Today’s post is about something I barely talk about on here, but I’m very passionate in my life: lockpicking. Lately, I’ve been feeling down on myself with my digital motivations and skills, so I’ve turned to the physical to boost my confidence, which has been therapeutic to say the least.
I started picking locks when I was about 20, I think. What got me interested was reading 2600, immersing myself in the hacker culture, reading online and all the typical things you do when you want to integrate into a subculture. I remember having no idea where to get picks, so I wandered into my local Army/Navy Supply store and asking the owners if they had any, which they did and I paid way too much for them. It’s funny looking back at what you do to learn or adopt when you have no idea about it. I wasn’t very good at it, didn’t have the motivation stick with it, so like all things I found difficult at the time, I just gave up and let my expensive crappy lockpicks collect dust. It wasn’t until I helped start DC407 almost 5 years ago that I became re-interested in the hacker hobby, diving headfirst into it. Like so many people who learn lockpicking, I just simply raked locks, which was satisfying for a time. In the last 2 years though, I’ve really dedicated to the hobby and teaching others how to open simple locks. I’ve learned the terminology, stopped raking and learned how to single pin pick and bypass more advanced security locks. I’ve had the pleasure to teach all sorts of people how to pick locks from 6 year olds to senior citizens in the last year.
Lately I’ve been trying to push myself out there as a sort of SME. I’m not happy with the label of expert when it applies to myself because there is still so much to learn, but compared to the beginner, I’m a lock popping genius. I’ve had a lot of good opportunities to showcase my skill and share what I know with people. Earlier this year, I was able to secure a spot running the lockpick village at HackMiamiCon, I’m running the lockpick village for BsidesTampa and this past weekend got to help at the village at Orlando Mini Maker Faire with a good friend and fellow hobbyist. The past weekend was awesome for a few reasons, one being that I was able to remember almost all the terms I’ve worked hard to memorize about lock mechanisms. Second, I was able to work with some kids and adults who were able to master the techniques that took me a while to learn (because I’m lazy) in just a short period of time. The kids amazed me the most, there was a kid there who had never picked anything in his life and he was able to master the basic progressives from TOOOL and #1 & #2 spool. Another kid was consistently there and listened to me very intently on how to master spool locks (he was able to get to #3 and start on #4 before we closed), but in addition, he was helping people who were walking up to the busy table and I hadn’t yet had the chance to address. (The table was very popular) Listening to my girlfriend’s stories about her experiences working in the school system has been making me jaded, and these kids have reversed some of the negativity I’ve been feeling about the next generation. (re: getting old, get off my lawn, etc) There was a little one there even, he may have been 5 or 6 that came up right before I took a break and stood next to me to open up a few of the basic progressive locks without saying anything. It was freaking cool. Hacker parents, keep it up!
So what’s the point of this self-congratulatory post? There are a few…. If you become good at something, attempt to teach it. You learn a lot about what you don’t know, if your passions/resolve are true and the actual skills it takes to teach. You’ll suck at first (I did), but you get better at it. If you can take someone who metaphorically walks in from the street and teach them the core concepts about what you know, you can be thoroughly secure about your skills. (re: confidence). Putting yourself out there itself is another thing, don’t doubt yourself. It can be terrifying to put yourself on a stage and say you are good at something and want others to know about that something. Don’t let fear cripple you, but motivate you. If you fuck up, use it as a teaching opportunity. Free SE/rapport building tool: if you fuck up and correct yourself later, people will respect you more because it makes you appear human. Just remember, they are more afraid of you than you are of them
I’ll be teaching a class at my local hackerspace soon, keep an eye out on the site for the schedule http://makerspacetampabay.org/