Recent blog entries

23 Apr 2017 broonie   » (Journeyer)

Bronica Motor Drive SQ-i

I recently got a Bronica SQ-Ai medium format film camera which came with the Motor Drive SQ-i. Since I couldn’t find any documentation at all about it on the internet and had to figure it out for myself I figured I’d put what I figured out here. Hopefully this will help the next person trying to figure one out, or at least by virtue of being wrong on the internet I’ll be able to get someone who knows what they’re doing to tell me how the thing really works.

Bottom plate

The motor drive attaches to the camera using the tripod socket, a replacement tripod socket is provided on the base of plate. There’s also a metal plate with the bottom of the hand grip attached to it held on to the base plate with a thumb screw. When this is released it gives access to the screw holding in the battery compartment which (very conveniently) takes 6 AA batteries. This also provides power to the camera body when attached.

Bottom plate with battery compartment visible

On the back of the base of the camera there’s a button with a red LED next to it which illuminates slightly when the button is pressed (it’s visible in low light only). I’m not 100% sure what this is for, I’d have guessed a battery check if the light were easier to see.

Top of drive

On the top of the camera there is a hot shoe (with a plastic blanking plate, a nice touch), a mode selector and two buttons. The larger button on the front replicates the shutter release button on the body (which continues to function as well) while the smaller button to the rear of the camera controls the motor – depending on the current state of the camera it cocks the shutter, winds the film and resets the mirror when it is locked up. The mode dial offers three modes: off, S and C. S and C appear to correspond to the S and C modes of the main camera, single and continuous mirror lockup shots.

Overall with this grip fitted and a prism attached the camera operates very similarly to a 35mm SLR in terms of film winding and so on. It is of course heavier (the whole setup weighs in at 2.5kg) but balanced very well and the grip is very comfortable to use.

Syndicated 2017-04-23 13:17:45 from Technicalities

23 Apr 2017 joolean   » (Journeyer)

gzochi

gzochi 0.11 is out. Enjoy it in good health.

The major innovation over the previous release is that the client side of the distributed storage engine now releases the locks it requests from the meta server. This wasn't easy to orchestrate, so I want to say a little bit about how it works.

Some context: The distributed storage engine is based on a paper by Tim Blackman and Jim Waldo, and it works a bit like a cache: The client requests an intentional lock (read or write) on a particular key from the server, and if the server grants the client's request, it serves up the value for the key along with a temporary lease - essentially a timeout. For the duration of the lease, the client is guaranteed that its lock intentions will be honored. If it's holding a read lock, no other clients can have a write lock; if it's got a write lock, no other clients can obtain a read or write lock. Within the client, the key is added to a transactional B+tree (a special instance of the in-memory storage engine) and game application threads can execute transactions that access or modify the data in the B+tree just as they would in a single-node configuration. When a transaction completes, new and modified values are transmitted back up to the meta server, but they also remain in the local B+tree for access by subsequent transactions. When the lease for a key expires - and the last active transaction using the affected key either commits or rolls back - its lock is released, and the client must petition the meta server to re-obtain the lock before it can do anything else with that key.

The tricky parts happen at the edges of this lifecycle; that is, when a lock is obtained and when it is released. In both cases, the client's view of available data from the perspective of active transactions must change. When the client obtains a lock, it gains access to a new key-value pair, and when it releases a lock, it loses that access. These changes occur asynchronously with respect to transaction execution: The arrival of a message from the meta server notifies the client that a lock has been granted (or denied) and lock release is governed by a local timeout. It's tempting to try implement these processes as additional transactions against the B+tree, such that when a new key is added or an expired key is removed, the modification to the B+tree occurs in a transaction executed alongside whatever other transactions are being processed at the time. Unfortunately, this can lead to contention and even deadlock, since adding or removing keys can force modifications to the structure of the B+tree itself, in the form of node splitting or merging. What to do, then, given that it's not acceptable that these "system" transactions fail, since they're responsible for maintaining the integrity of the local cache? You could adjust the deadlock resolution algorithm to always rule in favor of system transactions when it comes to choosing a transaction to mark for rollback, but since lock acquisition and release are relatively frequent, this just transfers the pain to "userland" transactions, which would in turn see an undue amount of contention and rollback.

The answer, I think, involves going "around" the transactional store. For newly arriving keys, this is straightforward: When a new key-value pair is transmitted from the meta server as part of a lock acquisition response, don't add it to the B+tree store transactionally; instead, add it to a non-transactional data structure like a hash table that'll serve as a cache. Transactions can consult the cache if they find that the key doesn't exist in the B+tree. The first transaction to modify the value can write it to the B+tree, and subsequent transactions will see this modified value since they check the B+tree before the cache.

Orchestrating the removal of expired keys is more challenging. Because the B+tree takes precedence over the cache of incoming values, it's crtical that the B+tree reflect key expiration accurately, or else new modifications from elsewhere in the cluster may be ignored, as in the following pathological case:
  1. Transaction on node 1 obtains write lock on key A, value is stored in cache
  2. Transaction on node 1 modifies key A, writing new value to the B+tree
  3. Transaction on node 1 releases lock on key A
  4. Transaction on node 2 obtains write lock on key A, modifies it, and commits
  5. Transaction on node 2 releases lock on key A
  6. Transaction on node 1 obtains read lock on key A, new value stored in cache
  7. Transaction on node 1 attempts to read key A, but sees old value from B+tree

After some consideration, I borrowed a page from BigTable, and attacked the problem using the concept behind tombstone records. Every record - even deleted records - written to either the B+tree or the incoming value cache are prefixed with a timestamp. To find the effective value for a key, both the B+tree and the cache must be consulted; the version with the most recent timestamp "wins." In most BigTable implementations (e.g., HBase and Cassandra) there's a scheduled, asynchronous "compaction" process that sweeps stale keys. I didn't want to run more threads, so I prevent stale keys from piling up by keeping a running list of released keys. Once that list's length exceeds a configurable threshold, the next transaction commit or rollback triggers a stop-the-world event in which no new transactions can be initiated, and a single thread sweeps any released keys that haven't since been refreshed. With a judiciously configured threshold, the resulting store performs well, since the sweep is quite fast when only a single transaction is active.

This was a real head-scratcher, and I feel proud of having figured it out despite having skipped all databases courses during my undergraduate coursework. Download my project and try it out for yourself!

22 Apr 2017 johnw   » (Master)

Putting lenses to work

Putting lenses to work

I gave a talk a couple of weeks ago at BayHac 2017 on “Putting lenses to work”, to show in a practical context how we use lenses at my workplace. I specifically avoided any theory about lenses, or the complex types, or the many operators, to show that at its core, lens is a truly invaluable library:

The videos are now available on YouTube, and the slides for this talk are on GitHub.

The code in the slides are taken directly (using Emacs) from a test file in that same repository, Lenses.hs, to serve as a way of preserving helpful examples, and to make it easy to cargo cult specific patterns into your code.

Syndicated 2017-04-22 00:00:00 from Lost in Technopolis

22 Apr 2017 MikeGTN   » (Journeyer)

Will Ashon - Strange Labyrinth

Most male mid-life crises follow similar and depressingly predictable patterns - they involve embarrassing encounters with much younger women, much faster cars and far more taxing physical pursuits than are ever strictly advisable. Then, somehow, they quietly slip into being either part of the subject's new, more insufferably identity - or perhaps simply disappearing, not to be mentioned by those who witness the manifold indignities. My own mid-life crises have been a little different - and in terms of lasting impact, somewhat more prosaic. If you discount my dash across the ocean to marry someone a continent away - who...

Syndicated 2017-04-21 18:04:00 from Lost::MikeGTN

19 Apr 2017 glyph   » (Master)

So You Want To Web A Twisted

As a rehearsal for our upcoming tutorial at PyCon, Creating And Consuming Modern Web Services with Twisted, Moshe Zadka, we are doing a LIVE STREAM WEBINAR. You know, like the kids do, with the video games and such.

As the webinar gods demand, there is an event site for it, and there will be a live stream.

This is a practice run, so expect “alpha” quality content. There will be an IRC channel for audience participation, and the price of admission is good feedback.

See you there!

Syndicated 2017-04-19 03:29:00 from Deciphering Glyph

18 Apr 2017 johnw   » (Master)

Submitting Haskell functions to Z3

Submitting Haskell functions to Z3

Conal Elliott has been working for several years now on using categories, specifically cartesian closed category, as a way to abstract Haskell functions at compile-time, so you can render the resulting “categorical term” into other categories.

