Thursday, November 30, 2017

How to logon to an Apple Computer as Root User without a Password

Subtitle:  Insecurely Yours

The Apple Hack instructions:

(in some cases repeat steps 4 to 7 a few times)


For  the benefit of "I am far too important to need to know about any technical details of my computer" kind of user, a demographic that for the most part defines the Apple Computer user,  be aware that

- Your Apple computer runs the Operating System called macOS
macOS (previously known as OS X)  is based on UNIX,  and  has kernel origins in Mach
- The root user, also known as the Superuser has supreme rights on your system
- Anybody who is logged on as the root user can destroy your entire computer in seconds
(For example a root user could type at the terminal    rm -rf  / )

I tested it

I am always skeptical of scaremongering,  especially when in this case the severity of this threat, or compromise is so high as to say "this bug is just impossible",   "nobody could have coded in this amount of stupidity"

But unfortunately, I did test it, and the above instructions are the result of a successful logon to an Apple Mac Mini, running macOS 10.13.1  i.e. the highest level High Sierra, with all Operating System patches applied as of  early November 2017.

Here are some links then

How to Fix it Then?

- Set a specific root password that you only know about
(Open terminal and type:  sudo passwd -u root )

- Download the official Apple Software Update

Here we see the Software Update listed (click apple in top left, About this Mac, Software Update)

Now we see from this Terminal Command that the fix is installed  (2017-001)


Sooner or later ever major computer vendor experiences an embarrassing Software Bug of such magnitude that those in the know will be laughing and joking about it years later.

This total compromise of Apple security at the latest High Sierra version 10.13.1 of Apple's flagship Operating System will have Apple cringing for years to come.

Every Windows user, and every Linux user now has the classic line "Remember when you could logon without a password" stored up ready when the next smug Apple user starts pontificating, and believe you me, that does happen rather frequently.

Apple discloses vulnerability

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Keeping Warm in the Potting Shed

Our current storage bay in England has no Electricity, so keeping it warm whilst working inside it is becoming a challenge.

We researched several alternatives including rechargeable battery power and Generator power.

Eventually we have the best stopgap solution

- Gas heating
- Very low cost
- Uses, easy to obtain, standard cartridge refills

Topflame Portable Camping Heater

- This puts out about 1KW of heat
- Lights up in seconds, there is a secondary interlock so you can't accidentally start it up
-  Additionally, a Slider to physically disengage cylinder as well as off valve.  Double off protection means I rest easy I'm not going to leave it on and burn down the storage.
- Although burning Gas creates moisture I don't notice it as significant thus far
- Oh and finally the unit and 8 canisters cost us < 35 GBP.  A total bargain, from Amazon here


A Christmas War in our Times?

North Korea: Let us fire another missile

Most nations of this world and even peoples within even those with no connection to the Christian religion participate in the traditional activities of the season.

These include

- Being generally cheerful, happy and optimistic
- Thinking about friends and family
- Buying presents
- Very probably eating and drinking too much
- Optionally going to church or performing any religious act of worship however small

They do not normally include

- Launching a test Ballistic Missile
- In direct contradiction to UN wishes
- Being offencive to both Japan and the US   (hint, one of these countries leaders is not classified as stable or particularly rational)

Guardian Article

Fortunately the world can force regime change on North Korea very swiftly by enabling a total embargo on firstly financials, goods and services, in other words actually implementing what they have claimed to have been doing with conviction during the last 12 months.

With a general lack of al round resources needed to sustain a country North Korea just can't survive on its own.  Few nations, (even North America) can meaningfully these days.

But these actions are extremely costly to the few and so continue to be only partially implemented.   It's basically a disgrace.

The other simple Alternative is War.   This starts off easy, but like Iraq and other zones, winning the war is easy.  It is the aftermath that leads the victors into a time unlimited, rebuild cost unlimited plan that makes the former unacceptable.

Frankie: Reunion

Talk Talk: Such a Shame

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Mighty Audio

Mighty Audio

Subtitle: Still to rich for the non US Market

In 2017 I would contend that except for a few diehards and those not familiar with something called the Internet those of us who are serious about Music stream it.

And Marcus and Agata are no exception.

At home in the UK radio stations or YouTube Music is streamed online via the Internet

And our Music catalog now resides in the cloud thanks to Spotify.

I can honestly say that in the last 12 months I've not manually downloaded a single song.   Incredible I would say.

No More Nano

Cast you mind back to July 2017 and I link the Anandtech article here  to the shock news that Apple discontinued its Nano and Shuffle Range.

So what is a music enthusiast to do these days?

+ For times when you carry a phone, which when not exercising then sure you can use Spotify
- But what about whilst swimming?
- Or whilst performing exercise?
- Or requiring a device that lasts longer than your phone's battery?
- Or when the phone is just too big and clumsy

Enter Mighty

+ The only player that can download Spotify Music and play it offline
+ Size and shape quite similar to the Apple Shuffle
- Price a bit on the Steep side
- Mediocre reviews

The Big But
So, if only the device was cheap enough so that people of a finite budget   (that is Marcus and Agata for example) could try out the device.

