Archive for December, 2007

Patch to build TrueCrypt v4.3a modules on 2.6.23+ kernels

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I run kernels directly from Linus’ git tree on my Thinkpad T42p laptop. As such, things like wireless drivers (madwifi-ng in my case), VMware modules and TrueCrypt require patching of the various bits of code to get it all working.

A lot of people are having trouble building TrueCrypt on 2.6.23, 2.6.24 and later kernels… and nobody has a solution, but there are a lot of people posting on the various Gentoo, Slackware and other forums with the issues.

The errors you’ll see will look like this:

Checking build requirements...
Building kernel module... /src/truecrypt-4.3a-source-code/Linux/Kernel/Dm-target.c: In function ‘dereference_bio_ctx’:
/src/truecrypt-4.3a-source-code/Linux/Kernel/Dm-target.c:378: error: too many arguments to function ‘bio_endio’
/src/truecrypt-4.3a-source-code/Linux/Kernel/Dm-target.c: In function ‘dm_truecrypt_init’:
/src/truecrypt-4.3a-source-code/Linux/Kernel/Dm-target.c:659: error: too many arguments to function ‘kmem_cache_create’
make[2]: *** [/src/truecrypt-4.3a-source-code/Linux/Kernel/Dm-target.o] Error 1
make[1]: *** [_module_/src/truecrypt-4.3a-source-code/Linux/Kernel] Error 2
make: *** [truecrypt] Error 2
Error: Failed to build kernel module

And here’s the patch I just wrote to allow this to build cleanly against 2.6.23 and 2.6.24 kernels:

--- /src/Dm-target.c.orig    2007-04-24 12:32:06.000000000 -0400
+++ Kernel/Dm-target.c  2007-12-29 22:34:21.502087564 -0500
@@ -375,7 +375,7 @@
        if (!atomic_dec_and_test (&bc->ref_count))
                return;
 
-       bio_endio (bc->orig_bio, bc->orig_bio->bi_size, bc->error);
+       bio_endio (bc->orig_bio, bc->error);
        mempool_free (bc, tc->bio_ctx_pool);
 }
 
@@ -656,7 +656,12 @@
                goto err;
        }
 
-       bio_ctx_cache = kmem_cache_create ("truecrypt-bioctx", sizeof (struct bio_ctx), 0, 0, NULL, NULL);
+       #if LINUX_VERSION_CODE < KERNEL_VERSION(2,6,23)
+               bio_ctx_cache = kmem_cache_create ("truecrypt-bioctx", sizeof (struct bio_ctx), 0, 0, NULL, NULL);
+       #else
+               bio_ctx_cache = kmem_cache_create ("truecrypt-bioctx", sizeof (struct bio_ctx), 0, 0, NULL);
+       #endif
+
        if (!bio_ctx_cache)
        {
                error ("kmem_cache_create failed");

And away you go!

Rooting the Dyson Root 6 “Portable” Vacuum Cleaner

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dyson-root-6_large.jpg I found myself shopping at the mall today with my daughter, and looking for a portable vacuum cleaner I could use in the truck and on the road; something I could use to clean any spills in the back seat, or her car seat, and small enough to take with me camping or wherever else I end up making a mess.

I was at Sears looking at their 2-aisle selection of various vacuum cleaners, and stumbled across the Dyson Root 6 (DC17) model vacuum. It stood alongside other models from Hoover, Eureka and Black & Decker. I found a semi-helpful salesman puttering nearby, and asked the basic questions:

  • Does it work on 12V or 120V power? Or must it only run on batteries?
  • Does it have a rotating brush (fabric upholstery/rugs) attachment?
  • How long is the run time? How long is the recharge time?
  • Does it have some sort of “caddy” for all of the attachments? Or must they be kept loose in a box?
  • Does it weigh as much as a bowling ball?

Out of all of the vacuums listed there, the Dyson was clearly the best in terms of power and overall non-vacuum looks, but here’s where it falls WAY short:

6 minute run time.

Period.

It takes 3 full hours to charge, and runs for 6 minutes. The box claims the recharge time is now 3 times faster than before.

