Author Archives: kwokinator

Unusually Hot Winter Weather

Wow, it has been a really unusually warm winter here in Toronto! The weather has been going up and down near the 0°C mark. Unfortunately, this meant that for Torontonians, whenever there's snow, it'll quickly turn into slush and whenever it rains, it quickly turns into freezing rain causing very dangerous road conditions.

Now that we approach mid-March, it has been even odder, we have hit way past the double digit mark. No, I'm not talking about the double digit mark in the negative, we're talking about weather that's been hovering around 13°C to 20°C as the daytime high. This is especially concerning as the seasonal average near the end of the winter season (Spring doesn't officially start until March 21) is between -4°C to 5°C for the daytime high. This is especially concerning as Toronto hasn't experienced this kind of rapid warming. During this whole winter, we have had only 1 “snow storm” and even then, it was very weak compared to our normal snow storms. We only had a drop of less than 10 cm and people called it a snow storm when normal Torontonian snow storm averages around 15 – 20 cm of snow.

An average of ~20°C for the daytime high this coming week

(Click to Enlarge, Courtesy of The Weather Network)

So what's causing this weird weather? Apparently there has been a phenomenon called the Azores High, better known as the Bermuda High which has been pushing north from the Atlantic Ocean through the United States. This high pressure warm airmass has been sitting around the the North-Eastern Seaboard as it slowly moves along. This coupled with an El Niño during this winter season has caused the sudden jump in temperature in the Southern Ontario region. It seems that the high pressure airmass caused by the Azores High is slowly moving so metereologists have been predicting hot weather for the next 7 days.

14 Day Trend Forecast

(Click to Enlarge, Courtesy of The Weather Network)

On the flip side, at least we have been getting nice weather that allows us to go out and do stuff like hanging out at parks and start the warm weather fun ahead of time. Since the weather has been really hot lately, the Province of Ontario also saw a significant drop in electricity usage which is always good for the pocket books for Ontarians and the environment for using drastically less energy than expected.

So regardless if you believe that the usually hot winter is a good or bad thing, remember, at the end of the day, enjoy the weather!

Happy Canada Day 2011!

From Kwokinator.com, I want to wish everyone a very happy Canada Day! It's probably one of my favourite holidays of the year. It's one of those days where I am proud to be Canadian and wave my flag to celebrate this great country.

It's also one of those holidays where it's always fun to spend with friends and family going to the beach or have a barbeque and end the day watching fireworks.

For those without things to do on this great day, be sure to check out these two Canada Day videos made by local talents!

So happy Canada Day to all, even those who aren't Canadian!!!

Lastly before I go, this basically sums it up for what a typical Canadian is like 😛

We disagree on everything
But we try to be polite
We don't believe in violence
Except on hockey nights! 

Forgive Us, We're Canadian, The Arrogant Worms

Voting Day in Canada 2011

So the big day is here, it's May 2nd. It's time for you, the general Canadian public to vote. This is your chance to help shape our great nation. No matter if you're voting for the Bloc Quebecois, Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, Pirate Party or all the other national parties, be sure to let your voice heard!

The polls in Ontario will close in about less than five (5) hours, so be sure to cast your ballot before the 9 pm deadline!

Canada Votes 2011

Canada is one of many nations where its citizens are free to choose their leaders, free to participate in the process and free to voice their concerns to their government. With the upcoming election now set for May 2, 2011, who will you be voting for?

This year is quite interesting since this is the first time Canadians hit the polls since the recession started in mid-2008. The economy is slowly recovering but we're not in the clear just yet. It's the fourth day of campaigning and all the candidates are going full-throttle on key election issues like family, pensions, healthcare, education and small business incentives. Some promises from candidates have ranged from small business tax credits, government subsidies for post-secondary education and interest caps on credit card companies.

While all of the proposals are interesting to say the least, the truth is that the election race has just started, anything can change in the due course until May 2nd, and I believe this one is going to be a tight race, even more so than the 2008 election. I do however have to agree that I think for many Canadians, there are many who have voter fatigue and don't really want to cast their ballots. This is the 5th election in 10 years and it is getting ridiculous, I'm not going to lie.