And, if it was not as mediocre as we had heard of in some reviews, and if we could live with its limitations, we'd gladly keep it.

After all, it currently has 0 competition.  No other tiny portable device allows for Spotify Music offline play.

This Monday, Mighty USA sent me a good news email telling me the price was 70 USD.   I rushed over to the website and found +15 USD for UK shipping, and then there would be duties/import tariffs to pay.  Hmmm.

OK, so maybe Amazon are now stocking?

Amazon has availability, but 80 GBP is over 100 USD.

I am gutted.   This inexpensive-ish player is still quite pricey to customers here in the UK and by extension to any in Mainland Europe.

What should you do Now?

+ A this price if you live in the USA and make full us of Spotify streaming, then what is stopping you!

For Athletes it seems a total no brainer.  Buy two (for say long distance Ultra competitions)

- But in the UK and mainland Europe, it's still a hold.   At over 100 USD for a speculative purchase, well to me, it is still just too much

We normally have pretty good price parity between the UK and the USA these days.  It seems however not yet for the Mighty.   

Marcus is still waiting :-(

Video Killed the RadioStar

Monday, November 27, 2017

Lenovo U430: Rejuvenation

The Score: On and On

Marcus' Lenovo U430 laptop has already had a full and hard life.  Recently, now past its 3rd birthday something awful happened.

The Battery totally died.

I mean the laptop continued to work on mains power only and on the right computer edge is a rather frantic blinking light as opposed to the solid white light that used to be to indicate charging.

Getting a Battery

From seller U-good
We usually find eBay the best component resource and our natural preferred supplying country is China or Hong Kong.  So I always remember to tick the Worldwide box when searching for Goods.

Turns out getting a battery is non trivial.  Due to 2017 dangerous items in the post regulations  (to England certainly, and probably worldwide) it is none too easy to ship Batteries.

So it was sent via Swedish Post   (probably they allow battery posting?)

Also, factor into the fact that we expensively stopped our UK post whilst out of the country and the package arrived while we were away, and by UK post rules was scheduled to be sent back.  After  a lot of hassle we managed a re-delivery. 

Lenny naked Again
This replacement tutorial is particularly educational for Apple users.  Yes, instead of just buying another computer, or taking it to an expensive service centre, you can actually upgrade yourself, without using any contrived special tools, oh, and in about 10 minutes tops.

A standard Philips watchmaker screwdriver removes the Aluminium back panel of the Lenovo U430

 5 further screws later and the battery is out

 This is the new battery and a keyed power connector means you can't connect it the wrong way around

There are 2 versions of the power lead for this battery type, the Lenovo U430 requires the short lead.

Another closeup for Apple users.  Yes a standard screwdriver and a standard screw.  What a revolution :-)

And Finally

All is well with the world again, and Lenny, Marcus' faithful Lenovo U430 is back up and running smoothly again.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday Sermon: IRL In Real Life

Subtitle: There are no Stranger Things

Marcus and Agata just watched episode 1, season 1 of  American serial Stranger Things.

Stranger Things

We enjoyed the programme and pigeon hole it into  US period piece, horror fiction / supernatural maybe even sci-fi depending on how things pan out during the next episodes.

The main point to emphasise is that we think it is Fiction, representing a storyline that is not possible in the real world in which we or anybody on this planet lives in

And then it suddenly became clear to me.  American culture is saturated with Super Heroes e.g. The Marvell franchise, Comic Books, and Supernatural tales.

The Proposition
If from an early age you are bombarded with fantastical tales, might not part of your psyche actually start to believe in them

In Real Life
There is no evidence for:


Instead, Another Creed to Live By

I believe in time,
matter, and energy,
which make up the whole of the world.

I believe in reason, evidence and the human mind,
the only tools we have;
they are the product of natural forces
in a majestic but impersonal universe,
grander and richer than we can imagine,
a source of endless opportunities for discovery.

I believe in the power of doubt;
I do not seek out reassurances,
but embrace the question,
and strive to challenge my own beliefs.

I accept human mortality.

We have but one life,
brief and full of struggle,
leavened with love and community,
learning and exploration,
beauty and the creation of
new life, new art, and new ideas.

I rejoice in this life that I have,
and in the grandeur of a world that preceded me,
and an earth that will abide without me.

And Finally

Don't even get me started about Religion !

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Planned and Executed

Whilst both Agata and Marcus are both sick as a dog our foresight in planning for Black Friday shopping seems to have turned up trumps.

We started planning over 1 month ago and started ordering in earnest at the beginning of this week Monday November 20th.

Culminating in a very large order, (not shown above) that might arrive next week sometime

Steady Lad
At times like this when multiple packages arrive it is tempting to ravenously unpack everything and start an orgy of using.

