RFID (in)security

The first time I encountered RFID, was when I spotted a Pet Tag reader at the Vet.
They inject a tiny “chip” into your pet, and then register the Radio ID of the chip in a Database. If your beloved fluffy ever goes missing without its collar, the pound should be able to detect the chip in your pet, and then use the ID to find the owner.

Then some clever people decided to start putting them in pretty much everything
My access card for work is an RFID tag. My Student card from UJ is an RFID tag. My LUAS card is an RFID tag.

The UK government has started putting RFID tags in new Passports. This raised a huge number of privacy concerns. Imagine walking into a room, and instantly knowing exactely who is in it, simply by reading all the RFID tags of all the Passports in the room. There was even talk of fitting them to Vehicle number plates.

Large supermarkets are looking into using RFID instead of barcodes on products, for full supply chain tracking.

And now the fun part..
It didn’t take very long for this “new” technology to be ripped apart.
RFID IO Tools have put together all the tools you’ll need to read and write RFID tags.
It seems relatively easy now to Clone someone elses ID. Thats not cool.

So much for security… And despite all these flaws, all the major players in the industry are still going ahead and deploying it.

Another Windows?

I’m sure everyone thinks that there are only 2 viable alternative desktop operating systems out there…

Linux, and Mac OS.

But what if some clever people decided to write a completely free open source, binary compatible version of Windows XP?
No more of those problems where apps wont run under Linux or Mac OS, and only Windows.

Haven’t tried it out myself yet, but it definately looks like a good idea.

ReactOS

Holiday to South Africa!

So the dates are finalised, and the flights are all booked.

The family are making space, and the friends have all been alerted.

We’ll be arriving in JHB on the 7th of April, at around 13:00.
Can’t wait!

That is, after a flight to Gatwick, and then a Flight to Windhoek (Yes… Windhoek, in Namibia), and then finally to JHB. Thats almost 16 hours after we depart from Dublin.

We’ll then be heading down to Cape Town on the 16th to do the real Tourist stuff we could never afford to do when we lived in South Africa.. (Isn’t that sad!)

And then we’re off back to Dublin on the 20th. Sadly, not going back via JHB.

So now you all know 🙂
(I’ll be available on my old South Africa Cellphone number during the duration of our stay, if anyone feels like giving me a call)holiday, south africa

DST

DST never really made sense to me. And this is the first time I’ve really had it affect my life.

So… tommorow morning, everything will be GMT+1.

Apparently, this is 1 week earlier than usual. I dont quite understand why… Infact, I don’t quite understand the point of the whole thing anyway. I’ll have to ask my good friend Wikipedia about it.

Buses

I don’t have a car, so I have to use Public Transport to get everywhere.

Irish Public Transport is incredible compared to the Public Transport infrastructure of South Africa (which amounts to a few buses, which may or may not burst into flames before you get to your destination).
It has its quirks, such as the 114 bus just deciding not to arrive 3 times in a row and leaving you standing outside in the rain staring up the road like a dog would stare at a door, waiting for its owner to come home.

But the part that makes Public Transport so interesting, are the other people that utilize it.

We have some certifiable nutters that catch the 114 in the mornings from Blackrock. The most interesting, being the “newspaper collectors”.
Most mornings, its just the one gentleman. He climbs on the bus and immediately searches the bottom level for newspapers. If he can’t find any lying on the open benches, he’ll start asking people if they’re done with their copies.
Sometimes, you’ll get two on the same bus. This causes a bit of conflict, and they both set off in a frantic search of the bus.
There have been instances where I’ve had to ask for my paper back from one of these gentlemen, or even hide it under my bag to prevent accusing looks.
I’ve managed to count three of these paper nutters, but I’m sure there are more.

Another type of individual that uses the bus, is the I-think-my-music-is-so-cool-so-I’ll-share-it-with-the-whole-bus group of kids.
Apparently its an accomplishment to have a cellphone that will play music out of its crappy little speakers so everyone in the bus can hear.
Some of us aren’t even awake yet, and this is the rubbish that we’ll be starting our mornings with.
Unfortunately, the only music they’re ever playing is utter drivel (see Rap/Hip-Hop for more clarity). If you’re going to be blasting something to all the commuters, why not listen to the news. Who knows, you kids might actually learn something useful.

