Archive for the ‘asus_eee’ Category

Stuff and things.

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Last week was not a good week. This coming week is shaping up to be pretty hectic (though I am hoping not as personally unpleasant), so there may be a blogging slowdown.

I spent all day yesterday at the 2013 edition of the Texas LINUX Fest. I haven’t been since 2010, but that had less to do with my frustrations with the 2010 organization and more to do with personal issues. (In 2011, that just turned out to be a bad weekend, with having to get my car inspected and deal with other things. Last year, it was in San Antonio; while that may be a welcome change of pace, the schedule wasn’t compelling enough to make me drive 150 miles round trip.)

I thought about doing detailed summaries of each session I attended, but frankly I’m a little worn out and a little lazy. I’d rather mention a handful of panels I did like. (There were some others that I went to, but don’t feel I can fairly evaluate because they weren’t what I was expecting, or I was distracted by other issues (see below), or, in one case, I just think it’d be a jerk move to badmouth the presenter.)

I really enjoyed Theo Schlossnagle’s “Scaling: Lessons Learned and Their Applications to Apache Culture” keynote speech, which covered a lot of good points about complex systems. He sees commonalities between building scalable systems and building communities to support them. Many of the points he made may not be hot news flashes but are worth repeating. Among those:

  • People get so caught up in how awesome it it to build stuff that they forget what the real world looks like.
  • Code is just a tool. It isn’t a child or a family member. You don’t have loyalty to it.
  • Engineers have a tendency to focus on the technology they love instead of the actual problems they face.
  • At the core of things, your job is to tell the computer what to do.
  • Unbalanced hyperspecialization leads to poorly constructed solutions.
  • The biggest challenge is that increasing scale and increasing performance demands lead to increased complexity.
  • Technological complexity is an emergent property of complex and changing business problems. This complexity has to be understood and managed, which is difficult for specialists.
  • If you don’t provide value, your [stuff] doesn’t matter.
  • In order to survive, we need generalists. Schlossnagle didn’t quote Heinlein, but he might as well have.

David Stokes from Oracle did what I thought was an excellent talk on “The Proper Care and Feeding of a MySQL Database”. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been dabbling in MySQL, so I got a lot out of this. Some of it may have been obvious (more RAM, more disks, good things. Use decent hardware, not something you scavenged from the admin assistant because it was too slow to run the latest Office), but the two things we learn from history are that too many people don’t learn from history, and that the obvious often isn’t.

Philip Ballew’s “Ubuntu; Where We Were, and Where We Are” presentation was…amusing, shall we say, mostly for the level of skepticism directed at Ballew from the audience, many of whom seem to be skeptical about recent Ubuntu decisions like the replacement of X. I’m becoming increasingly skeptical of Ubuntu myself; I just upgraded to 13.04, and now I’m running into the “The system is running in low-graphics mode” error, which I haven’t had time to fully debug. The worst part is that I’m getting this only intermittently; I think it may be a timing issue, possibly with some Virtual Box kernel extensions.

Owen Delong’s “IPv6 – It’s Easy on LINUX” presentation was also very good. I haven’t even started to configure my systems for IPv6 (and I’m not sure everything supports it: I’m sure about the Mac and Project e, but less sure about some older gear), so I found Delong’s talk useful. I was surprised, though, that there was even more hostility and skepticism from the crowd than there was at the Ubuntu panel. Why is IPv6 an issue in 2013? And many of the questions from the crowd seemed to boil down to “How do I emulate this particular thing I do in IPv4 using IPv6, even though the reason this is needed in IPv4 is because we have a limited number of IPv4 addresses available, where in IPv6 we could give every single atom in the universe a unique address and not run out?”

Okay, that was a long question, but you get the point.

Brad Richardson’s “GPU based password recovery on LINUX” lightning talk is worth checking out. He was able to do the talk in about five minutes, instead of the allotted ten, and the subject is interesting; using reasonably priced GPUs, you can rapidly break MD5 hashes, orders of magnitude faster than throwing a general purpose CPU at the problem. (Richardson’s slides give specific performance figures: try 16 hours 46 minutes to brute-force a “8 character password with lowercase, uppercase, and numbers”, versus an estimated 36 days for a CPU based attack.)

