20-May-2018: Facial recognition
Phil recently noticed that Google Picasa has been discontinued since 2016 on all platforms, and he's heavily invested in the facial recognition capability (over 200 people tagged in 20000+ photos over several years), with increasing likelihood that it will stop working at any point. Time to rescue the knowledge and find alternative technology!
7-May-2018: KeePass2 extension fun
Earlier this year the Have I Been Pwned? service released their new API, with a cool 'k-anonymity' partial hash checker function to permit searches of potentially compromised password hashes without providing a materially significant proportion of your password. Phil's favourite password manager, KeePass2, supports this new API, but doesn't work on Debian (or possibly other derivatives) as the mono-runtime does not have TLS1.2 capable networking - shame on you Debian, it's been available in Mono since 4.8.0 in Feb '17. So what's a hacker to do? Write their own plugin of course: https://github.com/phlash/keepass_hibp
26-Mar-2018: TLS all the things!
So Chrome will soon be flagging /any/ web content served over plain HTTP as not secure. I suspect other browsers will follow soon enough, so it's time to ensure everything served from here is over TLS... cue montage of rapid terminal activity... aand it's done. thanks Let' Encrypt and NGiNX for handling SNI so easily! If you have content hosted with us, and anything seems to have gone a bit weird, please let us know.
29-Dec-2017: gpredict for Windows
Phil has been keeping himself busy over the Christmas holiday period by helping with the Windows port of gpredict, a popular satellite tracking program. It's not done yet, but a workable binary is available here: http://files.oz9aec.net/gpredict/temp/gpredict-win32-2.1.156.zip. No installer required, simply unzip and execute.
27-Dec-2017: 34C3 is here!
Phil really wanted to be there in person this year, but tickets are surprisingly hard to come by, even when there are 15,000 of them! Anyway, the brilliant author (and friend of a friend Charles Stross gave a terrifying warning of future AI... https://media.ccc.de/v/34c3-9270-dude_you_broke_the_future
7-Nov-2017: Debian 9 everywhere
After a few years of Ubuntu on home desktops/laptop, Phil got weary of the growing instability, and decided to look at Debian again. Turns out it's got pretty much everything we need in the stable repository (stretch ATM), including a working Gnome3 desktop setup (no more weird multi-screen issues as below), so after upgrading his laptop, then the family desktops, we are now a Debian 9 home
20-Aug-2017: New home for ashbysoft.com
Today ashbysoft.com services (web hosting, email, source repository) were migrated to a new server in Microsoft Azure, and we finally say goodbye to the lovely people at Atomwide who have looked after us for the last 12 years - it was awesome guys!
23-Jul-2017: Blackhole / Sinkhole / Exfil hunting..
20-Apr-2017: Time to take something apart :)
22-Dec-2016: Lets Encrypt /and/ restart services
So, Let's Encrypt has been working smoothly, renewing TLS certificates for us however, Phil noticed today that the certificate presented by this website was about to expire! It turns out that nginx hasn't been restarted since October (thanks Debian stable :)), so we've added a post-hook to /etc/letsencrypt/cli.ini that does exactly that if new certs appear. Job done.
5-Dec-2016: Dishwasher disassembly
23-Oct-2016: How Did I Miss This!?
Back in August it seems, some intrepid (cf: crazy) people started playing with GPUs in the cloud for game streaming. Yep - DIY OnLive (other game streaming services have also failed). Not for the feint of heart though, there are a lot of ugly config steps, but the most important bit: It Works :)
07-Aug-2016: Real Certificates
Now that Let's Encrypt is enabled by default in the majority of mainstream browsers, this site can switch to HTTPS by default - today Phil threw the switch to make that happen Let us know mailto:email@example.com if you are seeing certificate warnings!
02-Jun-2016: Laptop Battery Hacking
Yep, that's actually a post title. it turns out that Phil's laptop is fussy about the brand of battery you use, or to put another way: Lenovo like to lock users into their expensive batteries, yeah sure they do..
