Updates about stuff – Learnings about FreeBSD 9

It’s been a while since i last wrote here. I kind of had writers block, didn’t feel like writing. But then, nobody is forcing my hand, are they?

So what’s been going on? The mess from the December-storm has been mostly cleaned up at the cottage. The trees have been cut down to pieces, and are awaiting final chopping and conversion to firewood. There’s enough wood to last us 10 winters, maybe even more. Note that we don’t stay there year-round, but if we would. We had several cubic meters of dirt brought in to fill in the holes left by the roots of the trees. We had the roof fixed, after the tree hit it. And we had a new solar panel installed (a 110W panel) to replace the one that got hit by a tree. All in all it has been a busy spring and beginning of summer for us there.

On that note, where is my summer? Not that I like the heat too much, but the weather has been unseasonably cold this year.

I’m leaving for New York to attend HOPE 9 in less than two weeks. That also marks the beginning of my annual four week summer vacation. This is something that i direly need at the moment, because work has been busier than ever. I’m volunteering once again for the AV-crew, which ought to be buckets of fun, long sleepless nights and lots of hard work. But totally worth it! The AV crew last time was absolutely great, and it’ll be great working with some of the same people again.

A colleague and friend, K, is moving up north, to dance with the wolves and whatnot, so he’s getting rid of a bunch of stuff. A notorious hardware hoarder (like myself), he had some gems to hand out. He gave me a Saintsong EPC-I, which is a tiny tiny Pentium 3 machine. It’s smaller than a mini-itx board, and comes with a case that fits the motherboard and processor, one stick of SDRAM, and a 2.5″ hard drive. The whole thing runs off a small power brick, and doesn’t draw too many watts. The current setup i have it in, is the 866MHz P3, 256MB RAM, and a 60GB hard drive. I was looking at operating system options, but i finally settled on FreeBSD 9, since I need/want more experience with FreeBSD. It also lists the minimum requirements as “486 with 64MB RAM”. And blimey, it runs fine! It uses a few dozen megs of ram, but i’m left with more than 50% free, while running the OS and a few services (sshd, ntpd to mention a few). The board doesn’t come with any network connectivity, so i plugged in a Buffalo WLI-U2-KL54-AI (i think that was the spell), anyway it’s a 802.11g USB 2.0 dongle. I’ll dedicate the next paragraph to this adventure:

First plugging the thing in, gives me a mass storage device, that i can’t do jack-all with. The driver is included in the FreeBSD kernel (which i found out after having put the ural driver into /boot/loader.conf). Loader informed me that it’s already imported so I guess it ought to work out of the box. Great! The Ural driver supports a bunch of wireless chipsets in the RAlink family, and this card has i think a ralink 2500 chip in it. But alas, no wireless device. It’s supposed to show up as ural0, but no such thing was in my dmesg. Finally, i ended up on a Finnish Ubuntu forum of all places, which had the key words “flick the hardware switch on the device”. There’s a tiny tiny switch on the side, which switches the thing between mass-storage and wlan mode. Flick the switch, reboot, and presto, i have a ural0 device. Next i did some configurations of /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf to add information about my network, and I now have that little thing on the network!! Absolutely awesome. I’ll post my configuration once i get home, because, as I am writing this, it is Saturday, and I’m sitting at the office doing some P2V conversions of production machines that couldn’t be converted during office hours.

Other stuff that i was donated: A bag of games! Olde goode games. Stuff like Descent II, 7th guest, 11th hour (i think that way?), Ecco the Dolphin, and other absolute classics. The pearl of the bag which was completely random and not selected by me: A 4 CD set of FreeBSD 3.0 from November 1998. An official set, by the look of it, including a tiny printed manual. The cover boasts new features such as support for DEC Alpha! I also got a motherboard, which is in an unknown state, with a dual-core AMD processor, and a PPC based Mac tower (a G4 i think?), including rack mounts. That thing is sweet let me tell you. The cover lists the specs as 466 MHz, so i think it’s this model of the Power Macintosh G4 series. It’s been pimped out with a mad 1.5gigs of RAM. It also has a ZIP drive, which is something i don’t yet have in my collections.

Uh what else. Not much at this time i think. I’ll get back with my adventures in FreeBSD-land at a later time.

 

Some travels, and a bit about Spain

Some of you may know that i took a short trip to Spain recently. While i was there, i jotted down a bunch of stuff i wanted to write down once i got home. So here they are.

Firstly, people behaving badly on planes (that’s what i wrote down anyway). First of all, Finnish people (i guess this is true for many other people as well) are troublesome as soon as they wake up. When traveling, you see their worst sides, clearly. People drink excessively even before they get on the plane, and then once they are on the damn thing, they drink more. I may have written about a previous trip to god knows where, where a guy was arrested before even getting off the plane. Apparently he had been drinking, and then playing some ass-grabby-grabby with one of the flight attendants. He was sitting alone in the now-empty front section of the plane, singing to himself “who has the cops waiting for them outside!”. And sure enough, cops were waiting for him right outside the plane. Great way to start a vacation.

Another thing i still can’t understand after all these years traveling, is why people don’t listen to the damn flight attendants. When they say jump, you ask: “how high?”. On the plane, they are the supreme authority. If they tell you not to use electronic equipment, you don’t. I know that most equipment probably don’t interfere with any modern aircraft, but it’s their damn plane. They make the rules as they see fit. If they tell you to keep your seat belt on until the sign is off and the plane has stopped, you do it! I don’t care if it’s your first or your fifteenth time on a plane, you don’t get up and start unloading as soon as the plane hits the ground. You sit the fuck down and wait. You ain’t getting off the plane any faster.

