Terminally Incoherent

Utterly random, incoherent and disjointed rants and ramblings...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

DynDNS Unreliable?

Please explain this to me - why I can't access any webpages on DynDNS hosted subdomains (such as homelinux.org, ath.cx and etc..) from work? I'm sure it's not a firewall or web filter issue because I can access the pages just fine when I use the IP. But DNS lookup simply does not find these adresses. Why is that? I just can't figure this out.

The funniest thing is that my company has the static IP for the central server registered with DynDNS. Why am I having problems accessing the free generic subdomains from the same company?

I know I'm getting spidered by Google and I get hits from technorati every day so I'm just putting this question out there. Have you had accessibility issues with DynDNS?

More Memory!

My 512 MB stick just came in today. It's amazing what a little extra memory can do to your performance. At 256 meg I was swapping half of the time and this was virtually unbearable.

Next on the list is a new graphics card, DVD burner and a bigger hard drive (precisely in that order). The holidays are coming so, er... If you are looking for a good present for me, write this down ;)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Swing is Slow

I'm at a loss at this point... I do the following: I create IconImage using a 3 layered (RGB) BufferedImage, and I put it on a JLabel. Then I put the label on a JInternalFrame for display. I use JScrollPane for scrolling. The image is 640x640.

The image loads ok but scrolling is painfully slow. Moving over 1 tic usually takes 10-20 sec and eats up 50% of the CPU time. It also effectively freezes the Java application. WTF? Is this a case of Swing being slow? This is driving me nuts. Maybe I should I try a different windowing toolkit?

I effectively broke the code today so I won't be able to take care of that till I track down my mysterious nullpointer exception. I essentially re-organized my whole io package. I essentially broke my main file io class into 3+ different implementations, all extending an abstract template with common functionality. The mentioned old class now plays a support role, and has nothing to do with direct io. The code makes more sense now from extensibility point of view, but I broke something in the process and I still haven't figured out what it is.

I also need to get my stego shit together. It's just to much stuff to do all at once. I'm so glad text assignment is not due till next week :)

Monday, November 28, 2005


This is my little pet peeve - the usage of word "hacker". Come on people, get it straight:

hacker: n.

[originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe]

1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. RFC1392, the Internet Users' Glossary, usefully amplifies this as: A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular.

2. One who programs enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming.

3. A person capable of appreciating hack value.

4. A person who is good at programming quickly.

5. An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently does work using it or on it; as in ‘a Unix hacker’. (Definitions 1 through 5 are correlated, and people who fit them congregate.)

6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One might be an astronomy hacker, for example.

7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.
from Jargon File

I really hate when people use the term hacker to describe a computer criminal without disambiguating it. People should be educated about this!

Today we had some security expert giving a presentation in class and he committed the horrible crime of using "hacker" as a buzzword. Any "security expert" who fails to disambiguate this term at some point in his speech, obviously suffers from some pointy haired syndrome. His case might be mild, but this is enough for me to loose respect for his expertise.

This is crucial. If you make a security speech, use terms like black-hat or script kiddie and disambiguate the term hacker. Otherwise few uber-dorks like me will feel disappointed :P

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Mame Madness

Street Fighter Alpha 3 - I'm Playing as Sakura (and getting my ass kicked ;P )
I wasted a whole day today playing capcom games on the MAME arcade emulator. Geez... I was supposed to be doing schoolwork. Why do I do this to myself?

It's just that these games are so mindlessly entertaining. I'm reliving my childhood, and early college years. I still kill at X-Men vs Street fighter. I beat the whole game with Ryu & Ken on Normal with only 1 continue :)

I also fell in love in Street Fighter Alpha 3 which I actually never played on an arcade. It's an awesome game. On the pic you can see me playing as Sakura - a chick Shotokan fighter! I really like her - all the speed and agility of Chun-Li, and all the cool moves. She has couple hadouken moves (small, big-but-low-range, super, etc..) a a vicious variation of shoryuken and a downgraded spinning kick. Fun!

Anyways, tomorrow I'm really getting back to schoolwork. No more games. Remind me of that!

Arcade Games on your PC

After watching that Ryden vs. Ken animation I desperately wanted to play a Street Fighter game today. Unfortunately, after digging through all my PS1 games I realized that I never owned one. Sure, I rented few titles back in a day, but I never actually purchased one.

So I went and downloaded Mame. What is Mame you ask? It's the ultimate arcade emulator. It's a little command line app which will turn your PC into an arcade machine. All you need to do is to unzip the client somewhere, put a game rom in the roms directory and you are ready to go.

You can download roms from Rom World. Just select MAME as your platform and start downloading. For example, let's assume you downloaded X-Men vs Street fighter (which will be xmvsf.zip). Let's assume you have mame in C:\mame\. Unzip the xmvsf into the C:\mame\roms directory so that now you have C:\mame\roms\mxvsf.

Now just run mame with the name of the folder and it should run the game. Here is an example session:

Szaman2 @ GRENDEL : C:$>cd mame

Szaman2 @ GRENDEL : C:\mame
$>dir /b /ad roms

Szaman2 @ GRENDEL : C:\mame
$>mame xmvsf
Loading xvs.20m

Sorry - don't mind my prompt. I just can't stand the usual C:> bullshit :p

Anyways, the emulator runs in full screen mode but hitting ESC will kill it and kick you back to windows. The default key mappings are as such:

5 - insert coin
1 - player 1 start
2 - player 2 start
F2 - diagnostic menu
TAB - emulator options (here you can re-map the keys)
left CTRL - game button 1
left ALT - game button 2
SPACE - game button 3
arrows - up, down, right, etc...

