July 2005 Archives

Progress! I got up, toyed around on the new machine a bit and then decided to give the Allied Data Technologies modem another try, upload the 5.15 firmware again etc. The firmware itself went OK, but then suddenly something went wrong with the profile or so it seems. Which is truely bizarre as that same profile uploaded without problems yesterday.

At least I now have confirmation that the modem is truely dead : it won't even detect a lan connection anymore, nor does it react to the softkey which would tell it to return to default mode. This time I really killed it I think. Ah well... too bad because it certainly is a good modem with tons of features and options. I may contact ADT Holland and see if I can get it repaired for not too much money, but I'll go out and pick up a new cheapo adsl modem for the time being, so I can (hopefully) get this wireless stuff working after all.

I should really have kept KISS and LITHA in mind before I started working on it. Always remember : don't fix it if it ain't broken.

I see more trouble up the road

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Bleh, no dice. Even downgrading to 4.30 and subsequentially to firmware 4.28 doesn't seem to help. Not even a dns request goes through making the modem nothing more than an expensive box with pretty leds. That majorly sucks, believe me. Why do things like this always happen on the few days off that I have? (Answer : because on days off I get bored and do things I shouldn't try in the first place.)

Even though I can't seem to get or keep an windows box running properly (well, that's not entirely true, it has been running just fine for the past 2 or is it three years already. And with running I mean pretty much 24/7) I got the superb idea to try and install some linux version on this brand new laptop. I don't know yet what brand, type or version it'll be, or if I'll go ahead at all, but I'm grabbing a copy of the latest release of Knoppix right now, so I can test the CD/DVD burner in this baby and see if most bits and pieces are recognized in Linux. I already found some drivers for my wireless Ralink RT2500 card, so that's one less problem.

I won't be any installing before I got my main box up and connected again though, as I can't risk losing all connectivity. Yeah, it may sound pathetic, but a connection to the online world is equally if not more important as a telephone for me. Hell, I rarely even use a telephone!

Geek! Nerd! Idiot! Idiot!

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I should have known that trying too hard wasn't the way to go. But, let me start right from the beginning : Joco messaged me earlier today that he was going to the store to check out a laptop, with wireless access. I told him to pick me up, since new geeky toys always are an interest of mine. To make a long story short, we both walked out with Fujitsu-siemens Amilo L7300 machine, sporting a Celeron M processor. Not top-of-the-line machines, but pretty good for some browsing, some wordprocessing and stuff like that. Definitely not game boxes! Joco also picked up a USR router that I thought would do the job, however I had set my mind on a Linksys WRT54G or GS router. Which the store didn't have.

Joco and Eef dropped me off at home, I booted the laptop and let it commence installation while I went to the city in search for my router. Didn't find it anywhere. Finally got back home - tired - and jumped in the car and drove over to the Wijnegem Shopping Center to check out two more stores. Score! I found a WRT54GS router and bought it, came back home and started installing the thing. It didn't take too long for me to get pissed because the brand new laptop didn't wanna find the wireless network. Well, if I had opened the manual I would have known that Function + F2 is the way to go, but I found out eventually.

However, getting the ADSL modem (with built in router) to talk to the Linksys router was another thing. I failed so far and in the process I thought it would be a good idea to update the firmware of my modem to the latest version, leaving me with NO internet access on my main box right now. Certainly not what I hoped for, let me tell you.

Anyway, the laptop now finds my wireless router, but that doesn't mean shit as it refuses to talk to the modem. Which even if it did would mean nothing since the modem can't connect to my ISP right now. I hope to be able to solve that by downgrading it again and uploading the older firmware and profile. If that works, I'll have access again and more options to find a solution to get both routers set up correctly.

The result? Joco was surfing wireless in the back of his garden 30 minutes or so after he got home and nearly 6 hours later, I'm writing this post on a hijacked wireless network connection of one of the neighbors I guess. It's a good thing some people have no idea about security, otherwise I'd be out of connectivity for real. I hope to get everything sorted before the weekend is over, as next week(s) will be busy with work. And rest assured : my network will be secured :)

Update : I just received a reply from Mike, who was the distributor of the brand of ADSL modem I have, and this is in short what he had to say : Can't help you on the modem problem. That's a closed book for over 2 years now. I suggest you call the Dutch office and ask for "name removed". Company "name removed" has either gone bankrupt or has been taken over by "name removed".

Which means I'm pretty much on my own I suppose. I can try calling them in Holland, but fear I won't be getting much help or support. I'll send them a mail first and see what happens.

