Monthly Archives: June 2009

Intel 915 chipset and Windows 7

Lo! The latest incarnation of Windows Vista, also called Windows 7 has/had problems with certain integrated graphics chipsets, particularly lower end Intel chipsets, such as the 915 that i have in my Thinkpad X41. This was a shame, because it would only run 1280×1024, and had no chance of running anything fancy, since it was being detected as “Standard VGA Adapter”.

There were no drivers either from Intel or Microsoft for the longest time. But Microsoft released a driver that claims to work with the Intel chipset i had. It just popped up on Microsoft Update, so i thought i’d give it a whirl. Usually the drivers microsoft releases are not perhaps the most optimized, but they mostly work.

This one did not.

The driver installed, and the hardware showed correctly in Device Manager. It wanted to reboot, so i did. And after that it was back to the status quo. No driver installed, and then it started “looping”, just trying to install the driver, failing in it. I was miffed, and went back to the standard VGA driver.

But then i came to work, and i had to hook up my Dell E228WFP 22″ monitor, and since i couldn’t get the native resolution on the standard vga adapter, i was starting to get really pissed off. So i googled for a while, and came up with this thread, which apparently talks about the new driver that does not work..

So a guy offers some advice. Simple advice at that. Download the latest XP driver, and install it using Windows Vista compatibility mode. Driver and Intel Graphics Media Accelerator ..configuration software…whatever works fine! Resolution and all. Apparently this works for all kinds of 8xx and 9xx chipsets, so try it out.

For reference, i’m using the public Release Candidate, latest updates, build 7100.

Sweeeet.

intelworking

Civilization 4 under Ubuntu 9.04 (with Wine)

After seeing the release of Alien Arena 2009 for Linux (and all other platforms), i started thinking about running my favorite game, Civilization 4 on Ubuntu 9.04. And so i did! But it took some tweaking to get it to work with wine, as do most games (Except Unreal Tournament, which works i think natively). I’ll describe the steps taken here, for future reference, and if you don’t wanna spend your time browsing different locations for instructions:

Setup is a 32-bit Ubuntu 9.04, with all latest updates. I run a Gigabyte GA-MA790X motherboard, with integrated sound, and an Nvidia 8800 GTS with the 180 propietary drivers installed, using Ubuntu’s Restricted Drivers manager.

– Install wine with sudo apt-get install wine
– Take the game cd, put it in, and run wine /media/cdrom/setup.exe
– Cancel the Direct X prompt, as we can’t install that through wine. Proceed with the installation, as you would with windows.
– Get the latest patch from for instance Softpedia.
– Install the patch using wine
– Open up the wine configuration tool from Applications -> Wine, and in the libraries tab, enter “msxml3” and press add. This adds compatibility for a certain dll that we need to make this work.
– From any windows xp installation, copy the following three files (they reside under $windowsfolder$\system32), msxml.dll, msxml3r.dll and d3d_d35.dll and copy them to your wine “windows installation”. For me, this was ~/.wine/drive_c/windows/system32. If that doesn’t work, copy them to your civilization 4 folder (For me, the default was ~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Firaxis Games/Sid Meier’s Civilization 4/
– Get a nocd crack, since the copy protection just shits itself under wine. Crack the civilization4.exe file, and run it with wine path_to_the_exe_file. Or from Applications -> Wine -> Programs -> Firaxis Games.

If it complains about sound, open up Civilization4.ini, which resides under the wine my documents/my games/ folder. Edit the place that says EnableVoice and set it to = 0, add the line if necessary, but it’ll be there if you’ve tried to start the game at least once.

I recommend running the game in windowed mode, so from the game options, uncheck the “fullscreen” box. If the game window if odd after that, go to the wine configuration tool again, and under Graphics, check the “Virtual Desktop” thingamajig, and set the resolution to something that suits you and your screen.

Happy camping.

Ubuntu & Citrix XenApp 11.0

Problems installing Citrix ICA Client 11.0 (nowadays XenApps) on ubuntu?

Check out this page. Nuff said.

Basically, Download the client from the citrix site,

apt-get install libmotif3

unpack the client, run ./setupwfc, use defaults or customize. Make a symlink, sudo ln -s /usr/lib/libXm.so.3.0.2 /usr/lib/libXm.so.4. Also make links for the tools:

sudo ln -s /usr/lib/ICAClient/wfica /usr/local/bin/wfica
sudo ln -s /usr/lib/ICAClient/wfcmgr /usr/local/bin/wfcmgr

Run wfcmgr to configure options (such as local drive mapping).