The default button mappings are beyond retarded. Even in a 2 button game using CTRL and ALT is dangerous as you are hovering over the windows key. Every time you hit it, windows will send the emulator to background. This wont crash the game, but it is annoying as hell if you do this every 10 seconds it gets old fast.

Most fighting games from capcom use 6 buttons which makes the default setup unusable. I mapped the buttons to numpad keys but that's far from perfect solution... Good news is that you can manage the key mappings on a per game basis :)

I spent the evening today getting my ass kicked on all the fighting games I downloaded. Fighting games were not meant to be played on keyboard... But it's great to re-live these games once again. If you fondly remember all the classic arcade games, give Mame a try!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat

Screen Shot of this Awesome Animated Flash!
This must be the coolest flash animation I have seen in a while. It is beautifully choreographed and animated! Rayden and Ken really look like they are fighting each other - along with blocking, dodging and etc. Amazing!

Watching this made me want to play a Street Fighter game again. They used to have a X-Men vs. Street Fighter machine down in the Rat at some point. I used to spend all my loose quarters on that thing. I was pretty decent. I could beat the game in one go without any problems and I could fend off random newbie challengers. Of course there were some guys out there who could beat me without even breaking a sweat. I could never master those damn 20 hit combos, and hard core stuff like that.

I'm still not sure why did they pull the games out of school. Sigh... I miss it.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

WinXP Home Box Administration

If you have ever owned, maintained or even looked at a WinXP Home box, you most likely noticed that it is the same OS as XP Pro. All the system guts are in place, but some of the GUI interfaces and executables were held back during installation.

For example XP Home does not have a ACL File Permissions tab when you call up Properties of some file or folder. Hardened veterans of windows tech support of course know that this feature "magically" appears when you log into Safe Mode as Administrator. Funny, eh? Our crippled little system is not as crippled as Mr. Gates would like it to be.

In fact you can control file permissions from the CMD shell without the need for gui with the cacls command. Think of it as a chmod for windows. For example to make a file private you can do:

cacls myfile.ext /g username:F

The g attribute means "grant". The letter after the colon is permission (you can use R-read, W-write, C-change, F-full). Note that this will wipe all the ACL permissions from your file. If you want to give a user Bob read permission to that file later on, you can do:

cacls myfile.ext /e /g Bob:R

The e attribute means "edit" - or in other words, add this permission to an existing ACL set. This can be annoying, especially if you are used to chmod syntax but sooner or later you will get the hang of it. One significant difference between ACL and unix file permissions is that you can't lock yourself out of a file. Ownership always overrides the ACL.

Another feature hopelessly missing from WinXP home is group management. You can't define groups from the GUI. Or can you? Once again due to a fluke or tight coupling the guts of the system are still in place. All you need to do to get to the user management console is to run this command:

control userpasswords2

Write this down! But note that the Advanced management snap in is not going to work here.

If you are a cli kind of guy, you can just use the swiss army knife of windows commands: the infamous net. For example lets create a new user Bob and put him in the group Lamers:

net users /add Bob
net localgroup /add Lamers
net localgroup /add Lamers Bob

Done! Could not be easier. Read up on the net command. All user management can be done through it. Who needs the clunky GUI.

Anyways, these are the life saving cli commands that saved my life in the past. Who needs XP pro if you can force the Home version to do allot of the same things with just a little additional work.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cohen and MPAA

Everyone seems to be talking about the agreement between Bram Cohen and MPAA lately. I have two three words for you: MPAA PR stunt.

This is good for MPAA because they can be seen with the guy who is considered the king of pirates - the creator of BitTorrent. Of course Cohen himself was always against piracy. This is why the trackers are openly publishing IP's of the connected peers. Cohen never saw a need to obfuscate this info because he did not anticipate illegal trading. In fact, on his website he openly discourages illegal trading via BT. But since BT is under GPL, anyone can do whatever they want with the technology.

The fact that BT is the leading technology used in distribution of infringing material has nothing to do with Cohen. BT is simply the best thing out there so far and that's that.

Of course in the eyes of an average consumer this is inessential. Most people who buy into MPAA crap have lost their ability to think logically long time ago. Therefore MPAA can parade around and tout this alliance as a great victory for Copyright - "the great beast Bram Cohen, creator of evil pirate empire has been tamed! The world is safe again! Rejoice!" Whatever...

This is also good for Cohen. By making nice with MPAA he legitimizes himself. You see, MPAA lawyers have this problem... They are clueless as fuck! In their blind goose chase they could one day get a bright idea to sue Bram. He would doubtlessly win - but who wants to sit in court and listen to MPAA drivel?

Cohen is a hacker - he wants to work on his projects and avoid stupid lawsuits. He has no sympathy for the cracker community so he goes on record saying he is best buddies with the MPAA execs now. MPAA takes him of the "people to sue" list and everyone is happy.

Bram keeps removing illegal shit from his search results like he always did, and MPAA has another success story they can tell to all the dumb fucks who still believe in their propaganda.

Nothing has changed. Life goes on. The sky is not falling, so stop the whining and get on with the program.

