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Tue, 18 Dec 2007

PauldotCom Interview, Part I

OK.. so part one of our pauldotcom interview has hit the interwebs.. it was fun and involved a power failure and a dog that chewed through charl's microphone cable about 15 minutes before the interview started..

My thoughts on it were best expressed earlier on irc..

-snip-

12:04 <+MH> i sounded (cleverer/less annoying/less nasal) in my head..

12:04 <+MH> apparently hearing ur own voice through ur teeth explains (3).. (1) and (2) i suspect are just mild delusions..

-snip-

Mon, 29 Oct 2007

Mind Control, Big Cats, Feynman && kiosks...

Aka... A good weekend..

The weekend got off to a slow start, when Amazon claimed it would take a little longer than planned to ship us the "Web Application Hackers Handbook". Fortunately it picked up after that..

The first ray of light was finding a new strange bug on a huge application that smells a lot like full remote code execution.. Then the office had a power-outage and i felt the rage building.. drove to the office to collect my stuff mumbling statements related to 3rd world and feeling sorry for myself, but.. i needed to complete a report and needed to be in JHB later that night, so decided to stop off in Sandton City where i could work for a bit (exclusive books: coffee + gprs + deels could enjoy herself too)

Of course, to reach exclusive books, you have to pass the CAB - Apple store, which already had queues outside for the Leopard Release..

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a quick glance at the global timer they had playing inthe window showed that i was 30 minutes (and a queue of people with funky haircuts) away from grabbing leopard. I tried joining the queue, but discoverd that no matter how hard i tried, passers by somehow still managed to approach me to ask why we were in line.. (i even tried pretending to be on my phone).

After 5 minutes of feeling the intense fanboy feeling, i decided to go back to work.. i returned about 30 minutes later.. happily grabbed a copy (only R999) and walked back to exclusive books..

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I find deels, who has a copy of Derren Browns "Tricks of the Mind" waiting for me..

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Definitely a book i wanted to buy, and the perfect time since i go on vac in a week and have been banned from any books related to even remotely to work.. (Turns out Maths books are allowed, so i get to catch up on some other reading ive been procrastinating) Those 2 would have been good enough, but on the way out i browse the physics section and find a new Feynman book that i havnt yet read.. Triple bonus.. The original plan was to also keep it for the vac, but the pull was too strong..

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Like a true fanboy i got up extra early on sunday morning so i could upgrade wh00t to leopard before deels got up (i was supposed to be finishing my report). The upgrade process was super simple / hitch free.. and about 40 minutes later the machine rebooted prettier and shinier than before..

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Without digging into its guts there are already a few things that are cool.. I used WindowMaker forever before switching to OS X and missed my WMaker style multiple desktops.. Desktop Manager / Friends kinda provided the same functionality but i eventually canned them because of memory footprint and the lack of some integration features.. Spaces handles it simply and with the slightest of config tweaks works exactly like wm used to for me..

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I never used tabbed terms much under X, but its pretty welcome now.. maybe im just getting older :>

We almost watched a movie this weekend, but decided against it.. while deels was choosing the movie i spent some time playing with the touch screen, self service ticket kiosk system..

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From first touch, to system shell, to seeing the rest of the network in about 10 seconds.. im suprised more kiosks dont use Microsofts Windows SteadyState

I looked at it briefly when doing work on ATM's running embedded XP (back when it was called Shared Computer Toolkit) and i cant imagine why anyone on a shared computer would not use it.. it helps you to set reasonable policies in seconds point and click style..

Anyway.. the weekend is over.. back to work! :>

/mh PS.. i have another huuuuuuuuuge rant related to a book i read this weekend called "the Dip" (on how star performers perform) especially since i had this conversation with deels literally 2 hours before finding the book.. but this post is too long anyway, so ill assault you with it later this week..

Fri, 19 Oct 2007

22:30 to 23:30: the quiet hour

while waiting around for the PSW guys last night, it seemed like a good time to test our mettle on the foosball table. we've witnessed rapid development of general foos skills in the office since the introduction of the table a few weeks ago, and the improvement in shot speed has been noticeable. of course, questions always remain as to the difference between actual and perceived velocity of shots, and the only way to answer the questions is by a clean, scientific, test.

here's the test apparatus:

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observe the high quality microphone inserted into the table's feeder. bonus points if you noticed a bottle of Q20, the fooser's friend (of course, given that the Q20 was highlighted reduces the significance of those bonus points. but they're still yours, to love and cherish.)

so, by combining a microphone, audacity, calc.exe, a ruler and primary school physics (barely keeping my head above water here), we get a test rig that can roughly determine shot velocity. the waveform below is a recording of a "snake" from the 5-man middle bar. the shot occurs at t0 and the ball hits the back of the goal at t1; we're ignoring a whole bunch of factors but the numbers matter more than their accuracy in this case as its all about boasting rights.

the easy calculation is 2.628/(t1 - t0)

where t0 and t1 are times in fractional seconds

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" ok, so all that aside, who are the speed freaks? bradleyj is providing page-filler with a respectable 19km/h, i'm sitting on 33km/h but haroon is currently leading with a 34km/h.

its interesting to see that the "snake" is almost twice as fast as regular shots, however we're still finding it a little unpredictable when playing the shot. no mention yet as to what the effect (if any) the table is having on productivity... wait remind me again, was i on a project this week?

Wed, 17 Oct 2007

9 days to leopard...

You can almost taste the fanboy excitement.. but im guessing there will also be the mandatory rush for the first big bug announcements..

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There are a few things that look cool.. Apple joins the right decade with ASLR and native multi-desktops looks cool.. DTrace on osx seems like a winner too.. Of course, theres also the much touted: "Back to my mac" feature:

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[watch video of it in action]

i havnt seen a lot of technical details on this, but will definitely use the free 60 day .mac trial membership to take a look at it, when its live... it just seems like an idea with massive potential to go south..

[as an aside.. i wonder how many exploit researchers have used their ADC memberships to hunt for bugs already, and are just waiting for the full release to announce them..]

Tue, 16 Oct 2007

MSDN Mag - Security Edition is out..

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" The November edition of MSDN magazine [is available] and is another security issue.. The articles look interesting, and if you look closely you should notice articles by infosec rockstars like mike howard, damien hasse and the occasional member of LSD..

Grab it while its hot...