In case you get an error 61 when you try to connect to a server, or start an application, download the Thawte Premium Server certificate, and put it in your installation /keystore/cacerts folder.

Medeco – Hiding the truth since 1968

Ok, let’s get the facts straight here. Medeco, a “high-security” lock manufacturer founded in 1968 tries to hide the fact that their “high-security” locks are not foolproof. Wikipedia has a page on Medeco, and when someone tries to add a section on the weaknesses found in their “high-security” locks, it gets removed. Also it appears the history page is wiped clean, as well as the discussion, since i can’t find any of the edits (makes it harder to restore!), or any whine or gripe on the subject. There was one comment, but my feeling is that there have been much more.

Medeco locks are used in various high-security places, such as government organisations etc. The only problem is, the locks have a weakness which makes them not at all secure, since the security can be bypassed without breaking anything.

The method is known as bumping, and was invented sometime in the 1970’s in Denmark. When you bump a lock, you use a specially crafted key that is inserted in to the lock, then “bumped” inwards, causing the driver pins to jump up past the shear-line, so you can turn the cylinder freely. The lock is not harmed, nor will any discernible marks be left on the lock.

Most (but probably not all) Medeco locks are susceptible to this technique, and are therefore, not high-security locks, and i recommend nobody do any business with them, until they correct and/or admit that they’ve been hiding the truth. I know it’s hard guys… you’ve got a product that you know is flawed, and you’ve sold millions of them to like.. the government, and you don’t want to get reamed. I get that. I don’t enjoy getting reamed. But you gotta fess up when we are talking about a product that is supposed to provide security. People stake life and limb on these things.

If you want a lock that is bump-proof, and also, comes from my country of Finland, get an Abloy Disc Tumbler lock, which are very common here. They are not bumpable, and take a considerable amount of time and expertise to pick, requiring special tools and skill. Unlike medeco locks which take a filed piece of metal, and in some cases a screwdriver. Whoo!

Some sources here:
Wiki – Disc Tumbler Locks
Wiki – Lock Bumping
Wiki – Medeco

Medeco Bumping at Defcon In this link, an 11 year old bumps a Medeco M3 High-security lock. On this page from 2006, they say their locks are virtually bump-proof. Virtually.

Hell, they even host courses on what lock bumping and the risk it presents..

A word on legality: The posession of lockpicks or other tools that can be used to gain unlawful access, with criminal intent, to the property owned by someone other than you is a crime punishable by a fine in Finland.

I am not a lawyer, so don’t listen to me, but that would mean that you could have these tools for your personal practice. Lockpicking is a hobby in many countries (haven’t heard much of it in Finland), and why couldn’t it be? Picking a lock could be a useful skill in an emergency, when someone is locked inside a dangerous area, or if you are there yourself. Or just as a general hobby. I mean shooting can also be a hobby…

Here is the law:

28 luku, 12 a § (24.5.2002/400)
Murtovälineen hallussapito
Joka ilman hyväksyttävää syytä pitää hallussaan sellaista avainta toisen lukkoon taikka tiirikkaa tai muuta välinettä, jota voidaan perustellusti epäillä pääasiassa käytettävän tunkeutumiseen toisen hallinnassa olevaan suljettuun tilaan rikoksen tekemistä varten, on tuomittava murtovälineen hallussapidosta sakkoon.

This means, if you for instance, carry some tools that can be used to pick locks, in a public area, without a reasonable reason, you can be fined. This means, if you are not coming or going to a lock-picking event/hobby club etc.

A good site on this whole hobby, is can be found here, at the “Haittalevy” blog.

Firefox plugins plug

We’re gonna look at some of the plugins i like for Firefox today. This is not a long list, i’m not plugin addicted like certain people i know, but there are certain plugins that make living easier.

Ad-Block Plus with Easylist & Viltteri + Element Hiding Helper
This here is a classic. It’s been around for ages. It basically operates on a filterlist (easylist and viltteri are such lists), that filter your web content so you don’t have to see all those pesky ads for shit you would never buy anyway. Easylist is one of the lists that are offered when you’ve installed ad-block, and it seems to work fairly well. For Finland, there is a list called viltteri (a mutation of the word filter), which can be found here. You can submit sites to be indexed by viltteri, or send in a false positive, which is always a good thing, and can’t be said for all lists. (*cough* the sensorship list…)

With Element Hiding Helper, henceforth EHH, you can block *any* item on a webpage. Sometimes these ad-toting motherfuckers become crafty, and put out ads that you can’t easily block using ad-block. With EHH, you can click Ctrl-K, and then select the element, be it a paragraph, a div, whatever, and block that. Some people have found ways around that, using completely dynamic element names, which are kind of hard to block, since they can’t even be wildcarded without fucking up the entire site layout.