Dell Inspiron - Wandering Pointer Solution

The retarded Dell Inspiron keyboard
I finally found a semi-working solution to the Inspiron wandering pointer issue. First, let me introduce you to the problem. On the right you see a standard Inspiron model keyboard. Please note the pointer stick protruding in the middle. Wonder why Dell doesn't make this type of keyboards anymore?

It's because they suck! You see, in most cases the little knob rises above the keys enough to actually touch the LCD when the lid is closed. This is not always the case, but most of the laptops I have worked with have this happening. My own laptop has a noticeable mark on the LCD right where the stick is touching it.

I'm not an expert on pointer hardware but I know one thing. The constant interaction between the knob and the screen be good for the pressure sensors that capture the stick movements. In the long run it kills the whole keyboard. If you have ever owned a 3-4 year old Inspiron 4xxx model you will probably recognize the symptoms. When you hit 'H' or 'G' the mouse shoots up to one of the upper corners of the screen and stays there. The slightest movement makes the mouse go "nuts".

Sometimes applying pressure to the left side of the palm rest (right above the battery), or picking the left side of the laptop up 2-3 inches from the table can break the wandering cycle and give you back control of the mouse. It does not always work though. Usually the only long term solution is to replace the keyboard. Once you do that all the symptoms go away.

Some people actually removed the rubber guard from the stick hoping that this will fix the problem. It wont. When you get the "wandering pointer problem", the rubber part is the least of your worries - what is broken is the underlying circuitry.

But, if you don't feel like getting another keyboard there is one thing you can do. Go to Dell's website and download the Synaptic touch pad driver. Most people don't use it but it has one very important feature which windows drivers miss. The Synaptic software lets you to completely disable the pointer stick. Once you do that, you should be all set. Try it! It worked for me :)

Unfortunately this solution does not work on Linux so my Kubuntu laptop still has bouts of mouse madness every once in a while. :P

Sony Mallware... Story Continues

Ya, I'm still grumbling about the Sony bullshit :P I'm sick of it, but no matter what I do I just can't get away from the Sony discussion. So fuck it...

Here is a nice comparison between the Sony's MediaMax and XPC. Very informative.

We all know the xpc DRM is evil. However, ladies and gentlemen you you should also know that in addition to be highly destructive, it is also very easy to break. It turns out that the dreaded XPC rootkit can be defeated using a piece of scotch tape. Yup, the evil, computer breaking rootkit can be stopped if you stick some tape to the edges of your CD. Brilliant!

This is a great example of how low-tech methods can be used to solve complex high level problems.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Here are the projects I'm currently working on:
  • Hyperspectral Imaging application for my Thesis work (Java)
  • Wireless Imaging project form my Imaging class (.NET)
  • Embedding Kareoke style lyrics into mp3's using Stego for security class (Java)
  • Some moderately difficult perl assignment I didn't even look at yet (Perl)
  • Secure file drop box for work (php + MYSQL + SSL)

None of these is anywhere near completion. All must be done by the end of semester. Actually the last one needs to be done by tomorrow but that's just not happening :P I think it's about time to stop goofing off and start to seriously work on this shit...

Sigh... Someone please remind me why did I take 12 credits this semester. And can you please smack me upside the head next time I get a dumb idea like this?

All I need now is some interesting project to code in Python and my brain will explode. I really want to code something in serious Python or Ruby to gain some experience in these languages, but that is physically impossible at this point. Personal projects must wait till the holiday break :P

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thompson's Law License Revoked in Alabama!

The unholy, fascist, hateful, anti-game bastard Jack Thompson, also known as the biggest douche in the universe had his law license revoked in state of Alabama! Hell yeah! Go Alabama!

Judge Moore also noted that he was referring the matter to the Disciplinary Commission of the Alabama Bar for "appropriate action."

Judge Moore employed quite stern language in his ruling. His remarks include, "Mr. Thompson's actions before this Court suggest that he is unable to conduct himself in a manner befitting practice in this state."

Heh! It seems that he is currently under investigation by both the Bar Association of Florida and of Alabama. Way to go douchebag! I hope they disbar you!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Joy! Joy! Happy Time! DRM is Dying!

It seems that lately general public is exposed to more and more examples of how DRM can screw up their computers. Sony mess was just the start. It was the eye opener for many people. But if you try really hard, you can probably find huge security holes in any DRM on the market right now. One was just identified in iTunes DRM.

Cory Doctorow sums it up better than I ever could:

An objective of good security is to protect users from attackers who want to prevent the user from controlling her computer. DRM -- like that in iTunes -- is a system for allowing remote parties (e.g. entertainment companies) to enforce their policy on your computer. Once you design the system to let anyone apart from the owner to control it, you open up the possibility that someone other than the owner will end up controlling it.

As with Sony's rootkit, every DRM has the potential to create this kind of vulnerability. Imagine if Yale manufactured every door-lock so that a "master key" from Yale could open it. So long as no one except Yale knows about the master key, you're safe (assuming you trust Yale). But someone always finds out -- that kind of secret is too valuable to remain a secret. Once a bad guy knows that there's a single technique that can be used to access every door with a Yale lock, it's only a matter of time before the attacker develops a crack.

DRM systems are an attractive nuisance, the cracker's best pal. They are, at root, systems for giving control over your computer to someone other than you. That's an invitation to disaster.