On that fucking note, why, when the plane has finally stopped, do you take your carry-on and go stand in the aisle? Why? You stand there with no space, and your bag in hand, and you wait 10 minutes for them to complete post-landing checklists and open the doors and so on. And then you get out. I sit down and keep reading my book, and i get out like 30 seconds after you do. I fucking hate that. But then again, what’s it to me? Why do i care?

Well obviously, so i have something to write about. D’uh.

The next bullet point is ‘Finland is taking over the Costa Del Sol. This is true! According to some shady source, 20 000 Finns populate the Spanish coasts at any one time. That’s a lot. I’ve been to Spain maybe 20 times, and either i’m getting older and more cynical (is this even possible?), or there were more Finns there than ever. Up to the point of annoyance. Violent thoughts.

During one day, we took the bus up to the mountains, to Ronda. which is about.. 800 meters above sea level. The road is winding and dangerous. People die there constantly. It took nearly two hours to get there by bus (which cost 8,80, feasible). On the bus, there were Finnish people. The first restaurant we had lunch at had Finnish people at the table next to us. There was no escape. Except perhaps the 200 meter drop from the cliffs.

Every single mode of public transport, every café, every… well not every, but most restaurants. Finnish people. We (i’m ashamed to say) even have our part of town. Well, basically. It’s a place where you can operate solely in Finnish. Stores have clerks that know Finnish. Taxi and bus-drivers are fluent in Finnish, almost. Signs at restaurants and such are in Finnish. There is a Finnish school. A church. Night clubs. Stores where you can get exclusively Finnish goods  (which these people obviously can’t survive without). The store has anything from Finnish beer (which is shit), Long Drinks, rye bread, liquorice, and “sausages” (i use air-quotes because most Finnish sausages insult the word, containing scarcely any meat. Seriously. We have sausages with 0 per cent meat).

This brings me nicely into the next bullet point. “Ja mitä se on suomeksi??”. Translates loosely into “And what’s that in Finnish?”. This was a sentence overheard at a local Jazz-club (owned by a Finnish person, and with mostly Finnish patrons). We listened to admittedly excellent Jazz provided by The Andalucian Swing Band. After the show, there was some kind of lottery going on for the mostly senior crowd. We were easily the youngest people there, by a margin of at least 30 years. During the lottery, the hostess read out the winning number. Sometimes she’d do it in Spanish, mostly Finnish, and whatever crossed her mind. Once she did not read out the number in Finnish, but instead in Spanish, Swedish and English. So, obviously, on of the esteemed patrons had to stand up and say, in a snarky voice: “And what’s that in Finnish??”. I nearly flipped out and shouted “It was R for Red-neck”. We’re 4000 kilometers away from Finland. Most of those people either live there permanently, or most of the year. But you can’t be bothered to learn anything local. And then you make noise about it, as if you’re proud of the fact that you’re a fucking ignorant prick?

Ok, let’s get out of Spain. The flight we took was through Zürich. That’s a fucking expensive place! We had two meals at the airport  (ok, airport prices, but still!) Burger King. 26 euro. The same meals in Finland, if we had Burger King, would be like 13 bucks. Expensive place. Everything except booze was expensive.

Back to Spain. While i have nothing against Muslims or Islam, i noted that the amount of Muslims on the coast had increased greatly. There was even a brand new mosque that i don’t remember being there in 2008 when i last visited. I guess Spain will also be a “victim” of the slow and creeping Islami..fication of Europe. Some study i read somewhere ™, said that some countries in Europe would have more Muslims in 50 years than any other religion. That’s kind of interesting. As long as they don’t start enforcing Sharya or old traditions that don’t sit well with the rest of the population, I’m fine with this.

Ok that’s all.

Currently I’m reading Stefan Didak’s posts on his new Home Office version 7. You should check them out. Inspiring.

I feel like titling every post ‘Random’

Yeah I’m bad at figuring out titles for my posts, so they will be..what they are. For now.

I’ve been back at work for about 7 days now, and I’m already pretty stressed out. Nothing I can’t handle, but still. A decent reminder that yes, i have a job that i do well, but that is not easy to do well without feeling the effects.

My home garden is still alive, and looking better than ever. The balcony-project has been growing lettuce for many many weeks and providing tasty goodies for many a salad. The basil is looking good as well, and right in the middle, you can see some slow-growing parsley.Inside i have another similar box which has some Chives, and some Rucola growing in it. They are not yet in representable condition, so pics will have to wait.

Home-growing (not that, hippies), I’ve found, is quite satisfying, even on this small scale. But in an urban environment (such as in our bustling megacity of a capital, Helsinki), small is where the game is at. Word.

I had the weirdest dream last night. Perhaps one of the weirdest ever, and all without any mind blowing, groovy, 60’s drugs. Basically it was me, my father and my paternal grandfather (who just turned 90, props) on the yard of one of their previous homes. For some reason, which was not explained by anything else by twisted dream-logic, he had.. a cake. Growing out of his left temple. It had apparently started out as just a.. splotch, and dismissed as something old people just “get”. But then it started growing, and turned out to be a cake. And it kept growing and growing. I found a screw on the top side of this cake (at this point he was unable to move because of the size of the cake), and i for some reason, reasoned that this screw is what holds the entire thing in place. So we started turning the screw, which eventually released the cake.

