Debian and Networking & telecommunications and Systems administration13 May 2015 at 13:34 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Upon reboot after upgrading yet another Debian host to sweet Jessie, I  was dismayed to lose connectivity – a slight annoyance when administering through the Internet. Later, with screen & keyboard attached to the server, I found that the Intel Ethernet interface using the e1000e module had not come up on boot… A simple ‘ip link set eth0 up’ fixed that… Until the next reboot.

/etc/network/interfaces was still the same as before upgrade, complete with the necessary ‘auto eth0′ line present before the ‘iface eth0 inet static’ line. And everything was fine once the interface had been set up manually.

Looking at dmesg yielded an unusual “[    1.818847] e1000e 0000:00:19.0 eth0: Unsupported MTU setting” – strange, considering I had been using a 9000 bits MTU without issue before… That error message let me to the cause of my problem: the driver maintainer chose that from kernel 3.15 onwards, calculation of the Ethernet frame’s length always takes into account the VLAN header, even when none is present… And I was running Linux 3.16:

diff --git a/drivers/net/ethernet/intel/e1000e/netdev.c b/drivers/net/ethernet/intel/e1000e/netdev.c
index d50c91e..165f7bc 100644
--- a/drivers/net/ethernet/intel/e1000e/netdev.c
+++ b/drivers/net/ethernet/intel/e1000e/netdev.c
@@ -5687,7 +5687,7 @@ struct rtnl_link_stats64 *e1000e_get_stats64(struct net_device *netdev,
 static int e1000_change_mtu(struct net_device *netdev, int new_mtu)
     struct e1000_adapter *adapter = netdev_priv(netdev);
-    int max_frame = new_mtu + ETH_HLEN + ETH_FCS_LEN;
+    int max_frame = new_mtu + VLAN_HLEN + ETH_HLEN + ETH_FCS_LEN;
     /* Jumbo frame support */
     if ((max_frame > ETH_FRAME_LEN + ETH_FCS_LEN) &&

As the author remarked: “The hardware has a set limit on supported maximum frame size (9018), and with the addition of the VLAN_HLEN (4) in calculating the header size (now it is 22) , the max configurable MTU is now 8996″.

So there…

diff --git a/network/interfaces b/network/interfaces
index ee4e27d..a094569 100644
--- a/network/interfaces
+++ b/network/interfaces
@@ -7,7 +7,7 @@ iface lo inet loopback

 auto eth0
 iface eth0 inet static
-       mtu 9000
+       mtu 8996

And a reboot later the host is still connected – problem solved. Now to avoid fragmentation I’ll have to set a few other hosts’ MTU to 8996 too… Damn.

Networking & telecommunications and Radio and Systems and Technology04 Feb 2015 at 23:24 by Jean-Marc Liotier

I was so happy with my pair of Baofeng UV-B6 that I decided to buy four more to entirely replace my fleet of even cheaper Lidl Silvercrest TwinTalker PMR transceivers whose horrendous attrition hints about excessive cheapness.

Alas, as I was using the beloved CHIRP to load them with the family’s standard configuration, I encountered the dreaded ‘Radio did not Ack Programming Mode‘ error.

I was using the USB serial adapter with ID 067b:2303 “Prolific Technology, Inc. PL2303 Serial Port” with of course the Baofeng/Kenwood/etc. specific twin 2.5mm/3.5mm plug.

Some of those Baofeng UV-B6 worked fine with this cable – those are UV-B6 with 29 menu entries (with serial numbers 10B6014828 and 10B6014839)

But others were entirely recalcitrant, with a consistent error pattern – those are UV-B6 with 27 menu entries (with serial numbers 10B6025976, 10B6025999, 10B6026018 and 10B6026047).

As suggested by Miklor I slightly trimmed the plug with a cutter – no change.

I also used a couple of male/female extension cords (2.5mm and 3.5mm) in case the lack of twin plastic molding would provide unimpeded contact – no change either.

I bought two different other cables – they both turned out to also be PL2303 serial adapters with same USB ID (but with different plastic moldings – and of course different commercial names). Still no change – same frustrating results.