And there you have it. DRM is a flawed concept. Is is possible to make DRM that is both effective, and secure? So far, evidence suggests that it is not. Unless someone designs a perfect, unbreakable and secure DRM system we might need to scrap this techology sometime in the future. Yay! Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Side benefit of the DRM mess: as the public gets exposed to more and more DRM security and usability issues, they also gain valuable experience which will allow them to understand the threat of tcpa.

Rugby fan up for Darwin Award!

I found this on boingboing: A Rugby Fan Castrates Himself! I think this just proves my theory that all sports fans are idiots. I applaud this guy for so efficiently removing himself from the human gene pool. Anyone stupid enough to cut his balls off because of a ball game should not be allowed to breed!

Anyways, I think this is a good candidate for a Darwin Award. Sure, he didn't die but he can't reproduce so I would say he qualifies :)

If you read the whole article (linked up from the boingboing post) check out the last line:

"I can't have kids now but still want a family - maybe I'll adopt."

What? No! You are not allowed! Dude, you cut your balls of with wire cutters? What makes you think you are fit to be a parent? Geez!

Go Amazon! Sony should take notes!

Ok Sony, here is how you take a horrible disaster and turn it into a positive PR. Amazon is allowing their clients to return all xpc CD's, whether they were opened or not.

Now what is the difference between this and Sony's half assed approach? Amazon took responsibility for selling rootkit laden CD's and decided to refund everyone that was affected by them. Sony on the other hand, after all this time still tells people to install the rootkit.

Sigh.. There you go... I'm fucking sick of this story :P

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Chef is a Scientologist???

I was browsing around trying to find what bloggers think about the new South Park episode and I stumbled upon a review of some scientology music cd. How did that thing creep into my search results? Well, one of the artists featured on that CD is Issac Hays. I was shocked! But it's true - Chef is a scientologist :(

Now I know why Chef was not in this episode! I really don't care about his music, but Chef is a classic South Park character! I really hope he doesn't quit the show because of this. It would be a pity to loose him. I hope they gave him a heads up, and that he was cool with it. I would hate to see the rest of the season to be Chef-less...

I'm sick of SONY!

I'm getting sick of reading about the stupid rootkit every day! At first it was interesting to see this thing evolve. Then it was amusing to see people pounding away at SONY, uncovering more and more crap related to that story. Now it's just tiresome. Why isn't SONY doing anything to stop this carnage? They are getting ripped to pieces on every single tech related blog, and message board. Where is the SONY damage control team? What the hell is their PR department doing?

Some institutions already banned use of SONY CD's on their machines! Even Homeland Insecurity dummies managed to figure out that your rootkit is dangerous - and they are warning people not to use your product! What are you people doing?

Why on earth is this shit still up???? That page should have big red warning saying: do not play this CD on your computer!

Are they really so deep in RIAA pockets that they can't even apologize for breaking thousands of computers with their rootkits, and clumsy uninstallers? Come on Sony! Apologize, promise not to do it again and release a working uninstaller! That's the least you can do!

But I guess this shitstorm is a good thing in general. It shows the content providers that DRM is a dangerous business. If you slip up, you are in for a beating. You can be the most beloved, non evil company - if you mess with people's computers, you will get ripped apart by angry geeks.

So come on people - damage control! Damage Control! Let's see some of it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

South Park trashes Scientology!

Best South Park episode ever! But they screwed up the history a bit. It was a bombing incident. You can't skip the exploding megatons worth of hydrogen bombs! Heh!

I think they actually went easy on them. They could have spent more time picking their silly dorctrines appart instead of doing that closet bit. I mean, it was funny, but they could have spent this time ripping on Hubbard and his followers some more.

Still, I think this is officially the best line in the history of TV:

We have an important update. Tom Cruise, John Travolta and R Kelly all just came out of the closet!


They are so getting sued for this. Was that a challenge at the end of the episode? Are they really taunting the church scientology? I love how the end credits are John Smith. :P

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Google Finally Figured out Trackbacks

It seems that Google finally figured out how to implement trackbacks on blogger - only they call it Backlinks. Nice! Blogger slowly grows new features - this is good.

Apparently this is done via Google's Blog Search which has a serious drawback. If your blog is not indexed by Google Blog Search you will not generate trackbacks. But since google seems to scoop stuf from popular ping agregators, any blog that pings something will probably get indexed at some point.

Hm... Now I need to make someone link to me so that I can see how it works :P

The emails I get...

Here is another one from my mailbox:

PINE 4.63 MESSAGE TEXT Folder: INBOX Message 226 of 226 TOP

Date: 10/18/2005 3:53:34 AM
From: HotNews_78@playboy.com
To: [my email removed]
Subject: Mike Tyson & Jenna Jameson's Movie
1 Shown 19 lines Text (charset: windows-1252)
2 34 KB Application

Dear Movie Lover,

Mike Tyson is reportedly set to star in a porn film - with Jenna Jameson.
The former boxing World Heavyweight Champion claims he is desperate for cash, after
hit with a tax bill for several million dollars, and a porn career is a tempting offer.

The disgraced pugilist, who retired from boxing last month, was approached by Jenna's
to star as her partner in the X-rated movie.

This email provides you a sample picture of their romantic action ("Sample

Please enjoy it !


