Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Why I'm driving to work again

Well today is my first day of driving to work in over 7 months.

Yet another train/track fault last night was the final straw.  Why is Auckland transport making new tracks when it can't even maintain what it has already? Too many times it's "OK get off here, go and find a bus" or trains just vanish from the timetable.

For public transport to succeed it needs to be cheap, reliable and easy.  Auckland transport is reasonably priced is 0.5 out of 3.

Make it free and get people to use it, then either add a small charge or remove  some of the council bloat and put that towards public transport. Once more people use it then it should get more frequent.  Again as no-one had forethought, some tracks a single lines so you can only have one train tieing up the line beyond Penrose to Onehunga for example.  That needs to change to twin lines everywhere and trains to the airport and north shore to at least Albany. Don’t try and milk it to make money just make it good. Every household contributes $1000 a year or so in rates for it if I recall correctly.

It needs to be easy.  Needs to be a no brainer to use.  I take the train because each time I've taken the bus it's been like being a passenger in a rally car and it's impossible to read etc. Whoever thought that any park and ride is big enough obviously doesn't use them. All the ones I know about are full early and New Lynn doesn't even have one. And just little things like the times they run.  I would get to town at 8:32.  Great, not many people take 28 minutes to get to their offices. I gained almost an hour in my day today by driving.

I'm generally for small government but public transport is something that needs to be right for a city to function. You should be able to jump on something go to an event or out for dinner and know you can get home safely even if you've had a few drinks.

If you can't do it properly just make the main roads bigger and give up.  Let Uber rule transport and give me a third of my rates back.

I do miss an hour reading each day though.

Yes, TL:DR.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Linux Wake on LAN with Realtek RTL8111F

So I splashed out and bought a new motherboard, CPU and RAM after finding my motherboard BIOS was last updated in 2010 and upgrading the RAM was going to cost more than a new combo.

Quite a difference.  I can compile Firefox, LibreOffice, Webkit etc in about 20 to 25 per cent of the time it used to take.

I've converted everything from old MBR to GPT and booting with UEFI boot files which is quite cool.

One thing I couldn't get going was wakeonlan.

I set wakeonlan to magic packet (g in ethtool) but it would not wake up. I'm using kernel 4.6.2 so that's the most recent stable for Gentoo.

After some searching I found another network problem with the RTL8111F that they fixed by using a driver from Realtek's web site.

So I went to this page


and downloaded the driver for 3.X kernels.  I build kernels in the monolithic style so, disabled the RTL8168 driver (I think the kernel calls it that or rtl8169) and rebooted.  The download from ReakTek has a script that  unloads the rtl8168 module and compiles the new one and loads it.

Low and behold, after that WoL started working.  So maybe the kernel driver for the Realtek cards needs some love.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Android phone Google account problems

Well I have to say I've lost a lot of respect for Google today.

I got a message on my phone from the Google account to say something suspicious had possibly gone on and I should change my password.

So I logged into the web site and double checked and changed my password.  Changed on the web browser OK and other machines but not on the phone.  No way.

You enter your details (username, password and 2 factor from Authenticator)  and you get "sorry, there seems to be a problem. please try again." Tried this a few times, rebooted etc but no joy.

So I deleted the account from the phone and tried re-adding it.  Nope still the same problems.  Search for this error and quite a few people have had it.  The suggested try an App specific password. Nope it say dah, enter your account password not an app specific one.

Finally got frustrated and removed the 2 factor from the account and that did it. So you have to unsecure your account to get your phone on.  How bad is that?

Hope this saves someone else some frustration.

Now to try turning two factor back on and see if it breaks.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Random libraries in Linux

I'd been having some issues with the Linux box not compiling things like

emerge -1 =dev-perl/libintl-perl-1.240.0-r2

It would stop and saying

skipping incompatible /usr/lib/gcc/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu/5.3.0/../../../../lib64/libiconv.so when searching for -liconv

I searched for ages and found there was indeed a libincov but you can't have that installed at the same time as new glibc.

