Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Code Spaces break-in lessons: using your infrastructure provider for backup is a single point of failure

Summary of the events of the Code Space break-in: Code Spaces was hosting their services on Amazon Web Services VPS infrastructure. An attacker managed to gain access to their AWS administration console account and after his demands for ransom were not answered, proceeded to delete all the data in the account.

The disaster recovery plan for Code Spaces was based on having machine images and data backups stored in AWS, everything was gone, and Code Spaces basically had to shutdown.

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Canonical announced a new display server – Mir, and it is good for the consumer

Canonical have last week announced that they are developing their own display server to replace the ubiquitous X display server, a project called Mir, and the shit storm has begun anew(as what happened after Unity, Ubuntu Touch and other Canonical announcements). Contrary to popular belief, I think that this happening is a good thing for the Linux community in whole.

There are many reasons why I think this is good, most are not really concrete technical things, but I can list a few:

  • X11 is showing its age. There were some internal efforts to modernize it (e.g. kdrive which have mostly merged into the existing code) and some external efforts to replace it (Fresco and Wayland to name a few), but none have made much of an impact on the current state of Linux display.
  • From first look, Mir is a modern code base written in C++11 and Boost, which I like.
  • Diversity is generally a good thing.

If we go over the last point in a bit more depth, I think we can see why Mir would generally be a good thing for Linux developers and users and why people should stop being negative.

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What is Windows XP for you?

I just “love” this quote from this PC-Magazine article:

… the amazingly enduring Windows XP—easily Microsoft’s most successful enterprise product ever…

Which is a really cock-eyed way to look at the operating system market, which completely ignores purchasing decisions by millions of users world-wide. A better description of Windows XP might be:

The last reasonably well-made operating system that Microsoft made

Users aren’t migrating from Windows XP because its so good(1) – they keep using Windows XP because every later OS is really bad.


  1. hint: it isn’t []

TurkTrust CA certificate breach and what does it mean for you

A pseudo analysis of the issue that was brought to my attention by Eric Klien’s post here. The following text is slightly edited version of my comment on the post, reproduced here because I think its important for my readers to be aware of the issue.

A new CA kerfuffle has broken out yesterday, and here are some of the headlines:

The information for the discussion below was sourced from these, more technical, articles(1):

To summarize, the problem was a botched test process in TurkTrust CA (as part of an external security audit) that caused a CA profile to be set up to generate “sub CA” certificates, and following that the profile was copied to the production system and subsequently used to generate two certificates before the problem was discovered and fixed (I assume the test profile was removed from the production system), but only 1 of those certificate was revoked. (more…)


  1. I applaud BBC for trying to present a complex security issue in “layman terms”, but as someone who is familiar with the technology in question, it gave me quite a headache, trying to “reverse translate” the text []

Another form of recycling

This was on the bus stop bench outside my work today:

image

The note under the memory modules (3 sticks, 512MB each, either PC100 or PC123) says “please take”.

I never thought about trying that. Do you think I can do the same with my old CRT?

Apple’s next iPhone 5 will have everything we’ve already seen on Android

International Business Times has published an article with some features made available by iOS 6 that is likely iPhone 5 will offer:

Answering/Declining Calls – Users will now have the option to answer or decline calls. Users may send a text message from a choice of pre-programmed options if you wish not to be disturbed at the moment. Users will also be able to remind themselves to return the missed calls later.

Really? That’s a new feature? Having used these features constantly since, like, forever on Android, I’m actually very surprised that iOS didn’t have those up till now.

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The most complex Google Doodle

Please go to Google’s Home page right now to look at the Google Doodle for Robert Moog‘s(1) 78th Birthday – its a fully functional synthesizer that you can play on and record yourself!

It works slightly better in Chrome although the latest Firefoxes can also handle the moogdoodle. I wouldn’t count on anything else being able to play this demo that uses the experimental Web Audio API for HTML 5 that looks to aiming to bring to the web, all the capabilities of a Commodore 64 SID ;-).

Things you can do (The knobs are unfortunately unmarked, so I had to guess what each knob does):

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  1. Inventor of the analog synthesizer []

Scanning Hand Written Texts Into High Quality Digital Files

The purpose of this exercise is to convert a hand written note – such as your signature – to high quality digital files that can be used to embed “hand write” into documents – such as when someone asks you to fax them a “signed” copy of the PDF they emailed you. You’d be surprised how often that happens around here.

Required Ingridients:

  • A computer with The GIMP installed
  • Your handy smart phone with a 5MP or better camera
  • A good pen and paper.

So anyway, here’s the process from top to bottom, with pictures:

  1. Sit down at a proper table, and using a good black heavy-line pen(1) on a white clean high-density paper, write what you need to write – slowly and deliberately but without pauses. Try not to smear the ink so you get clean continuous lines, otherwise the quality suffers a lot.
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  1. in this shot I used a 0.7 permanent marker – which is just overdoing it – probably any 0.7 pen will work []

Handling “Package file is invalid” problems on CyanogenMod 7

Update: The latest update for CyanogenMod for Milestone – version 7.1.0.3 solves this problem as well.

Lately I’ve been having problems updating software on my Motorola Milestone (1, as in A853) running CyanogenMod 7.1 (thanks to Nadalbak who maintains an unofficial and unsupported port of CyanogenMod for this old device). When I start the Android Market and do an update of an existing application, I get the error “Package file is invalid” for any application. Sometimes removing an application and reinstalling it will work, but often not.

There could be several problems that cause this, apparently a problem with the file permissions on the file systems is common, and if this is your problem then it can be fixed by opening the terminal emulator, executing “su” to gain super-user permissions and then running “fix_permissions” (it will take a while to complete).

If this doesn’t solve the problem for you, then likely the problem is that you ran out of space on your “data” partition or “cache” partition. This is very common if you have a large “apps partition” on your SD card and you are in the habit of installing tons of applications – I know I am 🙂 .

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Android, iOS – who stole from who?

The obvious answer is – who cares? But Apple fan-boys seem to like to gloat that any smartphone design (or at least any design moderately successful – nobody is looking at Symbian) is a “rip off” from the iPhone, while Android fan-boys(1) point out may cases where iOS designers “shamelessly” “got inspired” by Android features such as the pull-down notifications, seamless multi-tasking, “share” functionality, personal Wi-Fi hotspot, untethered syncing (iCloud in Apple’s lingo) and more.

So everyone copies from everyone else – that’s how a market should behave: if one product comes up with a better idea, then it is only expected that other products can build on that idea – and sometimes do it better. And don’t get me started on the patent thing – patents allow an inventor to protect the technology and implementation of a specific idea, it does not give one a monopoly on ideas (even though many today try to use the patent system like that).

The question that, I think, is more interesting to ask is – who is more willing to play this game and who treats idea as their sole domain and exclusive property?

The answer, not coming as a surprise to anyone, can be found in Apple’s founder new biography: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, as reported by AP review of the book set to be available tomorrow, here are some choice quotes (taken from AP’s review):

Jobs told Isaacson in an expletive-laced rant that Google’s actions amounted to “grand theft.”

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”

Jobs told Schmidt [Google’s CEO at the time] … ” I want you to stop using our ideas in Android”

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  1. of whom I am a card carrying member, I’ll admit []

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