Blog Archive: March 2011

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 22:38:10 UTC

Opera revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been less than whelmed by Firefox 4; in particular, though it's (arguably) faster than the old version I was using, it's still glacially slow at rendering big photos like the 12 MP images that I put on the web. To be fair, I wasn't convinced that this was firefox's fault and not that of X. But there are other irritations too, like the way it repositions the page sometimes when I click on a photo. So today I tried the new version of Opera, which I have used in the past and passed up in favour of firefox. The results?

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 12:00:19 UTC

Comodo Group Issues Bogus SSL Certificates

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This isn't good: The hacker, whose March 15 attack was traced to an IP address in Iran, compromised a partner account at the respected certificate authority Comodo Group, which he used to request eight SSL certificates for six domains: mail.google.com, www.google.com, login.yahoo.com, login.skype.com, addons.mozilla.org and login.live.com. The certificates would have allowed the attacker to craft fake pages that would have...

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 01:14:17 UTC

Making time-lapse images

Posted By Greg Lehey

I took the photos of the verandah before, during and after transplantation with the view of making a time-lapse series out of them. The camera was mounted on a tripod, but despite the best of effort I somehow managed to change the focal length of the lens after the first photo. Still, to quote the panotools instructions, “Even photos taken years apart with different cameras can be aligned perfectly. ” Followed the instructions there, which is good. In the “Images” tab of hugin there's a selection “Add time-series of images...”. As the instructions show, this has nothing to do with time lapse: Add time series of images...

Wed, 30 Mar 2011 18:48:27 UTC

FBI Asks for Cryptanalysis Help

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Could be interesting....

Wed, 30 Mar 2011 17:23:36 UTC

Speaking on technology regulation today in Claremont (near LA)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Just a reminder for Southern Californians that I'll be speaking at Claremont McKenna College's Atheneum series tonight at 1845h, and it's free and open to the public. I'll be reprising and expanding on the "Little Bit Pregnant" talk on technology regulation that I gave earlier this month at the University of Toronto iSchool conference.

Wed, 30 Mar 2011 15:30:00 UTC

First draft of my "Python for Perl Programmers" article

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Now that I'm comfortable with Python I've written down all the things that, as a Perl programmer, I wish someone had told me early on. It seems that all the Python books are written for normal people, not those who have Perl embedded in their DNA so hard that it is difficult to think any way else. I hope this helps other people in my situation: http://everythingsysadmin.com/perl2python.html

Wed, 30 Mar 2011 14:26:24 UTC

CHIMIT Call For Papers and other contributions announced!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

[If you are involved in UX, UI or human factors as applied to system administration...] CALL FOR PAPERS AND OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS ACM Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction for Management of Information Technology (CHIMIT 11) December 4, 2011 -- Boston, MA, USA Web site: chimit.acm.org TIMETABLE Paper submissions due: May 29th, 2011 Paper submission notifications: July 29, 2011 Posters and Presentations of Previously Published Work submissions due: September 8, 2011 Posters and Presentations of Previously Published Work submissions notifications: September 16, 2011 Camera-ready papers due: September 16, 2011 OVERVIEW Information Technology (IT) is central to modern life. From our homes to our largest enterprises, we are surrounded by software and hardware systems that support our work and personal lives: wireless access points, network routers, firewalls, virus scanners, databases, web servers, storage and backup systems, etc.

Wed, 30 Mar 2011 12:14:48 UTC

How Peer Review Doesn't Work

Posted By Bruce Schneier

In this amusing story of a terrorist plotter using pencil-and-paper cryptography instead of actually secure cryptography, there's this great paragraph: Despite urging by the Yemen-based al Qaida leader Anwar Al Anlaki, Karim also rejected the use of a sophisticated code program called "Mujhaddin Secrets", which implements all the AES candidate cyphers, "because 'kaffirs', or non-believers, know about it so it...

Tue, 29 Mar 2011 23:18:35 UTC

Firefox: 3 or 4?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued looking for firefox 4.0 documentation today. But this time it wouldn't show it; it told me that it was still running version 3.6.15. Well, on the web page; the about page thought I was running 4.0: Curiouser and curiouser.

Tue, 29 Mar 2011 22:46:53 UTC

More weather station problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somehow all the patches I've been making to the weather station software haven't worked. Today I discovered that the process had not recorded any data from 15:54 yesterday. I had calls to alarm() round all the functions that access the USB, and none of them triggered. So whatever's happening, it's not a timeout; it must be some invalid data. And it's really difficult to catch that sort of thing when it only happens about once a day. Tried a different approach: a call to alarm before updating the database. That's all I need; if I don't get a database update after three times the sample interval (in other words, if I miss two updates), the process gets a SIGALRM and dies.

Tue, 29 Mar 2011 16:00:00 UTC

Sign up for my new Time Management class now!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I'll keep it brief: My new half-day time management class: $449 -- Apr 29 -- includes conference admission, all meals, and other training -- http://picconf.org (discount ends Apr 4)

Tue, 29 Mar 2011 11:43:04 UTC

Federated Authentication

Posted By Bruce Schneier

New paper by Ross Anderson: "Can We Fix the Security Economics of Federated Authentication?": There has been much academic discussion of federated authentication, and quite some political manoeuvring about `e-ID'. The grand vision, which has been around for years in various forms but was recently articulated in the US National Strategy for Trustworthy Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), is that a...

Tue, 29 Mar 2011 05:50:52 UTC

Music to my Ears - Introducing Amazon Cloud Drive

Posted By Werner Vogels

Today Amazon.com announced new solutions to help customers manage their digital music collections. Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player enable customers to securely and reliably store music in the cloud and play it on any Android phone, tablet, Mac or PC, wherever they are. As a big music fan with well over 100Gb in digital music I am particularly excited that I now have access to all my digital music anywhere I go. Order in the Chaos The number of digital objects in our lives is growing rapidly. What used to be only available in physical formats now often has digital equivalents and this digitalization is driving great new innovations.

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 23:51:27 UTC

USB disk strangenesses

Posted By Greg Lehey

I have two backup USB disks, one of which is always at Chris Yeardley's place, and the other here. Once a week I swap over and back up the week's data to the other one. This afternoon was the time. Put in the disk, started the backup script, and got the message: mount: /dev/da0s1d : No such file or directory Checked the entries in /dev and yes, indeed. /dev/da0 was there, but nothing else, in particular not /dev/da0s1d. Looking at the log messages, I saw the strangest thing: Mar 28 13:06:28 dereel root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x04fc product 0x0c15 bus uhub2 Mar 28 13:06:28 dereel kernel: ugen2.2: <Sunplus Technology Co.,Ltd.> at usbus2 Mar 28 13:06:28 dereel kernel: umass0: <Bulk Only Interface> on usbus2 Mar 28 13:06:28 ...

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 23:40:52 UTC

Firefox 4 is awesome

Posted By Greg Lehey

When I installed firefox 4, it came with a link to an introductory set of web pages. Tried them for the fun of it, but the results don't look overly encouraging: My display looks nothing like what the pages claim. In fact, it looks almost unchanged. Clearly firefox has carried over the settings that I had from firefox version 3. But why didn't it say anything? I suppose that I could start with a fresh configuration, but who knows how many problems that would cause—no more cookies, no more saved passwords.

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 23:35:28 UTC

More weather station problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

My weather station software hung up again today, despite the calls to alarm() around the USB I/O calls. So the USB stack isn't hanging; presumably it's just not returning any useful data. Put it into debug, with results I could have expected: === [email protected] (/dev/pts/7) /home/grog/src/weather/WH-1080 11 -> gdb wh1080 (gdb) attach 30476 0x822cdeff in poll () from /lib/libc.so.7 (gdb) bt #0  0x822cdeff in poll () from /lib/libc.so.7 #1  0x821d3c07 in libusb20_dev_wait_process () from /usr/lib/libusb.so.2 #2  0x821cd3df in usb_get_descriptor_by_endpoint () from /usr/lib/libusb.so.2 #3  0x080492b6 in read_station (buf=0xbfbfe268 " ") at wh1080.c:253 During symbol reading, Incomplete CFI data; unspecified registers at 0x08049277.

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 22:52:49 UTC

Microsoft on VirtualBox: impasse

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued playing around with Microsoft “Windows” on my VirtualBox VM today. One of the issues is to set the thing up using at least 2 GB of memory. Tried that, and it came up—and crashed almost immediately. And then it wouldn't come up at all; it seems that the disk image had been corrupted, and I didn't even get as far as a boot prompt. And I had forgotten to make a backup! I had to do the installation all over again. When I did (and made a backup, of course), found that this appears to be a limitation of Virtualbox.

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 21:19:18 UTC

Publishing your own packages with IPS - getting started.

Posted By Bart Smaalders

It's been a while since I blogged on packaging... and we've been busy. I've had several people ask for our developers documentation, but that's still being written, so I thought I'd blog about how to publish a simple package with IPS. I've been having mysterious networking issues (somewhere, a router doesn't like my system), so I decided I'd package a tool I use often to diagnose flaky networks - mtr. Like many open source programs, it needed some work to get it to compile properly on Solaris. The primary issue is that we've currently hidden libncurses off in /usr/gnu/lib, which is silly - there is no "Solaris" version in /usr/lib, so it should have gone there.

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 21:19:18 UTC

Publishing your own packages with IPS - getting started.

Posted By Bart Smaalders

It's been a while since I blogged on packaging... and we've been busy. I've had several people ask for our developers documentation, but that's still being written, so I thought I'd blog about how to publish a simple package with IPS. I've been having mysterious networking issues (somewhere, a router doesn't like my system), so I decided I'd package a tool I use often to diagnose flaky networks - mtr. Like many open source programs, it needed some work to get it to compile properly on Solaris. The primary issue is that we've currently hidden libncurses off in /usr/gnu/lib, which is silly - there is no "Solaris" version in /usr/lib, so it should have gone there.

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 19:19:18 UTC

Publishing your own packages with IPS - getting started.

Posted By Bart Smaalders

It's been a while since I blogged on packaging... and we've been busy. I've had several people ask for our developers documentation, but that's still being written, so I thought I'd blog about how to publish a simple package with IPS. I've been having mysterious networking issues (somewhere, a router doesn't like my system), so I decided I'd package a tool I use often to diagnose flaky networks - mtr. Like many open source programs, it needed some work to get it to compile properly on Solaris. The primary issue is that we've currently hidden libncurses off in /usr/gnu/lib, which is silly - there is no "Solaris" version in /usr/lib, so it should have gone there.

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 19:00:00 UTC

100mm

Posted By Tim Bray

I got a new camera! A Pentax K-5, and I'm sure I'll have more to say about it. But at the same time sort of by accident, I bought a lens, Pentax's D-FA 100mm f2.8; it's a little on the exotic side and fooling around with it has been eye-opening and also pure fun. That's my niece, and the cat's name is Poppy. I turned the camera on for the first time, pointed it across the room, said “Hey, Anne!” and shot without thinking much; the light was moderate so no trouble at ISO 800. Entirely unretouched excepting white-balance correction. Background What happened was, I was in Calgary on family business.

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 18:10:13 UTC

Detecting Liars

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Nice infographic....