Anyway. Tomorrow is the start (for me) of Yet Another Perl Conference 2013. (I registered for the conference itself, but couldn’t afford any of the training going on over the weekend or after the conference. Plus the training conflicted with the LINUX Fest.) I expect to be pretty tied up Monday through Wednesday, though I will try to blog from YAPC as downtime and network connectivity permits. I may even try to blog YAPC 2013 itself, but I can’t promise that.

Edited to add: Why did I not have a “Perl” category on this blog, but did have a “Python” category, given that I use Perl more often than Python? Fixed.

Edited to add 2: Thinking some more about it, it made sense to have a “Programming Languages” category and make Perl, Python, and others sub-categories below that. I’m still thinking about whether it makes sense to put the languages category under “CompSci”, but that way lies TJIC madness.

Edited to add 3: I realized there were two other points I wanted to make.

  1. I was much more favorably impressed with the organization of TXLF this year than I was in 2010. Of course, they’ve had four of these, so you would expect them to have the bugs fixed. Still, I was impressed at how smoothly almost everything from registration onwards ran. The only problem I saw was an unexplained 20 minute delay in the start of the lightning talks, but I didn’t feel that was a major issue.
  2. The quantity of tchotchkes available at TXLF? Very high. The quality of tchotchkes available? Still evaluating that, but I’m decently impressed. Favorites: the microfiber cleaning cloths from OrangeFS, and the SavvisDirect USB/12V adapters. Special mention goes to Hostgator, who were giving away a much wider variety of tchotchkes than any other single vendor.

Tinkering.

Monday, May 30th, 2011

It has been a somewhat slow holiday weekend, and I’ve been spending a good-sized chunk of it messing with stuff.

I wanted to upgrade my existing wireless router to something that had dual-band (2.4GHz/5GHz) support, and would also run the dd-wrt firmware. So, thanks to the great Jeff Atwood, I went ahead and ordered a Netgear WNDR3700, got it on Friday, and started trying to get it set up on Saturday.

I like dd-wrt in principle, and I think if you’re willing to put up with it, the firmware offers a very rich feature set. But the documentation could use a lot of work. I bricked the router several times (though I was able to recover it): the instructions on this page work just fine for flashing the factory_NA.img file, but the router would lock up and require a tftp reflash as soon as I tried to flash any other version.

Once I got past that, it took a little more skull sweat (though not quite as much) to get my Maxtor EasyShare NAS working as a CIFS device, and to get a static IP assigned to it. (The dd-wrt docs on assigning a static IP even admit that the assignment process is buggy.)

A little more skull sweat after that and I was able to get the 1 TB drive I’d attached to the USB port on the router mounted using Samba and accessible from both the MacBook and Project e. So now I have about 1.3 TB of network accessible storage, which is nice. Transmit power seems reasonable: I can get a signal on my Evo well out into the parking lot of my complex. (I haven’t tried tweaking the transmit power or other settings for the radios in the router, which is one of the nice things dd-wrt lets you do.) I also like being able to put in three DNS servers; again, acting on a Jeff Atwood suggestion, I downloaded and ran namebench, and added a tertiary name server based on its recommendations.

Ah, but there’s a problem. I want to run a closed network using the 5 GHz radio only (for maximum speed) and an open network using the 2.4 GHz radio (isolated from the main network). It turns out that, while the netbook does support wireless N, the adapter only runs on the 2.4 GHz frequency. So if I want to get top speed on the netbook, I need to get a USB wireless N adapter that supports 5 GHz and is supported under Ubuntu. (I don’t want to go through the whole ndiswrapper thing.) And I haven’t been able to find that yet…

Oh, yeah: I also upgraded Microsoft Office to the 2011 version: prior to all of this, I upgraded the MacBook to 10.6.7, and Office 2011 seems to run much better under 10.6 than the Office 2004 I was using. And I can get rid of the file conversion utility.

Still on my list of things to do before school starts up again, besides updating the Saturday Dining Conspiracy pages:

  • root the Evo. But since 2.3 is rumored to be coming down the pike real soon now, I think I’ll wait for that update before rooting.
  • upgrade Project e to Ubuntu 11.04. But given the things I’m hearing about the Unity interface, I’m having second thoughts on that. Apparently, you can disable Unity on 11.04, but it’ll be the only interface in 11.10.
  • do a BIOS update on Project e. Which isn’t that big a deal, except for the part about preparing a DOS bootable USB disk under Linux or MacOS.
  • I still want to work on improving my photo setup so I can take better gun photos. Mostly, I think that’s a matter of building a light box, and perhaps purchasing some additional lights and a tripod.
  • I’d like to get part three of “Talkin’ GPS Blues” up before I go back to school.
  • I’d also like to get back into the MIT Open Courseware swing.
  • I’ve got most of the parts for a dedicated NAS box sitting under a desk, and should probably start trying to assemble that. Missing: RAM, storage space for the FreeNAS OS, and storage drives.