Here we go again

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We just had a thunderstorm pass through and the results are clear : my bedroom has drops of water dripping from the ceiling again, wetting the place all over. I had this happening once before (in 2002 if I recall correctly) and even though it's less serious this time, I want it solved permanently this time. Last year we all paid quite a serious amount of cash for a new roof, even though the neighbors were to blame for the previous leak, but inspection shows that our roof was in a bad shape as well, so that was replaced. And now this?

Let me see if I get this correct : the building next to ours has serious waterleakage, which results in my bedroom almost flooding itself. We replace our roof even though it is not involved in the leakage, but we do it to make sure anyway. Now, the neighbors roof is once again to blame for water problems - at least that's what I suspect very much - so they clearly didn't take precautions to stop it from happening again. Makes them really bad boys if you ask me!

Gotta talk to my building supervisor in the morning and if need put a lawyer on it. Which I hate to do because it costs a lot and takes precious amounts of my time as well.

Unrelated : you may have been following - or heard about - the legal fight between Cisco and security researcher Michael Lynn about disclosing some rather serious vulnerabilities in Cisco IOS. At first Cisco tried to prevent Lynn from talking at BlackHat USA 2005. They threw a lawsuit at him and tagged up with his (now ex-)employer, ISS. As a result, Michael Lynn resigned from his job and went ahead and presented his findings anyway. The case seems to have been settled for the time being, but just in the spirit of the free flow of information, I'll provide a link to his speech at BlackHat '05 (PDF Format, 1.9MB) hosted at infowarrior.org, but I've made a copy of the file available here as well : Michael Lynn vs Cisco 2005. Lots more info over at Bruce Schneier's blog of course.

TGIF meme

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Emmanuel wants me to play along with this TGIF meme on stress and what one is doing to calm down. I hate being told what to do, but since I have a couple of minute to spare, why not? No stress!

What are the things you enjoy, even when no one around you wants to go out and play?

* Doing computer things, including pretty much everything but programming.
* Reading
* Watching good comedy on TV - that's much better done alone!

What lowers your stress/blood pressure/anxiety level?

* Stress

o I think I have no stress, but I'm probably wrong.
o Saying Fuck You (with capital letters) to everything that needs to be done - so good!
o Playing with the fuzzies
o Having sex (it's a good thing I don't have stress, because...)

* Blood pressure

o I never cared about it though it is lower than a few months back. Change of diet, you know?

* Anxiety level

o Ain't anxiety and stress the same? Anyway, getting a grip on things works magic, and if that fails : "Fuck You!" and do something else. Works every time. There'll always be tomorrow. I may not be around anymore for the day, but really, should I worry? I doubt that.

Tag 5 friends and ask them to post it in theirs.

* Zoe
* Nonsens from Schoten
* Smeg
* lilfunky1
* Heather

The probability that any of them actually joins is pretty much nill, but that doesn't matter, does it?

Encrypted VoIP you say? Why do we need such a thing? Ain't that difficult? Just for Geeks? I've got nothing to hide! Am I paranoid?

Let's start off with the most difficult question : "why". As far as I'm concerned, there is no answer that has all the reasons you may be interested in it for, why I may be interested, or Jake or Ali down the road. We all have out reasons, even though one may not realize it until it's too late to turn back and do things differenly. If you write a letter - you know, those ancient things with real paper, ink or a pen and actual handwriting - and put it in an envelope, stamp it and drop it in the mailbox, you expect that to reach the destination without it being opened, read or tampered with, don't you. That's the way we've been doing it for years.

Let's take e-mail for example : you write a mail, send it almost instantly to the addressee and be done with it. However, just like in the postal system, your mail bounces through various servers and systems all over the world before it reaches the destination. While we can be - relatively - certain about the security and reliabilty of the established postal system, you have much less certainty about the validity, trustworthness and security of the many servers that accept and forward your e-mail. Pretty much anyone could read it, alter it, or discard it on the way, and in some cases you'd be nothing the wiser.

The same is possible with VoIP, as it's just an IP based protocol that uses servers that are not under your control to reach the destination. Sure, you may not have secrets to share - or so you think - and no one is interested in your boring life anyway, why would the waste time and money tapping your conversations?! Don't ask yourself those questions and just assume that someone, somewhere *is* interested in what you say, write or read.

So, I'm quite interested in what Phil Zimmermann, will have to say about his newest VoIP encryption project, as he presents it at a security conference next week. Check out the Wired article for more information : Privacy Guru Locks Down VOIP. Interesting words by Bruce Schneier on related matters, and The Register has also picked up info on the VoIP encryption : PGP inventor to debut VoIP crypto.

Warning : Totally addictive

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Don't come crying that you "forgot" to go to bed tonight, or get frustrated because you can't get past level 1 even though it seems so easy. I give you : Grow!