My last hope was to get this cable, which turned out having USB ID 0403:6001 “Future Technology Devices International, Ltd FT232 USB-Serial (UART) IC”. The ‘Genuine‘ qualifier in its name and the photocopied sheet that attempted to pass for documentation by merely pointing to Miklor were par for the course and did not inspire me to expect anything different… But actually – it worked ! This is the legendary ‘FTDI’ cable I was reading about, the real thing, the one that works with all Baofeng UV-B6 sub-models. Was I not a militant atheist, I would certainly consider this as a proof of God’s greatness – الله أكبر and all those sorts of things !

Cables with a FTDI chip work with both 27 and 29 menu entries UV-B6 submodels
– Cables with a PL2303 chip only work with 29 menu entries UV-B6

There is still a non-zero probability that all the PL2303 chips I went through were counterfeit and that only the FTDI model was genuine – thus voiding my analysis. But with a sample of three PL2303-based cables from three different vendors, that probability is low enough for me to publish this article. A driver issue is not entirely impossible either – I have only tested with Linux, where both PL2303 and FTDI drivers are part of the standard kernel.

By the way, how does one manage a mixed fleet of 27 and 29 menu entries UV-B6 submodels with CHIRP ? Well – easy:

– If you upload an image originaly downloaded from a 29 menu entries submodel to a 27 menu entries submodel, CHIRP will give you the following error message: “An error has occurred – Radio NAK’d block at address 0x0f10” but you can disregard this message as it only concerns the non-existent menu items – the rest of the configuration has been perfectly transmitted.

– If you you upload an image originaly downloaded from a 27 menu entries submodel to a 29 menu entries submodel, no error occurs – but companding will be disabled. No problem.

Now I would be grateful if someone could explain the interoperability of the companding feature – is it still useful if it is active in only one of the two transceivers involved in a given transmission ?

Uhhh… Anyone wants three PL2303-based cables ? I’ll sell them real cheap !

Edit: also used the FTDI cable successfully with the Pofung UV-B5.

Politics21 Jan 2015 at 11:46 by Jean-Marc Liotier

This drawings say ‘The Coran/Charlie Hebdo is crap: it doesn’t stop bullets !’ – a 16 year old in Nantes has been arrested for publishing the one on the left with the comment ‘ironic’. The drawing on the right is the actual Charlie Hebdo cover it satirizes. I also find that the caricature is indeed ironic – I even laughed when it was published hours after the massacre. So here it is, published on my account – now arrest me: those twin pictures are a wonderful opportunity to explain that freedom of speech must apply equally to all. Streisand me !

Politics20 Jan 2015 at 0:06 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Of course, the righteous nations of the west would never assassinate journalists, except of course when they do – but, you know, it is different because they support an evil regime. In a statement of 8 April 1999, NATO indicated that the Radio Television of Serbia studios in Belgrad would be targeted unless they broadcast 6 hours per day of Western media reports: “If President Milosevic would provide equal time for Western news broadcasts in its programmes without censorship 3 hours a day between noon and 1800 and 3 hours a day between 1800 and midnight, then his TV could be an acceptable instrument of public information. The RTS station was bombed on 23/4/99 – sixteen employees died. Nobody was held accountable for the attack.

Yes, Milosevic was busy with war crimes. Yes, RTS was instrumental to propaganda supporting them.

So, to recapitulate: journalists who support a government that is criminal according to your laws are fair game – especially if your laws are universal laws that obviously apply to all humanity (such as the Universal Declaration of Human rights or the rulings of your favourite religious leaders). Oh noes you say – human rights are natural rights and supporting them is entirely different to any religious creed. Are you sure ? At the very least it makes for an interesting philosophical debate.

The Web13 Jan 2015 at 21:43 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Wading among this blog’s moderation queue, I found that someone’s spam comment generator malfunctioned – instead of the intended randomized comment it posted the template… So here is the template for the curious – rather primitive… I expected proper spammers to use some Marko chains generator and I got this. I’m offended to receive comment spam from such unsophisticated people.

