Engine Start on RV7

Here are some photos from the first engine start on the RV-7 I am building with a friend. For those that are interested, the blue fire extinguisher was last tested in 1981… Came with the hanger!

Full four second AVI file showing the engine running

Indoor Tracking and Bluetooth Tracking WebSite Update

I was in the process of updating the website for my indoor tracking business InLocality using Microsoft Expression Web. You can try this software out buy downloading an evaluation version, and then buying online for digital delivery if you want. I should explain that this is done via DigitalRiver for Microsoft.

First, the price in Australian Dollars is listed as $161. But then you find out that this is without GST. Then they want you to buy their three year download protection product. So that for the next three years you can download the software from them in case you need to reinstall it. You can buy a case for $12 I think too. Now, how dumb is this. I can download it for FREE from Microsoft. Free, I tell you! All I need to do is to protect the license key. Digital River does like to make their money… JCTech has good prices but didn’t have the software in stock.

Anyway, there should be an update for InLocality’s Bluetooth Tracking product soon.

Hacking HDCP

Let me here propose a solution to the DRM (Digital Rights Management) stuff within HDMI. The DRM scheme is called HDCP, or High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. By solution, I mean removing the HDCP signal from HDMI. Just to be plain here, I do not believe that I have ever touched a piece of equipment with HDCP, and I am not proposing any form of copyright infringement. I am just wanting to show how someone might attack such a system.

There has been talk in the past about the great ‘Analog Hole’. This is the problem caused by certain signals not being able to be encrypted because they are not digital. Well, the entire world is analog. Look at a CRO, and you will find that digital signals are really analog.

So, let’s have a think about extracting a signal. How would I do it – and in a way that is unable to be effectively shut down?
Step 1. Buy a HDCP compliant LCD or PLASMA screen. Rather simple isn’t it. There is a bonus here. I don’t want the screen itself. I just want the electronics and the cables. Smash the LCD or Plasma if you want. That is up to you. But pull the thing apart.
Step 2. Obtain the manual for the LCD or PLASMA panel you are wanting to use. This is an optional step.
Step 3. Find the fastest FPGA chip you can find. Attach it to the horizontal and vertical lines going into the actual screen.
Step 4. Digitize this information, and process it.
Step 5. Output it as HDMI without HDCP.

Step 3 is a simple item to explain, but not easy in practice. Each pixel on the screen is activated by a row and a column signal. So, what we need to do is to record the value of each pixel about 100 times a second and record this into memory. Then when they are recorded we can do step 5 which is really trivial…

Another solution is available here

VMware ESXi 3.5 on Dell PowerEdge 1750 and 2650 Update

A Quick update. I have installed VMWare ESXi 3 on four DELL servers, and I am having nothing but trouble free operation from them. I have installed it on a PowerEdge 1750 and three Dell PowerEdge 2650’s, and they all work without any problems. The machines just run and run. I have not yet had a power outage with them, but I expect that they will come back on line without issue after an outage just like before.

I would encourage anyone with DELL PowerEdge 1750’s and 2650’s to install VMware ESXi. You might need to download the HDD driver image (Dell 1750) or update the Bios to the latest version, but apart from that things will be really easy.

It is to the point now where I almost never log into the admin console. There is simply no need to.

Whilst I am posting here, I would encourage people to head over to InLocality and check out their Indoor Tracking solutions. This is an organisation I have just set up to handle tracking people indoors. In order to build business, I will return a commission to anyone who refers a new client to me. All you need to do is ask.

Menus with Microsoft Expression Web 2

I have been puzzling over Web Site software for the past few weeks looking at what is best for my InLocality business Web Site. And what I came up with is this… As much as I dislike it, Expression Web is better than anything else I could find. It is better than any Web Site editor I could find, and was more reliable and more user friendly in getting things how I wanted them than any CMS I could find.

But menus has been a problem. I really don’t understand DHTML or CSS. Although I sort of understand CSS, they are still black magic really. What I wanted was a menu that I could insert on certain pages. And only edit this in one place. And I could not find a solution. And then i started thinking. How did this get done in the past. Well… I am glad you asked. More information is available here.