There’s travel in there as well. And somewhere, Mike the Musicologist is snickering at me…

Talkin’ GPS Blues (part 1).

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

A long time ago, my great and good friend Glen pointed me in the direction of a Steven Jay Gould essay about his encounter with Richard Feynman. Gould’s point in that essay was that he thought Feynman wasted a lot of time trying to understand evolution from the ground up, time that Feynman could have spent making valuable contributions to the theory instead. My response is that I think I understand where Feynman was coming from; the only way he felt like he could contribute something was to start from first principles and work his way forward until he understood each step. I’m not anywhere near as smart as Feynman or Gould, but I feel much the same way as Feynman did. Hence, the long and rambling nature of this entry.

I have six GPS systems. That’s probably more than any one sane person needs, but we can leave that discussion for another time.

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Do Androids dream of electric apps?

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

As noted previously, I finally resolved the phone issue. (And AT&T can still die in a fire.)

The number one question I’ve been getting (replacing “Where did you get that shirt?” at the top of the charts) is: “How do you like your new phone?”

Answer: I like it just fine, but…below are some preliminary thoughts on Android (at least, as implemented on the EVO 4G; I do realize that some of these may be issues with the built-in apps, rather than the Android OS itself):

  • It is disappointing to me that the alarm built into the EVO’s clock app can’t be set to play arbitrary sound files as alarms. (I fall into Ihnatko’s 2% who haven’t seen the movie yet, but I love the story behind “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien“.)
  • Ditto that I can’t set an arbitrary sound file for text message notifications.
  • It is also disappointing to me that there’s no basic Notepad type app provided with the EVO. I’m sure there’s probably 300+ on the Android marketplace, but I needed to make a shopping list this morning and didn’t have time to sort through all of them. Any tips?
  • Integration between the built-in music player and the built-in navigation app is also a disappointment; the navigation app will pause the player to make route announcements, but you have to manually start the player up again, rather than it automatically resuming play.
  • On the plus side, the sound is great; I can listen to podcasts in the car without having to hook into my (currently non-functional) stereo system.
  • The on-screen keyboard is vastly better than using the keypad (even with T9) was on the T616, and somewhat better than the on-screen keyboard on the N800. However, I still have a lot of trouble hitting the correct key with my large-ish fingers.
  • One of the drawbacks of purchasing an Android phone is synchronization with the MacBook. If I had purchased an iPhone, everything would be simple (or at least, simpler). But, no, I had to be different and resist peer pressure… At some point, I suspect I will end up ordering this. (Right now – and I do realize this is a phone controlled setting – the MacBook sees the phone as a USB disk drive with photos on it, and automatically opens iPhoto. I can browse the Android file system and copy files to or from it without problems.)
  • Speaking of iPhoto, I’ve done almost nothing with the built-in camera yet.  I need to work on that.
  • The EVO’s calendar app has a noticeable lag; it takes a couple of seconds to switch to the current date when I bring it up.
  • If there’s a way to sync the EVO’s calendar app with Google Calender, I haven’t found it, and there doesn’t seem to be a separate Google Calender app (like there is for Maps, Voice, Earth, etc.). Do I need to grab some other calender app off the Android Market? (Edited to add 9/10: Okay, I think I’ve figured this one out. You can sync the EVO app with Google Calender, it just isn’t quite as straightforward as I was looking for.)
  • The EVO also seems to lag behind in changing screen orientation when I rotate the phone.
  • I managed to get the Android SDK and the ADT plugin installed without problems on the MacBook, but the ADT plugin won’t install into Eclipse on Project e. It looks like there are some dependencies that Eclipse can’t resolve, but I can’t figure out what those are. I may have to blow away and reinstall Eclipse (which isn’t a major issue; I don’t have a bunch invested in Eclipse on Project e).
  • I either need to dig out my old Java textbook, or see if I can find an updated edition cheap online.
  • Speaking of textbooks, and having nothing to do with Android in particular, I just paid $180+ for a damn textbook. This makes me mildly cranky.
  • My old T616 in the case fit neatly into the magazine phone pocket of my 5.11 tactical pants. The EVO? Doesn’t fit. Dear 5.11 folks: maybe we could think about redesigning that pocket to fit smartphones? (I wear 5.11 tactical pants (or, as some people call them, “Kaiser blade Internet pants“), not because I’m a mall ninja, but because they are the most comfortable and toughest pants I’ve found. Plus they make it really easy to carry all my stuff.)
  • Battery life is…well, middling. I haven’t really tried optimizing power consumption, though, except for turning off WiFi and Bluetooth. (Hurrah for the EVO’s control panel that allows easy access to those settings.)
  • There’s a few applications I’m looking for and would welcome advice on finding in the Android market. The first one is a good WiFi scanning utility; ideally, it would have the ability to log access points with GPS coordinates, note if the points are A, B, G, or N, note if they’re open or closed (and if they’re WEP, WPA, WPA2, etc.), and write all this data to a XML or KML file. It looks like there are several apps in the market that meet these criteria, but I’m not sure which ones are good.
    The second app I’m looking for is a good vehicle management application. At a minimum, I’d like to be able to enter an odometer reading and number of gallons, and get a miles-per-gallon figure for that tank, as well as an average MPG for all tanks to date. It’d be spiffy if I could also enter a price per gallon, as well as other expenses (insurance, repairs, maintenance) and get a cost-per-mile figure as well.
  • I love the GPS Status app.
  • I’ve played a little with the Amazon Kindle app; so far, I’m more impressed with it than I am with the refurbished Kindle I purchased earlier this year.
  • The EVO’s screen is impressive. Much better than the N800′s. I haven’t done a side-by-side with an iPhone 4 yet, but I’m willing to bet it gives the iPhone a run for its money.
  • The EVO’s video player can decode H.264 video! (I haven’t done anything with the camcorder app, so I don’t know what format it encodes video in.)
  • Waiting for a sale on those 32GB microSD cards…
  • Edited to add: There’s also no general file browser app on the EVO.

