Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pidgin for Google Talk on Ubuntu 12.04

Ah, another post merely for myself so that I can fix this the next time I rebuild my laptop. I had to get a new laptop recently, which meant a clean build of Ubuntu 12.04. When I installed Pidgin and set up my Google Talk account, it kept failing. I searched a crap ton trying to find the answer and found lots of things about different port numbers and try different servers and require ssl and use old ssl and god only knows what else. I even set about building from source thinking that some of the changes I made to my ssl libraries was screwing things up. In the end, the fix was so simple, but I never would have guessed it and I found it by digging through a lot of messages submitted in a bug report.

Anyways, the answer is that your hostname must also be in your /etc/hosts file. Below is an example.

# hostname

# cat /etc/hosts     localhost     my-laptop

You can see that second line is what matters. You can have other with other names, but you must make sure that the hostname is at least one of them.

For reference, this is the thread from which I got this info:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

SSLv2 for Ubuntu 12.04

So Ubuntu figured it would be best if they disabled SSLv2 support from the OpenSSL library and it appears that this has been happening since 10.04. I didn't really notice because I had been using some other distros, but with some new changes in my professional life, I now need to be on Ubuntu. Now I understand doing this for the safety of users, but not having the ability to enable it again is quite the issue for say someone who is in the security profession and needs to be able to test for SSLv2 so that clients can be told to disable it. Now to go about building SSLv2 support back in and having a tools like sslscan work again when checking for SSLv2.

If you are currently running some recent version of Ubuntu, you can check for yourself by attempting to use openssl or you can run sslscan (assuming you have that installed) like here:

$ sslscan --ssl2

And in the results you will see it come up blank like here:

What we need to do is rebuild the OpenSSL libraries and enable SSLv2 support. Don't do this if you have no need for this support. The below series of commands come from the main post and the comments here:
I'm not taking credit for this, I'm just putting it all together for Ubuntu 12.04 and really just having this as record for myself since I will have to redo this work everytime OpenSSL gets updated -> meaning watch out for those Ubuntu updates that might undo your work with a new version of OpenSSL or re-install your tools that you rebuild to take advantage of your changes.

Commands to run:

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential devscripts m4 quilt debhelper # There might be more depending on your system - check for error messages
$ apt-get source openssl
$ cd openssl-*
$ quilt pop -a # This removes updates
$ vi debian/patches/series
Remove 'no-ssl2.patch' (or whatever it is called now since it has changed before)
$ vi debian/rules
Remove 'no-ssl2' in args
$ quilt push -a # This re-applies the updates, minus the no-ssl2 patch
$ dch -n 'Allow dangerous v2 protocol'
$ dpkg-source --commit
$ debuild -uc -us
$ ls ../*ssl*.deb
$ cd ../
$ sudo dpkg -i *ssl*.deb

Now you need to do similar activity to get your tools to work again. Here is getting sslscan to work:
$ apt-get source sslscan
$ cd sslscan*
$ debuild -uc -us
$ cd ../
$ sudo dpkg -i *sslscan*.deb

Lets run sslscan with the same arguments as before:

And we have SSLv2 support back. Thank you to others who have posted this information before so that I could get it to work.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Not Sure About Verizon's Rating System

I few months ago I came across a post about a pair of wired headphones from HTC that were tangle free and included a mic (RC-E190). They are more easily bought in the UK, but I keep checking around for a black pair in the U.S. and today I came across Verizon's store because they sell them as an accessory for HTC Rhyme. And no, I wasn't looking for them in purple or plum or whatever that color is, I wanted black and I thought Verizon might have different colors. However, the funny part to me is that Verizon shows the headphones as being rated as 5 stars based on 2 reviews, but when you look at the reviews each person only gave it 1 star. So somehow, Verizon's averaging algorithm has (1 star + 1star) / 2 = 5 stars. Just made me laugh today.

