HTTPS Everywhere

A essential security add-on for your web browser is HTTPS Everywhere, if you don’t have it installed I recommend that you do so.  To easily install it go to https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere and simply choose the browser(s) you are using and click the appropriate icon. You can also install from the add-ons menu in you browser settings  and search for HTTPS Everywhere.

HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure. Encrypt the web: Install HTTPS Everywhere today.

HTTPS Everywhere is produced as a collaboration between The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Many sites on the web offer some limited support for encryption over HTTPS, but make it difficult to use. For instance, they may default to unencrypted HTTP, or fill encrypted pages with links that go back to the unencrypted site. The HTTPS Everywhere extension fixes these problems by using clever technology to rewrite requests to these sites to HTTPS.

Ardour Digital Audio Workstation

I recently switched my video editing software from Windows based Sony Vegas to Linux based Blender.  I had also used Vegas as my digital audio workstation for audio projects. Wanting to do both on Linux I started researching Linux based DAW systems and found Ardour. After testing Ardour I quickly realized that I found my solution.  Ardour was very intuitive to learn and had all of the features that I required for my audio mixing projects. Good news for you OSx and Windows user, there are versions available for both of you. Linux VST support provides access to high quality proprietary plugins on Linux from Loomer, Pianoteq/Modartt. Excellent open source plugins from Distrho and others.   It’s also a free under GNU Public License v2  but if you end up using do as I do and make a donation to help keep the project going.

Ardour is a multichannel hard disk recorder (HDR) and digital audio workstation (DAW). It can be used to control, record, edit and run complex audio setups.

Ardour supports pro-audio interfaces through the ALSA project, which provides high quality, well designed device drivers and API’s for audio I/O under Linux. Any interface supported by ALSA can be used with Ardour. This includes the all-digital 26 channel RME Hammerfall, the Midiman Delta 1010 and many others.

Ardour has support for 24 bit samples using floating point internally, non-linear editing with unlimited undo, a user-configurable mixer, MTC master/slave capabilities, MIDI hardware control surface compatibility.

It supports MIDI Machine Control, and so can be controlled from any MMC controller and many modern digital mixers.

Ardour contains a powerful multitrack audio editor/arranger that is completely non-destructive and capable of all standard non-linear editing operations (insert, replace, delete, move, trim, select, cut/copy/paste). The editor has unlimited undo/redo capabilities and can save independent “versions” of a track or an entire piece.

Ardour’s editor supports the community-developed LADSPA plugin standard. Arbitrary chains of plugins can be attached to any portion of a track. Every mixer strip can have any number of inputs and outputs, not just mono, stereo or 5.1. An N-way panner is included, with support for various panning models. Pre- and post-fader sends exist, each with their own gain and pan controls. Every mixer strip acts as its own bus, and thus the bus count in Ardour is unlimited. You can submix any number of strips into another strip.

Ardour’s channel capacity is limited only by the number on your audio interface and the ability of your disk subsystem to stream the data back and forth.

JACK (the JACK Audio Connection Kit) is used for all audio I/O, permitting data to be exchanged in perfect samplesync with other applications and/or hardware audio interfaces.

Ardour is sample rate and size neutral – any hardware formats from 8 to 32 bits, and rates from 8kHz to 192kHz. Internal processing in 32/64 bit IEEE floating point format.

Further information can be found at http://ardour.org/.

 

VirtualBox Host Keys

I’m always forgetting the  host keys when using the VirtualBox install on my laptop. I did  a Google search for them and could not find a comprehensive list of all of the VirtralBox shortcut keys in one place so I made up a list myself.

Default Host Key = Right-CTRL
Main Menu Bar = Host-Home
Full Screen = Host-F
Scaled Mode = Host-C
Adjust Windows Size = Host-A
Take Screen Shot = Host-E
Settings = Host-S
Take Snapshot = Host-T
Pause = Host-P
Reset = Host-R
ACPI Shutdown = Host-H
Close = Host-Q

Press the Host key to capture/ uncapture mouse.

How to Make a Bootable USB

There are many different ways to create a bootable USB drive both on Linux and Windows. The method I prefer is using a Windows program called Rufus, I find that it is the easiest and most reliable method of all of the different ones I tried. You can obtain Rufus by going to https://rufus.akeo.ie/.  To make a bootable USB do the following steps:

Step 1:
After starting Rufus use the device drop down menu to select your target USB drive. If you only have one USB hooked up to your computer it will default to that drive.

Step 2:
Click on the disk icon next to the ISO image drop down menu which will pull up a explorer window and select the ISO image you want to use.  Select the .ISO image file then click open.

Step 3:

The partition scheme and target system type, file system cluster size and new volume label settings are determined by the .ISO image and should not need to be changed unless required by you.  Click on Start.

Step 4:

You will then get the following dialog box. Click OK to begin the process.

Step 5:

You will get a warning message below. Make sure you are using the correct device and then click OK.

