Editorial – The FNG goes to DEFCON 25

by on Oct.08, 2017, under Editorial/Opinion, Hacking in the News, Miscellaneous, Site News

Defcon 25 Title Image

Yes, it’s faded. I took this pic from a projection standing about 50ft away.

Good fortune has smiled upon me.  My company offered to send me to DEFCON 25, flight and hotel paid.  In this article, I’ll talk about DEFCON 25, the sights, the sounds, and my experiences of a hardware geek gone to the world-renowned hacker mecca. If you have ever wanted to go to DEFCON but aren’t quite sure what to expect, I have provided a summary of the trip as well as an important “FNG TIPS” list of things you want to be aware of before you leave.

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Overhauling the Battery Backup in an HP DL380

by on Jun.20, 2017, under Hardware, How-To's

Amazon's recommendation for a replacement battery pack.

Ain’t no one got that kind of cash!

Everyone knows that in most if not all devices, batteries are considered a wear item, an item that’s designed to be replaced at certain intervals of a machine’s lifetime. (Ok, unless you’re Samsung… or Apple… or any one of a bunch of stupid laptop vendors)  Enterprise level servers are no exception.  What is outrageous though is these consumables are usually stupidly expensive and can be repaired for much less than the replacement part.  In this case (and this post), I saved myself about $63 by building my own replacement battery pack for my HP SmartArray P400 raid card.

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Home Automation – Making a dumb switch for smart lights.

by on Feb.23, 2016, under Embedded devices, Hardware, How-To's, IoT

Sometimes you need a smart switch for a stupid job, othertimes you need a stupid switch for a smart job.It might not look like much, but the switch used as this feature image has more to offer than one would think judging by appearances.  In this article, we will be converting a “stupid” switch into a “smart” switch for the purposes of controlling a connected GE Light Bulb over Z-wave and discuss why you’d want to look for a stupid switch for smart devices in the first place. (continue reading…)

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Cisco WiFi – Disconnect from the hive mind

by on Jul.16, 2015, under Embedded devices, Hardware, How-To's, Linux, Networking

Cisco AIR-AP1131AG-A-K9

Cisco AIR-AP1131AG-A-K9

Everyone knows that I love a bargain. That love for bargains is intensified any time networking gear is involved.  Imagine my excitement when I found a bunch of the above pictured Cisco access points on Ebay for around $8 a pop because the lid won’t stay on.  Unfortunately, my excitement was tempered a bit when I found out that these were designed to work with a controller and weren’t stand alone units.  Undeterred by this disappointment, I researched and found a way to get these things to operate on their own as standalone units and freed them from the hive mind!  In this article, we will cover converting the Cisco AIR-AP1131AG-A-K9 from “Lightweight”(controller-based) to “Autonomous”(standalone) and will even cover how to put them back in “Lightweight” mode if you want later on.

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Raspberry Pi tastes better with RPi B+ edition

by on Jul.23, 2014, under Embedded devices, Hardware, Hardware Pr0n, Linux

Raspberry Pi B+

Raspberry Pi B+

The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a new arrival to their existing line of awesome little credit-card sized computers.  I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one and give it a go.  In the article (with pics!) below, I’ll cover what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and what you can expect from everyone’s favorite mini machine.

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Giving a PIX firewall a new lease on life

by on Jan.24, 2014, under Embedded devices, Hardware, Networking

PSU Spaghetti

Buying networking equipment off of Ebay can be one of the most rewarding and frustrating challenges you may ever face. Of course, being able to identify and fix issues with newly purchased hardware may mean the difference between having purchased a $500 firewall for $11 and some parts versus buying another piece of crap for $11 that will live out its life in the back of the parts closet.   In this article, I’ll cover how to replace the power supply to a Cisco PIX 506E firewall with a standard computer power supply.

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How to build a [better] Minecraft Server

by on Mar.10, 2013, under How-To's, Linux, Toys and Games

Minecraft Screenshot

Quite some time ago, I posted an article on how to build a basic Minecraft Server which served to get you up and off the ground with multiplayer gameplay.  It’s been two years since that article was posted and there have been so many advances in the Minecraft Server realm from administration changes (now you have a fancy GUI) to core game changes that allow for the modification for just about everything gameplay related. Popular alternative servers (Bukkit, Tekkit, Feed The Beast, etc..) allow for mods to be used which can drastically expand your Minecraft experience.   This howto will detail the process going from a basic Debian server installation to a fully fledged vanilla Minecraft server with a browseable map. Read on for the full article, it’s pretty long but we have a lot to cover. (continue reading…)

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New threat to sobriety: Arduino powered JagerBomber costume!

by on Nov.02, 2012, under Miscellaneous

Arduino powered Jagerbomber!

Arduino powered Jagerbomber! (click to zoom)

The challenge for this year’s Halloween party was to find a “B-rate” superhero or villan.  No superman, spiderman, ironman, or other mainstream nonsesne here. We had to come up with something unique and not-mainstream, so my answer was clear.  I present to you the Arduino powered Jagerbomber, complete with countdown timer. This costume served me quite well, winning both the party’s “Best Male Costume” and later on at work, “Best Costume” so I’m sure it’ll give you some good ideas for next year!  Remember, only 363 Days till Next Halloween! (continue reading…)

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Arduino: Basic Network Temp and Humidity monitor

by on Aug.23, 2012, under Microcontrollers, Networking

I don’t know why I can’t flip this image. It’s cursed.

The (albeit crooked) image above is a basic environmental monitor I built for the server rack that I keep my house’s servers in. This project features network connectivity via an Arduino Ethernet shield, an HTF3223 humidity sensor, a TMP36 temperature sensor and a Sparkfun serial LCD for a decent monitoring station that is self-reliant.  Read more for build details and the code to get it all working. (continue reading…)

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IBM RS/6000 display repurposed for Arduino

by on Jul.23, 2012, under Embedded devices, Hardware, Microcontrollers

I couldn't find a picture of an IBM server with the LCD so here are some squirrels.

I couldn’t find a picture of an IBM server with the LCD so here are some squirrels.

We managed to unearth an old IBM RS/6000 server at work and decided that since the machine didn’t work, it was time for it to go away.  Right off the bat, one of the things I noticed about this machine was that it had a diagnostic LCD panel in the bezel presumably for showing POST error codes and warnings.  Since the machine was going to the scrap heap, I decided to relieve it of the LCD and managed to get it to work on an Arduino with minimal effort.  Read on for pictures and a wiring pinout.

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