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My telephone reminds me that I have yet to listen to a voicemail message from last week.

A robot recently telephoned my personal message robot to inform me that it was about to automatically discontinue a service provided by a machine, because a machine-delegate of mine was for an unusual length of time delinquent in its duties to remit payment.

Sucking out firmware through a curly straw

I'm currently working on cracking a Definity PBX I bought on ebay. It came with a license for using the software installed on it, but you need a support contract to actually make it go. As I'm using it for personal research and don't ever intend to run a business on it, a multi-thousand-dollars support contract is not in the cards. So, I have to crack it instead.

First step is dumping the firmware. I couldn't find a copy anywhere online, which isn't a huge surprise — only Lucent is supposed to be able to make upgrades happen, and it's a rather old release anyway.

First I looked into getting it directly off the board. As it turned out, that would require dumping 4 TSOPs and figuring out how they interleave. Seems reasonable, but my local hackerspace only had SOIC test clips, and TSOP test clips are a very limited availability specialty item, and would cost around $150 for an attempt. Strike one.

My second approach centered around a set of cryptic commands I'd seen poking around the command completion results in the inads account — rp, rva, wp, and wva. A bit of experimentation showed me that they stood for, respectively, read physical, read virtual address, write physical, and write virtual address. That and a few ugly shell commands later, I'm in business hex-dumping the physical memory — 80 bytes at a time.

In one terminal:

$ seq 0 128 16777216 | xargs printf 'rp byte d %x c 80\r\n' > addresses-for-dumping
$ cat addresses-for-dumping | while read line ; do echo $line > /dev/ttyS0 ; sleep 3 ; done

In a second terminal:

$ cat /dev/ttyS0 | sed -ure 's/^[\[..?;..?H/ /g' | fgrep -u '0x' | tee romdump.hex

When done:

$ cat firmware.hex | sed -e 's/^ 0x//;s/    / /' > fw_clean.hex
$ xxd -r fw_clean.hex firmware.bin

I'll see about posting an update in 4 days when this dump is done...

Various things.

Since I last updated this, I have done many things. Perhaps most notably, I am now working full-time in computer security. It's not strictly programming, but it's interesting. Also at times maddening, of course. Consulting is not easy. The hours at least are usually comfortable — I normally roll in to the office at 10 or 11am. This month is an exception. Sometimes you have to pay interest on your loans.

This week I'll be moving out from my parents' house. Doing so will meet (though just barely) my goal to be 100% self-sufficient by age 25. I'm sure my emancipated-minor friends are sniggering at me here. Suck it. The place is a two-level loft with a neat view, not some hole in the ground. I've lived in a ground-hole apartment before. Not again.

I'm presently single. Not forever-alone. I have recently made out with multiple people from IRC, and none from OKCupid. Some people say that OKCupid gets you laid; I assert the falsity of such statements.

Custom stylesheet

I finally got tired of the web not looking all the same, so I created a user stylesheet.

body *, body {
background: #12110f !important;
color: grey85 !important;

a { color: blue !important; }
a :hover { color: red !important; }
a :visited { color: purple !important }

Not everything is perfect, but here are some screenshots:



It's all-out warfare against web designers. I enjoy my new, no-bullshit webernet, especially at night when my eyes aren't excited about looking into the sun. And, changing tabs doesn't turn my desk into a discotheque any more.

Mood: pleased pleased
My stupid idea of the day

Today's stupid idea: Data transport mechanism, where the transport mechanism itself is magnetic tape running through an underground conduit. It dips into private buildings just long enough to contact a read/write head, and then goes along to the next building.

Kind of like token ring, I guess.

Numbertron + Google AppEngine

All the Google AppEngine Ruby tutorials say that you need to use this thing called DataMapper to talk to the AppEngine datastore. What they don't say is that it's an ORM that's not useful for some projects, and that you can go to the lower-level API (which is more databasey) if that suits you better.

(Yes, I'm working on bringing Numbertron back into the world of the living Internet.)

Mood: frustrated frustrated

A typical user of the emacs text editor has eight tentacles

Some days I feel like this gentleman. Shit, he's even got the same color scheme as I.

Productive week!

Wow, I actually got things done this week. Thanks, dextroamphetamine!

