The technology presented in "Sleeper's Run" ranges from the theoretical to the mundane. The former is always tantalizing, but personally, I'm more fascinated with the latter. Since its inception, the book was going to have an ad hoc approach to technology. I love the idea of Eric having to think on his feet and using anything that was available to him. The hacker and social engineering stuff I had to research using books, documentaries and articles on the subject. I also got to experience social engineering first hand, when I underwent urban survival training. I stumbled upon an article for a homemade Radio Frequency Identification reader, which to me was like striking gold.
I was fascinated by this aspect of the research, and at the same time, terrified of how easy it is to do certain underhanded things like fake passports, steal information, hack the average computer or spy on someone. At the time, even Wired Magazine had a very interesting article about a reporter trying to stay off the grid. That was very interesting as well as helpful.
Of course, some of the information in my research was usually kept vague. It wasn't in the interest of the writers to open an outlaw school. I too left out key elements the few times I could have done otherwise for the same reason; I was writing a fiction novel, not a training manual after all. There are people who love when an author gets into the nuts and bolts of a certain subject i.e. the way a sniper rifle works. I'd rather learn as much as I can and then try to distill the information in a way that shows that the character is proficient, without alienating the majority of the readers. The story comes first.
It's a challenge to write a character that is far more intelligent and resourceful than the author. Thankfully there are so many brilliant and resourceful minds out there to lend a hand, even if it's indirectly. To me, research is not only a book-oriented activity. One of the things I love about being a creator is to step into unknown worlds and learn new things. Keep on running!