Things like this : Telus blocks union website are very good reasons why applications like JAP and tor exist, should be supported and maintained. If others start deciding what you can and can't access (also read censorship? Nah, we wouldn't dare), you will have to find ways around the censorship while the legality is checked and decided upon. And even in that case, I am not one to decide what others can or can't do, read or write, and I expect to get the same courtesy from society.

With new "anti-terrorism laws" being invoked daily and privacy being stripped away, minute after minute, it won't be long before we're being told where to sit, when to breathe and ultimately when to die.

The question is, will you accept it, or fight?

Needled.com Launch

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My good friend Marisa just had her latest project "Needled.com" launched. Check out the launch flyer and head over if it sounds interesting!

The Needled.com Launch

Eleven years ago I got my first--then illegal--tattoo in NYC as a law student. I'd like to say that was the precise moment tattoos became mainstream; however, I'm not sure if that act could compete with today's tattoo obsession. Flooding the US media are battling tattoo reality shows, Britney's body art blunders, and laser removal tips. Often what gets left out of the hype is the art.

That's why Needled.com was created, to draw attention to the artistry of tattoos as well as the work of tattooists on canvas, on walls, in clay, and in words. It also looks at developments in law, culture, and politics affecting tattoo art without insulting anyone's intelligence. Needled's publisher, Josh Rubin, asked me to go beyond the how to choose a tattoo tune of popular media, but also not take a cooler-than-thou tone by speaking only to those in the scene. The result is a daily log on the fine art and culture of tattoos for the masses. Viva La Revolution!

Thanks to my launch sponsor, American Apparel, who understands that clothes should be simple, comfy, and not compete with one's body art. And special thanks to Dan for my beautiful tattoos and everything else he doesn't want me to mention here.

It'll get a spot in my daily reads for sure...

Sleurhutten

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Je kent ze wel, want je bent ze ontgetwijfeld al eens tegengekomen : in Spanje, Ibiza of dichter bij huis, in Metropolis bij voorbeeld. Meestal in groep, maar zelfs alleen hebben ze het grootste bakkes en denken ze dat de wereld van hen is. Jaja, de hollanders zijn weer in aantocht. Deze week werd er een grote uittocht gehouden, via de Kennedytunnel, richting Belgische Kust. En als je zo met je hele gezinnetje, de schoonfamilie, nonkel Jaap en tante Trees op reis gaat met je aftandse roestbak, dan moet je gewoon een sleurhut meenemen, anders kan je immers je wc-papier, zwembandjes en liters bier - nou ja, bier? - niet kwijt. Het is immers niet de bedoeling dat je de economie van een vreemde mogendheid spekt, weet je wel? Soit, dat alles even terzijde gelaten...

Sinds maart van dit jaar zijn er werken aan de gang op de Antwerpse ring. Iedereen weet dat, er zijn talloze campagnes gevoerd zowel in binnen- als buitenland. En toch denken alle keeskoppen dat die werken voor hen niet tellen. Lekker effe met de hele bende aanschuiven aan de ring, met de sleurhut tussen paaltjes manoevreren die eigenlijk net iets te dicht bij elkaar blijken te staan, en dan met een slakkegang door een tunnel met versmalde rijstroken waar nog maar eens blijkt dat je sleurhut toch breder is dan 2 meter. Jaja, straffe jongens, die kezen!

Tic-Tac-Toe

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The 1991 Persian Gulf War, New York attacks on September 11th 2001, US invasion in Afghanistan (October 2001), Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Madrid Bombings on March 11th 2004, London Bombings on July 7th 2005

All of this, yet a movie made in 1983 (close enough?) may have had the answer :

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play."

The question that remains is : how far in the game are we and where is the damn reset button?

Balance, everything must be balanced

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You know what, I'm terribly shy. Of course you don't believe me, I know, but still, it's true. Allow me to present you with some proof :

Just a couple of minutes ago, while shopping I ran into three hot girls. No sane man would try to approach a wolfpack of girls. In group they're even more deadly and ferocious as they are as single predators. But these girls were not a group. It was three instances of running into a different hot girl in the timespan of 25 minutes or even less. What do I do? I acknowledge their presence and continue shopping. Not a word, a wink, nothing.