We would not do that!   And given our current health issues,  i.e. both in bed moaning and groaning and playing the game I am definitely sicker than you darling we are going to leave unpacking and using for another day.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Noro Virus

Marcus is still alive, but in the last 12 hours I have vomited more than in the last 12 years.

Initially I was sure it was acute food poisoning however Agata now develops some similar symptoms and so we think that it could be a Virus not an infection

Noro Virus

Bad Timing
All this comes at the worst possible time becuase today is Friday November 24th, also known as Black Friday and so shopping for bargains had been on the agenda.

Instead Marcus has had his head over a toilet projectile vomiting.

+ I lost more than 1Kg, at least that is good news!!
- Weak and aching all over
- Dizzy
- Barely able to get up the stairs to bedroom
- Fever i.e. feel cold but actually burning hot

We hope t be back in action soon

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Astonishing Amazon

I don't get paid to advertise Amazon but maybe I should.

In simple terms Amazon current has a series of deals that are quite astonishing.  How they can manage to deliver these deals at his prices; who knows?

Surely they are trying to dominate/ overcome/ saturate the whole marketplace with their products and services

And, I think they are succeeding!

With free delivery to Prime Members, if you ever have a need to buy a tablet device, or a Personal Assistant, why look anywhere else?

About Black Friday
I already wrote in earnest about Black Friday  I am deadly serious in my assertions that

- The deals offered by retailers during the Black Friday period are as good as those at Christmas
- Certainly they precede Christmas, so for a sure deal it is logical not to wait
- Once bought I surmise that it would be greedy and excessive to also buy and buy at Christmas time
- Which leads me to the conclusion that Black Friday will decimate Christmas sales.  
- And leave Christmas to basically more of a purely Religious festival and not the current orgy of spending and present giving that it has become in latter years

If Christmas becomes more of just a [Christian] Religious festival, then let's see who is really so interested in it.

But please, don't take my word for this, analyse and check this out for yourself,  and in the meantime think seriously about Amazon and all that it offers and represents.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Spider Catcher

Our move from Switzerland to the English countryside has for the most part been very positive.

But one thing we have had to adjust to is  Spiders

On the positive note England has a maximum spider size that does not lend the average person to run screaming out a room containing such a creature.   I do feel sorry for Australians and America in this regard.

Still in our new home Spiders have it seems been most attracted to our new dwelling and how to get them out 'alive' is a question that has been vexing us.

Our neighbour put us onto the above  superb device which can extract quickly capture a spider or other bug, not damage it, and enable you to then turf it outside, hopefully at a safe distance from your home so the little bugger can not come straight back!

 In action!

The Amnesty Ends
Whilst Agata and Marcus are known to be generous to a fault we do hope that Spiders reading this notice will understand that our patience is wearing thin.

Please choose some other dwelling to inhabit nearby, you have a choice of many!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Russia Probe

Peter Gabriel: I don't remember

Should there actually be a Green room at the Committee, then this is what might just be playing to those about to speak forth :-)

Peter Gabriel: Shock the Monkey

Peter Gabriel: Digging in the Dirt

I do not recall

Monday, November 20, 2017

Attention to Detail

Marcus reported on the build of the new Asrock powered Apache Webserver in January 2017.   But I overlooked a small detail in moving to the British countryside


I might say that this is by exception, meaning that many UK rural locations never have any power supply issues.  However here in Wariwickshire England, near Alcester we have had 3 powercuts in as many months.

And the last one whilst we were away; forced some emergency restart button pushing from a neighbour  (thank you Claire!).

This morning I got around to correcting the problem

- On restore of AC Power, computer autostarts
- Webserver Powers back on
- Linux Mint Starts
- Linux Recovery Scripts executed
- Apache 2 Webserver Starts

NB:Of course a Backup
To those who might say, but how dare you leave your clients out in the cold for the duration of your webserver down.  I'd like to remind you there are 2 content identical webservers, strategically placed in different continents.   I do a rsync update on a timed Cron schedule. So the other Webserver was still available during my outage.  But I digress.

Another Missing Detail
 As I wandered into the BIOS of the wonderful Asrock AM1B motherboard to make this autostart change, I reflected on how modern motherboard have gone almost over the top in their beautiful display, presentation of features and functionality.

There is a full GUI with mouse support.  I know!   In my day we had to struggle with a Blue character based screen, sans Helptext. 

Of Course, in today's marketplace a slick GUI Based BIOS/UEFI or Startup configuration is expected.  I mean, is there a set of users, let's say millions of users, who would tolerate a backward, character based, obscure configuration interface? [Hint/cough/Apple]

So let's have a further look at the Asrock in more detail (click on any graphic to enlarge)

Yes, overall, it is almost too much!   This firmware can even open up a TCPIP connection to an Asrock server and update itself.  All without loading an OS.

Thank goodness the year is now 2017 and things have become so easy to understand and mod.  I don't wish to go back to those inflexible dark ages.  I vote for the Modern world, every time

The Jam: Modern World