Now if this isn’t fubar, get a load of this. On the side of the cake was.. a door. Opening the door revealed a bakery or a coffee shop. A coffee shop inside a giant cake, growing out of a mans head. And there were people, employees, inside this giant cake/bakery .. thing! So i promptly told them to get the fuck out of the giant cake, and to leave my grandfather alone. The shift-manager, was this weird.. Stepford-Wife kind of person who just had this creepy smile on her face, and without commenting on the weirdness of the situation, calpped her hands merrily, and asked the other employees to leave. I think her happy (creepy happy) face and demeanor was the last thing i saw in this dream.

I would wager i had some late-night fever or something, because never, in my nearly 30 years, have i had a dream that was this fucking convoluted. I’ve been fighting some viral infection for a few days, so it might explain things.

This is so fucked up, you have to realize i could not possibly make this shit up.

So what else. Finished the patio/whatever at the cottage, and it now kicks ass:

Kick. Ass.

Still don’t reaaaally have a well-behaving Ubuntu 11.04 with kernel 3.0 rc[n]. It does boot, but i get bogged down with a bunch of issues. I’ve been posting some bug reports, but most of it has already been posted. So there’s not much i can add. But i try to do my share.

I love how Linus Torvalds has taken up using Google+ to announce new kernels and other misc stuffs. Not sure i like google+ though. It’s turning into facebook for me, which i left nearly 2 years ago. The only thing I’m liking more, is the way it handles links and media, for some reason. Facebook might be just as good nowadays. Who knows. The games addition is (not yet at least) as bad as Facebook, since you can actually choose to opt in to seeing game-related content. So i don’t have to follow your progress on fucking Mafia wars or some other inane piece of productivity-waste.

I started reading Devil’s Eye, by Jack McDevitt. So far it’s basically a “far-in-the-future”, as in millennia from now, detective story. So far. The sole reason i picked it up, out of the blue, was that i was reading an article on Hypernovas (as opposed to Supernovas), and the article mentioned that this book features a hypernova. That sounded interesting,so i placed my order.

Ok enough rambling. I’ll update with some stuff on my HTPC at a later date.

Assembly 2011 – My notes

Assembly 2011 came and went as it always does, the first weekend of August. Pretty much a standard deal, nothing revolutionary on any front really. We only got some attendee tickets this year, as our usual gang kind of fell apart. We’ve usually had 7-10 computer-seats for our crew. Having just the 40 euro attendee ticket wasn’t bad. You always had a place to sit. The WLAN mostly worked (thanks probably go to the netcrew placing more AP’s in the arena, and Cisco…), and you were more free to come and go as you wished. We live 10 minutes away from Hartwal Arena where the venue is held, so it wasn’t a big thing to go home, grab a bite to eat, watch a movie or something. We were mostly on the Arena for the compos.

There were not really any mind blowing entries this year, except for perhaps the particle-laden “Spin” by Andromeda Software Development. It had some pretty awesome stuff in it! Also, the real wild compo had two entries that I really got a kick out of. One was built around an Arduino-platform with an LCD screen, and the other was a freestanding, rotating led-thingamajig that displayed text and images. Absolutely kick-ass!

The attendees are still mostly young and getting fatter by the year. Top three games are, as last year, Counter Strike, Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft. Not too hard to see. Kids still have a hard time realizing that this is a demo event, and not a huge lan party. When the compo starts. we get the KAAL, or the Kill All Audio and Lights. This is a sign to stop playing, shut down your fucking Rihanna or whatever crap you’re listening to, and look at the big screen. And ever year it fails, because our darling 13-year-old rebels will wait until 3000 people are screaming at them until they shut everything down. Or they start playing music when the call for KAAL (see what i did there?) comes. I get it, it’s very rebellious, and you get to go back to your school and tell everyone what a tough guy you are. Also i get that when you get home, you cant:

  1. Have that nude chick as your wallpaper because your mom will take offense
  2. Play loud music
  3. Play games 72 hours straight

Being at home feels like being castrated. And there, in the bosom of Hartwall Arena, you get to be king for four days. It’s probably a great thrill.

But next year, if i decide to go, and i see a fucker pull this shit… I’ll just buy a bag of cheap wrenches from Clas Ohlsson and start throwing them around. I’ll go medieval.

Booth bitches and other promo-whores are getting ever more popular, which is really boring. They go around in their microshorts and talk to gamers and ask stupid questions and act like they know something. Then they hand out a fucking 10 cent lanyard or some other piece of shit. I remember one year, they came to our area and i think asked one of us why he or she had two screens. “Does that mean you’re really pro?”. No, it means go away you dumb shit. They are just doing their job, but what do we really get out of all this except a throbbing headache. Maybe the kids get something else. I don’t know. I find them annoying.

No 64K intro compo this year, because there was only one entry. Loads of 4k entries. None among them legendary. The 64k intro was put into the demo category, and came in second, which was deserved. Fairlight & alcatraz did a good job there.

Rovio was prominent with their own booth, and their own KAAL which was fucking awesome. Rovio, according to the organisers, actually got their start at Assembly 2003, i think. Which is cool!

Concerts on the main stage instead of every-night raves? Not so cool. We had Machinae Supremacy, who don’t play too well i think. And we had Press Play on Tape, who were good, but a bit too loud. Get off my lawn. And next year? Can we have the bloody raves back…

Ok that’s about it. A different experience for me this year, and next year… Well who knows. Maybe i’ll go, maybe i won’t. Like i say every year.

