Monday, January 31, 2011

Shmoocon 2011

Dave and I have returned from Shmoocon 2011. Again, Shmoocon was a loose-knit collections of contests, linked together by various technical talks and general mischief. My wife has already confiscated all of the swag pens and all of the t-shirts. I have the following comments about various talks:
  • The "Hacking SmartWater" talk was just scary enough.
  • As always, a talk by Johnny Long can't/shouldn't be missed. This was no exception. He's asking for help.
  • I successfully resisted the urge to argue with Tara Whalen during her discussion on Google's wireless issues.
  • we were able to grab one of the cases offered during the interesting Zigbee Security talk.
  • Richard Friedberg's talk on Flow caused me to want to take another look at it (it's been around for a long, long time).
  • the talk on Hedy Lamar's technical work was interesting (it goes with this year's idea that certain applications of FHSS are about to be overcome).
  • The talk on URL shorteners should be a source of fun for months to come.

One of the themes for this year (more than two talks on the topic) is that Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) is no longer as secure as it once was. Various people have been working on ways to determining the hop pattern and doing other things with homemade boards. Bluetooth is going to take a beating this year. I managed to snag one of Travis Goodspeed's GoodFET boards.

I embarrassed myself only twice this year: 1) My apologies for the snoring during the talk on the second day (Dave says I was quite loud). 2) Dave Marcus pointed out one of my accounts during his FireTalk about recon'ing via social media. Apparently, I'm the only one at Shmoocon who tweets with location turned on. (heh) He should have won the iPod.

My neighbor, in the room next to mine, embarrassed himself at 6 a.m. on Saturday. I woke to the middle stages of a the classic porcelain prayer, "Please God! I promise I'll never do it again." Dude, whatever it was that you were doing the night before, you weren't doing it right.

(Following was told to me by someone who made me promise not to give up his name) As always, Telmnstr brought something to the con. This year, it was a retired bomb disposal robot. TJ (a grown man) was playing with it in one of the public areas of the hotel, learning how to pick up and drop a Shmooball. He was pwned a short while later by the youngster (4-6 year old girl) who commandeered the controller and showed off the robot's ball capturing capabilities much better than anyone else (sorry TJ). We suspect that she had prior training.

We're sorry that we missed the closing session as we had to get on the road. Fortunately, someone has the closing talk up on uStream (also below). It's proof that actually work gets accomplished during the con (other than Josh Wright writing code for a speaker's prototype system while the talk is in progress). It takes about an hour to give out the prizes and say the various thank-you's. All in all, the con was fun.

[ustream vid=12355746 hid=0 w=480 h=296]

Saturday, January 22, 2011

KnowledgeTree and PmWiki

I managed to get KnowledgeTree 3.7 working on Ubuntu 10.4 (notes here). I also managed to bridge PmWiki to KT's WebDAV back end using davfs2 (notes here). To make a long story short, I can:
  • store my digital magazines (Linux Journal, Hakin9, BSD Magazine, etc.) in KT
  • search them via KT or Namazu
  • read them via KT, Namazu, or PmWiki
  • or put them on display in PmWiki
I can also point a WebDAV-capable file manager at the back end and move files around. As always, it's a bit overkill for my uses, but it's fun doing it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Breaking Koha

(following is mostly for my benefit)  In playing with the test version of Koha (just doing the simple things), I managed to break it.  After deleting a record, OPAC searches return the following error:

Can't call method "as_usmarc" on an undefined value at /usr/share/koha/lib/C4/ line 2384.

It took a bit of search in Google but I did come across this post from Mason James.  His recommendation is to run:

./bin/migration_tools/ *or*./bin/migration_tools/

Problem is that if you run the above from /usr/share/koha, you receive complaints about not being able to find the Perl module C4::Context. The solution is to run the script with the full path, like:


The above rebuilds the BIBLIO and AUTHORITIES indexes and you should be able to search via the OPAC page again.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Thanks to Tomas Cohen, Koyami, and Shadower SC at the Koha Wiki, I now have a working instance of the Koha ILS on one of my scratchboxes.  ("ILS" is short for "Integrated Library System".)  While there's a couple formatting issues (bad wiki markup?), their article includes 99% of the info needed to get an instance up and running from source.

I was having a lot of trouble with getting the Koha VM running under ESXi 4.1.  Frustration set in and I resorted to building it from source.  Other than adjusting usernames, database names, and tweaking Apache a few times, their article works pretty well for an install on a paravirtualized Ubuntu Server 10.4.

Notes in the wiki shortly...  Still need to wade through the tutorials.  Then there's a number of extensions that "need playing with".

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Updates to the wiki - old articles

I've been caught slacking.  I still haven't reposted all of the wiki articles.  This morning, I've added some of the older articles, dealing with hardware.  Most of the NSLU2 stuff is now re-posted.

Class starts this week so I should have time to finish the updates. (Does that make sense?  I have to be busier to have free time?)  Enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011


Was allowed to play with the Cr48 laptop last night.  It was quite interesting.  For the geeky types, it makes for a nice instant-on-I-just-have-to-check-a-web-page tool but it's impossible to do anything that isn't available via a web page.  I probably like it because I've spent the last year slapping web front-ends on everything from IRC to ESXi VM controls.

The guy that had brought the laptop in, to show it off, said it best: "The techies will hate it but the non-techies will absolutely love it."  All in all, if it sells for about $150, Google will eat both Microsoft's and Apple's lunch for the year or so that it takes them to catch up.  If it sells for about $300, I don't think it'll go far (for an extra $100, you can have acquire a full-featured, albeit cheap quality, laptop).

I managed to get it to log into the OpenVPN-ALS management page but didn't have enough time to get to access the internal wiki or any other service at the house.  I get the impression that it's running OpenJDK, 'cause it generated the same errors as OpenVPN-ALS-on-OpenJDK.

Someone else was able to play a Pogo game on it.  If it is OpenJDK, it's a quite recent one.

It is able to play YouTube videos so it has Flash.  However, at 480 resolution, it just jerky enough to be noticeable (skips a frame every now and then).  This could have been caused by the wireless bandwidth which was being shared with a half-dozen other laptops.  (Anyone else get this impression?).

No one thought to click on the Market icon to see what was available.  Next time maybe.

Overall, I think it'll make a good "cloud" interface for people who primarily surf the web, blog, and/or use Google apps.