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Stallman in 2012: Denmark supposedly a free country, still valid
Mar 3rd, 2017 by miki

Stumbled upon this slightly dated talk by Richard M. Stallman (aka. RMS) of GNU and FSF fame, in which my home country of Denmark is sadly referenced as only a “supposedly free country”.

Transcript

“But censorship is wrong, of course, whether it is done on the internet or not. We used to think that the internet would protect us from censorship because it was too hard to censor the internet. But thanks to the effort of various companies in the US, The UK, France and so on, it is now possible for governments to censor the internet and also surveil it completely, they just need to put enough effort in. And this is not limited to obvious tyrannies such as China and Iran. We see a lot of supposedly free countries imposing censorship on the internet.

For instance, Denmark several years ago imposed filtering on the internet blocking a secret list of sites. The list was leaked and posted on WikiLeaks. Hooray for WikiLeaks! Whereupon Denmark blocked access to that page too. So everyone else could know what internet users in Denmark were blocked from seeing except those people.”

Sadly since this time it has not gotten any better. Most of the points RMS makes (the whole talk is worth a listen) are still valid and a grave concern from my perspective. The Danish internet (really DNS) blocking system has been broadened and the slippage that was feared has become a reality. Even though this issue has gotten some attention in the IT and rights communities the general public just doesn’t care.

The actual block is technically done through DNS blacklists that Danish ISP are legally required to implement. The list of blocked sites is available from the telecom trade organization “Telekommunikationsindustrien i Danmark” (English: Telecommunication’s Industry Association in Denmark) at teleindu.dk/brancheholdninger/blokeringer-pa-nettet/ and currently has 111 sites (csv) on active block.

As it being DNS based if you are impacted, workarounds do exist. However, my guess is that they will soon be able to actively shut down services physically located in Denmark.

Full talk

(starting at point of above transcript)

 

Street View Googling Denmark again
Aug 19th, 2010 by miki

Just saw the Google Street View car driving by at my daily whereabouts in Esbjerg, Denmark. Did get a little exhilerated and spilled some coffee in excitement and attempt to wave at the cameras (Hi mom!!) . Here’s a shot of the car taken by itself when passing my home at it’s last visit in 2009.

Apparently Google Streetview has started collecting data again here i Denmark, as they did in Norway, Sweden, Ireland and South Africa in July. Now with the Wi-Fi privacy issue resolved.

The following netfrenzy brought me to the official schedule at http://www.google.dk/help/maps/streetview/where-is-street-view.html which shows some mid to large sized cities in Denmark beeing up for an update, including Esbjerg. Strangely I haven’t noticed any lack of imagery in my local area. I know that most of Denmark was beeing photographed during July and August 2009, so something must be missing, or of inferior quality since they are coming back.

I also found a fun Street View Partner site; Legoland in California has allowed Street View to take a tour through the park. Fun for me, because the Lego Group HQ and original Legoland Billund is close to Esbjerg, and I have been going there regularly wiht the kids. Going to be fun to take them for a virtual walk in the park in California ;). The Billund park doesn’t seem to have been mapped internally, though.

Also a hilarious joke on Google Streetview from an interesting group of people; The Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab. Will be digging these nutty people out for sure.

Raw HTTP session with telnet
Jul 21st, 2010 by miki

Once in a while it is useful to dismiss abstractions and layers that makes daily routines easier and take the raw approach. Like when debugging a software problem that doesn’t make sense, it is nice to see the underlying basic stuff is behaving nicely, to better be able to locate where the unexpected occurs.

In the IP world of the internet, the swiss army knife for debugging interprocess communications in a totally protocol agnostic way is called ‘telnet’. Telnet opens up a communication channel between your local computer and a daemon/server on a specific port on a specific IP address. Then it gets out of the way for you to talk directly to the daemon in clear text.

Knowledge of how to interact using a specific protocol can be very useful to check server availability and functionality. All common protocols in use on the internet (like DNS, HTTP, SMTP, POP3, IMAP, XMPP etc.) can be debugged like this, because all of them transfers data in clear text (or at least initiates other transfer types from a clear text session).

Below is a basic HTTP session to my web server www.mikini.dk using telnet command line on a Linux box. Full specifications for the HTTP protocol can be found in IETF RFC2616. I keep forgetting this, and end up digging around for it when needed, therefore this blog post.

Red text is local text input by me. Blue text is local text by telnet application. Green text is server response.

miki@khandro:~$ telnet www.mikini.dk 80
Trying 92.61.152.47…
Connected to 92-61-152-47.static.servage.net.
Escape character is ‘^]’.
GET /index.php/2010/06 HTTP/1.1
Host: www.mikini.dk

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2010 09:19:13 GMT
Server: Apache
X-Pingback:
http://www.mikini.dk/xmlrpc.php
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8

2bd2
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN” “
http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd“>

<… remainder of HTML document dropped …>

We are asking the server at www.mikini.dk port 80 (default http port) for the document at path /index.php/2010/06 (“GET /index.php/2010/06”). Notice the two CRLF characters after the Host header field, this indicates to the server that the request header is done, and that it should begin parsing header and send its response. Also notice that even though you tell the telnet program on the commandline that you want to access www.mikini.dk, you have to tell it again to the server in th HTTP Host field. Thats because telnet is only concerned about the IP address of the server, it resolves www.mikini.dk to the IP 92.61.152.47 through DNS and forgets about it. From the servers point of view, it needs to know which of its virtual hosts you want to talk to, cause one server application on one port on one ip can potentially host thousands of separate websites (virtual hosts).