Check out the Results from all the compos here.

To download any of the entries, go to scene.org

My non-edited, non-framed, non-hipsterized photos from Assembly 2011 can be seen here.

The Failure of Politics (updated)

In Finland we now have a record six party rainbow coalition government. I wish rainbow would imply certain things, but alas, it does not. I basically had three points that were very important to me during the last parliamentary election:

  1. We don’t stop building nuclear power (if needed), but also don’t stop developing alternative energy.
  2. Women retain the right to abortion
  3. Same sex couples allowed to marry and adopt children if they want to

And let’s see, yes, all of these are now scrapped and fucked over. Basically, during the negotiations that took place in order to form the new government, the Christian Democratic party imposed some terms, that needed to be accepted for them to enter into the new coalition. Now, as a reminder to my esteemed readers, the Christian Democratic party (henceforth CD) has a 4.03% share of the votes (6 representatives in the parliament, out of a total of 200), which is the lowest they have had since the 1995 elections (when they had 2.96% of the votes). This is pretty much one of the smallest parties in the entire parliament, which is how it should be in my opinion. So how come they get to make demands? Basically they said that they will enter the coalition as long as discussion on same-sex adoption rights and marriage rights are put on hold at least for the next four years, and that abortion-laws are reinspected (and supposedly made stricter).

Yes, welcome to the 1950’s.

I wonder what kind of deals were made behind closed doors that made the other five coalition parties agree to these draconian deals. I am amazed that anyone could feel these issues are unimportant or minor! They are, in my opinion, some of the defining points of a modern, western society. And since do minority beliefs dictate majority rules? I am just shocked.

I honestly wonder, if the had of the CD party wasn’t a woman (Päivi Räsänen), would they want to remove women’s right to vote? Or maybe they could try to get stoning as a valid legal punishment?

And what is the problem with gay people? People, this is the 21st century! Honestly, Räsänen, IIRC, pulled the “i have a lot of gay friends”-card when the issue was brought up, which of course makes her exempt from critique. After all, how can a person who has gay friends have anything against them! I have a black friend, therefore i can’t be racist no matter what i do! What a can of worms. As an aside, a poll conducted last year shows a majority of us Finns support same rights for same-sex couples. So i stress again, when the majority of the people are of a certain opinion, how do the opinions of 4% factor in?

So until this government is dissolved (fingers crossed), or four years passes, we’re stuck with these fucking 19th century views of the world. It never seizes to amaze me how in 2011, we’re still making government policy based on ~1800 year old writings that have been redacted, translated, re-translated, re-redacted, and ultimately, probably written by a bunch of goat-herders who just enjoyed a really good batch of mushrooms, or a nice big spliff.

I wish Räsänen would just sit down and take a nice big hit, and stop being dumb.

Edit Seems like, after the negotiations were done, the adults stayed in the room and made a deal of their own, ignoring the views of the CD. Of course, not long after, CD chairperson Räsänen came out saying “No, we were not duped”. Whatever dudes, whatever.

Edit 2 – Added the poll about same-sex rights.

Assorted updates, week 18

This week has been mostly about preparing for the move, which will take place at the end of the month. The new apartment is hopefully ready at this time (the day it is supposed to be ready is 16.5). If not, well, then we have 100 square meters of stuff with no place to go. Maybe i’ll dump it at the office….

Speaking of the office, there’s been a lot of cool stuff happening there as well. New hardware coming in, new stuff to learn. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down toward the summer just yet. Lately, i’ve mostly been learning more things about IBM hardware, VMWare and installing a very cool piece of IBM Power7 hardware. Work is more interesting than it ever was!

But back to the other stuff. Moving is arduous business. There are papers to be filed, documents to be signed. And the packing of the god-damn boxes. So far i’ve:

  • Canceled the old rental agreement
  • Signed the new rental agreement
  • Sent in a paper to the maintenance company to take our names off the door etc. by the end of this month
  • Sent in a paper to the new maintenance company to put up our names at the new place
  • Arranged for the transfer of my power contract
  • Arranged for the transfer of the home insurance to the new apartment
  • Official moving announcement to the magistrate
  • Ordered 30 boxes to put our stuff in
  • Arranged for a van (thanks B)

And i’m stressed out of my mind.

On top of this, i’m participating in a research on early detection of psychoses (as a control patient. don’t worry, i’m not that crazy just yet..), which included an extensive neuropsychological questionaire and test, an MRI scan, and some labwork. The MRI was fascinating business. The device was a 3 Tesla scanner, by General Electric. That’s a pretty powerful magnetic field it can generate, there. The scan took a little over an hour, and consisted of one anatomical “classic” scan, at a high resolution and different angles, and then two different fMRI’s (functional MRI), which measure brain activity during (in this case) answering questions, and watching a 10 minute clip of a movie. The scanner takes one (quite low resolution) image every 2.3 seconds, and then makes a “gif” out of the activity, which can be correlated to whatever question or thing you were watching at the time. This was then processed by a very powerful HP workstation (an xw8400 if i’m not mistaken), and then burnt on a disc and sent to a radiologist. I was allowed to look at some of the images, and boy was that cool! Turns out i do have a brain in there!

I sold my aquarium, and it’s being picked up on saturday. This means i won’t have to move it ever again. It’s kind of sad at the same time, but i’m glad to get rid of it. It’s been with me since 2005, and i’ve had an aquarium for the past.. what.. 15 years or so? The last original fish, an armored catfish, had survived for about that time, died a few months ago. It was probably more than 15 years old.

