P25 security overview


So most of you know I'm quite into two way radios. Some of the newer digital modes such as APCO25 (or P25 for short) has a lot in common with general computing. As such, it's interesting to see more IT related people doing security analysis of radio protocols.

Here is the ruxcon presentation that Matt Robert (fellow IT geek and pilot) gave about the practical attacks present in P25.

WD MyNET N600 + N750 OpenWRT update


Even though OpenWRT has been working on the WD MyNET N600 and N750 for a while, the signal strength on this device has always been lacking. Felix Kaechele recently went through the bootloader code for these devices and noticed that the LNA for both radios was never turned on in the initialisation - in fact, it was actively turned off!

A few patches later, and we're now seeing much more stable performance from these two devices.

While these patches haven't make it into the OpenWRT trunk yet, I've built firmware binaries with these patches built in. These can be downloaded from: http://openwrt.crc.id.au/.

Happy Flashing!

UPDATE 02/02/14: I've built up an automated system that updates and builds OpenWRT for these two devices daily. The first build I added support for these devices is r39211. New images will be generated daily for the N600 and N750 devices. The first build available with only upstream code (not these patches) is r39412. All are available from my site.

The Liberal Party airbrushes history


Following an article in The Age titled Tony Abbott's more controversial speeches disappear, I thought I'd have a look and see what I found find.

Thankfully, nothing ever really goes away on the internet. As always, the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine has a copy of just about everything that was posted to the site since May 2001!

The items 'lost' in the retranslation of tonyabbot.com.au to the liberal party web page include some jems. From the article in The Age:

Some of Tony Abbott's most controversial speeches have been airbrushed from Coalition history since the election, including a 2009 speech in which he backed a carbon tax, and a 2004 speech in which he described abortion as ''a question of the mother's convenience''.

During Mr Abbott's 2009 carbon tax speech, in which he described himself as a ''climate change realist'', he poured doubt on climate change being man-made, saying: ''We can't conclusively say whether man-made carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to climate change.''

But he went on to say: ''If Australia is greatly to reduce its carbon emissions, the price of carbon-intensive products should rise … a new tax would be the intelligent sceptic's way to deal with minimising emissions.''

So I did a little digging.

This is an extract of the speech that Tony Abbott gave to the Adelaide University Democratic Club on 17th March 2004 - Keep in mind that at this time, Tony Abbott was the Leader of the House and federal Health Minister:

Christians aren’t required to right every wrong in the political arena, but they can help change the nation’s culture, suggests Tony Abbott DESPITE the debt that political institutions owe to the West’s Christian heritage, there is the constant claim that Christians in politics are confused about the separation of church and state. There’s also a tendency among Christians in the community to think that Christians in politics have to sell out their principles in order to survive. Christian politicians are often warding off simultaneous accusations that they are zealots or fakes. Indeed, the public caricature of a Christian politician is hypocrite or wuss, in denial about the ruthlessness and expediency necessary to wield power, or too sanctimonious to be effective.

Take the challenge of abortion.

The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience. Aborting a first trimester fetus is not morally identical to deliberately killing a living human being, but it’s not just removing a wart or a cyst either. Even those who think that abortion is a woman’s right should be troubled by the fact that 100,000 Australian women choose to destroy their unborn babies every year. What does it say about the state of our relationships and our values that so many women (and their husbands, lovers and families) feel incapable of coping with a pregnancy or a child? To a pregnant 14-year-old struggling to grasp what’s happening, for example, example, a senior student with a whole life mapped out or a mother already failing to cope under difficult circumstances, abortion is the easy way out. It’s hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations.

What seems to be considered far less often is avoiding situations where difficult choices might arise. Our society has rightly terrified primary school children about the horrors of smoking, but seems to take it for granted that adolescents will have sex despite the grim social consequences of teenage single parenthood. If half the effort were put into discouraging teenage promiscuity as goes into preventing teenage speeding, there might be fewer abortions, fewer traumatised young women and fewer dysfunctional families. Why isn’t the fact that 100,000 women choose to end their pregnancies regarded as a national tragedy approaching the scale, say, of Aboriginal life expectancy being 20 years less than that of the general community?

No one wants to recreate the backyard abortion clinic (or to stigmatise the millions of Australians who have had abortions or encouraged others to do so). But is it really so hard to create a culture where people understand that actions have consequences and take their responsibilities seriously? As a local MP, I am regularly challenged over the Government’s policy on the detention of boatpeople. “HOW can you live with yourself as a Catholic,” the argument runs, “when your Government treats women and children with such cruelty?”

When it comes to lobbying local politicians, there seems to be far more interest in the treatment of boatpeople, which is not morally black and white, than in the question of abortion, which is. Christians are not required to right every wrong. Christian politicians are not required to promote policies for which there is no demand in the community. As it happens, the Government gives nearly $1 million a year to pro-life family planning groups (but $13 million to pro-choice groups) and provides $250,000 to the Federation of Pregnancy Support Services.

In numerous important ways, the Howard Government has not been a creature of the zeitgeist. The Government has, for example, facilitated the parliamentary overthrow of the Northern Territory’s assisted suicide law, banned human cloning and, most recently, sought to allow Catholic schools to offer scholarships to male teachers. Even so, as a measure of the moral health of our society, 100,000 terminated babies is a statistic that offers no comfort at all. Tony Abbott is Leader of the House and federal Health Minister. This is an edited extract from his address to the Adelaide University Democratic Club yesterday.

