Can you crack a code?

Saw this on Bruce Schneier’s blog, it’s the FBI’s Dec 2008 cryptanalysis problem. Can you crack a code?

Good fun.

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Mac 101: Enter directory paths when in open/save dialogs – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

Saw this on TUAW, I’ve been looking for that functionality since I switched to Mac. Although it’s useful to be able to specify a folder path and avoid having to traverse the folder lists, a bigger benefit for me is being able to specify a directory that you can’t reach normally in an open/save dialog, /tmp for example.

Thanks TUAW, I should probably read all the Mac 101 posts

TUAW Article.

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mysql: --i-am-a-dummy

I just noticed the mysql client “--i-am-a-dummy” parameter in the help output (from mysql --help)
This interestingly named synonym for “--safe-updates” looks like it should be set as the default on any live mysql database. The command is supposed to block updates and deletes that don’t use keys. As an example, it could be used to protect against the proverbial (but not uncommon) “dummy” entering a command like:
UPDATE users SET password = PASSWORD('secret');
instead of the intended command:
UPDATE users SET password = PASSWORD('secret') WHERE user_id = 521;

Posted in Software | 1 Response

Compiling Ruby on Ubuntu – Part 2

Following on from my previous post Installing Ruby on Ubuntu, I tried to install/compile Ruby (and rubygems, rake) on Ubuntu server 7.04. Since Ubuntu Server is a “minimal” installation for use on a server, various development tools need to be installed, I used the following commands:
apt-get install build-essential autoconf manpages-dev
and also
apt-get build-dep ruby1.8
Without doing the last step you get errors building rubygems
/usr/local/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.8/rubygems/remote_fetcher.rb:4:in `require': no such file to load -- zlib (LoadError)

Yes, I realise it’s a bit of a cheat to take the dependencies of the Ubuntu ruby package.

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Future looks bright for video ads

Continuing in the online video theme, The Register has a story about video ads:
Future looks bright for video ads
The article talks about ad-funded online video, and video ads in web pages. Both of these are relevant to me at work.

Posted in Entertainment, Networks, Technology, Telecomms, Work | Leave a comment

Symbian Slingplayer In Private Beta

Saw this on mocoNews.net this morning: Symbian Slingplayer In Private Beta
Looks interesting, even with the number of operators making video available on mobile, this allows an individual get the video content that they have available, in their home or office, delivered to their phone.
So, while they’re on a train, or waiting in an airport, etc. they can get the news, the latest soap, or the view from the security cameras at home/office. This is obviously subject to bandwidth availability and cost. (uploading from home and downloading to phone).

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SSH updates

The Past:
I’m a long-time user of SSH. I presume that I was typical in my initial use of it for secure access to remote servers. But I quickly became familiar with its port-forwarding capabilities, and have often set up intricate webs of connected and nested tunnels, in order to negotiate the problems of multiple NAT servers and firewalls. I even considered myself a power-user.

The Present:
Today, while checking out A Defcon survival guide on The Register, I noticed that they had mentioned the -D parameter to SSH. It was that kind of “in-passing” reference, where you know they think they’re stating the obvious. You’ve probably guessed though, that it was not obvious to me.
Enter the Ubuntu SSH Howto, and in particular the “SSH as a Proxy” section. How could I not know that a SSH could run as a SOCKS proxy, tunnelled to a remote server? Now I’ll be able to run SOCKS capable client applications (including web browsers) across lots of network configurations, without having to identify and forward individual ports. Brilliant!

The Future:
Wait, what’s that I see? At the bottom of the page there’s a link to SSH VPN. It can’t be. Not full networking access (routing,UDP,etc) over an SSH tunnel using the “tun” driver. Yes it is, it’s amazing. I can’t try this one out at the moment, but it will be a definite must-have for me (very soon).
Anywhere, on any network, once I have SSH access, I can get full access to my home network. (Or, if I wanted, an Amazon EC2 node that I could start when I needed full Internet access)

What lessons I’ve learned today, and not just about SSH. It’s important to check out the features and updates of software and networking tools that you use. Especially, if you already consider them important and useful. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you already know how to use them, even if, like me, you’ve been using the tools for too many years to remember.

Now, I’ve also been using Ethereal for a long time, but a colleague has recommended WireShark, I must find out which one is better ;-)

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‘They threw my laptop into the atmosphere’ | The Register

It’s funny what happens in really large organisations.
‘They threw my laptop into the atmosphere’ | The Register

I wonder if I could try any of those excuses with my boss? ;-)

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Create an in-cell bar graph with Excel

Excellent tip here to Create an in-cell bar graph with Excel
from the Lifehacker Shortcut Screencast Contest. Really handy for quick graph, and it works in OpenOffice.org also.

Screencasts look like a good way to distribute tips like this, so I’ll have to look into that for the future, maybe using Jing for screenshots and screen recordings as suggested by Paul Watson. I wonder if there’s something to add a voiceover.

Posted in Software | 2 Responses

Nokia N95 vs. iPhone

Nokia are saying that the N95 is better than the iPhone, at least in the European market. Just read an article on
SiliconRepublic.com: Nokia aim to “rip through the iPhone hype”

While I personally would prefer the features in the N95, the screen, interface, and form factor of the iPhone are much better. If Apple could put in a 3G radio and allow you use the iPhone as a modem…

The whole reliability and updatability issues will have to wait until the phones have been in the market for a while. (I’d be concerned that the large iPhone screen would get scratched.)

Edit to add: “…European carriers are hell-bent on reviving flagging ARPU (average revenue per user) levels by replacing lost revenues with new streams from high-speed data services…” Network coverage issues are still going to be an issue – when you force everyone to use online data they get annoyed when they can’t access it. (e.g. I work in a metal-clad building and can’t get phone coverage inside)

Posted in Networks, Technology, Telecomms | 1 Response