Link: Verizon site

Screen capture:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Woe is me, the Sprint customer

I have been through most major carriers in the past 18 years so I know that none of them are perfect. I usually go with best coverage for the area I live and move on. When I moved to my current house about 2 years ago, I had Verizon and it worked decent except for the one spot in my house where my wife made all her calls from and that spot had zero coverage. So we switched and ended up with Sprint because they had great coverage for our area. Then about six months ago, the service started getting slower and my signal strength started dropping. I kept on with it thinking that it would get better and that maybe all the new devices on Sprint was hurting them.

Then in the past few weeks, the service in my Chicago area became worse than I expected. Between my phone and my wife's phone we had dropped calls, missed calls, no voicemail notifications (well she didn't, I use GV so I was good), and lost text messages. When this happened it became a real problem because my wife is a NICU nurse and she and her hospital rely on her phone working in case she has to be called in. BTW - she did miss three calls from the hospital over this issue. I hit up the Sprint forums and my wife went to a local store to complain and then ended up also calling into support. It turns out that Sprint is upgrading the service here as part of their enhanced 3G and 4G LTE rollout.

This sounds great, except for two things. First, it won't be completed until some time in June and that is the earliest it can be done. That means it could easily go on past that. Secondly, they didn't warn us that this upgrade would actually kill off our service during the 3 month upgrade. Now, their customer service was friendly and ended up sending us an Airave for free. That is the whole mini cell tower in your home that uses your broadband for connectivity. This is nice that it has resolved our issues when we are at home, but leave the house and it is all downhill again. I am also still not very comfortable with this tower thing since I had to put it about three feet from my face.

This has made me decide that it is better for my wife and I to be on separate networks so that we have a better chance of at least one of our phones working. I will most likely move over to AT&T because they have good coverage in my area, a decent phone selection (come on Samsung Galaxy SIII), and I like the GSM idea for traveling. Not sure what my wife will do, but will probably wait and see how Sprint's network is after the upgrade. During all this, I also found out that it is cheaper for her and I to be on separate plans instead of a family plan because we only have two lines and use barely any minutes.

In the end, this is mainly just my rant, but also a heads up to other Sprint customers about what happens during the network upgrade. Maybe this downtime doesn't always happen and Sprint is just rushing it in my area to get LTE out ahead of the next iPhone, but for what it is worth, this is my experience.

Now for something completely different...I'm pretty pumped about the upcoming phone from Samsung. My pipe dream wish is to see them support the s-pen/digitizer in all their phones, especially this one. I would love to be able to buy the s-pen as an option and have it work on the new phone. I would love the Note, but it is just too big for my small hands (and no, no woman has ever said that to you).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Give me a tablet that lets me rid myself of paper and pen

Go ahead and laugh, I want a tablet with a stylus. I want to be able to use it for actual work and I don't mean Microsoft Office. I don't spend my life in the Office suite and what I really need is a tablet that uses a stylus and has a notepad application that lets me hand write notes. It doesn't even need to do character recognition that well, because I really don't care about that feature. Yes, character recognition is nice since it can allow for easy searching of notes, but my notes get filled up with arrows, drawings, code, side notes, etc and I just want those notes in raw format.

I'm picturing an application that makes my screen look just like a piece of lined notebook paper. I can write on it, type using the keyboard, paste pictures, draw, etc. I also want those notes to sink to something like Evernote. I currently use LiveScribe, but I want to be done with paper and ink and having to use cables to sync. The Samsung Note sounds like a good device, but I want it in tablet form and the reviews say the note taking isn't the best with it.

For the stylus, it needs to be fine tipped. I don't want one that causes me to write in huge block letters because then it will just look like I used my fingers again and I'm not finger painting.I want the stylus to be about the size of a ballpoint pen.

Wish List:
Full tablet size - the 10" seems fine (too small and I don't get the writing surface I want)
Stylus fits in tablet - I don't want to carry it separately
Stylus with a fine tip
Note taking application (palm rejection, online sync, free flow notes, keyboard input, cut and paste)
ICS (I would even buy it from Apple, but that is never going to happen)
Standard ports for charging and data transfers

My hope is that Samsung releases a 10" Note, which has been rumored. I hope they update the handwriting application to be better. If you are including a stylus, make sure that bad boy works perfectly. If they can nail that stuff down, count me in for one.