I came into posession of a Linksys WRT54G last week, but to my dismay, it was a version 7, which has the Atheros chipset, instead of the Broadcom, and is therefore about as useful as a cock-flavored lollipop. It’s not supported by any of the major distributions of “router linux”, openwrt or dd-wrt, and there are i think no plans to add support either. A bit sad. But maybe it’ll get a good home somewhere, or i’ll figure out a way to put it to good use. My OpenBSD router/pf machine crashed last weekend, i think due to a faulty secondary hard drive. I didn’t spend too much time debuging it; instead i just took out the drive (a Western Digital Green-series 1TB drive..my second of this type to break), and put in a smaller drive. Since 4.9 just came out, i decided to upgrade to that while i was at it. Install went well, and pf config was mostly intact from 4.8. I think they corrected some feature with the built-in egress-macro (?) , because it now worked better than in 4.8, where i decided to use my own macro instead.

Ubuntu 11.04 is also out, but i clicked “Don’t upgrade”. Unity can suck my ballsack, and i don’t think i’ll ever upgrade to that. It’s very possible that 10.10 is the last iteration of Ubuntu i will ever use, unless they somehow magically decide to backtrack to a sensible UI. KDE isn’t an option, and well, while i like XFCE, i don’t think i would run that as an everyday WM. I have been looking into Arch, and it seems like a solid choice. I have been using Linux for 12 years now, so maybe it’s time to take the training-wheels off anyway..

I got my Sony fail-mail last friday along with, oh, 77 million other people. I don’t own a PS3, but i have used PSN on a console, and registered for an account. I didn’t use a credit card though, luckily, so at least i won’t have to cancel that. And i’m lucky in that i very, very rarely use the same password anywhere, so i won’t have to worry about that either. But still, it’s nice to be a part of something bigger than me! Sony started blaming Anonymous a while ago, due to, alledgedly, a file left on a system that has the words “Anonymous” and “We are Legion” in them. That qualifies as proof i guess. And hey Sony, maybe if you play the blamegame long enough, nobody will notice that you (alledgedly) had an unpatched box on your fucked up network that enabled the attack in the first place!! I mean, if it was Anonymous, then who the hell cares about anything else, right? How about this instead: You man the fuck up, and say: Hey, we had an unpatched box, and we stored and trafficked data in an unsecure manner. We’re sorry, and we’ll work to create a better system. And try to be open about that new system, so people can test it, and point out flaws while you’re at it. Instead, i’m hearing that they are “fixing problems and coming out with a “new and improved PSN” very soon!”. Which means, they are spending didley-squat on security, audits and whatever, and just concentrating on getting back online ASAP. Which means, sooner or later, you are going to get fucked over again. But maybe that’s someone elses fault as well, and it won’t matter that you just lost the personal information of like half of the worlds console-gamers. Wake up, Sony. This alone is a good excuse not to buy one of your shitty, propietary consoles. If only it weren’t such a good bluray player..

There’s a 2600 meeting happening everywhere today, so go there. I’m going.

Saving Google Video and other assorted gimmicks

Google Video is shutting down as of the end of this month. Video’s will be available for download for some time after that, but then it gets the big shift+delete over at the Goog. The Archive Team sprung into action once again to save this potential treasure trove of digital information that would bite the binary bullet if not saved in time. Currently, there is an effort to save all the material at Google Video before they pull the plug. I decided to join in on the fun, since i have a metric shitload of bandwidth and storage to the point of sheer irrelevance. The amount of material is estimated to be between 100 and 200 TB (or more if some sources are to be believed) There are some guestimates, but i’m not sure we can accurately say yet.

To help out, first read this page: http://archiveteam.org/index.php?title=Google_Video, and then decide how to help out. You can use almost any operating system imaginable, and there are people working on improved instructions and scripts all the time. Personally i’ve used both ubuntu and windows to do some downloading.

You can:

  • Help index videos (if you have lower bandwidth and/or storage
  • Help download videos and later upload them to archive.org
  • Help people out on IRC (#googlegargle #archiveteam and #boincgoogle on the EFNET network)
  • Help improve or test scripts and methods

It has been awesome watching the community at work. Within a matter of hours, multiple people were downloading videos, and we have hundreds of gigabytes down already. People were working day and night (thanks to timezones)  developing scripts and helping people out. Jason Scott of textfiles.com fame is also an active with Archive Team, and is on IRC helping out as well and organizing things on different levels. There are people buying time and storage from the Amazon cloud to help with the effort. The dedication and friendliness of the people is simply amazing. People just show up and help with the effort without any personal gain. On the contrary, people are willing to offer their own personal time, storage and bandwidth for such an altruistic cause. Sure, most of those videos are probably irrelevant, but then, who can say what is going to be interesting to see in 10, 20, 30 years? Local news from Malaysia? “Real life Mortal Combat” ? Who knows. That’s kind of the point behind all this. Saving stuff that would otherwise be lost forever.

The Archive Team have so far dished out like 140TB of storage, with more promised as we start filling that up.

So anyway, if you feel like this is something you could get into, go read the page and see how you can help out. Personally i’m downloading videos and putting them on my fileserver that has a (mostly) empty 1TB drive. And what the hell else would i use my 200/10 Mbit bandwidth for if not this? Sheesh.

In other more generic news, we think we may have found an apartment. A three room place, not far from here. It should be fully renovated, and the rent is cheaper than in our current (too large) apartment. We’re going to go look at it tomorrow, but it’s already reserved for us, if we choose to take it. I have a good feeling about this.

