How to Live Off-the-Grid

December 1, 2010

Brit Trogen

Science in Seconds Brit Trogen


Julian Assange made headlines this week with the release of a gajillion Wikileaks documents, making many of the more science-minded among us marvel once again. Not so much about the information contained in the documents, which, as Jon Stewart pointed out, was kind of obvious. But at the fact that Assange has so far managed to elude capture. After all, not everyone who pisses off the Pentagon lives to tell the tale... I assume.


In case you ever decide to follow in his footsteps, here's some tips on how to live life off-the-grid. 


1. When web surfing, follow the advice of Wired's Evan Ratliff (last year's famous escapee) and use the program Tor to mask your IP address by diverting it to designated routers around the world. Otherwise, websites you visit can be used to map to a physical location that your tracker can use to hunt you down. 


2. Use cash for all your purchases (Obviously. Haven't you seen a movie in the last twenty years?), and if you have some time to plan before your escape, print off fake business cards with a new name before you disappear. Something like "Regina Van Flooter, Billionaire" or "Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt's lover" will help start your new life out on the right foot.


3. If you're not in immediate danger from the CIA, you can set up shop in a more permanent residence: a house with photovoltaic solar panels made of silicon semiconductors. This will leave you free of pesky electricity bills, since solar energy converts electrons in the panels to free-flowing electricity.


4. Don't use your cell phone, whatever you do. Prepaid cell phones purchased from a drug store can do the trick if you need to get in touch with loved ones, preferably with some sort of encryption if you're really hunted (Assange, according to a NYT piece, swaps encrypted cell phones "like other men change shirts"). Don't ask me how to encrypt a store bought cell phone though... 


Of course, while I and most heat-loving people will never take these tips as anything more than passing fancy, I can't help but admire those who walk the walk. A young couple (one who is brother-in-law of Wired's Geekdad) are taking the challenge literally, and documenting their attempt here. Best of luck!



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