PlayBoy News

[ Part 2, Application/X-ZIP-COMPRESSED 45KB. ]
[START of message]
? Help < MsgIndex P PrevMsg - PrevPage D Delete R Reply
O OTHER CMDS > ViewAttch N NextMsg Spc NextPage U Undelete F Forward

Golly, gee, whiz - I wonder if they really attached a picture in the zip file? Shigh... This wouldn't be so funny if freddie wasn't a Solaris box. I'm actually tempted to open that zip file and run some analysis on it. I wonder what kind of shit these guys are pushing with this...

And yet, some people still fall for these....

Warhammer Dwarfs Updated?

I'm so confused at this point. I just got the new White Dwarf and they have 6 pages about Dwarfs. Most of it seems to be rehash, but they do feature few new Lord models and a Thorgrim remake.

Then, on page 15 they have this "Forged Anew" segment which talks about some new rules. For example, Lords can take shielbearers as upgrades, Longbears are demoted to a Warrior upgrade and count as Core, Miners get some new rules and loose the 0-1 limit. It all sounds really cool, but there is no concrete information about the rules upgrade anywhere in the article. Everything is either fluff, promotional crap.

When I flipped back to table of context, the blurb there said the 6 page spread is a "preview of a new army book". GW website has no information about this. I actually also checked the UK site, because they often have more up-to-date content. Nothing there either! The online store only has the old version of the book. Color me confused...

I actually started digging in the GW forums to find some leads on this. They have such a crappy layout! One can hardly find anything in that mess. But I found this post which seems to suggest that a new Dwarf Book is expected sometime in December.

I wonder why WD didn't mention this somewhere in that article! It almost as if they lost the first page of that article. Usually they have some editorial or intro by the lead designer when they do new armybook previews like this...

Sigh... UK White Dwarf was so much better than the US edition. I wish I could subscribe to that one again. It was actually a gaming magazine - not a promotional rag. Every month, the US WD reads more like one of those mail order catalogues :( Sometimes I want to drop the subscription... But then I would be even more out of touch with the hobby than I already am.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Java Dependency Hell

I'm a debian user, and a recent Kubuntu convert so I'm really not used to dealing with dependency issues. Apt makes my life almost painless in this aspect. I only have to deal with dependencies when I compile from source (which is not all that often). But I never expected I will see a dependency chain on a windows machine...

I was trying to install SourceJammer server on a windows box today. I explained why I like sourcejammer at some point in the past. I figured I could use it to make my work with my current project easier. If I knew the installation will take me 2 hours, I would probably abandon this idea long time ago.

Note that while I'm a java programmer, when it comes to web based stuff I am all about building LAMP apps. Despite all it's power find JSP clunky. I'm a true believer in the KISS principle. LAMP is probably as simple as it gets when it comes to web based solutions. For me Java is a powerhouse language for doing big and complicated things. Thus I haven't had much experience with the wonders of Tomcat and it's plugins.

SourceJammer requires Tomcat and the so called SOAP web service. That in turn has some of it's own dependencies - and will only work with specific version of Tomcat. I know because I ended up downgrading my server to 1.4 to finally get it working. SourceJammer also has some undocumented dependencies that can only be discovered by googling various error messages.

I ended up downloading over 6 different packages of strangely named jar files. All them came in zip files with HTML documentation, installation instructions and own dependencies. For each jar you get, you need to fetch another two it is dependent on. What a mess! Java brings the joy of dependency hell to windows! :P

In the end I managed to get it working - but not before I spent 2 hours downloading, adjusting the path, restarting Tomcat and googling error messages. Was it worth it? I don't know. SourceJammer is pretty cool app. I think it will help me to streamline my work in the end...


The Boondocks TV Series
For the last few weeks [adult swim] was hyping up Boondocks. I watched the first episode last week, and I was not impressed. I figured that I'll wait till I watch another ep till I trash the show completely. Even best shows sometimes have those awkward off-episodes. I watched the second episode last night, and now I'm pretty convinced that this show sucks.

Before you flame me, I'm not saying Boondocks suck in general. I never followed the comic strip so I can't really say much about it. I looked through few strips before writing this, and they were mildly amusing. More amusing than the show in fact. In fact, there were some amusing moments in the show - but the execution and delivery was so poor that they were lost in overall dullness of the show.

Boondocks exemplifies everything that is wrong with American animation. With exception of the two anime-inspired protagonists, the rest of the characters on the show (black and white alike) seem to be copied and pasted in from these stiff, daytime, mainstream kid cartoons. They are more or less standard template characters drawn and animated by professional cartoon drones. They are drawn with great care, but have no facial expression, no emotions and very limited movement.

Compare this to Futurama or Family Guy which use original, wacky character designs, and more cartoony animation. Even though these characters are much less realistic than the Boondocks designs, they seem much more alive.

Same goes for voice acting. For the most part it is wooden. Most of actors seem to be half asleep while reading their lines. There is no energy, or emotion in their voices. The three main characters seem to little less lethargic than the rest of the cast - but I would expect much wider emotion range and energy from the grandfather.

There is one guy in there who was doing the voice for a white rich snob in the first ep and the white lawyer in the second one. Only, it was the same voice. He had the same accents, same intonation and same very distinctive patterns! WTF? He is possibly the most distinctive voice on that show - and at the same time the most lethargic.

