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Contents

Introduction

This wiki will serve as a space for my projects and some work related material that I do in my day job as a Solutions Architect/Systems Engineer in I.T.

Aviation

  • Aviation I love airplanes and flying in general. Everything from Tiger Moths, to The Concorde, to SR71 Blackbird and Pitts Specials amaze and interest me. My main passion is for flying aerobatics. I currently hold a Private Pilots License (PPL) and I'm working towards obtaining a Commercial Pilots License (CPL). It's an expensive hobby so I do it as time and money permits. On a few flights I have used a portable APRS tracker with a 2m/70cm portable HAM radio set just for a bit of fun also.

Rocketry

  • Rocketry One thing that has always excited me since a child are the various space exploration programs that the USA and Russian embarked upon during the Cold War. As I grew up in parallel with the Space Shuttle program, I developed a fascination for the massive rocket engines that powered these craft up to some insane speeds. Also I remember as a child the excitement of the Australian annual fireworks night, which was more formerly celebrated as Guy Fawkes night. As a result, lately I have been playing with amateur rocketry, in particular Estes black power rocket engines and rocket kits. More to come on this topic :)

HAM Radio and Electronics

  • HAM Radio and Electronics have always been an interest of mine ever since a very young age. My father was a computer engineer, and I remember seeing him work on old machines such as DEC PDP-7's and -11's which always amazed me and it motivated me to take up a career with technology. As a teenager I used to buy Silicon Chip and Electronics Australia magazines so I could read the kit building and project pages. In the advertising section of these magazines, there was an ad for Oatley Electronics, who at the time had kits for 3mw and 5mw laser diodes which needed to be totally assembled from scratch, including installing the laser diode in the lens assembly, and the construction of a constant current power supply unit that drove the laser diode. Back in 1994, laser pointers cost several hundred dollars, so they were extremely rare. Of course, I only used it for experimenting and having fun - not for shining into peoples eyes as some cretins do these days. As well as this, back in the mid 1990s, Oatley Electronics were also selling surplus Russian military night vision tubes, and after getting an excellent school report, I was rewarded with a ex-Russian military Night Vision kit, that came with a monoscope, and a 15-20kV power supply that needed to be constructed from scratch.
  • I have since moved on to experimenting with Atmel AVR microcontrollers to interface to various radios and other pieces of gear, which provides a nice challenge and it bridges the gap between the physical world of electronics and the software development world. Since I have some formal qualifications in C programming, I decided to program these devices in that language.

Cryptography

  • Cryptography has always been a fascination of mine, ever since seeing the movie "Sneakers" released in 1992. It was around the same time that the original "Crypto Wars" started, and the US government was busy prosecuting Phil Zimmerman for creating PGP and making it open source. Asymmetric Key cryptography solved one of the major problems of key distribution in symmetric systems, at the expense of computing power. Lately I have been looking into what is available in terms of FPGA resources and DES encryption cores available, so I can see what would be involved in building a "brute forcer". The EFF did this in 1998 at a cost of $250,000USD, however this price was much cheaper than what it would have cost someone else to do, as the EFF had vast resources and lots of people (e.g. ASIC designers) that provided work for free. Some 8 years later, the COPACOBANA project achieved a similar result on a budget of approximately 10,000 Euros, but once again, this cost doesn't indicate what it would have really cost. After discussing this with one of the project members, they suggested that the true cost to an individual would have been an order of magnitude higher. These days, FPGA board manufacturers have bought the cost down even further, so I figure it might be interesting to investigate this further.
  • GPU performance breakthrough - Although FPGAs have decreased in cost and increased in performance, the sheer demand and volume of GPU processing has enabled the search speed of the DES algorithm on GPUs to outperform FPGAs on a price/performance ratio. It is for this reason that I requested the HashCat project add raw DES-ECB (which is the building block for -OFB -CFB and other modes) to be added to this project. The other request I made was that the code be made open source (which was already under very serious consideration for reasons other than my request). Luckily, both additions were granted by the authors which has resulted in the latest Hashcat being able to recover DES-OFB encryption keys. See Hashcat.net for more information on raw DES key searching - the Hashcat mode is -m 14000 for DES-ECB.

Brewing

  • Brewing It's true that I also enjoy beer. Its even better when its made from fresh ingredients which is why I have purchased my own brewing setup, including a grain mill then enables us to make our malts and beer from scratch. Since we use nothing except water, hops, grain and yeast, this means our beers adhere to the Reinheitsgebot

MediaWiki Errata

  • MediaWiki Install - This is just a brief page with some specific notes regarding the setup of my wiki instance, including some fine tuning parameters.
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