ciphergoth: (computer)
Help! [ profile] lovelybug's hard drive is dying; the logs are full of errors and her applications are falling apart.

I've bought a larger replacement. My first thought was to make a bit-for-bit copy of the old drive onto the new, but that fell over trying to copy sectors that seem to have become entirely unreadable.

The machine runs Windows XP Pro. I could install Windows on the new hard drive and copy over the files; this would have the advantage that the applications could all be reinstalled and might start working again. But where do I get a copy of Windows to install (the machines did not come with Windows install disks) and how do I re-use our existing Windows license?

NB [ profile] lovelybug wants to continue using Windows XP, though of course I'm more than happy to use Linux based tools for the low-level stuff.
ciphergoth: (Default)
We need a cable that goes from a standard UK 3-pin mains socket to the kind of connector shown on the left. I've just received a replacement power unit for our laptops, but they didn't come with the power connector, which is a pain.

Update: Wow, you lot are swift! It is an IEC 320 C5. Have ordered from Amazon - less than £4 including postage. Many thanks all!
ciphergoth: (Default)
I can't find my copy of An Introduction to the Theory of Numbers anywhere, and I haven't been able to for some time. Did I lend it to you, and if so can I have it back please? Ta!

Update: also, opinions on books on elliptic curves solicited, for the four or five of you who might have some! See my comment below.


Aug. 6th, 2008 02:13 pm
ciphergoth: (Default)
Further to my last post about backups, it looks like someone has written the backup tool that I wanted to exist:

  • All cleverness is on the client - the server can be a dumb store like Amazon S3
  • Backups are therefore initiated on the client - good for sometimes-on machines
  • Backups can be encrypted and signed with GPG
  • It supports incremental backups of large files, using rdiff "signature files"
  • All in Python, appears quite new
Support for non-Linux systems seems to be pretty weak at the moment, but I don't see anything that would make it inherently hard except possibly the use of "tar" as a container.

ciphergoth: (Default)

Details. We now have the camera pointing at a great big whiteboard - it's very good fun :-)
ciphergoth: (Default)
Bruce Schneier once wrote an excellent essay entitled Inside the twisted mind of the security professional.
Uncle Milton Industries has been selling ant farms to children since 1956. Some years ago, I remember opening one up with a friend. There were no actual ants included in the box. Instead, there was a card that you filled in with your address, and the company would mail you some ants. My friend expressed surprise that you could get ants sent to you in the mail.

I replied: "What's really interesting is that these people will send a tube of live ants to anyone you tell them to."

Security requires a particular mindset. Security professionals -- at least the good ones -- see the world differently. They can't walk into a store without noticing how they might shoplift. They can't use a computer without wondering about the security vulnerabilities. They can't vote without trying to figure out how to vote twice. They just can't help it.
This was my reaction on reading this story on (propogated from [ profile] booklectic):
A Norwegian hospital is outfitting all newborn babies with Anti-Theft Alarms. The alarms consist of a small chip placed on the baby’s ankle bracelet and it is paired with a matching chip on the mother’s bracelet.

If the two chips are separated by more than a certain distance, an alarm goes off. If the baby’s bracelet is removed without authorization, the whole hospital goes into lockdown mode with the elevators stopping and the doors locking. The alarms are meant to prevent both kidnappings and baby mixups.
My question is, is there a crime you could commit by locking down the hospital at a time of the criminal's choosing? Prop open a few doors (or have associates hold them open), then snip the bracelet to lock down the rest, and use the ensuing chaos to steal stuff? Or indeed, could you use it to commit a murder?
ciphergoth: (Default)
I made a post to my work blog about Google's latest open source initiative, Protocol Buffers:
Protocol buffers are a flexible, efficient, automated mechanism for serializing structured data – think XML, but smaller, faster, and simpler. You define how you want your data to be structured once, then you can use special generated source code to easily write and read your structured data to and from a variety of data streams and using a variety of languages. You can even update your data structure without breaking deployed programs that are compiled against the "old" format
I was very gratified to get some fascinating responses from the people at Google who put it together!
ciphergoth: (Default)
I can't remember what made me think of this, but there's a bit in Snow Crash about powers of two, and I wondered if things had changed, and that people deal in higher level stuff than this these days. And it's just striking and a bit weird anyway that some people have had occasion to memorize this stuff, I wondered if you had...