Full text of the template below…


France and Politics11 Jan 2015 at 12:51 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Yes, Charlie would probably have loathed today’s gathering, but he isn’t why I’m going – I don’t really care about him, I never bought its paper and probably never will. However I do care about freedom of speech – I have been annoying people about it for the last twenty years and will keep doing it for at least twice that. I care even more that this is it about the practical exercise of freedom of speech in the country where I chose to live. Hypocritical politicians be damned, see you in Paris this afternoon so that we can count ourselves ! I’ll be silent, especially if someone attempts singing the Marseillaise – now is not the time for warlikeness and our interior minister is an idiot for calling ’war on terror’ : even the British government announced publicly eight years ago that it was abandoning the use of that phrase as they found it to be less than helpful… Anyway, let’s celebrate freedom of speech with Benjamin Netanyahu, Sergueï Lavrov, Ahmet Davutoglu, Ali Bongo and Viktor Orban to remind ourselves that it was all really about satire…

Politics12 Nov 2014 at 12:33 by Jean-Marc Liotier

On HN, Fermigier mentioned that 18 months ago, Genevieve Fioraso, French Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research said : “Given the high stakes – scientific, economic and societal – the French government reaffirms its support for the principle of open access to scientific information“. Nice – our government seems to get it.

Today, France signs a five-year national deal with Elsevier. How much more hypocritical can politics get ?

It is especially sad as the Dutch are meanwhile taking a stand by embracing open access.

Brain dump and France and Politics17 Oct 2014 at 0:07 by Jean-Marc Liotier

A nation of destitute street boys and peasants, gone bare-feet with old rifles to war against every one of their neighbors, led by visionaries with statements such as “terror is nothing else than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is thus an emanation of virtue“, stained with the blood of all the innocents they beheaded but strong with their belief in ideas that scare all the world’s governments. The French (circa 1793).

Nothing to do with the IS of course, though I  would love members of the IS to read my posts – they would be utterly outraged at being confused with people who fought in the name of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen !

Brain dump and Politics15 Oct 2014 at 11:42 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Queen of HeartsCitizen of a country whose current regime was founded on the corpses of 16594 beheaded people, during a period known as The Terror, I feel uniquely qualified to comment on terrorist beheadings.

Not that I usually need an excuse to open my big mouth, but lets not pass on this excellent one to indulge in some punditry !

Guess why Eugen Weidmann’s guillotine execution on the 17th June 1939 was the last one the French performed in public ? Unbeknownst to Parisian prison officials, a film camera had been set up in one of the apartments overlooking the scene

The public was scandalized by their own violence; the government embarrassed. In response France banned public executions. Weidmann went down in history as the last man in France to be guillotined for the entertainment of the awaiting crowd (a dubious distinction).

The government did not find fault in the grisly execution itself—of course it couldn’t have, that would have been an admission of justice’s guilt—rather it blamed the so-called unruly behavior of the savage crowd. The spectacle of bloodlust was, apparently, too powerful for film. Public guillotining was hidden behind the confines of the prison wall—privatized to conceal the spectacle.

Today, we still sentence to death, but we make sure the gore stays out of sight. As one HN commenter put it:

In some ways, the U.S. has done to executions and automated foreign assassinations what the supermarket has done to eating meat. We are distanced from the act so that we aren’t overly burdened thinking about about what is done in our names, both as citizens and voters. Hence, we do not oppose something that we normally would, were we only more aware of it.

Not having to wipe bloody bone shards and bits of blasted flesh from their tablet’s screen certainly is among the reasons why people outraged at the beheading of innocent on video still tolerate remote airborne executions of no less innocent people.

Michael Leuning sums it best:
Michael Leunig's Beheadings
So ? What do the French, the Saudi and the Queen of Hearts have in common ? They knows better than beheading people in public – it is just a basic matter of marketing communications management.

Military and Politics29 Jul 2014 at 21:36 by Jean-Marc Liotier

“And even if the Jews were to win the war, its end would find the unique possibilities and the unique achievements of Zionism in Palestine destroyed. The land that would come into being would be something quite other than the dream of world Jewry, Zionist and non-Zionist. The ‘victorious’ Jews would live surrounded by an entirely hostile Arab population, secluded into ever-threatened borders, absorbed with physical self-defense to a degree that would submerge all other interests and activities. The growth of a Jewish culture would cease to be the concern of the whole people; social experiments would have to be discarded as impractical luxuries; political thought would center around military strategy…. And all this would be the fate of a nation that — no matter how many immigrants it could still absorb and how far it extended its boundaries (the whole of Palestine and Transjordan is the insane Revisionist demand)–would still remain a very small people greatly outnumbered by hostile neighbors.

