Older blog entries for mjcox (starting at number 67)

work What a busy couple of weeks. Security advisories everywhere, rumours of Apache exploits, actual PHP exploits, mod_ssl session caching fun, PHP fixes, advisory texts to write, dealing with the press, stuff to review.

house. Rather than deal with things in a civil manner the builder forced our hand. Lawyers are now involved :(

Home automation. Now the TiVo is hooked up to the network so it can be controlled from any room, installed some neat touch dimmer/timer switches for the en-suite bathrooms. Now to buy a Fujitsu Point 510 from ebay so I can control everything from the hallway.

19 Feb 2002 (updated 19 Feb 2002 at 20:05 UTC) »
voltage: 253 volts is nothing to be concerned about, allegedly, but they'll install a voltage logger if I insist

builder: Did I mention I was having some teething problems with the house? Now I'm having teething problems with the builder too.

bryce: you could move back to the UK or you could buy a GPS unit ;)

work: been putting in long hours to 1) forget about the builder and 2) theres a lot going on. Need a holiday soon.

Whilst replacing yet another set of lightbulbs that had blown after only a week I thought I'd look at the supply voltage into the house. My UPS logs the voltage so this was easy. 253 volts.

The UK used to be 240 volts (+/-10%) but quite a few years ago the nominal voltage was changed to be 230 volts (half way between the UK 240 and the European 220). In practise I read that this meant very little, they just continued to supply 240v which was within the tolerance. 253 volts is also just within the tolerance, but annoyingly causes my UPS to alert me every few hours. I also read that in 2002 the tolerances are going to be adjusted to +/-6%.

Armed with all this information I called the electricity company who actually said 253 volts was an emergency situation and someone will be with me shortly.

Played around with the Linux IBM ViaVoice SDK so my UPS can speak. "Help, the voltage is too high, I'm frying,l arrrrgh"

Played around with the alarm system (well the 'tamper' system works) but need some opto-isolation before I dare connect it up to the gateway. Got the gateway to SMS me when there is a power failure, which is semi-useful but really freaks out guests when I switch off the master power and my phone beeps a few seconds later. Took a few pics of the setup so far here.

I'm trying to stay away from coding for work for a month or two, just to see if it can be done. I've found it hard the last few years as I moved away from doing coding on a day to day basis; you tend to judge your week by how much code you've achieved. This of course doesn't scale when you get to be a manager and the temptation is to try to do a bit of coding for work every week in order to feel you have 'achieved something'. Last week I couldn't resist and ended up recoding some pages and scripts that were in PHP to work with AxKit. Doh.

In other news: Sonik

Now my days and evenings are spent working and my nights trying to learn DIY as quickly as possible. I fixed a few electric points that were wired incorrectly (several had no earth connection!). Also I was expecting the light switches in the house to be wired conventionally (which at least in the UK means you run the mains to a junction box in the ceiling, then run a two-core cable with live in and out to the wall switch). In this house each switch has three twin+earth cables. Mains in, mains out, and switched mains to the lights. I've yet to find out why. Actually this turns out to be rather cool as in most UK houses you don't get neutral in the switch boxes which sometimes limits the fun you can have with home automation. But it does mean that one particular place has five mains wires competing for space behind a single gang triple switch

Currently working out the best way to connect up the heating system (one input) and alarm system (lots of triggers) to the network; I don't want to trust X10 for those.

More CVE fun and advocacy

23 Jan 2002 (updated 23 Jan 2002 at 21:38 UTC) »

So having cable internet throughout the house is cool; having water coming in from outside through the plasterboard is not so cool. A highlight of my week in North Carolina was meeting up with some of the IBM Apache folks, especially RoUS, almost made the 4 hours stuck in Newark airport worthwhile. Also got to spend some time with Bryce, shopping, and other Red Hat folks.

32 snagging list items left for the builder to fix (down from nearly 200). Never buy a new house, not if you are already working >>40 hour weeks.

Continuing my quest to add CVE details to all Red Hat security advisories, working my way through 2001.

4 Jan 2002 (updated 4 Jan 2002 at 12:42 UTC) »
ScrewfixDirect say "every item in stock - if it's in this catalogue we will despatch it today, without delay". Except if you're me when you order on Wednesday and due to items being out of stock I won't get my order until Monday at the earliest. Meanwhile the toilet stays broken....
house: Moving in on Friday, finally. Not everything is 100% finished, but I spent a couple of hours wiring in the patch panel and a couple of hours working out which socket was which. Note: if you ask your builders to install CAT5 for you remember to also ask them to label the ends. I kind of assumed they'd do that. I also made the incorred assumption that when the spec said "aerial points in every room" it meant I got an aerial. No, I get a whole load of cables in the loft ready for an aerial and distribution amplifier to be installed. I'm finding it really hard to find everything I want for the new house; I want some X10 light switches (fairly easy to find except I need one to control 500W and they look cheap and tacky in white plastic), a couple of sets of motorised curtains (harder to find, impossible if you want to do >2.5m lengths), automated heating control (found a couple, nothing perfect)
security: So finally the stuff I've been working on for the last few weeks, a security resource center for Red Hat went live, but no rest for me as I get signed up to write a webcast for later this month. I got quoted in a few news articles after giving interviews about the Red Hat wuftpd security release, not all the quotes were 100% accurate, but in the whole it was better than any other time I've given interviews.

house: Gave up trying to find an f-connector (or even bnc) patch panel, looks like I'll have to buy a drill and make one. Planning how to deal with various cool home-automation stuff for the house, but now wishing that I'd taken more time to help out and plan when they were doing the wiring; would have saved a few of the bodges that are going to be necessary. Hopefully in by Christmas!

Not much exciting development wise, I've been working on a new project for Red Hat (details in a few weeks). Spent a weekend researching home networking and found some cheap and neat single-gang triple RJ45 outlets (Alphasnap, www.bka.co.uk). Installed half of them in the house this morning. Bid on a couple of 19" rack cabinets on ebay, but these things are *really* expensive. Decided instead to use a 19" rack wall frame (www.minitran.co.uk) at a tenth the price.

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