As I was walking home I was reflecting my behaviour and going over everything I have to offer to someone, and I realized it's all quite balanced :

Why people would avoid me :

I'm honest, sometimes even too honest. I know what I want, yet at the same time I don't. I'm smart and witty, but can't find my words at the correct time. I've got an average dick and an average life. I've got a good job, but it also leads to a hectic life and not being home often. I'm a serious guy, yet kid and joke whenever I feel like it, often to avoid a really serious conversation. The latter has not occured in a long while though, due to no really serious conversations happening lately. I've got my fuzzbutts and love them with all my heart. This also means you'll have to share me with them, and they may at times even come before any possible partner. I love technology, but don't understand it, and most sports are of no interest to me. I'm much into computers, but I'm no better than a good amateur.

Why people would like and love me :

I am myself.

So I wonder... why?

Stop - Go - Done - Leave - Gone

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I just finished quite a bit of work, but it was all fun to do so that's just great. If only all jobs were like that! Off to buy myself some healthy food, finish that last batch of laundry and then entertain the fuzzbutts. Gotta remember to buy a new alarm clock as Olga ate the antenna of my previous one. Teaches me to leave things on the ground when they scoots around...

Also look for aquastop information. Wonder where I'll be able to find that?

Everything but...

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I should be in bed, really, but as you can read, I'm not. Instead I'm being mighty productive : playing Global Insanities, updating websites, proofreading entries for a blog soon to emerge (not one of mine though), contacting a woman about a recent thesis she did about tattooing, contacting EFF, things like that. Everything but sleep. I guess that's a side effect of coming from a nightshift...

Took a ride with Joco in his brand new silver porsche carrera yesterday evening and it was lots of fun! Damn that's one powerful car...

Update July 19th, 11:10 : I ended up working all through the night, and am of course paying for it dearly right now. I did get some thing accomplished though, so it wasn't all a waste of time. Doing laundry right now, off to shower shortly.

IFPI Belgium is at it again. They signed an agreement with ISPA Belgium that will lead to the following usenetgroups no longer being carried/supported/listed on ISP's that are members of ISPA :

alt.cyber2.binaries.mp3
alt.cyber2.binaries.1990s
alt.cyber2.binaries.1980s
alt.cyber2.binaries.1970s
alt.cyber2.binaries.1960s
alt.cyber2.binaries
alt.binaries.warez4kiddies.mp3
alt.binaries.warez.uk.mp3
alt.binaries.tori-amos
alt.binaries.sounds.music
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.zappa
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.world-music
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.techno
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.soundtracks
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.soul-rhythm-and-blues
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.secular
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.rock.full-album
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.rock
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.rap-hiphop.mixtapes
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.rap-hiphop.full-albums
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.rap-hiphop
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.prog
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.pop
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.ninja.music
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.nederlands
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.modern-composers
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.metal.full-albums
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.m
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.lounge
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.jazz
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.indie
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.indian.pop
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.house
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.holland.piraat
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.holland
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.heavy-metal
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.gothic-industrial
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.goa-trance
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.german.charts
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.german
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.garage-rock
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.full_albums
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.french
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.folk
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.disco
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.dance
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.complete_cd
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.classic-rock
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.classical
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.christmas
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.celtic
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.brazilian
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.bootlegs
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.bob-dylan
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.blues
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.black-gospel
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.beatles
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.beach-boys
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.alternative-rock
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.2000s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1990s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1980s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1970s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1960s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1950s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1940s
alt.binaries.sounds.mp3
alt.binaries.sounds.country.mp3
alt.binaries.sounds.aac
alt.binaries.sounds.1990s.mp3
alt.binaries.sounds.1980s.mp3
alt.binaries.sounds.1970s.mp3
alt.binaries.sounds.1960s.mp3
alt.binaries.sounds.1950s.mp3
alt.binaries.sounds.1940s.mp3
alt.binaries.sounds
alt.binaries.rock-n-roll
alt.binaries.remixes.mp3
alt.binaries.pl.mp3
alt.binaries.nine.inc.nails
alt.binaries.music.springsteen
alt.binaries.music.oasis
alt.binaries.music.mp3
alt.binaries.music.heavy-metal
alt.binaries.music.greek
alt.binaries.music
alt.binaries.mp3.zappa
alt.binaries.mp3.top40
alt.binaries.mp3.bootlegs
alt.binaries.mp3

Sure enough if I say censorship, they reply : these groups were carrying illegal content. Furthermore we are not censoring anything as the groups themselves still exist, we just don't have them on our servers anymore.

If 99% of all libraries in your country stop offering books that a group of people opposes too due to content or topic, would you agree? I can tell you right away that the answer "I don't care because I don't read those books/I'm not interested in those topics" is the wrong one! Today they're knocking nextdoor. When will you be woken up in the middle of the night and taken away? Will there be someone left to protest?

Update Notice : an updated release of tor has become available. New versions are 0.1.0.12 (stable) and 0.1.1.2 (alpha).