The process of creating the bootable USB will begin.

That’s all there is to it, when the process finishes you will then have a bootable USB drive!

 

 

 

 

 

KL-7 Cipher Machine

This software is an accurate simulation of the KL-7 Cipher Machine. The KL-7, codenamed ADONIS or POLLUX, was an off-line rotor cipher machine, developed in the late 1940’s by the American Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA) and introduced by the newly formed National Security Agency (NSA) in 1952. The KL-7 served in the United States and several NATO countries until 1983.

The KL-7 simulator provides authentic handling with its hands-on approach. All switches, buttons and even the sound function exactly like the real KL-7. Its rotor and cage wiring are fully customizable. With most surviving KL-7’s sanitized, this simulator is the only remaining way to actually work with this beautiful machine and the simulator serves as an attempt to keep this machine and its history alive. The simulator comes with an extensive 20 page manual (view here ) that includes the use of the simulator, the KL-7’s technical details, its history and sample messages.

The development of this simulator is based on publicly available information on the KL-7. It’s principles of operation and most of the technical details are known. However, the internal wiring of the ciphering rotors, which is considered part of the secret key settings, is still classified. The KL-7 simulator operates with the same cryptographic principles as the real KL-7 but consequently uses its own rotor and stepping wiring.

Runs on Windows™ 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/Win7/Win 8/Win 10 and on MAC with Parallels Desktop or WINE on Linux.

Download KL-7 Simulator
Download Manual

For more detailed information on the KL-7 and other encryption machines visit the Cipher Machines and Cryptology page.

220 Mhz Sat-Comm Antenna

Here is my  220 mhz sat-comm antenna that I recently put together so I could monitor Navy fleet satellite communication birds.  The antenna is a Arrow II hand-held portable model 220-3 yagi that I use to work my club’s local 220 repeater. I was in the Dollar store with my wife when I noticed this neat little blue wire mesh colander (two for a dollar) when the light bulb went off. Not only can I strain my pasta with it but it makes a perfect reflector for my 220 yagi. While testing it I picked up some Brazilian pirates on FLTSACOM 8 255.550 mhz using it as their own private CB. The coordinates for FLTSACOM 8 (USA 46) is as follows if you want to listen in:

 

NORAD ID: 20253
Int’l Code: 1989-077A
Perigee: 35,756.9 km
Apogee: 35,831.6 km
Inclination: 12.9 °
Period: 1,436.1 minutes
Semi major axis: 42165 km
Launch date: September 25, 1989
Source: United States (US)
Launch site: AIR FORCE EASTERN TEST RANGE
Track the satellite in real time

 

M-125 Fialka Cipher Machine

The M-125, codename Fialka (Russian: ФИАЛКА), was an electromechanical wheel-based cipher machine, developed in the USSR shortly after WWII. It was first introduced in 1956 and soon became one of the favorite machines of the Warsaw Pact and some allied nations, such as Cuba. The machine is similar to the American Sigaba, the KL-7 and — to a lesser extent — the Enigma. For this reason the machine is sometimes called: the Russian Enigma. The original M-125 was succeeded by the M-125-3 in the mid-1960s and remained in use until the early 1990s.

The fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, marked the decline and finally the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the retreat of the Russians from the countries behind the Iron Curtain, the remaining Fialka machines were taken back and have subsequently been dismantled or destroyed.

Each country of the Warsaw Pact had its own customized Fialka version, adapted for the local language. This means that each country had its own keyboard and print head. Furthermore, the wiring of the coding wheels is different for each country. The rest of the machine is identical.

Each country of the Warsaw Pact had its own customized Fialka version, adapted for the local language. This means that each country had its own keyboard and print head. Furthermore, the wiring of the coding wheels is different for each country. The rest of the machine is identical. Fialka M-125-3 with open lid

Most machines were capable of communicating either in Latin or Cyrillic (Russian) writing. Although the Latin alphabet was specific for each country, the Cyrillic alphabet had no punctuation marks and was identical on all machines, making them interoperable when a mutual set of wheels was used. A standard – Russian-only – version also existed.

Ukrainian programmer Vyacheslav Chernov (Чернов) has written a beautiful graphical simulator for Windows TM, that emulates all known Fialka models and countries. It supports the old wheels as well as the later adjustable wheels, and supports different wheel-wirings for the various countries. Furthermore, the wiring cores can be installed, flipped and rotated in any of the other wheels.

 

Download Fialka Simulator
How to set the keys (and card)

For more detailed information on the M-125 visit the Crypto Museum.