First is Server Side Includes. SSI’s. Then there are PHP includes and Javascript includes. But these are a pain. Then comes ‘Frontpage Includes’. And these seem to be undocumented in the help system. Frontpage Includes allow you to include a HTML file at any point on another HTML file. And they effectively get compiled in when the site is published.

The problem is that there is no menu to deal with this. The good news is that it is there if you customize the User Interface in Expression Web. You just need to go to the CUSTOMIZE menu and find PAGE INCLUDE. Then drag it onto the INSERT menu. How simple is that!

Microsoft Expression Web 2

Expression Web from Microsoft is not my favorite product at the moment. It is too complex, and does not provide features that I would have thought would have been standard. These have to do with NAVIGATION. Maybe I need to go back for retraining, but I for the life of me cannot work out how to intelligently do menus or Navigation. It cannot be THAT hard. Can it?

My wants are fairly simple. Firstly, I would love a hierarchical menu system. One that only opens up as far as needed for a particular page. Oh, and i would like it to highlight the currently selected page in the hierarchy. But there is a complication. I also want a selected page to be able to have a number of ‘sub pages’. Well, these are really pages in themselves, but the same page is selected on the hierarchy. And this collection of pages needs its own menu, but just for those pages. I can insert something onto those pages by hand, but what?

With the Web Meta Language (WML) this is all fairly straightforward. But under ExpressionWeb this is too hard for words. FrontPage is easier to use. So far in my searching I have not come up with a decent windows programming for a Web Site.

It is no wonder that people start using a Content Management System after software like this… Maybe I need to start using SharePoint 🙁

pfSense needs some work (At the moment)

pfSense really needs a much better User Interface. I am sure the back end is good, but the GUI needs a lot of work. From my point of view it is unworkable. Maybe I have been spoilt with firewall, but more work is needed.

1. It is possible to Alias ports/hosts and networks. But I cannot see any way to specify the port as being TCP or UDP or both. [It is there, but I think the UI needs improving]

2. The UI for selecting PORTS/HOSTS/NETWORKS are missing. You must know the exact text of the alias and type that. [UI Issue again. If you start typing the name of the alias it comes up.]

3. Also missing is the ability to group multiple HOSTS/NETWORKS into a single rule

4. Removed [WAS: None of that really matters anyway since the ALIAS is broken since it immediately breaks this back to an IP. In other words it is not SYMBOLIC.]

5. The NAT functionality is broken. You can only do NAT by port. You cannot change ALL traffic to to go to regardless of the port. [This may be covered under OUTGOiNG NAT or 1:1 NAT]

6. Similarly Firewall rules are on a per-interface basis. You cannot have a single rule for all ports.

All of these problems would be fixed with a GUI that created the pfSense internal configuration… Wow… A project for me.

VMware ESXi 3.5 on Dell PowerEdge 1750 and 2650

There has been much written on the VMware ESXi 3.5 HyperVisor that is now available for free. Much less has been written on Hardware Compatibility between with non-supported DELL Servers.

Firstly, the DELL POWEREDGE 2650 works without issue. I have two of these boxes, and they are fine with ESXi, straight out of the box. Well, out of the eBay box. Put the CD in and boot. That is all there is to it.

On the DELL POWEREDGE 1750 things are not as easy. I kept getting “unable to write image to the selected disk” errors when I got to 2% of the install. This confounded me, and I could not find any BIOS settings that helped. So then I went to the DELL Web Site, and found some BIOS upgrades. I upgraded the BIOS from A10 to A12, and tried to upgrade the PERC 4e/Di SCSI Controller card but I kept getting bad sectors on the Floppy Drive. So I just rebooted the machine, and guess what… It worked.

So now I have proved that Dell 2650 and 1750 PowerEdge servers work with ESXi.

One hint… If you are working with VMWare, download a copy of VMware Converter. It is available from their Web Site, and helps moving VM’s. Some caveats. Sometimes it does not VM’s (Particularly Linux) in a state that can be used, if going from VMware Server to ESXi. It cannot load VM’s from UNC paths even though it says that it can. And it always reallocates NETWORK MAC addresses even if you don’t want it to on copying.