However, there is one thing that I really want to see that's brought up as an election topic: fair and open Internet connections and not have the major telecoms dictate the competition. Personally, Canada will slip further behind other developed nations in terms of Internet access capabilities if the government doesn't do something to open up the market. Personally, I believe it's in the best interest for Canada to do so and I will be personally watching this during this election race.

Also, CBC.ca has a very interesting tool called “Vote Compass” that helps you consider which candidate and party you're best aligned to. Obviously it shouldn't be used as an authoritative source in deciding who to vote for, but it's a great reference tool. Even if you don't want to vote, heck, just try it for fun and see who CBC thinks is best for you. You might be shocked by the results, who knows right?

That being said, just one more exciting thing to watch for the next month when I'm not bogged down with assignments and exams.

Experiment: Neighbourhood Wireless Security

Everyone loves wireless, now-a-days we have wireless keyboards, mice, controllers, remotes, headsets, phones, networks and much much more. What people don’t usually realize is that a lot of these wireless devices can be hijacked or intercepted by malicious users who may have happen to drive or walk by your wireless devices and your device may be hijacked right then and there without you noticing that had happened.

The most common target for these wireless hijackings are wireless networks because they are everywhere and the attacker can access to a lot of information that may be useful for him or her. Some people may just do it for fun for the hell of it. Once an attacker gains access to a wireless network, he or she may do a lot of damage such as monitor the traffic flow of your computer’s network transactions. There are free and legal tools available that just do that. A very popular open source tool called Wireshark was created to listen to traffic on a network its host is connected to and is popular among malicious users and network experts alike. Other malicious uses may be just to drain you of your bandwidth. Since the late 2000s, a lot of Canadian Internet Service Providers (ISP) have been capping users on how much bandwidth they are allowed to use per month. When your bandwidth cap is drained, the user is charged extra for the overusage. There’s no limit to the damage an attacker may incur on your network and systems that reside on the network that has been compromised.

Wireless networks are very easy to sniff and it is actually completely legal since you’re not trespassing on people’s property. So out of curiosity, I set out to find out how many people would take the effort to create a secure wireless network. The methodology is that I turn on a piece of software, in this case I used KisMac, and have it take over my wireless radio to listen on all wireless routers broadcasting their networks. This technique is called wardriving and I achieved this by taking the bus and leaving my laptop on and have it listen in on the wireless network broadcasts in my neighbourhood. I collected a total of 311 networks in about a 5 km stretch of suburban neighbourhood north of Toronto.

Out of 311 networks that I scanned, I found out that:

  • 29 networks were left open for anyone to access
  • 127 networks used WEP encryption
  • 114 networks used WPA encryption
  • 41 networks used WPA2 encryption

Number of networks sorted by encryption method used.

This means there’s a whopping 9.3% of networks that are totally unprotected and is riped for pickings for a lot of hackers. Now, you might ask, well, how about the 90.7% who actually protected their networks. Doesn’t that mean that a lot of people have good wireless network security and this experiment is pretty much a futile exercise on your part? Nope. Not at all. Even though 90.7% of wireless networks I scanned were protected, 40.8% uses a very old encryption method called Wired Equivalent Privacy. While only the other 49.9% uses the newer encryption methods. Even so, only 13.2% uses the most secure encryption method.

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is a very old encryption method that was used when wireless networks started popping up during the late 1990s (before it became a popular household item). It was intended to provide the same confidentiality as wired connections. However, it was soon found out that WEP protected networks could be easily cracked and gain access to. This is why the networking industry has replaced WEP with a newer encryption method in 2003 called Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). Even with the introduction of WPA in 2003, it was soon superceded by WPA2 which is an upgrade to the WPA encryption method. All routers sold after 2006 must have WPA2 capability.

So now you might ask, why is there so many WEP networks still around? It is because of lack of education and just sheer laziness of people to set up their networks to use WPA2. There is however, a reason why there are networks that don’t run in WPA though. This is because there are a large array of devices that do not have proper WPA2 support since they were only mandatory in 2006. The majority of network owners don’t understand the risks behind WEP. They tend to think, “well, the network equipment manufacturer’s default choice of encryption is WEP, so it must be good right?” This is further from the truth. In fact, if there’s a willing attacker, he or she can crack WEP encryption within an hour or two. Worst case scenario is that they can be cracked in a few minutes. Running a WEP network is almost like running a network without any protection at all.

