Archive for August, 2006

Security Engineering

This came through on the IP list: Ross Anderson’s book Security Engineering is now available on his website in PDF. I’ve read a few of the chapters, the rest are queued up for reading Real Soon Now.

I think this book is going to be useful backup for some of my explanations of security to non-technical users, as well as a good things to implement or avoid when designing security.

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Macbook away

The Macbook is off to the repair depot, thankfully the DHL guy waits around for me to stuff it in the little box and write up the slip.

I did actually get it backed up today after two days of not having it stay powered on for more than a minute or two — today I managed to backup the disk twice. Once in firewire mode to a disk that turned out to be faulty, and once via the Install cd to a better drive.

The down side is that I just managed to run the machine for a couple of hours without it shutting down. This is one case where I hope it performs for the repair folk when it gets to Apple.

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Macbook Encore

So it’s headed back to Apple.

The Macbook didn’t actually come back with a new logic board the last time, and it’s gotten to the point that it won’t stay on for more than a minute or two. This even in firewire mode or booted off of a cd. (not software!). It’s not memory, since swapping the original memory back in gave a shutoff on cue while still on the phone. (thank the demo gods!)

But, due to the lack of power, there’s no good way to make in image of the drive, so if the do decide to replace the hard drive again, I’ll get to do the whole setup thing again.

No clue what they were trying to fix before by replacing the keyboard, bezel, top case and the hard drive, but it wasn’t the problem that I was having.

***Detailed notes

  • 8/21, 4:50 pm, full battery, had been asleep, after blog scan &c. Checked email, turned back to other machine, couple minutes later it was dead.
  • 8/24, 5:34 pm, full battery, had been awake, reading wired article about Woz’s autobiography. Power adapter still showing green. Just heard the hard drive thunk into a parked position.
  • 8/25 8:30 am Charging, 2/5 battery left, after morning troll, just turned off, no thunk. Was about to watch improv everywhere youtube viedo.
  • 8/26 2:45 pm On battery, 64% power left, actively websurfing. Wouldn’t restart (repeated turnoff in 3 sec) without getting power, turned off 5 min later (again) after being logged in for a minute or so. Apps starting up.
  • 8/27 Morning. Many Many times. lasts ~ 2 minutes off of startup cds, 45 sec in FW mode, a few minutes booted normally. Started on power, with full battery after morning blog troll. So bad that it would poweroff before the startup bong. Did reset the power manager. Didn’t change anything. This didn’t help. Also did it with the original memory in the system.
  • 8/28 Morning, wouldn’t stay running under firewire mode or rescue cd.
  • 8/29 Managed to backup drive twice, once via firewire, once via rescue cd. Both time starting up with the ‘hold down the power button’ method. Back to apple.
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Saturday Bug Blogging



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Friday Cat Blogging


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Eggplant Bartha

This is another recipie that’s relatively quick (compared to some of my productions), probably an hour from start to finish. It’s inspired by the dish at India Bistro, but we’re still pretty far off hitting that, probably because I’m not adding a pound of ghee to it.

  • 1 Eggplant, Roasted.
  • Mustard seed – 1/2 tsp or so. Whatever looks good in the pan.
  • Onion, 1-2, chopped
  • Tomatoes. Several. 4-5 smallish ‘on the vine’, diced
  • Several Cloves Garlic, minced
  • Cilantro, tablespoon or two, chopped.

Cut the eggplant into quarters the long way, wipe the cut faces with oil and broil till soft, ending with the skin up and blackening. About 8 minutes on a side or so with my oven, don’t burn, but you want the insides mushy.

While that’s going, start the mustard seed and onion in ghee or butter, and cook slowly till transparent, then add the diced tomatoes and garlic and cook down.

When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh from the skin with the back of a chef’s knife, quickly chop up thie pile of flesh to make sure no long stringy bits remain, then mash in a bowl with the tomato and onion. Return that to the pan, with more ghee if you’re feeling good about your heart healthy condition, and cook till most of the eggplant liquid is gone. Add cayenne and salt to taste, It doesn’t take a whole lot. Add the cilantro just before serving.

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This is a nice and tasty chickpea dish with a good mix of flavors. It’s also easy enough to make in the down times when I’m doing the Potatoes and Cauliflower, so doing both adds some protien to the meal and takes no longer from first knife to table. Quantities are pretty rough, the cumin and coriander were what we had left, and the ginger and cilantro were the leftovers from the potato and cauliflower. Pretty much anything here is +- a factor of 2.

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Cumin seed, some. 1tsp or so.
  • Most of a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • Ginger, chopped, less than a tablespoon or so
  • Cayenne, 1/2 tsp or so to taste
  • Ground Coriander, 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin, 1/2 tsp
  • Mango Powder, 1/2 tsp
  • Tumeric, 1/4 tsp
  • Lemon Juice, 1 tbsp
  • Cilantro, few tablespoons, chopped.

