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indistinguishable from magic

indistinguishable from magic published on No Comments on indistinguishable from magic

From Wikipedia:

British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke formulated three adages that are known as Clarke’s three laws, of which the third law is the best known and most widely cited:

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, they are almost certainly right. When they state that something is impossible, they are very probably wrong.
The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

I’m done, personally, with the word play around hacker/maker. I used to identify as a hacker. Now we’re makers? Ya know what? I’m a mothafuckin’ wizard, according to Arthur C. Clarke. So there!

I’m building my own “smart” watch. To be perfectly frank, the bluetooth (or “smart”) part may be postponed some. I need to get settled into an android toolchain, and brush up on bluetooth/serial comm usage.

My Modern-Wizard’s ingredients list for a magical clock:

Various incantations and tomes (software/tutorials) exist for magical clocks. Many, you can modify with ease. I am writing my own as items from the list arrive.

Now, I know my target reader base is people like me. Angry geeks. But! We have to remember that we’re still kinda “special”. We’re still the wizards of the 21st Century, and likely will remain so for some time. As a systems administrator in my day job, people accuse me of utilizing witchcraft, voodoo and other things on the computer. I just smile, and continue on my way, silently agreeing with them. All because I know, if you put yourself in their shoes it sure looks like fucking magic.

Lots of other people have made the same argument. It’s easy to do. Here’s a scroll of adjust view:

xrandr --output VIRTUAL1 --off --output DP2 --off --output DP1 --off --output HDMI1 --off --output LVDS1 --mode 1600x900 --pos 1600x0 --rotate normal --output VGA1 --mode 1600x900 --pos 0x0 --rotate normal

To the typical work-only user, this is an arcane spell of unknown origin or result.
To any geek that knows a bit of linux, it’s one way to set up dual-displays.

Here, we have a spell of blinkenlight:

int led = 9;
int brightness = 0;
int fadeAmount = 5;
void setup() {
pinMode(led, OUTPUT);
void loop() {
analogWrite(led, brightness);
brightness = brightness + fadeAmount;
if (brightness <= 0 || brightness >= 255) {
fadeAmount = -fadeAmount;

This is a bit of (not terribly pretty) C code that can be flashed to any $5 ‘arduino’ dev board, and make an LED fade between bright and dim. Trust me, it looks pretty damned arcane to someone who’s never read C. Think wayyyy back to when you were first learning C.

I leave you with this. We (human beings) aren’t terribly smart in the grand scheme of things. We like to think we’re very clever, indeed. The sad truth is, we’re not. So, even as a wizard of tech, I can’t say I feel all that bright.

games you can play with your snake

games you can play with your snake published on No Comments on games you can play with your snake

Been playing with pygame again, also the compilers and looking at the SDK/NDK/compiler/linker/export process for Android.

So far, there is a world, full of blue blocks. Blocks that shamble towards you, silently.
One lone red block stands against them, armed with a magic machinegun, this red block will gleefully mow through their numbers.
Continue reading games you can play with your snake

thank you for calling your local bofh, what did you break this time?

thank you for calling your local bofh, what did you break this time? published on No Comments on thank you for calling your local bofh, what did you break this time?

So, BOFH is shorthand for Bastard Operator From Hell. It’s a series written and published via El Reg.
A true BOFH should be a master at not only scripting languages, systems administration, and troubleshooting, but also bullshitting people into seemingly self-inspired avoidance of the IT guy.
Continue reading thank you for calling your local bofh, what did you break this time?

seriously? (edited)

seriously? (edited) published on No Comments on seriously? (edited)

AT&T router vulnerabilities

Sorry for the short post today, I’m flying home around lunchtime. This article that I stumbled on via YNC blew my mind.

And here I thought TWC had dropped the ball by making their WPA keys out of BSSID and a few characters of garbage.

Turns out, AT&T wants to be the next Deutsch Telecom more than TWC.


Continue reading seriously? (edited)

stem, steam, it’s all just teaching kids math.

stem, steam, it’s all just teaching kids math. published on No Comments on stem, steam, it’s all just teaching kids math.

If you tell a kid, time for “math” they’ll probably groan unless they’re a bit of an “odd duck”. Math, traditionally, has been viewed by schoolchildren as boring, tedious, and often difficult to understand. STEM, now STEAM educational materials now provide the ability to convey the concepts of mathematics in a tangible way. The seemingly ubiquitous raspberry pi is partially responsible for this explosion in education related to technology. One such example of this is Kano OS.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Kano. It’s a great platform for the ~5 year olds that want a computer. Less than $200 in a branded kit, or around the same price to build your own. It’s a Raspberry Pi with a custom linux build that “kidifies” the whole look and feel. It does more than just make everything pretty, though… They’ve included “HACK/Minecraft” an educational version of the game, art tools, an adventure game that teaches the layout of a raspberry pi, and more.

What do you do when the same kid turns 8, two years into having a Kano computer? “I’m boooored. My computer locked up again”… You could schlop a Raspbian desktop imaged SD into the thing, sure. You could put Minibian on it if the kid is really interested in making it theirs, and you have the time to help them with EVERY step. Keep in mind, kids under about 10 in the U.S. usually don’t quite grasp “I could google that.”.

What I did was the hard part for them ahead of time. Minibian is the lighter version of Debian for Raspberry Pi. Almost exactly like a Debian minimal install, it doesn’t even include the firmware for bluetooth by default. But, it does have apt-get and the Raspbian repositories.

Here’s a very brief rundown of my method:

Minibian – boot to console with no network attached
Change root password, create sudoer (me) and user (kid) account
Attach network
apt-get update; apt-get upgrade -y

Install packages as desired:
minetest (it’s in the repos, and runs ok on a rpi3)
browser of your choosing
other games, educational apps, etc

Now, FluxBox is the one package I want to touch on to finish this up. It is a Window-Manager. You see, Linux doesn’t have a GUI by default, like Windows does. Instead, we run X on top of our perfectly-fine-without-it OS. X comes in a couple of flavors, but it’s the part that gives you a Graphical Interface. The Window-Manager makes that interface pretty, by giving you menus and such. Window-Managers vary, but FluxBox is one of the smaller ones. I’ve tried running Raspbian desktop as it comes; it locks up, chokes for CPU, chokes for I/O throughput, and applications hang when given to a child or other poorly behaved user.

Smaller in this context means less memory utilization, less storage for the window-manager software itself, and less headache. The menu system for it is entirely plaintext, the layout and theme styling is as well. So much of this window-manager is plaintext that you can spend a great deal of time fine-tuning everything to suit your tastes. Should it fail to composite things correctly after an application closes, there’s a menu item (scriptable btw) that cleans it all up for you. Even tidies up the handles on windows that are still attached to running processes.

The end result is a raspberry Pi computer with:
a pretty, clean GUI
kid-friendly menu system
parental monitoring
educational software
shortcuts to common web/cloud things.

captain hack testifies in open hearing

captain hack testifies in open hearing published on No Comments on captain hack testifies in open hearing

Former CIA director Brennan testified today before the US federal government regarding Trump/Russia collusion.

The CIA director at the head of the ship when it came to light that US intelligence is literally hacking everything on the planet that they can. If you’re interested in cyberwarfare stuff that the Russians might have, he’s yer guy… sure.
Continue reading captain hack testifies in open hearing