Xmarks

This is good for people who have multiple computers that they use on a regular basis. I operate my desktop, my laptop and my work desktop. I want to have my bookmarks, for without them, life is moot. With Xmarks, you can synchronize your bookmarks, either using their server, or even your own server. They offer encryption for the entire transaction, so it should be fairly safe. You can also sync saved passwords, but since i really don’t practice such stuff, i have left that untouched. Synchronization options are: keep local, discard server, keep server discard local and some third option. You can set it to sync manually, or every time you close the browser. Works magic for my needs. Even keeps the layout.

MultiRowBookmarks

Allows you to create a multirow bookmark toolbar, to accomodate a large amount of links. If you’re like me, you don’t like the bookmarks menu, and you want your regulars in the toolbar, which isn’t big enough by default. Before this came out, you had to do a manual edit of some configuration files to achieve it.

Reliby

Reliby allows you to place a button in the toolbar, that when clicked, reloads all your RSS feeds. You don’t have to click each one, and select reload anymore! Great if you keep the browser open for long periods of time, like i do, and follow a lot of feeds.

NoScript

A savior. You can block javascript and other scripting languages so they don’t execute funny stuff on your machine. Hinders a lot of web based exploits.

Stylish

Allows you to add custom CSS styles for specific webpages, and provides a cool framework for managing these. There are tons of cool styles out there, and for sites like.. Say muropaketti that i follow, it’s a real saver. The default forum layout looks like ass, so with a stylish style, i can just transform it in to something much more usable. This is the style i use for muropaketti, thanks to Lifeless.

Any other good suggestions are welcome!

Site update: Header picture updated

So i updated the generic looking header picture that came with the theme to something more suitable to the theme of the blog, i.e. technology. The picture is a cropped version of a public domain picture from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and depicts Roadrunner, the fastest computer on earth. Those are IBM System x3755’s in .. well a lot of racks. More on this awesome piece of machinery here. Also check out this cute collection of supercomputers from the present, as well as times past.

Testing Ubuntu 9.10

I’m in the process of installing Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 2 server on a test machine. I’ll let you know more tomorrow when i get to actually use the system. Installation is not the graphical one, as has been the way for Ubuntu server versions forever. I’m pretty sure you could use the graphical installer, but like.. who needs it?

The system i am installing it on is called mother, and is a 2.4 GHz P4, with 1.5 gigs ram, and 320 HD, Nvidia Vanta graphics card. Just a rig i threw together off of some spare parts i had laying around here.

Nokia E75 Review

This is a short hopefully helpful review to all those who are thinking of getting this much-hyped “mini-communicator” from Nokia. The phone i have has the latest firmware, which was released on June 2nd (thanks Anteuz), and is called 110.48.125.

This was a much anticipated phone, which will, along with the soon-to-be-released N97 replace the current E90 and older series of Communicators. These devices are smaller, slide-out keyboards, and they are generations faster. Memory is greatly increased, as well as the selection of available applications, at least when we compare to the older S80 communicators (9300, 9300i, 9500). S60 is a good platform nowadays, there are loads of apps available, and what with Nokia’s new Ovi store (to compete with the Apple app-store for the iPhone), access and searching is easier than ever.

But down to the nitty-gritty. The phone has an otherways sturdy metal chassis, and weighs in at 139 grams, and is a bit bigger than a standard candybar-format we’re used to. The screen is of high-quality, although i’ve heard a lot of reports that screen is put on too tight or something, and is the number one reason for DOA’s and service-calls. I’ve had no problems so far, and i’ve had it about 2 weeks. The resolution is a common 240×320, and the screen can be flipped to “widescreen”-mode by turning the phone around/pulling out the slide-out keyboard.

This is one of the big caveats of this phone. The slide-spring feels robust, but the slide out part itself (the screen slides out from the rest of the phone, revealing the qwerty), feels very weak and plasticky. You’d expect that with a 469€ phone (verkkokauppa.com price of today), you’d have like.. quality craftmanship. I have no doubt, that with longer use, the spring will become loose, and/or the entire lid will break off as result of some mechanical fatigue. I just don’t trust phones with moving parts.