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 15:30:00 UTC

Interview with me on the Mind Of Root podcast

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Episode 152 (http://www.mindofroot.com/2011/03/26/mor-152-author-author/) includes an interview with me about the Time Management class I'll be teaching April 29th at LOPSA PICC in New Brunswick, NJ. (as previously mentioned)

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 11:08:41 UTC

Biliteral Ciphers

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Interesting article on William Friedman and biliteral ciphers....

Mon, 28 Mar 2011 07:02:50 UTC

Links for Sunday, March 27, 2010

Posted By Jeff Barr

Interplanetary Transport Network - “The Interplanetary Transport Network (ITN)[1] is a collection of gravitationally determined pathways through the solar system that require very little energy for an object to follow. The ITN makes particular use of Lagrange points as locations where trajectories through space are redirected using little or no energy. These points have the [...]

Sun, 27 Mar 2011 23:24:05 UTC

More VirtualBox strangenesses

Posted By Greg Lehey

Trying to find out whether yesterday's crash was due to VirtualBox or not. Beat Gaetzi suggested I looked in the log files, which I didn't know about. And indeed, I found one that wasn't completed, and which had error messages as the last entries: 00:00:24.917 PIT: mode=2 count=0x2e9c (11932) - 99.99 Hz (ch=0) 00:00:33.924 PIIX3 ATA: Ctl#0: RESET, DevSel=0 AIOIf=0 CmdIf0=0x20 (-1 usec ago) CmdIf1=0x00 (-1 usec ago) 00:00:33.934 PIIX3 ATA: Ctl#0: finished processing RESET 00:00:34.037 PIIX3 ATA: Ctl#1: RESET, DevSel=0 AIOIf=0 CmdIf0=0xa0 (-1 usec ago) CmdIf1=0x00 (-1 usec ago) 00:00:34.047 PIIX3 ATA: Ctl#1: finished processing RESET 00:00:36.733 RTC: period=0x100 (256) 128 Hz 00:00:36.840 PIIX3 ATA: LUN#2: performing device RESET I had suspected some disk issue, so this would fit.

Sun, 27 Mar 2011 23:22:19 UTC

Installing Firefox 4.0

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally got round to installing the latest firefox. It works. I can't see any obvious improvements, though it does have obvious differences. Still no change of cursor when it's loading files, but at least there's a message at bottom left, overlaying the current page: That's also where the link URL appears now. But it's different: it's more modern, so it's truncated: More irritatingly, when I click on a photo to enlarge it, it frequently repositions the window at the top.

Sun, 27 Mar 2011 00:08:03 UTC

Booting FreeBSD from an alternate partition

Posted By Greg Lehey

One thing that did come out of the crash: the reason why the KLDs didn't get loaded last time I booted. My current root disk has the following file systems: Filesystem  1048576-blocks   Used  Avail Capacity  Mounted on /dev/ad4s1d           9916   7491   1631    82%    / /dev/ad4s1a           9916   7647   1475    84%    /destdir /dev/ad4s1e         439117 123089 280898    30%    /home Normally the root file system would be /dev/ad4s1a, and that's where the boot loader looks for the /boot file system, in particular to read loader.conf.

Sat, 26 Mar 2011 23:56:53 UTC

VirtualBox crashes my system

Posted By Greg Lehey

More playing around with VirtualBox today. One of the intentions is to use a virtual machine as a test case for updating software on my real machine. If something goes wrong, I can just go back to the previous state. Firefox 4.0 has just been released, so it sounded like a good idea to try it out. Set up a new VM with a copy of my root file system and tried building. No go: ===>   firefox-4.0_1,1 depends on file: /usr/local/bin/perl5.10.1 - found tee: Make.log: Input/output error mozilla-2.0/js/src/tests/ecma/Math/15.8.2.13.jstee: Make.log: Input/output error : Can't update time for mozilla-2.0/js/src/tests/ecma/Math/15.8.2.13.jstee: Make.log: Input/output error The ports tree was NFS mounted, and I think this must be some NFS locking issue.

Sat, 26 Mar 2011 23:26:14 UTC

New photography software

Posted By Greg Lehey

Now that I have finally completed the software upgrade, I can try out the software that Stewart Smith recommended last July: f-spot and darktable. Both had already been installed, so all I needed to do was to start them. As I suspected, I'm not sure what use f-spot is. It seems to want to run my life for me. Why can't we just have tools that we can use the way we want them? darktable is another matter, but I can't work out how to use it, and the authors seem to want to make it as confusing as possible: That's the top-left corner of the display.

Sat, 26 Mar 2011 16:21:16 UTC

Prioritizing Principlas in "On Designing and Deploying Internet-Scale Services"

Posted By James Hamilton

Brad Porter is Director and Senior Principal engineer at Amazon. We work in different parts of the company but I have known him for years and he's actually one of the reasons I ended up joining Amazon Web Services. Last week Brad sent me the guest blog post that follows where, on the basis of his operational experience, he prioritizes the most important points in the Lisa paper On Designing and Deploying Internet-Scale Services.                                                   --jrh   Prioritizing the Principles in "On Designing and Deploying Internet-Scale Services" By Brad Porter James published what I consider to be the single best paper to come out of the highly-available systems world in many years.

Sat, 26 Mar 2011 14:55:45 UTC

Overheard at the office: Perl edition

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Coworker evaluating a stack of resumes: "This guy blatantly lies on his resume. Nobody has 15 years of Perl experience!" Me: Um... I do. C.e.a.s.o.r: What? Me: (thinks a bit) 1991. Either July or August. Perl was at 4.032 or 4.033 if I recall. That would be (thinks for a second) 19 years! C.e.a.s.o.r: (look on his face of shock and horror) Oh. I guess he isn't lying. Me: Damn kids! Get off my lawn! (this happened last year... I delayed this post so-as to obscure any possibility of identifying information)

Sat, 26 Mar 2011 03:22:41 UTC

We Have FDIS! (Trip Report: March 2011 C++ Standards Meeting)

Posted By Herb Sutter

News flash: This afternoon, the ISO C++ committee approved the final technical changes to the C++0x standard. The new International Standard for Programming Language C++ is expected to be published in summer 2011. The spring 2011 ISO C++ meeting was held on March 21-25 in Madrid, Spain. As previously reported, the goal of this meeting was [...]

Sat, 26 Mar 2011 03:22:41 UTC

We Have FDIS! (Trip Report: March 2011 C++ Standards Meeting)

Posted By Herb Sutter

News flash: This afternoon, the ISO C++ committee approved the final technical changes to the C++0x standard. The new International Standard for Programming Language C++ is expected to be published in summer 2011. The spring 2011 ISO C++ meeting was held on March 21-25 in Madrid, Spain. As previously reported, the goal of this meeting was [...]

Sat, 26 Mar 2011 00:53:45 UTC

Other VirtualBox insights

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday I had discovered that VirtualBox's vboxnet KLD did nothing useful, so today I shut down the VMs, unloaded the KLD and tried again. No networking. Even in bridged mode, it is necessary, though the vboxnet0 interface seems superfluous. In the long term I'll want to find a way to run Microsoft under VirtualBox. One of the issues could be the display. One of the software packages is DxO Optics Pro, which requires not only 2 GB of memory, but also DirectX. Both could be a problem, though there seems to be support for DirectX. But it seems that the driver really does lock its allocated memory.

Sat, 26 Mar 2011 00:13:37 UTC

Firefox: good for supercomputers and mobile phones

Posted By Greg Lehey

A couple of parallel threads cropped up today. On IRC, I read, referring to firefox: Andys: hmm, its using quite a bit of my CPU time. maybe i need to upgrade to FF4 to fix that ;) kirma: I measured that it's over twice the speed of the native browser on my n900 on sunspider benchmark kirma: my desktop is roughly three times faster on that benchmark than my netbook, which is roughly 4.5 times faster than my phone * gr0Ogle wonders how kirma's phone would compare in performance to a CDC 7600.

Fri, 25 Mar 2011 23:31:07 UTC

VirtualBox, Linux and CDs

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now things are working well with VirtualBox and FreeBSD. It's a pity I really wanted to use it for Microsoft. But in the meantime there are other operating systems, and since I just got a DVD with Debian GNU/Linux 6.0, decided to install that. Problem: there was no CD-ROM drive on the virtual machine, and no obvious way to configure one. Spent some time investigating, and after a long time came up with permission problems. As I mentioned, not all of the KLDs got loaded on boot, so the permissions specified in /etc/devd.conf didn't get applied. Now couldn't the software have reported that?

Fri, 25 Mar 2011 21:15:15 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Fabric Designs

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Some of these are actually nice....

Fri, 25 Mar 2011 17:22:47 UTC

Authenticating the Authenticators

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This is an interesting read: It was a question that changed his life, and changed mine, and may have changed -- even saved -- all of ours by calling attention to flaws in our nuclear command and control system at the height of the Cold War. It was a question that makes Maj. Hering an unsung hero of the nuclear...

Fri, 25 Mar 2011 17:22:07 UTC

For the Win is a Prometheus Award finalist

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Just got word that For the Win is a finalist for the Prometheus Award, presented by the Libertarian Science Fiction Society; having won this once for Little Brother, and considering the fantastic books on this year's shortlist and in the winner alumni, I couldn't be more thrilled!

Fri, 25 Mar 2011 16:14:09 UTC

Reminder: reading/signing in LA this Sunday

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Reminder: I'm in LA this weekend and the nice folks at Dark Delicacies in Burbank (3512 W. Magnolia, 91505) were kind enough to host a signing and reading for me on Sunday, March 27th at 2PM. I'll also be speaking at Claremont McKenna College's Atheneum series on Mar 30 at 1845h, and it's free and … [Read more]

Fri, 25 Mar 2011 12:31:12 UTC

Disney-fan's discussion of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Jennifer Hoffman's written an interesting guide to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom: I first discovered this novel shortly after it's release, when prowling my local library for books about Disney World. Along with the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, it opened up the possibility of thinking critically about Disney Parks, taking them … [Read more]

Fri, 25 Mar 2011 11:38:05 UTC

Identifying Tor Users Through Insecure Applications

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Interesting research: "One Bad Apple Spoils the Bunch: Exploiting P2P Applications to Trace and Profile Tor Users": Abstract: Tor is a popular low-latency anonymity network. However, Tor does not protect against the exploitation of an insecure application to reveal the IP address of, or trace, a TCP stream. In addition, because of the linkability of Tor streams sent together over...

Fri, 25 Mar 2011 01:31:18 UTC

Hacking with AWS at The Next Web Hackaton

Posted By Werner Vogels

Over the past years The Next Web Conference has become a premier conference on internet life and its technologies. I have been to the conference almost every year and it is getting better every time. Amsterdam is of course the ideal place for such a conference :-). The TNW team is doing a great job in getting an excellent program together that draws an audience from around the world, not just Europe, and there is an interesting mix of startups, enterprises, investors and media attending. The images from the 2008 TNW Conference have travelled around the world in my Animoto demo: This year TNW is showing that it is not just a conference for talkers but also for builders by organizing a massive Hackaton in the two days running up to the conference.