I'm not sure I feel comfortable of a man with these views being the Federal Health Minister, but that is exactly what was happening.

In 2009, its widely reported that Tony Abbott supported a carbon tax. Now Tony is the PM, this view has had a massive revision - the the point that he will do anything to get it axed. Rather convenient that this speech has now been removed from the public eye. However, the Wayback Machine has it! Titled A REALIST'S APPROACH TO CLIMATE CHANGE, Tony says:

If Australia is greatly to reduce its carbon emissions, the price of carbon intensive products should rise. The Coalition has always been instinctively cautious about new or increased taxes. That’s one of the reasons why the former government opted for an emissions trading scheme over a straight-forward carbon tax. Still, a new tax would be the intelligent skeptic’s way to deal with minimising emissions because it would be much easier than a property right to reduce or to abolish should the justification for it change.

If you need more proof, here is the video!

All that aside, this part says the most for me. Tony Abbott appeared on QandA on the ABC on the 5th April 2010. The clanger of a line he comes out with was "Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia."

Wow. And this guy is now actually our Prime Minister. facepalm

Western Digital MyNet N600 OpenWRT support


After starting the wiki page on the WD N600 about 3 months ago, and posting about it in the OpenWRT forums, I'm proud to announce that OpenWRT is now supported on the WD N600.

I installed the luci web interface, configured it up and installed some basic tools, and the following is still available:

Filesystem                Size      Used Available Use% Mounted on
rootfs                   12.5M      1.2M     11.3M   9% /
/dev/root                 1.8M      1.8M         0 100% /rom
tmpfs                    61.7M    880.0K     60.9M   1% /tmp
/dev/mtdblock7           12.5M      1.2M     11.3M   9% /overlay
overlayfs:/overlay       12.5M      1.2M     11.3M   9% /
tmpfs                   512.0K         0    512.0K   0% /dev

Its quite a capable CPU: # cat /proc/cpuinfo system type : Atheros AR9344 rev 2 machine : WD My Net N600 processor : 0 cpu model : MIPS 74Kc V4.12 BogoMIPS : 278.93 wait instruction : yes microsecond timers : yes tlb_entries : 32 extra interrupt vector : yes hardware watchpoint : yes, count: 4, address/irw mask: [0x0000, 0x0ff8, 0x0ff8, 0x0ff8] isa : mips1 mips2 mips32r1 mips32r2 ASEs implemented : mips16 dsp dsp2 shadow register sets : 1 kscratch registers : 0 core : 0 VCED exceptions : not available VCEI exceptions : not available

# dmesg | grep MHz [ 0.000000] Clocks: CPU:560.000MHz, DDR:480.000MHz, AHB:240.000MHz, Ref:40.000MHz

See the wiki page for installation instructions!

EDIT: It seems there are some issues with previous builds that can cause wifi to drop out after periods of time. I've built r38259 of OpenWRT Barrier Breaker (trunk) that in theory is patched to stop this from happening. Testing is still ongoing and feedback is appreciated...

Download it here: openwrt-ar71xx-generic-mynet-n600-squashfs-sysupgrade.bin - Updated to r38362 on 11/Oct/2013

Soundwear SD10 review


For a while, I've been looking for a good bluetooth headset that I can also use to take calls on. I came across these Soundwear SD10 headset while browsing the MobileZap web site - after I got the iPad case from them.

I specifically wanted something more like a headphones than an in-ear or single earpiece device that happens to play music. I had quite high expectations of these headphones, but the results were rather mixed.

[gallery type="slideshow" link="file" ids="969,968"]

As headphones, these are very good for the price. I managed to pair them with my Samsung Galaxy S2 without an issue and was streaming music to them in under a minute. The audio quality is much better than I expected - not perfect, but again, for the price, very good. It took me a little longer to get these to pair with my laptop - however after a few days of tinkering, I could stream audio via the A2DP profile from my laptop to the headset. This made watching movies or listening to di.fm much better while other people in the house are trying to sleep! :)

The one thing I couldn't get working properly - no matter what I tried - is the phone headset side of things. I managed to hear the audio of the other person on the headset, but they couldn't hear me. Nothing I did seem to make much difference. I did manage to get the audio barely audible by placing my hand over my mouth and directing my voice into the microphone of the headset - but I was told that the audio was still very faint - like I was shouting at my phone from the other side of the room.

The audio that I could hear however was perfect in quality.

I'm not sure if the headset I received has a fault, or if the fault is in the design of the headset - or maybe even a compatibility issue - and searching the web seems to bring up very little discussion on this topic - so maybe its just me!

Either way, they are decent enough to use as a pair of headphones and incredibly handy, comfortable and wearable - so I'll be happy to keep them just for that purpose - and continue my quest for a headphone / headset combo.

Media Watch on the election coverage


I love watching Media Watch. Its a great analysis of the media and how they screw stuff up - or at least pretend to be fair...

This episode covers the election coverage and should remove any doubt as to why the L/NP won the election. Thankfully, the ABC is mostly unbiased these days. Its also interesting that one of the election policies that was rushed to the public hours before the election proposed to cut the funding to the ABC etc - something I strongly oppose.