Sony and US judge gone mad

March 5th, 2011

Just when you think things can’t get any more idiotic, something like this comes along;

A federal magistrate is granting Sony the right to acquire the internet IP addresses of anybody who has visited PlayStation 3 hacker George Hotz’s website from January of 2009 to the present.

Nothing new, we already knew Sony are nazis and the US is a 3rd world country, but if anything, this only encourages people even more to actively persuade their friends not to buy Sony crap. Personally I’m grabbing a glass of good whisky to celebrate on the day Sony finally goes up in flames.

While we’re at it. Here’s another scary story… Am I the only one who finds it strange they track down content sharing this hard, but when Wall Street and the likes screw up the entire worldwide economy, almost nothing happens… oh wait, Bush is also still at large… You know what’s going on in Libya? Bit harsh comparison, but similar battles and international judgments are in order against content providers and friends.

Making progress

March 5th, 2011

If the MicroServer were human and female, I’d be in love. The little thing is fantastic. Got Debian testing and Fluxbox running out of the box, the RAID5 array is rebuilding in the background and slowly working through all steps. Even ATI’s proprietary driver install went relatively smooth (once you figure out it needs kernel headers). ATI’s installscript logs things in /usr/share/ati/ and only there. According to the GUI nothing is wrong and the entire install went fine. Which of course isn’t the case. Apart from this annoyance, it went remarkably well.

One of my worries was the temperature of the passively cooled vga card. So far things appear to be within limits. Last night it stabilised around 62.5 °C and during the night it went down to 52 °C (signal off and central heating turned down). This morning it has risen to 59.5 °C while typing this. This doesn’t give a complete yet, since I still need to test 1080p movie playback.

To get each temperature reading I used the aticonfig tool:

aticonfig –odgt

Half a gigabyte of grey dust

March 4th, 2011

Looking for a closeup of the moon? Here’s half a gigabyte for your enjoyment, thanks to LRO. Resolution is 0.5 meter per pixel, so this’ll keep you occupied for a while ;)

MicroServer vs old seedbox size comparison

March 4th, 2011

To give a better idea as to how small this thing actually is, here’s a shot of it standing next to my old seedbox.

Also good to know is that the server is pretty silent. A quick and dirty subjective noise comparison revealed the noise level is about the same (no RAID yet) which is impressive. However the frequency is clearly much lower (usually a good thing).

Oh and the Broadcom NIC is up and running now. It is supported out of the box after all, but since I installed on a different system, udev mapped it to eth1 instead of eth0. Which offcourse wasn’t in /etc/networks/interface, so remembering how to use vi was an essential exercise ;) Also visible in the photo is the 250GB harddisk that came with it. Experimenting with a system running from a memorystick is not something I can recommend…

Stuffed server

March 3rd, 2011

Just a quick look at the new server now that everything has arrived. The thing is almost ridiculously small :D But then again it’s stuffed with only some room left in the CD-ROM bay.

All SATA bays are filled, both RAM slots are filled and the VGA and audio cards are there. In some places thing are separated by mere millimeters.

Just did a quick boot and the good news is Debian testing boots from USB (plugged into the internal USB connector). Things didn’t explode, but so far networking does not work. That’s my next order of business! Until then, enjoy the nice photo on the left ;)

ProCurve X-mas lights

March 1st, 2011

Holy packet! HP found some high brightness LEDs… definitely way too bright to place within sight. Other than that, cool switch :D

Pocket-sized OV-Chipkaart reverse engineering

March 1st, 2011

For those interested in reverse engineering the OV-Chipkaart system (aka Dutch public transport card that’s currently being hacked to shreds because of gross incompetence of Trans Link Systems); here’s an setup that’ll work and fit in your pocket :)

Just a Pandora with a common RFID reader. With the proper knowledge you can whip up your own within a few hours ;)

Also fun would be to replace the reader with a custom Bluetooth capable setup (the Pandora already has Bluetooth). To help you on your way I’ll leave you with these URL’s: an ISO 14443 RFID module combined with a Bluetooth serial bridge. Put it in a lunchbox or something innocent looking and they’ll never suspect a thing.

Linux kernel got fat!

February 28th, 2011

Just downloaded the latest kernel sources in preparation for the new server. The bzip2 compressed archive is over 70 MB these days… what the…? Last time I build a custom kernel it was 36 MB.