Thu, 24 Mar 2011 23:52:02 UTC

Other strangenesses

Posted By Greg Lehey

Apart from VirtualBox, there are still a couple of other issues that puzzle me. acroread is still failing, but the real error is: Mar 24 16:19:46 dereel kernel: linux: pid 72698 (acroread): syscall inotify_init not implemented I've been using xpdf instead, which has the great advantage of being much faster, but why am I getting this kind of conflict with acroread? In addition, I'm still having strange problems with the weather station software. Here's the backtrace of a dump caused by a SIGSEGV: (gdb) bt #0  0x821d2f53 in libusb20_dev_request_sync () from /usr/lib/libusb.so.2 #1  0x821cd1d9 in usb_control_msg () from /usr/lib/libusb.so.2 #2  0x080491c8 in write_station_control (buf=0xbfbfe248 "¡") at wh1080.c:209 During symbol reading, Incomplete CFI data; unspecified registers at 0x08049178.

Thu, 24 Mar 2011 23:42:43 UTC

Completing the VirtualBox installation

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued with FreeBSD under VirtualBox today. Discovered that I had misread the instructions and put the vbox_enable in the wrong file. It should have been in /etc/rc.conf, of course. If I had thought about it instead of copying blindly, that would have been obvious. The instructions then said “reboot”, which I really don't like doing, but there are a number of things in the startup scripts that I needed to look at: Starting the weather station software, which so far I've been doing manually.

Thu, 24 Mar 2011 22:12:53 UTC

Book on PPL is now available

Posted By Herb Sutter

For those of you who may be interested in concurrency and parallelism using Microsoft tools, there’s a new book now available on the Visual C++ 2010 Parallel Patterns Library (PPL). I hope you enjoy it. Normally I don’t write about other people’s platform-specific books, but I happened to be involved in the design of PPL, [...]

Thu, 24 Mar 2011 22:12:53 UTC

Book on PPL is now available

Posted By Herb Sutter

For those of you who may be interested in concurrency and parallelism using Microsoft tools, there’s a new book now available on the Visual C++ 2010 Parallel Patterns Library (PPL). I hope you enjoy it. Normally I don’t write about other people’s platform-specific books, but I happened to be involved in the design of PPL, [...]

Thu, 24 Mar 2011 17:46:16 UTC

Detecting Words and Phrases in Encrypted VoIP Calls

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Interesting: Abstract: Although Voice over IP (VoIP) is rapidly being adopted, its security implications are not yet fully understood. Since VoIP calls may traverse untrusted networks, packets should be encrypted to ensure confidentiality. However, we show that it is possible to identify the phrases spoken within encrypted VoIP calls when the audio is encoded using variable bit rate codecs. To...

Thu, 24 Mar 2011 15:30:00 UTC

Taos Women In Technology event next week in San Jose, CA

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

[ I'm forwarding this invitation because I know a lot of readers are in San Jose. Also, Prof. Nicole Velasquez (Pepperdine University) will be speaking and she does some awesome sysadmin research! ] Taos is hosting a very special gathering for women in technology. If you know Perl is more than just a pretty necklace, then we want to meet you! Whether you're a system or network administrator or a Project Manager, we welcome all of you to a networking opportunity on Thursday, March 31, from 6-8 PM that will be held at FAZ Restaurant (1108 North Mathilda Avenue, Sunnyvale). This gathering is the first of its kind to exclusively promote and recognize the talented community of women in technology.

Thu, 24 Mar 2011 13:18:22 UTC

Speaking on technology regulation next Wednesday in Claremont near LA

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I'm coming to Southern California next week and I'll be speaking at Claremont McKenna College's Atheneum series. It's next Wednesday, 30 March, at 1845h, and it's free and open to the public. I'll be reprising and expanding on the "Little Bit Pregnant" talk on technology regulation that I gave earlier this month at the University … [Read more]

Thu, 24 Mar 2011 12:37:25 UTC

Transmitting Data Through Steel

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This is cool: Tristan Lawry, doctoral candidate in electrical and computer engineering, has developed equipment which can transmit data at high rates through thick, solid steel or other barriers. Significantly, Lawry's kit also transmits power. One obvious application here would be transmission through the steel pressure hull of a submarine: at the moment such hulls must have hundreds of penetrations...

Thu, 24 Mar 2011 00:28:44 UTC

PICC "early bird" discount almost over (plus two interviews)

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

The generous early-bird discount for LOPSA PICC (http://picconf.org) goes away on April 4th. This is a good time to talk with your boss about sending you while he/she can save money. Registration information is here: http://www.picconf.org/registration This is the absolute least expensive way to get my time management training. There is a heck of a lot of other great training and talks planned. I hope to see you there! Speaking of the conference... Read this (brand new!) interview with William Bilancio. He is one of the PICC organizers. -Tom P.S. I'll be interviewed on Episode 151 of the (Mind Of Root Podcast](http://www.mindofroot.com/).

Wed, 23 Mar 2011 23:12:47 UTC

Playing with VirtualBox

Posted By Greg Lehey

More playing around with VirtualBox today. Copied the Microsoft partition (pain) from my laptop to the main machine, and started reading the documentation. First the setup in the FreeBSD machine. It's described in the FreeBSD VirtualBox wiki, but there are choices. What I did was: Add this to /boot/loader.conf: vboxdrv_load="YES"                      # VirtualBox module vboxnet_enable="YES"                    # VirtualBox notworking atapicam_load="YES" Add this to /etc/group: ...

Wed, 23 Mar 2011 22:57:34 UTC

Chasing the USB hangs

Posted By Greg Lehey

My weather station hung again today. When I came into the office, I had had no readings for about 6 hours. Shot down the process with a SIGTRAP and went looking for the core file. It wasn't there. Checking the sysctls, I found: kern.corefile: %N.core That's the default (%N is replaced with the base name of the executable), but there was no file called WHO1080.core. Went searching and found: === [email protected] (/dev/pts/7) /home/grog/src/weather/WH-1080 57 -> find ~grog/src | grep wh1080.core /home/grog/src/weather/WH-1080-old/wh1080.core === [email protected] (/dev/pts/7) /home/grog/src/weather/WH-1080 58 -> ls -l /home/grog/src/weather/WH-1080-old/wh1080.core -rw-------  1 root  lemis  2224128 Mar 23 09:19 /home/grog/src/weather/WH-1080-old/wh1080.core How the ...

Wed, 23 Mar 2011 21:33:39 UTC

HTC are still incredible fuckheads

Posted By Matthew Garrett

Update: Despite another email yesterday reasserting the 90-120 days lie, the source code has now landed on HTC's site.As has been discussed before, HTC have a somewhat "interesting" interpretation of the GPL that allows them to claim they don't need to provide source code until between 90 and 120 days after the release of binaries. It's probably noteworthy that the FSF (who, you know, wrote the license and all) disagree with this interpretation, as do the kernel copyright holders (who, you know, wrote the code that the license covers) I've talked to about it. Anyway, after a pile of screaming and shouting from all sides HTC have tended to release their source code in a timely manner.

Wed, 23 Mar 2011 11:34:58 UTC

Threats vs. Vulnerabilities

Posted By Bruce Schneier

I found this article on the difference between threats and vulnerabilities to be very interesting. I like his taxonomy....

Wed, 23 Mar 2011 00:19:14 UTC

Free AA_Console for LOPSA_PICC Attendees

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Great news from LOPSA! "Every person who comes to PICC11 will receive [AA Console](http://www.adminarsenal.com/admin-arsenal/main/) (which used to be named Admin Arsenal) PLUS they're also throwing in a copy of [PDQ Deploy Pro](http://www.adminarsenal.com/pdq-deploy-pro/main/). Together, this is a $500 value for absolutely nothing except showing up to a conference you wanted to attend anyway." http://www.standalone-sysadmin.com/blog/2011/03/admin-arsenal-ups-the-ante-for-picc/ Very impressive! Time to register, eh?

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 23:25:09 UTC

Trying VirtualBox

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the things that still doesn't work properly is wine: newer versions fail if you provide them more than about 1 GB of memory. One of my reasons for running wine was to run Microsoft-based photography software, such as DxO Optics Pro, which requires at least 2 GB of memory, so clearly it won't work with the the latest versions of wine. The obvious alternative is a big computer running Microsoft, but a cheaper one would be to run Microsoft in an emulator. A number of people recommended VirtualBox, so today downloaded it and installed it. The first question is: which port?

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 23:07:02 UTC

ACM queue problem solved

Posted By Greg Lehey

ACM Queue publishes the RSS feed of the computer-related parts of this diary. Well, sort of. For some time I've been puzzled by the fact that the aggregator would only publish one entry per day, while others could publish more than one. I've done a lot of looking round in the standards to find out what I'm doing wrong. One thing I haven't done is contact the people at ACM: firstly, I don't know if they could help (most people use off-the-shelf software rather than writing their own XML), and secondly I don't want to report problems until I'm certain that it's not my fault.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 19:00:00 UTC

The Drive at Dusk

Posted By Tim Bray

In Vancouver, “the Drive” means Commercial Drive. [Note: That Wikipedia entry needs some editorial attention and pictures.] On impulse, and because it was sunny, we went over there for gelato after dinner and I took my camera. Copper, wood, and graffiti. Looking West down an alley. Cozy Apartments. Fresh red peppers for sale! The waves of immigrants and subcultures that have sloshed up and down the Drive are oddly assorted: Italians, Portuguese, Africans from former Italian colonies, Latin-Americans, commies, lesbians, punks, and dopers. Whatever; it seems to work pretty well.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 14:28:27 UTC

Archos update

Posted By Matthew Garrett

Archos confirmed to me that they don't have source code for their RK2818-based models at the moment, which means the 7" home tablet (version 2) and the Arnova range all appear to be infringing. For a company that is actually on the better end of the scale for compliance, that's somewhat disheartening. My understanding is that the Arnova and "home tablet" ranges (as opposed to the "internet tablet" range) are subcontracted or rebadging exercises, so there's probably less corporate oversight than for the internally developed hardware. This is, obviously, not an excuse.( Comments |Comment on this)

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 12:12:29 UTC

Folk Models in Home Computer Security

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This is a really interesting paper: "Folk Models of Home Computer Security," by Rick Wash. It was presented at SOUPS, the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security, last year. Abstract: Home computer systems are frequently insecure because they are administered by untrained, unskilled users. The rise of botnets has amplified this problem; attackers can compromise these computers, aggregate them, and...

Mon, 21 Mar 2011 22:49:27 UTC

Back on line again

Posted By Greg Lehey

The month rolled over, and now I'm back on the net. But it didn't start at midnight, not even 0:30 (midnight in Adelaide), but at 1:11.

Mon, 21 Mar 2011 22:33:38 UTC

Sound, the Apple way

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the possible reasons that I might not be able to play the music is that the data might be damaged. To check that, decided to play it on the Apple. Immediately there's a problem: it seems you can't enter a path name into “Finder”, so I had a slow walk through the directory hierarchy. When I finally found the file I was looking for, I had to click on the icon (twice, I think). That launched iTunes, which had nothing better than first copy it somewhere! This was 50 MB, and it did it slowly—it was three minutes before I could hear anything!

Mon, 21 Mar 2011 21:38:44 UTC

Getting sound to work

Posted By Greg Lehey

I still didn't have any sound since upgrading my machine. Spent quite some time investigating the problem, learnt a lot about the sound cards, and finally got it to work. The first issue is that this sound chip has 3 channels. I can tell mplayer which one to use, so did so. No sound from any of the channels. A lot of discussion on IRC, during which I learnt that there are a total of three sysctls of interest when debugging this sort of thing: hw.snd.default_unit specifies which of the units gets mapped to /dev/dsp and friends.

