Watch Justin McAllister’s presentation on simple antennas suitable for a zombie apocalypse and two things will happen: you’ll be reminded that everything antennas do is amazing, and their reputation for being a black magic art will fade dramatically. Justin really knows his stuff; there is no dangle-a-wire-and-hope-for-the-best in his examples. He demonstrates that it’s possible to communicate over remarkable distances with nothing more than an off-the-shelf radio, battery pack, and an antenna of simple design.
What’s great is that his talk presents information in a hacker-friendly way. Justin knows perfectly well that hackers will go out and dig up information on whatever interests them all on their own, so he focuses on showing what’s possible, what’s out there, and what stuff is called so the audience understands what to look for when they seek out more detail. After all, it can be hard to research something when one doesn’t know the right terms, or lacks an overall understanding.