That must be a joke. 1 hour of charge for a 2-minute runtime? My laptop battery gets significantly more out of a MUCH smaller battery than the Dyson.

And it can’t run on AC power at all. Once you plug it in, it turns itself off. DOH!

I got home and jumped onto Amazon and started reading around, and found something called the Metroplitan Vac N’ Blo Auto Vac, which seems to be a lot more powerful, specific to automobile use, and has a lot more attachments. It runs on power, not batteries, which is fine too, since I have an inverter in my truck anyway to run any 120v appliance from the 12v battery in the truck.

But it’s somewhat bulky, and if I’m going to have to carry it somewhere in the back of the truck, I might as well just bring my heavy-duty shop-vac with me instead.

Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

Merry Christmas, Tire Slasher

fix-a-flat.jpg I went to the mall today to return/exchange some suits and dress shirts incorrectly sized at Men’s Warehouse (great store, I highly recommend them, just make sure you try EVERYTHING on before you leave the store). I was in the store for maybe 20 minutes, max.

When I came outside, the front-passenger tire on my 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche was slashed. Flat. No air whatsoever.

I have a portable, 12v-powered air pump I use to pump up Seryn’s pool and other toys on the road when we travel, and I hooked that up to try to pump it back up.

While the pump was doing it’s job, I was pacing back and forth in the row I was parked in, waiting for the dutiful Mall Security vehicle to pass by, so I could file a report.

20 minutes go by, still no Mall Security to be seen anywhere.

Meanwhile, the pump is barely at the 15lb point filling my tire. I took out my flashlight and started examining the tire for any major defects, glass, slashes, nails or whatever. I obviously didn’t drive all the way to the mall on a flat tire, so it happened while I was in the mall doing my clothing exchange.

No nails, no obvious holes, nothing I could see that would let out all the air that fast.

After filling the tire to ~35lbs of air and putting in “Fix-a-Flat”, I drove over to the Mall Security office, and walked in to file a report. The kind woman there basically said there’s nothing they can do, since it’s on private property. The town and state police can’t even investigate, because it isn’t in their jurisdiction.

So what exactly is the point of Mall Security, if they’re not securing the mall?! Not only that, but what’s the deal with waiting 20 minutes for the security vehicle to drive it’s loop around the parking lot? Where WAS security tonight?

I basically told the woman that her employer was a waste of space and time, since they couldn’t do a single thing to help me with my issue.

To the person who decided it was ok to either slash or let all the air out of my tire tonight, a great big Merry Christmas and fuck you. It’s a good thing you managed to leave the area before I got there.

wtfiwwp.

Feds Cancel Amazon Customer ID Request

From the “No-You’re-Really-Living-in-a-Police State” department comes this chilling news story about Amazon being forced to turn over customer reading/purchasing habits going back to 1999 for 24,000 separate transactions.

Nov 27, 3:58 PM (ET)

By RYAN J. FOLEY

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Federal prosecutors have withdrawn a subpoena seeking the identities of thousands of people who bought used books through online retailer Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), newly unsealed court records show.

The withdrawal came after a judge ruled the customers have a First Amendment right to keep their reading habits from the government.

The (subpoena’s) chilling effect on expressive e-commerce would frost keyboards across America,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker wrote in a June ruling.

Well-founded or not, rumors of an Orwellian federal criminal investigation into the reading habits of Amazon’s customers could frighten countless potential customers into canceling planned online book purchases,” the judge wrote in a ruling he unsealed last week.

Seattle-based Amazon said in court documents it hopes Crocker’s decision will make it more difficult for prosecutors to obtain records involving book purchases. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said Tuesday he doubted the ruling would hamper legitimate investigations.

Crocker – who unsealed documents detailing the showdown against prosecutors’ wishes – said he believed prosecutors were seeking the information for a legitimate purpose. But he said First Amendment concerns were justified and outweighed the subpoena’s law enforcement purpose.

The subpoena is troubling because it permits the government to peek into the reading habits of specific individuals without their knowledge or permission,” Crocker wrote. “It is an unsettling and un-American scenario to envision federal agents nosing through the reading lists of law-abiding citizens while hunting for evidence against somebody else.