Even WPA is vulnerable to attacks, there are known ways to crack WPA passwords since the encryption of WPA was a workaround to solve the deficiencies of WEP. It tries to maintain as much backwards compatibility. Due to this compatibility, it makes it easier for attackers to crack the encryption. However, WPA is still much more secure than WEP since it is a lot more complex and takes a lot longer than WEP to crack. On the other hand, WPA2 uses a more advanced encryption method that is used industry wide in other applications called Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). So far, it’s impractical to crack an AES encrypted network. It’ll take months or even years to do so.

So if you’re like 50.1% of the networks surveyed who either have no protection or very weak protection, it is highly recommended that you should switch the encryption method on your home networking equipment. If all possible, switch your network to WPA2. It might solve your “why is my bandwidth usage so high all of a sudden?” or “where’s all my files?” conundrum. A secured network is a happy network. It makes everyone happy. By now, people shouldn’t even run opened or weak networks because it’s just ill-advised and a lot of equipment already have the safety features to safe guard people’s data and yet people don’t take advantage of them. 9.3% unprotected is very high and I was surprised. So next time if you stumble upon an open or WEP protected network and you know the owner of said network, you should tell them to secure their network properly before something bad happens to their systems!

Happy New Year!

Man it's been a long time since I posted. It's been quite a long and rough semester, thus, didn't have the time to post. It feels good to start posting again, that's for sure!

Now that 2011 is here, I hope everyone will have a great new year and that we get less work and more fun time! With 2010 gone, it's time to take advantage of a fresh new year to enjoy what life throws at us!

fglrx + patched Linux kernels

So lately, I have noticed that people, including myself have been running into a fatal error which prevents your fglrx (ATi proprietary drivers) to compile due to the fact that the kernel developers decided to patch a critical vulnerability with a GPL only solution which meant that the library that fglrx requires no longer exist.

You would usually get an error like this when you try to compile the fglrx kernel module:

/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx /
make: Entering directory `/usr/src/packages/BUILD/kernel-2.6.35.50.3desktop'
  LD      /usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/built-in.o
  CC [M]  /usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.o
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c: In function ‘KCL_GetInitKerPte’:
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c:2378:5: warning: return makes integer from pointer without a cast
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c:2379:5: warning: return makes integer from pointer without a cast
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c:2380:5: warning: return makes integer from pointer without a cast
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c: In function ‘KCL_GetPageTableByVirtAddr’:
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c:2425:5: warning: return makes integer from pointer without a cast
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c:2428:5: warning: return makes integer from pointer without a cast
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c:2429:5: warning: return makes integer from pointer without a cast
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c: In function ‘KCL_TestAndClearPageDirtyFlag’:
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c:2598:5: warning: return makes integer from pointer without a cast
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c: In function ‘KCL_GetDmaPhysAddr’:
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c:2636:5: warning: return makes integer from pointer without a cast
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c:2637:5: warning: return makes integer from pointer without a cast
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c:2638:5: warning: return makes integer from pointer without a cast
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/firegl_public.c:2640:5: warning: return makes integer from pointer without a cast
  CC [M]  /usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/kcl_acpi.o
  CC [M]  /usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/kcl_agp.o
  CC [M]  /usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/kcl_debug.o
  CC [M]  /usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/kcl_ioctl.o
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/kcl_ioctl.c: In function ‘KCL_IOCTL_AllocUserSpace32’:
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/kcl_ioctl.c:196:5: error: implicit declaration of function ‘compat_alloc_user_space’
/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/kcl_ioctl.c:196:5: warning: return makes pointer from integer without a cast
make[1]: *** [/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/kcl_ioctl.o] Error 1
make: *** [_module_/usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx] Error 2
make: Leaving directory `/usr/src/packages/BUILD/kernel-2.6.35.50.3desktop'

 

Fortunately, there is a solution to this and it took me days to find this oh so very simple solution, apparently all you need to do is to go into the /usr/src/kernel-modules/fglrx/kcl_ioctl.c file (each distribution may vary) and on line 197, change it from:

void* ATI_API_CALL KCL_IOCTL_AllocUserSpace32(long size)
{
    return compat_alloc_user_space(size);
}

#endif // __x86_64__

 

to this:

void* ATI_API_CALL KCL_IOCTL_AllocUserSpace32(long size)
{
    return arch_compat_alloc_user_space(size);
}

#endif // __x86_64__

Save the file and then recompile the kernel module by running /usr/bin/fglrx-kernel-build.sh and you should get your kernel module building again. After recompiling your kernel, reboot your machine and fglrx will then load and boot.