Non-tech rant about my frozen lunches

I'm a geek so that means that I spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer. It is well known that sitting for as long as I do isn't the most healthful. However, I do workout most days and I watch what I eat and track my calories. I have enjoyed eating a certain frozen meal that has pretty low calories for some time now. I won't mention the exact product, but it is a frozen meal that uses a steaming action and could make you feel like you are eating in a cafe (if you picture a cafe to have desks instead of tables and for each table to have 3 monitors).

I have been enjoying these for awhile when they changed their packaging for some new marketing gimmick and to associate themselves with a TV show. I didn't think much about it because what do I really care about the marketing of it, I just want to eat. However, about the fourth time I'm eating this meal, I discover that they added 40 calories (about 14% increase) to it with the change. I know 40 calories isn't much, but I need all the help I can get. Plus, I obviously couldn't even tell that anything had changed flavor-wise. I contacted the company and mentioned I wasn't happy about a company labeling themselves as healthy and then adding on 40 calories to a meal with no notice. They wrote me back stating that they thought they made it better and gave me some coupons. With or without the coupons, I wasn't going to quit eating their meals since I do like them and find them to be a good compromise as I watch what I eat, it was just disappointing to me and my geek body.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

UG - Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

Like any of my reviews, this could have what some consider spoilers so read at your own risk. I haven't actually beaten this game yet, I only rented it during a free weekend and I will rent it again during another free weekend to beat it. Overall, the game has been a blast. I am going to start with the things I really like, then move to mediocre, and then to what I don't like.

I enjoy the way they did the side missions so that you can really decide whether you want to do them or not, but all of them actually seem meaningful and made me want to do them. And doing side missions is actually quite rare for me. The other thing I really like is the pay off for exploring while at the same time leaving it completely optional. For example, you can pretty much hack any door code or computer system in the game; however, if you explore enough, there is a chance you will find a pocket secretary (spoiler: the future will have PDAs) that contains a password or passcode for a system you will encounter later. I like the ability to upgrade your skills through Praxis kits that can be found, earned through XP, or purchased with money. Having all the options to add abilities is quite nice. My complaint here is I have done a lot of exploring and found kits and have purchased them and earned them, but I am nearing the end of the game and I still have lots of abilities I haven't been able to add. I would also recommend trying to keep one kit on reserve in case you find you could really use it during a mission. For example, I have gotten to places where the safe fall upgrade would have been really nice to have, but instead I had used my last one on a security hack or something. Lastly, the gun play, movement, and cover system work well, even though the cover system comes up in my complaint section. Lastly, the ability to save your game at any time is always welcomed and I wish more games would continue to offer this.

For the mediocre, I will call out the story so far. The story is entertaining, but predictable so far. Now, that is all said knowing I haven't beaten the game yet, but so far I have been able to predict each part and find myself sitting there yelling at the TV that she is lying only to find my character gets tricked because he is a fool. I believe I know the outcome of the game, but I will have to wait to see if I'm right or not. Another area that is a little weak for me is the conversations where I have to pick what he is to say. I just can't tell if it really matters what I say or not. If it does matter, then I must be awesome at talking to people because I have been getting what I need every time. BTW - the persuasion ability is lame and wasn't worth my one kit to get it and please kill the animation of my character crossing his arms in front of his chest. Every time he does it I wait for him to bust out a rhyme Vanilla Ice style.

For the bad, I don't like the switching between third person and first person view points. The majority of the game is first person, but when you go into cover it switches to third person. Switching in works well, but switching out can leave me facing strange directions and I just have trouble following where I am going to end up when I switch between them. My last complaint is a stumbled on a bug where I was doing a side mission and a core mission that both required me to visit the same place. When I visited that location, they gave me credit for the core mission, but canceled out my side mission and said I failed that mission.

Overall, great game, but I don't see a lot of replay here.