Upgraded to PHP5

I’ve taken the plunge and upgraded Apache to use PHP5 (with mod-fcgid) and so far the only casualty has been Rich Boakes’s Most Wanted plugin (so if anyone has any PHP5 foo to spare, could they point it in Rich’s direction please ?)

The only other issue was with wp-cache 2.0 which needed this little tweak by Kelson to fix the “odd blank screen bug” properly.

Now if only I could figure out how to get stattraq to play nicely with wp-cache all would be good..

RIP Scott Crossfield – First Man to Fly at Mach 2

The BBC is reporting that Scott Crossfield (84) has been killed flying a single engined aircraft in the US. He was the first person to fly at twice the speed of sound in the Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket, the only time that particular aircraft did so (they’d had to specially tweak it):

In addition to adding the nozzle extensions, the NACA flight team at the HSFRS chilled the fuel (alcohol) so more could be poured into the tank and waxed the fuselage to reduce drag. With these preparations and employing a flight plan devised by project engineer Herman O. Ankenbruck to fly to an altitude of approximately 72,000 feet and push over into a slight dive, Crossfield made aviation history on November 20, 1953, when he flew to Mach 2.005 (1,291 miles per hour). He became the first pilot to reach Mach 2 in this, the only flight in which the Skyrocket flew that fast.

You Will Watch Adverts, You Must Watch Adverts

Time to be grateful I only stomach watching the ABC (no ads) or SBS (only adverts between programs, not during)..

New Scientist announce something that really should have been an April Fool – Philips have a patent on a TV advert enforcer to prevent you changing channels during an advert break on TV.

Philips suggests adding flags to commercial breaks to stop a viewer from changing channels until the adverts are over. The flags could also be recognised by digital video recorders, which would then disable the fast forward control while the ads are playing.

The full patent for an “Apparatus and method for preventing switching from a channel during an advertisement display” is online – via Groklaw.

Intel/Skype “Deal” Locks Out AMD CPUs For 10-Way Calling

According to this Business Week article Intel and Skype have a deal to only activate 10-way calling on machines with Intel dual-core CPUs, everyone else is limited to 5. This has prompted AMD to subpoena Skype over this as part of their anti-trust action.

There are claims that this has been cracked, but the site that they link to has gone (the nameserver records don’t appear in the DNS for some reason).

Update: Details (including assembler decodes) have appeared here – thanks to Hakan Aydin for this pointer!




Year: 2005

Category: Foreign

Media: Film

Rating: 5 out of 5

We’ve just come back from our local cinema after watching Tsotsi, a film revolving around the life of a young small-time gangster (the eponymous protagonist of the film, the nickname means “thug”). The main story is about what occurs when he steals a car and finds a baby in the back seat and how that effects him and his life in the townships.

The tag line is “In this world… redemption just comes once”, but don’t go to this film thinking your going to see some heart-warming, gently humorous film – this is raw, hard hitting and very confronting.

It’s also damn good, and will keep you on edge right to the very end wondering what’s going to happen. It’s also very moving, and as the IO Film review very aptly puts it:

If you leave unaffected, or not even the slightest bit teary, then you have no heart.

A very worthy winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Using Shorewall to Limit SSH Attacks

Firewalling with Shorewall SSH brute-force attacks

Category: Personal article (non-blog)

Year created: 2005

Overall rating: 5 out of 5

Content rating: 5 out of 5

There’s an excellent post over at Debian Grimoire which gives a simple recipe to defend against SSH brute force attacks using Shorewall, including a whitelist port-knock in case you manage to lock yourself out. Very useful!

Tags: shorewall ssh

Leon Brooks is back!

Well well, less than 2 months ago I wrote:

Leon, I hope you make a speedy and thorough recovery. Get well soon.

Well, check this out, here’s Leon’s first blog post since the accident! Leon – you are amazing!

My brain is now essentially OK — modulo some bits of Short Term Memory killled by the total loser’s antics — and the body is steadily rebuilding, so I do have a viable future as this develops.

The most disturbing part of it is that the subtext of his post implies that the “accident” was anything but – he writes:

I truly have ZERO appreciation for a selfish waste of space and oxygen who hurts people for the hell of it, including that it had already hurt several others before applying it’s stupid malice to me.

Sometimes I despair for humanity, but then people like Leon come along and give me some hope. Leon – it is so good to see you back in the virtual world again – keep fighting!

Elliptic Curve Cryptography

An interesting article from LWN about Elliptic Curve Cryptography and Open Source.

ECC is based on some very deep math involving elliptic curves in a finite field. It relies on the difficulty of solving the Elliptic Curve Discrete Logarithm Problem (ECDLP) in much the same way that RSA depends on the difficulty of factoring the product of two large primes. The best known method for solving ECDLP is fully exponential, whereas the number field sieve (for factoring) is sub-exponential. This allows ECC to use drastically smaller keys to provide the equivalent security; a 160-bit ECC key is equivalent to a 1024-bit RSA key.

As always though, there are the problems of patents..

The wild card in the ECC patent arena seems to be Certicom which claims a large number of ECC patents and has not made a clear statement of its intentions with regard to open source implementations. The NSA licensed Certicom’s patents for $25 million to allow them and their suppliers to use ECC, lending some credence to at least some of the Certicom patents. Other companies also have patents on various pieces of ECC technology.

Be interesting to see what happens..