Here’s an example Haskell function:

\x -> f x (g x)

And here’s its categorical rendering, just to give the flavor of the idea:

eval ∘ (f' △ g')

Where eval means uncurry ($), and f' and g' are the renderings of those two functions; and the operator is (&&&). I’m not using the typical Haskell names for these, by the way, in order to convince myself not to “think in Haskell” when working with these terms, but rather I’m choosing whatever symbols I find most often using in the literature on catgeory theory.

There are a few things to notice about these categorical terms:

  1. They must be point-free. There is no such thing as naming a term, only morphisms that use or produce objects. Hence Awodey calls category theory “the algebra of functions”.

  2. They quickly become very large and unreadable. All but the simplest terms are nearly impossible to understand just by looking at them. Think of it as the binary code for categories.

  3. Because they are just, in effect, chains of composition, without any name binding or scoping issue to consider, the nature of the computation is laid out in a very direct (albeit verbose) way, making rewrite rules available throughout the abstract term.

Although it seems a bit technical at first, the idea is quite simple: Discern the abstract, categorical meaning of a Haskell function, then realize that term in any other category that is cartesian (has products) and closed (has functions as objects, i.e., higher-order constructions). Nothing else needs to be known about the target category for the abstract term to have meaning there. That’s the beauty of using category theory as a universal language for expressing ideas: the meaning transports everywhere.

Here’s an equation meant for the solver, written in plain Haskell:

equation :: (Num a, Ord a) => a -> a -> Bool
equation x y =
    x < y &&
    y < 100 &&
    0 <= x - 3 + 7 * y &&
    (x == y || y + 20 == x + 30)

Here’s how I run the solver, using z3cat, which is built on top of Conal’s concat library:

mres <- liftIO $ runZ3 (ccc (uncurry (equation @Int))) $ do
    x <- mkFreshIntVar "x"
    y <- mkFreshIntVar "y"
    return $ PairE (PrimE x) (PrimE y)
case mres of
    Nothing  -> error "No solution found."
    Just sol -> putStrLn $ "Solution: " ++ show sol

And the result, also showing the equation submitted to Z3:

(let ((a!1 (ite (<= 0 (+ (- x!0 3) (* 7 y!1)))
                (ite (= x!0 y!1) true (= (+ y!1 20) (+ x!0 30)))
                false)))
  (ite (< x!0 y!1) (ite (< y!1 100) a!1 false) false))
Solution: [-8,2]

Now with one function, I have either a predicate function I can use in Haskell, or an input for Z3 to find arguments for which it is true!

In addition to using Conal’s work in Haskell, I’m also working on a Coq rendering of his idea, which I hope will give me a more principled way to extract Coq programs into Haskell, by way of their categorical representation.

Syndicated 2017-04-18 00:00:00 from Lost in Technopolis

17 Apr 2017 LaForge   » (Master)

Things you find when using SCTP on Linux

Observations on SCTP and Linux

When I was still doing Linux kernel work with netfilter/iptables in the early 2000's, I was somebody who actually regularly had a look at the new RFCs that came out. So I saw the SCTP RFCs, SIGTRAN RFCs, SIP and RTP, etc. all released during those years. I was quite happy to see that for new protocols like SCTP and later DCCP, Linux quickly received a mainline implementation.

Now most people won't have used SCTP so far, but it is a protocol used as transport layer in a lot of telecom protocols for more than a decade now. Virtually all protocols that have traditionally been spoken over time-division multiplex E1/T1 links have been migrated over to SCTP based protocol stackings.

Working on various Open Source telecom related projects, i of course come into contact with SCTP every so often. Particularly some years back when implementing the Erlang SIGTAN code in erlang/osmo_ss7 and most recently now with the introduction of libosmo-sigtran with its OsmoSTP, both part of the libosmo-sccp repository.

I've also hard to work with various proprietary telecom equipment over the years. Whether that's some eNodeB hardware from a large brand telecom supplier, or whether it's a MSC of some other vendor. And they all had one thing in common: Nobody seemed to use the Linux kernel SCTP code. They all used proprietary implementations in userspace, using RAW sockets on the kernel interface.

I always found this quite odd, knowing that this is the route that you have to take on proprietary OSs without native SCTP support, such as Windows. But on Linux? Why? Based on rumors, people find the Linux SCTP implementation not mature enough, but hard evidence is hard to come by.

As much as it pains me to say this, the kind of Linux SCTP bugs I have seen within the scope of our work on Osmocom seem to hint that there is at least some truth to this (see e.g. https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1308360 or https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1308362).

Sure, software always has bugs and will have bugs. But we at Osmocom are 10-15 years "late" with our implementations of higher-layer protocols compared to what the mainstream telecom industry does. So if we find something, and we find it even already during R&D of some userspace code, not even under load or in production, then that seems a bit unsettling.

One would have expected, with all their market power and plenty of Linux-based devices in the telecom sphere, why did none of those large telecom suppliers invest in improving the mainline Linux SCTP code? I mean, they all use UDP and TCP of the kernel, so it works for most of the other network protocols in the kernel, but why not for SCTP? I guess it comes back to the fundamental lack of understanding how open source development works. That it is something that the given industry/user base must invest in jointly.

The leatest discovered bug

During the last months, I have been implementing SCCP, SUA, M3UA and OsmoSTP (A Signal Transfer Point). They were required for an effort to add 3GPP compliant A-over-IP to OsmoBSC and OsmoMSC.

For quite some time I was seeing some erratic behavior when at some point the STP would not receive/process a given message sent by one of the clients (ASPs) connected. I tried to ignore the problem initially until the code matured more and more, but the problems remained.

It became even more obvious when using Michael Tuexen's m3ua-testtool, where sometimes even the most basic test cases consisting of sending + receiving a single pair of messages like ASPUP -> ASPUP_ACK was failing. And when the test case was re-tried, the problem often disappeared.

Also, whenever I tried to observe what was happening by meas of strace, the problem would disappear completely and never re-appear until strace was detached.

Of course, given that I've written several thousands of lines of new code, it was clear to me that the bug must be in my code. Yesterday I was finally prepare to accept that it might actually be a Linux SCTP bug. Not being able to reproduce that problem on a FreeBSD VM also pointed clearly into this direction.

Now I could simply have collected some information and filed a bug report (which some kernel hackers at RedHat have thankfully invited me to do!), but I thought my use case was too complex. You would have to compile a dozen of different Osmocom libraries, configure the STP, run the scheme-language m3ua-testtool in guile, etc. - I guess nobody would have bothered to go that far.

So today I tried to implement a test case that reproduced the problem in plain C, without any external dependencies. And for many hours, I couldn't make the bug to show up. I tried to be as close as possible to what was happening in OsmoSTP: I used non-blocking mode on client and server, used the SCTP_NODELAY socket option, used the sctp_rcvmsg() library wrapper to receive events, but the bug was not reproducible.

Some hours later, it became clear that there was one setsockopt() in OsmoSTP (actually, libosmo-netif) which enabled all existing SCTP events. I did this at the time to make sure OsmoSTP has the maximum insight possible into what's happening on the SCTP transport layer, such as address fail-overs and the like.

As it turned out, adding that setsockopt for SCTP_FLAGS to my test code made the problem reproducible. After playing around which of the flags, it seems that enabling the SENDER_DRY_EVENT flag makes the bug appear.

You can find my detailed report about this issue in https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1442784 and a program to reproduce the issue at http://people.osmocom.org/laforge/sctp-nonblock/sctp-dry-event.c

Inside the Osmocom world, luckily we can live without the SENDER_DRY_EVENT and a corresponding work-around has been submitted and merged as https://gerrit.osmocom.org/#/c/2386/

With that work-around in place, suddenly all the m3ua-testtool and sua-testtool test cases are reliably green (PASSED) and OsmoSTP works more smoothly, too.

What do we learn from this?

Free Software in the Telecom sphere is getting too little attention. This is true even those small portions of telecom relevant protocols that ended up in the kernel like SCTP or more recently the GTP module I co-authored. They are getting too little attention in development, even more lack of attention in maintenance, and people seem to focus more on not using it, rather than fixing and maintaining what is there.