Don't even get me started on the music. The soundtrack is almost exclusively instrumental piano! Please note - this is a show about a pair of black getho kids living in the suburbs. Shouldn't there be at least some rap and hip-hop there? I get it - they try to paint a picture of this boring predominantly-white town. I can see how they picked these boring tunes. But there should be at least some contrast there. The ever-present mellow piano music really makes me fall asleep!

The humor of Boondocks also didn't impress me. For a show that tries to be edgy, they really drown in some strange political correctness. I would actually dare to say that Family Guy was 100% bolder in exploring racial themes, and cracking racial jokes. I would actually place Boondocks in the Wane Brady category of "black humor" when it comes to edginess.

To summarize - Boondocks is a stiff, poorly voiced and only mildly amusing show. [adult swim] should drop it soon, and buy some more good anime. Fullmetal Alchemist was a brilliant investment - best show I have seen in years. Samurai Champloo was unwatchable. Scryed is decent - at least it has some plot (unlike Samurai). The mouse thing is just to bizarre to comprehend. The pilot episode was hilarious, despite the weirdness, but I just went downhill from there. Boondocks is another disappointment. Let's hope that the next show they get will be a good one.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Make a Superhero

My Superhero called Character Name. Make your own at Heromachine
Stumbleupon is such a nifty extension. I'm not a really active in the stumble community - but I keep it around for the random stumblage joy. Every once in a while I hit that stumble button and see what pops up. And sometimes I find really cool, amusing or funny stuff.

Today I found a superhero generator. Here is mine :) I still haven't figured out what to name him. He looks kinda cool though. I think this little thing could come very useful in generating nice character pictures you can paste into your character sheet.

I remember spending countless hours looking for a picture I could use for my levitating mind-bending psyker character for some very obscure, out of print GURPS universe. I don't even know what it was called - out GM just distributed a xerox copy of 20 something pages for background reference. I bet that the name of the game was there somewhere but it eludes me right now. Anyways, I ended up using a pic of some obscure Marvel character (whose name also eludes me right now). I soo could have used this app back then :)

Anyways, try it yourself here.

SONY is a Software Pirate!

This must be the funniest thing I have seen this year! It turns out that Sony's infamous XPC DRM (which already got trashed for including a rootkit, and an uninstaller containing ActiveX module that is remotely scriptable) actually includes some LGPL code from a popular open source mp3 encoder called LAME. Guess what - they did not attribute, and they did not provide source code - so they breached LGPL . This makes them guilty of copyright infringement.

So let me re-iterate that: Sony tries to fight copyright infringement by infringing copyright themselves? I heard about fighting fire with fire but I never actually saw it applied in intellectual property rights enforcement.

Congratulations Sony - you have just accomplished to commit the biggest PR blunder in history. Not even Microsoft has ever screwed up so badly. Let's see how you dig yourself out of this :P

Don't buy Shit from SONY!

Heh. Sony decided to stop shipping the rootkit after people figured out how easy it is to exploit. This of course does not mean that their CD's are clean now. Far from it. It seems that they use another scary DRM software from MediaMax! This one also installs covertly, cannot be uninstalled and calls home without user's knowledge or permission.

The gist of the story here is - don't buy music from Sony. It will break your computer! Go download it or something. Sigh...

They also seem to be out to destroy the video game rental market, and the second hand market using a new crippleware technology for PS3 games. Great!

Why do they have to do these things? I always thought Sony was a decent company. They make good electronics, and I always preferred PS over xbox... But I can't stand evil shit like this anymore.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Vundo Sux!

Whoever is responsible for Vundo needs to DIE! This is the most annoying little piece of shit I have ever seen in my life.

Norton is useless against it. When my user caught Vundo, Norton Internet Securiy decided to remind him about this virus every 5 seconds popping big warning dialog, and happily explaining that it cannot fix the problem. Annoying as shit! The virus scan is totally useless too - even in Safe Mode!

Sure, it finds the geedd.dll file but it refuses to repair it. It also refuses to quarantine it and makes a half assed attempt to remove it. By that I mean it claims to have removed it, but once you reboot the fire is still there.

Apparently Vundo, that little sucker, somehow manages to hang onto explorer.exe, winlogon.exe and rundll32.exe - so unless you suspend these processes there is no way to touch the actual payload.

If you really want to get it off your system, you should head to tomcoyote forums. The method they suggested worked for me - they have a nice little script that will suspend the windows processes, delete the offending files and then launch HijackThis for you (remember - explorer must be dead to delete that dll file) so that you can remove all the nasty registry entires. It's a little convoluted but it works. You just need to know the 2 Vundo files that need to be deleted.

Symantec actually has an automated tool that does pretty much the same - but scans for the offending files. Why couldn't this be included in their "Internet Security" suite is beyond me though. I guess this would make to much sense.

I'm always amazed that people are willing to pay me for doing shit like this. All I did was to use google, and then follow instructions on a website.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Sudoku pisses me off!

Why do people like this game? I can never understand this. Maybe it's me but I just don't see how you can get so addicted to it. Sure it's fun the first 3 or 5 times. It's a logic game - you feel really smart after you finish one of these. It is still mildly entertaining when you played it 15-20 times. But if you still find endless joy counting up numbers in rows, squares and columns 2 weeks after you are either a masochist or you have a freakishly long attention span.

I just find this game dull and boring. Every time I pick one of these up I feel this strange urge to SMASH, KILL, OBLITERATE something! It usually goes away immediately after I put the sudoku down...