~/680$ git diff 230532164770650c105199a6da7bb178d3627b35 HEAD | diffstat
 Makefile                         |   53 +++++++++--
 README.markdown                  |   10 +-
 alu.asm                          |    2 
 flags.asm                        |   14 +--
 instruction-timing.gnumeric      |binary
 loader.c                         |    2 
 main.asm                         |   10 +-
 opcodes.asm.m4                   |  177 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++-------------                   |   10 +-
 ports.asm                        |    2 
 speed.txt                        |   17 +++
 testbenches/zexdoc.testbench.z80 |  154 ++++++++++++++++-----------------
 12 files changed, 289 insertions(+), 162 deletions(-)

Mood: pleased pleased
June 2011

$ svn log -v -r 1377:1378
r1378 | duncan | 2011-06-10 14:38:41 -0700 (Fri, 10 Jun 2011) | 2 lines
Changed paths:
   M /trunk/work/resume.tex

Graduated.  Shit yeah.

$ svn diff -r 1377:1378
Index: resume.tex
--- resume.tex	(revision 1377)
+++ resume.tex	(revision 1378)
@@ -52,8 +52,8 @@
 \item Garfield High School, Seattle.  Graduated June 2006.
-\item University of Washington, Seattle.  Majoring in Geography, will
-  graduate in June 2011.
+\item University of Washington, Seattle.  Bachelor of Arts in
+  Geography, June 2011.


I think I've figured out what mood I'm in. It is called "melancholy".

Mood: melancholy melancholy

Me can roll up two spliffs using one hand—dat iz why I iz known as bein' double-jointed, a'ight?

—Ali G (High Times interview, 2003)


Sleep and sunlight are both hard to find at night and impossible to get rid of in the morning.


My pet website, Numbertron, is currently busy ingesting about a hundred thousand numbers from Manila, Philippines. I'll go out on a limb here and say I'll probably have them online tomorrow.



Been a while, hasn't it?

I'm studying Geography at the University of Washington. It's my last quarter. I don't know exactly what I'm going to do with my life after that. Probably I'll work for a telephone company or a mapping company. Maybe I can do mapping for the telephone company?

I want to have this job, playing telephone man in Antarctica. To do that for the US Antarctic Program, you need to get Raytheon (the polar services contractor) to hire you. For that position (there are two positions, senior and junior, both for 1-year appointments), you need two years of industry experience. I'm not sure whether anything to do with mapping would count. I suppose I'll just have to see ...

My intention is that by the time I accomplish this, I'll be near 30 years old and have another plan. Maybe involving children.


Poll #5309 Useless Poll
Open to: All, results viewable to: All

I can create a poll. Is this awesome?

View Answers

1 (100.0%)

The word of the week

The word of the week is “plesiochronous”. Two clocks are plesiochronous when they are very nearly running at the same speed, and one of them is occasionally corrected to keep the error between them below an upper bound.

I am such a weirdo

I just sent this email to the International Telecommunications Union, an telephone-related standards organization, asking about WTISD:

Subject: WTISD 2010: Official Cake Recipe?

To Whom It May Concern:

My friends and I forgot to celebrate WTISD 2010 on time.  We were
going to have a semi-private party, with a cake.  Unfortunately, we
were all busy and forgot to do so.  (imagine that!)  So, we'll do it
as soon as we hear back from you.

What's the official ITU standard cake recipe?  We'd like to be
compliant.  :)

Thank you for your time,
(chronomex's legal name)

Mood: sleepy sleepy
Ehhh, fuckit

I always feel a bit guilty when I sleep through half my classes and then skip the rest. That's what today is, though.

Fuckit, I like sleep.

Hell Yes

I just paid my local highschool dance radio station $100 to remove Lady Gaga's “Bad Romance” from their regular rotation. He did it right on the air.

Totally worth it. :)

Mood: smug smug
Music: The Chemical Brothers - Block Rocking Beats
Has everyone abandoned journaling?

Continuing this project:

The Star Trek Wiki takes itself much too seriously. As a result, the Star Trek Wiki is better at Star Trek than Paramount Pictures.

No, really. They have every single fact ever stated with authority on the show. The pages aren't very well written, but they're incredibly complete. With citations. For example, a quote from article about combadges:

A Starfleet combadge was one of the items the Dopterian thief put on the table after Constable Odo arrested him. (DS9: “The Forsaken”)

Reopen soon, Pizza Brava! I miss you!

I am really missing the house special, pepperoni and meatballs. They've been closed for at least a week now with a sign that just says “Reopening soon!”

Radio pledge drive season is right around the corner!

KUOW is actively pledging, KEXP is probably going to start soon, and I got a donation envelope from KNHC. Yes, I give money to radio stations.

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