I just got the following comment on my blog… it really irritates me to read quotes that are so blatantly wrong. No web page in WA sells RADAR JAMMERS. We sell RADAR DETECTORS and LASER JAMMERS. There is no broadcast law against LASER jammers. This is a public frequency of 904nm. You can check out the legalities of this at http://www.radars.com.au But in your article you mention "laser jammer" but then go on to talk about radar jammers. Two completely different things.

I have a few comments on this…

1. According to the Radiocommunications Act 1992, a radio emission is any emission of electromagnetic energy less than 420 THz, regardless of if it is an intentional or not. 904 nm is about 332 THz, so a 904 nm transmission is a RADIO EMISSION. Section 6 of the act notes that a RADAR device is covered under the act specifically. And therefore also a LASER RADAR operating at 904 nm is still a RADAR.

2. Except in an emergency, a person may not operate a radiocommunications device (such as a RADAR or LASER) except if it is Authorised by… A Spectrum License, An Apparatus License or a Class License. Therefore the frequency is LICENSED.

3. The 304 TGz band is covered under a CLASS LICENSE. The license is here

4. Section 4(1)(b) states that the device must not cause any iterference to the operation of any radiocomminication service.

Therefore… there is a broadcast law against LASER JAMMERS… Just as there is against RADAR JAMMERS in the 10-24 GHz Range.

Copying Policy

The Federal Election is about a month away. For a number of reasons I will probably vote Labour. This is not only because of the Liberal’s Work Choices legislation, but also because of things such as the Copyright Amendment Act or 2006, certain aspects of Telecommunications Policy and certain aspects of the Australia-USA Free Trade Agreement. It is also related to the fact that I believe that good government requires a good opposition, and the best way to ensure that is to ensure that the opposeition is in governement periodically.

With this in mind, I have a good friend who gave me a challenge. The challenge was to design a piece of clothing to support the Liberal Party – something that was all my own work. I was not permitted to copy it at all. How boring, but them there is the rules. The challenge was put in a way that I really did not have much choice but to accept.

I came up with a number of designed – the remainder of which are already on this Web Site. When I described the concepts to the challenger, there was one clear winner. It appears below. There is some context to this – when Kevin Rudd released his Taxation Policy, it was about 91.5% identical to the Liberal Party policy released days before. So I got thinking… What if there was some Liberal Party policy that Labour was able to copy without causing the Liberals any problems.

And I found one – the Liberal Party ‘HOW TO VOTE’ Card. Of course the example on the T-Shirt is a fake, but the concept is there. It contains a personal member to the leader of the Labour Party – STEAL THIS POLICY! I DARE YOU!

Right now I am pretty happy… Things are looking fairly good at the moment – everything just seems to be getting better at the moment. Of course spanners have a known perchant for getting thrown in the works, but frankly I can cope with the odd small spanner.

I was challenged by a friend to produce some pro-John Howard fashion for the 2007 election. I came up with two T-Shirts. The first is based on Hogan’s Heroes from the 1970’s, and the second is based on the Coalition’s Kevin Rudd Debate Bingo. This first design is simple – black on white, with the list of cast members. I have changed one name – John Winston as Colonel John Howard. The others are real people with real parts. Colonel John Howard is obviously Colonel Robert E. Hogan.

This second T-Shirt has a subtle copy of the ‘Kevin 07’ slogan on the back, with the coalition’s Bingo card on the front.