It makes me really sad to see this. Telecoms is such a massive industry, with billions upon billions of revenue for the classic telecom equipment vendors. Surely, they would be able to co-invest in some basic infrastructure like proper and reliable testing / continuous integration for SCTP. More recently, we see millions and more millions of VC cash burned by buzzword-flinging companies doing "NFV" and "SDN". But then rather reimplement network stacks in userspace than to fix, complete and test those little telecom infrastructure components which we have so far, like the SCTP protocol :(

Where are the contributions to open source telecom parts from Ericsson, Nokia (former NSN), Huawei and the like? I'm not even dreaming about the actual applications / network elements, but merely the maintenance of something as basic as SCTP. To be fair, Motorola was involved early on in the Linux SCTP code, and Huawei contributed a long series of fixes in 2013/2014. But that's not the kind of long-term maintenance contribution that one would normally expect from the primary interest group in SCTP.

Finally, let me thank to the Linux SCTP maintainers. I'm not complaining about them! They're doing a great job, given the arcane code base and the fact that they are not working for a company that has SCTP based products as their core business. I'm sure the would love more support and contributions from the Telecom world, too.

Syndicated 2017-04-16 22:00:00 from LaForge's home page

17 Apr 2017 olea   » (Master)

Sobre OSL-UNIA

Por puro descuido no he hablado aqui del trabajo que estamos haciendo en la Oficina de Software Libre de UNIA para la Universidad de Almería. En parte es otra de mis bravuconadas burras, otro intento de forzar la máquina social con aspiraciones de progreso. Por otro creo realmente que es una actividad interesante, otro paso para contribuir a la modernización de la Universidad de Almería y la expansión de conocimientos y aptitudes para los estudiantes de informática y otros estudios tecnológicos en esta universidad. También creemos que nuestra aproximación es relativamente novedosa, aunque hay mucho más que podría hacerse.

En la práctica las actividades que estamos llevando a cabo consisten en:

  • prácticas de empresa curriculares
  • congresos

y en cuanto a congresos, llevamos una racha magnífica:

y hay algún otro más en consideración.

En ningún caso nada de esto podría ser realidad sin el compromiso de la asociación UNIA y el apoyo de la propia Universidad de Almería.

Otra líneas de trabajo que debemos desarollar son:

  • cursos y talleres de tecnologías opensource;
  • promover la participación de estudiantes en convocatorias como Google Summer of Code; se da la buena fortuna de que en Almería hay dos proyectos software que participan como anfitriones: P2PSP y MRPT;
  • promover la participación en concursos universitarios de programación como el certamen de proyectos libres de la UGR y el concurso universitario de software libre;
  • promover que prácticas de asignaturas, proyectos de fin de grado y de doctorado se realicen como proyectos opensource o, aún mejor, en comunidades de desarrollo ya existentes.

Si tenéis interés en saber más o participar dirigíos por favor a nuestro subforo de discusión.

En fin, estamos trabajando en ello.

Syndicated 2017-04-16 22:00:00 from Ismael Olea

14 Apr 2017 badvogato   » (Master)

note

Selina Sarah Tayler, (maiden name Peel, b.1881 Chorlton ) and her husband Bernard were missionaries in China; they were the parents of Gladys Yang
(b. c.1919, Peking) who, along with her husband, was a translator of Chinese literature. Selina died in 1970 on the Isle of Wight; one of her sisters, Annie Isabella Peel, who was my husband's paternal Grandmother, had an ironmonger's shop in Stretford. I'm given to understand that there was a family connection to Robert Peel but, so far, I've drawn a blank..


http://www.nytimes.com/1985/08/11/nyregion/ida-pruitt-96-who-fostered-friendship-with-the-chinese.html

11 Apr 2017 mjg59   » (Master)

Disabling SSL validation in binary apps

Reverse engineering protocols is a great deal easier when they're not encrypted. Thankfully most apps I've dealt with have been doing something convenient like using AES with a key embedded in the app, but others use remote protocols over HTTPS and that makes things much less straightforward. MITMProxy will solve this, as long as you're able to get the app to trust its certificate, but if there's a built-in pinned certificate that's going to be a pain. So, given an app written in C running on an embedded device, and without an easy way to inject new certificates into that device, what do you do?

First: The app is probably using libcurl, because it's free, works and is under a license that allows you to link it into proprietary apps. This is also bad news, because libcurl defaults to having sensible security settings. In the worst case we've got a statically linked binary with all the symbols stripped out, so we're left with the problem of (a) finding the relevant code and (b) replacing it with modified code. Fortuntely, this is much less difficult than you might imagine.

First, let's fine where curl sets up its defaults. Curl_init_userdefined() in curl/lib/url.c has the following code:
set->ssl.primary.verifypeer = TRUE;
set->ssl.primary.verifyhost = TRUE;
#ifdef USE_TLS_SRP
set->ssl.authtype = CURL_TLSAUTH_NONE;
#endif
set->ssh_auth_types = CURLSSH_AUTH_DEFAULT; /* defaults to any auth
type */
set->general_ssl.sessionid = TRUE; /* session ID caching enabled by
default */
set->proxy_ssl = set->ssl;

set->new_file_perms = 0644; /* Default permissions */
set->new_directory_perms = 0755; /* Default permissions */

TRUE is defined as 1, so we want to change the code that currently sets verifypeer and verifyhost to 1 to instead set them to 0. How to find it? Look further down - new_file_perms is set to 0644 and new_directory_perms is set to 0755. The leading 0 indicates octal, so these correspond to decimal 420 and 493. Passing the file to objdump -d (assuming a build of objdump that supports this architecture) will give us a disassembled version of the code, so time to fix our problems with grep:
objdump -d target | grep --after=20 ,420 | grep ,493

This gives us the disassembly of target, searches for any occurrence of ",420" (indicating that 420 is being used as an argument in an instruction), prints the following 20 lines and then searches for a reference to 493. It spits out a single hit:
43e864: 240301ed li v1,493
Which is promising. Looking at the surrounding code gives:
43e820: 24030001 li v1,1
43e824: a0430138 sb v1,312(v0)
43e828: 8fc20018 lw v0,24(s8)
43e82c: 24030001 li v1,1
43e830: a0430139 sb v1,313(v0)
43e834: 8fc20018 lw v0,24(s8)
43e838: ac400170 sw zero,368(v0)
43e83c: 8fc20018 lw v0,24(s8)
43e840: 2403ffff li v1,-1
43e844: ac4301dc sw v1,476(v0)
43e848: 8fc20018 lw v0,24(s8)
43e84c: 24030001 li v1,1
43e850: a0430164 sb v1,356(v0)
43e854: 8fc20018 lw v0,24(s8)
43e858: 240301a4 li v1,420
43e85c: ac4301e4 sw v1,484(v0)
43e860: 8fc20018 lw v0,24(s8)
43e864: 240301ed li v1,493
43e868: ac4301e8 sw v1,488(v0)

Towards the end we can see 493 being loaded into v1, and v1 then being copied into an offset from v0. This looks like a structure member being set to 493, which is what we expected. Above that we see the same thing being done to 420. Further up we have some more stuff being set, including a -1 - that corresponds to CURLSSH_AUTH_DEFAULT, so we seem to be in the right place. There's a zero above that, which corresponds to CURL_TLSAUTH_NONE. That means that the two 1 operations above the -1 are the code we want, and simply changing 43e820 and 43e82c to 24030000 instead of 24030001 means that our targets will be set to 0 (ie, FALSE) rather than 1 (ie, TRUE). Copy the modified binary back to the device, run it and now it happily talks to MITMProxy. Huge success.

(If the app calls Curl_setopt() to reconfigure the state of these values, you'll need to stub those out as well - thankfully, recent versions of curl include a convenient string "CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYHOST no longer supports 1 as value!" in this function, so if the code in question is using semi-recent curl it's easy to find. Then it's just a matter of looking for the constants that CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYHOST and CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYPEER are set to, following the jumps and hacking the code to always set them to 0 regardless of the argument)

comment count unavailable comments

Syndicated 2017-04-11 22:27:28 from Matthew Garrett

10 Apr 2017 MikeGTN   » (Journeyer)

Walking the Beam: An urban country ramble

It felt like a quite a while since I'd walked beside water... My journey to London had been sleepy and distracted. Relaxing didn't come easy this morning after a long and trying week, but as I made progress towards the start of my walk, I began to feel a little more alert. The routine was familiar from my attempts to walk the fringes of London: over to Liverpool Street, out to the suburbs, then a bus to the start of my walk - which had seemed to grow increasingly further from civilisation over the months of walking rivers. As I...

Syndicated 2017-04-01 22:04:00 from Lost::MikeGTN

10 Apr 2017 LaForge   » (Master)

SIGTRAN/SS7 stack in libosmo-sigtran merged to master

As I blogged in my blog post in Fabruary, I was working towards a more fully-featured SIGTRAN stack in the Osmocom (C-language) universe.