I don't know... Maybe it has something to do with the trauma of implementing K-Maps using the cubical representation as an undergad :P I still remember debugging Ben's code. He had no comments and ALL the variables had completely random single character names like a, b or x.

Sigh... I just use this to solve them nowdays :P


You know, I always considered screen to be a mostly useless app. I could never get why people love it so much. Sure, it's nice to have multiple "virtual windows" in your terminal but... I usually use KDE's konsole which can open multiple shell tabs in a single window. You can move between tabs with shift+arrow combos. Plus you always see which tab you are in. This was alway more intuitive to me than C-a n / C-a p combos. This kinda prevented me from discovering different aspects of this program.

I finally figured out what screen is good for! I still find it useless as a shell wraparound. Tabs are way better, and the no normal scrolling issue pisses me off. But the scrolling issue goes away if you are running ncurses apps or apps that take over the terminal anyway like emacs or pine. However the true power of screen is the detach command. Picture this:

I log in to freddie from my laptop and do:

screen -S email

Inside screen I launch pine and read my emails. I start composing a mail but something comes up and I need to leave. So I do C-a d to "detach" screen session and send it to background. This session is still running even after I log out from freddie, shut down my laptop and go home.

Next I ssh into freddie from home, and attach the screen session with:

screen -x email

I can jut go back to composing my email where I left it. Pine was running all this time, it downloaded all the new emails and I did not have to re-log in. Of course the pine example is slightly trivial - but think about this:

You type make, then you log out and go on with your life. Next day you log back in, attach the session and see the results of the compilation. This is the ultimate tool for Gentoo users - just type emerge and go on vacation :)

So it's official - screen is my new favorite app!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The emails I get....

I found this in my mailbox (I took out all the names and other private info):

Hi, My name is [name removed] and I met Gigi last week at a Halloween party. I was introduced to Gigi by [name removed] and we talked a while. Gigi gave me her phone number and said I should call her. Needless to say my cell phone didn't save the number and now I can not make contact with Gigi. If you could contact Gigi and give her my info I would greatly appreciate it.

[name removed]
tel. [phone removed]
email: [email removed]

Sure buddy! I'll get her on the phone right away. You want me to pass her any other messages while I'm at it? Because, you know - it's not like I don't have this disclaimer right there on the website:

First, and foremost please note that I am not Gigi Edgley! Yes, I know I'm stating the obvious but you would not believe how many people mistaken me for Gigi. So let's get that out in the open at the beggining. Furthermore, I do not know Gigi in person! I do not have any means of communication with her, and I cannot forward her your message.

And even if I personally knew Gigi, do you think I would be passing her messages from any random guy who googled up my website? Geez...

My brother suggested that I send this guy the rejection-line number. I don't know though... Should I be an asshole to this guy?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Force File Download in PHP

I'm writing a secure file pickup web-app for my company. The basic idea behind this is to allow people to go on the website, log in, provide authentication and download a confidential file through an SSL connection. Authentication, and authorization are easy. I'm planning to use username+pwd scheme combined with a expiring download ticket that can be optionally bound to an IP. In other words, we will allow a client to download some file from given IP address once within some time period, after authenticating with the username and pwd.

Easy peasy - I just need to crank out the database and some kind of user interface to allow people to set up tickets and add users. My main concern was downloading the files. I wanted to serve these files to users from a website without revealing their location in the file system. Furthermore I do not want to keep these files anywhere in the web server directory tree. I want it to be store as far away from the webserver as possible. Ideally on a mounted remote file system.

To accomplish this, I would need to use a script read the file dump the bytestream into the client browser hoping to trigger file download action. PHP is great for this. All you need to do is sent few headers and then just dump out the file... That is if you are using a real browser. If you are using IE, the task is more difficult.

After fiddling with headers for few hours and trying every single possible header combo found on the net, I came up with this script which works both on IE and Firefox (note the server at work is a win box - I didn't make that choice, but that's what I'm stuck with):

// the name of the file as you want it to appear
// in the dialog
$name = "somefile.doc";

// fully qualified path
$filepath = "C:\\test\\somefile.doc";

// I know these headers look crazy - they are
// but this is the only way I could force IE to download the
// file uppon clicking the button

header("Pragma: public"); header("Expires: 0");
header('Cache-Control: no-store, no-cache, must-revalidate');
header('Cache-Control: pre-check=0, post-check=0, max-age=0'
, false);
header('Last-Modified: '.gmdate('D, d M Y H:i:s') . ' GMT');

// get the browser info
$browser = $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'];

if (preg_match('/MSIE 5.5/', $browser) || preg_match('/MSIE 6.0/',
header('Pragma: private');
header('Cache-control: private, must-revalidate');
header("Content-Length: ".filesize($filepath));
header('Content-Type: application/x-download');
header('Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="'.$name.'"');
header("Content-Length: ".(string)(filesize($filepath)));
header('Content-Type: application/x-download');
header("Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=".$name."");

header('Content-Transfer-Encoding: binary');

if ($file = fopen($filepath, 'rb'))
while(!feof($file) and (connection_status()==0))
print(fread($file, 1024*8));
//usleep(100000); // can be used to limit download speed


Phew... These headers are crazy! I hope someone will find this useful :)

SONY 0wnz J00!!!1

Doubtlessly you have already heard about the Sony DRM Rootkit. If you haven't you might have been living under a rock for the past few days. Hell, I had exams and was barely online at all lately - but I knew about it since the day one.

