Tag: hardware

  1. A friendly heads-up from work.

    12 December 2014

    Windbringer experienced an unexpected and catastrophic hardware failure last night after months of limping along in weird ways (the classic Dell Death Spiral). My backups are good and I have a restoration plan, but until new hardware arrives my ability to communicate is extremely limited. Please be patient until I get set up again.

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  2. Controlling genes by thought, DNA sequencing in 90 minutes, and cellular memory.

    24 November 2014

    A couple of years ago the field of optogenetics, or genetically engineering responsiveness to visible light to exert control over cells was born. In a nutshell, genes can be inserted into living cells that allow certain functions to be switched on or off (such as the production of a certain hormone or protein) in the presence or absence of a certain color of light. Mostly, this has only been done on an experimental basis to bacteria, to figure out what it might be good for. As it happens to turn out, optogenetics is potentially good for quite a lot of …

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  3. Steps toward an open source microfacture shop and what could be the first recorded nanoparticle injury.

    28 May 2014

    A common criticism of 3D printers is that they're not a panacea. They can't do it all - a limitation shared by every tool, when you think about it - and because of that some vocal people claim they're worthless. You can't really convince anyone who's dead-set against being convinced, so let's move on to more interesting things. A problem being worked on right now is developing a set of technologies and workflow for microfacture - extremely small scale automated manufacture, on the scale of a hackerspace or a home workshop. Most of the components exist right now, from 3D printers to lathes …

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  4. Turtles All the Way Down: So, does anyone actually operate this way?

    28 March 2014

    So, after all everything's said and done, you're probably asking yourself "Why would somebody go through all this trouble to build a computer from the ground up? It's never going to be as fast as one that you can buy, so what's the point?"

    Ultimately, it comes down to what you're trying to accomplish. If you want the fastest possible CPU, tens of gigabytes of RAM, and four monitors so you can go raiding more efficiently chances are you have a threat model that doesn't approach the level of concern, paranoia, or security requirements that we assumed through the other …

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  5. Turtles all the way down: SoCs and Storage

    03 February 2014

    This brings us along to designs that are rather common even though we don't normally think of them as either common or systems. By this, I refer to SoC's - Systems On A Chip. As the name implies, they are full (or nearly so) computers implemented as single mother-huge silicon chips (relatively speaking). On the die you'll find a CPU or microcontroller, supporting electronics for same, an MMU, and enough interfaces to do whatever you want, be it plug in a USB keyboard and mouse, an Ethernet adapter, or a simple USB-to-serial converter circuit. An excellent example of a SoC is …

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  6. Turtles all the way down: Hardware

    13 January 2014

    So, let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

    Let's lay one thing out first: At some point you're going to have to start trusting your toolchain because it simply won't be possible to accomplish some of the necessary tasks yourself. The lowest possible level sseems as good a place as any to start. I mean silicon wafers, the basic component of integrated circuitry. Let's face it, nobody's in a position to turn ordinary sand and handfuls of trace elements into silicon wafers themselves. This is a very complex operation that you can't do in your basement these days. There are lots …

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  7. Turtles all the way down: Introduction

    03 January 2014

    The sum total of the Edward Snowden revelations have pretty conclusively proved one thing: That we can't trust anything. The communications networks wrapped around the globe like a blanket are surveilled so minutely that Russian President Vladimir Putin has openly stated his admiration for the US getting away with it so successfully. Much of the cryptographic infrastructure used to protect our communications and data at rest is known to be vulnerable to one or more practical attacks that, in the end they can't really be called effective if one wants to be honest. The company RSA has all but admitted …

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  8. GPS tracking device smartassery at its finest.

    03 June 2011

    The battle over whether or not law enforcement agencies can legally use a GPS tracking device to monitor your activities is still raging in the US court system. Right now animal rights and environmental activists are being surveilled with these devices; it's only a matter of time before cypherpunks who have come in from the cold, lawyers, and privacy and anonymity advocates come under the watchful eye of Big Brother for exercising their First Amendment Rights. To complicate matters, lower courts scattered around the United States all have different opinions on the practice, so a few are hoping that the …

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  9. "Open?"

    16 April 2011

    The other day I'd gotten sufficiently comfortable with my cellphone (an HTC Hero) to take the next step and root it (which is to say, I used the z4root exploit to get admin privileges). I mentioned it in passing to Lyssa last night and she made an observation that caught me off guard: "If you had to jailbreak your phone," she said, "how can you call Android 'open'?"

    How indeed.

    Let's set up an example. The Android OS is based on the open source Linux kernel as well as a suite of applications and systemware different from those of your …

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  10. Home IT fail.

    04 November 2010

    As you no doubt have observed I've been conspicuously absent for the past couple of weeks, at least since returning from a long-overdue vacation with Lyssa in lovely Portland, Oregon. Much of my time has been spent at work doing the things that bastards like me get paid to do: run and fix backups, install software, patch systems, run audits, and generally keep things chugging along smoothly for the folks who do everything else. Due to the weather in the DC metroplex taking a turn for the rainy and cold (as it's wont to do every Samhain) my commute has …

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