Mon, 21 Mar 2011 19:00:00 UTC

The Main, Transpacifically

Posted By Tim Bray

I can honestly say “I liked Main Street before it was hip” but only because we happened to buy a house 2½ blocks away in 1996 and were introduced to its motley charms back then. The neighborhood these days is pretty well folks like us who bought in before it caught on, plus hipsters and immigrants rejoicing in the still-sane rents which are mostly a function of most of the buildings being 90 years old, beat-up, and not very upscale when they were built. Having said that, the commercial rents right on Main itself are whiplashing the interesting merchants. But let's focus in on some surviving low-rent Transpacific flavors.

Mon, 21 Mar 2011 19:00:00 UTC

Mainstream Failure

Posted By Tim Bray

The media's telling of the Japan story has been inexcusably bad. I can't count the number of pieces about confinement breaches and radiation surges; where they are not information-free they are wrong, and where they are not wrong, they bypass what matters. Here are a few specifics. The real story in Japan, by any objective measure, is the sustained post-tsunami desperation among those whose lives were swept away, and the narrative about the rescue and cleanup workers all over the Northeast. Read much of that? Me neither. Bloggers and other flavors of lone wolf are publishing heart-wrenching photo-essays from the front line of the recovery effort.

Mon, 21 Mar 2011 17:57:44 UTC

Times Square Video Screen Hacked with an iPhone

Posted By Bruce Schneier

I didn't post about it when I first saw it because I suspected a hoax. Turns out, I was right. It wasn't even two guys faking hacking a Times Square video screen. It was a movie studio faking two guys faking hacking a Times Square video screen....

Mon, 21 Mar 2011 14:09:29 UTC

Podcast: Punch, Brothers, Punch (Mark Twain)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I'm back podcasting after a long post-surgical hiatus. I don't have any new material to read, so instead, I've read one of my favorite comedic Mark Twain stories, Punch, Brothers, Punch. It's a great little essay about a earworming mind-virus, prefiguring Snow Crash by a century and more! There's more administrivia than usual in this … [Read more]

Mon, 21 Mar 2011 11:52:45 UTC

RSA Security, Inc Hacked

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The company, not the algorithm. Here's the corporate spin. Our investigation has led us to believe that the attack is in the category of an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT). Our investigation also revealed that the attack resulted in certain information being extracted from RSA's systems. Some of that information is specifically related to RSA's SecurID two-factor authentication products. While at...

Mon, 21 Mar 2011 01:01:21 UTC

Out of traffic quota

Posted By Greg Lehey

Today was the last day of the month for my meagre network traffic quota (only 9 GB). I had at least 1 GB to go, so I downloaded sample photos and music, while Yvonne downloaded Youtube videos. We made it. At 19:30 we ran out of quota, and instead had this irritating disconnection from the net. A good thing we didn't need any access, but it's put a nice hole in my network availability statistics.

Sun, 20 Mar 2011 22:27:14 UTC

System upgrade, continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with the system upgrade today, and things looked a lot better by evening. There are still some things that need explanation, though. gnupg I digitally sign my mail with gnupg, and now an old problem is back: each signature comes with the message “Warning: using insecure memory!”. And this time I found nothing in my diary about how I solved it last time, but from recollection I need to make /usr/local/bin/gpg setuid. Of course, it has this silly version number in the name of the executable, but at least it has a symlink: === [email protected] (/dev/pts/22) ~ 92 -> wh gpg 860558 lrwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  4 Mar 15 17:43 /usr/local/bin/gpg -> gpg2 === [email protected] (/dev/pts/22) ~ 93 -> chmod 4755 /usr/local/bin/gpg2 === [email protected] (/dev/pts/22) ~ 94 -> wh gpg2 859645 -rwsr-xr-x  1 ...

Sun, 20 Mar 2011 21:19:09 UTC

Intel Atom with ECC in 2012

Posted By James Hamilton

Back in early 2008, I noticed an interesting phenomena: some workloads run more cost effectively on low-cost, low-power processors. The key observation behind this phenomena is that CPU bandwidth consumption is going up faster than memory bandwidth.  Essentially, it's a two part observation: 1) many workloads are memory bandwidth bound and will not run faster with a faster processor unless the faster processor comes with a much improved memory subsystem and 2) the number of memory bound workloads is going up overtime.   One solution is improve both the memory bandwidth and the processor speed and this really does work but it is expensive.

Sun, 20 Mar 2011 19:00:00 UTC

5¿¿: Benefit

Posted By Tim Bray

What happened was, I glanced at my browser and saw a random turn of phrase, I'm going to see the ones that I love, and thought “That reminds me of something”. It turns out that it reminds me of With You There To Help Me, a lovely song on the album Benefit, a 1970 offering by Jethro Tull. So I pulled out the vinyl and have listened to it three times in the last two weeks; it's really just unreasonably good. (𔄝¿¿” series introduction here; with an explanation of why the title may look broken.) The Context Although Jethro Tull remains a living and actively performing ensemble, they haven't had a hit in some decades now and thus quite a few readers here may never have stumbled across them; so here are the bullet points.

Sun, 20 Mar 2011 14:25:17 UTC

Archos tablets

Posted By Matthew Garrett

Has anyone tried to obtain the kernel source for the Archos 7 home tablet V2 or the Arnova range (ie, anything Archos is shipping that's based on the RK2818 rather than the RK2808)? If so, what was the response? The source from their site only appears to be for the RK2808 devices.( Comments |Comment on this)

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 22:00:02 UTC

New photo software and old batteries

Posted By Greg Lehey

Photo day today, the first with the newly installed software. But first I had another issue to deal with: my /src file system was full, mainly of photos, and I had another 1 TB disk with nothing on it, so mounted it as /Photos and copied the stuff across—650 GB in a little over 2 hours. In the meantime, I had time to take my photos and start processing them. That in itself went remarkably smoothly, though I had a bit of a shock when I looked at my contact prints. They're in groups of three, taken automatically by the camera in the sequence +0EV, +1 EV, -1EV.

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 21:59:19 UTC

Cleaning up after installation

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now my machine is more or less running as before, but there's still plenty to do, and it kept me going most of the day, interleaved with photo processing. Discovered, of course, that I had forgotten Yvonne's crontab, so this morning she had no mail, and the weather station had hung again. I'm going to have to put some kind of watchdog in there, I fear. Apart from that, and from things I didn't have time to install, didn't do much. ispell is spelling in US English, which I need to attend to, and these silly firefox icons irritate me.

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 14:12:31 UTC

Zombie Fungus

Posted By Bruce Schneier

The security connection is pretty tenuous, so I figured I'd blog this on a Saturday. Once it infects an ant, the fungus uses as-yet-unidentified chemicals to control the ant's behavior, Hughes told LiveScience. It directs the ant to leave its colony (a very un-ant-like thing to do) and bite down on the underside of a leaf – the ant's soon-to-be...

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 11:24:40 UTC

Video from reading in Toronto with Dave Nickle last week

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The folks at ChiZine who hosted the reading that David Nickle and I did last week in Toronto have been good enough to put the video of the readings and Q&A online. Click through for the whole lot. ChiSeries Videos - Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 00:20:06 UTC

System upgrade: taking the plunge

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been dragging my heels about updating my main system, dereel.lemis.com, for over 6 months now. I've been preferring to do it right rather than do it fast, and in this case it meant perfecting the system upgrade instructions I've been working on for over 7 years now, and it's still not finished. And I think it'll stay that way. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and also for some time afterwards: find a clear, clean way to upgrade the system with minimum intervention, and the ability to return quickly to the old system if something went wrong.

Sat, 19 Mar 2011 00:20:06 UTC

System upgrade: taking the plunge

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been dragging my heels about updating my main system, dereel.lemis.com, for over 6 months now. I've been preferring to do it right rather than do it fast, and in this case it meant perfecting the system upgrade instructions I've been working on for over 7 years now, and it's still not finished. And I think it'll stay that way. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and also for some time afterwards: find a clear, clean way to upgrade the system with minimum intervention, and the ability to return quickly to the old system if something went wrong.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 19:00:00 UTC

More on Baking

Posted By Tim Bray

There's a flurry of conversation among those who build and host blogs on the subject of “baking”, i.e. causing your blog's pages to be served using of ordinary “static” files stored on disk, as opposed to assembled at request time with calls to a database. Brent Simmons is sort of driving; see A plea for baked weblogs and More on baked blogs. First, a couple of add-on technical points: Serving pages out of flat files is even better than you think it is, because when the load gets heavy, your operating system tends to cache these pages in memory, and so if a page is getting requested steadily, the disks may not be involved at all.

Fri, 18 Mar 2011 15:00:00 UTC

Thought for the day.

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

In one of Isaac Asimov's books, he foresees a day when telecommunications becomes so inexpensive that it becomes essentially flat-rate; for a monthly charge we can call anywhere in the world and talk all we want. As a result, people do begin to talk to others around the world. This breaks through the artificial walls to communication created by politics and we see that everyone is the same around the world. Soon, world peace is achieved. In the story, this happens around 2000. It was about 2000 at which point internet use was a big part of our lives and, usually, was flat-rate.

Thu, 17 Mar 2011 21:45:22 UTC

System upgrade: nearly there

Posted By Greg Lehey

I have finally finished updating the ports on cojones! And, as I suspected, I could start all over again, though I only got one new update. And then a new kernel, copy to the alternate root partition on dereel, and I'm ready for the next step of the adventure. I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that I made the wrong decision all those years ago when I decided to keep the configuration files in RCS. I'm still fiddling with the scripts, and this kind of script has the potential to do untold damage if it's used incorrectly, or if there's a bug.

Thu, 17 Mar 2011 21:45:22 UTC

System upgrade: nearly there

Posted By Greg Lehey

I have finally finished updating the ports on cojones! And, as I suspected, I could start all over again, though I only got one new update. And then a new kernel, copy to the alternate root partition on dereel, and I'm ready for the next step of the adventure. I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that I made the wrong decision all those years ago when I decided to keep the configuration files in RCS. I'm still fiddling with the scripts, and this kind of script has the potential to do untold damage if it's used incorrectly, or if there's a bug.

Thu, 17 Mar 2011 14:54:42 UTC

Thanks, NYLUG!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I had a great time speaking at NYLUG last night! If you are in the NYC area I highly recommend you check out this great Linux Users Group! http://www.nylug.org

Thu, 17 Mar 2011 11:50:21 UTC

Hacking ATM Users by Gluing Down Keys

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Clever hack: The thieves glue down the "enter," "cancel" and "clear" buttons on the keypad and wait until the customer goes into the bank for help before withdrawing money from their account. The robbed customers have already punched in their PINs when they realize the keypad buttons are stuck. The unwitting customers either do not know that they can use...

