Saturday, August 04, 2018

Adventures In Digital

This is the Radioddity / Baofeng RD-5R.
I've been after one for a while. Not that I don't have enough radios but this one is digital. Up until now everything has been analogue with the exception of an old SDR running on SDR# years ago and that was receive only.
Things have come full circle. It was trying to update SDR# that virused my Windows PC and that's what got me into Linux. This radio, at the moment, has to be programmed on Windows so I've bought a laptop to do just that.
I've learned a lot about digital radio (DMR) over the last week. One thing I didn't know is that I need a digital ID. I've already sent an email to get hold of that. I think I can just about program the radio. The digital set up it a little more complicated than analogue. I have to get contacts, talkgroups and colour codes into the right places so that my codeplug will work. New words for a new adventure.
To be honest I just want a DMR to listen to the digital simplex channels that bounce around town. I imagine that by the time I've got all the right frequencies dialed in I'll find that they're all encrypted.
Such is life.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Twists & Turns

I think I can say that it has been a good day.
Sunday wasn't so good. The drill press that I had ordered from an online store arrived damaged. Not really their fault, the manufacturer's idea of decent packaging fell way short of what one would expect for an item of that size and weight. The online store were great. They issued a postage label for a courier and a refund.
The courier was supposed to collect today but never showed which was a waste of a day for my girlfriend. After a lengthy phone call this evening it was decided with said online store that I couldn't use my work address for the parcel pickup and it was too heavy for someone to deal with at a drop off shop. What was I going to do with it? They told me to take it to a recycling centre. Fair enough.
I've got that in writing also so the drill press will be recycled.
I'll find somewhere that deals with that kind of activity.
Shouldn't be too difficult.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


It's only taken 5 months from concept to completion but it's done.
The Poc||GTFO skateboard has finally been for a spin.
It all started in January while searching charity shops for books which is something I do a lot. In an out of the way corner was a neglected deck once owned by Alex B. I don't know who he is but his name was Sharpie'd onto the trucks. The weather had been bad for skateboarding for a long time and the goal was to make a deck for riding in bad weather.
After a lot of work and some substantial purchases I created the deck you can see in the pictures. It's worth as much as my "good" deck but I'll still ride it on wet tarmac. That's what it was made to do.

So why the PoC||GTFO name?
PoC||GTFO AKA Proof of Concept or Get The F*** Out is a hacker publication. It's something I read to keep up to date with security stuff.
My concept was can I hack a cheap Amazon skateboard into something worth riding? I think I've proven that.
Having cruised my local park yesterday I can say that it's definitely a decent deck now that it's totally transformed. It's blisteringly fast too.
And the weather now it's finished?
It's good so I'm off for a cruise.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Weather Or Not

It really doesn't matter to me how poor the WEFAX images are that I receive through my radio.
They're usually pretty poor but I don't mind. I can usually get something from them. It's not just an image to me either. It's a picture sent over radio waves that I collect from a wire stretched along my back garden. I still get excited to see the picture forming on my computer screen. It's different every time. Even the same picture on a later transmission will have very different interference patterns overlaid. Maybe the WEFAX transmissions could be a source of entropy.
The other obvious benefit of these transmissions is to provide weather information. It's good too. Accurate and up-to-date, and talking of weather, it's changed significantly enough for me to start receiving WEFAX images.
That's how I know that Spring is truly here.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Going Green

While most people were contemplating what to wear on the way to the newsagent's this morning I was once again tinkering with crypto stuff.
The complex subject of air gapped computing was front and centre at 9am in my world. Unless you write your own OS in a Faraday cage then at some point, some part of your computer will have touched the internet. Getting the computer set up with the many updates you probably want for the new system and then pulling it offline is probably what most people do, but is that good enough? Many will argue that it isn't. There has to be a reasonably secure middle ground.
My solution is to power a Pi Zero W from my Pi Top and SSH into it via my phone acting as a wifi hotspot. In effect the Pi Zero W is connected to the internet but isn't accessing it. The only job it has to do is allow me access to the CLI so that I can use the on board hardware random number generator and then only over a secure connection.
If I sit in my Faraday cage of a car in the middle of nowhere especially with a dire cell tower signal I should be OK doing a couple of minutes work.
It's about as good as things are going to get in an ever increasingly connected world. All I need to do now is map cell tower dead spots.
Wish me luck with that one.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

It's Snowing

Outside there are large cold flakes of snow falling to the ground but I don't care really.
Apart from the obligatory 3 mile walk this morning I've been inside all day getting stuff to work on the Pi Top. The Pi Top has a Raspberry Pi under the hood and it's running Ubuntu Mate. It's a decent OS for what I need it for which isn't much. A bit of crypto and a Python playground.
I finally got round to writing the Nano crypto bash script for Ubuntu so I thought I'd port it over to Mate. A fairly easy process but you can't just add a bin directory to Home and have it work in the terminal. Several minutes of getting the script into the correct bin directory as root were needed. Anyway, all done now.
Should you be wondering what the script does, it allows me to write gpg encrypted messages without any of the plaintext being written to disc. Very nifty.
As long as no-one has installed a keylogger or happens to be looking over my shoulder I can safely jot down stuff that I want to remain secret.
If you're going to give it a go yourself make sure you have Nano 3.9.3 installed or it won't work.
Who said protecting your privacy wasn't fun.