The software is Symbian S60, version 3.2 FP2 (feature pack). The FP includes the latest version of the flash player for the web browser, and probably the support for the flippable-screen and slide functions.

It has a motion sensor, which allows you to just turn the phone to flip the screen. This can be turned on or off, depending on how you like it. The sensor isn’t perfect, and the software has a few bugs, notably that the screen is left in the wrong position, and you kind of have to tilt it back and forth to get it to wake up. Another feature i haven’t tested with the new firmware is: if you boot the phone lid open, it’ll start in the wrong position by default. I’ll have to try it.

Speed is pretty good for a Symbian phone, which are notoriously slow, overall. The latest firmware (this was the first release since the factory version), improves the speed further, and it’s now at a rather comfortable level, at least if you are used to other, older, symbian phones.

The top numpad, the regular keypad, is really sucky. It’s one of the main reasons not to get the phone. Don’t kid yourself with the qwerty! While it’s good, it doesn’t replace by any means, the regular numpad. You’ll still use it to answer phone calls, and type out numbers and set the keylock on or off. Honestly. If you don’t hit them, spot on, you’ll be clicking like a raving madman just to get the keylock on. I’m not shitting. The buttons are made of hard, slick glossy plastic, that has no feel to it what so ever.

As i mentioned, the qwerty is good, has a good feel, and you have access to the characters easily either through shift or the function button. The only thing i missed was a dedicated å button since i type swedish sometimes. But it’s not a big drawback.

Battery life is standard. I talk a lot, use e-mail, sms and web. I use most features daily, since i need to for work. The battery lasts about two days in this usage, which is average for these phones. I won’t get in to standby, because Nokia always lies, and i’m not able to test it. Battery is a BL-4U.

Connectivity. The phone offers 3.5G (i.e. HSDPA here in europe), WLAN, Bluetooth with the latest profile, and micro-usb connector. It also has a standard 3.5mm plug for headphones and other accessories. MicroSD card, with a 4GB card bundled in Finland at least. Has GPS, FM-radio. The E75 (and other new Symbian phones) now have integrated e-mail with support for Microsoft Exchange, so it integrates fairly effortlessly to your company email system. The only thing which is totally un-intuitive, is syncing anything except email. If you want to sync calendar, tasks or contacts, you have to set that separately (not unlike the regular mail for exchange, which has everything within the one account). Also, you can set the thing in a number of places, and the difference of these has yet to dawn on me. You can either do it inside the E-mail menu-item, or from the applications themselves. For instance, in calendar, there is a setup item called “Associated mailbox”, where you can select your mail account. So what the hell? Which is it? I’m sure the fucking manual has it, but this stuff is supposed to be idiotproof if it’s to hit it big in business environments.

I can say this from experience: users are not smart.

My favorite feature: OTA upgrade of the firmware, and the new UDP feature. UDP, user data preservation, preserves your settings and data as you do the upgrade. No more clumsy backups and worries when updating! OTA allows you to get the firmware patch from nokia’s servers directly to the phone. No more data cables/bluetooth and nokia software update. Makes installing phones here at work a lot faster. The patch i downloaded was only about 6 megs, and didn’t take much longer than 5 minutes to download and install. You can also download, and chose to install later.

Most hated feature: The god damn numpad sucks ass. I might actually consider this without that crappy numpad.

Conclusion Would not buy this or recommend it, because really, a phone this expensive should be a bit better, with more attention to detail. If you get it for free at work, or somehow get used to the numpad, i guess it’s alright. It has just about everything a phone needs today. If you are a gadget-freak like me, you’ll like all the features, but you’ll be ticked off about the minor caveats.

Added PGP-key

I added my PGP public key, so you can send me mail with it. You can get it here, or by clicking the PGP-key link in the sidebar. If you want to send me something using PGP, use my grelbar {ät-sign} gmail \dot\ com

Oh yeah, and i also recommend the FireGPG addon for Firefox. It can do encryption and decryption in a webmail environemnt, say gmail. You need gpg installed, in windows it’s something like wingpg? Or something. It comes installed in most Gnu/Linux distros. Import or create your own key to the key manager. Once it’s configured, you can just open an encrypted mail in gmail, and it’ll ask for your password to decrypt. It’s very easy, and works well.

The only thing we noticed with P is that when i reply to his mails from gmail, the encoding is all fucked, probably due to either gmail or Firefox or my systems or all of the above, but in any case, the decryption works fine.