I stayed in the Holiday Inn Suva in October 2007 for a few nights on a holiday. Whilst I enjoyed the hotel there were a few issues that would have improved my stay.
One of the first things I looked for when I checked in was a guide to the hotel. Is hotels around the world you find a guide to the local attractions and services in a draw or on a table somewhere. It took me a day to find the guide to the hotel services. It was in the wallet that contained my room key. By ‘In the wallet’, I mean it was the wallet. There was not much information inside – it did not make mention of what hours the pool operated from, nor did it say what to do with towels. Certainly it did not say how to get to any of the local attractions.
When I had booked the room I chose the hotel because of the facilities that it offered – in terms of Internet access. The Web Site stated that Wifi was $0, and that there would be a charge of $5 for wired Internet. When I got here I found that the wired internet was $0.60 per minute, with a maximum of $36 per day. By ‘Maximum’, I mean it was $36 until you got to 30 Mbytes and then it was $0.40 per MByte. This is a bait and switch in the extreme.
I suspect that the Web Site is not accurate, but that is not my fault. I have since discovered that the same Web Site lists each room as having a PC. I somehow do not think that this is what they intended. This is not some two-bit company we are talking about here offering to book rooms. This is the OFFICIAL WEB SITE for the Hotel!
I have emailed two different email addresses, and also made an online complaint about this issue and I have heard nothing. Thankfully I am protected, since the Holiday Inn has a ‘Hospitality Promise’ which states that if I am not completely satisfied with anything it will be free. I am intending to use this ‘Promise’.
The pool at the hotel is nice, and the water is warm. Being on Suva Harbor there is no beach. The hotel butts onto the ocean, but the land was a former mangrove rather than a beach, meaning it is more suited to fishing than swimming.
There is no gift shop in the hotel – at least not that I could find. This is rather unique when it comes to hotels in my experience. Normally they are trying to stop you from going outside to discover the real world. Not here.
Another thing that is missing is the wall filled with self-serve brochures showing what is on where. There are a few at the tour desk, but that is all. The only way that I got a map was to visit the main desk and ask where the museum was. The person gave me a map that showed where the tourist centre was. Even the tourist centre was not really set up to handle tourists.

The staff at the hotel were all friendly, wanting to open doors for you and help you when they could. Sometimes this was a bit pointless, such as when I got a soft drink at the bar and was taking it to a seat 5m away. After 2m the waiter insisted on taking the drink and carrying it to my seat. Still, service was good.
Outside the hotel I found some good restaurants. One Chinese establishment offered a Rum Steak for $7.45, including salad and chips. I got two pieces of steak, adding up to about 300-400 grams I would guess. They were rough cut and seasoned, making them tender and juicy. Cheaper than a club meal in Oz, and not subsidized either.
The hotel is on the southern outskirts of the commercial district, meaning that some walking is needed to get to all the shops. Or a Taxi Ride. Suva is a strange collection of one way streets and alleys. I went looking for a set of shops that I had visited the day before. And I could not find it. I did find the garment and fabric district but not the shops I was looking for. And I found Dick Smith Electronics too, the story above the Gloria Jean’s coffee shop. I knew Dick Smith needed to be nearby since I had seen a reference to it in the listing for an arcade a few streets away.
Once more I have no idea if the Hotel has a minibus, as they do not have a guide for the hotel. But given the price and availability of taxis, I am guessing that they are not really needed.

I am sorry to tell you that this first photo was taken just after breakfast this morning, just before I went for a swim. The water was beautiful, and just look at the view!!!

I actually took this next phot last night looking out towards the bay. The photo does not do the scene justice.

I suppose that this next sign sums up part of the world. It is one that I would expect to see on The Simpsons.

I am not quite sure what this is, but it appears to be some type of boiler or something similar. It is hidden next to the hotel.

One of the local churches. It looks like a concrete castle, parapits and all. The problem is that concrete discolours in this climate making it look a bit run-down.

This is the clock tower next to the museum.

This photo is taken from the Hotel a few minutes ago. I am not enjoying this place and I want to go home.

Yeah, sure! And this is a photo of my hotel room. I guess you can say it is acceptable.

This is of the Vodafone Stadium in Suva from the air. Not a bad flight…

And this is Nadi, or one of the suburbs of Nadi…

Of course I had a few issues getting from Nadi to Suva. This is a view from my seat in the plane, looking forward. The view was just as good in the air!

Thankfully the flight to Nadi from Sydney was a bit bigger…

And this is a view of the basic conditions in last nights hotel.