Archive for November, 2005

DynDNS Unreliable?

November 30, 2005

Please explain this to me – why I can’t access any webpages on DynDNS hosted subdomains (such as homelinux.org, ath.cx and etc..) from work? I’m sure it’s not a firewall or web filter issue because I can access the pages just fine when I use the IP. But DNS lookup simply does not find these adresses. Why is that? I just can’t figure this out.

The funniest thing is that my company has the static IP for the central server registered with DynDNS. Why am I having problems accessing the free generic subdomains from the same company?

I know I’m getting spidered by Google and I get hits from technorati every day so I’m just putting this question out there. Have you had accessibility issues with DynDNS?

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More Memory!

November 30, 2005

My 512 MB stick just came in today. It’s amazing what a little extra memory can do to your performance. At 256 meg I was swapping half of the time and this was virtually unbearable.

Next on the list is a new graphics card, DVD burner and a bigger hard drive (precisely in that order). The holidays are coming so, er… If you are looking for a good present for me, write this down πŸ˜‰

Swing is Slow

November 29, 2005

I’m at a loss at this point… I do the following: I create IconImage using a 3 layered (RGB) BufferedImage, and I put it on a JLabel. Then I put the label on a JInternalFrame for display. I use JScrollPane for scrolling. The image is 640×640.

The image loads ok but scrolling is painfully slow. Moving over 1 tic usually takes 10-20 sec and eats up 50% of the CPU time. It also effectively freezes the Java application. WTF? Is this a case of Swing being slow? This is driving me nuts. Maybe I should I try a different windowing toolkit?

I effectively broke the code today so I won’t be able to take care of that till I track down my mysterious nullpointer exception. I essentially re-organized my whole io package. I essentially broke my main file io class into 3+ different implementations, all extending an abstract template with common functionality. The mentioned old class now plays a support role, and has nothing to do with direct io. The code makes more sense now from extensibility point of view, but I broke something in the process and I still haven’t figured out what it is.

I also need to get my stego shit together. It’s just to much stuff to do all at once. I’m so glad text assignment is not due till next week πŸ™‚

Hacker

November 28, 2005

This is my little pet peeve – the usage of word “hacker”. Come on people, get it straight:

hacker: n.

[originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe]

1. A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. RFC1392, the Internet Users’ Glossary, usefully amplifies this as: A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular.

2. One who programs enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming.

3. A person capable of appreciating hack value.

4. A person who is good at programming quickly.

5. An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently does work using it or on it; as in β€˜a Unix hacker’. (Definitions 1 through 5 are correlated, and people who fit them congregate.)

6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One might be an astronomy hacker, for example.

7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.
from Jargon File

I really hate when people use the term hacker to describe a computer criminal without disambiguating it. People should be educated about this!

Today we had some security expert giving a presentation in class and he committed the horrible crime of using “hacker” as a buzzword. Any “security expert” who fails to disambiguate this term at some point in his speech, obviously suffers from some pointy haired syndrome. His case might be mild, but this is enough for me to loose respect for his expertise.

This is crucial. If you make a security speech, use terms like black-hat or script kiddie and disambiguate the term hacker. Otherwise few uber-dorks like me will feel disappointed πŸ˜›

Mame Madness

November 26, 2005

Street Fighter Alpha 3 – I’m Playing as Sakura (and getting my ass kicked ;P )

I wasted a whole day today playing capcom games on the MAME arcade emulator. Geez… I was supposed to be doing schoolwork. Why do I do this to myself?

It’s just that these games are so mindlessly entertaining. I’m reliving my childhood, and early college years. I still kill at X-Men vs Street fighter. I beat the whole game with Ryu & Ken on Normal with only 1 continue πŸ™‚

I also fell in love in Street Fighter Alpha 3 which I actually never played on an arcade. It’s an awesome game. On the pic you can see me playing as Sakura – a chick Shotokan fighter! I really like her – all the speed and agility of Chun-Li, and all the cool moves. She has couple hadouken moves (small, big-but-low-range, super, etc..) a a vicious variation of shoryuken and a downgraded spinning kick. Fun!

Anyways, tomorrow I’m really getting back to schoolwork. No more games. Remind me of that!

Arcade Games on your PC

November 26, 2005

After watching that Ryden vs. Ken animation I desperately wanted to play a Street Fighter game today. Unfortunately, after digging through all my PS1 games I realized that I never owned one. Sure, I rented few titles back in a day, but I never actually purchased one.

