Some British researchers have found out how to defeat (some of) the Chinese Internet-censoring infrastructure: The keyword blocking system doesn't block packets. Instead it sends RST packets. Which you needn't heed. Nice.

"Think of it as the Harry Potter approach to the Great Firewall - just shut your eyes and walk onto Platform 9 3/4."
[ published on Wed 28.06.2006 22:14 | filed in interests/anti | ]

I'm no fan of EczemaScript but the recent Westpac/Virgin mess convinced me that scripting in the browser is not necessarily bad - as long as I control what runs where and when (hence I use NoScript and deny all scripts everywhere except where I know the code).

Yesterday I mucked around with making the local TV guide website bearable - all I really want to see is the innermost table of actual information, minus all the square acres of blinking advertisements and similar drivel.

Upgraded to Firefox 1.5 (actually painless, very different from past experiences), installed the newest (0.6.4) Greasemonkey, found a script that claimed to fix that mess but which was too ugly by far, rewrote it to suit my prefs, done.

I learned a lot about Javascript and DOM (and also where Greasemonkey sucks) than I ever wanted to, but that's fine.

Today I thought about tackling the Virgin problem, but found out that Joel Hockey has already written a nifty simple small script that gives you text-based password entry back (without removing the silly buttons, should you be stupid enough to want them). Thanks, Joel!

But it didn't work. My stubbornness has few limits (and the weather was not flyable today), so I learned still more about JS and GM and the DOM, especially about the recent paranoia that badly affect the new Greasemonkey and wrecks most of the nice things about DOM and JS (if there were any in the first place).

In the end I fixed Joel's script (and sent it back upstream) and am now quite pleased with my army of greased monkeys.

Next step, maybe: adding a squad of platypuses.

[ published on Sat 24.06.2006 19:50 | filed in interests/comp | ]

Yesterday was my birthday. It rained.
Quite a few people sent their wishes, and I'm happy about that.

My kid didn't and I'm not happy about that.

[ published on Sat 24.06.2006 15:43 | filed in still-not-king | ]

Sometimes I need time off the computer stuff and deal with tangibles. Playing around with house-related things serves very well here, and most of the time iff I get started on a project, it ends up between fine and perfect.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Fri 23.06.2006 15:09 | filed in interests | ]

Japanese crows fight dirty: in Tokyo they're taking down (pole-strung) fiber cables because the stuff apparently makes good nesting material. Result: loads of people without Internet access.

[ published on Thu 22.06.2006 14:02 | filed in interests/humour | ]

One of our machines at work gets hammered by ssh password guessers, and this is about a neat and cheap (IMHO) way of dealing with this.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Thu 15.06.2006 16:09 | filed in mystuff | ]

but not out the other... Amazing how our brain stores stuff and associates emotions with triggers.

click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Tue 13.06.2006 21:25 | filed in brainfarts | ]

Looks like the gods in charge of the weather also don't believe in queens, or rather believe in first soaking and then blow-drying.

Saturday it rained/drizzled/rained/blew, and Sunday it simply howled. Nevertheless we had a nice weekend - just a camping weekend without flying.

[ published on Tue 13.06.2006 18:31 | filed in still-not-king | ]

I believe neither in god nor any sodding queen, but whatever it takes to get a public holiday! (coming Monday)

I and a group of Like-Minded Loonies are going out to killarney tomorrow afternoon, for a nice cold, maybe flyable long weekend. Unfortunately the forecast is dreary enough that the invocation above seems justified...unless god also doesn't believe in queens.

[ published on Fri 09.06.2006 01:00 | filed in still-not-king | ]

I rebuilt my backup-and-music box recently, because the case was ugly and because I needed to fit another disk for online backup.

I had a Sun 811 case lying around, and another similar to a 411. Neither would take the Epia motherboard, PSU, dvd burner, two 3.5" disks and a 20x4 lcd, but together they can throw off the yoke of conformist PCism! ahem

So I cut out the plastic top of the 811 and riveted the 411 onto it, which gives me space for the drives. A face for the open rear end of the 411 was cut from the cannibalized pieces of my Sony stereo junk and hot-glued in. The frame for the HDs is an old cut-up drive bay, and the support for the burner is a piece of sheet metal that I riveted in (hot-glue isn't strong enough and I didn't want to use expoxy for no reason at all).

 2006_06_05-tosspot-top-inside.jpg 2006_06_05-tosspot-rear-face.jpg

The front with the lcd got a painted fascia (balsa) and the IR sensor was mounted internally this time.

 2006_06_05-tosspot-rebuild-open.jpg  2006_06_05-tosspot-front.jpg

After a shitload of further surgery on the cases and innards I ended up with this pleasant look.


But you can't see the rear in that photo which is good. None of my small ATX power supplies would fit without totally rebuilding the thing (not-so-perfect an idea as I'd basically have to strip all insulation off, then resolder half the high and low voltage connections and cram all the resulting mess into the franken-case), so I started looking at DC-DC PSUs. Like this one. Which I did eventually buy, thinking "the 90W/145W peak PSU I have used so far, so this 200W thing should do nicely". Cost me about us$100 (with a 9A AC-DC external brick and shipping).