I’m still trying to get rid of the aquarium, and i’m also in the process of selling my 2003 Nissan Primera stationwagon. I need to clean it out a bit first, and get it checked out so it’s street-legal.

Work is busy as ever, and i am very thankful to all Christians who have kindly provided us with the four-day weekend this week. And all this because of the death of an imaginary jewish carpenter zombie. Imagine that.

Cleaning House

Let’s do a recap of the last few days, weeks, whatever.

Last week i was in the Czech Republic, in Prague. I was there for a conference, and stayed at the Hilton. In all it was a great conference, the hotel was superb, and the food, drinks etc. was totally awesome. The city was great. I had somehow connected what i saw in Poland last year to how it would be like in Prague, but oh boy was i wrong! I was confronted with a very modern city, not unlike Helsinki. The cars were modern (sometimes even luxurious), the infrastructure and the buildings were in good shape etc. I can’t speak for the country side, but Prague looked great!

Some notables was the Networking Dinner at Zofin Palace, a sort of mansion, maybe?, by the outskirts of downtown. A stately old building which had big ballrooms, stages and a great garden. The food was so-so, but the location was superb. There was a view of the river (Vltva i suppose?), and since there was no snow, everything was beautiful.

The hotel i stayed in saw some action on Thursday when the prime minister of Israel decided to drop by. This caused great commotion to the tune of armed gunmen, dogs, and an entire closed 8th floor (which was in use as the executive lounge during the conference). Local law enforcement were patrolling the outside of the building, mostly armed with MP5K’s and an alarming amount of spare magazines (also they had the taped magazines-deal going on, so you can just flip the mag and keep shooting), each guy carrying like 5 mags. I suppose the prime minister had his own security detail, because these guys were of an entirely different caliber. Huge refridgerator sized fuckers with translucent earbuds and black Pelican-cases, probably containing even more alarming weaponry and equipment.

The last evening we spent up in Cloud9 (i chuckled at the various pop-culture references), where i enjoyed an excellent Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill, along with a glass of fine Martell X.O. cognac. It had been a while since i last smoked, and even a longer while since i smoked inside, what with the new smoking laws in Finland. It was great looking over the city, the river and the nightlife while puffing my cigar and sipping my cognac. Felt luxurious. Then i noticed the sniper.

On the rooftop was a sniper, maybe police, maybe Israeli security, no idea. He was peering through a rather powerful scope, probably looking at other buildings, doing counter-sniper duties. That kind of freaked me out at first, but then it became cool.

Any time the prime minister left the Hilton, he was followed by a huge entourage, consisting of a dozen cars or more. You could probably see that convoy from fucking space. I guess he is not the most popular man on the planet, and as i understood, no Israeli prime minister has visited the Czech Republic since 1948. But i guess all was well.

One of the Israeli guys had a Pelican 1510, which is a carry-on sized Pelican case, which was tested on Tekzilla a few episodes ago. It took 8 hits from an 8 pound sledge-hammer to trash the contents inside, and even then the case itself sustained only minor damage. The case retails at over 200 euro here, (it’s sold by Verkkokauppa at least under the “Peli” brand), but i’m thinking of getting one. You can get it with- or without the foam padding inside. If you get it with the foam padding, it comes in small cubes, so you can put in just the amount you need for your gear, and keep everything in place. The fact that Israeli (probably) security trusts the thing makes me even more eager to get one..

Other mentionables from the trip include the Airbus A321 that Finnair used to fly us back on friday. The plane looked fairly new, and the 321 is basically an extended 320. Anyway, the pilot announced the plane was experiencing “minor” avionics issues, and that our takeoff would be delayed. A moment later he announced that he had to “take down the electrical system and then put it back on”, but the inner geek in me started laughing, because i could imagine the situation in the cockpit:

  • This god damn diagnostic check will not complete!
    • Well just reboot it, that usually works!
  • Okay, i’ll do the anouncement…

Shortly thereafter we were able to taxi and take off, our issues apparently resolved by the reboot. Another cool new feature i haven’t seen on any plane before was the nose camera. During taxi, take off and landing, they showed video from a camera, mounted somewhere in the nose-cone, or beneath it. This was very cool, seeing the acceleration on the runway etc.

On the home-front…

We’re considering moving to a smaller place with H. S moved out due to some internal conflicts of personalities, and the 100 sq. meter apartment is simply too big (and therefore too expensive) to keep for the two (sometimes three) of us.  We’re looking at 60-70m² apartments, but the outlook isn’t good at the moment. Either it’s a shitty location ont he east side of Helsinki (basically this is mostly shitty ghetto), or it’s too expensive. But something will happen on this front in the coming months. I’ve begun giving out hardware and throwing out shit that i don’t need. I’m probably going to keep doing that in the coming weeks to trim down the amount of crap that we have to move.

We are selling our 250 liter aquarium, so if you know anyone who would be interested, give me a heads up. It’s in good shape, but the filter makes an annoying sound, so you may want to replace it at some point. It’s not a nice thing to move around, and the current apartment is the last one i will have moved it to. Even when emptied, the fucker is heavy as hell and clunky to move, because you have to watch the glass everywhere you go. You can get it cheap if you want it.

Ah, this is getting long. And i’m getting tired, so i’ll continue in a later post. Maybe.