Again, I generally like the phone; most of these are just minor quibbles that I can probably solve one way or another.

After action report: Las Vegas, NV.

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

I covered a lot of stuff in my previous travel report, so this will mostly just be updates.

  • Project e worked spectacularly well at DEFCON. This is the first chance I’ve had to really push the battery life, and I was able to get an good 12+ hours out of the battery without running it totally dry. (This was with the machine set to “powersave” and putting it into “standby” or “hibernate” when I was in the dealer’s room, or driving around with Mike the Musicologist and Andrew. Continuous usage with the wireless would have been more like 6+ hours, I think, which is still pretty impressive.)
  • My one regret is that I forgot my Alfa external WiFi adapter. I would have enjoyed playing with that at the convention.
  • The 5.11 bailout bag also worked out well for lugging around Project e and various other equipment. Again, I was able to carry a pretty good load, including the laptop, charger, books, a couple of bottles of water,  the small camera, and miscellaneous other necessities.
  • MtM has the Nikon with him and has been taking a lot of photos. As you saw below, I did use the Nikon to take some Gehry photos. When I have more time, I’m going to put up an expanded and annotated Flickr photo set; I did some side-by-side experiments with aperture priority vs. automatic exposure.
  • Food in Las Vegas was, without exception, pretty darn good. The worst meal I had (at the Four Kegs) was still better than average (and I didn’t order the stromboli, which is the house specialty). We also had a very good (if loud) tapas meal at Firefly* on Paradise, the usual wonderful meal at Lotus of Siam, the previously mentioned dinner at Shabu-Shabu Paradise, and a Moroccan meal at Marrakech. (I had not previously had Moroccan food, so I can’t comment on how authentic it was. I certainly enjoyed my meal, and the belly dancer didn’t hurt.)