The trigger for this is the support of 3GPP compliant AoIP (with a BSSAP/SCCP/M3UA/SCTP protocol stacking), but it is of much more general nature.

The code has finally matured in my development branch(es) and is now ready for mainline inclusion. It's a series of about 77 (!) patches, some of which already are the squashed results of many more incremental development steps.

The result is as follows:

  • General SS7 core functions maintaining links, linksets and routes
  • xUA functionality for the various User Adaptations (currently SUA and M3UA supported)
    • MTP User SAP according to ITU-T Q.701 (using osmo_prim)
    • management of application servers (AS)
    • management of application server processes (ASP)
    • ASP-SM and ASP-TM state machine for ASP, AS-State Machine (using osmo_fsm)
    • server (SG) and client (ASP) side implementation
    • validated against ETSI TS 102 381 (by means of Michael Tuexen's m3ua-testtool)
    • support for dynamic registration via RKM (routing key management)
    • osmo-stp binary that can be used as Signal Transfer Point, with the usual "Cisco-style" command-line interface that all Osmocom telecom software has.
  • SCCP implementation, with strong focus on Connection Oriented SCCP (as that's what the A interface uses).
    • osmo_fsm based state machine for SCCP connection, both incoming and outgoing
    • SCCP User SAP according to ITU-T Q.711 (osmo_prim based)
    • Interfaces with underlying SS7 stack via MTP User SAP (osmo_prim based)
    • Support for SCCP Class 0 (unit data) and Class 2 (connection oriented)
    • All SCCP + SUA Address formats (Global Title, SSN, PC, IPv4 Address)
    • SCCP and SUA share one implementation, where SCCP messages are transcoded into SUA before processing, and re-encoded into SCCP after processing, as needed.

I have already done experimental OsmoMSC and OsmoHNB-GW over to libosmo-sigtran. They're now all just M3UA clients (ASPs) which connect to osmo-stp to exchange SCCP messages back and for the between them.

What's next on the agenda is to

  • finish my incomplete hacks to introduce IPA/SCCPlite as an alternative to SUA and M3UA (for backwards compatibility)
  • port over OsmoBSC to the SCCP User SAP of libosmo-sigtran
    • validate with SSCPlite lower layer against existing SCCPlite MSCs
  • implement BSSAP / A-interface procedures in OsmoMSC, on top of the SCCP-User SAP.

If those steps are complete, we will have a single OsmoMSC that can talk both IuCS to the HNB-GW (or RNCs) for 3G/3.5G as well as AoIP towards OsmoBSC. We will then have fully SIGTRAN-enabled the full Osmocom stack, and are all on track to bury the OsmoNITB that was devoid of such interfaces.

If any reader is interested in interoperability testing with other implementations, either on M3UA or on SCCP or even on A or Iu interface level, please contact me by e-mail.

Syndicated 2017-04-09 22:00:00 from LaForge's home page

10 Apr 2017 mjg59   » (Master)

A quick look at the Ikea Trådfri lighting platform

Ikea recently launched their Trådfri smart lighting platform in the US. The idea of Ikea plus internet security together at last seems like a pretty terrible one, but having taken a look it's surprisingly competent. Hardware-wise, the device is pretty minimal - it seems to be based on the Cypress[1] WICED IoT platform, with 100MBit ethernet and a Silicon Labs Zigbee chipset. It's running the Express Logic ThreadX RTOS, has no running services on any TCP ports and appears to listen on two single UDP ports. As IoT devices go, it's pleasingly minimal.

That single port seems to be a COAP server running with DTLS and a pre-shared key that's printed on the bottom of the device. When you start the app for the first time it prompts you to scan a QR code that's just a machine-readable version of that key. The Android app has code for using the insecure COAP port rather than the encrypted one, but the device doesn't respond to queries there so it's presumably disabled in release builds. It's also local only, with no cloud support. You can program timers, but they run on the device. The only other service it seems to run is an mdns responder, which responds to the _coap._udp.local query to allow for discovery.

From a security perspective, this is pretty close to ideal. Having no remote APIs means that security is limited to what's exposed locally. The local traffic is all encrypted. You can only authenticate with the device if you have physical access to read the (decently long) key off the bottom. I haven't checked whether the DTLS server is actually well-implemented, but it doesn't seem to respond unless you authenticate first which probably covers off a lot of potential risks. The SoC has wireless support, but it seems to be disabled - there's no antenna on board and no mechanism for configuring it.

However, there's one minor issue. On boot the device grabs the current time from pool.ntp.org (fine) but also hits http://fw.ota.homesmart.ikea.net/feed/version_info.json . That file contains a bunch of links to firmware updates, all of which are also downloaded over http (and not https). The firmware images themselves appear to be signed, but downloading untrusted objects and then parsing them isn't ideal. Realistically, this is only a problem if someone already has enough control over your network to mess with your DNS, and being wired-only makes this pretty unlikely. I'd be surprised if it's ever used as a real avenue of attack.

Overall: as far as design goes, this is one of the most secure IoT-style devices I've looked at. I haven't examined the COAP stack in detail to figure out whether it has any exploitable bugs, but the attack surface is pretty much as minimal as it could be while still retaining any functionality at all. I'm impressed.

[1] Formerly Broadcom

comment count unavailable comments

Syndicated 2017-04-09 00:16:33 from Matthew Garrett

10 Apr 2017 mikal   » (Journeyer)

Light to Light, Day Three

The third and final day of the Light to Light Walk at Ben Boyd National Park. This was a shorter (8 kms) easier walk. A nice way to finish the journey.



Interactive map for this route.

                     

Tags for this post: events pictures 20170313 photo scouts bushwalk
Related posts: Light to Light, Day Two; Exploring the Jagungal; Light to Light, Day One; Scout activity: orienteering at Mount Stranger; Potato Point

Comment

Syndicated 2017-04-04 17:42:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley (no blather posts)

10 Apr 2017 zeenix   » (Journeyer)

GNOME ❤ Rust Hackfest in Mexico

While I'm known as a Vala fanboy in GNOME, I've tried to stress time and again that I see Vala as more a practical solution than an ideal one. "Safe programming" has always been something that intrigued me, having dealt with numerous crashes and other hard-to-debug runtime issues in the past. So when I first heard of Rust some years back, it got me super excited but it was not exactly stable  and there was no integration with GNOME libraries or D-Bus and hence it was not at all a viable option for developing desktop code. Lately (in past 2 years) things have significantly changed. Not only we have Rust 1.0 but we also have crates that provide integration with GNOME libraries and D-Bus. On top of that, some of us took steps to start converting some C code into Rust and many of us started seriously talking with Rust hackers to make Rust a first class programming language for GNOME.

To make things really go foward, we decided to arrange a hackfest, which took place last week at the Red Hat offices in Mexico city. The event was a big success in my opinion. The actual work done and started during the hackfest aside, it brought two communities much closer together and we learnt quite a lot from each other in a very short amount of time. The main topics at the hackfest were:
  • GObject-introspection consumption by Rust.
  • GObject creation from Rust.
  • Better out of the box Rust support in GNOME Builder
  • GMainLoop and Tokio integration
  • D-Bus bindings
While most folks were focused on the first three and I did participate in discussions on all these topics (except for Builder, of which I don't know anything), I spent most of my time looking into the last one. D-Bus is widely used in automotive industry these days and I serve that industry these days so it made sense, aside from my person interest in D-Bus. We established (some of it before the hackfest) that to make Rust attractive to C and Vala developers, we need to provide:
  1. Syntactic sugar for making D-Bus coding simple

    Very similar to what Vala offers. Antoni already had a project, dbus-macros that targets this goal through the use of Rust's (powerful) macro system. So I spent a lot of time fixing and improving dbus-macros crate. Having Antoni and other Rust experts in the same room, greatly helped me get around some very hard to decipher compiler issues. I found out (the hard way) that while rustc is very good at spotting errors, it fails miserably to give you the proper context when it comes to macros. I complained enough about this to Mozilla folks that I'm sure they'll be looking into fixing that experience at some point in near future. :)

    We also contacted the author of dbus crate, David Henningsson over e-mail about a few D-Bus related subjects (more below) including this one. (I was surprised to find out that he also lives in Sweden). His opinion was that we probably should be using procedural macros for this. I agree with him, except that procedural macros are not yet in stable Rust. So for now, I decided to continue with current approach of the project.