Gently cook onion in ghee or butter with the cumin seeds. When it’s getting to brown, add the ginger and spices. In a minute or two, add tomatoes, then 5 minutes later, add drained chickpeas and about 1 cup of water. Simmer that till most of the liquid is gone, then add the cilantro and lemon juice. Add salt to taste.

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Sezchuan Bean Flower

From the recommendation of Mr Whybark, we’ve now tried out Sezchuan Bean Flower twice, and I’m seriously depressed that we found this after moving off the mainland.

There is just no good ethnic food on South Whidbey, and very little good vegetarian food either. After living near Fremont (land of 1000 thai resturants) and India Bistro, and well, anything good and spicy, the two chinese options over here are lacking.

China City (Freeland) got my attention with beautiful decor — statues, koi, dark wood, and such. The attention was from my observation of the general inverse relationship between decor and food quality. Pretty bland food, nothing that I don’t feel that I could make, and not especially special ingredients.

Hong Kong Garden (Clinton) had similar but better food and an incredible view. Their decor is much more along the lines of what I expect from a decent chinese resturant, but there wasn’t a whole lot of depth to the dishes we ordered.

Sezchuan Bean Flower, on the other hand, is worth taking the ferry and driving down to Oak Tree for the food. (Rose used to live mere blocks from here. Did we notice it? No.)

Sauteed string beans were excellent, spicy and garlicky. Eggplant in the two forms that we’ve had it were both good. I believe that we’ve had Eggplant with tofu and Eggplant with garlic, but I’m not certain on that. The Hot and Sour soup was quite nice, it even seemed to have a bit of the white pepper flavor that you don’t see around often.

The kicker is that lunch is downright cheap, and dinner wasn’t much more. The three of us (2 adults + the boy) had three lunches with entree, rice and soup for less than $15. The only drawback for us is that we had a little miscommunication as to the vegetarianness of a dish the first time we were there. The server was very helpful about replacing it, we were just a little more careful the second time.

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Island County Fair

The second county fair of the season for me, and I think I’ve come to a conclusion: If it’s a county fair, there’s got to be an unmuffled V8 somewhere in the program. The Warren County Fair was racing, at the Island County Fair it was the chainsaws. 500lb Chainsaws. With a V8. (Or V6, or a Harley twin.)

Cutting wood the fast way. A V8 powered chain saw.

View Gallery

We went a couple of times, seeing as our house was nearly as close as some of the parking. The basic carnie rides and food, a cute parade with more campaigning politicians than we have residents, 4-H dogs, horses, alpacas, cats and other livestock. All there.

The photography competition seemed somewhat thin on quality — I know that there are a good number of photgraphers on the island but it just wasn’t in evidence. Overall, the Junior High and High School entries were right up there with the Amateur adults. In particular, there were a lot of pictures that were technically not all there, out of focus, oversharpened, or over enlarged. (And not in a manner that I’d really consider artistic vision.) Sadly, I found out about it the day after entries were due. As Cubs fans say, there’s always next year.

There was also a 4-H photography exhibit — the quality there seemed better then the mainline photography. I particularly enjoyed the black and whites that Rachel Evans had in the show. They had an expressive mood and atmosphere that captured the eye. Quite a professional effort.

And then there were the politicians. The Republicans had a booth to hand out campaign flyers. The Democrats had a concession stand, selling foot long hot dogs and other fair food. I can’t remember seeing fundraising on quite that scale before, but it’s reassuring to know that they know how to work.

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WEP is dead

Not sure where I saw this originally, since it floated throught he aggregator just before the machine went off to Apple, but WEP (wireless equivalent privacy) is now, officially, completely, and totally dead. Not resting, not tired, although there probably have been some prolonged squwaks. It appears to have been nailed to the perch.

The final nail (pdf link) is a paper that details how to use some of the more unfortunate design decisions in WEP to inject valid data in to a closed network after sniffing just one encrypted packet. Using that, they bootstrap to decrypting individual packets or build a dictionary of keystream bits within a minute.

This news provided the kick in the butt that I needed to get the home network off of WEP. I was using WEP because it worked out of the box with the macs and the WET11 that runs the music system, and intertia. Networks that are mostly working tend to remain in that state aslong as I’m not playing with them.

Using OpenWRT, it’s actually quite easy to get WPA (the next generation, that is apparently not vunerable to this attack) working with the family macs. I’m using the WhiteRussian RC5 on a Buffalo Airstream and a Linksys WRT54GL router.

First, according ot the docs you need to install the nas package. As root on the router:

ipkg update
ipkg install nas 

Apparently the mac is not too happy with AES for encryption. I simply get that there was an error joining the network. So the appropriate settings for WPA with pre-shared keys on the wireless confuguration page are:

WPA1 on, WPA2 off
RC4 (tkip) on, AES off

Put in a password, and the macs should be good. I’ve tested with airports and airport extremes, but only with tiger, nothing older.

The music network is still working, but it’s running on a separate network, 802.11b only, and no encryption at all. Since there’s no DHCP, no routing, and only the music service (a SliMP3 server) available, I’m not bothering with encryption there.

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