reddit) which they hope will eventually make them the first collegiate group to send a rocket to space.

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Under the Hood of AMD’s Threadripper

Aug 3, 2017.
Blog Post Computer Processor News

A news article about a new multi-core processor from AMD

Although AMD has been losing market share to Intel over the past decade, they’ve recently started to pick up steam again in the great battle for desktop processor superiority. A large part of this surge comes in the high-end, multi-core processor arena, where it seems like AMD’s threadripper is clearly superior to Intel’s competition. Thanks to overclocking expert [der8auer] we can finally see what’s going on inside of this huge chunk of silicon.

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Keystroke Sniffer Hides as a Wall Wart, is Scary

Jan 14, 2015.
Blog Post Information Security News

A news article featuring a hack that allows attackers to easily take control of non-networked computers

For those of us who worry about the security of our wireless devices, every now and then something comes along that scares even the already-paranoid. The latest is a device from [Samy] that is able to log the keystrokes from Microsoft keyboards by sniffing and decrypting the RF signals used in the keyboard’s wireless protocol. Oh, and the entire device is camouflaged as a USB wall wart-style power adapter.

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Best Cars to Flip: When to Flip Economy Cars, Vans/SUVs, & More

Jan 12, 2018.
Original Content Advice

An article for First Quarter Finance about the basics of flipping cars as a side hustle. The original article was written by me, but recent updates to it placed a different author on the by-line.

While it might sound like an event at a strongman competition, flipping cars is actually a great way to earn some extra money. All you need to do to flip a car is find a good deal on a car, buy it, and sell it at a higher price. Often, these cars need to be repaired or fixed up in order to get the most money out of them before they’re sold. In this article, we’ll share some tips about which cars are best to flip so you can get the best deal for your time and money.

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Solar Power for the Truck

Jan 14, 2015.
Blog Post Personal Project

One of my own projects at my blog, detailing my process of installing a solar panel on my pickup truck.

I've always wanted to play around with a solar panel large enough to do something useful. Since I occasionally drive my truck well into the middle of nowhere, running some of the electronics in it (the stereo, the radio equipment, or the inverter) off of a solar panel seemed possible, but as a secondary goal I also decided I would like for the solar panel to run the cabin fans during particularly hot days to keep the heat manageable (I live in South Florida). Most of what I have done up to this point is proof-of-concept, and I am not planning on having this particular panel permanently attached to my truck.

As an electrical engineer in the power industry, I must start this with a disclaimer: my goal is NOT to offset any of the fossil fuels used in my truck with solar. From my experience, there is a pervasive belief that solar photovoltaics are much more practical than they really are. However, to put it in perspective, to even offset 20% of the power my truck's engine normally produces, the solar panel would have to be around 3,000 square feet.

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Apathetic Campus

Spring, 2010.
Newspaper Opinion The Tiger News

I used to write opinion pieces for the college paper at Clemson University. Some of them are still my favorites!

While watching the vast number of students cross over the library bridge during class changes, it seems as though most of them are trying to avoid all of the activists who harass everyone with their barrage of fliers. Those simply trying to get to class are certainly justified in being annoyed at any of these demonstrators on the library bridge especially since they are often rude, loud, ugly, or otherwise annoying.

This has gotten to be a hot-button issue. The library bridge is the main thoroughfare through campus, yet some students are forced to either take alternate routes around the library bridge or fake a phone call simply to avoid these obstinate demonstrators. However, the real problem here is with the normal, everyday students themselves.

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Student Government Lackluster

Spring, 2010.
Newspaper Opinion The Tiger News

I used to write opinion pieces for the college paper at Clemson University. Some of them are still my favorites!

A few nights ago, a friend and her Jeep were stranded in a parking lot near the Dunkin Donuts. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get it running again, the problem was finally fixed in an unexpected way: hitting a part of the engine really hard with a hammer.

Regrettably, not all solutions to all problems are this simple or this good at relieving frustration. However, the upcoming round of student government elections will have all kinds of snake oil salesmen trying to convince Clemson students that the complex and involved problems are fixed as easily as casting a ballot or starting a broken Jeep.

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