I’m certainly not going to run out of things to learn about electronics. Anytime I start exploring something new, it leads to a bunch of combined feelings that mix up into a frothing mass. Excitement at gaining better understanding, and the general love of learning. Distress wondering if some things are ever going to make sense, or if I lack the fundamental bits I need to figure them out. (like Hard Math(tm)) Sleepiness, from too many late nights fiddling.

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Yesterday I mentioned I wasn’t able to get debugging going with JTAG and my STM32 dev board. I puzzled it out today, and it was a definite PEBKAC. Alas. In the hopes that it may help someone, I’ll share my results here.

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The Prelude

The STM32 has garnered some attention lately as a possible successor/upgrade for the limited AVR microcontrollers that most Arduinos use. I’m not sure why it has captured the spotlight away from other interesting options, such as the Freescale part used in the Teensy. Perhaps that’s only my perception. There is certainly room enough for multiple nifty alternatives.

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One nice feature you get for free with OSX is an automatic handy ssh keyring thingie that loads in all your private keys and optionally saves their passphrases to the native keychain app. This native keychain application has highly customizable security options that, when configured properly, make it difficult (impossible?) for someone without your account credentials to use your private key without providing the passphase, while still allowing for a “single sign on” experience of happiness.

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One of my goals with the new server was to learn as much as possible. In that light, I decided I would use as many new (to me) bits of server software as I could. I will do a write up soon on the whole setup, but for now I want to talk briefly about Dovecot’s virtual plugin. (Dovecot is the IMAP server I selected for my setup.)

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Jekyll Or Hyde

» 02 June 2013 [blog]

So this blog is now based on Jekyll. The migration was…okay, I guess. I had to roll my own ruby script to do some massaging of the output of the wordpress converter, and I’m still missing a ton of features that I’d like to have back. But we’ll see if I get around to that, or not. Heh.

Loopback success

» 24 November 2011 [geekery]

I had one of those geekpride moments last night when trying to deal with a problem I was having with a Minecraft server running ModLoader. Modding Minecraft is not as easy as it could be, but since it is written in Java, it is not as hard as it could be either. A number of clever folks have built compatibility layers and wrappers to improve mod maintainability and compatibility. ModLoader is one of these wrappers widgets.

Its developer recently (well, somewhat recently anyway) added a feature that would merge zipped jar like class collections from a mods subdirectory into the classpath, preventing the need to edit minecraft_server.jar for each and every mod as you had to do in the past. It loads these in “random” order, which turns out to be alphabetical on some platforms, and in less easily manipulated order on others. Linux falls into the latter category, naturally.

When I looked to fix this, my first thought was to change ModLoader’s behavior so that it always loaded in alphabetical order. This would be trivial to do if I had the source for ModLoader, but less so without it. I don’t have much experience with Java decompilers and just didn’t feel like messing with that.

Instead, I implemented a fun easy hack that anyone running Linux can do. I created a small vfat loopback filesystem for the mods subfolder. This produced the expected alphabetical loading order and took a minute or two to set up. Here’s how you do it:

First, create a zeroed out virtual “disk” file to mount, using dd.

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Android’s security situation is pretty dire. Considering how well Google architected Chrome, I know they understand how to create a secure system. Perhaps Google don’t care about security on Android? If a user needs to worry about downloading malware on Android Market, which has apps that leak or maliciously steal personal data, and others that send spam SMS messages, among other nasty things, something has gone terribly wrong. Asking users to review a complex and obtuse permissions list is not even close to the answer. Time and time again, we’ve seen that this sort of thing can’t be left to the users by default. They will always click yes. Google has not learned this lesson, obviously, and as such, I expect the Android platform will turn into the Windows of old, where nearly every smartphone is jam-packed with Spy/Malware. Hopefully I’m wrong and Google will wake up.

phpBB3 and add user mod

» 15 July 2011

If you use the add user mod with phpBB3 with new user registration disabled you may find it is not sending passwords in the user welcome email. To fix this, you’ll need to edit the language template for the user welcome email to include the password token.

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» 04 April 2010

So far, this thing has not left my side. I can almost touch type with this keyboard. What I hadn’t expected was for it to replace my iPhone in my mind such that I am puzzled by the tiny screen when I use my iPhone. I think this means Iphones need a higher res screen.