Packet Radio Interface for UV-B5

After many years my Yaesu VX-6R was beginning to pack it in so I picked up a Baofeng UV-B5 cheap on eBay. This week I made a computer interface for it and managed to send and receive my first AX.25 packets. The UV-B5 has a Kenwood-style pair of 3.5 mm and 2.5 mm jacks (pinout). The PTT is triggered by joining the sleeves of each plug. To save time I decided I’d try using the VOX feature on the radio.

Cloud password managers still good

LastPass announced today that attackers got onto their network and user account information including salts and authentication hashes was compromised. The irony is a little funny unless you’re a customer. We all know if you put data into the cloud it’s at some level of risk, and well—here we are. Still, it would be a shame to take away the wrong message. Unless you’re a business, a cloud password manager with two-factor authentication is probably the best thing for your password needs.

Scale Does Matter

If you’ve been watching the steady advance of digital surveillance in the western world you might be wondering what the next frontier is. The ubiquity of internet-connected smartphones introduced a new range of surveillance opportunities, all of which are now exploited by our governments. When you consider that information about most phone calls, text messages, emails and web browsing patterns is now captured by various schemes like Tempora, it does seem as though we’re just about finished with communications.

The Rust 1.0 Experience

The new programming language Rust finally debuted on May 15 with their 1.0 release. In case you missed it, Rust is being developed by Mozilla as a systems programming language that fills the role of something like C or C++ but is safer to use. It’s great to see it come together. I fiddled with it a couple of times pre-release and this was a difficult time. Documentation was incomplete and the standard library was changing rapidly.

Why Rick Falkvinge's rambles about public libraries don't make sense

On Torrentfreak a few days ago Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, mused upon the relationship between libraries and file-sharing. He claims that you can’t support public libraries while being opposed to file-sharing, by which he appears to mean copyright infringement. It’s one of those frustrating reads in which the author gleefully tears nuance from the issue until he is left with a strawman that can be batted down with a single puff of logic.

Periscope in Self Defence

Going by the streams on offer Periscope is an amusing toy for most. People are broadcasting anything from their lunch break to their holiday destinations to simply talking to the camera. For all its novel unedited spontaneity, the app is wandering into a minefield of new and exciting issues that we haven’t had to deal with at this scale before. One of those is live broadcast of crime. Sooner or later some users will turn to Periscope when they’re being raped.

What Coles means by "Purchases monitored to ensure better service"

On Easter Monday I was doing some shopping when I noticed a message for the first time on the Coles self-serve checkout: Since “ensuring better service” is so often a euphemism for “we’re doing something shitty for commercial benefit” this immediately set my spidey senses tingling. What manner of monitoring are we talking about here? Human supervision? Hidden cameras? Storing our purchases for perpetuity and indexing them by credit card number?

Book review: The Internet Is Not The Answer by Andrew Keen

It’s a provocative title. I was dubious at first but I have decided that Andrew Keen’s writing lives up to it. What I feared to be some sort of rant turned out to be a nuanced critique that seriously challenges some of my attitudes toward Internet-based technology. Some years ago I appeared briefly on national television to ask a panel whether the Internet could have its own sovereignty—whether it could be impervious to the regulations of traditional governments.

Anonymity to learn

Today social media was expressing its usual preoccupations with Australia Day. I witnessed a depressing sight that became more so as I read. A young white Australian woman had commented on a heavily-trafficked Facebook post, essentially criticising the zeitgeist of white guilt on the grounds that nobody living in Australia today perpetrated genocide on the native Aborigines. It was a fairly eloquent post but ignorant of the challenges facing Aboriginal people today—and the criticism came thick and fast.

Sending authenticated SMTP alerts from Zabbix

I like to use SMTP wherever possible for automatic emails because it’s usually simpler and has fewer security gotchas than running a local MTA. Zabbix does have SMTP support but it’s currently limited to unauthenticated connections—not much help to a home user like me. I don’t have a mail server on the local trusted network. Fortunately it’s a pretty easy to hook up a script so that Zabbix sends email via Mutt, which does support authenticated and encrypted SMTP.

Monitoring a Ubiquiti NanoBridge with Zabbix

I have a couple of point-to-point WiFi links. One of these uses a 5 GHz NanoBridge, the other a 900 MHz Loco M900. The web interface on these has all kinds of interesting statistics that I would like to get into my Zabbix server for logging and graphing. The good news is that these devices support SNMP and also at least part of Mikrotik’s “experimental” SNMP module. This means if you do a walk over enterprises.14988 you get 7 OIDs containing interesting information about each connected client.