Then you get the people who talk on their cellphones for the entire journey, at the top of their voices (just in case the driver can’t follow the conversation too).
I don’t need to know how locked you were the night before, or whether it was Bob or Fred that threw up on your shoes.
Now, I know cellphone reception on the 114 route breaks up in a few places, I’ve come to this realisation, only through observing other peoples cellphone calls.
If you know its going to break up, why bother glaring at your phone quizzically, or calling back and saying “Sorry, I don’t know why we were cut off”. Its pretty obvious whats going on. The same thing happened to you yesterday, and the day before. Learn from it.
How would it feel to be the person on the other end of that conversation, knowing that you’re only having the conversation because the caller is on the way to work? I’d feel used.
Get an iPod or something. Better yet, read a newspaper, you might learn something useful.

St Patricks – Part 3

As promised in Part 1 and Part 2, here is Part 3

Being that this was our first St Patrick’s day in Ireland, we decided to do the tourist thing and head down to Temple Bar for a pint. Were were just one block away from it anyway, so it was a short walk.

Clearly we weren’t the only ones to take this route, so things were pretty busy, and there were actually queues forming to get into the Pubs.

We managed to find a pub that had a seperate dining area, so we went in to have food.
There wasn’t an Irish accent in the place… not even the waitrons were irish.

We spent a good 2 hours there, having a drink and a lovely steak.
It was quite amuzing watching some of the tourists have their very first pint of Guinness, and the expressions on their faces as they got accustomed to the taste.

We left, and were immediately greeted by 4 of the largest Garda I’ve ever met. They were standing in the street outside glaring at the crowd. It was quite clear things were going downhill, so we decided to leave. We were followed by some sad looking man, who decided to throw a little tantrum. He threw his keys down the road, and then his cellphone (which narrowly missed us), and then proceeded to sulk while trying to avoid the gaze of the Garda.

After wandering around for a while, we realised there wasn’t really much to do if you were sober… And by the looks of it, we were the only ones.
So we headed back home, feeling rather disappointed.

I think we were just expecting more. Maybe we were expecting too much, and were disappointed when things didn’t meet our expectations, but we certainly didn’t expect every person on the streets to be completely trashed by 3pm.

(And then the massive fireworks display was cancelled due to bad weather. We were really looking forward to that, lets hope they go ahead with that some time soon)

St Patricks – Part 1

As I’m sure everyone knows, Saint Patrick’s Day was on Saturday, 17th March. For this reason, Monday the 19th was made an Irish Bank Holiday.
“Long weekend!”, I hear everyone scream.

Now there’s a few things you non-Irish people should know…
The Irish love long weekends (don’t we all) and the Irish love to drink. Now combine this with the St Patrick’s Day festivities… and you can just imagine the exciting events that follow.

Its my first St Patrick’s Day in Ireland, so, in my typical “tourist” mindset, I thought this was going to be good fun (now known as craic, pronounced “crack”).

We set out into town on the Saturday to go watch the parade. Now, I’ve never seen a parade before, so I didn’t really know what to expect.
There were people… lots of them. And some of them had brought their own step-ladders to be able to see over the crowds.
Due to all the bus services terminating on the South side of the Liffey, and the Parade starting on the North side, we just headed for the nearest point along the Parade route that we could get to. As it turned out, we weren’t the only ones that did this, so we started walking down the Parade route to find a nice spot where we could see the road.

Eventually, we found a nice spot, and “parked” ourselves as firmly as we could.

I couldn’t get too close to the barriers, as I couldn’t squeeze my (rather… bulky) self through the crowds, but my other half managed to fit in with the kids in the front,

As it turned out, we were about three quarters of the way along the route.
A word of advice to people who are thinking of participating in parades in future:
If you’re going to be “performing” in the parade, understand how long the route is.
If you’re going to get tired half way down the route, then don’t bother taking part, you’ll just spoil it for everyone. There’s nothing more depressing than a performer, all done up in make-up and a fancy outfit, strolling along amongst the other performers with a “couldn’t be arsed to smile” attitude. That really spoils things.

So thats the Parade over. The end of the parade being signaled by two shiny new street sweeper van thingys.

In Part 2, some pictures, and the part where things really start going downhill.