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Postings for January 2015:  (37 posts)
Thu, 22 Jan 2015 00:42:05 UTC

GPS navigator woes

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been bitching and moaning about GPS navigators since I first got one, and somehow the problem isn't going away. When I went into Ballarat today, I took my old one and my new one with me. I still can't work out how to do some simple things with the new one, like muting the sound. But then the display on the new navigator went crazy, like an old analogue TV with bad horizontal sync. And I couldn't turn it off. In the end, I had to reset it. OK, I still have the old navigator. But it wouldn't charge. Are the batteries that bad?

Tue, 20 Jan 2015 17:00:37 UTC

Stack Exchange Raises $40m

Posted By Joel Spolsky

Today Stack Exchange is pleased to announce that we have raised $40 million, mostly from Andreessen Horowitz. Everybody wants to know what were going to do with all that money. First of all, of course were going to gold-plate the Aeron chairs in the office. Then were going to upgrade the game room, and were already sending lox platters to our highest-rep users. But Ill get into that in a minute. First, let me catch everyone up on whats happening at Stack Exchange. In 2008, Jeff Atwood and I set out to fix a problem for programmers. At the time, getting answers to programming questions online was super annoying.

Sun, 18 Jan 2015 01:17:47 UTC

Network transfer rates

Posted By Greg Lehey

My Internet link has an uplink speed of 5 Mb/s, so theoretically I should be able to upload data at about 600 kB/s. In practice, window size and latency limit it to about 125 kB/s. Yes, of course I could increase the window size, but that requires rebooting, and I'm an uptime fanatic. So I put up with only 125 kB/s. But today I got much worse transfer rates, over an extended period of time: 20150117/big/Canna-3.jpeg      2469245 100%   28.23kB/s    0:01:25 (xfer#103, to-check=281/394) 20150117/big/Cistus.jpeg      3522116 100%   24.99kB/s    0:02:17 (xfer#104, to-check=280/394) 20150117/big/Cockatoos-1.jpeg      3101098 100%   26.08kB/s    0:01:56 (xfer#105, to-check=279/394) That's only 20% of the normal rate.

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 23:51:31 UTC

Tablet photos

Posted By Greg Lehey

I didn't think to bring my camera to the Emergency Room yesterday, but of course I had my Android tablet, which I use as a glorified eBook reader. And it has a camera, so I used it to take some photos of my hand. Today I moved them to eureka for processing. This is a pure Linux base, right, no Microsoft in sight. So why do I get this? -r----x--x  1 grog  lemis   1,279,950 15 Jan 11:33 IMG_20150115_113355.jpg -r----x--x  1 grog  lemis   1,194,553 15 Jan 11:34 IMG_20150115_113405.jpg Apart from that, of course, the photos confirm my prejudices against smart phone and tablet cameras.

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 12:38:04 UTC

My talk on the Internet of Things, wealth disparity, surveillance, evidence-based policy and the future of the world

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Here's the audio from last night's talk on the Internet of Things at Central European University in Budapest! It was recorded by the Mindenki Joga Radio Show.

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 00:33:34 UTC

Images of Tektronix 555

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from David Casler today, wanting to use a photo of my Tektronix 555 oscilloscope that I took 13 years ago: That was taken with a Nikon “Coolpix” 880, with 3 only megapixels, not really enough for him. But I still have the scope (and it's up for grabs!) . Now I have a decent camera, so why not take new photos? Along with the wound to my hand, this is why: They'll have to come out soon, but David needs the images by tomorrow, and there's no way that's going to ...

Thu, 15 Jan 2015 20:00:00 UTC

Children in Combat

Posted By Tim Bray

Theres strife in every family. The kids faction is at a terrible disadvantage in strength and wisdom, so they have to fight sneaky. The analogy with guerrilla war is obvious, which gives me a chance to mix up family life and a book review. Its like this A lot of what parents say to kids is unwelcome, whether positive (Do your homework, Eat your salad) or negative (Dont hit your brother, Stop throwing the noodles). So, for a kid who doesnt want to eat the salad and does want to throw the noodles, theres really no upside in listening to grown-ups.

Thu, 15 Jan 2015 03:27:07 UTC

New GPS navigator, old problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've bought a new GPS navigator, not because the old one is more defective than it was when I bought it, but because the battery is as good as dead, and the maps are out of date. I had looked at some expensive models three months ago, and come to the conclusion that they weren't worth the additional price. So in the end I bought an el-cheapo one, 7" for only $69.96 (isn't that an inaccurate way of saying $70?) . I couldn't replace the battery and the maps for that. It arrived today. Yes, it uses iGO software, with which I'm familiar.