    During the hackfest, I became the maintainer of the dbus-macros crate since the first thing I did was to reduce the very small amount of code by 70%. Next, I created a backlog for myself and worked my way through it one issue at a time. I'm going to continue with that.

  2. Asynchronous D-Bus methods

    While ability to make D-Bus method calls asynchronously from clients is very important (you don't want to block the UI for your IPC), it would be also very nice for services to be able to asynchronously handle method calls as well. Brian Anderson from Mozilla was working on this during the hackfest. His approach was to hack dbus crate to add async API through the use of tokio crate. I spent most of the second day of hackfest, sitting next to Brian for some peer-programming. The author of tokio, Alex Crichton, sitting next to us helped us a lot in understanding tokio API. In the end, Brian submitted a working proof of concept for client-side async calls, which will hopefully provide a very good bases for David's actual implementation.

  3. Code generation from D-Bus introspection XML

    With both GLib and Qt providing utilities to generate code for handling D-Bus for a decade now, most projects doing D-Bus make use of this. My intention was too look into this during the hackfest but just before, I found out that David had not only already started this work in dbus crate but also his approach is exactly what I'd have gone for. So while I decided not to work on this, I did have lengthy (electronic) conversations with David about how to consolidate code generation with dbus-macros.

    Ideally, the API of the generated code should be very similar to one you'd manually create using dbus-macros to make it easy for developers to switch from one approach to another. But since David and I didn't agree with current dbus-macros approach, I kind of gave-up on this goal, at least for now. Once macro procedures stabilize, there is a good chance we will change dbus-macros (though it'll be a completely new version or maybe even a different crate) to make use of them and we can revisit consolidation of code generation and dbus-macros.
A few weeks prior to the event, I decided to create a new project, gps-share. The aim is to provide ability to share your (standalone) GPS device from your laptop/desktop to other devices on the network and at the same time add standalone GPS device support into Geoclue (without any new feature code in Geoclue). I decided to write it in Rust for a few reasons, one of them being my desire to learn enough about the language before the event (I hadn't wrote any serious/complicated code in Rust before) and another one was to have an actual test case for D-Bus adventures (it's supposed to talk to Avahi on D-Bus). I'm glad that I did that since I encountered a few issues with dbus-macros when using them in gps-share and the awesome Mozilla folks were able to help me figure them out very quickly. Otherwise it would have taken me a very long time to figure the issues.




On the last day of hackfest, after a delicious lunch, we decided to go for a long stroll around Mexico city and hang out in the park, where we had more interesting conversations, about life, universe and everything (including Rust and GNOME).

After the hackfest, I stayed around for 3 more days. On Saturday, I mostly hung out with Federico, Christian, Antoni and Joaquín. We walked around the city center and watched Federico and Joaquín interviewed by Rancho Electronico folks. I was really excited to see that they use GNOME for their desktop and GStreamer for streaming. The guy handling the streaming was very glad to meet someone with GStreamer experience.

On Sunday, I rented a car and went to a hike at Tepoztlán with Felipe. Driving in Mexico wasn't easy so having a Mexican with me, helped a lot.


And on Monday, we drove to the Sun pyramid.


I would like to thank both GNOME Foundation and my employer, Pelagicore for sponsoring my participation to this event.


Syndicated 2017-04-06 11:31:00 (Updated 2017-04-06 15:28:44) from zeenix

2 Apr 2017 crhodes   » (Master)

karatsuba multiplication in sbcl

Possible alternative title: I’m on a train!

In particular, I’m on the train heading to the European Lisp Symposium, and for the first time since December I don’t have a criticially urgent piece of teaching to construct. (For the last term, I’ve been under the cosh of attempting to teach Algorithms & Data Structures to a class, having never learnt Algorithms & Data Structures formally, let along properly, myself).

I have been giving the students some structure to help them in their learning by constructing multiple-choice quizzes. “But multiple-choice quizzes are easy!”, I hear you cry! Well, they might be in general, but these quizzes were designed to probe some understanding, and to help students recognize what they did not know; of the ten quizzes I ran this term, several had a period where the modal mark in the quiz was zero. (The students were allowed take the quizzes more than once; the idea behind that being that they can learn from their mistakes and improve their score; the score is correlated to a mark in some minor way to act as a tiny carrot-bite of motivation; this means I have to write lots of questions so that multiple attempts aren’t merely an exercise in memory or screenshot navigation).

The last time I was on a train, a few weeks ago, I was travelling to and from Warwick to sing Haydn’s Nelson Mass (“Missa in angustiis”; troubled times, indeed), and had to write a quiz on numbers. I’d already decided that I would show the students the clever Karatsuba trick for big integer multiplication, and I wanted to write some questions to see if they’d understood it, or at least could apply some of the results of it.

Standard multiplication as learnt in school is, fairly clearly, an Ω(d2) algorithm. My children learn to multiply using the “grid method”, where: each digit value of the number is written out along the edges of a table; the cells of the table are the products of the digit values; and the result is found by adding the cells together. Something like:

         400     20      7
300 120000   6000   2100
 90  36000   1800    630
  3   1200     60     21

for 427×393 = 167811. Similar diagrammatic ways of multiplying (like [link]) duplicate this table structure, and traditional long multiplication or even the online multiplication trick where you can basically do everything in your head all multiply each digit of one of the multiplicands with each digit of the other.

But wait! This is an Algorithms & Data Structures class, so there must be some recursive way of decomposing the problem into smaller problems; divide-and-conquer is classic fodder for Computer Scientists. So, write a×b as (ahi×2k+alo)×(bhi×2k+blo), multiply out the brackets, and hi and lo and behold we have ahi×bhi×22k+(ahi×blo+alo×bhi)×2k+alo×blo, and we’ve turned our big multiplication into four multiplications of half the size, with some additional simpler work to combine the results, and big-O dear! that’s still quadratic in the number of digits to multiply. Surely there is a better way?

Yes there is. Karatsuba multiplication is a better (asymptotically at least) divide-and-conquer algorithm. It gets its efficiency from a clever observation[1]: that middle term in the expansion is expensive, and in fact we can compute it more cheaply. We have to calculate chi=ahi×bhi and clo=alo×blo, there’s no getting around that, but to get the cross term we can compute (ahi+alo)×(bhi+blo) and subtract off chi and clo: and that’s then one multiply for the result of two. With that trick, Karatsuba multiplication lets us turn our big multiplication into three multiplications of half the size, and that eventaully boils down to an algorithm with complexity Θ(d1.58) or thereabouts. Hooray!

Some of the questions I was writing for the quiz were for the students to compute the complexity of variants of Karatsuba’s trick: generalize the trick to cross-terms when the numbers are divided into thirds rather than halves, or quarters, and so on. You can multiply numbers by doing six multiplies of one-third the size, or ten multiplies of one-quarter the size, or... wait a minute! Those generalizations of Karatsuba’s trick are worse, not better! That was completely counter to my intuition that a generalization of Karatsuba’s trick should be asymptotically better, and that there was probably some sense in which the limit of doing divide-bigly-and-conquer-muchly would turn into an equivalent of FFT-based multiplication with Θ(d×log(d)) complexity. But this generalization was pulling me back towards Θ(d2)! What was I doing wrong?

Well what I was doing wrong was applying the wrong generalization. I don’t feel too much shame; it appears that Karatsuba did the same. If you’re Toom or Cook, you probably see straight away that the right generalization is not to be clever about how to calculate cross terms, but to be clever about how to multiply polynomials: treat the divided numbers as polynomials in 2k, and use the fact that you need one more value than the polynomial’s degree to determine all its coefficients. This gets you a product in five multiplications of one-third the size, or seven multiplications of one-quarter, and this is much better and fit with my intuition as to what the result should be. (I decided that the students could do without being explicitly taught about all this).

Meanwhile, here I am on my train journey of relative freedom, and I thought it might be interesting to see whether and where there was any benefit to implement Karatsuba multiplication in SBCL. (This isn’t a pedagogy blog post, or an Algorithms & Data Structures blog post, after all; I’m on my way to a Lisp conference!). I had a go, and have a half-baked implementation: enough to give an idea. It only works on positive bignums, and bails if the numbers aren’t of similar enough sizes; on the other hand, it is substantially consier than it needs to be, and there’s probably still some room for micro-optimization. The results?

Linear model fit for built-in and Karatsuba multiply

The slopes on the built-in and Karatsuba mulitply (according to the linear model fit) are 1.85±0.04 and 1.52±0.1 respectively, so even million-(binary)-digit bignums aren’t clearly in the asymptotic régimes for the two multiplication methods: but at that size (and even at substantially smaller sizes, though not quite yet at Juho’s 1000 bits) my simple Karatsuba implementation is clearly faster than the built-in multiply. I should mention that at least part of the reason that I have even heard of Karatsuba multiplication is Raymond Toy’s implementation of it in CMUCL.

