The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Computer security

| August 31, 2009

The more one reads, listens, and researches computer security, the more it makes one want to sit on ones front porch and drink beer, because there’s nothing else you can do.

It isn’t helped by the fact that users are completely retarded and do things like stick MRI machines on the intertubes.

Got the eclipse phase pdf….

| August 26, 2009

Eclipse Phase is a roleplaying game about.. well.. whatever you want, set in the transhuman future.

Aside from looking interesting in general, it also licensed under a CC BY NC SA license. More info is here.

Not only does this mean that I can grab bits of the book to legally make and repost a GM screen, or make a character sheet, without fear of being sued (so long as I don’t sell it, which I won’t), it ALSO means that I can SHARE the PDF for noncommercial use. Don’t believe me? Look at the first item of the license.

Realistically, what does this mean?

Well, it means that I bought the $60 book and PDF bundle. Catalyst has been putting out freaking gorgeous books which I want for pure fanboy squee, even though I tend to read the PDF.

It also means that I can legally share the PDF with my (imaginary) gaming group and legally copy/print the pages out of the book/PDF as reference material.

“What’s the big deal”, you say, “I always used to do that”.

Yes, except now it’s legal.

I think the main thing here is that they get it. Roleplaying games are not a closed box where you sell lots of product by making it scarce – it’s about building a community of fans and evangelists who go out and get more people to play your game. Ultimately, you’ll move more product than if you kept it in a vault.

Good on ya, Catalyst Games and Posthuman Studios. Let’s hope more folks follow your lead.


| August 26, 2009

Don’t connect control systems to the intertubes!!!

Since we make such systems at work, this was the subject of some lively discussion at work today, especially since we make a unit which connects home via a cellular modem.

This stuff can be really, really scary if not done carefully.

What is even more scary are old, insecure protocols, which were designed for isolated networks. Modbus, for example. Don’t put old bad stuff on teh intertubes!!!!

Windows Licensing

| August 26, 2009

So, this guy noticed something I noticed some years ago – that MS doesn’t allow the full amount of memory addressable by hardware to be available under Windows. Now, he basically says that he believes that MS is doing it for license reasons. He misses one serious supporting point: they do this with the 64 bit versions as well.

See? They had a pricing structure for available memory versions on 32 bit systems which basically organically falls from the general “we had to add PAE to hit more than 4GB of memory” and they didn’t want to lose that, so they added it to later versions of Windows. Specifically:

Meanwhile Linux can address 64TB of memory, though the various chipsets may limit that.


| August 22, 2009

So, I’m hitting this odd dichotomy, which I don’t understand.

Of course, there’s Arduino, which is a nice little embedded micro which has analog and digital I/O’s. Decent, functional, basically bare metal.

As a minor step up, Freescale is doing these tower systems, which are kind of a step up – beefier CPU, etc.

The thing which kills me about these is the cost. I mean, they’re like $100, and have nowhere near the hardware of a bog standard Intel Atom Little Falls board.

The kicker is that the Atom boards lack any type of ADC, and looking around, dedicated boards for that are another $100, which is just silly. Where are the Intel atom based protoboards designed for embedded devices? I mean, you could do a board like that, sell it for $200, and undercut the ARM protoboard market by 50%.

Choices and consequences

| August 20, 2009

I love how I am expected to pay for other peoples’ poor life choices, and consequent lack of (whatever is on the political agenda this week).


| August 20, 2009

this looks awesome. I saw it on time warp. Great, great idea.

Facebook test integration post

| August 19, 2009

Just a test. Beeep…

… and there it is

| August 19, 2009

I once heard (likely on Floss Weekly) someone say that if you want an application, think about it, wait 24 hours, then go look for it, someone will have written it, and it will be open source.


Now all I need is a reloading data application. If I end up having free time to start reloading again, I will likely write one. Will give me an excuse to play with sqlite more.

In addition, I’ve added a WordPress->Facebook integration plugin.. which hopefully now works.

