Design Build Test Repeat

Voluntarily cast upon the waves of outrageous fortune, this lowly geek flops from peak to peak of the technological ocean. Linux, Windows, C, Ruby, Python and embedded systems all attempt to pull our stalwart hero down. Will he survive alone or will the lifeboat of corporate servitude be too tempting.

AIB Phishing attempt or just stupid use of email

Posted by Diarmuid on June 9, 2009

I just got an email from what purports to be Allied Irish Banks p.l.c. , <> , with a reply address of with a subject of “Internet Banking Update” .

AIB Email

AIB Email

There is indeed a new look website that has been up for a few weeks, but asking to download a form and follow instructions raised alarm bells.

The attached form is an HTML page containing loads of image and script links back to the AIB wensite, but teh critical line is the form submit which points at

The Geo IP report on teh ip address suggests it is a Madrid based computer.

Geo IP Report

Geo IP Report

The actual HTML form looks like this

AIB Phishing form

AIB Phishing form

If you put in rubbish values, the javascript throws a series of errors and the form also expects that all the security codes are filled in. This is of course because AIB requires the use of a 1 time only card for funds transfers.

All in all a pretty basic attempt a social engineering, but all the same it would probably get quite a few people.


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Be anonymous no more

Posted by Diarmuid on February 10, 2009

Twitter is the most important tool in the universe.

Without it how would we know that a plane was in the Hudson before the people in the plane knew? How would we know that the Mars rovers actually were sentient (I twitter therefore I am not a robot)? How would we know that Stephen Fry is a fancy dressing pugilist with a penchant for sculpting dead bodies while making bad music? Twitter that’s how.

But who are these 12,345 close friends that sit on every choice morsel of cranial excreta that oozes from your finder tips. Sure, twitter shows a few pictures, but how can one appreciate the wholeness of the twitteverse in a 6×6 matrix? A 10×10 matrix should do it. And that is what my good friend Walter Higgins has done with Twitter Mosaic from his company, Sxoop Technologies.

Never again will you be have to walk in public, worried that you, a rare and delicate example of the heaving mass of humanity, are anonymous. No, now you will be able to shout (manically but silently) with passion to the unbelievers that I, @(add twitter name here) am an early adopter, a fully fledged, paid up member of the technoarti and the you, dull drones, are doomed to never know what it feels to be part of  The Collective.

Ah go on. Buy a T.

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Ubuntu – dual boot on Medio/Aldi mini laptop

Posted by Diarmuid on September 10, 2008

I bought a mini laptop from Aldi, the E1210. It’s only 1.2 Kg, 1.6 GHz, 1 Gb ram, 80 GB HD. It has windows XP home which works very well, but I need Ubuntu. I wanted to keep the install of XP so here is how I did it. There is no CD so I used USB drives.

  1. On my main laptop running Ubuntu I used UNetbootin to create a Parted Magic usb stick
  2. On the Medion I booted from the USB disk and used the UI QParted to resize the XP disk to be 40 GB. For some reason I had to do the partitioning this way as the Ubuntu installer would not allow me to resize the exisiting 80 GB partition.
  3. Then I rebooted into XP and formated the unused space as a fat32 drive
  4. Then I used UNetbootin to create a Ubuntu 8.01 USB disk.
  5. I booted the Medion using the Ubuntu disk.
  6. I ran the install and when the partition choice came up the empty drive (SDA2) was pre selected.
  7. The install went fine and then I had a dual boot with no CD used.

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SMS over 3G and Bluetooth from Python

Posted by Diarmuid on June 26, 2008

I wrote a fairly well received blog post on using those nice 3G modems from Vodafone and O2 in Linux to send SMS. It was based on using the modems through minicom, but since minicom uses a straight serial connection it is possible to use the modems through code, in my case Python.

The following code shows how to send an SMS via a 3G USB modem.

import serial

def SendVia3G():

ser = serial.Serial(‘/dev/ttyUSB1’, 115200, timeout=1)
ser.write(‘SMS over 3G but from Python\n’)
line = ser.readline()   #read a ‘\n’ terminated line
print line

Obviously the  serial extensions for python have to be installed. I use apt.
apt-get install python-serial

You can also use some similiar code to send the SMS via a mobile phone that is connected via bluetooth

apt-get install python-serial python-bluetooth

import bluetooth
import serial

def SendViaBluetooth():
sockfd = bluetooth.BluetoothSocket(bluetooth.RFCOMM)
sockfd.connect((’00:12:D2:7A:XX:XX’, 1)) # BT Address
sockfd.send(‘AT+CMGS=”+353868276XXX”\r’) # TO PhoneNumber
sockfd.send(‘SMS over Bluetooth\n’)
sockfd.send(chr(26)) # CTRL+Z

You might need to mess around with python and bluetooth to make sure the channel is right for your phone (1 above in the connect line). 1 is for Nokias.

I’ve created a little class (although it’s a while since I wrote this and I may have got inspiration from somewhere as it looks too good to be my code!!!) that makes using the E220 a little easier in more complicated use cases.

import bluetooth
import serial

class HuaweiModem(object):
def __init__(self):

def open(self):
self.ser = serial.Serial(‘/dev/ttyUSB2’, 115200, timeout=1)

def close(self):

def SendSMS(self, address, message):
command = ‘AT+CMGS=”%s”\r’%address
command = ‘%s\n’%message

def GetAllSMS(self):

command = ‘AT+CMGL=”all”\r’
print self.SendCommand(command,getline=False)
self.ser.timeout = 2
data = self.ser.readline()
print data

while data !=”:
data = self.ser.readline()
if data.find(‘+cmgl’)>0:
print data

def SendCommand(self,command, getline=True):
data = ”
if getline:
data = self.ReadLine()
return data

def ReadLine(self):
data = self.ser.readline()
print data
return data

h = HuaweiModem()
h.SendSMS(‘+353868276XXX’,’A Nice message from’)

Happy texting!!! and check out Bluetooth Marketing Specialists.