Does anyone out there use SBCL for million-digit multiplications?

Syndicated 2017-04-02 20:45:22 (Updated 2017-04-02 20:48:17) from notes

2 Apr 2017 crhodes   » (Master)

going to els2017

I’m going to the European Lisp Symposium this year! In fact, I have to catch a train in two and a half hours, so I should start thinking about packing.

I don’t have a paper to present, or indeed any agenda beyond catching up with old and new friends and having a little bit of space to think about what might be fun to try. If you’re there and you want to make suggestions, or just tell me what you’re up to: I’d love to hear. (And if you’re not there: bad luck, and see you another time!)

Syndicated 2017-04-02 13:24:33 from notes

1 Apr 2017 pabs3   » (Master)

FLOSS Activities March 2017

Changes

Issues

Review

Administration

  • Debian systems: apply a patch to userdir-ldap, ask a local admin to reset a dead powerpc buildd, remove dead SH4 porterboxen from LDAP, fix perms on www.d.o OC static mirror, report false positives in an an automated abuse report, redirect 1 student to FAQs/support/DebianEdu, redirect 1 event organiser to partners/trademark/merchandise/DPL, redirect 1 guest account seeker to NM, redirect 1 @debian.org desirer to NM, redirect 1 email bounce to a changes@db.d.o user, redirect 2 people to the listmasters, redirect 1 person to Debian Pure Blends, redirect 1 user to a service admin and redirect 2 users to support
  • Debian packages site: deploy my ports/cruft changes
  • Debian wiki: poke at HP page history and advise a contributor, whitelist 13 email address, whitelist 1 domain, check out history of a banned IP, direct 1 hoster to DebConf17 sponsors team, direct 1 user to OpenStack packaging, direct 1 user to InstallingDebianOn and h-node.org, direct 2 users to different ways to help Debian and direct 1 emeritus DD on repository wiki page reorganisation
  • Debian QA: fix an issue with the PTS news, remove some debugging cruft I left behind, fix the usertags on a QA bug and deploy some code fixes
  • Debian mentors: security upgrades and service restarts
  • Openmoko: security upgrades and reboots

Communication

Sponsors

The valgrind backport, samba and libthrift-perl bug reports were sponsored by my employer. All other work was done on a volunteer basis.

Syndicated 2017-04-01 01:01:56 from Advogato

31 Mar 2017 superuser   » (Journeyer)

How to disable the beep in PowerShell

This was annoying, but easily resolved.

You can easily disable this in PowerShell by running this command:

  Set-PSReadlineOption -BellStyle None

However, what you probably want is to disable this every time you open up PowerShell.  Doing this is simple.  In PowerShell, type

notepad $profile

This will most likely ask you to create a file.  Create the file, and then enter the above Set-PSRReadlineOption command into the file.  Save it, and close it.  Now, new PowerShell windows that pop open won’t make that annoying beep.

You can find out more about these profiles over on MSDN.

Syndicated 2017-03-31 04:16:15 from JasonLotito

29 Mar 2017 MikeGTN   » (Journeyer)

There is an Arc: Walking the A503

I've written before about my early interest in roads - one that has never really gone away, and has often reawakened at times I've felt challenged or frustrated. That I now have a willing partner in crime who is happy to take sometimes quite lengthy excursions has meant that I've finally had the experience of driving on some of the roads I've mythologised over the decades. However, some roads are meant to be walked - roads which have existed in some form for hundreds if not thousands of years, which despite the layers of surface dressing, hide the oldest of...

Syndicated 2017-03-11 21:03:00 from Lost::MikeGTN

29 Mar 2017 sye   » (Journeyer)

price tags: making a livingby writers

syndicated from nuniabiz.blogspot.com

Syndicated 2017-03-29 16:59:00 (Updated 2017-03-29 16:59:33) from badvogato

29 Mar 2017 marnanel   » (Journeyer)

things I say when half asleep

"If I lived in India I would totally have an elephant, not to do anything but just as a companion. And I would buy it canvases and brushes so it could paint things and then I could see what it painted, and also I would buy it a theremin because I think nobody ever thought to buy an elephant a theremin before, and then it would go [noise of elephant playing a theremin; Yantantessera the cat decides to leave]. And the neighbours would come round saying 'What's that bloody noise?' and I'd say 'Just my elephant playing the theremin' and they'd say 'Oh okay'."

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/386507.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2017-03-29 10:25:09 from Monument

28 Mar 2017 badvogato   » (Master)

Logged in as: allthingsgo


Total Balance
Your spendable buffer at 21.co [1] : 92199 satoshis
Your spendable balance on the Blockchain [2] : 0 satoshis
Your spendable balance in Payment Channels : 0 satoshis
Amount flushing from 21.co buffer to Blockchain balance : 0 satoshis

[1]: Available for off-chain transactions
[2]: Available for on-chain and payment channel transactions
(See 21.co/micropayments for more details)

Addresses:

Channels:
No payment channels have been created yet.


Use 21 buy to buy API calls for bitcoin from 21.co.

27 Mar 2017 LaForge   » (Master)

OsmoCon 2017 Updates: Travel Grants and Schedule

/images/osmocon.png

April 21st is approaching fast, so here some updates. I'm particularly happy that we now have travel grants available. So if the travel expenses were preventing you from attending so far: This excuse is no longer valid!

Get your ticket now, before it is too late. There's a limited number of seats available.

OsmoCon 2017 Schedule

The list of talks for OsmoCon 2017 has been available for quite some weeks, but today we finally published the first actual schedule.

As you can see, the day is fully packed with talks about Osmocom cellular infrastructure projects. We had to cut some talk slots short (30min instead of 45min), but I'm confident that it is good to cover a wider range of topics, while at the same time avoiding fragmenting the audience with multiple tracks.

OsmoCon 2017 Travel Grants

We are happy to announce that we have received donations to permit for providing travel grants!

This means that any attendee who is otherwise not able to cover their travel to OsmoCon 2017 (e.g. because their interest in Osmocom is not related to their work, or because their employer doesn't pay the travel expenses) can now apply for such a travel grant.

For more details see OsmoCon 2017 Travel Grants and/or contact osmocon2017@sysmocom.de.

OsmoCon 2017 Social Event

Tech Talks are nice and fine, but what many people enjoy even more at conferences is the informal networking combined with good food. For this, we have the social event at night, which is open to all attendees.

See more details about it at OsmoCon 2017 Social Event.

Syndicated 2017-03-26 22:00:00 from LaForge's home page

27 Mar 2017 superuser   » (Journeyer)

PowerShell for Bash Users

Working with Objects

PowerShell works with objects rather than plain text.  While this might seem odd, it’s also pretty powerful.  So, if you run the ls command, it will return a bunch of objects that have fields (Members).  You can figure out what this is easily by running ls | get-member.

PS C:\Users\jason_000> ls | get-member
...
Name Property string Name {get;}
Parent Property System.IO.DirectoryInfo Parent {get;}
Root Property System.IO.DirectoryInfo Root {get;}
BaseName ScriptProperty System.Object BaseName {get=$this.Name;}
...

So, I’ve cut out a lot of information, because you get a lot of members you can work with, but you get the idea.  But what this means is if you just want all the names, you can run (ls).name.  That will return a list of just the name members of the objects that would get returned normally.

History

Get-History is history.

Last Command

$$

Syndicated 2017-03-27 04:03:54 from JasonLotito

25 Mar 2017 mones   » (Journeyer)

Nice surprise

Absorbed like I was with the task of finishing the university project (see previous post), I did not even realized a little patch I have done to fix an untranslated string in dblatex was finally accepted some months ago!

Since the parameter name is different (and admittedly a better name) from my proposal, to keep the project generating a proper document I will have to make some change, a thing I wasn't expecting to do after having presented it :-).

Syndicated 2017-03-25 13:08:32 from Ricardo Mones

25 Mar 2017 mentifex   » (Master)

Ghost Perl AI uses the AudListen() mind-module to detect keyboard input.

Yesterday we may have finally learned how to let the Ghost Perl AI think indefinitely without stopping to wait for a human user to press "Enter" after typing a message to the AI Mind. We want the Perlmind only to pause periodically in case the human attendant wishes to communicate with the AI. Even if a human types a message and fails to press the Enter-key, we want the Perl AI to register a CR (carriage-return) by default and to follow chains of thought internally, with or without outside influence from a human user.