*waves*

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Yeah, I'm still alive and kicking, I just don't have too much to report or blog about. I'm working nightshift, it's hot outside and there is no real news.

Sunshine and paperwork

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I wanted to sleep a bit longer today, but got up at 11:15 because I was awake anyway. So far I've accomplished the following things today :

- write and publish a product review about Olga (see previous post)
- file taxes online and print them out for myself
- file bank statements and various papers
- check work related things and request recalculation

Not too bad on a day off and in under 2 hours, wouldn't you say? Off to enjoy the good weather now...

Meet Olga - she sucks (dust)

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I think the time has come go give some first impressions on my new Roomba SE, which I named Olga.

When opening the large box, I noticed everything was presented and wrapped well, with eye for detail. Sure enough, the box is nothing but a means to transport the unit itself, and advertising apart from that, but it (hopefully) says something about the time and quality assurance that went into it all.

After taking the plastic covers off, I had the following items in front of me :

1 Roomba SE
1 wall mount unit
1 remote control unit (requires 2 AA batteries - not included)
1 remote control holder that attaches to the wall mount
1 base station with charger
2 virtual walls
1 comb to clean the brushes on the unit
2 spare filters
1 bag of screws and plugs for the wall mount
a set of (basic) documentation in several languages

As soon as the Roomba SE is unwrapped you are excited to see what it does, how it functions and whether or not it'll live up to expectations. After all, this unit is supposed to take most of the work out of your hands, leaving more time for you. The last thing one wants to do, is chase your Roomba SE because it ran into trouble or managed to get stuck somewhere.

Well, let me tell you right away : I'm very impressed with the "intelligence" of the Roomba SE. I've watched it closely - believe me, it's lots of fun - while it was finding its way around my place and was presented with a number of obstacles.

However, before you can start playing around and let your unit chase dustbunnies, you need to charge the battery. The manual states it needs 3 hours to fully charge, in the store Peter told me to let it charge for 24 hours, so I plugged the unit in and pressed the "clean" button after only an hour or so. Bleep bleep, and Olga came alive. A little music played and off she went!

She softly bounced into the door, slightly adjusted her course, bounced into it again and then started following it, leaving 2 to 3 centimeter of space between her body and the door itself. She took the small transition between the hardwood floors in the bedroom towards tiles in the hallway without problem and happily hoovered around. Then she met her first real challenge : my drying rack. Four legs, just high enough to get stuck under and positioned close to a wall. I monitored her closely as the bounced into the first leg, turned a little and tried again. She sailed past it, running into the connecting bars only centimeters later. During all this manouvering, she managed to get into a rather small space with only one exit left, but without too much problems she got back out, no intervention from me required. As I said before, I'm very impressed with the intelligence and object avoidance routines of the Roomba SE!

However, the question is not whether or not it drives around your place in a smooth and trouble free way, but does it suck dust?

Yes it does, but... It's a small vacuum cleaner with an even smaller dust container, so you can't expect it to compare and come out on top of recent almost industrial vacuum cleaners that have entered the market. I've not yet had the chance to allow it to clean the full place, but the parts it has done were quite clean. It had no problems getting on the carpet and cleaning that too, sometimes going into "dirt detect mode" when it noticed spots that needed extra attention. Was my rug as clean as if I get vacuumed it personally, using a regular vacuum? No, it wasn't, but I think it would be unfair to expect such a thing. When you clean your carpet, you go over some spots several times, you can pick up small particles and/or apply more pressure on the brush when needed. A robot cannot do these things, though it gets pretty close!

Getting the Roomba SE to return to its base station proved to be a challenge at times, since the range is a bit limited. If the Roomba SE can't see the rays, it doesn't know where to go to get charged. Easy as that, yet also a bit annoying at times. Best is to just pick it up and put it on the charger yourself, depending on how much time you want it to waste, or how much fun you're having seeing it cross the room looking for new juice. The manual suggests that if this proves to be a problem, to try another spot for the base station, something I may try later during the day.

Positioning it on the charger is very simple, yet one time when she parked herself, something must have gone wrong because the power led came on, indicating a full battery load, yet when I told it to go chase dust about 2 hours later, it gave me a sad beep, a red power led indicating an empty battery and it went back to get more juice. I took the battery out and put it back in, put it back on the base station and it started charging correctly this time. Something you may want to keep an eye on.

Conclusion

The Roomba SE is worth the money, providing your unit works quite well. Online sources report some failures, but on the other hand iRobot has so far been very good at replacing units it seems. I think this type of vacuum has certainly matured from a "geek toy" into a device for a larger public. I doubt the Roomba SE can thoroughly clean a room itself, but it's perfect to keep everything cleanish in between manual hooverings once a month or so. Much will come down to what environment it has to work in (tiles, carpet, layout of the rooms), but I'm rather impressed!