Federal prosecutors issued the subpoena last year as part of a grand jury investigation into a former Madison official who was a prolific seller of used books on Amazon.com. They were looking for buyers who could be witnesses in the case.

The official, Robert D’Angelo, was indicted last month on fraud, money laundering and tax evasion charges. Prosecutors said he ran a used book business out of his city office and did not report the income. He has pleaded not guilty.

D’Angelo sold books through the Amazon Marketplace feature, and buyers paid Amazon, which took a commission.

We didn’t care about the content of what anybody read. We just wanted to know what these business transactions were,” prosecutor Vaudreuil said Tuesday. “These were simply business records we were seeking to prove the case of fraud and tax crimes against Mr. D’Angelo.

The initial subpoena sought records of 24,000 transactions dating back to 1999. The company turned over many records but refused to identify the book buyers, citing their First Amendment right to keep their reading choices private.

Prosecutors later narrowed the subpoena, asking the company to identify a sample of 120 customers.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber dismissed First Amendment concerns in an April letter to the company. He said D’Angelo – not Amazon – was the seller and prosecutors needed proof he sold books online.

Crocker brokered a compromise in which the company would send a letter to the 24,000 customers describing the investigation and asking them to voluntarily contact prosecutors if they were interested in testifying.

Prosecutors said they obtained the customer information they needed from one of D’Angelo’s computers they seized early in the investigation. Vaudreuil said computer analysts initially failed to recover the information.

Still, Crocker scolded prosecutors in July for not looking for alternatives earlier.

If the government had been more diligent in looking for workarounds instead of baring its teeth when Amazon balked, it’s probable that this entire First Amendment showdown could have been avoided,” he wrote.

The company asked Crocker to unseal the records after D’Angelo was indicted last month. Crocker granted the request over the objections of federal prosecutors, who wanted them kept secret.

Shining some sunlight on the instant dispute reassures the public that someone is watching the watchers, and that this district’s federal prosecutors are part of the solution, not part of the problem,” he wrote.

The Logic of Airport Madness: Part 1

I tend to travel a lot.. not as much as Rasmus, but I travel quite a bit. I also travel with a lot of gear: laptops, chargers, tools, various sundry adapters and other things. This stuff tends to get quite heavy.

There’s a fairly recent change in the baggage regulations that limits each bag to 50 pounds each. For a full-size piece of checked luggage with suits, shoes, toiletries and so on inside, you can reach 50 pounds quite easily. The empty bag alone is probably 10-20 pounds of that total weight (wheels, handle, supporting zippers and rails).

I just flew out to interview with Red Hat tonight, and the checked bag I brought with me, was 60 pounds exactly on their scale. The nice woman at the counter explained that it would cost me $50.00 for that extra 10 pounds of weight ($5.00/pound over the weight limit). That $50.00 would also be charged to me on the return trip.

If I wanted to buy gifts or bring extra things back with me that I didn’t bring on the initial flight, that would be even heavier. I asked her why the airlines were charging an extra fee for the extra weight.

She calmly explained that with the price of fuel going up, they need to charge for the extra weight.

Now here is where it begins to get weird: She explained that I could take that extra 10 pounds out of the bag, put it into a second bag, and check 2 total bags, and not pay the $50.00 fee for being over the weight limit.

What?!

I asked her why there was no fee, and she said because now with two bags, they could redistribute the weight better on the plane.

What? It’s still the same amount of weight!!

It’s not like I’m forbidden from taking the extra weight on the plane. The same 60 pounds of luggage is going on the plane anyway, either in 1 bag + $50.00 for the overweight fee, or 2 bags with no overweight fee.

So it has nothing to do with the “cost of fuel going up”. They’re using the same fuel to transport the single bag as they are for two bags. In fact, two bags with 60 pounds of luggage inside them is heavier than 1 bag with the same 60 pounds of luggage inside it.

Also, luggage is secured inside racks and crates under the plane. They don’t just put some on one side and some on the other, to “redistribute the weight” properly like that. There’s more weight in the fuel inside the wings, than there is in the belly of the plane as luggage. It’s not like having all the weight on one side of the fuselage, is going to cause the plane to corkscrew and spiral through the sky, doing loops.