Hmm... OK what package installed these things.  Looks like gcc 5.3.0.  Recompile that.. nope... try older gcc.. nope.

Newb mistake there. The number of .. parent links takes it right out of the gcc folders. Right pack to /usr/lib/

Ok what package installed it? Equery, the package manager query tool

equery b libiconv.so.2.5.0

returned nothing. Meaning no package installed it. Tried taking off the .so versions numbers etc still the same.

What the?  OK this is crazy how about just deleting it.  If anything needs it it will re-install it surely.

All of a sudden

emerge -1 =dev-perl/libintl-perl-1.240.0-r2

worked again. The texinfo etc ones with the same errors worked.

So having extra unwanted libraries is as dangerous as not having the right libraries.  More so, because you think they're OK.  I guess at some stage I've installed somethign that has left them there or a Gentoo package has changed and not cleaned up after itself nicely.

Either way , weird problem.

Friday, March 25, 2016

How to make Firefox more secure in a few clicks

I've messing a lot with cipher suites lately and something I always do in my firefox browsers will stop all the non forward secrecy ciphers.

What Forward Secrecy does is use a second dynamic key when encrypting your traffic. So even if the bad guys break a private key on your server's certificate at the later date your traffic is encrypted by another layer.  If you don't use forward secrecy and they capture your data and find the private key it's easy to decrypt. Wireshark will do it on the fly.

So in Firefox

type about:config in the address bar

It will bring up a warning saying be careful.  Click yes you know.

In the search box below the address bar type ssl.  Look at the bottom of the list and find the ones that start security.ssl3.rsa and double click them and will change enabled to false. You should also disable anything that mentions rc4.  The ones that have dhe are good, the ones that have ecdhe are better, and the ones that have chacha20 are best but not everything supports them.

Try you websites and you might need to re-enable some if, say your bank doesn't work.  Alternatively run your bank against this site


and let them know if they don't get a good score.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Linux Kernel 4.5 and amdgpu

My Linux gaming experience has been a bit sub par since upgrading to a Radeon R9-380.

It was just laggy enough to make playing hard. You often don't see the person that's killed you and things like air blasting rockets in TF2 was almost impossible to time right.

However things seems to have turned.  With Kernel 4.5, the amdgpu driver and adding the amdgpu.powerplay=1 to your kernel options in GRUB speed of gaming and even YouTube is quite noticeably improved.

The other problem I had been having was TF2 would freeze after a few games and you had to do the old alt prt-sc REISUB to reboot. Touch wood that also seems to be fixed.

So a big debt of thanks to the Kernel team and particular the amdgpu guys.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Windows 10 stalling with 100% disk active time but read and write 0 KB/s

I gave Windows 10 another try tonight and after some pretty hefty updates I still have the same issues as before.  Same hardware on Windows 8.1 didn't do this.

This is the Task Manager when it happens:  100% disk usage, 0 ms response time,  but 0Kb/s in and out and it happens for over 35 seconds. The whole system just stops for just about everything. Programs that are completely loaded and don't access disk are fine. (i.e Task Manager) Not so good when gaming though.

Someone else must be seeing this I'm hoping and maybe have a solution.  I've read of some others seeing it but also the same issues in 8.1 so maybe I was lucky not to get it then. 

Update 29/12/15  I had another look at this over the Christmas break and may have made some progress. I downloaded the driver for the AHCI for the nForce controller on this motherboard and it seems to be better (touch wood)

I wouldn't install the whole package of drivers but I downloaded the Vista 64 bit drivers (Windows 7 64 bit showed no downloads for some reason) and updated from device manager the storage controller and in a few hours testing no more 100% active 30 second lock ups. Far from conclusive but hopeful.

So yes it's an old board but there's bound to be others with the same or similar issue. The nForce storage driver in windows 10 looks a bit broken.