Pro : easy to operate, fun to watch, no assembly required, impressive "intelligence", good choice of operation modes, relatively low noise
Cons : bit expensive, possible charging difficulties, lack of sheduling options (due to change with newer models)

Introducing a new roomie

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My new roomie has arrived. I'm charging her right now, so later tonight I should be able to fire her up and have my place cleaned. I opted - at least for the moment - to install the base station in my bedroom, so the fuzzies can't attack it or decide to chew on leads etc. Not that they do that a lot, but I'd rather have them not test the edibility :)

Roomba SE

I wonder what to name my new roomie? I have decided that it's a "she" (don't ask me why, it just looks like a she-bot) so if you've got good suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments. Geeky and/or techy suggestions much appreciated. Right now, I'm leaning to naming her "Olga". Short, powerful, yet a bit mysterious.

Full review after a first complete test-drive! A couple of pictures of Olga in action below. I need to charge batteries more now. First impression is good, the noise is very acceptable, and much less than my regular vacuum! Since it'll mostly clean when I'm gone, that doesn't even matter much. Quite impressed with it's subject avoiding intelligence though, fun to watch it find its way around various things in the house. More later...

Roomba SE - on tiles in my hallway 1Roomba SE - on hardwood in my bedroomRoomba SE - on tiles in my hallway 2

Scoot scoot, off we go...

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Getting up a few minutes past nine on the first day off, it sounds so dumb, doesn't it? On the other hand, that means I slept a full 5 hours longer than the previous days, which makes it sound good.

I somehow missed this technical advisory yesterday, sorry! Mozilla releases Firefox 1.05 security upgrade, fixing the following problems :
MFSA 2005-56 (Code execution through shared function objects)
MFSA 2005-55 (XHTML node spoofing)
MFSA 2005-54 (Javascript prompt origin spoofing)
MFSA 2005-53 (Standalone applications can run arbitrary code through the browser)
MFSA 2005-52 (Same origin violation: frame calling top.focus())
MFSA 2005-51 (The return of frame-injection spoofing)
MFSA 2005-50 (Possibly exploitable crash in InstallVersion.compareTo())
MFSA 2005-49 (Script injection from Firefox sidebar panel using data:)
MFSA 2005-48 (Same-origin violation with InstallTrigger callback)
MFSA 2005-47 (Code execution via "Set as Wallpaper")
MFSA 2005-46 (XBL scripts ran even when Javascript disabled)
MFSA 2005-45 (Content-generated event vulnerabilities)

My advice? Upgrade. Keep in mind though that some extentions may break on this new version, so if some of those are essential for you, you may want to wait until those are bumped to a compatible version as well.

Off to pick up a robot now, then off to the city to see if I can find some nice second-hand books. Got things to do, I tell ya!

Techy things

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This post will be consisting of mostly technical stuff, so if you just want to know where you have to click in order to be up to date, scroll to the bottom for the links.

Tor is a tool that increases your online anonimity by routing your requests through various tor-servers. IF you feel like it, one can even run their own tor server to add to the network and increase overall performance. I've just installed the most recent stable client (0.1.0.11) and have been playing with it. I combined it with privoxy for increased security and web filtering. Browser (http as well as https) requests are now sent to privoxy - a local proxy - that then connects to the tor network and requests the data through multiple hops. If one would want to go even one step further, tor and privoxy could be used to talk/use freenet, but that's something I won't be setting up soon. I've toyed around with freenet before, but gave up after a while. Either to becoming disintrested in it, or because I found it too much hassle, I don't recall...

Now, take into account that routing your requests over various hops makes browser quite a bit slower, I think that's obvious. So, I set up my proxy switcher extension in Firefox to include Privoxy and Tor, and when I surf normally and/or need a fast connection, I disable my proxies. Whenever I feel like I need more anonimity and can accept a slower connection I switch to Privoxy and Tor within 2 clicks, easy like that. If you want to know more on how exactly I did this, get in touch (my mail address is available on this page, it just takes a little effort!).

Tomorrow I'll be driving over to Peter to pick up a Roomba SE in his shop. I figure that if I'm gonna buy one of those robo-vacuums anyway, I might as well drive a bit further and buy it at a friends shop, even though I've got a local Eldi 6 miles up the road.