Accordingly today we create the AudListen() module in between the auditory memory modules and the AudInput() module. We move the new input code from AudInput() into AudListen(), but the code does not accept any input, so we remove the current code and store it in an archival test-file. Then we insert some obsolete but working code into AudListen(). We start getting primitive input like we did yesterday in the ghost181.pl program. Then we start moving in required functionality from the MindForth AI, such as the ability to press the "Escape" key to stop the program.

Eventually we obtain the proper recognition and storage of input words in auditory memory, but the ghost182.pl AI is not switching over to thinking. Instead, it is trying to process more input. Probably no escape is being made from the AudInput() loop that calls the AudListen() module. We implement an escape from the AudInput() module.

The ghost182.pl program is now able take in a sentence of input and generate a sentence of output, so we will upload it to the Web. We still need to port from MindForth the code that only pauses to accept human input and then goes back to the thinking of the AI.

25 Mar 2017 LaForge   » (Master)

Upcoming v3 of Open Hardware miniPCIe WWAN modem USB breakout board

Back in October 2016 I designed a small open hardware breakout board for WWAN modems in mPCIe form-factor. I was thinking some other people might be interested in this, and indeed, the first manufacturing batch is already sold out by now.

Instead of ordering more of the old (v2) design, I decided to do some improvements in the next version:

  • add mounting holes so the PCB can be mounted via M3 screws
  • add U.FL and SMA sockets, so the modems are connected via a short U.FL to U.FL cable, and external antennas or other RF components can be attached via SMA. This provides strain relief for the external antenna or cabling and avoids tearing off any of the current loose U.FL to SMA pigtails
  • flip the SIM slot to the top side of the PCB, so it can be accessed even after mounting the board to some base plate or enclosure via the mounting holes
  • more meaningful labeling of the silk screen, including the purpose of the jumpers and the input voltage.

A software rendering of the resulting v3 PCB design files that I just sent for production looks like this:

/images/mpcie-breakout-v3-pcb-rendering.png

Like before, the design of the board (including schematics and PCB layout design files) is available as open hardware under CC-BY-SA license terms. For more information see http://osmocom.org/projects/mpcie-breakout/wiki

It will take some expected three weeks until I'll see the first assembled boards.

Syndicated 2017-03-23 23:00:00 from LaForge's home page

22 Mar 2017 marnanel   » (Journeyer)

Tower of London

[ghosts, death; parody of "Streets of London" by Ralph McTell]

Have you seen the old girl
Who walks the Tower of London
Face full of grace with a queenly charm?
She's no breath for talking,
she just keeps right on walking
Carrying her head
Right underneath her arm.

So how can you tell me you're ghostly
And say your life has run out of time?
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you round the Tower of London
I'll show you something
That'll make you change your mind.

And in the topmost turret
You'll meet Sir Walter Raleigh
Cursing at his fall like an angry tar
Looking at the world
With a chip on his shoulder,
Each and every midnight
He smokes a mild cigar.

So how can you tell me you're ghostly
And say your life has run out of time?
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you round the Tower of London
I'll show you something
That'll make you change your mind.

And have you seen the playroom
Of a pair of ghostly princes?
Such endless games in a place like theirs!
Careful where you sit if you
Accept their invitation:
They don't have ghostly cushions
On all their ghostly chairs

So how can you tell me you're ghostly
And say your life has run out of time?
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you round the Tower of London
I'll show you something
That'll make you change your mind.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/386202.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2017-03-22 13:01:57 from Monument

21 Mar 2017 mentifex   » (Master)

Machine Translation by Artificial Intelligence

As an independent scholar in polyglot artificial intelligence, I have just today on March 21, 2017, stumbled upon a possible algorithm for implementing machine translation (MT) in my bilingual Perlmind and MindForth programs. My Ghost Perl AI thinks heretofore in either English or Russian, but not in both languages interchangeably. Likewise my Forth AI MindForth thinks in English, while its Teutonic version Wotan thinks in German.

Today like Archimedes crying "Eureka" in the bathtub, while showering but not displacing bath-water I realized that I could add an associative tag mtx to the flag-panel of each conceptual memory engram to link and cross-identify any concept in one language to its counterpart or same concept in another language. The mtx variable stands for "machine-translation xfer (transfer)". The AI software will use the spreading-activation SpreadAct module to transfer activation from a concept in English to the same concept in Russian or German.

Assuming that an AI Mind can think fluently in two languages, with a large vocabulary in both languages, the nub of machine translation will be the simultaneous activation of semantically the same set of concepts in both languages. Thus the consideration of an idea expressed in English will transfer the conceptual activation to a target language such as Russian. The generation modules will then generate a translation of the English idea into a Russian idea.

Inflectional endings will not pass from the source language directly to the target language, because the mtx tag identifies only the basic psi concept in both languages. The generation modules of the target language will assign the proper inflections as required by the linguistic parameters governing each sentence being translated.

21 Mar 2017 LaForge   » (Master)

Osmocom - personal thoughts

As I just wrote in my post about TelcoSecDay, I sometimes worry about the choices I made with Osmocom, particularly when I see all the great stuff people doing in fields that I previously was working in, such as applied IT security as well as Linux Kernel development.

History

When people like Dieter, Holger and I started to play with what later became OpenBSC, it was just for fun. A challenge to master. A closed world to break open and which to attack with the tools, the mindset and the values that we brought with us.

Later, Holger and I started to do freelance development for commercial users of Osmocom (initially basically only OpenBSC, but then OsmoSGSN, OsmoBSC, OsmoBTS, OsmoPCU and all the other bits on the infrastructure side). This lead to the creation of sysmocom in 2011, and ever since we are trying to use revenue from hardware sales as well as development contracts to subsidize and grow the Osmocom projects. We're investing most of our earnings directly into more staff that in turn works on Osmocom related projects.

NOTE

It's important to draw the distinction betewen the Osmocom cellular infrastructure projects which are mostly driven by commercial users and sysmocom these days, and all the many other pure juts-for-fun community projects under the Osmocom umbrella, like OsmocomTETRA, OsmocomGMR, rtl-sdr, etc. I'm focussing only on the cellular infrastructure projects, as they are in the center of my life during the past 6+ years.

In order to do this, I basically gave up my previous career[s] in IT security and Linux kernel development (as well as put things like gpl-violations.org on hold). This is a big price to pay for crating more FOSS in the mobile communications world, and sometimes I'm a bit melancholic about the "old days" before.

Financial wealth is clearly not my primary motivation, but let me be honest: I could have easily earned a shitload of money continuing to do freelance Linux kernel development, IT security or related consulting. There's a lot of demand for related skills, particularly with some experience and reputation attached. But I decided against it, and worked several years without a salary (or almost none) on Osmocom related stuff [as did Holger].

But then, even with all the sacrifices made, and the amount of revenue we can direct from sysmocom into Osmocom development: The complexity of cellular infrastructure vs. the amount of funding and resources is always only a fraction of what one would normally want to have to do a proper implementation. So it's constant resource shortage, combined with lots of unpaid work on those areas that are on the immediate short-term feature list of customers, and that nobody else in the community feels like he wants to work on. And that can be a bit frustrating at times.

Is it worth it?

So after 7 years of OpenBSC, OsmocomBB and all the related projects, I'm sometimes asking myself whether it has been worth the effort, and whether it was the right choice.

It was right from the point that cellular technology is still an area that's obscure and unknown to many, and that has very little FOSS (though Improving!). At the same time, cellular networks are becoming more and more essential to many users and applications. So on an abstract level, I think that every step in the direction of FOSS for cellular is as urgently needed as before, and we have had quite some success in implementing many different protocols and network elements. Unfortunately, in most cases incompletely, as the amount of funding and/or resources were always extremely limited.

Satisfaction/Happiness

On the other hand, when it comes to metrics such as personal satisfaction or professional pride, I'm not very happy or satisfied. The community remains small, the commercial interest remains limited, and as opposed to the Linux world, most players have a complete lack of understanding that FOSS is not a one-way road, but that it is important for all stakeholders to contribute to the development in terms of development resources.

Project success?

I think a collaborative development project (which to me is what FOSS is about) is only then truly successful, if its success is not related to a single individual, a single small group of individuals or a single entity (company). And no matter how much I would like the above to be the case, it is not true for the Osmocom cellular infrastructure projects. Take away Holger and me, or take away sysmocom, and I think it would be pretty much dead. And I don't think I'm exaggerating here. This makes me sad, and after all these years, and after knowing quite a number of commercial players using our software, I would have hoped that the project rests on many more shoulders by now.