    Vegas does have something of a shortage of good breakfast places outside of the casinos (and even inside of the casinos, if you’re not looking for a buffet). We had several good breakfasts at Blueberry Hill on Flamingo and one excellent breakfast at The Egg and I on Sahara. I know that MtM and Andrew went to a good Italian place in New York, New York while I was at the convention, and I’ll let them comment on that.
  • Between Tucson and Las Vegas, the refurbished Kindle I ordered arrived, and it went on this trip. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about the Kindle later on, but my first impression is “Meh”. I did manage to read John Clark’s Ignition! in PDF format and a Project Gutenberg MOBI format copy of Heart of Darkness without too much trouble, but my experiences with other PDF files and eBooks have been inconsistent.
  • On the other hand, I finished, and highly recommend, Ubuntu for Non-Geeks 4th Edition and am almost finished with Cisco Routers for the Desperate 2nd Edition (also recommended). No Starch Press rocks. And the coupon code “DEFCON18″ will get you a 30% discount. And they’re running a half-price sale on all e-books.
  • My Southwest experience this time was much more pleasant. No misplaced bags, and no flight delays. One thing that was particularly unusual was going through the security line in Las Vegas; I had, literally, no wait. Just walked straight up to the TSA agent and got in line for the metal detector. It took longer to take my shoes off and the laptop out than it did to get through the rest of security.

My thanks to, in no particular order, the DEFCON 18 staff and presenters, No Starch Press, UNIX Surplus, SEREPick, Lotus of Siam, Shabu-Shabu Paradise, Sarah at the iBar in the Rio, and the unknown belly dancer at Marrakech.

Special thanks to my high-speed, low-drag travel companions in the primary, Mike the Musicologist and Andrew “Porous concrete? What were they thinking?” Wimsatt.

DEFCON 18 notes: Day 3.

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

“The Search for Perfect Handcuffs… and the Perfect Handcuff Key“: It seems that Sunday morning at DEFCON has become the default time for the lock picking and other physical security panels. Sometimes this bugs me a little; I can only sit through so many panels on compromising high security locks with common household objects before my eyes glaze over and I leave for the dealers room. It isn’t that these panels aren’t interesting, but three in a row…

Anyway, I say all that to say that this presentation from TOOOL was one of the better Sunday morning lock bypass presentations I’ve seen at DEFCON. Deviant Ollam and his crew gave a comprehensive overview of handcuffs, how they work, and how they can be defeated. Some key points:

  • A group of Dutch hackers managed to defeat the high security Dutch handcuffs by taking a photo of the key (hanging off someone’s belt) and using a 3D printer to duplicate it. The key can be found here.
  • You can shim many handcuffs with paper, believe it or not. Paper money (especially European paper money, which in many cases is more like plastic or Tyvek than paper) works especially well for this, as currency is generally designed to be tear resistant.
  • Handcuffs are generally a pretty simple mechanism. If they aren’t double-locked, it’s really easy to “shim” them (force a flat piece of metal, or something like that, down between the pivoting ratchet arm and the cuff itself), or pick the lock with something like a paper clip. (You know what really works well for a cuff pick? The sort of U-shaped metal arm that comes on those steel binder clips you can buy at Office Depot.)
  • If the cuffs are double-locked, it makes shimming and picking attacks harder. One way to defeat double-locking is the “whack attack”; slam the cuffs against a hard surface, and inertia will pop the double-lock locking bar back into the unlocked position.
  • It doesn’t take a lot of strength to break handcuffs. Breaking them is just a matter of binding the chains up. Once you’ve done that, it’s just leverage and simple physics to break the chain.
  • You can also rough up the chain with a small easily concealed diamond saw blade to make it easier to break. The folks at SEREPick sell such a thing; you can hide it in the seams of your clothes, in a belt, in the top of a shoe…
  • There’s a lot of design variation in handcuffs, which can cause problems, especially if you’re trying to find a universal handcuff key. Keyway sizes, size and number of pawls…lots of things can cause problems.
  • The TOOOL folks have collected a bunch of cuffs, so they got as many as possible together, took very precise measurements of the keys, and came up with a single “universal” handcuff key that opened all the cuffs they were able to try. No, they don’t sell it, but diagrams and measurements for the key were part of the presentation. The easiest thing to do, according to the presenters, is to start with a Smith and Wesson handcuff key, as that’s closest to the final dimensions of the universal key. After that, all you need is some minor cutting and filing which can be done with a Dremel tool.

(I suspect there are some people who are going to ask “Why would you want to break out of handcuffs? And don’t you feel bad about sharing this information with criminals?” In the first place, the criminals have already learned all these tricks at one of our many institutes of higher education. In the second place, the bad guys are starting to use things like handcuffs and zip ties to restrain their victims; you might as well learn how to defend yourself.)