So I went and downloaded Mame. What is Mame you ask? It’s the ultimate arcade emulator. It’s a little command line app which will turn your PC into an arcade machine. All you need to do is to unzip the client somewhere, put a game rom in the roms directory and you are ready to go.

You can download roms from Rom World. Just select MAME as your platform and start downloading. For example, let’s assume you downloaded X-Men vs Street fighter (which will be xmvsf.zip). Let’s assume you have mame in C:\mame\. Unzip the xmvsf into the C:\mame\roms directory so that now you have C:\mame\roms\mxvsf.

Now just run mame with the name of the folder and it should run the game. Here is an example session:


Szaman2 @ GRENDEL : C:$>cd mame

Szaman2 @ GRENDEL : C:\mame
$>dir /b /ad roms
dino
mk3
msh
mvsc
sfa3
sfex2p
xmcota
xmvsf

Szaman2 @ GRENDEL : C:\mame
$>mame xmvsf
Loading xvs.20m

Sorry – don’t mind my prompt. I just can’t stand the usual C:> bullshit :p

Anyways, the emulator runs in full screen mode but hitting ESC will kill it and kick you back to windows. The default key mappings are as such:

5 – insert coin
1 – player 1 start
2 – player 2 start
F2 – diagnostic menu
TAB – emulator options (here you can re-map the keys)
left CTRL – game button 1
left ALT – game button 2
SPACE – game button 3
arrows – up, down, right, etc…

The default button mappings are beyond retarded. Even in a 2 button game using CTRL and ALT is dangerous as you are hovering over the windows key. Every time you hit it, windows will send the emulator to background. This wont crash the game, but it is annoying as hell if you do this every 10 seconds it gets old fast.

Most fighting games from capcom use 6 buttons which makes the default setup unusable. I mapped the buttons to numpad keys but that’s far from perfect solution… Good news is that you can manage the key mappings on a per game basis πŸ™‚

I spent the evening today getting my ass kicked on all the fighting games I downloaded. Fighting games were not meant to be played on keyboard… But it’s great to re-live these games once again. If you fondly remember all the classic arcade games, give Mame a try!

Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat

November 25, 2005

Screen Shot of this Awesome Animated Flash!

This must be the coolest flash animation I have seen in a while. It is beautifully choreographed and animated! Rayden and Ken really look like they are fighting each other – along with blocking, dodging and etc. Amazing!

Watching this made me want to play a Street Fighter game again. They used to have a X-Men vs. Street Fighter machine down in the Rat at some point. I used to spend all my loose quarters on that thing. I was pretty decent. I could beat the game in one go without any problems and I could fend off random newbie challengers. Of course there were some guys out there who could beat me without even breaking a sweat. I could never master those damn 20 hit combos, and hard core stuff like that.

I’m still not sure why did they pull the games out of school. Sigh… I miss it.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

WinXP Home Box Administration

November 24, 2005

If you have ever owned, maintained or even looked at a WinXP Home box, you most likely noticed that it is the same OS as XP Pro. All the system guts are in place, but some of the GUI interfaces and executables were held back during installation.

For example XP Home does not have a ACL File Permissions tab when you call up Properties of some file or folder. Hardened veterans of windows tech support of course know that this feature “magically” appears when you log into Safe Mode as Administrator. Funny, eh? Our crippled little system is not as crippled as Mr. Gates would like it to be.

In fact you can control file permissions from the CMD shell without the need for gui with the cacls command. Think of it as a chmod for windows. For example to make a file private you can do:


cacls myfile.ext /g username:F

The g attribute means “grant”. The letter after the colon is permission (you can use R-read, W-write, C-change, F-full). Note that this will wipe all the ACL permissions from your file. If you want to give a user Bob read permission to that file later on, you can do:


cacls myfile.ext /e /g Bob:R

The e attribute means “edit” – or in other words, add this permission to an existing ACL set. This can be annoying, especially if you are used to chmod syntax but sooner or later you will get the hang of it. One significant difference between ACL and unix file permissions is that you can’t lock yourself out of a file. Ownership always overrides the ACL.

Another feature hopelessly missing from WinXP home is group management. You can’t define groups from the GUI. Or can you? Once again due to a fluke or tight coupling the guts of the system are still in place. All you need to do to get to the user management console is to run this command:


control userpasswords2

Write this down! But note that the Advanced management snap in is not going to work here.