While playing GI (link a few posts down) last night, Raveman was complaining that he tried robbing someone in the game, and he was sent to jail for 3 days. Mind you, those are 3 days in real time, not just game time. Being idiots that we are, both Joco and I wanted to try robbing someone too. Joco failed and went to jail for three days. I had studied stealing in the university so figured I would succeed. I failed, and was sitting in a cell next to Joco and Raveman. Joco almost couldn't snap out of this laughing enough to breathe. Lol... we rock, I tell you!

Oh... the links I promised : July 2005 Microsoft Security Bulletin - MS05-35 (Critical) - MS05-36 (Critical) - MS05-37 (Critical)

News

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The Belgian Chamber has taken first steps towards approving a bill concerning the right of gay parents to adopting children. The only thing changed in the previous bill was the striking of three words : "of different sexe".

Yes, it's as simple as that and I really don't understand why anyone would consider same-sexe partners to be less fit to adopt and raise children as "traditional" parents. Apparently a few political parties still differentiate based on sexe : Vlaams Belang (no surpise there), cdH and CD&V. They wanted to keep "of different sexe" in and then regulate the situation for same-sexe parents in another way.

This is such a non-issue that I wonder why so much time spent discussing these things over and over? Either you're fit to be a parent and raise a child, or you're not. My opinion? Stop looking for problems that don't exist and stop wasting valuable time. End of discussion.

The new computersystem - Phenix - being used by the Justice departement is a total waste : insecure, incomplete and not userfriendly. That is the conclusion reached today in a first report auditing the system that was supposed to be live and functioning in 2003. My advice : ask Group 4 Falck (oops, that should be Group 4 Securicor now) about introducing new computer systems next time. They know all about it! My opinion? Think and evaluate before, during and after. Stop wasting our money on things that don't work.

Phew!

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You know what I just realized, much to my relief? That real idiots will selfdestruct over time, thus solving the problem. The only question that remains is how long it'll take - if possible I'd prefer they die before they manage to reproduce.

Excerpt from a diary entry to prove my point (unedited) :

PArty.. with the white bacardi, and the mickey's of CC...
I*heart*liqour!!!

It's my poison.

The half of the night went nuts1!!

Everyone I mean everyone was doing KAY, and Coke... And everyone was WASTED!

Insane joke...

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Lets start off this entry with a little joke :

Maurice, aged 75, visits his doctor for his yearly medical checkup. All tests come back with good results. When Maurice later on steps back into the office to discuss those results, his doctor says that he's in great physical shape. "How are you doing mentally and emotionally, Maurice?" his doctor asks. "Are you pleased with your life, how is your relation to God?

Maurice says : "I've got a superb connection with God. He knows my eyes ain't the best anymore and when I got up tonight to take a pee, he made sure the lights went on when I needed to go and it turned itself back off when I was done."

"Wow, that's quite amazing" the doctor replies. Later that day, he calls Rose, Maurice's wife. "Maurice is in excellent physical shape, but I wanted to ask you some questions about his relation to God. Is it true that when he needs to go take a leak at night, that the lights go on and off automatically?".

"Goddamn! That old fart has been peeing in the fridge again!"

So much for the jokes. I've started playing Global Insanities, a free online game that lets you build provinces, buildings, do research and ultimately the goal is to conquor the world I suppose. How you do that, is completely up to the player. Starting fights and wars with other players may be an option, but through economic means one can get loads of influence as well. I'm still a relatively new player, and I'm not yet sure what route I'll go. Probably a peaceful one with economic growth but while having a firm stick around the corner if needed.

That's about everything I have to say right now. If anything fun or special happens, I may let you know :)

Trip, fall, ouch!

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Sprained my right ankle at work today, about 30 minutes before my shift ended. At first it hurt but I refused to accept that it was painful or needed looking at. 5 minutes later I asked a colleague to take over and I headed to the first aid station in the building where I got an ice-pack for about 10 minutes and was bandaged up later. It still hurts a bit, but the swelling is mostly gone now.

I reported to my chief to let him know what happened but said it shouldn't prevent me from coming for an early shift in the morning. I'll be sitting on my ass for the most part of the day, with just one short 1 hour round later, so I should be fine.

I'm off to bed now, need some rest and I'll hope my foot and ankle feel even better in the morning.

London (UK) under attack

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Early this morning starting at 08h49 bombs went off in central London, wrecking havoc on metro and buslines. Most public transportation in the London area has been suspended for the time being - more info can be found on the Transport for London site.

Hundreds of traffic cams that monitor London have been shut down and show a "This Camera is unavailable for operational reasons" notice when requesting their image. While I think that keeping the public informed is essential, I can understand not providing camera streams without proper information to go with it.

From a terrorist point of view, I must say the attack was a beauty. Sure this may sound harsh and as if I don't care, but that impression is wrong. Understanding what and why it happened is key to learning and possibly preventing it in the future.