“Electronic Weaponry or How to Rule the World While Shopping at Radio Shack“: I’ll cut some slack for this guy being a first time presenter, but this was a “Meh” panel for me. It was heavy on the theory of things like RF jamming and EMP attacks, but short on practice. Most of the theory I already knew, so there wasn’t a whole lot there for me. At the end, he did demonstrate a “sound cannon”, which was interesting. It did not, however, even approach the “annoying” level for me, much less the “weapon” one, though the presenter was running it without amplification.

“Breaking Bluetooth By Being Bored”: Dunning (who also built Vera-NG, a Bluetooth and WiFi sniping rifle) presented a series of tools for banging on Bluetooth. These tools included:

  • SpoofTooph, a utility for cloning and spoofing Bluetooth devices. SpoofTooph can also be run in a logging mode, where it will collect data on devices it encounters.
  • The Bluetooth Profiling Project, which uses programs like SpoofTooph to collect Bluetooth device profiles for analysis. (For example, which device addresses correspond to which manufacturer?)
  • vCardBlaster, a utility for running a denial of service attack against a Bluetooth device by flooding it with vCards.
  • Blueper, which sends a stream of files over Bluetooth. You can send files to multiple devices in range, or target a single device and flood it with files. This is interesting because many devices cache received files before asking the user to accept them; if you push a continuous stream of files to one of those devices, you can fill up internal storage and possibly crash the device.
  • pwntooth, a suite of automated Bluetooth testing tools.

As a side note, after some banging around (mostly to resolve dependencies) I managed to compile and install SpoofTooph on Project e. So far, I’ve only tested it in my lab environment, but it seems to work as designed. This is one of the reasons I love going to DEFCON, as there’s nothing like that moment when you say “Holy f—ing s–t, that f—ing f—er actually f—ing works! S–t!”

There was no final attendance figure announced at the closing ceremonies. According to Joe Grand’s badge documentation, there were 7,000 electronic badges made, and those went fast. I would not be shocked if there were 15,000 people at DEFCON this year, and from what I saw in the closing ceremonies, a lot of those folks were attending for the first time.

The big piece of news from the closing ceremonies is that, after four years at the Riveria, DEFCON is moving to the Rio next year. My hope is that the move will make it easier to get into the more popular panels (DEFCON apparently will be using the Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio), and provide more room to move around. (And maybe even more room for vendors.)

Coming up later on: the final after action report and thank-yous.

After action report: Tucson, AZ.

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

My regular readers (and my irregular readers, too; come to think of it, “Whipped Cream Irregulars” would be a good name for a band) may have figured out by now that I’ve spent much of the past week on the road. Specifically, I was in Tucson for the annual convention of the Smith and Wesson Collectors Association. (You might have been able to guess that I also made a brief trip to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area so I could visit Taliesin West.)

I’m not going to talk much about what went on at that convention here, since it is a closed private convention, and I’m not comfortable discussing the organization’s affairs on a public blog. (Jay G. and the rest of the Vicious Circle gang might be amused to know that there was an actual S&W police bike, manufactured in Springfield, MA and complete with lights and siren, on display at the convention. I didn’t get a chance to take a photo.) I will say I had a great time at the convention, and in Tucson in general. Sadly, I didn’t have time to hit any used bookstores or gun stores in the area, but maybe next time.

This is the first extended road trip I’ve taken since last year’s DEFCON, so I thought it might be interesting to do some notes about what worked and didn’t work on this trip.

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Project e, part 4: quick note on Karmicing.

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

John Wells, the guy who wrote the handy guide to installing Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty) on the 1005HA and 1008HA (previously blogged here) has a new post up detailing how to upgrade to 9.10 (Karmic).

May his name be written in the Book of Life, and may flights of angels sing him to sleep every night.

Project updates.

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Project e update: I took the machine up to 2GB of memory earlier this week; it turned out to be much harder than I expected, mostly because getting the memory access door off the machine took more effort than I expected.

I just finished doing a clean install of Ubuntu 9.10 on Project e; I went the clean install route, instead of doing an upgrade in place, because there were some things I wanted to clean out, and I didn’t really have a whole lot invested in the current system. (However, I didn’t re-partition and blow away /home.) So far, wireless seems much more stable; no connection drops yet. Ethernet just works, straight out of the box (no loading of modules) and Bluetooth seems to work as well, modulo some flakiness in listing devices.

