Tag: computers

  1. The Dresden curse seems to be making its rounds this week.

    12 March 2008

    I had a really interesting post about last weekend about halfway done and ready to post when the worst of all possible things happened: My workstation at work flamed out in a serious way. It's still in pieces all over the office and not operating because the RAID array - the disk mirror set up to prevent data loss in the event of a failure - blew up along with everything else. Systemware all over the place is corrupt, and I can't do much else other than log in as the root user and try to track down everything that's been damaged …

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  2. Post-reboot memory dumping software released.

    07 March 2008

    Last week, a group of information security researchers released a whitepaper detailing a practical data extraction attack on DRAM after the power's been cut. Unfortunately, Applebaum et al didn't release the source code for the utilities they used in the lab. One Wesley McGrew read the paper and decided to apply the scientific method by reproducing their experiments. This required developing utilities to extract data from powered-down DRAM from scratch which he's done and released the source code for. The source is mostly in C with some in-line assembly. It's dense and you really have to understand what's going on …

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  3. Cutting the power doesn't necessarily mean that memory is cleared.

    25 February 2008

    It has long been a piece of grassroots wisdom that when the power to your computer goes dead, you're up a certain creek without a means of propulsion: Whatever you were doing at the time had gone to the great bit bucket in the sky, and unless you'd just saved your work you could kiss your next couple of hours goodbye while reconstructing everything. However, from a technical standpoint this isn't actually true. Modern-day DRAM can actually hold usable data for a finite but non-zero period of time after the main power's been cut off. This has actually been known …

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  4. Portable power for search and seizure.

    22 February 2008

    A major problem faced by data forensics professionals and law enforcement was how to confiscate computer systems without running the risk of damaging or losing access to information. It's all well and good if you seize a machine running full-disk encryption while it's online because, by definition, the disk is being transparently decrypted so that the machine can operate. Once you power it down, however, all bets are off because the machine won't boot back up without someone supplying a passphrase to the disk encryption system, and no one with anything shady in mind is going to give up their …

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  5. Sacrificing spam when you can't sacrifice spammers.

    28 January 2008

    Due to the fact that Rending the Veil hasn't finished restoring older articles from backup since the last server migration, I'm reposting my last article they published on harvesting the energy spent by spammers in trying to get us to buy their crap.

    Spam. Junk e-mail. Things you can't say in mixed company.

    No matter what you may call it, we're talking about the same thing: E-mail that you didn't ask for and don't want filling up your inbox, sometimes making it impossible to find real e-mail. It's a nuisance that netizens have been fighting for years. In terms of …

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  6. A blast from the past: Heathkit is back!

    27 December 2007

    Children of the 80's will no doubt remember the company Heathkit, which was famous for selling all sorts of kits for the hobbyist, most notably a personal robot called HERO-1. They're still not down and out after all these years - in fact, they're going to be selling another personal robot kit called HE-RObot which will be based on industry-standard Wintel hardware. An advance release of the specs shows that HE-RObot's processor cores will be Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs on a mini-ITX mainboard, 80GB hard drive, USB-based machine management system (whatever that is), CD-ROM drive, multiple infrared sensors, a webcam …

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  7. Now that I've managed to free up some time, why have things been so quiet lately?

    14 December 2007

    That's actually a pretty easy question to answer. First off, my job's kept me very busy the past couple of weeks - I've been spending between two and three weeks on the road for a while now, and when I'm not flying hither and yon work at the office has kept me running hard to stay in place. All things being equal, I've been more concerned with work and getting ready for the Yule holiday than I have about reading the newsfeeds and posting. That's not to say that I haven't been having wacky adventure, those seem to find me without …

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  8. Looks like Windbringer's on the ropes.

    29 November 2007

    I think the USB v2.0 chipset in Windbringer is failing - all USB v1.0 and v1.1 devices I've used work fine, but now the bottommost jack is acting flaky. All storage devices plugged into the bottom are unreliable, and vanish (from the OS' point of view) randomly, leaving stale file handles and hung processes all over the place. I've seen this pattern of behavior before: Once USB fails completely, everything else tends to collapse like a house of cards during flu season.

    Stopgap measure: Purchase a USB v2.0 PCMCIA card. Going to do that tonight.

    Solution #1 …

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  9. Sorry 'bout the downtime, folks.

    07 November 2007

    A good bit of yesterday was spent monitoring Leandra as she upgraded her systemware and applications, which amounted to watching the output of various compilation batches (thank you, Portage) and making sure that nothing went horribly wrong. However, something did, in the form of a major change between revisions of the Apache web server, which had the net effect of making all of the config files obsolete and unusable. I discovered it last night while watching Leandra boot back up, but was too tired after work to do anything about it.

    It appears that service is restored to all of …

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  10. Reformatting as banishing of ritual space.

    31 October 2007

    Due to the fact that Rending the Veil magazine has not finished restoring the backlog of old articles following a server migration, here is my first article published by them, on reformatting a computer as banishing and consecration of ritual space.

    In many paradigms of Western magick, rituals are often performed to dedicate some area for use as a temple. Theoretically, by dedicating a space and everything within it to the will of the magickian(s), workings will be untainted by stray ideas, thereby leading to a more precise result. Interpreting sacred space as a reflection of the practitioners’ consciousness …

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