Joseph brought his laptop home last weekend, with a nasty problem: hard shut downs shortly after powering on. It seemed thermal, mostly as the shut down would happen sooner with a warm system and he'd already tried the usual fault finding stuff, removing RAM sticks, resetting CMOS etc, so we re-pasted and re-seated the heatsinks: it got worse 8-/ In desperation we decided to 'reflow' the motherboard in the oven, 8mins @ 200C seemed to be the recommended procedure.. as long as you have a good thermometer (not the oven thermostat). A bit of rework extending the probe on a digital jam thermometer gave us an internal temperature reading, and the cooking went ahead. Result? It worked! Following re-assembly and a number of short reboot cycles while the CMOS sorted itself out it's stayed working for a couple of days. [update 2016-03-14]: it lasted just over a week, then the same bug resurfaced Joseph is now on the backup laptop. [closure 2016-05-08]: The supplier fitted a new motherboard after their own investigation, so far so good..
25-Dec-2015: Chroot goodness
Phil got down to some Linux voodoo over the Christmas holiday, in order to run a slightly too old application suite (Rivendell Audio 1.7.2) on a supported distribution (Ubuntu 14.04 LTS), and without the aid of a package manager safety net (whoo!), it turns out Chroot is a winner.
21-Nov-2015: FUNcube-1 Birthday
Well blow me down if the ol' cubesat is still working on it's 2nd Birthday. Cake was required.
07-May-2015: Obihai toy hacking
While looking for a usable cheap FXO port to connect the PSTN to his home server, Phil came across the OBIHAI product line, and bought a couple of toys to play with: an OBIHAI110 voice service bridge, which will do pretty much what's required without the server attached, and an ObiLINE USB FXO adapter, which is being reverse engineered for fun
15-Dec-2014: More Ham goodness
31-Aug-2014: Trusty Tahir arrives
Yeah I know - all the kool kids were installing Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahir) back in March.. I (Phil) like to leave it a few months for the early pain to settle down and the Internet to fill up with useful advice Speaking of which: moving the window buttons around has changed (again!) - If you're using GNOME Flashback (previously Classic), you'll need to fire up dconf-editor (not gconf-editor any more), search for 'button-layout', which is probably in org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences, then edit to suit (as before). Inspired by Felipe Lavín (https://coderwall.com/p/76mwva). [edited - 5/Oct/2014]: Seriously annoyed with how cr*p Gnome desktop is on my dual monitor setup - pretty much every time I boot and log in DBus is broken in some way and I get mirrored screens. Switching out to a terminal (Ctrl-Alt-F1), then restarting lightdm service usually fixes the DBus fail (probably some stupid race condition introduced in an effort to get a login screen faster than Windows..), but by then it's mangled my .config/monitors.xml file so I have to manually reset... [edited - 9/Dec/2014]: Looks like this annoying bug has been fixed.. mirrored screens in the greeter, but dual after login: aaand relax. [edited - 4/May/2015]: the bug is back updated kernel seems to have screwed up the Gnome Settings Daemon which is required to configure the monitors (apparently). /Sigh/ [edited - 24/Aug/2015]: Still boots with mirrored screens, but logging in fixes that promptly.. logging out again leaves the screens separate: slightly better I suppose.
17-Jul-2014: EBS numbers - such fun!
Erdos Bacon Sabbath Numbers are a fun (and slightly nerdy) measure of how close someone is to all three of Paul Erdos, Kevin Bacon and Black Sabbath. Terry Pratchett is listed with an EBS number of 9, but I think he's now one step closer to Sabbath via a recent collaboration with Steeleye Span on the "Wintersmith" album: http://www.folkradio.co.uk/2013/11/steeleye-span-wintersmith/ mentions that the producer of Wintersmith is Chris Tsangarides http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Tsangarides, who also worked with Black Sabbath. TerryP->ChrisT->Sabbath? Phil [edited: 2014-12-15] Well the EBS team don't do producers but I get a credit for improving the musical linkage http://erdosbaconsabbath.com/terry-pratchett/
04-Jun-2014: D-I-Y telecine machine
Stu has been converting a Super8 film projector into a telecine machine to convert his father-in-laws movies to digital format. Inspired by similar projects he has hacked at a 1970s projector and some free animation software to produce some watchable results. Still some way to go before they could be considered a replacement for professional telecine services, but not bad for a few quid in parts!