Thu, 15 Jan 2015 01:23:38 UTC

Reader Q&A: auto and for loop index variables

Posted By Herb Sutter

Today a reader asked the following question: So Ive been reading all I can about c++11/c++14 and beyond when time permits.  I like auto, I really do, I believe in it.  I have a small problem Im trying to decide what to do about.  So in old legacy code we have things like this: for […]

Tue, 13 Jan 2015 14:44:01 UTC

What's the Best Time and Day to Tweet?

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

I've seen big variations in interactions of similarly interesting (to me at least) tweets that I send, and I think that a deciding factor is the day or the hour I send them. Although there's plenty of material on the web on this topic , as you will see below, personalized results can capture important factors associated with the realities of global interactions.

Tue, 13 Jan 2015 14:25:00 UTC

ACM's new Applicative conf, Feb. 25-27, NYC!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Are you a software developer that is facing rapidly changing markets, technologies and platforms? This new conference is for you. ACM's new Applicative conference, Feb. 25-27, 2015 in Midtown Manhattan, is for software developers who work in rapidly changing environments. Technical tracks will focus on emerging technologies in system-level programming and application development. The list of speakers is very impressive. I'd also recommend sysadmins attend as a way to stay in touch with the hot technologies that your developers will be using (and demanding) soon. Early bird rates through Jan. 28 at

Sun, 11 Jan 2015 22:58:41 UTC

More throwaways

Posted By Greg Lehey

It looks as if Craig is so upset about what Michael did to his ute that he won't even communicate with us, and Leah didn't come to clean the house today either. That's sad. And it means that I have to do more work myself, which is even sadder. Out today to the shed to throw away some stuff. I'm getting better: threw away a whole lot of old floppy disks, mainly with old Microsoft-based software. But then there are other things I can't throw away, like my home-made Z-80-based CP/M machine, old listings, and a number of ancient copies of AUUGN.

Sat, 10 Jan 2015 23:38:43 UTC


Posted By Greg Lehey

At some time in the past I must have joined the FreeBSD forum site, though it's not really my thing. But what's the password? No worries, I can get it reset. But first I had to go through a CAPTCHA like I've never seen before: Yes, of course I knew the answer. But does every forum participant? ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 10 Jan 2015 20:00:00 UTC

At Work

Posted By Tim Bray

No, Im not going to become an Amazon Blogger (that territory is well-covered) but I have at-work stories, neither leaks nor marketing. Point form: My first job out of school was with Digital, the worlds then-second-biggest computer vendor. Now Im back in the biz. Yes, I think of AWS as, effectively, a computer vendor; my third such employer, including Sun. (I remember vividly, in that first job, the convoluted, high-contact process, back then, of speccing and selling and delivering computers; quotes could run to hundreds of pages and invoices to a dozen.) The groups around me where I sit include SQS, SWF, and Autoscaling.

Sat, 10 Jan 2015 16:25:49 UTC

Raspberry Pi and Scratch Control Lego Power Functions

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

Lego Power Functions is a system of motors, receivers, and remote control units, which can be used with Lego blocks. Scratch is a free programming environment aimed at children. The Raspberry Pi is credit card sized low cost computer with the ability to interact with the outside world. Wouldn't it be neat to use the three together to control Lego toys with Scratch?

Sat, 10 Jan 2015 00:52:46 UTC

FreeBSD Package update, try 2

Posted By Greg Lehey

So I've been getting this message from attempts to update FreeBSD packages on stable, my test machine: Fetching zsh-5.0.7_1.txz... done pkg: cached package zsh-5.0.7_1: size mismatch, cannot continue What does that imply? Does Google know? Of course. This page discusses the matter, and SirDice comes up with a suggestion: pkg clean                       # cleans /var/cache/pkg/ rm -rf /var/cache/pkg/*         # just remove it all pkg update -f                   # forces update  of repository catalog rm /var/db/pkg/repo-*.sqlite    # removes all remote repository catalogs pkg bootstrap -f                # forces reinstall of pkg ...

Fri, 09 Jan 2015 22:01:59 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Dumpling Squid and Sex

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This just in: the threat of being eaten doesn't deter dumpling squid from having sex. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered....