How to build a Uber UPS Backup Sytstem

Here is how to build my Uber UPS Backup System on the cheap. First you will need to obtain a suitable UPS unit to start with,  I recommend at least a 350 watt unit.  I picked up mine at the Goodwill store for $6.00. After that it’s quite simple. Remove the stock battery, that is usually bad if you get one at a 2nd hand store like I did, and crimp on two quick release connectors to the red (+) and black (-) battery connection wires. Then do the same with the wires going to your new batteries. The wire size for the battery connection should be no smaller than 12 gauge for this project.  I suggest that you always go male/female to the UPS unit and also on the battery cables so you won’t be able to accidentally reverse polarity.  If you are using more than one battery like I am it’s also a good idea to put a in-line 10 amp fuse between the batteries for overload protection.  For the batteries I use two AGM 35 amp sealed lead acid batteries.  You should be able to get these from your local battery speciality store or if you live in the St. Petersburg, FL area go to Electro Battery  where you can pick up a refurbished battery for around $25.00.  I also recommend that you use your soldering iron and tin all of the wire connections for circuit reliability.  When you are finished, put a load on the system and test it by unplugging the UPS unit from its electrical source. As always if you have any questions on this build you can contact me for assistance.

PiShrink

Making backups of your Pi images is essential but restoring them to a new SD card can sometimes be problematic when the image is the same size or larger than the target SD card. You will get the message that the image is too large for the target device when the image won’t fit.  The solution is a simple bash script called pishrink.sh.

The first step is to backup the image that you want to shrink.

Step 1:
Startup the “Win32DiskImager” program, Here’s the opening screen:
Notice you will need to select which drive is your SD card. in this case my SD card is H:\ then click the NAVIGATE icon just next to the H:\ pull down box, this will open a file-explorer window.

Step 2:
Select a folder on your hard-drive where you want to SAVE the image file of your SD card. In my example, i have a folder named “rpi_backups”.
Also type in a filename of the image you’re about to create, and click SAVE to continue to next step.

Step 3:
Confirm the folder/filename are correct, and now you can click the READ button to start reading your SD card into your (about-to-be-created) image file.

Step 4:
Here’s my image file being written, almost complete at 90% .

Step 5:
It will indicate “Read Successful” and  “Done” when the image has finished writing.

Step 6:

The next step is to shrink the image you just backed up.

PiShrink is a bash script that automatically shrink a pi image that will then resize to the max size of the SD card on boot. This will make putting the image back onto the SD card faster and the shrunk images will compress better.

Usage: ./pishrink [-s] imagefile.img [newimagefile.img]

If the -s option is given the script will skip the autoexpanding part of the process. If you specify the newimagefile.img parameter, the script will make a copy of imagefile.img and work off that. You will need enough space to make a full copy of the image to use that option.

Prerequisites

If using Ubuntu, you will likely see an error about e2fsck being out of date and metadata_csum. The simplest fix for this is to use Ubuntu 16.10 and up, as it will save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

Example

[user@localhost PiShrink]$ sudo ./shrink.sh pi.img
e2fsck 1.42.9 (28-Dec-2013)
Pass 1: Checking inodes, blocks, and sizes
Pass 2: Checking directory structure
Pass 3: Checking directory connectivity
Pass 4: Checking reference counts
Pass 5: Checking group summary information
/dev/loop1: 88262/1929536 files (0.2% non-contiguous), 842728/7717632 blocks
resize2fs 1.42.9 (28-Dec-2013)
resize2fs 1.42.9 (28-Dec-2013)
Resizing the filesystem on /dev/loop1 to 773603 (4k) blocks.
Begin pass 2 (max = 100387)
Relocating blocks             XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Begin pass 3 (max = 236)
Scanning inode table          XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Begin pass 4 (max = 7348)
Updating inode references     XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
The filesystem on /dev/loop1 is now 773603 blocks long.

Shrunk pi.img from 30G to 3.1G

Download pishrink.sh

 

Enigma Simulator

This software is an exact simulation of the 3-rotor Wehrmacht (Heer and Luftwaffe) Enigma, the 3-rotor Kriegsmarine M3, also called Funkschlussel M, and the famous 4-rotor Kriegsmarine M4 Enigma cipher machine, used during World War II from 1939 until 1945. The sim has a very authentic feeling with its hands-on approach: you can select between the three models, actually lift out and insert different rotors, adjust their ring setting and set up the plugboard. The internal wiring of all rotors is identical to those that were used by the Wehrmacht and Kriegsmarine. This simulator is therefore fully compatible with the various real Enigma models and you can decrypt authentic wartime messages or encrypt and decrypt your own messages.

The program comes with a very complete 22 page help file, containing the manual, some original messages, the history of Enigma and all technical details of the machine. The simulator also has a picture gallery of Enigma machines. With this software you will finally be able to work with the most intriguing machine in military cryptology and examine how it works and how it was operated. A true reference to Enigma, and an educational must!

Download EnigmaSim v7.0.6 (Zip 3.1 MB)
Download EnigmaSim Manual
Enigma Codebook Tool   Create and print your own code books.

Runs on Windows™ and with WINE on Linux or Parallels Desktop on MAC.

Wehrmacht Enigma I

Kriegsmarine M3

Kriegsmarine M4

Enigma open

For more detailed information on the Enigma visit the Cipher Machines and Cryptology page.