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 23:23:23 UTC

Converting Microsoft Media Player to MP3

Posted By Greg Lehey

Still no response from ABC Classic FM radio about their server breakage, so set to trying to convert the alternative streams to MP3. It seems that mplayer understands it, and with the following invocation I was able to dump the programme to disk: mplayer -playlist playlist -ao pcm:file=/var/tmp/foo.97013.pcm It happily dumped an enormous PCM file to disk: Playing mms://media3.abc.net.au/classic/audio/ktm-2011-03-05.wma. ========================================================================== Opening audio decoder: [ffmpeg] FFmpeg/libavcodec audio decoders AUDIO: 48000 Hz, 2 ch, s16le, 128.0 kbit/8.33% (ratio: 16002->192000) Selected audio codec: [ffwmav2] afm: ffmpeg (DivX audio v2 (FFmpeg)) ========================================================================== [AO PCM] File: /var/tmp/foo.97013.pcm (WAVE) PCM: Samplerate: 48000Hz Channels: Stereo Format s16le Starting playback...

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 23:19:34 UTC

Port updates, day 4

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with the port updates. This is taking nearly as long as building them in the first place. Today ran into a problem I hadn't seen before: ===>  Configuring for p5-version-0.88 Error in tempfile() using compilet-XXXXX.c: Could not create temp file compilet-VaiSa.c: Operation not supported at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.10.1/ExtUtils/CBuilder/Base.pm line 192 Testing if you have a C compiler *** Error code 45 That looks like a problem with locking over NFS. So back to check out the ports tree on cojones, which only has a 15 GB disk.

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 22:38:32 UTC

More diary format updates

Posted By Greg Lehey

As planned, gave a bit more thought to the layout of my diary headers (and not the headers of the RSS feed) today. I've accepted the fact that at least the topic headings should be no wider than the text block, and I want three things on them: title, topic descriptions and a link to the article: More diary format updates Topic: computers, general Link here ...

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 22:38:32 UTC

More diary format updates

Posted By Greg Lehey

As planned, gave a bit more thought to the layout of my diary headers (and not the headers of the RSS feed) today. I've accepted the fact that at least the topic headings should be no wider than the text block, and I want three things on them: title, topic descriptions and a link to the article: More diary format updates Topic: computers, general Link here ...

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 19:34:44 UTC

Any CSS gurus in the house?

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Help me fix the "awesome sysadmin conferences" box on http://everythingsysadmin.com so it works better when the window is narrow. (or other suggestions on how to make it look better) Please?

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 16:13:14 UTC

Coming to LA, Mar 27

Posted By Cory Doctorow

I'm coming through Los Angeles later this month on the way to a meeting and a lecture, and the nice folks at Dark Delicacies in Burbank (3512 W. Magnolia, 91505) were kind enough to host a signing and reading for me on Sunday, March 27th at 2PM. Hope to see you then!

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 15:10:10 UTC

Tonight at NYLUG: Me!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

http://nylug.org/meetings/index.shtml?20110300 If you are in the NYC area, come check it out. Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM IBM, 590 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022 I will present his "Top 5" time management tips for better time management, and take Q&A about time management, system administration, and what it's like to work at Google. And I might have a surprise. NOTE: You have to pre-register.

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 15:10:10 UTC

Don't feed the trolls

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

"Dealing with Internet Trolls - the Cognitive Therapy Approach" is a "must read" article for anyone that deals with trolls in chat rooms, bulletin boards, and so on. The strategy comes from Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, which is a self-help book that I highly recommend. In fact, I recommend this book in both TPOSANA and TM4SA. Feeling Good suggests this strategy as a way for people dealing with periods of depression can deal with criticism. It works surprisingly well when dealing with trolls too. The full article is here:http://unarmed.shlomifish.org/909.html

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 11:14:07 UTC

Hacking Cars with MP3 Files

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Impressive research: By adding extra code to a digital music file, they were able to turn a song burned to CD into a Trojan horse. When played on the car's stereo, this song could alter the firmware of the car's stereo system, giving attackers an entry point to change other components on the car....

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 00:56:19 UTC

Another crash

Posted By Greg Lehey

In the evening, came in and discovered that dereel had failed again, this time with no help from USB storage. I recalled seeing an error message from the new 1 TB disk, but later I couldn't find any reference in the log files. Did I dream it?

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 00:42:04 UTC

ABC drops Real Audio

Posted By Greg Lehey

On Saturday mornings, ABC Classic FM radio broadcasts a programme Keys to Music, which I find quite interesting. It's difficult to find time to listen to it when it's broadcast, but they conveniently have web feeds of the last month's programmes on the web, and I've been downloading them. But recently that hasn't worked: the server for the RealPlayer version doesn't respond. I've tried the “Windows” Media Player version, but it's very jerky, and I can't find a way to store it. This has been going on for weeks now, and others have confirmed it: no response from the server. Today I called up and got connected with Stuart Hale, who promised to look at it.

Tue, 15 Mar 2011 23:29:42 UTC

Ports upgrade, continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with the ports build today, hampered somewhat by portmaster's insistence that I take notice of warnings: ===>>> Warning: java/jdk16 is interactive, and will likely        require attention during the build ===>>> Press the [Enter] or [Return] key to continue What's the purpose of that? Yes, we know about the stupidity of the jdk license agreement, and yes there's nothing that portmaster can do about it, but all this does is require even more attention during the build. Played around with the options to try to silence it, and came up with the following invocation.

Tue, 15 Mar 2011 23:09:48 UTC

Optus 3G: We don't want to fix your network problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network connection has been relatively stable for the last week, until this morning, when I had two dropouts of 12 and 4 minutes respectively. The connection didn't drop, and the signal strength was constant: 1300134604 3.32339 5 # Tue Mar 15 07:30:04 EST 2011 150.449 ms 1300134741 0 0 hub www.mysql.com www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org # Tue Mar 15 07:32:21 EST 2011 ... 1300135418 0 0 hub www.mysql.com www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org # Tue Mar 15 07:43:38 EST 2011 1300135499 0 1 hub www.mysql.com www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org # Tue Mar 15 07:44:59 EST 2011 1300135508 0.480231 5 # Tue Mar 15 07:45:08 EST 2011 1041.165 ms 1300135642 0 1 hub www.mysql.com www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org # Tue Mar 15 07:47:22 EST 2011 1300135646 3.27285 5 # Tue Mar 15 07:47:26 EST 2011 152.772 ms This is the first time ...

Tue, 15 Mar 2011 23:09:48 UTC

Optus 3G: We don't want to fix your network problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network connection has been relatively stable for the last week, until this morning, when I had two dropouts of 12 and 4 minutes respectively. The connection didn't drop, and the signal strength was constant: 1300134604 3.32339 5 # Tue Mar 15 07:30:04 EST 2011 150.449 ms 1300134741 0 0 hub www.mysql.com www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org # Tue Mar 15 07:32:21 EST 2011 ... 1300135418 0 0 hub www.mysql.com www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org # Tue Mar 15 07:43:38 EST 2011 1300135499 0 1 hub www.mysql.com www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org # Tue Mar 15 07:44:59 EST 2011 1300135508 0.480231 5 # Tue Mar 15 07:45:08 EST 2011 1041.165 ms 1300135642 0 1 hub www.mysql.com www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org # Tue Mar 15 07:47:22 EST 2011 1300135646 3.27285 5 # Tue Mar 15 07:47:26 EST 2011 152.772 ms This is the first time ...

Tue, 15 Mar 2011 19:00:00 UTC

Accidental Twitter Honeypot

Posted By Tim Bray

I have always-running searches for “Android sucks” and “Android rocks” that I look at a couple of times a day; I find them very useful for gauging the general zeitgeist. Anyhow, one of them accidentally has been giving me a real-time panorama of the world of Twitter spam; depressing, but impressive in its scale. Check it out.

Tue, 15 Mar 2011 18:35:57 UTC

More Data on Datacenter Air Side Economization

Posted By James Hamilton

Two of the highest leverage datacenter efficiency improving techniques currently sweeping the industry are: 1) operating at higher ambient temperatures (http://perspectives.mvdirona.com/2011/02/27/ExploringTheLimitsOfDatacenterTemprature.aspx) and air-side economization  with evaporative cooling (http://perspectives.mvdirona.com/2010/05/15/ComputerRoomEvaporativeCooling.aspx).   The American Society of Heating and Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) currently recommends that servers not be operated at inlet temperatures beyond 81F. Its super common to hear that every 10C increase in temperatures leads to 2x the failure ¿ some statements get repeated so frequently they become “true” and no longer get questioned. See Exploring the limits of Data Center Temperature for my argument that this rule of thumb doesn't apply over the full range operating temperatures.

Tue, 15 Mar 2011 13:33:44 UTC

Beware the spyware model of technology ¿ its flaws are built in

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The Guardian

Tue, 15 Mar 2011 13:33:32 UTC

War on the PC and the network: copyright was just the start

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Guardian column, "Beware the spyware model of technology ¿ its flaws are built in," is a look at some of the coming battles over the general-purpose PC and the general-purpose network, and how the copyright wars have shown us what's at risk when we do regulation wrong. It's adapted from my talk at … [Read more]

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 22:47:20 UTC

Old as the hills

Posted By Greg Lehey

Started watching Sneakers, a computer-related thriller released in 1992, on TV this evening. It wasn't spectacular, and we postponed it for Some Other Time. As usual, the computer equipment brings home to me how much times have changed. With one exception: That's a Northgate OmniKey keyboard, the same as I still wish I was using. I have a couple which need repair, and in the meantime I'm using an Avant Stellar, which looks pretty much the same, but which has serious firmware issues.

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 21:49:06 UTC

System upgrade: time for action

Posted By Greg Lehey

As I came into the office this morning, Yvonne gave me the somewhat garbled news that Dereel was not there. It proved that what she meant was that booting her machine hung on NFS mounts of dereel.lemis.com. And with good reason: it had been down since 1:23. No messages in the log file; I suspect this is a consequence of the USB backup yesterday. That's ridiculous. I've been delaying upgrading dereel for over 6 months. The idea is the relatively low priority desire to “get it right” rather than to “do it now”. But I think now's the time to do it.

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 21:49:06 UTC

System upgrade: time for action

Posted By Greg Lehey

As I came into the office this morning, Yvonne gave me the somewhat garbled news that Dereel was not there. It proved that what she meant was that booting her machine hung on NFS mounts of dereel.lemis.com. And with good reason: it had been down since 1:23. No messages in the log file; I suspect this is a consequence of the USB backup yesterday. That's ridiculous. I've been delaying upgrading dereel for over 6 months. The idea is the relatively low priority desire to “get it right” rather than to “do it now”. But I think now's the time to do it.

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 19:00:00 UTC

A Year at Google

Posted By Tim Bray

March 15th is my first anniversary. When I'd been at Sun for a year I wrote how I was Angry at the Cat because I loved my work but I had to feed him before I could get online in the morning. Well, I'm OK with the cat now, but not because I'm less fully engaged. I'm not sure how this whole Google thing is going to work out but I'm glad I took the plunge. I'm not mad at that cat because he died. He's been replaced by another male cat who's not very smart and also very demanding at dawn till fed.

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 15:10:10 UTC

I'll be speaking at NYLUG this Wednesday

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

http://nylug.org/meetings/index.shtml?20110300 If you are in the NYC area, come check it out. Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM IBM, 590 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022 I will present his "Top 5" time management tips for better time management, and take Q&A about time management, system administration, and what it's like to work at Google. And I might have a surprise. NOTE: You have to pre-register.

