A Moral Dilemma

Posted by bb on Friday 29th of August 2008 at 4:55 pm.
Filed Under Misc

I have a passion for reverse engineering – specifically software reverse engineering. Though in all honesty, I do it mainly for intellectual reasons rather than to get free stuff – after all, that’s what torrents are for 🙂

Occasionally though you will come across software that doesn’t spring readily off the first page of isohunt and I find myself having to reverse the application to see if it fits my needs.

A good example, hypothetically of course, would be something like iArtwork. A handy little utility for grabbing Album Art for your iPod without the need to sell your soul to iTunes and open an account there. However, it has a limitation of a maximum of 50 albums. Understandable really but it seemed quite slow on 50 albums so what was I to do if I, hypothetically of course, wanted to do a speed check on several 100’s of albums?

Since I couldn’t find a crack for iArtwork on the ‘net (at the time – don’t know if there is one now – probably is as this was a few months back) I had to crack iArtwork myself – a lovely introduction to reflexil – an essential companion to reflector if you want to look at .NET reversing.

In the end I decided it was too slow and removed it (or would have if this example was not a complete piece of fiction) from all of my computers.

But I digress. My moral dilemma is this – what if one finds a piece of software that is very useful, actively supported, actively developed and great value for money? It goes without saying that one should purchase it of course, but that is not the cause of the dilemma.

Do I approach the author and explain how it is possible to subvert his protection system? Do I let him know how to improve and fortify his protection? Do I just register my copy legitimately and hope no-one else discovers (to be fair – the HUGE GAPING HOLE) the same as I did and invalidates all his hard work?

If I knew I had a safe way of approaching him to ask – I may do that. But there are infamous examples of companies suing individuals who have approached them about security flaws in their networks and offering to help – even with no fee demanded.

My paranoia is such I litter even this piece with hypothetical examples and disclaimers about it being fictional to hopefully prevent any DMCA action from those involved.

So what to do? Really – I have no idea – I’m looking at using a disposable email address and using TOR to contact them but it is reliant on them replying within 24hrs. All suggestions gratefully accepted 🙂

PS. In the interests of fairness, the author of iArtwork can contact me here and I will explain how hypothetically his protection can be subverted and offer suggestions on how it may be improved. Though since I’ve never actually done it, they will have to give me permission to look at it in the first instance 😉

There will be no fee for this service, nor guarantee. But I’m hopeful I can find a way.

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What ncm really means

Posted by bb on Thursday 31st of July 2008 at 1:45 pm.
Filed Under Funny

I’ve been playing a fair bit of online poker lately – mostly badly.

But even I know when I’ve taken a bad beat or been completely outfoxed. It is those times I normally type ‘ncm‘ into the chat window.

What does it mean? That depends 😉

Nice Cards Mate
Nice Catch Moron

If I’ve typed this to you – figure out if you just hit that 23:1 shot on the river to win. If you did, I meant it the second way!

Not that I ever hit trips on the river against two over pairs … no sir … never 😀

“nice hand sir, and by hand I mean catch, and by sir I mean moron”.

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The McHippo Protest

Posted by bb on Sunday 20th of July 2008 at 8:37 am.
Filed Under Rants

According to that bastion of quality reporting, The Sun, there has been a bit of a kerfuffle in a McDonalds in Castlepoint, UK.

Apparently, Mama Hippo (pictured below) was in McDonalds when her precious little cherub was hungry so started to breast feed the baby. This upset the manager and he asked her to stop. She refused and was then asked to leave. She then returned with 4 of her mates and staged the McHippo Breastfeeding Protest.

I'd hit it. In the face;. With a 2x4. With some rusty nails in it

Now before we get all of our panties up in bunch about how breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world and that your precious little Johnny has the right to suckle on your tit until he is 15, I’m not moaning about breastfeeding in public.

What I am moaning about is those that think they have a god given right to impose their choices on others. Personally, unless you’re Megan Fox, I don’t want to see you breastfeeding. I equally have the right not to have to watch you try and manoeuvre your engorged mammories into your screaming sprog’s face.

We don’t know the exact situation in McDonalds. If the manager said “Oi, you salad dodging hippo – put it away or get the f%^& out” then, apart from the salad dodging, he was completely wrong. If he approached her and said “Excuse me ma’am, your breast feeding is causing some patrons to feel a little awkward, may I move you to another table where you may continue more comfortably” and she refused then as far as I am concerned he was right to kick her fugly ass to the kerb.

Even worse was her refusal to leave once asked to. Personally I think the manager should have called the police, but I can understand that McDonalds would shun that kind of publicity.

Anyway – since she didn’t go straight to a “no win no fee” lawyer to sue for having her feelings hurt, I can assume that he didn’t call her a salad dodger. Since she returned with her mates to ‘protest’/get tickets to appear on Jeremy Kyle/appear in The Sun, I shall assume that she felt ‘offended’.