More random bits

| August 10, 2009

  • Student Arrested for Modifying Consoles – This guy didn’t copy any games (at least, the article doesn’t say he did), thus, he didn’t commit any copyright infringement. This can be used for playing pirated games, but it can also be used for playing homebrew games, or running “unauthorized software” (like Linux). In case it is lost on you, this is roughly equivalent to someone selling you a car, and then saying that you can’t modify it because you might do things with it which the automaker did not intend. And then there is this gem: Piracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations not only cost U.S. businesses jobs and billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers (emphasis mine). Are you really serious. Health and safety concern? Toolbox.

  • Does the Hacker Ethic Harm Today’s Developers – Ironically, I tend to agree with the article on both counts. A lot of American programmers lack discipline and a commitment to quality. Let’s face it – code audits, documentation, QA, and testing are not exactly sexy work. On the other hand, in my experience, a lot of Indian programmers can’t make a design decision to save their lives. The right way (in my opinion) to do it is to be the conscientious engineer, and then go home and hack on stuff where the QA bit doesn’t matter quite so much and you can play a little fast and loose.

  • Why Linux is Not Ready for the Desktop – Some of this is right. other stuff isn’t. But, it deserves some commentary. In numerical order:

0. Just because proprietary software will not go away (and I agree) does not mean that Linux is not ready for the desktop. As desktop penetration increases, more software will be ported, and therefore this does not hold water.

2.1 The same criticism of a lack of stable GUI API can be applied to Windows as well – Win32, MFC, WinForms… and that’s just the ones MS came out with.

2.2 Slow GUI – I’d love to know what GUI you’re using. XFce, Gnome and KDE are all just as fast (or more) than Windows XP on the same hardware.

3. All the problems across Linux distros. This is the homogeny argument. The problem with “one size fits all” is that it doesn’t work. The reason I use Linux is because I can make it work the way I want. I can’t make Windows or OSX work the way I want. The flip side to the “lack of a common packaging format” is the same issue with Windows. Up until .msi, there wasn’t a common Windows installer format – it was all custom .exes. Even with the .msi stuff, there is still no central software repository and/or tracking of updates on all managed and installed software. It’s up to each program to do its own thing, which leads to a complete and total friggin mess.

4. Need to configure everything via GUI – why? I don’t have this requirement, and I’m the one using it.

5. Lack of software – the crux of this argument is “Linux isn’t popular, so it has no software.” Of course, since the article is why Linux won’t be popular, it’s a completely circular argument. It won’t be popular because it doesn’t have software, because it isn’t popular. Look, the software for it is getting more and more varied and better and better every day. I am amazed at how much better this stuff has gotten recently.

5.3 Bad drivers – Windows has bad drivers too. Remember the 98 to NT changeover? Nothing worked. Vista is supposed to be just as bad, and now with the DRM stuff, MS can actively kill your hardware as the result of bad drivers. All those BSOD issues back in the day? Yeah, most of those were bad drivers too.

5.3.1 A lot of WinPrinters don’t have Linux support – While I’m sure this is true, I haven’t had a problem. That and I remember when I upgraded to NT and my printer which used to work under NT no longer did.

5.4 It is impossible to watch Blu-Ray movies – Really? Why? (I honestly don’t know).

5.5 The audio/video codec problem – All operating systems have this problem. The difference is that other companies are willing to build the cost into the cost of the OS. Or, you can take a free OS and pay the $5 for the codecs. Or, just use free formats.

6. and 7. Bad quality in the kernel and general bugs – That is what distributions are for. They do the testing. Good distros have good testing.

8. Poor interoperaibility between user and kernel space, namely that it takes awhile for user tools to come out which use the new kernel stuff. Or, to put it another way, you get lots of cutting edge stuff which might not be completely ready. So, what, would you rather just not have them because it’s not completely polished? I’d rather have new stuff to play with which might not quite work, but is still cool, and have the option to use it. But, that’s just me.

Most of the last points are either valid, or rehashing of the above. Arguments about “no standard thingy across all distros”, etc.

And then there’s this:

©2009 Artem S. Tashkinov – All rights reserved. No reproduction of any kind is allowed without express permission by the author.

That’s completely lame, dude, but whatever. I didn’t copy your stuff, just responded by the numbers.