Saturday, October 20, 2018

Liverpool


A few years ago I sold my Yamaha QY100 sequencer.
I think from the moment it was gone I regretted the sale.
The only thing that would replace it for me was a Korg MicroArranger or a Yamaha Tyros. Both are expensive arranger keyboards and I never had a spare £500+ to invest in either.
The other week I was looking into either a MicroArranger or another QY100. There was one of each on eBay, both around the £250 mark, second hand. I was late at making a decision and both were gone by the time I'd decided to bid on one of them. While looking for another MicroArranger I stumbled across the Korg Liverpool. After some investigation I discovered that it's a reworked MicroArranger stuffed with Beatles songs and a Union Flag case. It's a bit ugly but it's growing on me.
As you can see I bought one, brand new and sub £200. It's a great keyboard to play and a good accompaniment for my bass playing. I think I've only scratched the surface of its abilities and I'm really enjoying messing about with music again. It's been more than 3 years since I wrote a track.
I think that's all about to change.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Memories


I did try and avoid posting about the TRNG but I thought I had just one more post left in the story.
The Element 14 kit for the desktop Pi has a board included so that a mSATA drive can be added. I wanted the extra drive to store the files of random numbers that I'm producing. It took a while to work things out. Adding the drive really wasn't that straight forward and I spent three hours getting everything talking to each other. I even went as far as breaking out the soldering iron and hard wiring the cooling fan into the GPIO power pins. The desktop is a bit noisy now but it'll never overheat.

While waiting for my transfer hardware to arrive I'm re-purposing the Pi Top as a processing machine. As I type this it's downloading the full Kali ARM OS.
So that's about it really. I'm just about set up for some serious encryption experimentation, that and restarting my Python encryption course along with a decent pen testing introduction.

I imagine the next few posts will be music related. Hopefully next week's blog will contain some exciting keyboard news.
Until then it's back to the bass.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Back To Bassics


When I was about 8 or 9 years old I learned to play a cello.
I did that for 3 years, got a Grade II certificate and played an end of year concert with the school of music.
The cello went and so I taught myself keyboards on a cheap Casio VL-1. I was still playing basslines.
Fast forward a few years and I spent a back dated dole cheque on a candy pink bass. I think I sold that for a night out.
When I started writing tunes I always wrote the bass first. I played keyboards with my left hand playing bass and my right hand filling in the blanks with chords. For as long as I can remember the bass was the most important part of anything musical.

For the last three years I've been without FL Studio. It doesn't run well on Wine for Linux. I've tried LMMS and a few other things but my heart was never in it. I haven't recorded a track in the last three years and I miss it.

To rectify this situation I decided to go back to what I know. Four strings.
Not another cello but instead another bass. A half decent one. Five minutes ago I was playing my Squire Precision Bass. It's easy to play and the experience of 45 minutes solid playing was cathartic. I'm happier for having spent the time with the instrument and although it's back to basics my enthusiasm will drive me on to be better. I can see myself writing tracks again soon.
Just for myself, but I will share the resulting happiness with everyone else.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Gimme Numbers



Tested and working, my new hardware RNG is in operation.
It's not quite offline yet because there are still a few drivers and bits of software to add. Once everything is one hundred percent it'll go dark and you'll never hear about it again. In fact this is probably the last time I'll mention it.
So that's it. Goal reached.
I'll be making numbers.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Nearly There


I know, I know. This stuff is taking a long time.
But wait...

If everything was instant there wouldn't be time to work out the finer details. Sure, I could build this project in as fast as the bits I need could be delivered but where would the mental system testing have room to breath?
Because when this system is built I need to air-gap it, how am I going to transfer the data produced? That problem, the one about moving air-gapped data to and from the machine was only solved tonight and involved another purchase which will take a couple of weeks to arrive. That's no big deal. For this to work I need time to build and program this machine properly. If there are mistakes to be made I'd rather come across them between here and the lake district on my nightly commute than while I'm overwhelmed with the excitement of a newly built system which I expect to work from the word go.

Patience may well be a virtue but in this day and age and for this project also it's a necessity. I want my TRNG to be robust, reliable and secure and so time spent now on future problems will pay dividends.
In the world of "everything now", preparation is still everything.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Totally Random


It's here.
As far as computing goes this has to be one of the most exciting days of my life.
That's a big statement, let me explain.
Ever since I got the encryption bug, the one thing that has been the most difficult to deal with is the creation of entropy within any kind of computing equipment I own. There are plenty of ways of doing this like flipping a coin or rolling dice but they're all too time consuming when you need to test new methods. There is also crypto secure pseudo random number generation which is great for making sure stuff works, but what about putting methods into practice? There never has been nor will there be a replacement for true random.
The USB device above from OneRNG and is an:
...avalanche diode circuit and optionally an RF circuit, whitened and presented over a USB/Serial connection.
This will feed a computer's entropy pool to stop the PC from grinding to a halt trying to create entropy by itself.

As I mentioned in my previous post this will be attached to a Raspberry Pi with a thermal printer. My aim is to use the RPi as an air-gapped PC that, on boot, will print out a series of random numbers which will also be saved in on-board memory. I'll have to write a start-up script but I don't think that'll be too difficult.
I have a few more components to buy and another couple of weeks before I'm up and running but at least the major parts are here.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Getting There


I've had a bit of a dream for a while.
I've always wanted to build a hardware random number generator.

It's easy to create random numbers on my computer but they are pseudo random and that's never quite been good enough. A while ago I saw a Raspberry Pi project that had a thermal printer as one of its components. I thought it was a good idea to get a print out of the numbers without having to waste a whole sheet of A4. I've been testing a thermal printer tonight and as you can see it performs well.
In a few weeks when my hardware TRNG USB key arrives I'll build a desktop Raspberry Pi to attach the USB key and thermal printer to.
I'll then have my own hardware TRNG to mess about with.
Exciting times ahead.

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

Transformation


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.