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 15:00:00 UTC

LOPSA PICC Full Program Announced

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

What is LOPSA PICC? http://picconf.org Presentations, education, and fun. IT and syadmin (Linux/Unix, Windows, Networking & storage). 2 days, 1 night, conference. Low price/high value. Community-based, non-profit. April 29-30, 2011 @ Hyatt Regency New Brunswick, New Jersey. Where else can you find a regional conference with national speakers, hot topics that will help you advance your career, all meals included, and not have to travel 3,000 miles to get there? Find out more and register: http://www.picconf.org Twitter: http://twitter.com/picconf Facebook: http://picconf.org/facebook Email: http://lists.picconf.org/mailman/listinfo/picc11-announce HALF-DAY TRAINING SESSIONS: "PowerShell Fundamentals", Steven Murawski "Grokking Python", Brian K. Jones "Over the Edge System Administration, Volume 1", David N.

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 10:04:45 UTC

Using Language Patterns to Identify Anonymous E-Mail

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Interesting research. It only works when there's a limited number of potential authors: To test the accuracy of their technique, Fung and his colleagues examined the Enron Email Dataset, a collection which contains over 200,000 real-life emails from 158 employees of the Enron Corporation. Using a sample of 10 emails written by each of 10 subjects (100 emails in all),...

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 00:27:22 UTC

More diary layout changes

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been playing around with linking to individual diary items for some time. If, for example, I want to refer to an older entry, I put a named anchor there and link to it, as in the first link in this text (from the beginning of the month): A while back I tried to get a WiMAX Internet connection from Aussie Broadband, but was told that I wasn't in range because of terrain issues. That looks unlikely, and today I decided to try a little harder. For my own use, I then added a local hack that would produce a self-referential link to that item: SkyMesh solves satellite problems ...

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 00:18:18 UTC

Restructuring file systems

Posted By Greg Lehey

So my /src file system is full—of photos. I had put them on /src, which is nominally 1 TB, but really: Filesystem  1048576-blocks   Used Avail Capacity  Mounted on /dev/ad8s1d         923856 845410  4537    99%    /src When I started, I had about 130 GB of photos, collected over decades. Now there are about 650 GB, and clearly they make up the bulk of the storage. Time to split into two disks, and because it's easier to leave the photos where they are and move the rest, that's what I did, to an external USB 500 MB drive that I happened to have spare.

Mon, 14 Mar 2011 00:18:18 UTC

Restructuring file systems

Posted By Greg Lehey

So my /src file system is full—of photos. I had put them on /src, which is nominally 1 TB, but really: Filesystem  1048576-blocks   Used Avail Capacity  Mounted on /dev/ad8s1d         923856 845410  4537    99%    /src When I started, I had about 130 GB of photos, collected over decades. Now there are about 650 GB, and clearly they make up the bulk of the storage. Time to split into two disks, and because it's easier to leave the photos where they are and move the rest, that's what I did, to an external USB 500 MB drive that I happened to have spare.

Sun, 13 Mar 2011 19:00:00 UTC

Fish and Baubles

Posted By Tim Bray

Lauren was having eleven knitting friends over Sunday so I took the 4½-year-old girl out for an outing. She and I both like trains and boats, so we took the Canada Line to the Seabus to Lonsdale Quay, where there's a nice little public market with things for kids to do. Public markets in the Pacific Northwest winter are fun places to take pictures, because there's not that much light coming in from outside so the merchants' stalls' lighting arrangements have a dark backdrop for dramatic effect. Without further ado, here are some of the goods on offer.

Sun, 13 Mar 2011 00:38:35 UTC

Time for a new disk

Posted By Greg Lehey

All the photography today came at a price: my photo disk is full. It's a good thing that there are 2 TB disks out there, but at the rate I'm going, I'm going to need more than one disk for all the photos.

Sun, 13 Mar 2011 00:38:35 UTC

Time for a new disk

Posted By Greg Lehey

All the photography today came at a price: my photo disk is full. It's a good thing that there are 2 TB disks out there, but at the rate I'm going, I'm going to need more than one disk for all the photos.

Sat, 12 Mar 2011 16:26:48 UTC

Cascadia IT Conference (Seattle)

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

LOPSA's Cascadia IT Conference starts today (the training portion started yesterday). Reviewing the program grid it looks like it is going to be a fantastic day. I wish I could be there! Congrats to the committee that put the conference together, especially Lee Damon the conference chair. I love to see community-based, volunteer-only conferences springing up. You can follow the conference on Twitter hashtag #casitconf (If you are on the east-coast and jealous of Cascadia, you'll be happy to know that LOPSA's PICC conference in NJ is just 6 weeks away! Register today!)

Sat, 12 Mar 2011 04:35:50 UTC

Wikipedia markup pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent some time doing some minor touch-ups on a couple of Wikipedia pages today. Nothing important, but it took hours! I suppose it's a question of the tools available. One-line-per-paragraph has never worked for me, and editing a web form reminds me of an IBM 029. There are two (or maybe three) ways of editing text for markup: Use an editor, explicit markup. This is the traditional way that we've always used; as far back as 1973 I had written documentation for UNIVAC like that: KV ABRECHNUNGSSYSTEM - TECHN.

Sat, 12 Mar 2011 04:35:50 UTC

Wikipedia markup pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent some time doing some minor touch-ups on a couple of Wikipedia pages today. Nothing important, but it took hours! I suppose it's a question of the tools available. One-line-per-paragraph has never worked for me, and editing a web form reminds me of an IBM 029. There are two (or maybe three) ways of editing text for markup: Use an editor, explicit markup. This is the traditional way that we've always used; as far back as 1973 I had written documentation for UNIVAC like that: KV ABRECHNUNGSSYSTEM - TECHN.

Fri, 11 Mar 2011 19:11:52 UTC

Video Interview with Me

Posted By Bruce Schneier

This three-part video interview with me was conducted at the RSA Conference last month....

Fri, 11 Mar 2011 16:21:58 UTC

Tor.com on WITH A LITTLE HELP

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Tor.com's Steven Raets has a great write up on WITH A LITTLE HELP: As for the stories, I think it's safe to say that anyone who enjoyed Cory Doctorow's novels will love them. Like his novels Little Brother, Makers and For the Win, they often start with a recognizable core: a present-day technological or sociological … [Read more]

Fri, 11 Mar 2011 12:06:56 UTC

FBI and the Future of Wiretapping

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Last month I posted Susan Landau's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on government eavesdropping. In fairness to the other side, here's testimony of Valerie Caproni, General Counsel of the FBI....

Fri, 11 Mar 2011 10:14:47 UTC

Clarkesworld on For the Win

Posted By Cory Doctorow

In this Clarkesworld interview, conducted last year during my tour for For the Win, Jeremy Jones and I talk about the rigors of touring, the politics of labor, and the elusive Drama Hobbit. Have there been any strange moments? There've been a couple pretty weird ones. I've had two funny misunderstandings. A friend of mine … [Read more]

Thu, 10 Mar 2011 23:44:14 UTC

Network signal strength, caught in the act

Posted By Greg Lehey

The network monitoring software has been running well for over a day now. I've played around with the reporting format a bit, but it's basically the same. And the signal strength reports match the odd incidents I've seen, where the reported strength changes dramatically for no obvious reason: 1299733585 257318 62 6 6 317928386 485612461   21841   18655 # Thu Mar 10 16:06:25 2011 1299733647 257380 62 6 6 317930864 485614793    2478    2332 # Thu Mar 10 16:07:27 2011 1299733709 257442 62 6 16 317937484 485620374    6620    5581 # Thu Mar 10 16:08:29 2011 1299733771 257504 62 6 7 317939562 485622321    2078    1947 # Thu Mar 10 16:09:31 2011 1299733833 257566 62 6 7 317943656 485627607    4094    5286 # Thu Mar 10 16:10:33 2011 The fifth ...

Thu, 10 Mar 2011 22:41:48 UTC

Spreadsheets: the computer interface for illiterates

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been having some discussions with Peter O'Connell, my investment adviser, about the form in which my financial portfolio information is presented. A month or two ago I was confronted with a missing $60,000 or so, and I asked him to investigate. The results seem to show no irregularity, just a serious misunderstanding of the data presented. This concern isn't new; I discussed it with Peter over two years ago. But this is the first time it has got to the point that I have to do something to gain an overview. Peter sent me a report last month, but once again it didn't really show more than individual transactions.

Thu, 10 Mar 2011 22:41:48 UTC

Spreadsheets: the computer interface for illiterates

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been having some discussions with Peter O'Connell, my investment adviser, about the form in which my financial portfolio information is presented. A month or two ago I was confronted with a missing $60,000 or so, and I asked him to investigate. The results seem to show no irregularity, just a serious misunderstanding of the data presented. This concern isn't new; I discussed it with Peter over two years ago. But this is the first time it has got to the point that I have to do something to gain an overview. Peter sent me a report last month, but once again it didn't really show more than individual transactions.

Thu, 10 Mar 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Current Dessert Snapshot

Posted By Tim Bray

It would have been better with a blue sky, but still a cheery sight. It's a little unusual that the sidewalk and lawn are deserted (while remaining desserted). [Stop that! -Ed.] It's a busy building, and also there's as often as not a party of passersby photographing themselves and the sculptures.

Thu, 10 Mar 2011 12:05:26 UTC

Full Body Scanners

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Wired.com has a good three-part story on full-body scanners....

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 23:33:30 UTC

Measuring 3G network performance

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been nearly 6 years since I started monitoring my network connection, first ADSL, then satellite and now 3G wireless. In the course of time, the primitive nature of the interfaces meant that I collected less and less information about the state of the connection. But now that I've more or less accepted that I will have to use a separate FreeBSD machine as a network gateway, I can start to change that. In particular, I'm interested in signal strength, something of which I don't have much here. The wireless link is now working better than before, and I've changed back to the E1762 modem.

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 23:33:30 UTC

Measuring 3G network performance

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been nearly 6 years since I started monitoring my network connection, first ADSL, then satellite and now 3G wireless. In the course of time, the primitive nature of the interfaces meant that I collected less and less information about the state of the connection. But now that I've more or less accepted that I will have to use a separate FreeBSD machine as a network gateway, I can start to change that. In particular, I'm interested in signal strength, something of which I don't have much here. The wireless link is now working better than before, and I've changed back to the E1762 modem.

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Between Stones

Posted By Tim Bray

I've been enjoying the reviews of the iPad 2, which seems a fine piece of work. Also smiling at the homilies on the irrelevance and hopelessness of competing products; a particularly good example is The iPad 2 Rant. I'm reminded of an old Go proverb. Go is a game in which the players take turns placing “stones”, white and black and rounded and finely finished, on a beautifully-crafted wooden board. It's not uncommon, when passions are high and the combat is hot, to slap your stone down so that the echoing wood rings out. It's not uncommon, when your opponent has played, to take a stone from your bowl and toy with it idly while you consider your response.

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 18:43:52 UTC

For the Win on Readergirlz

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My novel For the Win is the featured title this month at Readergirlz, a literacy site that does wonderful work. I'll be answering questions there through the month.

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 15:00:00 UTC

Review: AT&T 3G Microcell

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I got an offer in the mail from AT&T for a "3G Microcell". (click for larger view) which offers "more bars in your house". It is free, as long as I keep it for 12 months. Normally a $199.95 value, I decided to check it out. What is it: A device you plug into your home network. Your cell phone sees it as a cell-phone tower and, since it is closer to you than the local cell-tower, uses it for phone calls. The phone calls go out as VoIP through your internet connection. It works with any ISP (I have FiOS, not AT&T.)