18-Apr-2014: Hacking Old Keyboards With a 'Scope
Yup - Easter holidays allow one time to play with one's own toys, so just for the fun (and practice) I reverse engineered the protocol on an old infra-red keyboard (it came with a Netgem set top box many years ago).
31-Mar-2014: Phil's A Ham!
It was bound to happen after all that time associating with FUNcube people, Phil and a colleague have just taken and passed the RSGB Foundation Course in amateur radio, so Phil's got a callsign. You may now refer to him as: M6IPX (yes, my favourite protocol).
11-Feb-2014: Grabbing the Stack for Fun & Profit
Ok, I'm sorry about the subject line, just how Phil's brain works I'm afraid. I've been amusing myself recently by writing a memory allocation tracer in VC++ to track down some pesky memory leaks in a large app.
13-Nov-2013: New Job
19-Mar-2013: New Webcomics!
I think I have a new addiction: http://www.dumbingofage.com. Spent 4 hours recently catching up with this from panel #1 back in 2010 to date.. need more sleep!
12-Mar-2013: Toy Update
I loaned my droid phone to Joe (who broke it!), so I have another one PhilsDroid..
14-Aug-2012: Phils Got a New Toy
Phil's just acquired (for nothing!) an Android Phone. So he's breaking it of course!
8-Apr-2012: Stark Raving Genius
I guess a few folks read XKCD? Well I only just found out about the April 1st comic, "Umwelt". Like a lot of readers, I thought, it's a bit odd, then went on my way. However - did you know that almost everyone sees a different comic? It varies according to a whole range of variables, browser size & type, time of day, IP address, location, language settings... it turns the whole Umwelt idea into reality, at least as far as browsing the web goes, and readers are still finding new versions a week later! how much work went into this comic? - stark raving genius Randell
13-Mar-2012: Picasa hacking :)
Driven by the need to use Picasa's face recognition ability, but not wanting to reboot the PC into Windows (again), I decided to hack at Picasa3 until it worked on Linux..
27-Feb-2012: Bah. Malware :(
I popped my USB drive into the printer earlier and grabbed a scanned image, then put it into the home PC while it was running Windows.. got a pop up saying that malware had been detected on my USB drive. Bah. Now scanning the home PC from Linux. Either my own PC is infected, or possibly worse, the last machine I put my USB drive in - at the radio station (which might explain a few things!). Another scanning job for me. Oh joy.
27-Dec-2011: Upgraded :)
Much to my surprise the upgrade to this server operating system (as prompted by the failure back in August) went swimmingly Welcome to Debian stable (squeeze), and hopefully no surprises for hosted sites.. if anything isn't working as before, do please hassle Phlash..
29-Aug-2011: Weekend trouble
Apologies to everyone for the absence of ashbysoft.com for the last couple of days - and thanks to Scott at Atomwide for getting us back running again. We are considering the failure as a hint that it's time to upgrade the server again.. some planning required!
29-Apr-2011: ISP switchover, mostly
Yesterday our hosting company (http://atomwide.com) changed their ISP, so everything in their data centre had to change IP address, including us. It all went well, apart from me forgetting to save the new DNS zone file for ashbysoft.com at my DNS provider (http://gandi.net) until about 8pm -doh! Thanks for the smooth service Scott
17-Apr-2011: Digital recording at last!
Whilst playing with Ubuntu on the PC in TheShed studio I finally discovered a way to get digital audio input to work reliably using our impressively cheap CMI-8738 based Trust sound card (£15). This has been bugging me for years.
12-Feb-2011: ZTE-G X930 Insides
08-Apr-11 Update: I finally soldered a new connector back on - there aren't many distributors of micro-USB surface mount sockets in the uk - just Farnell it seems.
30-Jan-2011: Rivendell Hackery
Yeah I know, you all thought the site was dead and stuff... anyhow, as part of my role looking after the tech at Felixstowe Radio, I maintain the installation of Rivendell, one of our play-out software packages, which needed some attention on Windows.. gory details here.