[Poll #1217360]

Update: The "powers of two" are just 1+1 = 2, 2+2 = 4, 4+4 = 8, 8+8 = 16 and so on.

Update: it seems like it isn't clear from the above, so for the avoidance of doubt, no-one should feel that they should know this off by heart!
ciphergoth: (Default)
I need to get a new mobile phone so I can pass my old one on to [ profile] lilithmagna. Now my contract has expired, I'd like to move to a really cheap contract since I'm not a heavy phone user, which may mean moving away from Orange. But of course there are lots of options at the cheap end, and I might consider paying a little extra in order to get Internetty goodness.

T-Mobile's cheapest contract (Flext 20 18+ Months) has a number of free-with-contract phones with HSDPA (3G broadband for laptops); right now I'm looking at getting a Nokia 6120c. With itemized billing that contract is £16.50/month; internet costs £1 each day that you use it and has a 1GB/month cap.

Is that the right deal? What else should I be considering? Thanks!

Update: The technical specs for the 6120c indicate that it does not have the Bluetooth DUN Profile or the Bluetooth PAN profile - am I right in thinking that means I can't use this phone to get my laptop online? If so, how shite is that on a scale from 10 to loads?


May. 21st, 2008 06:24 pm
ciphergoth: (Default)
[ profile] babysimon reacted with horror when I told him at the weekend that we still hadn't sorted backups out, and pressed a spare 250GB USB external drive into my hands.

What's everyone's favourite way of doing backups? We have a Windows and a Linux laptop to back up, both are switched on at unpredictable times. I just had a go at making [ profile] brad's "brackup" go, but despite the great attraction of GPG-encrypted backups, it doesn't seem to be ready for prime time yet - the documentation isn't there yet, and it creates zillions of tiny encrypted files. I am resisting the temptation to write my own Python-based alternative. What do you use?

Update: I since found this rather nice solution.
ciphergoth: (Default)
Update: Anonymous comments must be signed! I've made a couple of exceptions to this policy, but I may stop unscreening comments that don't have any kind of name at the bottom.

My current plan to change the world involves writing a manifesto for a proposed mailing list to work out crypto standards that actually work and stand a chance of getting widely adopted in the open source world. This is essentially version 0.1.5 of that rant, and may contain some inaccuracies or overstatements; I look forward to your comments and corrections. Read more... )
ciphergoth: (election)
After watching far, far too much West Wing (ie all of it - finally reached the end which is both bad and good) I created this image to visualize the results of the 2004 election. I want something like this updated live for 2008, with states not yet called ranked based on predictions.

You'll need to view it full size to properly see what's going on.

(updated image with new algorithm for placing labels)
ciphergoth: (Default)
I've posted before about the generally dreadful nature of cryptographic products. Yesterday I got into an argument on bloody Slashdot with a developer about whether he should try to use good crypto or not. Now, unlike [ profile] jwz I can see that he's not the only one with attitude in this thread, but the result still gets me down.

Next time you use something that uses crypto, bear in mind that it was probably written by the likes of this guy.
ciphergoth: (Default)
The processor is glued to the fan with epoxy glue.

After finding that the problem with my computer was the power supply, I realised that I had enough bits left over from replacing parts one by one to build most of a new computer. Now, Lisa and Lil need a faster computer, so I thought I'd use those bits to upgrade theirs. I opened the case of their computer, and quickly realised that this case wouldn't fit my motherboard. However, the inside was amazingly filthy, so I took it on the roof terrace to give it a clean-up. In particluar, the processor fan was caked with dirt all the way through, which couldn't be doing it any good. In order to clean it thoroughly, I took it out.

And the processor came with.

I've cleaned it now, but I'm stuck with a problem. The processor appears to be glued to the fan with epoxy glue. This means I can't (1) put the processor in, (2) close the ZIF socket, and (3) attach the fan. But the ZIF socket will have to be closed when the fan goes on, and it doesn't want me to put the processor in in that state, it's not ZIF any more.