Anyways, I'm actually happy that this happened. Now I can really tell people how DRM is evil. And it actually does reach people - even those who are not generally keeping track of this stuff. The bad PR sony is getting because of this is actually making people think twice before buying their products. It actually stopped un4scene from buying any CD's this week. As long as I know that girl, I have never seen her exhibiting this much self restraint when it came to impulse-purchases! Come on, tell me I'm wrong ;P I must say that this is impressive!

It seems that Kapersky and Sophos are planning to add the rootkit to their antivirus signature databases. I'd say that it's a good idea because of the way it can be exploited. F-Secure apparently already did this - here is a nice writeup from their database. I would expect others to follow suit. Once McAfee and Norton join the gang, Sony will really start feeling the burn. Unless of course they already bribed these two companies to leave them alone (very likely!).

Apparently CDFreaks already included an anti measure that thwarts the Sony rootkit installation, in their AnyDVD product. I haven't tested this, so please, if you decide to buy it, do it at your own risk. I'm not endorsing this - I'm just stating a fact.

Sony is digging it's own grave right now. I really hope this will turn to a biggest PR nightmare ever. If Sony really gets a serious financial loss because of this, then perhaps others will think twice before doing something like this... But then again, sony can probably ride it out, and then blame the huge losses on piracy and develop even more insidious DRM scheme in 2 months :P

Holy Crap! I can't read!

I was walking down the hallway in Richardson today, and I passed that big conference room just by the front door. There was some big printed out banner glued to the wall in orange letters. My eyes slid over it lazily as I passed. And as they did, I felt a chill run down my spine. I could swear it read:

"Montclair State Dianetics"

Before I could process this information I was already past the sign. But hell, if Scientology is brainwashing our students I want to know when and where so that I can warn people about them. Fucking cultists! Yeah, guess what I'm fucking suppressive so if you are a scientologist stay away from me!

Anyways, this made me back up and re-read the poster. This time it was with a relief. The poster actually said:

"Montclair State Dietetics"

Geez.. I need to learn how to read. Maybe it's because lately I have been reading operation clambake stuff. They have some great first hand accounts from people who have been suckered into this crap. Lord, what a mind job! You have to love a religion which basically forbids you to interpret, discuss or even talk about it's scriptures with anyone (ever).

If I ever find out that they are openly recruiting at MSU, I'm writing a freakin letter to the Dean with a nice collection of clambake links...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Fullmetal Southparked

South Parked Fullmetal Alchemist Characters! Courtesy Medaverse Forums
I found this picture while aimlessly browsing around! I think every character will eventually end up South Parked. This reminds me of FarPark. That guy used to post his initial character designs at ultimate. Sigh... I miss that place sometimes.

Anyways, back to fullmetal. WTF happened to Dante? Did she somehow take over the girls body? Did she make a body swap using the girls soul as sacrifice? But wouldn't that mean that another Haemonculi would be popping up somewhere?

What was the point of making Greed puke out the stones? I guess that made him weaker for the fight with Ed... This is probably why he could not regenerate. But what happened there? And what was in the bag? Whatever it was, it was linked to Greed somehow. Very strange...

Something was bothering me for a while though. In one episode, Envy said something about Ed's father. Did she knew him? Who is he? Did you notice how in the intro, the father's face is always hidden by the light glare? What does this mean?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Ascii Art in nmaps configure file

Ascii Art in nmaps configure file
Ascii Art in nmaps configure file,
originally uploaded by maciakl.
I decided to compile nmap from source on freddie. I just wanted to have a working copy on that machine. So I downloaded the source and run the configure script. It was taking forever, so I went to get a soda.

When I came back, I saw this on the screen. I nearly choked! I guess Mozilla people will be suing :P

I need to stard including surprise ascii art in my scripts from now on :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Holywood Raping the Analog Hole

While we were celebrating Halloween, Hollywood executives were busy creating a dreadful monster. They have drafted a incredibly scary piece of legislation, which would make it illegal to produce any kind of electronic equipment or software designed to play, record or encode/decode multimedia without Hollywood's approval. Essentially they want to ban all open multimedia formats, make DRM mandatory, and cripple Tivo like devices which allow you to record live TV. This legislation will make it illegal to work on an open source multimedia project.

After this thing passes, your Tivo will become useless piece of junk allowing you to record public announcements and commercials, and not much else. You can say goodbye to listening music on linux. You can say goodbye to linux based multimedia devices.

This is as scary as it is stupid. If you break people's Tivo, and ensure that their tuner cards refuse to record "protected" content they will go back to downloading. Lets' face it - preventing leaks is impossible. Every single movie produced will be seeded as a torrent, and shared over limewire or whatnot. There is no way around this (other than full blown grade TCPA that would make Orwellian society seem open). All it takes is one clear copy to get out. You can pass some draconian legislation which will cripple electronic and software industry but you will not stop sharing. All you will do is make people more pissed off, and willing to obtain illegal copies.

Hmmm... Let me think. What would I rather have - a high quality digital copy in open format, or heavily DRM'd piece of crap which will expire in a week whether I watch it or not? Especially if I have 99.9% chance of getting away with it!

Come on people, let's bust this just like we busted the broadcast flag!