Huawei E1752 on Ubuntu 10.04
Jun 26th, 2010 by miki

Today I managed to get a Huawei E1752 3G modem (USB id 12d1:1446/140c, usually called E1552 by lsusb) running on Ubuntu 10.04 without all the hassle described elsewhere (see this, this or this or this …).

This particular modem came from the danish cable ISP YouSee, in an offering known as Mobilt Bredbånd (mobile broadband), targeting their existing cable internet customers. Pricing starts at lowest offering of 1 Mbit/384 kbit transmission speed with 1GiB/month data limit at DKK 99/month (~USD 16.5 ~EUR 13.3).

As many recent USB modems, this one is a mode switching type with multiple personalities (Option ZeroCD(TM)). At plugin it defaults to an emulated CD mass storage drive (USB ID 12d1:1446), with an onboard Windows driver and dialer (Mobile Partner). When detected by a driver knowing it’s schizophrenic nature, it can be manipulated, utilizing psychotherapeutic tricks, to switch it’s personality to the modem it actually is (USB ID 12d1:140c). Hence, on non-Windows systems some magic needs to be established to make the modem actually behave like a modem.

One incarnation (se discussion about other stuff here) of this magic is called usb_modeswitch. That is also the solution chosen by the Ubuntu distribution team, and it is present in the repositories and configured for the Huawei E1752 in Ubuntu 10.04 ‘Lucid Lynx’, so we just need to know that we need it. You do now…

Activating usb_modeswitch is a matter of installing the usb-modeswitch package. Find it in Synaptic or issue the following in a terminal:

sudo apt-get install usb-modeswitch

Now all you have to do is insert the modem and check (we like to be certain, right?) with lsusb that you have the 12d1:140c modem device instead of the 12d1:1446 mass storage device.

The Gnome Network Manager should now pick up on the new modem device, and offer you the possibility of adding a new mobile broadband connection. In my case, it defaulted to an Oister connection, but removing that and using the wizard to create a TDC connection (YouSee is a part of/close associate of TDC) did the trick, after reinserting the modem once more.

Now I wonder why my own E160G modem works without usb_modeswitch installed…

Under the Sam(e)sung
Jun 23rd, 2010 by miki

A quick note about my feelings and observations after using my new Samsung N210 (white) netbook for a couple of hours during the last 2 days.

The new fellow was bought at danish netshop Proshop.dk (product page) for DKK 2551 (~342.75 EUR ~420.50 USD). Delivery was DKK 59 and took from order at thursday 17th until delivered monday 21st (danish mail is not to blame, I expected it to arrive friday, on stock and all but Proshop decided to wait until sunday 20th before processing the order).

Even though I’m a software junkie, I’m by no means a commercial hardware junkie (software is the enabler anyway, ya ‘now!). I don’t buy off-the-shelf  systems every other day, or have a job where I try out a horde of different netbooks/notebooks. Bear that in mind; these observations come from a newbie netbook user, with experience from larger more gfx capable laptops.

All of the below are under the overall judgement that says: I like this machine very much, it will indeed fellow me  in many a journey in the time to come.

List’o’Niceness

  • battery time (just keeps on running, after 7.5 hour still 25% left)
  • multitouch pad (pinch zoom, two-finger scroll (didn’t know I needed this!))
  • light and easy to handle, battery acts as a kind of handle bar
  • screen is crisp and clear
  • soo silent (put ear to chassis to hear hdd, haven’t heard fan yet)
  • very snappy feeling, in both Linux (Phoenix HyperspaceUbuntu 10.4 NE) and Windows 7 Starter (first encounter, but positively surprised)
  • pgup/pgdn keys are just above cursor keys, nice!
  • no heat

List’o’Annoyness

  • no internal mobile broadband (slot present behind battery)
  • all usb is in front = mobile broadband adapter is always annoying
  • right shift key squeezed too much, keep hitting <> when shifting (might be DK keyboard specific)
  • home/end keys with Fn qualifier requires getting used to (didn’t know I used these so much)
  • alfa keys a bit offset to the left, keep writing 2 (argh…) 1 more than I need
  • no space/mark between f4 & f5, f8 & f9
  • caps lock indicator is hidden with other system leds (why isn’t it purple or something to stand out from power/wireless/hdd led?)
  • num lock and scroll lock is indicated using osd from windows app, could be problematic in non standard environment
  • no multitouch out-of-the-box on Ubuntu 10.4 (will be looking into this)

Oh, and of course, it needs a name! My N210 is named khandro, after a tibetian deity, meaning “cloud fairy” or “she who traverses the sky’.

Let the fairytales begin…

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