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Wired Writer Disappears, Find Him and Make $5k 135

Posted by samzenpus
from the hiding-in-plain-sight dept.
carp3_noct3m writes "A freelance Wired magazine journalist has decided to see what it is like to disappear from normal life, all while staying on the grid. The catch, is that he is challenging anyone and everyone to find him, take a picture, and speak a special codeword to him. If you can do that, you can make 5000 dollars, which happens to come out of his paycheck for the article he'll be writing. Oh, and to top it all off, whoever finds him gets pictures and interviews in Wired. He has been posting to his Twitter, using TOR for internet, and the Wired website will be posting his credit card transactions."

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Wired Writer Disappears, Find Him and Make $5k

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  • Is this an ad? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by VoyagerRadio (669156) <harold.johnson@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @01:30PM (#29121281) Homepage Journal
    I can't figure out if this is an ad, spam, or something else altogether. Someone want to help me out? Does Slashdot post links to contests?
  • Already Been Done (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @01:36PM (#29121423)
    This has already been done by a journalist and his security-industry buddy.
    They wrote a book about it and presented at a recent hacker conference (it might have been the last HOPE, or maybe last year's defcon)

    Good job being original, guy
  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @04:41PM (#29124855)

    But not for fun and it was a lot longer than 30 days. A psychotic roommate accused me of attempted murder so I got the heck out of Dodge. While I didn't quit my job and move to a new country, I moved to a new place that couldn't be linked to me in any way. All utilities were in a new roommate's name. I received no mail at the new address. Everything (credit cards, DMV, voter registration, HR records, cell phone bill, bank statements, insurance, etc.) went to a mail drop. When I went out with friends, I'd meet them at our destination. For nearly 3 months, nobody knew where I lived but my new roommates and they knew the situation. For the next 5 or 6 months, only 4 other people knew where I lived. Good thing because my old roommate tried to track me down a couple of times but none of our mutual friends knew where I was. And they were glad that they didn't have to decide whether to give up the info.

    I know I didn't drop entirely off the grid but that wasn't my intent. My intent was to make my new home a sanctuary. I didn't want to have to worry about cops busting down my door in the middle of the night. I didn't want the old roommate showing up to try and work things out or "settle the score". Sure, I could be found at the office any time but at least I could go home at night and know that the only kind of disruption I could face was a phone call.

    Funny thing is my "safe house" was nicer than any place I'd ever lived before. My bedroom with private bath was on the top floor of a brand new 3-story condo. 8 miles from the office on the only stretch of the freeway that doesn't slow to a crawl during rush hour. Private park, BBQs, gym, pool, and hot tubs across the street.

  • Re:Already Been Done (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@[ ]mythe.com ['jws' in gap]> on Thursday August 20, 2009 @12:30AM (#29129189) Homepage Journal

        Big deal. I fall "off the grid" all the time. That's where I am right now, not for any particular reason, other than I can. I'm not using any credit cards. I have a prepaid credit card, but rarely use it. The phone number everyone knows forwards three times, and ends up on a prepaid cell with no GPS capabilities. If I have the urge, I just pick up a new prepaid phone, and change the forwarding. I can change the last hop, or several of them.

        I occasionally pop up in an unexpected city. I'll buy gas with the prepaid card. I'll tell someone to meet me in a particular location. I always pick a location close to them, so if I were being followed, they'd have to get to the city first before they could intercept me. Before they could get a flight half way there, I'd already be on the move. Gas is paid in cash. I sleep in my car, acquaintances houses, or less desirable hotels that I can pay cash at and give a false name for. "Sorry, someone stole my wallet with my drivers license. I'm from Nebraska, and can't get it replaced until I get back there." I'm driving a borrowed car from an old but obscure friend. It's not actually his car, but it belongs to another friend of his (who I know even know) that said he can use it for anything he wants. Voila. A vehicle that's safe to drive, that no one would recognize. :)

        When I talk to friends, I tell them each different cities. There are a few official reasons that I'd reappear, which I have as necessary. Otherwise, I'm "off the grid" doing odd jobs. Getting another "real" job is almost impossible these days. Free access points are abundant. I use them for a few minutes, check my mail, read Slashdot, and move again. Only I know my schedule, and only the people I'm doing work for know when I'm going to be anywhere. They don't know each other, and don't know that I'm playing "off grid". They wouldn't have anyone to report it to anyways.

        I drive routes I wouldn't normally drive, making "wrong" turns and letting the GPS redirect me through alternative routes.

        I've been this way for a couple months now.

        I popped "on grid" today. 5 people who know me saw me. I ran a credit card transaction for gas. Now, I'm 500 miles from there, and will be even more by morning. I'm maintaining a nondescript, nonthreatening look, and driving the speed limits. The police won't stop me, but if they do and run my drivers license, I'll pop off grid just as fast as I appeared.

        If someone doesn't want to be found, they won't be. If someone wanted to find me, they'd always be looking in the wrong decoy cities. If I told you I was sitting in Atlanta, and had driven near Atlanta International Airport sometime today, what does that tell you? Nothing. I'm in an area with 5.3 million people. The odds that you'll spot me are minimal at best.

        The target of the article is in a large metro area (San Francisco). He's thrown himself in front of a large crowd, begging to be caught. There may be a few Wired readers, and a few Slashdot readers there. Someone's going to want the $5k. I'm not going to bother. It's not worth my time or energy to go out there to find him. Maybe for $50k I'd find him in a few days, but otherwise, it's no worth it.

  • Re:Already Been Done (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 20, 2009 @06:25AM (#29130895)
    He's not doing it at all. I've known a pathological fantasist since I was a child, and this sounds exactly like the kind of story she would come out with.

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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