This install also took more effort, and more time, than I expected. However, much of that was my fault; the process for creating USB install disks changed from 9.04 to 9.10, and the instructions on the Ubuntu website are not clear on how to do that under OS X. I ended up having to move the 9.10 ISO over to the netbook and use the USB startup disk creator to make a bootable flash drive. I don’t see this as an Ubuntu problem as much as a “thought I knew what I was doing, should have read the docs first” problem.

Question: does anyone know of a good Karmic-compatible eeePC tray utility, now that eeepc-tray has been end of lifed?

6.00 update: I’ve been tied up dealing with some personal issues that I don’t want to go into here (for reasons of other people’s privacy) and haven’t had as much time as I would like to work on this. I’ve gone through all of lecture 2, and I’m hoping to knock out the assignment and move on to lecture 3 this week.

School: Registered for CSYS 4334, “Implementing Information Systems In Organizations” (in other words, more SQL Server 2005) and CSYS 4330, “Advanced Networking/Network Security” next semester. That second one should be fun.

MIT OpenCourseWare: 6.00, the home game (Part 1).

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

School has wrapped up for the semester, at least for me. (Yes, I’m aware it is mid-October. Yes, I’m aware normal people are dealing with mid-terms. What can I say; that’s the way the St. Ed’s New College schedule worked out this time around.)

Now that I’ve got some free time, I can engage in some useful projects, like more Project e work (I’ve got a long multi-part post in the works that I hope to finish soon), updating the SDC pages, and perhaps some outside study.

I’ve written here before about the MIT OpenCourseWare initiative, and I decided this would be as good a time as any to start working through 6.00, “Introduction to Computer Science and Programming“. As I was reviewing the various readings, a thought came to me.

“Hey,” I said to myself, “wouldn’t it be nifty to blog this as you’re taking it?”

“That’s a definition of ‘nifty’ I was previously unaware of,” I responded.

“It’d give you some motivation,” I said.

“Why am I talking to myself?” I responded.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Have you considered medication?”

Anyway, my need for psychotropic medications aside, this seems like a good idea, if only to give my loyal readers something to laugh at. So…

Lecture 1.

Course readings.

Getting Started: Python and IDLE.

Problem set 1.

My code for problem set 1. (This has been tested on Project e with Python 2.6.2, on the MacBook with Python 2.5, and on the Nokia with Python 2.5.2. I haven’t tested it on my work machine yet.)

Comments on my code or coding style are welcome; as a matter of fact, they are downright encouraged.

Project e, Part 3: The Virtualizing

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Work on Project e continues, slowly, as time permits.

  • The Alfa WiFi adapter worked right out of the box; just a simple plug and play operation. Who’d a thunk it?
  • Built-in wireless continues to be a problem, but mostly on my home network. I am starting to wonder if this is an issue with the access point. Wireless at St. Ed’s (where I’m spending a lot of time these days) isn’t great, but at least the connections stay up.
  • As far as I can tell, the current version of Wireshark for Ubuntu 9.04 is 1.0.7, while the current stable version for other platforms (including Ubuntu Karmic, aka 9.10) is 1.2.1. Between that and the other wired/wireless networking issues, I think I’m going to wait until Karmic drops in late October, then upgrade and install Wireshark and Kismet if networking is stable.

In the meantime, I’ve spent the last few days playing around with something else…

(more…)

Random notes from a Friday night dinner.

Friday, August 28th, 2009

First of all, if any of my friends (or even blog readers who are not friends) are considering purchasing Snow Leopard from Amazon, here’s the link that gives me a small cut. Also, someone made a specific request for the ASUS DVDRW external drive.

To keep this from being a 100% “Buy Amazon! Give me money!” entry, I want to mention a web log that’s new to me; by way of Lawrence, we have Lovely Listing. One entry that he found particularly striking was the velour people. Lawrence also included this link, but I’m not sure where he found it on Lovely Listing.

When he mentioned the names Arakawa and Gins, I thought they sounded somewhat familiar. Indeed, they were; it turns out Arakawa and Gins were two of Bernie Madoff’s clients. (That second link is by way of Nancy Nall, who has some pungent things to say on the subject.)