pfSense (FreeBSD) Thinkpad Boot Failure

Posted in Technical on May 15th, 2016 by p14nd4

After pfSense upgraded to a newer FreeBSD base (perhaps a year ago), my Thinkpad T41 running pfSense was failing to boot; I believe the errors were something about failing to initialize the device at ata1 (the optical drive); perhaps something about failing to respond to a command. After lots of searching (and poor documentation), I resolved the issue by setting this boot parameter:

hint.ata.1.disabled=1

Once the system booted, I believe I added this to /boot/loader.conf.local to make the fix [slightly more] permanent. (I believe this file still gets wiped out during system updates, so it’s not a perfect solution.)

I’ll update this post with the exact error message if I encounter it again. (I’m finally getting around to writing this post since I’m about to wipe pfSense and try OPNsense, and I don’t want to have to re-discover this solution.)

Edit: As I suspected, OPNsense has the same problem:

(ataprobe0:ata1:0:1:0): ATAPI_IDENTIFY. ACB: a1 00 00 00 00 40 00 00 00 00 00 00
(ataprobe0:ata1:0:1:0): CAM status: Command timeout
(ataprobe0:ata1:0:1:0): Retrying command
(ataprobe0:ata1:0:1:0): ATAPI_IDENTIFY. ACB: a1 00 00 00 00 40 00 00 00 00 00 00
(ataprobe0:ata1:0:1:0): CAM status: Command timeout
(ataprobe0:ata1:0:1:0): Error 5, Retries exhausted

Fully client-side / browser-initiated / bookmarklet image gallery

Posted in Technical on January 24th, 2016 by p14nd4

For a demo project I had at work recently, I wanted to incorporate some imagery from the client’s web site. I discovered their web server was configured to generate an index page for the directory containing their images, but I didn’t want to click through each one individually to figure out if it was what I wanted. (An auto-generated index page is something like this, but imagine it having hundreds of entries.)

I was pretty sure that I’d encountered some javascript many years ago that would render a thumbnail gallery for just such an occasion, but I was unable to locate it. Thankfully, I’m a software engineer, and I’m easily distracted by tangential pursuits, so I just wrote my own! If you’re not a nerd, but want to see what it is, copy the text below, visit the index page mentioned above; in your browser address bar, delete the address that’s currently there, manually type javascript: (make sure to get the colon), and then paste the text from below. (Browsers strip the javascript: from the text if you paste it.)

If it works (tested in Chromium 47 and Firefox 43), you should be presented with a little gallery of images! You can also search the web for index of jpg or something similar and test it out there, but you can stumble across some…interesting…things that way. You’ve been warned.

Also, it’s got the potential to crash your browser (or at least really slow things down) if you run it in a really large index. For better or for worse, I don’t do any intelligent loading/unloading of images, so it just ends up rendering a page with ALL OF THE IMAGES from the index. I have no doubt that this can be dramatically improved in a variety of ways; I very infrequently touch JavaScript, so this was a bit of a refresher exercise for me. Pull requests welcome!

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Multi-page Toolkit Plugin ‘Insert Page’ Fix

Posted in Technical, TechwareLabs on January 24th, 2016 by p14nd4

One of the sites I run, Techware Labs, uses WordPress for its CMS. (As an aside, we previously used our own home-grown CMS, which had a variety of benefits, but didn’t provide quite as much flexibility as we wanted. Rather than putting significant effort into rewriting or massively upgrading it, we decided to leave that heavy lifting to the pros.) We began using WP around May, 2009 (v2.7.1), since which point 17 major releases have occurred (and significantly more minor releases). We selected the Multi-Page Toolkit plugin to paginate articles (since WordPress just sticks the entire post on a single page by default), which seemed reasonable at the time—it was relatively popular, and had been updated a few months prior. Unfortunately, that update a few months prior [to early 2009] is the last update the plugin has received at the time of this writing.

A lot can happen in seven-plus years, especially in a popular software project like WordPress, but miraculously this plugin mostly kept working through it all. Mostly, however, isn’t quite the same as entirely, and some people get cranky when one thing goes wrong. (Take the Hindenburg, for example; why doesn’t anyone talk about its 62 successful flights?)

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Dell OptiPlex 9010 UEFI Problem?

Posted in Technical on July 13th, 2012 by p14nd4

If you ready my previous post, you already know that I’ve had frustrating issues with lock-ups in Ubuntu 12.04 on my new Dell OptiPlex 9010, and perhaps related oddities with errors reported in memtest86+. I opened a support ticket with Dell, and they shipped me a replacement system, which arrived today. The spoiler: it didn’t fix my problems. However, in the course of determining that fact, I may have further isolated the issue.

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Dell OptiPlex 9010 Ubuntu Linux Lock-Up

Posted in Technical on July 10th, 2012 by p14nd4

The History

I’ve been waiting for a while to get a new desktop computer at home. Back in 2006, I was biding my time to replace my dead desktop until the Windows Vista buy your computer now and we’ll give you Vista whenever it comes out program to be officially announced by Dell, and finally bought my OptiPlex 745 Small Form Factor PC (with a nearly top-of-the-line Conroe Core 2 Duo E6600 CPU) in October. Since that date, I’ve been running said computer nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it’s held up remarkably well.