Most resources are tied up with the G8 summit going on and loads of security related organisations are focussed on keeping protesters out, and international leaders safe. They G8 summit results in increased tension everywhere and loads of people entering and leaving the greater London area.

A first bomb is set up to disrupt a metro line, and explodes at 08h49. At first everyone thinks about an accident, a powerfailure but not of an attack. Minutes later two more devices explode, taking out other lines. Since metro lines connect most of London, disrupting important lines makes people flock to alternative public transportation. People could take cabs, but they can never make up for the influx of people needing transportation. Hence busses - that are also very frequent in London - get more crowded. An additional explosion on a bus further creates chaos and takes more lives.

Do you see the ingenuity in that? Disrupt transportation method A to shift focus to the alternative, B, where you then strike again, aiming for more chaos. It's like throwing a brick through the store front window and then taking off with all the loot through the back of the building.

Bruce Schneier just posted about the attacks and want to put up a short quote of his post : We need to resist the urge to react against the particulars of this particular terrorist plot, and to keep focused on the terrorists' goals. Spending billions to defend our trains and busses at the expense of other counterterrorist measures makes no sense. Terrorists are out to cause terror, and they don't care if they bomb trains, busses, shopping malls, theaters, stadiums, schools, markets, restaurants, discos, or any other collection of 100 people in a small space. There are simply too many targets to defend, and we need to think smarter than protecting the particular targets the terrorists attacked last week.

A bit of everything

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I made a first tax calculation yesterday and while I'm very pleased with the results, I don't believe them. There must be an error somewhere. Got to have my outcome verified by someone who actually knows what they're doing I guess.

In the news : Belgian Anti-Piracy Foundation with support from the Computer Crime Unit bust a LAN party in De Pinte on May 6th. Over 50.000 mp3 tracks and over 2.500 illegal movies were found, 18 HD's have been confiscated. Sending out invites by mail, listing the titles of illegal content that would be available at the party, doesn't seem such a good idea anymore, does it?

In the news : Riots breaking out at the start of the G8 summit in Gleneagles (Scotland). While I remain convinced that violence is not the correct way to reach acceptable solutions, one has to wonder why these summits aint democratic happenings? Wherever the big players such as the World Bank, G8 etc meet, complete cities and areas are sealed off, fortified and normal life disrupted. Criticism seems illegal during these meetings and whenever someone tries to get too close, they'll be arrested and detained. Ain't it becoming clear that people are fed up with some conservative incrowd deciding what's best for the world?

Well Howdy Ho!

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Can anyone guess what was waiting for my in my snail mail box this morning? You can't? Well, I couldn't believe it either!

Finally my employer got around - only 125 days late - to delivering statement 281.10! They even included an apology with the statement, once again blaming technical problems for being retarded the delay. In regard to the apology, I say : Fuck Off. I don't need no more apologies, I want my stuff on time and without multiple recalculations. It's a good thing we got 2 months extra to file our taxforms, so I can finally complete those and send them in.

Subtle geek fun

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We just got hit by a tropical rainstorm. Well, since we're in Belgium, maybe the "tropical" has to be taken with a few kilo's of salt, but you get the idea. Right as I was downloading some new mixes by DJ Testosterone (it's her birthday today, go wish her all the best!) my power supply shit itself and everything went down. So much for the UPS that's taking up space on my desk. I've known for long that I need to replace the batteries, but that's expensive :)

Maybe the titles of the mixes I was grabbing had something to do with the disconnect : "I want a good thunderstorm" and "ATH0+++".

That's asking for it, right?

Live streaming

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I'm watching the 'T Hof Van Commerce concert they gave at Rock Werchter 2005, using the Concert On Demand option. Luckily it's included in my Belgacom ADSL subscription so it doesn't cost me a cent extra. Nice!

It seems the concerts of Pennywise, Rammstein, Kraftwerk and NIN ain't online - probably due to the artists not agreeing to release their concert for streaming. Ah well... Their loss I suppose because it'll mean less people will get to know their work and possibly buy their CD's.

Who says we don't count?

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R.I.P Tisha 2005-07-02

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As with everything living, ferrets also have a time of coming and a time of going it seems. When I woke a few minutes ago, I checked on the carpetsharks as I always do and Tisha had passed away. She had been ill for a while and medication was not really helpful anymore, so I suppose it was just what was coming up all along. Still it saddens me a lot, as giving up one of those little fuzzbutts that you love so much is hard, very hard.

On the other hand, right now she probably is dooking around somewhere over the rainbow bridge, chasing all her friends and munching on raisins. I'll miss her.

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