Should ATI still burn in hell? Very likely so!

February 27th, 2011

There’s probably a week’s worth of ranting about ATI’s and NVIDIA’s proprietary gfx card drivers, but for now I’m keeping it short. A short introduction is in order. Years ago I knew exactly which card was needed to get the best performance. It took time reading up and keeping up-to-date with all the latest developments. Since then my interests changed from knowing the exact details to something along these lines: I don’t care how it works as long as it works as you can reasonably expect (and I expect a lot by default. If you can’t deliver a decent piece of hardware, software or service, please do the world a favor and burn down your company as quickly as you can. Stopping myself here, as this is also one of those subjects I can go on about for days).

Anywaaaay… all those years ago I bought ATI gfx cards for the simple reason that they were the fastest. Not that you’d ever notice this in a real life usage, but synthetic benchmarks ruled. But as you know a decent piece of hardware is only half the story. So imagine you’ve got this sexy (the nerdy kind of sexy, not the erotic variant) piece of hardware lying in front of you, you wipe the drool of you chin, you plug it in and boot the latest Linux kernel. Next is installing ATI’s latest driver only to discover you’ve ended up in hell. It may have been years ago, but my mind still bears the scars of agony and frustration… hours on end. For this alone ATI deserves to burn in hell for all eternity (which is a pretty pointless thought if you don’t believe in heaven and hell (but the creation of an artificial hell would be most welcome. We could stuff all those greedy corporate bastards there. Maybe even a webcam and some running man style show for our entertainment to watch (which in turn we would watch via networks run by the same corporate bastards and thus negating the entire idea… anywaaaaay :)))).

Long story short I swore never to use ATI again. Since that time I’ve switched to NVIDIA on systems that required high performance 3D and embedded Intel for everything else. While NVIDIA cards also come with a proprietary driver, their installation process was (or is) much less frustrating. Intel on the other hand sucks for 3D, but just works for everything else. For non-gaming purposes, Intel is a blessing and I can highly recommend it if you don’t want to fiddle around. Now fast forward to 2 weeks ago when I ordered the MicroServer. Never thought of the ATI horror and focused on a card that fit and satisfies the max power limitation (25W for the PCIe x16 slot). And from what I’ve read ATI’s Linux support is still something to cry about. Don’t care about 3D, but for HTPC usage hardware decoding support is more or less mandatory.

So when all components have arrived I’ll be attempting to get a Radeon HD 5450 GPU up and running. This GPU has an UVD2 video engine (UVD = Unified Video Decoder) and uses the XvBA (X-Video Bitstream Acceleration) API. The UVD 2 engine features full bitstream decoding of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, VC-1 and MPEG2 video streams. If rumours are correct it sucks balls compared to NVIDIA’s Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix (VDPAU). Rumour also has it that this proprietary crap has to do with DRM. Just as you think your hatred of a certain technology can’t get any deeper, it does. In any case I’m already preparing for some torture and if all else fails I’m just gonna get a GeForce G 210 or GT 220 card (only realistic options considering the 25W PCIe limitation).

Btw, anyone else thinks writing your entire company name in capital letters makes you think of sad 16 year olds screaming for attention on the net?


February 26th, 2011

Just realised I never wrote about the whole server thing is for. Silly me! I like watching movies and series and listening to music, preferably in the best quality available (e.g. full hd and lossless). With movies @10GB a piece, series @1.3GB per episode (and going on for several seasons), this takes up a lot of storage.

Currently I use 3 systems – a big noisy power sucking 19″ rack for storage, a silent mini-ITX for torrenting and a Popcornhour for playback. Why replace this setup? The first is pretty obvious, so I’m going into that. The Popcornhour was chosen because I don’t want to fool around with codecs and GUI software. Select whatever you want to play and press play. The mini-ITX sits in the middle and downloads/seeds 24/7 while the 19″ rack is powered down. Every once in a while it’s 1TB harddisk is full and stuff is transfered to the big server (or the other way around if I want to watch something stored on the server). Besides HTPC purposes the setup is used for backups, storing projects, photo’s and so on.

What the new server must do is replace all 3 systems mentioned above. It must be able to run silently 24/7 without using too much power. It must be able to play full HD and play music (hence the gfx and audio cards) . And it must have a shitload of storage to keep safe and accessable. 10TB might seem much, but my guess is I’ll run out of space within a year.