December 2023 updates

Jan 9, 2024

In December, I didn't have much time to work on tech things since I spent a large part of it away from home. Still, here are some interesting things that happened.


I attended 37C3 in Hamburg at the end of December. I haven't been in Hamburg since 2013, at my first CCC event, 30C3. Between CCH in Hamburg and CCL in Leipzig, I think I prefer the venue of Leipzig as it is much larger and spacey, however the CCH feels more cosy. I attribute this feeling to the fact that the venue is much smaller and everything is tightly packed together.

This was the fourth CCC event I attended and I think it was my favorite so far. The main reason is the fact that I was more socially active and had more discussions with people that I both knew online or met for the first time. My highlight was organizing a small meetup for Reticulum users where we got together and discussed Reticulum/LoRa/Meshtastic and other radio related technologies. We also setup a small Reticulum network over LoRa while the congress was taking place, with most people being mobile and running Sideband on their phones tethered via Bluetooth on Lilygo based devices.

I'm definitely looking forward to the next Congress, with plans to organize a proper assembly for Reticulum and other radio projects! I view the community bonds that are created and enhanced during CCC to be the most important takeaway from such events.

Personal projects and infra

I got nerd snipped early in December when a friend wanted to find out what the current state of self-hosted LLMs is. I ended up doing a somewhat deep dive into the world of local and "open" LLMs. I use quotations because my understanding is that for a lot of the open models, it's not easy to verify the dataset(s) the model was trained. Furthermore, it's not always clear if they're licensed in way that allows training models on them. This becomes an issue when various open models mention they're finetuned against GPT4 generated content, which obviously is a black box.

Learning more about the inner workings of these models, their limitations and how to overcome them, how to host and run them in an efficient way, and so on has been a lot of fun. I still haven't found good usecases for them, a lot of the common examples people use (proofreading, summarizing, etc) are things that I either prefer to do myself or have a fellow human help me with. Nonetheless, I'm afraid they're here to stay as a technology and as such I need to get familiar with it.

In other news, I gave pi-hole a try at home. I ran it for a couple of days as a pod in my k3s raspberry node, but in the end I didn't like the extra complexity and depending on another device besides my router. So, I moved back to using the adblock OpenWrt package directly on my OpenWrt router and calling it a day.

I also updated my aging Eee PC 1000H server from OpenBSD 7.1 all the way to OpenBSD 7.4, the latest stable version. It's my one and only remaining x86 machine and I often use it to test changes in software and verify it still works in an x86 machine.

2023 going to 2024

2023 was a year that I was able to rekindle my connection with technology. I rediscovered my passion for all things RF, got licensed as an amateur radio operator, tinkered with a lot of hardware projects, made some contributions to FOSS projects and I was more active on this blog. It was my best year in term of number of blog posts, six in fact, totalling about 5100 words.

Looking forward to what 2024 will bring, I have a backlog of exciting things I want to experiment with, so keep an eye out for upcoming posts ;)

I hope 2024 turns out to be a better year for more people than 2023 was.

Tags: log

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