But apparently I’m not supposed to ask these logical questions at the counter. The security people next to me were getting antsy and fidgety, so I tried to hurry the point and complete my check-in transaction.

So the woman behind the counter says that she can sell me a SECOND bag to put the “extra” luggage in. I ask her how much that second bag would cost, and she says “$25.00”.

Great, so I can pay $50.00 each way for the overweight fee (for $100 total), or I can pay $25.00 to buy a bag at the counter and “waive” the overweight fee charges. I ask her for other options that don’t involve me spending more money to transport the same amount of weight.

Then she says she can give me a cardboard box, and tells me to take 10 pounds of luggage out, and tape it up in the box and just use that as my second checked bag.

So that’s what I did. Hrmph.

When I travel with this much gear, both checked and carry-on, I always get stopped at the security checkpoint for several minutes while the security people poke through my bags, run them through the scanner 3, 4 and 5 times, gather in a group looking at the scanner monitor to try to figure out what is what, and then let me go on my way.

Here’s where the airport logic gets weird again:

I had a large plastic sports thermos full of water that I’d been drinking all night, and there was about 8oz of water left in it. The security guard said I would have to throw that away, or drink it on the spot. I asked him if they lifted the restrictions on the 3oz bottles, and he said yes, but I’d still have to toss/drink what I had in my bottle, because I was not allowed to take that volume of liquid on the plane.

So I drank it down on the spot, and as I was drinking it, he said:

“…you can purchase another bottle to drink on the other side of the security checkpoint, and bring that on the plane if you want.”

What?!

So the “rule” about not taking liquids past the security checkpoint has absolutely nothing to do with the safety of the plane at all, if I can go past the checkpoint, buy a 20oz bottle of some beverage, and bring THAT on the plane.

But I can’t bring my 8oz of water in my clear thermos, and bring that on the plane? What the…

Ironically, I made it through that checkpoint without my water, but they apparently didn’t find anything wrong with me taking my Leatherman Wave onboard (a multi-purpose tool with several obvious, and very dangerous blades on it), or the Colibri butane cigar torch I inadvertently forgot in my computer bag before I left today.

The “logic” that the airlines use with everyone these days really blows my mind. It’s not logic, it’s anti-logic.

It WAS your truck, but not anymore, so STAY OUT!

avalanchebig.jpgLate last week, Seryn and I went out to dinner at a local restaurant, and when we both got out to my truck after eating, I found a hand-written note on the windshield from the previous owner of my truck, trying to sell me some tires, rims and an updated hood for the vehicle. I basically ignored the note, until I unlocked my truck and found some things inside my truck weren’t where I put them when I locked it and went inside for dinner.

My truck is my mobile office (laptop, cell, inverter, chargers, etc.), and things are in a very specific place, within very specific reach of me while I drive or work on the road. These things were out of order, and not where I left them. Apparently the previous owner made an extra set of keys to the truck, and decided it was ok to go into the truck (my truck) while I was dining with my daughter at the restaurant, and rifle through things.

I took a quick inventory, and didn’t notice anything obvious missing, but things were definitely moved around on my seat and on the passenger-side footwell area. Just because something isn’t missing doesn’t mean he didn’t look at my registration and find out where I live or put something in the truck that wasn’t there to begin with.

Who knows who this person is, or if they’re going to steal my truck while it’s parked in my own driveway or any number of other creepy things.

So I reported it to the Waterford Police Department, who… of course, could do nothing, without an actual crime being committed. Apparently having someone go into my truck with an unauthorized set of keys, rifling through my belongings, isn’t enough to investigate. They need an ACTUAL crime.

Now I need to call a locksmith and have him price out re-keying all of my locks, and then I need to go to the dealership where I bought the truck and have them re-key the alarm fob that sits on the keyring.

That’s 8 separate locks to re-key + the keychain alarm fob:

  • (2) Both vehicle doors
  • (1) Glovebox
  • (1) Console lockbox between the front seats
  • (2) Truck bed storage bays
  • (1) Tailgate
  • (1) Spare tire access lock

Ugh! Merry Christmas to me. This is an expense I DID NOT need right now.

wtfiwwp.

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