Saturday, December 4, 2010


Just a quick update. I haven't been very active in challenge solving during the past few months. However, I just developed some interest in chess. I am doing pretty well on with a rating closing 1700.

This is one of my favourite games:

You know what, I found some of the geeks there too. Caesum the alien is playing more than 100 games at the same time, while TheHiveMind with his super chess bot has already reached a rating of 2200+.

I'm having a duel with Caesum atm, and the game is a bit on my side. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ubuntu Tweak

Finally got rid of the stupid pink login screen using Ubuntu Tweak. What a pain!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hacker skills in action

Have you ever needed to use your 1337 hacker skills in real life as a non-security professional?

I was once given the task of writing a Windows library to connect to a Juniper VPN system. All I was given was just the web interface of the system. A task that cannot be completed without reverse-engineering skills.

Some experiments with the system showed me that the VPN system wasn't too complicated. After the user authorizes himself via the login page, an ActiveX or Java applet will be launched, which will subsequently download and run a Windows application that is responsible for the VPN connection.

Authenticating via the login page programmatically to retrieve the cookie for the session was a trivial task. For downloading and running the Windows VPN application, with my 1337 Java skills, I decided that reverse-engineering the Java applet was the way to go. After decompiling the applet with Jad, all I needed to do was modifying the code to make it run in a "simulated" applet environment, and everything went on smoothly.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Year 2038 problem - not very far away

Maybe some of you have already heard about the year 2038 problem, caused by software and systems storing system time as a signed 32-bit integer. I thought it would be quite a while until I'd have to care about it, but it seems that isn't the case.

A little while ago, my yahoo mailbox was hit by a lot of spammers sending from the future date of 18th Jan 2038. Back then, I thought it was funny. Spammers always want their spam mails to appear on top by setting the date to the farthest in the future. But this is as far as they can go ;)

However, recently, I have discovered the bug lying in an authentication server by a well-known security company I'm testing. It appears all certificates signed by the server cannot have an expiry date of later than 19th Jan 2038. If not discovered early, this could cost us a lot of maintenance fee when the time comes close.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mandriva 2010

Although Mandriva 2010 was released a long time ago, I haven't had the time to upgrade until now.

Just like the last time, I received the message that "the system could not be safely upgraded to Mandriva Linux 2009" (yes, it did say 2009, probably someone overlooked that trivial bit). Nevertheless, as a professional penguin tamer, I decided to take the risk and continued. This time the estimated upgrade time was 5 hours. But in the end it only took about 1 hour and a half.

Brilliantly, the new system booted smoothly without any problems. Time to see what this great new system has to offer ;)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS was finally released last week, and I just managed to upgrade it today. Unlike Mandriva, to upgrade Ubuntu, I needed to use the alternate CD image instead of the normal one.
The upgrade took about an hour, which was actually quite long for such a newly installed system. However, on the bright side, it could be done while the system was running.

The Ubuntu guys boasted about the 10 second startup time. And in fact, my new system booted really fast. I doubt if it's as fast as 10 seconds though :P

There's a very annoying problem with the new Gnome button layout: the minimize, maximize, and close button are moved to the top left of the windows, whichever theme you use. A guide to fixing that problem is available here:

Monday, March 15, 2010


So I got a new laptop, and of course I installed another Linux distro on it. Ubuntu seems to be a very popular one now, so I decided to give it a try.

Gnome seems to have improved a lot since the last time I tried it on Fedora. After some modding it looks quite awesome now ;)

Another thing I like about Ubuntu is the free 2GB Ubuntu One space I can use to synchronize and share my data.

Is cloud computing really the way to go?