Little did I know, and for that matter, too little effort did I spend on research. Plug it in, fire up, works - somewhat: now I get loads of noise on the audio out connection. Not just mains hum but all kinds of activity-dependent crap as well. This is when I started doing the research I should have done before. It turns out that loads of people hate the PW-200-M for being a crap piece of equipment. First, it's nowhere near 200W, and some other speciality PSU manufacturers have accused the makers of shoddy lying advertising. The 5V rail sagged under the load of my two disks down to less than 3V at times. The 12V line is not regulated, so iff you're not using a regulated brick you'll fry your gear (especially the carputer people hate it for that). The smoothing caps are not exactly large at 390-1000uF. (But the form factor rocks, which is why I bought it...)

Tried pretty much everything non-destructive, like powering only the board from the PW-200-M, trying different 12V supplies to verify the noise is coming from the PW-200-M etc...but no joy. It may be useful for really low-power scenarios where one doesn't care so much about power quality (i.e. non-audio application), but for me it's junk...Bugger.

Back to square one: normal PSUs don't fit. Most high-quality DC-DC PSUs like the Opus gear won't fit or require 19V like the DC2DC converters.... So for the time being, I plopped my normal small ATX PSU like an outboard motor behind the box...with some shielding and extra grounding it doesn't affect radio reception too much. sigh

[ published on Wed 07.06.2006 17:22 | filed in interests/comp | ]

It does get a bit cold at nights now (+5°C last few days on the coast, with frost inlands) but the days are still nice at up to 22°C and, predominantly, sunny. That's the kind of winter I like nowadays.

Some flying pics; last weekend we were rushing from site to site and mostly parawaiting as in the first pic. This weekend wasn't lots better but a bit: Saturday was blown out, Sunday was very south but still good enough for Beechmont. I got an hour of airtime and took some pics of Marty and Phil.

 2006_05_27-parawaiting.jpg  2006_06_04-marty-beechmont-launching-gone.jpg  2006_06_04-marty-beechmont.jpg  2006_06_04-phil-against-gc.jpg

I've also got two short movie clips (taken with the digital camera, so they suck) of Rob at Killarney two weeks ago and one of Phil launching at Beechmont today.

[ published on Mon 05.06.2006 02:00 | filed in interests/flying | ]

My backup tape stacker died recently, so I had to look for alternate cheap backup solutions. Goodbye Amanda! snif Recent tape drives being prohibitively expensive, I went for two more 200gb disks, one for the living-room machine (aka. tosspot) and one for an usb enclosure and transfer via sneaker-net to the office.

So far, so good. The choice of available software, however, and my paranoia re backup storage have an intersection close to \epsilon: backuppc doesn't encrypt. boxbackup does, but is a bit rough and needs loads of certificates to get anything done. On a comparison page about boxbackup I found a link to duplicity which has a very nice feature set which meets my ideas of backup pretty nicely:

  • Everything happens on the client, the server only needs to give scp/ftp/rsync/s3 access.
  • Symmetric or asymmetric encryption, encrypt-but-not-sign as well.
  • a way to do incrementals that shows deleted files, while still not needing anything but gpg and tar to restore (if you've lost the duplicity program).
  • Doesn't need to decrypt anything for doing incrementals, if you give it a little space on the local machine.

However, it's got a fair number of minor problems as well. Quite some debugging and head-scratching and four bug reports later (one two three for duplicity, two with patches and one for rsync with a patch as well) I'm now set: a dumb rsync server with some disk behind it, encryption (but no signing) to my gpg key happening on the clients, the result of which ends up on the server. To do incrementals cleanly, a little unencrypted space (--archive-dir) is set aside on the clients, where duplicity can store some hashes and other info of the files it's backing up.

I still don't like python much but I'm at least reaching that debugging-and-mini-maintenance-hacking level. Syntactic whitespace sucks.

[ published on Mon 05.06.2006 01:37 | filed in mystuff | ]

Propaganda idiots at work: Dear Captain Copyright, it is with great pleasure that I hereby violate your absolutely moronic IP disclaimer, which shows that you have no clue whatsoever about technology or anything else for that matter.

In short: you are total wankers. Now, please stop linking to yourself and do vanish in a puff of logic as your own site is very much "damaging or cause(ing) harm to the reputation of, Access Copyright".

[ published on Fri 02.06.2006 13:13 | filed in interests/humour | ]

As of 28.5., I'm the 3547th most paranoid geek on the planet.

One of the fringe benefits of the recent trip to Austria was that Werner Koch gave a keynote speech at the conference I was attending to, we had a chat and exchanged signatures (surprise, surprise; opportunities like that...). That has catapulted my paranoia ranking up a fair bit (from about 23500th place).

The newest analyses: by Henk Penning or Jason Harris

No comprendo? It's all about a type of modern voodoo, oddly-clothed weirdos sitting around in pubs mumbling numeric incantations to each other and the result of this worship of mathematical concepts. In short, not something normal people get excited about... but we're not normal and proud of it! grin

[ published on Thu 01.06.2006 15:38 | filed in interests/crypto | ]

What a lovely read:

"Emotional balance: The sniper must be able to calmly and deliberately kill targets that may not pose an immediate threat to him. It is much easier to kill in self-defense or in the defense of others than it is to kill without apparent provocation. The sniper must not be susceptible to emotions such as anxiety or remorse."

Source: FM 23-10, US Army Sniper Training Field Manual, page 1-4 on Personnel selection criteria (html or pdf).

An interesting read - if not exactly aligned with any career path ideas I might have...

[ published on Thu 01.06.2006 15:04 | filed in brainfarts | ]

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