There are lots of things that are perfectly allowable, but not acceptable in a polite society. If one person in a restaurant is making many others uncomfortable, then the one must stop or leave. If I were a forensic pathologist, and spent the entire meal in a restaurant talking loudly to my wife about the bloated corpse I had cut up that day which was found to contain several dozen pus-filled tumours – would I have the right to complain if the manager said to me that my conversation was unsettling other diners and would I please refrain? Well – yes. Should I? No. I should stop, ask to be re-seated and in the event a more private table was not available, I should accept that the room is not filled with people who think it is an appropriate topic for conversation over a meal and desist.

I should not return with my entire lab, several case reports and a bunch of megaphones.

The same applies if I decide to whistle out of tune whilst sat next to you in McDonalds. If it is upsetting the other patrons, the manager has every right to come and see me and tell me to quit it. Yes whistling is the most natural thing in the world, yes there are no laws against it – but it still doesn’t make it acceptable for me to enforce my tuneless whitterings on an unwilling public.

Something that upsets about McDonald’s attitude to all this is :

If another customer ever expressed their discomfort about breastfeeding we would encourage them to move rather than the mum.

WTF? WTFF? I’m sat there enjoying my Happy Meal with free toy and Jabba the Hutt’s missus rocks up and starts burning my retinas. To make matters worse it then starts feeding what in this case looks remarkably like a goblin … and I have to move?!?!. If I turn up in a Mcdonalds, start complaining loudly about how ‘a thousand years ago, if you gave birth to something that ugly you would have been burnt at the stake by the church’, should they move her because I’m making her feel awkward? No – I suspect not. So why the double standards?

But I suspect equally that Maddie Reynolds doesn’t consider others much. I can tell this because a) she bred and b) she doesn’t wear a burkha.

Bon Appetit! 😉

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Karma – Take 2

Posted by bb on Tuesday 18th of March 2008 at 12:42 pm.
Filed Under Funny, Misc

Oh please – give me a break. I’ve had more feedback over a post about Karma than I have about terrorism and the stealthy loss of our basic rights. More even than praise for my wonderful writing style 🙂

Anyway, listen up peepz – Karma does not exist and I’ll explain why.

People like to think that good things happen to good people. This is because they like the concept of fairness – nobody likes the villain winning after all. Confirmation bias means that when they see good things happening to good people, they assign this to Karma. This is silly.

For any definition of ‘luck’, there will be people who have more or less of ‘it’. There are no rules saying we MUST get x amount of luck in a lifetime. On average a coin will land on heads 50% of the time. That doesn’t mean it has to, it just means that in a sufficiently large period of testing, the number of heads and tails will tend towards 50%.

So in our group of people, there will be those that call heads and get heads more often than not – these people will have ‘good luck’. Some will call heads and get tails more often than not – these people will have ‘bad luck’. Some will call heads and get heads 50% of the time – these people have neither good nor bad luck.

Some of the people with ‘good luck’ will be nice people and everyone will say “oh look, because he/she is so nice, he/she has ‘good luck'”.

Some of the people with ‘bad luck’ will be nasty horrible little cunswups. Some will say “They never get heads when they call it because they don’t deserve it”. More often than not followed by “so don’t grow up to be like that young Mr Schram or bad things will happen to you”, just to ensure that baby Johnny is scared into behaving himself.

These people call this concept karma. These people are silly.

These people also have a very poor grasp of statistics. We call them rhican. They are wrong more often than not – but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

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Thank You SSlEvIN

Posted by bb on Tuesday 5th of February 2008 at 11:02 am.
Filed Under News

My more regular visitors will notice a small theme change recently. This is all thanks to SSlEvIN from ARTEAM who spent many hours putting up with dumbass questions like “What is a colour wheel? ” whilst putting this all together for me.

So cheers SSlEvIn – thanks for all your hard work!

Here’s a link to the ARTEAM main page – pop along and meet some of the guys and gals.

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Late Flights and McGuyver

Posted by bb on Wednesday 23rd of January 2008 at 3:40 pm.
Filed Under Uncategorized

Last weekend I took the opportunity to pop across to the Netherlands a little early. I had several meetings lined up for Amsterdam and Rotterdam on the Monday and could think of no better excuse to pop over earlier and catch up with some of my good friends.

This is that story.

Unsurprisingly, my flight out was delayed. Not much, only an hour or so, but enough to get me tutting and generally bemoaning how this could always happen to me blah blah blah. Especially since I got up at 06:00 to be on this flight. Then something most unusual happened – something that put my ‘plight’ quite firmly into focus.

Bing Bong. This is a flight announcement for passengers on flight [whatever]. Your flight is now scheduled to leave from [a completely different airport from the one you are listening to this announcement in]. Your new time for departure is 20:00

I stopped tutting and generally being grouchy when I figured out that my delay of one hour meant I could still leave from the same airport! 😮

This left me with some time to kill. Admittedly I didn’t suddenly have a 12 hour, 150 mile window open up like the poor lady opposite me, but nevertheless I still had some spare time to mess around. I thought firing up the laptop and getting a little work out of the way would be helpful.