Do I have any options besides jamming hard and praying?
ciphergoth: (Default)
[ profile] babysimon came around with useful advice and very important moral support, and between us we got the computer to beep. It lives! It still isn't 100% working as such, but the hurdles are now the sort of thing I understand and can deal with.

The primary culprit turned out to be the power supply. There may be secondary culprits - we identified and threw out one dodgy chunk of memory, at least - but I think the power supply is the big one; I've swapped between the power supply in the case and the one borrowed from work a couple of times, and it seems pretty definitely to make the difference between beep and no-beep.

The tricky thing is that it's not a standard size of power supply. The one I have from work doesn't fit into the space available for it, and is sort of standing on its end at a funny angle; I can't fit the lid on. This one is slightly shorter, and the hole for the IEC connector is on the same side as the hole that the bundle of cables for the motherboard and drives comes out of; there's a power cable inside the case that leads from a socket on the outside to the power supply, so it makes sense for them both to face the same way ie into the case.

Is this sort of power supply unique to my case ("Antec Overture Quiet Media Case")? Or is it a standard sort of power supply I can get from another supplier? I'd like to get a better make than this since it failed in just over a year, but it might be that only this one exact sort will do.

Update: I mailed Antec asking what sort of replacements would do, and they've said that the PSU has a three year warranty! So I shall sort out getting it replaced under that. Rah!
ciphergoth: (Default)
This journal entry describes ways in which people you know may be monitoring the way you use LJ. How often you read their journal, what friends groups you define, and so on.

It's done with what are called "web bugs" - tiny images served from special servers that record this information. You can block the servers that serve the web bugs, but they can always create more servers, so it's a game of "whack-a-mole".

Today I found out about a setting in Firefox that blocks *all* web-bug based tracking, from all websites to all websites, permanently. No longer will people be able to monitor you in this way.

Go to the URL bar and type "about:config". Select the setting "network.http.sendRefererHeader". If it has the value "2", change it to "1". That's it.

Technical details

I'll be setting this on all my browsers ASAP.
ciphergoth: (Default)
I can't reach any Google service. Is anyone else having problems?

Update: back now I think...


Feb. 20th, 2006 07:52 pm
ciphergoth: (Default)
I had a lovely weekend - this being a public entry I shall say no more than that :-)

Ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement: the IM war is over, and Jabber has won, and it's all thanks to Google. If you are on MSN, AIM, ICQ, YIM, or GaduGadu, the time has come to migrate to Jabber.

This is good, because Jabber is superior to all the others in a very deep and important way: all of the others are controlled by a single corporation, but Jabber is a real Internet protocol which works for the reasons the Internet works. And all those IM systems can't talk to each other, but Jabber can talk to them all.

Google have won it first by signing up to Jabber and making it part of their Gmail service, but more importantly by adding a Web-based client. Finally, you don't have to install any special software to use IM - just log in to your Gmail account with any modern browser, and you can start Jabber conversations. And not only with other Gmail users, but with anyone who's signed up with any of the many Jabber providers, or who is running their own Jabber servier if they prefer. Jabber is the basis of the Google Talk voice chat service, which will be available to all Jabber users before long. If that wasn't enough, there seem to be some interesting Jabber rumblings coming from LiveJournal too.

If you want to get on board, the easiest way is to get a Gmail account; that way you don't have to install any software to use it. Ask me if you need an invite code.

If you prefer to use a dedicated IM client, that means that in addition to Gmail you can use any number of other free Jabber providers My Jabber account is - see you there!
ciphergoth: (Default)
Work have agreed to pay for me to go to Fast Software Encryption 2006 though I won't be presenting anything there. Hurrah! When you consider that, in fifteen years of studying crypto, I've had less than two weeks of face-to-face discussion with peers on the subject, you can see why this makes a big difference to me.

I shall also endeavor to go to this club, as part of my world tour of goth clubs :-)


ciphergoth: (Default)
Paul Crowley

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