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It's a great time to be a hardware hacker... PDF Print E-mail

Merry Christmas!!!

One of my christmas gifts from my brother was an Arduino Uno, which if you don't know, is a little electronics prototyping board based on a processor chip called an AtMega. Essentially, its a complete, self-contained computer with a footprint of a business card. Now you can't run Windows and surf the net with it, what you can do is use it to experiment, automate, or interface things you would normally need a full blown pc to do. Wanna build a little robot that fetches your slippers? Sure! Want to have a display on the wall that shows when the washing machine is done? You got it.

Anyhow the great part about this, is not only are these things cheap ($30-35 for the Arduino, and most accessories around the same prices or less), but the Arduino team came up with a programming language and environment thats easy to learn, easy to use, and very well documented. You don't see that often anymore. Put bluntly, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to learn how to use one of these.

After messing with it for a couple days, it got me thinking - what a GREAT time to be a hardware hacker! Wait...isn't a hacker someone that breaks into systems? True to a certain extent, but the term "hacker" really represents anyone that can take something and modify it. Doesn't necessarily mean you're breaking the law or sitting at a computer all day. If you find a printer by the curb, tear it apart and use the motors and display for a project, THATS a *hardware* hacker.

Why is it a great time to be a hardware hacker? Simple....

1. You have modern technology like the Arduino that makes a simple task out of automating anything.

2. You have an abudance of information available at your fingertips at light speed.

3. There's an abundance of spare/scrap electronics, usually available for free or very cheap that can be salvaged for parts.

4. There's an abundance of tools available, you can get a logic analyzer on ebay for $200 that probably cost $12k new.

5. There's an abundance of NEW technology available for cheap. Toys and small appliances that cost well under $100 have crazy functionality, just look at some of the stuff Jakks Pacific puts out.

Last but not least, what this all adds up to is a crazy amount of resources that if you have an idea, chances are there's a way to implement it in a regular Joe's budget. Don't just leave it up to the focus groups and marketing gurus to provide mediocre products - BUILD SOMETHING! :-)

Here's some links to help you along the way....

MAKE Magazine: http://makezine.com/

Arduino: http://www.arduino.cc/

Robot Shop: http://www.robotshop.com/

Craigslist: http://www.craigslist.org
(Why? Go into the Freebie section and scoff up some junk to rip apart!)

Funky Microsoft Exchange problem - SOLVED! PDF Print E-mail

Problem: For a single user, personal randomly gets external emails bounced back to her with the following NDR (sensitive data edited). This should never happen as the Exchange server uses a smarthost to send, so it should almost never create an NDR from itself...


Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients.

Subject: xxxxxxxxxx

Sent: 12/10/2010 10:26 AM

The following recipient(s) cannot be reached:

' This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' on 12/10/2010 10:26 AM

The message could not be delivered because the recipient's destination email system is unknown or invalid. Please check the address and try again, or contact your system administrator to verify connectivity to the email system of the recipient.

So the first step was to see where in the process the problem lies...so I went into Message tracking in Exchange (2003), and found the message, and that the address had "mailto:" attached to it. At first I kind of ignored that but the problem was staring me right in the face. The history showed the email being processed and an NDR being created, as expected.

Next, since we use a smarthost...Exchange shouldn't be using DNS and should just flat out send the email to the smarthost....so I was able to view a live log on the smarthost while the person attempted to send the email. Nothing showed up at all...which meant it was never getting to the smart host. Additionally I checked and sure enough DNS was working properly and resolved the domain.

Ok NOW what? I fire up Network Monitor to see if maybe Exchange is trying to contact the smart host at all. I do a capture while the person attempted the email, and look at the results. I see the email address show up in an LDAP query to active directory, meaning Exchange thinks the message is internal. I also notice the mailto: being attached to the address, which makes me double-back on that.

Went back to the user and looked at her sent item for that email. Go into the Outlook Properties for that recipient address, and sure enough it showed as email type MAILTO instead of smtp.

Had her redo EXACTLY step-by-step to what she did. She mentioned she did copy and paste the maito: address but removed the mailto: portion from the address bar. While we were talking, (before removing the mailto), Outlook accepted the address and changed the address to only show the actual email address. I went into the Outlook properties, and sure enough email type was MAILTO.

So...in the end, we figured out she started to type in the body of the email first, was going to go back and remove the mailto before sending...Outlook changes it 10 seconds in and shows just the email addy, user thinks its ok and sends.

Fix: Have user copy and paste just the address OR remove the mailto: portion first.

We're Heeeeeeeeere!!! PDF Print E-mail

If you're reading this, I successfully completed moving Junknet to a new host. The tools Bluehost offers were great for getting everything up and running quickly - a lot easier than I originally thought anyway. There may be a few bugs to work out as far as the photo galleries, but other than that everything seems to be going smoothly.

Note: If anyone has previously used the "Contact Me" button to try to get a hold of me since last Monday, I did not get your message and it was deleted. Please contact me again and this time it should now go through.

Anyhow, welcome Junknet.net to its third host!



Round 2! PDF Print E-mail

Sigh...I hate web servers. I really do...its the equivalent of having an unlocked gas station booth in the worst part of the worst town. They get constantly attacked, and no matter what, there's always some hole that gets compromised.

That said, Junknet went down, yet again, due to some malware that was found on the site. Everything's been cleaned up...the holes plugged and we're back in business. Hopefully. That said, unfortunately I had to make a temporary change to the way the arcade and pics pages are displayed. This will hopefully be temporary as I find a better solution, but safe is better than sorry.

Other than that, things are back to normal and will hopefully remain that way!


Impending Move coming... PDF Print E-mail

I have to move Junknet to a new server soon, so be forewarned that if you need access to the donor tv list, to print a copy now. I don't expect a lot of downtime but its always a possibility.

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