This was, however, not to be so easy as one might imagine. Finding a power point to fire up the littlest laptop was going to be tough. Bristol International Airport is, despite its name, fairly small. This means very few power points. After 3 tours of the airport I found several options – all of them in use. What to do, what to do you say?

Me – I unplugged a Bob The Builder children’s ride and hid under some stairs to use the interweb which gave me a full hour of surfing before leaving for a weekend of poker in NL.

And if only I can get the photos off my damn phone – I’ll show you the best damn hand in the history of poker 😉

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James Moriarty

Posted by bb on Wednesday 23rd of January 2008 at 3:27 pm.
Filed Under Funny

Now only a few people will get this next post – but I had to say thank you to someone who will remain anonymous for now for telling me the funniest one liner I have ever heard. EVER.

“I don’t know”, pause, “I’m not telling you”.

I know it’s not funny to you – because it is out of context. But by God I was nearly crying (I’m giggling as I type) and for those that know the context … good times!

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Making a bootable USB – the easy way

Posted by bb on Monday 10th of December 2007 at 2:39 pm.
Filed Under Misc, News

I recently wanted to upgrade the BIOS on my Adaptec RAID controller. We haven’t really seen the performance out of it that we would like to see and have started to investigate the problem.

Obviously the first thing we wanted to do was make sure the drivers etc. were all up-to date. Going to Adaptec’s website showed that there were BIOS updates available so we went with them.

Unfortunately, the UberSpec does not include a floppy drive. To be honest, I’m not sure if I even have a floppy drive on any of the machines I have here. So that was going to make it rather tricky to follow the instructions of

Once the files are extracted please copy each *.ufi file individually to a separate floppy disk. If this is not done, you may encounter read errors from one of the files when flashing the controller.

I’m not an expert in the field of RAID controller cards but I’m going to hazard a guess that any error is bad when dealing with your primary I/O device’s firmware upgrade. So we set about trying to find a way around this.

We went with a bootable USB drive. Well a USB drive anyway.

There are a gazillion different articles on the internet on how to do make a USB drive bootable. A lot of them want you to use the (admittedly excellent) mkbt and the like. Unfortunately a lot of the suggestions involve creating a USB Boot disk of only 1.44Mb which is no good if you want to add files to be used from the DOS prompt. Other solutions would give you a bootable DOS ISO (for instance) which was great – but no USB support.

So I grabbed this HP USB utility and a boot file package and just clicked on the appropriate settings and it did it all for me. After that I copied all the files to the root (the boot files from the package are not visible on the drive after formatting – not even command.com!) and lo and behold it booted beautifully.

To save someone some time – quite a few tutorials also suggest grabbing the HP Drive Key Boot Utility – I found this to be unnecessary and far too large a download (45Mb!).

Hope this helps someone!

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Karma doesn’t exist

Posted by bb on Friday 30th of November 2007 at 9:35 pm.
Filed Under Rants

Karma, something I used to hold quite dear to my heart, doesn’t exist.

Whilst, on the face of it, quite a bold statement – today I got my proof. For years I have tried to make amends for a rather ‘naughty’ youth. Upto and including not stealing the 07 VW Fox I saw the other day with the keys hanging out of the boot. Instead I chose to hand the keys in to the Pro shop on site and hoped that key and owner would be re-united in some sort of bizarre cloud of OwnerKey goodness.

So – my payback for this?? Today I lost my car keys and no-one handed them in. I lost them in a retail park after taking a defined route. Backtracking and stopping in every store I passed resulted in nothing 🙁

Thanks Karma. I did a lot wrong when I was younger but I’m trying to make up for it – you’re not helping me here.

Biatch 😛

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100 yards left of the sun

Posted by bb on Wednesday 28th of November 2007 at 2:05 pm.
Filed Under News

Just a quick update – things have been very busy here at Cassa bb lately and unfortunately one of the casualties has been the blog.

UberServer is up and running – I’m starting to think W2k3 is even unfriendlier than Ubuntu though. I think I have re-installed it more often than not. Bloody VMWare hasn’t helped much by constantly cocking up the snapshots *grumble*.

If you are wondering about the title, that is what my friendly pro said about one of my tee shots on Sunday. Since we were playing up the fairway into the setting sun I lost track of the ball. Apparently it wasn’t the straightest drive ever 😀 I think it may qualify for one of the longest – having travelled 150 x 10^6km! Give or take 100 yards 😀

We’ve finally managed to fuck off Barclays and move to RBS – something that has added at least 10 years to my life as I no longer have to deal with the likes of Maureen Mordi and their mind-bogglingly astronomical levels of incompetence and ineptitude. Not to mention her replacement John who, despite being apparently her senior, has managed to display an equally astonishing level of customer service. If we could package just these two individual’s front-line skills we could have a zero degree kelvin pocket fridge powered just by one tiny gramme of it – such is their ability to slow things down and generate brain freeze 😀

I’m seriously considering going for some MCSE type qualifications in the New Year so if anyone has any hints on which is a good course (I’m looking here atm) it would be much appreciated.

As we gear up to Xmas I’m not sure if I’ll be able to update too regularly but I hope so.

If not – Merry Xmas one and all.

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