Recent blog entries for djs

It seems like everyone has a waveLAN card these days. I have to admit they are pretty useful-- being able to hack while watching TV is very nice indeed. Of course the export-grade 40bit encryption is a bit pants, and having a single shared key (that everyone knows) is a nightmare. I was most amused to read the paper (mentioned on slashdot) analysing the Wired-Equivalent-Privacy(WEP) algorithm. They suggest some quite simple and pretty devastating attacks-- definitely worth a read.

It's really about time that people stopped plugging wireless routers directly into their backbone networks. They really ought to put the wavelan well outside their firewall and treat it with the suspicion it deserves. Perhaps it would help if the routers/bridges themselves weren't so plug-n-play (or perhaps that should be forget-n-regret?) As a bonus, people could one day co-operate and help each other (by routing packets?) rather than treating their neighbours (and their networks) as unwanted noise. After all, wasn't co-operation a founding principle of the internet?

*sigh* But it'll never happen...

Battle report (date 20/7/2000)

Large numbers of ant-infantry were spotted amassing near the border preparing for an incursion into our territory. Our scouts indicated that they had support from many units of their airborne division. At approximately 2305 UTC a chemical warhead was detonated near the front line. As the insecticide cleared our forces were able to guage the effectiveness of the attack. An uncountable number of ant-soldier bodies were observed, strewn over the battlefield. The sweet smell of victory[1].

At dawn the next day only small numbers of reconnaissance ants were observed. No infantry or airborne units were evident.

On the second day the ants launched a surprise attack, surrounding us on all sides with aerial units. The battle did not go well- we sustained heavy casualties as we have no effective weapon against flying forces (specifically the vacuum cleaner of doom lacks sufficient suction to attack a flying unit while it is still in the air). Our remaining forces withdrew and surrendered the lower floor of the house to the ant empire. The battle may be lost but the war is not over!

End transmission.

[1] - The insecticide smell was indeed sweet, but since it was poison I tried not to smell it too much.

(bit offtopic perhaps) Anyone know a good way to get rid of an infestation of ants? (yeah yeah - without setting fire to the house, knocking it down or anything like that) I wonder if there's a newsgroup alt.insects.ants.genocide or perhaps I could call that exterminator from Arachnophobia?

I looked up some local pest control companies- some of them have brilliant names.


"Licensed to Kill"


omniORB 3.0.0 has been released :)

Plenty of downloads, and no sign yet of any bug reports... I think I'll go off and hide somewhere just in case.

I got home yesterday and discovered the house server (ancient P100, HD falling apart, running PPP, masq & various proxies) had been reset by a power cut. On reboot it was having e2fsck problems (mental note: next reinstall will use ext3) and the DNS database was corrupted.

Just managed to bandage up the wounds and reboot the machine when we noticed the rather large amount of sand around the casing. It really was quite an odd thing to accumulate inside the house next to a computer. So we investigated further.

A huge ants nest. I guess that explains where the plague of flying ants inside the house had been coming from :/

Truly strange.

Decided to take the plunge today and upgrade my GSM mobile to a Nokia 7110, with WAP, irDA port and internal modem (is that the right term?).

Went to the shop, spent ages waiting to be served, spent ages again waiting for Orange to register the upgrade then finally got back to the office. Immediately stuck phone on charge and started reading up on how to actually use the thing.

Curiousity got the better of me, so I decided to stick my current SIM into it and give it a go. I pulled the battery off a bit too vigorously and just in my peripheral vision I saw a small black thing fall towards the floor. Bugger.

I looked around for candidates and concluded that it must have been the plastic SIM card holder. A good hour later, everything has been turned upside down. I searched my clothing, my desk, bags... everywhere I could think of to no avail. I was just contemplating how to explain this back at the shop the next day (without sounding too dumb) when a thought hit me. I popped in to see a colleage who owns the same model. It doesn't have a plastic holder. It was the end of the charger lead that I saw fall. Argh.


People like me shouldn't be allowed to touch real hardware.

Sometimes I really dislike computers.

Particularly PCs.

A nice shiny new PC arrived containing a PIII/650 and 256Mb RAM. Unfortunately the BIOS was convinced that it actually only had 128Mb RAM, even though the big 256 DIMM was definitely in there. So after much fiddling we decided to install a BIOS update.

Naturally BIOS updates require DOS boot disks. *sigh* Much hunting around trying to find a DOS or Win9x machine later, we remembered about FreeDOS. The machine booted into the DOS variant and the reflashing utility started up. The util plastered dire warnings about catastrophic failure should the machine be powered off during the update all over the screen, so we pressed <ENTER> and crossed our fingers. During the 60s that felt more like 60years, I noticed that the utility was alternately loading data from the disk and flashing the chip. You'd think it would load all the data in first, and then flash it as quickly as possible to minimise the chance of disaster. But never mind.

Flashing complete, the machine was reset. And naturally it failed to boot at all. Oh well.

Today is the day that most of my friends who are still students finally graduate. Now that they've been handed one of those little A4 pieces of paper most of them will cross the reality checkpoint and enter the Real World.

It's sure going to be quiet round here :(

Hmm.. interesting.

The Bike Ride is marketed as a charitable event- the application forms are covered in adverts for a Breast Cancer charity, causing people to assume that a portion of the £9.50 entry fee actually goes to a charity. Apparently tisn't true. The question is, why pay some company all this cash (about 20 of us are planning on going) rather than just donating it to the charity directly? They don't supply transport or refreshments. They do sell T-Shirts (just more profit for them). What is it that they actually do to earn this money? It's all very strange.

Must remember to fill in my entry form for the London to Cambridge Bike Ride coming up in July. Should be good fun- the advertising blurb says:

A beautiful 58 mile ride through gentle countryside and gorgeous villages to Midsummer Common in Cambridge. There are plenty of pubs and refreshment stops along the route to keep you going, and when you reach the finish you can relax and soak up the festival atmosphere.
As long as it doesn't get too hot (hah, in the UK?!) ... and the countryside really better be "gentle" :)

Caught a very silly bug in the IDL compiler today. It's only triggered if you declare an exception called "e" - it seems I forgot to escape a variable name, causing a clash. D'Oh!

I also discovered that the Java VM running on the Psion 5mx is capable of running MindTerm, the excellent Java ssh client. Pity some of the AWT dialogs are a bit too big for the screen and the refresh is a little quirky... nothing a bit of hacking can't fix though! Much kudos to the developers :)

Hmm I wonder what it uses as its source of entropy... (healthy paranoia...)

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