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 13:41:52 UTC

Stack Overflow (the company) is now Stack Exchange

Posted By Joel Spolsky

The snack room at Stack Exchange got a wee upgrade today: Find out why (and read to the end to find out how to get your own StackExchange sticker) at the Stack Overflow Blog. Need to hire a really great programmer? Want a job that doesn't drive you crazy? Visit the Joel on Software Job Board: Great software jobs, great people.

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 12:38:09 UTC

Malware as Job Security

Posted By Bruce Schneier

A programmer installed malware into the Whack-a-Mole arcade game as a form of job security. It didn't work....

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 00:17:35 UTC

GIMP: everything you need, if you can only find it

Posted By Greg Lehey

Scanning in photos from books is seldom completely accurate; despite everything, most of the images were misaligned by 1° or 2°. GIMP to the rescue! I've complained before about how clumsy GIMP is, but rotation is a particularly messy part. The documentation is missing (presumably because the FreeBSD port decided not to install it), but I know that you can select the rotate tool by typing R. But that doesn't work well: if you rotate something by 90°, the bounding box doesn't rotate with it: The top and the bottom of the image have been removed, because the bounding box doesn't include them.

Tue, 08 Mar 2011 23:25:01 UTC

Updating browsers, the easy way

Posted By Greg Lehey

Fired up boskoop, my Apple machine, this morning and got a message from firefox: without asking, it had downloaded an update and wanted to install it. I thought I had disabled this stuff. But it was there, so I let it run, and after a surprising amount of time it finished, came back and told me that it was out of date, and that I should install firefox 3.6. Now why couldn't it have done that before? So, follow the instructions, download the package, waited another long time and was finally presented with this window: Pressing on the arrow did nothing.

Tue, 08 Mar 2011 23:25:01 UTC

Updating browsers, the easy way

Posted By Greg Lehey

Fired up boskoop, my Apple machine, this morning and got a message from firefox: without asking, it had downloaded an update and wanted to install it. I thought I had disabled this stuff. But it was there, so I let it run, and after a surprising amount of time it finished, came back and told me that it was out of date, and that I should install firefox 3.6. Now why couldn't it have done that before? So, follow the instructions, download the package, waited another long time and was finally presented with this window: Pressing on the arrow did nothing.

Tue, 08 Mar 2011 13:11:26 UTC

Ebooks: durability is a feature, not a bug

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The Guardian

Tue, 08 Mar 2011 13:11:15 UTC

Self-destructing ebooks: paper's fragility is a bug, not a feature

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My new Guardian column, "Ebooks: durability is a feature, not a bug," is about HarperCollins's decision to limit library checkouts of its ebooks to 26, whereupon the books self-destruct. I argue that it's wrong to argue about whether print books last for more or less than 26 checkouts -- the important thing to recognize is … [Read more]

Tue, 08 Mar 2011 12:35:34 UTC

Criminals Stealing Cars by Calling Tow Trucks

Posted By Bruce Schneier

It's a clever hack, but an old problem: the authentication in these sorts of normal operations isn't good enough to prevent abuse....

Tue, 08 Mar 2011 00:26:36 UTC

I'll be speaking at NYLUG a week from Wednesday

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

http://nylug.org/meetings/index.shtml?20110300 If you are in the NYC area, come check it out. Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM IBM, 590 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022 I will present his "Top 5" time management tips for better time management, and take Q&A about time management, system administration, and what it's like to work at Google. NOTE: You have to pre-register.

Tue, 08 Mar 2011 00:18:24 UTC

Running FreeBSD from a USB stick

Posted By Greg Lehey

So finally my USB stick has finished copying, and I put it in a laptop to try it out. It booted just fine, and then failed while trying to mount the root file system. That's not overly surprising, since I had forgotten to change the configuration, and /etc/fstab still pointed at /dev/ad0s1a instead of /dev/da0s1a. So I tried that. Failure. Further investigation showed that there was no /dev/da0. By chance, I had just heard about that recently: it seems that the default probe time for SCSI devices is too slow for some USB sticks, and you need to work around the issue by putting the following line (or similar) into /boot/loader.conf: kern.cam.scsi_delay=5000 The parameter is in milliseconds, so this waits 5 seconds.

Tue, 08 Mar 2011 00:18:24 UTC

Running FreeBSD from a USB stick

Posted By Greg Lehey

So finally my USB stick has finished copying, and I put it in a laptop to try it out. It booted just fine, and then failed while trying to mount the root file system. That's not overly surprising, since I had forgotten to change the configuration, and /etc/fstab still pointed at /dev/ad0s1a instead of /dev/da0s1a. So I tried that. Failure. Further investigation showed that there was no /dev/da0. By chance, I had just heard about that recently: it seems that the default probe time for SCSI devices is too slow for some USB sticks, and you need to work around the issue by putting the following line (or similar) into /boot/loader.conf: kern.cam.scsi_delay=5000 The parameter is in milliseconds, so this waits 5 seconds.

Mon, 07 Mar 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Birds by Heather Cash

Posted By Tim Bray

Here's a bright painting of birds on a branch entitled “Three of a Kind”, by Heather Cash. There's a story to go with it. Heather paints for fulfillment and profit too; she has a blog and an Etsy store. Lots of her paintings have birds! I haven't actually met Ms Cash. What happened was, at year-end there was an internal Google charity auction; the cause struck me as excellent and I decided to help. So I entered an item entitled “Juicy link”. I promised the winning bidder links from my blog (here it is) and Twitter stream. The charity did really rather well as Heather pounced to win a last-minute bidding flurry.

Mon, 07 Mar 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Things about Blogging

Posted By Tim Bray

What happened was, my manager organized an internal Google panel on blogging and asked me to join it. Other panelists were Matt Cutts, Don Dodge, and Chris Messina. Back in the day, meta-blogging was a big deal, one of the things the Internet talked about when it talked about itself. Not so much now; it's been a while since I actually thought about blogging as such, let alone held forth in public. In preparation for the event, I thought I'd jot down some helpful tips and tricks, and in no time at all I had more than twenty. I ran through them real fast in the hope of provoking some conversation – it worked – and got a laugh by saying “I guess I should write these up in a blog post”.

Mon, 07 Mar 2011 15:00:00 UTC

Call For Papers: 5th ACM Symposium on Computer Human Interaction for Management of IT December 4-5, 2011 - Boston, MA

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

If you notice there is a new conference listed on the "Awesome Conferences" listing on EverythingSysadmin.com: CHIMIT 2011 CHMIT has published their "Call for Contributions" on their new website http://chimit.acm.org CHIMIT is a conference for people that study IT people, how we work, and how we can work better. It is a small conference and I encourage people (sysadmins and researchers) to participate. We need more things like this! I've mentioned CHIMIT a number of times including a longer explanation of why this is an important area of study and reported about a panel I was on too. This year CHIMIT is in Boston, Dec 4-5, 2011.

Mon, 07 Mar 2011 12:47:52 UTC

Recently Declassified NSA History Document

Posted By Bruce Schneier

"American Cryptography During the Cold War 1945-1989; Book IV: Cryptologic Rebirth 1981-1989." Document was first declassified in 2009. Here are some newly declassified pages....

Mon, 07 Mar 2011 04:39:41 UTC

Audio of yesterday's iSchool talk

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Socrates from the Singularity Weblog attended my University of Toronto iSchool talk ("A Little Bit Pregnant: Why it's a Bad Idea to Regulate Computers the Way We Regulate Radios, Guns, Uranium and Other Special-Purpose Tools") yesterday and was kind enough to record and podcast it with a great write up. Here's the MP3, too!

Mon, 07 Mar 2011 02:58:50 UTC

Seattle folks! Still time to register for Cascadia!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

It is just days away. Seattle-folks, don't miss out! The training program is top notch and the talks on Saturday look very interesting! (I wish I could be there!) http://www.casitconf.org If your boss won't pay for it, tell him I said he/she should send you. (Forge email from me saying so. If he/she asks, I'll back your story.)

Sun, 06 Mar 2011 22:13:07 UTC

How not to take panoramic photos

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday I put off the house photos until today because of the wind. That didn't help: it was windier today. So what could I do? Motion completely messes up HDR (tone-mapped) photos, and it's not much good for panorama stitching either. On the other hand, it was the first weekend in the month, and I have extra photos I take then, and in addition I took last week's photos a day early. The weather forecast predicts even more wind for the rest of the week, so I had to do the best I could to get some kind of useful photos.

Sun, 06 Mar 2011 22:13:07 UTC

How not to take panoramic photos

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday I put off the house photos until today because of the wind. That didn't help: it was windier today. So what could I do? Motion completely messes up HDR (tone-mapped) photos, and it's not much good for panorama stitching either. On the other hand, it was the first weekend in the month, and I have extra photos I take then, and in addition I took last week's photos a day early. The weather forecast predicts even more wind for the rest of the week, so I had to do the best I could to get some kind of useful photos.

Sun, 06 Mar 2011 20:00:00 UTC

2011 Crocus!

Posted By Tim Bray

I just realized that just because in 2009 I wrote “I just realized that just because in every previous year I've run an excited photo of the spring's first crocuses, that's not a reason not to run an excited photo of this spring's first crocus”, that's not a reason to run one in 2011. Anyhow, I didn't run one last year.

Sun, 06 Mar 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Playing Music Better

Posted By Tim Bray

Back in 2009 I migrated my digital music off CDs. The music lives on a Mac Pro and I play it through iTunes, digital out via USB to a high-end audio system. I've become unhappy with the setup. The biggest problem is iTunes, which I've come to loathe; but that's not all. Requirements Mine are a little unusual because I insist on storing the music losslessly; also because I don't want to send it all over the house a la Sonos. But they're also simple; I just want to point at a recording or playlist or something streaming off the Net and say “play that right now” and have it play, right then.

Sun, 06 Mar 2011 01:05:36 UTC

Alternatives to commercial routers

Posted By Greg Lehey

Started copying my USB stick again today. I'm really making less than 100 kB/s, and it won't be finished until tomorrow. I hope this doesn't have any implications about the speed of the system once it's up and running. But what if none of the laptops work? There are plenty of devices out there with specifications like the external routers, but with user-loadable software. I had heard of Soekris before, but not thought of them in this context. That's probably just as well; none of the ones I've seen on sale (cheaply) have a USB slot, though they do have such models.

Sun, 06 Mar 2011 01:05:36 UTC

Alternatives to commercial routers

Posted By Greg Lehey

Started copying my USB stick again today. I'm really making less than 100 kB/s, and it won't be finished until tomorrow. I hope this doesn't have any implications about the speed of the system once it's up and running. But what if none of the laptops work? There are plenty of devices out there with specifications like the external routers, but with user-loadable software. I had heard of Soekris before, but not thought of them in this context. That's probably just as well; none of the ones I've seen on sale (cheaply) have a USB slot, though they do have such models.