Random & The HBGary Federal stuff

Disclaimer – This was an earlier post, with a lot of speculation on my part, in regards to the HBGary hack by Anonymous. After more thorough research, a revised post was released here. Please refer to this if you are looking for a hopefully more accurate account

 

So the last few days, weeks, whatever have been a bit quiet. So i’ll just take this time off and talk about some of the issues i’ve been thinking about.

First of all, i need to get rid of a bunch of hardware, so if you need anything like memory, or servers (without their harddrives), or regular desktop machines.. or i suppose i might even have a few smaller lcd screens, hit me up with a comment or an email. I’ll post a better list later, but here’s some of the stuff:

  • Two HP DL380 tower servers, i don’t have the specs on hand, one was i think a dual processor and the other single. RAM included
  • An IBM xSeries tower server, which is actually pretty compact and not too loud, but also, it’s not very fast
  • Various desktop towers
  • RAM: DDR1, DDR2 (1GB and smaller sticks), and various DDR1 and DDR2 SO-DIMMs for laptops
  • I may also be selling two 17″ LCD screens
  • Various expansion cards and what-have-you

I’d also be interested in finding a pair of 2GB non-ECC DDR2 for my desktop, since running multiple virtual machines is putting a strain on my current 6GB configuration.

Currently i’m on an Oracle 11g course, which lasts five days. I’m not really going to be a database guy, and frankly i’m not too interested in this either. I do it from a pure carreer perspective, and because i know that we have a lack of Oracle knowledgeable people where i work.

Also, this morning i realized we live in a world where few clocks ever tell the same time. Waking up, eating breakfast and walking to the train station, i was confronted with at least 8 different versions of what the time currently was. Bewildering.

Anonymous owns HBGary and HBGary Federal

Disclaimer – This was an earlier post, with a lot of speculation on my part, in regards to the HBGary hack by Anonymous. After more thorough research, a revised post was released here. Please refer to this if you are looking for a hopefully more accurate account

And i don’t mean they bought the fuckers. So here’s the story as i’ve been able to patch it together: HBGary Federal (a separate corporate entity working under the HBGary name, providing infosec research and such for government) CEO and Co(?)-owner Aaron Barr decided he was going to blow this whole anonymous case wide open. Now as i’ve discussed in multiple posts, this stems from the clear stupidity and thick-headedness of people, refusing to understand what and how anonymous works. Barr had the brilliant idea of “infiltrating” the anonymous networks (err.. i mean the public irc-channels at anonops.ru #anonops #anonymous #reporters etc.) and find out as much as he could about the leadership of anonymous. He then compiled in data from various social networks, simply taking a persons IRC identity or other available data, and connecting it to mostly random people using the same nicknames or such on Facebook, for instance. You should now be able to see how faulty his methodology is to begin with. He then boasted that he has the identities of most of anonymous’ leadership and organisers. He made up roles and titles for various people, like “co-founder of anonymous”. Anonymous caught wind of this, and decided to have a look at the list.

Supposedly 16 year old female hacker ‘kayla’, known on the IRC channel as `k, social-engineered an admin at rootkit.com, Jussi Jaakonaho (who is also a chief researcher at Nokia, incidentally) pretending to be Greg Hoglund, CEO at the main company HBGary. Note that HBGary is not directly affiliated with HBGary Federal, though it carries a 15% share of HBGary Federal in the form of investments. Through Jussi, she was able to get root access to the servers at rootkit.com. From there the problems escalated, and while i don’t have the full details, i suspect credentials or data found on rootkit.com were used to compromise Barr’s account on HBGary Federal, and numerous other locations, such as Twitter.

The result was an onslaught of defacement and luls from Anonymous, as they downloaded over 50 000 internal e-mails from HBGary and HBGary Federal employees and executives. These were subsequently published as a torrent, which can be found with little to no trouble. To add insult to injury, Anonymous sent the “brilliantly” collected (and false) data that Barr was supposedly going to sell to the FBI (as evidenced by an 11 AM meeting on monday 7th February found in his e-mails) to the FBI for free. Barr claims he was never going to sell the data, or that he was going to redact the names, but that’s really irrelevant at this point. He also claims it was only for research purposes, but internal emails show he was clearly going to profit in a business sense either directly through selling the data/research or through PR he would have gotten for “exposing” the “leaders” of Anonymous. All of which is total and utter bullshit. Most of the people on the list have little or no affiliation to anonymous, and could have gotten into serious trouble had this data not come out in time.

Barr’s twitter account was owned, adding “raging homogay” to his about-box, and posting various lewd comments on his feed. His new Twitter avatar is also a variation of a classic 4chan meme, “Forever Alone”, modified to “Forever Barrlone”. You should really check it out, it’s quite funny if you are into this whole meme business. Also read all the tweets from the past few days, as they provide some insight into what went on.

Ted Vera’s (COO / President at HBGary) Linked in profile was also defaced to change his name to Colossal Faggot, though i doubt it’s still out there. Google cache might still have it, plus i suppose screenshots exist.

All in all i can’t say i give a flying fuck about any of these people or their respective companies. If you are in the security business, and particulary in the business of selling research and data to the federal government (thank god it’s not mine), then you need to be competetent and know what the hell it is you are doing. If you are an incompetent asswipe, then bad things may happen to you. You don’t deserve your job, your bonuses, your cushy little office and the notion of job security. You deserve to go back to school, admit your failures and start over. Though that might be a bit hard at this point, seeing as i would find it very unlikely that the likes of Barr would ever be hired to do anything with computers ever again.