This is not to belittle the efforts of all the people contributing to it, whether the team of developers at sysmocom, whether those in the community that still work on it 'just for fun', or whether those commercial users that contract sysmocom for some of the work we do. Also, there are known and unknown donors/funders, like the NLnet foundation for some parts of the work. Thanks to all of you, and clearly we wouldn't be where we are now without all of that!

But I feel it's not sufficient for the overall scope, and it's not [yet] sustainable at this point. We need more support from all sides, particularly those not currently contributing. From vendors of BTSs and related equipment that use Osmocom components. From operators that use it. From individuals. From academia.

Yes, we're making progress. I'm happy about new developments like the Iu and Iuh support, the OsmoHLR/VLR split and 2G/3G authentication that Neels just blogged about. And there's progress on the SIMtrace2 firmware with card emulation and MITM, just as well as there's progress on libosmo-sigtran (with a more complete SUA, M3UA and connection-oriented SCCP stack), etc.

But there are too little people working on this, and those people are mostly coming from one particular corner, while most of the [commercial] users do not contribute the way you would expect them to contribute in collaborative FOSS projects. You can argue that most people in the Linux world also don't contribute, but then the large commercial beneficiaries (like the chipset and hardware makers) mostly do, as are the large commercial users.

All in all, I have the feeling that Osmocom is as important as it ever was, but it's not grown up yet to really walk on its own feet. It may be able to crawl, though ;)

So for now, don't panic. I'm not suffering from burn-out, mid-life crisis and I don't plan on any big changes of where I put my energy: It will continue to be Osmocom. But I also think we have to have a more open discussion with everyone on how to move beyond the current situation. There's no point in staying quiet about it, or to claim that everything is fine the way it is. We need more commitment. Not from the people already actively involved, but from those who are not [yet].

If that doesn't happen in the next let's say 1-2 years, I think it's fair that I might seriously re-consider in which field and in which way I'd like to dedicate my [I would think considerable] productive energy and focus.

Syndicated 2017-03-21 18:00:00 from LaForge's home page

21 Mar 2017 mjg59   » (Master)

Announcing the Shim review process

Shim has been hugely successful, to the point of being used by the majority of significant Linux distributions and many other third party products (even, apparently, Solaris). The aim was to ensure that it would remain possible to install free operating systems on UEFI Secure Boot platforms while still allowing machine owners to replace their bootloaders and kernels, and it's achieved this goal.

However, a legitimate criticism has been that there's very little transparency in Microsoft's signing process. Some people have waited for significant periods of time before being receiving a response. A large part of this is simply that demand has been greater than expected, and Microsoft aren't in the best position to review code that they didn't write in the first place.

To that end, we're adopting a new model. A mailing list has been created at shim-review@lists.freedesktop.org, and members of this list will review submissions and provide a recommendation to Microsoft on whether these should be signed or not. The current set of expectations around binaries to be signed documented here and the current process here - it is expected that this will evolve slightly as we get used to the process, and we'll provide a more formal set of documentation once things have settled down.

This is a new initiative and one that will probably take a little while to get working smoothly, but we hope it'll make it much easier to get signed releases of Shim out without compromising security in the process.

comment count unavailable comments

Syndicated 2017-03-21 20:29:30 from Matthew Garrett

20 Mar 2017 mjg59   » (Master)

Buying a Utah teapot

The Utah teapot was one of the early 3D reference objects. It's canonically a Melitta but hasn't been part of their range in a long time, so I'd been watching Ebay in the hope of one turning up. Until last week, when I discovered that a company called Friesland had apparently bought a chunk of Melitta's range some years ago and sell the original teapot[1]. I've just ordered one, and am utterly unreasonably excited about this.

[1] They have them in 0.35, 0.85 and 1.4 litre sizes. I believe (based on the measurements here) that the 1.4 litre one matches the Utah teapot.

comment count unavailable comments

Syndicated 2017-03-20 20:45:42 from Matthew Garrett

20 Mar 2017 badvogato   » (Master)

NJ Law Journal reports

19 Mar 2017 benad   » (Apprentice)

My Ubuntu Tips

Now that I’ve used a Ubuntu Linux laptop for a couple of months, I’ve realized that in day-to-day use I don’t have to use much, if any, arcane commands on the command-line. And while I can edit the source code to fix bugs myself (and I did for the duplicity backup tool) or install software by compiling its source code, I rarely needed to do so. In fact, most of my customizations and installed software were straightforward.

XPS 13 Specific Tips

For some unknown reason (licensing with Microsoft?), the “super” key (the one that still has the Windows logo) cannot be used to show the Ubuntu launcher by tapping the key. As mentioned on the Ubuntu forums, to restore that functionality, simply remove the dell-super-key package.

When I use an external monitor, I typically use the internal screen at half its resolution and with a global UI scaling factor of 1, and without the external monitor I set it back to its native resolution with a UI scaling factor of 2. To do so on the command-line, without having to log out, I use these command. The external display is DP1 and the internal one is eDP1. Note that the touch screen virtual mouse might be a bit confused until you log out. Also you may have to restart some programs, for them to pick up the scaling changes.

Half-res with scale of 1:

  xrandr --output eDP1 --mode 1600x900 && \
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface scaling-factor 1 && \
gsettings set com.ubuntu.user-interface scale-factor "{'DP1': 8, 'eDP1':8}"

Full-res with scale of 2:

  xrandr --output eDP1 --mode 3200x1800 && \
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface scaling-factor 2 && \
gsettings set com.ubuntu.user-interface scale-factor "{'DP1': 8, 'eDP1':16}"

I’m using the Plugable USB-C Hub, and for some reason the drivers tend to get confused with the hub’s network and audio ports if I just unplug the USB-C wire. To do a “clean eject” of the hub’s internal 2 USB hubs, I run the following. You should use lsusb -t before and after connecting the hub to find the bus IDs in your setup.

  sudo bash -c 'for i in 3 4 ; do echo 1 > /sys/bus/usb/devices/$i-1/remove ; done'

GUI Themes

While there are countless GUI themes on Linux, the one I currently use is Adapta with the Noto fonts. It mimicks the latest Android look, and while it’s not a huge fan of the latest “Material” look, at least it avoids the ugly “orange everywhere” Ubuntu look.

To set it up follow this guide. After that, install the packages unity-tweak-tool, fonts-noto, fonts-noto-mono, fonts-noto-hinted and fonts-noto-cjk, and finally use the Unity Tweak Tool to select Adapta as the theme and the various Noto fonts for the system fonts.

In Ubuntu parlance, the menu bar items on the top-right are called “indicators”. Any program can add indicators when launched, but “pure” indicator programs only need to be launched once and from then on they will automatically start each time you log in.

The indicator-multiload displays graphs of CPU load, I/O, network and so on.

The indicator-cpuprefs displays the current CPU frequency. Also, on some CPUs, you can select the specific frequency you want, or select the CPU “governor”. For example, on my Kaby Lake processor I can set it to “ondemand”, “convervative”, “performance” or “powersave”.

The my-weather-indicator simply displays the current weather, and lets you view the weather forecast.

The psensor program tracks your system’s various temperature sensors and when running adds a useful indicator menu with the current temperature.

Great Apps

My currently favourite editor, Visual Studio Code from Microsoft, is based on WebKit (similar to Atom, but simpler and more lightweight), and is available as a Debian and Ubuntu package.

A beta version of Skype for Linux, again from Microsoft (who knew?), is now available with both microphone and camera support.

NixNote is an open-source client for Evernote. It is generally more convenient to use than the Evernote web client, especially for offline use.

There is a desktop application for the DevDocs web site. It is a convenient way to search and read documentation for various programming languages and tools, even in offline more. I found it to be a compelling and often superior replacemnt to Dash.

Ubuntu has a built-in screenshot tool, but for recording the screen as a video file or a GIF there is Peek. It is a breeze to set up and use.

If you use Twitter, Corebird is a nice twitter client, and can be installed on Ubuntu by following the instructions here.

Other Tips

To open files or URLs from the command-like, you can use xdg-open. To view a man page in a GUI window, you can run xdg-open man:crontab.5.

The built-in VNC server is quite limited and doesn’t support the better image compression techniques. Instead, you can use x11vnc by following these instructions for Ubuntu.

Syndicated 2017-03-19 00:24:21 from Benad's Blog

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