Category Archives: Gnus

News stuff. truly frightens me…

I noticed quite a few hits on my various domains from proxy servers at, so I decided to do some digging. According to articles at Wired and Slashdot, Marketscore is a marketing and trends firm that installs tracking software on your machine that basically acts as big brother and watches every single Web site you to go including encrypted sessions.

Marketscore monitors all of your Internet behavior, including both the normal web browsing you perform, and also the activity you may have through secure sessions, such as when filling a shopping basket or filling out an application form that may contain personal financial and health information. Marketscore’s proprietary and patent pending technology allows us to see the details of secure pages while protecting such content from parties other than the site to which you are connected.

And people happily consent to this! Be afraid. Be very afraid.

useradd: invalid user name ‘first.last’

Starting somewhere around the migration from Red Hat Linux 9 to Fedora Core, useradd (adduser) stopped allowing dots in usernames. This was all well and good to fix some of the problems that dots can cause under certain circumstances, but it left some systems administrators high and dry when it came to creating new users where company policy dictated a firstname.lastname username scheme.

For the past few months I’ve been using a quick and dirty hack with no ill effects. Create the user as firstname_lastname, rename their home directory to firstname.lastname, and then run vipw and vigr to modify the password and group files to change all instances of firstname_lastname to firstname.lastname.

It sucks, but it works…

Tin ceilings and Wi-Fi

Much to the amusement of our friends Chip and Val, tin ceilings completely block all Wi-Fi signals from passing from their upstairs 54g access point to their downstairs kitchen, dining room, and family room. No big deal; I’ll just install a second access point or drop an external antenna down through the wall to cover their first floor. out of business?

It appears that (aka Hugebee) has disappeared off the face of the planet even though their Web site is still taking orders and charging credit cards. Brian and I originally used them a year and a half ago to purchase Athlon 2400+ workstations at an amazing price so they immediately came to mind when it came time to purchase a Dual Xeon server for our compile farm. Unfortunately, they charged my corporate Amex almost two weeks ago, my server hasn’t shown up yet, their phones are all RNA or disconnected, and their BBB Report tells an interesting story.

“On September 24, 2004, we verified that most listed telephone numbers for this company are disconnected, or are no longer in service. The company’s website is no longer functional. We believe this company is out of business.”

So be it. I contested the charges, filed a BBB report on them, and ordered a 1U Dual Xeon instead.

Pepper Pad 2 Linux Web Pad

Pepper Computer debuted their $800 Pepper Pad 2 at DEMOmobile 2004 this week. Specs include a 624 MHz XScale processor, 8.4″ 800×600 TFT touchscreen, 802.11b+g, and 20 GB HDD running MontaVista Linux CEE. Out of the box the Pepper Pad 2 loads the Pepper Keeper as its GUI, but a full-blown Linux distribution with Java 2 JRE and X-Window System is sitting under the covers just waiting be customized. I personally can’t wait to get a hold of one of these to turn into an OBD-II and telemetry workstation for the rally car.

Pepper Pad 2 Debuts

Pepper Pad 2

Isn’t she a beauty? She’s what I’ve been slaving over for the past two weeks. She’s the reason I put in a full work week’s worth of hours over Labor Day weekend. She’s why I didn’t sleep last night. We launched this morning at 7:00 AM and are officially announcing the Pepper Pad 2 at DEMOmobile 2004 today. I could go on, but I’m rather tired and think I’ll curl up under my desk and die now.

Running Verisign Payflow Pro under PHP on Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Fedora Core

When running Verisign Payflow Pro under PHP on Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Fedora Core, all of the SDK instructions assume that PHP is getting recompiled and reinstalled from scratch. This is all well and good on testbed systems, but not so hot for productions systems that use subscription-based package and security updates.

Luckily, can be compiled as a loadable module:

  1. Drop pfpro.h and into their respective directories per Requirements.
  2. Install the RedHat Enterprise Linux or Fedora Core PHP SRPM.
  3. Add “--with-pfpro=shared,/usr/local \” to the “%configure \” line in php.spec.
  4. Run rpmbuild -bc php.spec.
  5. Copy /usr/src/redhat/BUILD/php-X.X.X/build-apache/modules/ to /usr/lib/php4.
  6. Add “” to /etc/php.d/pfpro.ini using the other .ini files as templates.

Now sit back, relax, and bask in the knowledge that you are contributing to the evil empire that is Verisign.

Hacking the ORiNOCO Silver into an ORiNOCO Gold

mob-netstum_goldThe ORiNOCO Classic Gold PC Card is the radio of choice for Wardrivers and Netstumblers worldwide, and its massive internal antenna and external antenna jack make it an extremely versatile radio for both portable and mobile applications. Distributed under many different monikers, the PC Card may sport a decal for WaveLAN, ORiNOCO, Lucent, Agere, Avaya, or Proxim. To make things even more confusing, a 64-bit WEP Silver version of the card exists in addition to its 128-bit WEP Gold big brother.

Physically, it turns out that there’s little difference between the Silver and Gold versions except for a different label, a hefty price increase, and a few flipped bits in flash. After doing a search I found that it was indeed possible to easily hack the ORiNOCO Silver into an ORiNOCO Gold. Alchemy v1.01 by Lincomatic automates the process by detecting the card, dumping the PDA from flash, patching the PDA, then re-flashing the modified PDA. 128-bit WEP Gold capability can then be enabled by upgrading the firmware to the latest version.

This afternoon I ran Alchemy on a first generation WaveLAN Silver PC Card and successfully upgraded the firmware to 128-bit WEP Gold 8.72, and will try to upgrade a pile of old ORiNOCO Silver PC Cards this evening.