If you are a cli kind of guy, you can just use the swiss army knife of windows commands: the infamous net. For example lets create a new user Bob and put him in the group Lamers:


net users /add Bob
net localgroup /add Lamers
net localgroup /add Lamers Bob

Done! Could not be easier. Read up on the net command. All user management can be done through it. Who needs the clunky GUI.

Anyways, these are the life saving cli commands that saved my life in the past. Who needs XP pro if you can force the Home version to do allot of the same things with just a little additional work.

Cohen and MPAA

November 23, 2005

Everyone seems to be talking about the agreement between Bram Cohen and MPAA lately. I have two three words for you: MPAA PR stunt.

This is good for MPAA because they can be seen with the guy who is considered the king of pirates – the creator of BitTorrent. Of course Cohen himself was always against piracy. This is why the trackers are openly publishing IP’s of the connected peers. Cohen never saw a need to obfuscate this info because he did not anticipate illegal trading. In fact, on his website he openly discourages illegal trading via BT. But since BT is under GPL, anyone can do whatever they want with the technology.

The fact that BT is the leading technology used in distribution of infringing material has nothing to do with Cohen. BT is simply the best thing out there so far and that’s that.

Of course in the eyes of an average consumer this is inessential. Most people who buy into MPAA crap have lost their ability to think logically long time ago. Therefore MPAA can parade around and tout this alliance as a great victory for Copyright – “the great beast Bram Cohen, creator of evil pirate empire has been tamed! The world is safe again! Rejoice!” Whatever…

This is also good for Cohen. By making nice with MPAA he legitimizes himself. You see, MPAA lawyers have this problem… They are clueless as fuck! In their blind goose chase they could one day get a bright idea to sue Bram. He would doubtlessly win – but who wants to sit in court and listen to MPAA drivel?

Cohen is a hacker – he wants to work on his projects and avoid stupid lawsuits. He has no sympathy for the cracker community so he goes on record saying he is best buddies with the MPAA execs now. MPAA takes him of the “people to sue” list and everyone is happy.

Bram keeps removing illegal shit from his search results like he always did, and MPAA has another success story they can tell to all the dumb fucks who still believe in their propaganda.

Nothing has changed. Life goes on. The sky is not falling, so stop the whining and get on with the program.

Dell Inspiron – Wandering Pointer Solution

November 23, 2005

The retarded Dell Inspiron keyboard

I finally found a semi-working solution to the Inspiron wandering pointer issue. First, let me introduce you to the problem. On the right you see a standard Inspiron model keyboard. Please note the pointer stick protruding in the middle. Wonder why Dell doesn’t make this type of keyboards anymore?

It’s because they suck! You see, in most cases the little knob rises above the keys enough to actually touch the LCD when the lid is closed. This is not always the case, but most of the laptops I have worked with have this happening. My own laptop has a noticeable mark on the LCD right where the stick is touching it.

I’m not an expert on pointer hardware but I know one thing. The constant interaction between the knob and the screen be good for the pressure sensors that capture the stick movements. In the long run it kills the whole keyboard. If you have ever owned a 3-4 year old Inspiron 4xxx model you will probably recognize the symptoms. When you hit ‘H’ or ‘G’ the mouse shoots up to one of the upper corners of the screen and stays there. The slightest movement makes the mouse go “nuts”.

Sometimes applying pressure to the left side of the palm rest (right above the battery), or picking the left side of the laptop up 2-3 inches from the table can break the wandering cycle and give you back control of the mouse. It does not always work though. Usually the only long term solution is to replace the keyboard. Once you do that all the symptoms go away.

Some people actually removed the rubber guard from the stick hoping that this will fix the problem. It wont. When you get the “wandering pointer problem”, the rubber part is the least of your worries – what is broken is the underlying circuitry.

But, if you don’t feel like getting another keyboard there is one thing you can do. Go to Dell’s website and download the Synaptic touch pad driver. Most people don’t use it but it has one very important feature which windows drivers miss. The Synaptic software lets you to completely disable the pointer stick. Once you do that, you should be all set. Try it! It worked for me πŸ™‚

Unfortunately this solution does not work on Linux so my Kubuntu laptop still has bouts of mouse madness every once in a while. πŸ˜›