Fri, 09 Jan 2015 19:35:02 UTC

Smart Pipe

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Pretty impressive surveillance-economy satire....

Fri, 09 Jan 2015 12:24:15 UTC

Further Evidence Pointing to North Korea as Sony Hacker

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The FBI has provided more evidence: Speaking at a Fordham Law School cybersecurity conference Wednesday, Comey said that he has "very high confidence" in the FBI's attribution of the attack to North Korea. And he named several of the sources of his evidence, including a "behavioral analysis unit" of FBI experts trained to psychologically analyze foes based on their writings...

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 23:22:10 UTC

User interface pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne uses a smart phone. That in itself isn't an issue, but she has real problems using it. I have a tablet with phone function, along with Bluetooth headphones, but I use it so seldom that I still have issues. In particular, the user interface is really bad. I've been using touch screens for years now, and I still find them one of the most obnoxious developments I've had the displeasure to experience. Answer a phone? Not so long ago you used to pull it out of your pocket, feel for the Talk button, and press it. Now you pull it out of your pocket, look at it to locate the green flashing area on the screen, and swipe it to one side (why?)

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 21:11:36 UTC

Hacking Attack Causes Physical Damage at German Steel Mill

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This sort of thing is still very rare, but I fear it will become more common: ...hackers had struck an unnamed steel mill in Germany. They did so by manipulating and disrupting control systems to such a degree that a blast furnace could not be properly shut down, resulting in "massive" -- though unspecified -- damage....

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 12:34:55 UTC

Attack Attribution in Cyberspace

Posted By Bruce Schneier

When you're attacked by a missile, you can follow its trajectory back to where it was launched from. When you're attacked in cyberspace, figuring out who did it is much harder. The reality of international aggression in cyberspace will change how we approach defense. Many of us in the computer-security field are skeptical of the US government's claim that it...

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 00:05:23 UTC

FreeBSD package upgrade: still not there

Posted By Greg Lehey

As I feared, updating my packages wasn't all plain sailing. In fact, it was almost impossible. Started on my stable machine (that's the name) with the disk cloned from lagoon. Away it ran, then: The process will require 210 MB more space. 2 GB to be downloaded. Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y Fetching zziplib-0.13.62_2.txz... done Fetching zsh-5.0.7_1.txz... done pkg: cached package zsh-5.0.7_1: size mismatch, fetching from remote Fetching zsh-5.0.7_1.txz... done pkg: cached package zsh-5.0.7_1: size mismatch, cannot continue What went wrong there? The cached package information is not very relevant, since the package had just been downloaded from the net, twice.

Wed, 07 Jan 2015 20:00:00 UTC

OnePlus One

Posted By Tim Bray

What happened was, the teenager smashed his phone, so we did the usual shuffle-and-hand-me-down. My only real constraint was No Nexus; been doing that long enough. I was pretty interested in the waterproof Sony Z3, or maybe a small phone since I usually carry an N7 too, or maybe one of those lovely silken-metal HTC thingies. But neither the carrier nor Google had any very good deals, and the O+1 is a very good deal. So now Im carrying one. Size matters I think I can claim a leading-edge voice on this subject, as an early adopter and fan of the original Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Wed, 07 Jan 2015 17:16:34 UTC

Attributing the Sony Attack

Posted By Bruce Schneier

No one has admitted taking down North Korea's Internet. It could have been an act of retaliation by the US government, but it could just as well have been an ordinary DDoS attack. The follow-on attack against Sony PlayStation definitely seems to be the work of hackers unaffiliated with a government. Not knowing who did what isn't new. It's called...

Tue, 06 Jan 2015 23:59:06 UTC

Finally updating my machines?

Posted By Greg Lehey

When I first started using computers at home, it was normal that it was difficult. In the course of time, though, things have generally got better. 16 years ago I gave a whole day tutorial on installing FreeBSD at the AUUG 1998 conference. I didn't finish. In the meantime, things have got easier. I can do the same installation in about 30 minutes. But what do I have? A base system. How do I configure it? How do I install useful programs (ports)? How do I keep it up to date? Commercial systems like Microsoft and Apple have solved that problem long ago.

Tue, 06 Jan 2015 20:44:37 UTC

Fidgeting as Lie Detection

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Sophie Van Der Zee and colleagues have a new paper on using body movement as a lie detector: Abstract: We present a new robust signal for detecting deception: full body motion. Previous work on detecting deception from body movement has relied either on human judges or on specific gestures (such as fidgeting or gaze aversion) that are coded or rated...