While I ran Windows XP full time when I got it, I switched to Ubuntu full time (aside from playing through Portal when it came out) whenever I got my hands on Vista. That’s not to come as a condemnation of Vista, as everyone is so quick to do, but it just worked out that way: since I was going to do a fresh install on a fresh hard drive for Vista, it was a perfect opportunity to install Ubuntu alongside. And once Ubuntu was installed, I wanted to keep using it (as I had been full time in the months between my old desktop dying and purchasing that new computer). I preferred the desktop environment, window management, and most of the apps were either the exact same ones I used already on Windows (e.g. Opera, Firefox, Pidgin), or had suitable (if not preferable) replacements, with the exception of Foobar2000 and Media Player Classic (MPC). Things worked well, too!

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No ICS for Motorola Admiral

Posted in Technical on May 18th, 2012 by p14nd4

I was very disappointed to see today that Motorola announced it’s effectively decided to abandon the Admiral and its user-base less than seven months after releasing the product (though, I’d imagine the decision was actually made long ago). I hope that by not not even providing an upgrade to the version of Android (4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich) that was released[1] prior to the Admiral’s retail availability[2], Motorola’s message to current and potential customers is heard loud and clear: the relationship ends once your credit card clears from buying the phone.

While the Admiral had the potential to be a great phone, this should pretty much condemn it to failure, since anyone who knows anything will know better than to buy it now. And I, at least, now know not to ever buy another Motorola phone and expect anything more than whatever software it ships with.

(Mostly a copy of my post on Motorola’s forums, but I’m not sure if they’ll leave the comment up or delete it.)

Citations

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Motorola Admiral Review Follow-Up

Posted in General, Technical on November 16th, 2011 by p14nd4

I wrote my initial review of the Motorola Admiral (my new phone) about three and a half days after getting my hands on it. I’ve been using the phone full-time for almost two weeks now, so wanted to follow up with a few other thoughts. You should definitely read the initial review above to put these additional notes into context.

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Mini Review: Motorola Admiral

Posted in General, Technical on November 7th, 2011 by p14nd4

After nearly five years of using my trusty (Palm OS-based) Treo 700p (preceded by over three years with a Palm OS-based Treo 300, preceded by over a year with a Treo 180, etc…), I finally bit the bullet and moved to Android. I actually did pick up a used Samsung Moment (landscape QWERTY slider) off a friend a couple summers ago, but never activated it; pretty much all of my reference point for Android comes from that device, though (running a custom rom, rooted, Android 2.1). I wasn’t especially thrilled with the Moment for a few reasons, which convinced me it was alright to stick with my Treo for a while longer, and keep my eye on the market. A few months ago, there were some leaks about an upcoming portrait QWERTY device from Motorola on Sprint that was supposed to be pretty fancy, and even back then, I had pretty much made up my mind: this would be my next phone.

Details in subsequent leaks changed a little bit, and the rumored release date came and went without additional information, but at long last, the Motorola Admiral was released at the end of October. I was hoping to find some other reviews online right away, but they didn’t come immediately. A few people on forums ordered the devices promptly and answered a few questions, and someone posted a Youtube overview, but there wasn’t exactly a thorough review out. Nevertheless, I decided to pull the trigger, and ordered mine (requiring upgrading my plan to Everything Data) this past Wednesday. I was fairly impressed with Sprint’s customer service that got my plan changed and corporate discount applied over online chat with virtually no pain, and then I ordered the phone, and they had it to my door around noon the next day. Nice work, guys!

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Solved: no iKVM64 in java.library.path on SuperMicro IP KVM

Posted in Technical on September 30th, 2011 by p14nd4

I recently purchased a Super Micro X7SPA-HF-D525 motherboard, and was excited to try out the IP-KVM feature. While I was able to log into the web interface fine, launching the console redirection java webapplet partially proceeded, but eventually failed for me with an error no iKVM64 in java.library.path. I was able to experiment a bit and developed a patch (below) for the launch.jnlp file served for the iKVM applet that enabled this to run on my system (i.e. downloaded the launch.jnlp, patched it, then ran with javaws launch.jnlp). When run without the patch, Java fails to download liblinux_x86_64.jar for me, because it only tries the following two URLs, which don’t contain the relevant file: https://192.168.0.207:443/liblinux_x86_64.jar?version-id=1.0.3 and https://192.168.0.207:443/liblinux_x86_64.jar (while the actual path is something like /liblinux_x86_64__V1.0.3.jar.pack.gz).

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[protobuf] Solved: Invalid file descriptor data passed to EncodedDescriptorDatabase::Add()

Posted in Technical on September 23rd, 2011 by p14nd4

I’ll make this brief, but wanted to document my fix to potentially save someone else some aggravation in the future.

I’ve been working on a c++ project utilizing Google protobuf, and at one point ran into an error during application startup (static initialization):

libprotobuf ERROR google/protobuf/descriptor_database.cc:314] Invalid file descriptor data passed to EncodedDescriptorDatabase::Add().
libprotobuf FATAL google/protobuf/descriptor.cc:862] CHECK failed: generated_database_->Add(encoded_file_descriptor, size):
Abort (core dumped)

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