It's just that simple, only 5 extra characters that makes that big of a difference.

Hope this helps!

Do note that I did not discover this fix and was discovered by others. I'm just simply posting it to help others. I do not take any credit for this fix.

My distribution information :

OpenSUSE 11.3 x86_64
Linux kernel 2.6.35.5 (custom compilation) 
fglrx 8.771 (Catalyst 10.9) 

Adobe Flash “Square” Preview – First Impressions

Today Adobe Labs released a new test version of Adobe Flash codenamed “Square”. It's basically Adobe Flash 10.2. The release page doesn't really contain much about what's new about the beta.

However, what caught most people's attention is the fact that the company has released a 64-bit version of its Flash player for all of the large platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux). This is absolutely big news and will definitely help browser makers to start pumping out 64-bit versions. Microsoft and Mozilla have both released 64-bit betas with Microsoft being the first to release a stable 64-bit version with the release of Windows XP Professional x64 Edition back in 2005. Two of the major players who are Google and Opera are lagging behind in creating 64-bit browsers. With the release of Flash 10.2, we can finally see a real push for 64-bit browsing. In fact, I'm using the Minefield x64 development build for Windows which is the development version of the upcoming Mozilla Firefox 4.0 while typing this.

There's really not much to note about this Flash release since there's really no real special features. Although, this new Flash build is a bit choppy when its playing Flash video but perhaps this is because it's a beta build. Hopefully, Adobe will fix this before the shipping version of Flash 10.2. All the features of 10.1 have been baked into this release and seeing how there's so little new features, this release was named correctly, it's just a minor update to 10.1. However, this is not to say that Adobe can't add more features along the way. Perhaps this is going to be Flash 11? Who knows.

YouTube is a bit choppy especially when playing at resolutions 720p or higher and trying to access the video player's controls. It slows down the video but not to the point where your browser would assume that Flash has crashed. Hardware acceleration is definitely noticeable since the video played smoothly without tearing either which is really good.

This “Square” preview is definitely recommended if you want to see what Adobe's up to for 64-bit browsing, but another point for them releasing this was because of Internet Explorer 9 which I will test soon.

The current version of this “Square” preview is: 10.2 d161, and the plugin file for the 64-bit build for Windows is called: NPSWF64_10_2_161.dll. You can download the build here.

5 Things That Make Me Happy

So it's been a long while since I updated my blog and my best friend gave me a great idea for my next entry. She asked … what are the things that make you happy? So here, I'll put my top 5.

5. Driving – I just love driving, I don't know why lol.

4. The Little Things – all the little things that my friends do for me

3. Gaming/Fixing Computers – it's the satisfying feeling of accomplishment, challenge and entertainment rolled into one.

2. Hugs! – I love getting hugs from my friends, there's nothing more satisfying than knowing that your friends are behind you every step of the way

1. Hanging Out – there has yet been an hangout that I wasn't happy about. I just love spending time with friends and maybe get a couple of beers to celebrate with them regardless of the occassion!

This list isn't inclusive at all and does exclude something that is of course near and dear to everyone, their family. No matter how much they might piss you off, they're family, your moral structure no matter how much you argue with them. You love every single one of them.

 

So what makes you happy? Comment below!

Steam Summer Super Sale 2010

Wow, it's a great time to be a PC gamer for sure. Valve really knows how to pull our heart strings. For the past week or 2, Valve went sale crazy by offering us gamers tons and tons of sales on most of their catalogue. I know I spent more than I should have.

However, with these deals so insane, how on Earth can you pass up on these deals? You must be crazy!

So this year I got:

  • Audiosurf – $2.66
  • Call of Duty: Collection Pack – $32.72
  • Day of Defeat: Source – $2.73
  • DiRT2 – $10.71

Total damage to wallet: $48.82

All prices listed in Canadian Dollars after currency conversion.

So what did you guys get if you guys got anything?