Apologies for the formating but WordPress is deleting the leading spaces from the code above. Use this link to get a text file.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments »

I can change the world… well a web page anyway!!!

Posted by Diarmuid on May 29, 2008

Via have released a design of one of their ultra small laptops under CC. I tried to download the CAD files but something was wrong. I contacted them through the site and got an email back from Tim Brown, International Marketing Manager (straight to the top with me; no messing with minions there) who said that I had to register first, an instruction that was on the site, but not clear. Anyway I went to the site today and they have removed the registration for download req. so now you just have to accept the CC license and download away.

But the files are in Pro E format, not a package that most people have lying around. I’ve suggested that they supply the designs as Rhino 3D files as Rhino provide a free evaluation download. We’ll see how that goes.

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eBox-2300-SX – really small computing with a gotcha

Posted by Diarmuid on April 30, 2008

I recently bought a few of these eBox-2300-SX computers. Really small and pretty cheap at 90 USD. For various reasons I did not know that these were the SX version. The chip is a 300 mHz 486 and a previous one that looked very similar had worked a charm. I’ll tell you this. The SX bit is important. It means there is no maths co processor on board the chip (it’s like computing back in 1988). The critical thing is that most Linux distros assume the co processor otherwise the kernel has to be compiled to include math emulation (Debian did so in sarge but has stopped since). I managed to install Debian sarge on the computer’s compact flash, but it was sloooooow. Bogomips of 116.99. I use some arm chips that are 260 bogomips or so.

The other thing is that the Ethernet drivers are not available, but must be compiled into the kernel as well.
Punkytse over at voyage Linux has kindly recompiled his great little Debian based distro. to include  math emulation. I hope he now includes the Ethernet drivers in it too.

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Huawei E220 on Linux for SMS

Posted by Diarmuid on April 29, 2008

The E220 as sold by many mobile phone operators has transformed business use of the web. No more is the sales force tied to poor wifi coverage, dial up connections or 56k GPRS speeds. The E200 gives 3G speeds of 7.2 Mbit in a very nice tidy package.

I develop mini computers for use in remote locations. These are used for a number of purposes, but particularily Bluetooth Marketing ( The use of the E200 has allowed me to quickly add in both internet access for the device and now I have SMS working. This will be used to both trigger an action on the computer or indeed let it SMS out reports.

In this short article I explain how to set up the E200 for use as an SMS transmitter and receiver on Linux.

Read the rest of this entry »

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OpenId: Microsoft’s take on it

Posted by Diarmuid on January 31, 2008

I’ve being following the progress of OpenID with interest and I blogged about it before. I toyed with an alternative called ClosedID and even checked to see if was free. It was … but not anymore. Microsoft has it as of 12th January. It is registered to the domain but has info about the University of Washington’s Network Security Lab. Their home page spiel is little cryptic:

The identity is the most important property that man could have during and even after his life. We academically research the one identification method in closed environment.

“The one identification method”!!!!

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Amazon Web Services – SimpleDB will be huge

Posted by Diarmuid on December 14, 2007

Amazon have announced a database product in their Web services offering, calling it (in another Ronseal moment) “SimpleDB”. It provides spreadsheet lookup type access to data.

Amazon SimpleDB

It looks like a great complement to the 3 other big systems.

EC2 for virtual computers, S3 for storage and SQS for message queue. Up etill now, the only way to store volatile data was in S3 as files, but lookup was limited to searching by name. I use it for storing content generated by users, so I can search by bucket_name/username/datetime/extension/ and then I can get the list of filenames. That’s fine for data that is structured just so and you only want to search for it via that particular search sequence. It would be impossible, for instance to search for all data created on a particular day. SimpleDB changes that. Now I can search by type, date, name, username, etc as I wish.

The task now is to remove all Mysql requirments. Oh and thanks to the AWS team for inviting me to be on Beta. They called me one of their “most active developers”

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Using Amazon AWS to serve up Openstreetmap data

Posted by Diarmuid on December 9, 2007

Openstreetmap is a FOSS project that allows anyone to help with creating a fully open source street map of the world. Users upload GPS data to a central server where they or others can annotate and create street-maps . The resulting street-maps are as good as Goggle maps, Yahoo or Microsoft. The coverage is great in the dense urban centers and not so good in the country side. As part of this project they have created some great tools and leveraged some others.

But you ask, why bother when Google and co. are so generous with their data? Well, nothing is free and while Google can afford to let you use this data at home for nothing, they do restrict use of the data for commercial applications. They specifically do not allow system that connects a GPS to their map. Yahoo and AFAICT, Microsoft are the same.

OSM on the other hand, allow you to do pretty much anything you want with their data. They provide a great interface using OpenLayers, that gives the now commonplace, ajax “slippy map”. They use a great map renderer call Mapnik that actually creates the little images that make up the web map. While their images can be used freely, even in commercial applications, They are served from some hardware that is under allot of strain, and they encourage use of caches on your local servers.

I am developing a GPS tracking system for cars, trucks and boats and I want to do this as cheaply as possible. While I could use Google, et al, I don’t want to get into licensing, etc. So I am going to run my own OSM servers and I am going to do it on Amazon AWS.

Technical Details follow!! You’ve been warned.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Amazon, gps, maps, Openstreetmap, Uncategorized | 10 Comments »