Anonymous has stated they have in ther posession more emails that are as of yet unpublished, and they have had negotiations with the owner and CEO of HBGary as to the next steps in this whole debacle . The IRC logs of that are quite .. a read. Anonymous demanded that for the rest of the data to stay secret (this is called extortion), they need to see Aaron Barr stripped of his job, and all future investments to HBGary Federal. Also they requested that all such funds instead be diverted to the Bradley Manning defense fund, the EFF and other such causes. HBGary is in the process of thinking about things.

Quite a thing to see the CEO of a multi-million dollar company on IRC, begging these anonymous types not to release more mails, as they would cause millions in damage. “Think about what this will do to your reputation”, HBGary urged. Anonymous replied with “What reputation, and why should we care?”

It has to be rather bewildering for your average corporate type to face an adversary that does not care for the traditional things. Reputation is irrelevant. Possible consequences, irrelevant. Legal threats, irrelevant. Sure, you can (and they have) caught a number of people associated with anonymous, but there are tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people ready to take their place, if they feel like it will get them the laugh of the day.

I’ll end with another paraphrasing from the IRC logs, where one Anonymous stated, after just saying he knows this will cost HBGary millions, and that he doesn’t care, that he will now go play Fallout.

Oh and one more thing…

I have to really hand it to both Greg Hoglund, and especially Penny Leavy, who is president of HBGary. She took time out of a nightmarish day, to go on IRC and talk to anonymous. She tried to talk to these people, and she tried to grasp the concepts. Aaron Barr however, who also appeared on the channel under the alias CogAnon, was less than courteous. He talked trash and left without answering any questions, clinging to the one sentence he thinks will save him: “I did it all for research”. That’s like pissing on an angry mob, who has already burned down your house, broken your car and kidnapped your cat.

Assembly 2010, and some other updates

Assembly 2010 is over and done. Thursday through Sunday was spent at Hartwall Arena, the biggest hockey arena in Finland. Assembly is, to my knowledge, the biggest demo-scene party in the world. It’s also basically (and some would say today, more) a LAN party. Imagine 3000 geeks hauling their computers, audio gear and other doohickeys to a single location with near limitless bandwidth and power to make music, socialize, play games and above all else, watch demos and music produced by others; competing in different categories. These are collectively called compos, short for competitions.

*disclaimer* I’m not involved in the demo-scene, even though i greatly admire it. I also did not start computing with Charles Babbage in the late 1800’s, and am not familiar with most of the older hardware. Some terms might be wrong, because i simply don’t understand everything, but i try. *disclaimer*

The wildest part of the event are the compos. It’s a demo scene event, not a LAN party. There’s a separate event called Assembly Winter, which is focused on gaming. But still, i would say most attendees are there to play games. And while i did my fair share of gaming, demos are what i come there for. And my friends.

So what’s so special about demos, and what are they? Well, demos are interactive, or non-interactive multimedia presentations, that have to abide by certain guidelines. Some demos are called intros, and are shorter, and smaller in size than full demos. There are two kinds of intros at assembly, the 4K and the 64K intros. The K refers to Kilobytes, as that is the sizelimit for the compressed intro. Intro are all executable, so whatever you see and hear are created by the program as it is being run. It’s not a drawn animation or a set of ready made frames.

Now imagine 4KB. 4096 characters. Try to include music, moving graphics and text, and if you have any concept of memory, you will be blown away. My Suunto T3 digital watch has multiple times this amount of memory. Heck, your SIM card has more memory to use! Though, it has to be mentioned that libraries and such are not included in the compressed demo. With libraries included, the size is considerably larger, but.. still. They are awesome, and the people making them are total demi-gods at their craft.

The entries in general were good, and surprisingly plentiful. Quality was high in the 4k and 64K intros, while the demo category was a bit of a letdown, compared to the last two years, at least.

I met some great people. you know who you are. Met some current and ex-colleagues, most of whom hard at work organizing the whole thing for the rest of us. Thanks to you guys.

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Updates

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Jacob Appelbaum, whom i mentioned in the HOPE posts, was recently arrested arriving to the US. Interrogated, his laptop confiscated and then returned (because he refused to hand over encryption keys). So i guess, the FBI didn’t really like the stunt he pulled at HOPE. I’m not sure what the current situation is, but i hope he’s alright. He seemed like a nice fellow, who does not deserve to be persecuted.

In other news, the Pentagon has threatened Wikileaks. They are demanding they take down all the material stolen (they mean leaked by their own people), or else. I wonder what the fuck they are going to do about it, huh? Bomb every colocation center in the world? Well it wouldn’t be the first time you just shoot at everything to prove a point. But i double dare them to do anything. Wikileaks isn’t going anywhere, and since the materials are already on the tubes (the internet for the rest of you!), they are never ever coming back to them again. Removing wikileaks, though this will never happen, will change nothing. It will merely fuel the fire, and for every mirror taken down, five new ones will come out. The files are available as Torrents, and already on numerous other sites. “Taking back” or “returning” content does not work like the on the internets, guys. If person A steals a missile, you can demand to have it back. If person B copies files that you inadequately protected, and walks out with them, and posts them on the web, it is a copy, therefore un-returnable, especially when it’s been distributed.

So in conclusion, do not threaten people when you do not have the slightest fucking idea of what you are talking about. Second of all, secure your shit if you don’t want it to get out. Third of all, i hope you burn in hell for the stuff you’ve done all over the world. You do not run the world, even if you have all the bombs.

That is all.