Tue, 06 Jan 2015 15:00:00 UTC

See you at Bay Bay LISA next week!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Hi Boston-area friends! I'll be giving my "Radical ideas from The Practice of Cloud System Administration" talk at the Back Bay LISA user group meeting on Wednesday, January 14, 2015. Visit for more info.

Tue, 06 Jan 2015 12:50:53 UTC

Attributing Cyberattacks

Posted By Bruce Schneier

New paper: "Attributing Cyber Attacks," by Thomas Rid and Ben Buchanan: Abstract: Who did it? Attribution is fundamental. Human lives and the security of the state may depend on ascribing agency to an agent. In the context of computer network intrusions, attribution is commonly seen as one of the most intractable technical problems, as either solvable or not solvable, and...

Mon, 05 Jan 2015 17:10:00 UTC

Fighting Spam Backscatter

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Short version: My mailing list server no longer generates bounce messages for unknown accounts, thus eliminating the email backscatter is generates. Longer version: I have a host set up exclusively for running mailing lists using Mailman and battling spam has been quite a burden. I finally 'gave up' and made all the lists "member's only". Luckily that is possible with the email lists being run there. If I had any open mailing lists, I wouldn't have been so luck. The result of this change was that it eliminated all spam and I was able to disable SpamAssassin and other measures put in place.

Mon, 05 Jan 2015 13:10:09 UTC

Loitering as a Security System

Posted By Bruce Schneier

In Kyoto, taxi drivers are encouraged to loiter around convenience stores late at night. Their presence reduces crime. In Kyoto about half of the convenience stores had signed on for the Midnight Defender Strategy. These 500 or so shops hung posters with slogans such as "vigilance strengthening" written on them in their windows. These signs are indicators to taxi drivers...

Sun, 04 Jan 2015 01:56:05 UTC

Restarting eureka

Posted By Greg Lehey

The power came back after about 2¼ hours, and that's about the time I needed to get eureka back up and running again. I really must save my config files and check that the machine can start up without so much manual intervention. But then, that's part of the plan for the new machine. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Sun, 04 Jan 2015 01:31:27 UTC

Monitor pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's high time I got round to upgrading eureka, my main machine. It's still running FreeBSD 9.2, and I've been meaning to upgrade it for nearly a year. Today I got as far as connecting my spare BenQ monitor to two test machines. It wasn't easy. BenQ monitors say No cable connected when in fact they mean no signal. But there was a signal, as other monitors confirmed. Was the thing set up to only accept input from one source? The menu would tell me that. But the menu didn't display. After much cursing and monitor swapping, discovered that it was set for HDMI input, and that for some reason the menu wouldn't display under these circumstances.

Sat, 03 Jan 2015 13:08:16 UTC

How Browsers Store Passwords

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Good information on how Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox store user passwords....

Fri, 02 Jan 2015 23:52:41 UTC

Tracing the ssh issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

So it's fairly clear where the blame lies with my DHCP problems, though I still need to trace the other connection. I'll do that when the temperature has cooled down a bit. But there's another issue, and potentially it's related: from time to time ssh setup fails. More tracing, with very little to show for it: No.     Time            Source                Source     Destination           Destination Protocol Length Info      45 10:52:04.502503   00:19:07:77:9e:00         00:16:3e:06:34:53 SSHv2    113    Client Protocol: SSH-2.0-OpenSSH_6.2_hpn13v11 FreeBSD-20130515 Frame 45: 113 bytes on wire (904 bits), 113 bytes captured (904 bits) Ethernet II, Src: Cisco_77:9e:00 (00:19:07:77:9e:00), Dst: Xensourc_06:34:53 (00:16:3e:06:34:53) Internet Protocol Version 4, Src: (, Dst: ( Transmission Control Protocol, ...

Fri, 02 Jan 2015 22:50:08 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Easy Squid Recipes

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Stewed squid with tomatoes, sauteed squid with parsley and garlic, and braised squid with garlic and herbs. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered....

Fri, 02 Jan 2015 13:21:49 UTC

Doxing as an Attack

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Those of you unfamiliar with hacker culture might need an explanation of "doxing." The word refers to the practice of publishing personal information about people without their consent. Usually it's things like an address and phone number, but it can also be credit card details, medical information, private e-mails -- ­pretty much anything an assailant can get his hands on....