Sat, 05 Mar 2011 21:58:04 UTC

Yahoo! Compute Coop Design

Posted By James Hamilton

Chris Page, Director of Climate & Energy Strategy at Yahoo! spoke at the 2010 Data Center Efficiency Summit where he presented Yahoo! Compute Coop Design.   The primary attributes of the Yahoo! design are: 1) 100% free air cooling (no chillers), 2) slab concrete floor, 3) use of wind power to augment air handling units, and 4) pre-engineered building for construction speed.   Chris reports the idea to orient the building such that the wind force on the external wall facing the dominant wind direction and use this higher pressure to assist the air handling units was taken from looking at farm buildings in the Buffalo, New York area.

Sat, 05 Mar 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Impure Geometry

Posted By Tim Bray

The boy had a soccer game today down at Andy Livingston turf which is right up against Vancouver's infamous Downtown Eastside; I ended up in a parking lot down an alley that seemed to have just an unreasonable amount of geometry wherever I looked. There are at least four birds in the first picture. Last game of the season, and he says he's about had it with organized soccer. A pity, I sort of enjoyed the Soccer-Dad thing.

Sat, 05 Mar 2011 05:00:00 UTC

Awesome Sysadmin Conferences!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Regional: PICC 2011, April 29-30, 2011, New Brunswick, NJ Regional: Cascadia IT Conference, March 11-12th, 2011, Seattle, WA National: Velocity 2011, June 14 - 16, 2011, Santa Clara, CA National: Usenix LISA '11, December 4-9, Boston, MA National: ACM CHIMIT '11, December 4-5, Boston, MA Got something to say? Doing something interesting? Want to publicize your open source project? Submit papers and talk proposals to LISA and CHIMIT!

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 23:26:22 UTC

USB stick based router

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network problems are bearable at the moment, but I still don't have a router machine: I'm using a machine belonging to Chris Yeardley with the partially completed system upgrade that was really destined for dereel. I can't continue with the latter until I have a replacement router. The obvious solution is an old laptop. I have a whole pile of old laptops, one of which could conceivably do the job: The Dell Inspiron 5100 that normally runs pain, my Microsoft system.

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 23:26:22 UTC

USB stick based router

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network problems are bearable at the moment, but I still don't have a router machine: I'm using a machine belonging to Chris Yeardley with the partially completed system upgrade that was really destined for dereel. I can't continue with the latter until I have a replacement router. The obvious solution is an old laptop. I have a whole pile of old laptops, one of which could conceivably do the job: The Dell Inspiron 5100 that normally runs pain, my Microsoft system.

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 22:36:05 UTC

Friday Squid Blogging: Giant Squid Washes Ashore

Posted By Bruce Schneier

A giant squid washed ashore in New South Wales....

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 20:15:00 UTC

Improving the situation

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

You are in a car, driving 60 miles per hour, trying to get to Canada. You pass through Kansas. You are driving south. If you don't understand the problem I'm describing, look at a map. Now how do you think you should solve this problem? One might suggest that changing your speed to 30 miles per hour would be an improvement. Do you agree? I doubt it. I bet most people reading this web site would think that the situation isn't getting better until the car is driving the other direction. Why do I bring this up? You've heard that the internet is running out of IP addresses, right?

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Barcelona Nightlife and Out

Posted By Tim Bray

I'll just tidy up the last lingering worth-showing Barcelona pix and it helps that they share an inside-after-dark theme. This is at a party, which was swanky and overdone and exclusive; despite the lighting, that's not Daft Punk on stage. The affair was mostly too complex for me; when in doubt, point a camera at it. The little Canon pocket jobbie, it usually doesn't overload, and when it does retains some grace. At that same event, this woman was sitting on a glowing cube and her dress was falling before it in lines that seemed impossibly elegant. I didn't ask her permission to take or run her picture so I guess it's just as well that it's from the elbows down.

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 13:28:55 UTC

Reminder: speech and reading in Toronto this weekend

Posted By Cory Doctorow

This weekend, the University of Toronto's Faculty for Information is bringing me to Toronto to give a keynote at its Boundaries, Frontiers and Gatekeepers conference. Admission is free for U of T iSchool students. For others, the keynote is $5 at the door, or the whole event is $7 for non-U-of-T-students and $10 for the … [Read more]

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 13:07:17 UTC

Interesting Research in Using Animals to Detect Substances

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Fascinating research summarized in The Economist. Basically, detecting dogs respond to unconscious cues from their handlers, and generate false alarms because of them. It makes sense, as dogs are so attuned to humans. I'll bet bomb-sniffing bees don't make the same mistakes....

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 00:01:17 UTC

Optus' Rokewood mobile tower

Posted By Greg Lehey

While thinking about mobile towers, wondered when Optus will erect the tower in Rokewood. Off to take a look. There's certainly nothing there yet, and if Greg from Optus hadn't told me where they're planning to build it, I wouldn't have known: It'll be a while before I can use that tower.

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 00:01:17 UTC

Optus' Rokewood mobile tower

Posted By Greg Lehey

While thinking about mobile towers, wondered when Optus will erect the tower in Rokewood. Off to take a look. There's certainly nothing there yet, and if Greg from Optus hadn't told me where they're planning to build it, I wouldn't have known: It'll be a while before I can use that tower.

Thu, 03 Mar 2011 20:00:00 UTC

On Input

Posted By Tim Bray

I can't replace my computer with an Android handset or tablet, and the reason isn't power or speed or screen size or battery life. The big problem is input: getting my ideas, mostly in the form of text, into the device and onto the Net. I expect rapid progress on this front; herewith a short survey and my own proposal. Yes, It's a Problem Here's a strong claim: In this day and age, anyone who has had any success as a knowledge worker is an at-least-competent typist. And a second: None of the currently-available mobile-device input methods approach the performance of a well-built, responsive keyboard.

Thu, 03 Mar 2011 20:00:00 UTC

Letter Sweep

Posted By Tim Bray

I'd typed the first letter of some URL into the address window when I was interrupted. Looking back a moment later, I was startled at what the browser had assumed I wanted to visit. So here are my A,B,C browser guesses, which I suspect say something about me. What are yours? [A]ndroid Developers Blog. Not surprising, I edit it. [B]eilby Fine Arts; one of my PDML colleagues recently posted a “PESO” (see PDML + Twitter) here that I checked out. [C]IBC, my bank; it used to stand for “Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce”. How quaint. [D]aring Fireball. Yeah, I disagree with John's findings regularly, and he's mean-spirited about Android when he gets a chance.

Thu, 03 Mar 2011 12:35:09 UTC

Pickpockets are a Dying Breed

Posted By Bruce Schneier

Pickpockets in America are dying out. This is the bit I found interesting: And perhaps most important, the centuries-old apprenticeship system underpinning organized pickpocketing has been disrupted. Pickpocketing has always perpetuated itself by having older hooks­ -- nicknamed "Fagins," after the crime boss in Oliver Twist -- teach younger ones the art, and then absorbing them into canons. But due...

Wed, 02 Mar 2011 22:40:37 UTC

More modem tests

Posted By Greg Lehey

Back home and put the new modem into my machine. Not surprisingly, it worked just about as well. Surprisingly, it didn't go into HSPA mode, but possibly it had 1 dBm more signal than the other one. Is this a firmware difference? I've forgotten how to read out the firmware ID. It's clearly the same model. From the log file, probe results for the old and new modem: Feb 27 17:11:37 cojones root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x12d1 product 0x140c bus uhub0 Mar  2 14:27:18 cojones root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x12d1 product 0x140c bus uhub0 But that doesn't make any difference.

Wed, 02 Mar 2011 22:40:37 UTC

More modem tests

Posted By Greg Lehey

Back home and put the new modem into my machine. Not surprisingly, it worked just about as well. Surprisingly, it didn't go into HSPA mode, but possibly it had 1 dBm more signal than the other one. Is this a firmware difference? I've forgotten how to read out the firmware ID. It's clearly the same model. From the log file, probe results for the old and new modem: Feb 27 17:11:37 cojones root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x12d1 product 0x140c bus uhub0 Mar  2 14:27:18 cojones root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x12d1 product 0x140c bus uhub0 But that doesn't make any difference.

Wed, 02 Mar 2011 18:23:03 UTC

Explaining Creativity to a Martian

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Locus

Wed, 02 Mar 2011 18:22:47 UTC

Explaining creativity to a Martian

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Locus column takes the form of a thought-experiment in which I try to make sense of how we treat creative work on behalf of a notional Martian: It's about this time that the Martian notices our distinctly contradictory relationship with copying. On the one hand, copying is inextricably tied up with this idea … [Read more]

Wed, 02 Mar 2011 14:00:01 UTC

Expanding the Cloud - Introducing the AWS Asia Pacific (Tokyo) Region

Posted By Werner Vogels

Today Amazon Web Services is expanding its world-wide coverage with the launch of a new AWS Region located in Tokyo, Japan. Japanese companies and consumers have become used to low latency and high-speed networking available between their businesses, residences, and mobile devices. With the launch of the Asia Pacific (Tokyo) Region, companies can now leverage the AWS suite of infrastructure web services directly connected to Japanese networks. The advanced Asia Pacific network infrastructure also makes the AWS Tokyo Region a viable option for customers from South Korea. A well know application area that makes use of the advanced network infrastructure in Japan is social gaming, and it shouldn't be surprising that some of the early customers of the new AWS Tokyo Region are large gaming companies like Gumi and Zynga Japan.

Wed, 02 Mar 2011 13:53:24 UTC

NIST SHA-3 News

Posted By Bruce Schneier

NIST has finally published its rationale for selecting the five finalists....

Wed, 02 Mar 2011 02:54:54 UTC

Top 5 "software to saas" culture shocks.

Posted By Theo Schlossnagle

Tue, 01 Mar 2011 23:03:16 UTC

Network woes: Give me WiMAX

Posted By Greg Lehey

A while back I tried to get a WiMAX Internet connection from Aussie Broadband, but was told that I wasn't in range because of terrain issues. That looks unlikely, and today I decided to try a little harder. On the positive side, I was able to find their pricing page this time: for $39.95, the same price I pay Internode for 9 GB at varying speeds up to a theoretical 7200/2000 kb/s, I could get 20 GB at 12000/1024 kb/s for WiMAX. Called them up and was told that it wouldn't work. Finally got a connection to David, who runs the software that does the determination.

Tue, 01 Mar 2011 23:03:16 UTC

Network woes: Give me WiMAX

Posted By Greg Lehey

A while back I tried to get a WiMAX Internet connection from Aussie Broadband, but was told that I wasn't in range because of terrain issues. That looks unlikely, and today I decided to try a little harder. On the positive side, I was able to find their pricing page this time: for $39.95, the same price I pay Internode for 9 GB at varying speeds up to a theoretical 7200/2000 kb/s, I could get 20 GB at 12000/1024 kb/s for WiMAX. Called them up and was told that it wouldn't work. Finally got a connection to David, who runs the software that does the determination.

Tue, 01 Mar 2011 12:29:40 UTC

Erasing Data from Flash Drives

Posted By Bruce Schneier

"Reliably Erasing Data From Flash-Based Solid State Drives," by Michael Wei, Laura M. Grupp, Frederick E. Spada, and Steven Swanson. Abstract: Reliably erasing data from storage media (sanitizing the media) is a critical component of secure data management. While sanitizing entire disks and individual files is well-understood for hard drives, flash-based solid state disks have a very different internal architecture,...