Under such circumstances… the Palestinian Jews would degenerate into one of those small warrior tribes about whose possibilities and importance history has amply informed us since the days of Sparta. Their relations with world Jewry would become problematical, since their defense interests might clash at any moment with those of other countries where large number of Jews lived. Palestine Jewry would eventually separate itself from the larger body of world Jewry and in its isolation develop into an entirely new people”

The Jewish Writings‘ by Hannah Arendt is a book of collected works published in 2007 – in this extract she referred to the war of independence in 1948 but the moral degenerateness of living by the sword excluding any other mean is still fresh in the current context.

Free software and Politics and Technology29 May 2014 at 9:35 by Jean-Marc Liotier

I stumbled upon a cute potted guide to open source history and found this paragraph interesting:

Software writers in the 1980s liked to talk about how object technology would be the silver bullet that allowed re-use and composition of software systems, moving programming from a cottage industry where everyone makes everything from scratch to a production-line enterprise where standard parts fit together to provide a base for valuable products. It wasn’t; the sharing-required software license was.

I feel that the author is using object oriented software modeling as a strawman, but his point still stands: the critical enabler of modern software is not technical, it is political.

I would go even further and argue that the critical enabler of modern technology is not technical, it is political – intellectual property law is but one egregious example of how political trumps technical in terms of impact… Technical is essential, but though it may subvert a system, it does not overcome oppression on its own.

So political apathy as shown by staggering voter abstention in the latest European elections has immediate technological impact. Political involvement is not futile – it is actually required for technological progress… Get political  !

Technology28 May 2014 at 10:55 by Jean-Marc Liotier

This passage from “Beacons, marketing and the neoliberal logic of space, or: The Engelbart overshoot” eloquently captures the displacement of pioneer ideals from media attention, replaced by the cult of the gold rushers:

There was a powerful dream that sustained (and not incidentally, justified) half a century’s inquiry into the possibilities of information technology, from Vannevar Bush to Doug Engelbart straight through to Mark Weiser. This was the dream of augmenting the individual human being with instantaneous access to all knowledge, from wherever in the world he or she happened to be standing at any given moment. As toweringly, preposterously ambitious as that goal seems when stated so baldly, it’s hard to conclude anything but that we actually did achieve that dream some time ago, at least as a robust technical proof of concept.

We achieved that dream, and immediately set about betraying it. We betrayed it by shrouding the knowledge it was founded on in bullshit IP law, and by insisting that every interaction with it be pushed through some set of mostly invidious business logic. We betrayed it by building our otherwise astoundingly liberatory propositions around walled gardens and proprietary standards, by putting the prerogatives of rent-seeking ahead of any move to fertilize and renew the commons, and by tolerating the infestation of our informational ecology with vile, value-destroying parasites. These days technical innovators seem more likely to be lauded for devising new ways to harness and exploit people’s life energy for private gain than for the inverse.

In fact, you and I now draw breath in a post-utopian world — a world where the tide of technical idealism has long receded from its high-water mark.

Design and Knowledge management and Politics and Security and Technology26 May 2014 at 14:07 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Skimming an entirely unrelated article, I stumbled upon this gem:

Recently, a number of schools have started using a program called CourseSmart, which uses e-book analytics to alert teachers if their students are studying the night before tests, rather than taking a long-haul approach to learning. In addition to test scores, the CourseSmart algorithm assigns each student an “engagement index” which can determine not just if a student is studying, but also if they’re studying properly. In theory, a person could receive a “satisfactory” C grade in a particular class, only to fail on “engagement

This immediately reminded me of Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel, Snow Crash where a government employee’s reading behavior has been thoroughly warped into simulacrum by a lifetime of overbearing surveillance:

Y.T.’s mom pulls up the new memo, checks the time, and starts reading it. The estimated reading time is 15.62 minutes. Later, when Marietta does her end-of-day statistical roundup, sitting in her private office at 9:00 P.M., she will see the name of each employee and next to it, the amount of time spent reading this memo, and her reaction, based on the time spent, will go something like this:
– Less than 10 min.: Time for an employee conference and possible attitude counseling.
– 10-14 min.: Keep an eye on this employee; may be developing slipshod attitude.
– 14-15.61 min.: Employee is an efficient worker, may sometimes miss important details.
– Exactly 15.62 min.: Smartass. Needs attitude counseling.
– 15.63-16 min.: Asswipe. Not to be trusted.
– 16-18 min.: Employee is a methodical worker, may sometimes get hung up on minor details.
– More than 18 min.: Check the security videotape, see just what this employee was up to (e.g., possible unauthorized restroom break).

Y.T.’s mom decides to spend between fourteen and fifteen minutes reading the memo. It’s better for younger workers to spend too long, to show that they’re careful, not cocky. It’s better for older workers to go a little fast, to show good management potential. She’s pushing forty. She scans through the memo, hitting the Page Down button at reasonably regular intervals, occasionally paging back up to pretend to reread some earlier section. The computer is going to notice all this. It approves of rereading. It’s a small thing, but over a decade or so this stuff really shows up on your work-habits summary.

Dystopian panoptical horrors were supposed to be cautionary tales – not specifications for new projects…

As one Hacker News commenter put it : in the future, you don’t read books; books read you !

Post-scriptum… Isn’t it funny that users don’t mind being spied upon by apps and pages but get outraged when e-books do ? It may be because in their minds, e-books are still books… But shouldn’t all documents and all communicated information be as respectful of their reader as books are ?

Politics17 Dec 2013 at 11:00 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Remember the « ce n’est pas illégal, c’est a-légal » episode ? That is what the French government is claiming that the surveillance laws being voted are about : no new surveillance powers – just giving a legal framework to the existing illegal ones… Which are implicitly confessed by the way. So thanks – I guess we should feel happy that open bar surveillance will soon be done entirely legally instead of illegally !

By the way, there was no question of judicial oversight : “in the context of the antiterror fight, day to day, it’s impossible”… Using the T word to steamroll objections never gets old it seems – and judicial oversight is such a drag on productivity that we should be thankful for the savings that foregoing it will bring to the French budget.

That claim by intelligence agencies that judicial oversight would slow them too much to catch the bad guys  comes up every time, but it is just as exaggerated as the terrorist thread, as the White House’s “Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies” attests last week (page 104):

Our review suggests that the information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of section 215 telephony meta-data was not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional section 215 orders.

Oh – and here is a picture of François Hollande expressing support to Brazil’s Dilma Roussef in her crusade against Internet surveillance. No, I don’t understand either.

When even the USians frame us as surveillance hypocrites, you know that some soul searching is long overdue.

Africa and Politics18 Nov 2013 at 11:25 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Stumbling upon Thorvaldur Gylfason’s Democracy in Africa at VoxEU, I found the two following graphs interesting…

First, the impact of the end of the Cold War on governance worldwide:

Global trends in governance, 1800-2012

Global trends in governance, 1800-2012. Source: Polity IV Project.

Then the same, but for Africa only and focused on the 1960-2012 span:

African Trends in Governance, 1960-2012

African Trends in Governance, 1960-2012. Source: Polity IV Project.

No longer propped up by the major powers, autocracies everywhere have fallen with the end of the Cold War. But whereas they have globally mostly given way to democracies, in Africa they have not : anocracy is the dominant form.

So that is the word of the day for me: anocracy – it feels good to have a word to label the sort of mafia cartels that seem to rule most of Africa.

Politics26 Sep 2013 at 11:34 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Extracts from “Facing the myth of Redemptive Violence” :

We have already seen how the myth of redemptive violence is played out in the structure of children’s cartoon shows (and is found as well in comics, video and computer games, and movies). But we also encounter it in the media, in sports, in nationalism, in militarism, in foreign policy, in televangelism, in the religious right, and in self-styled militia groups. What appears so innocuous in cartoons is, in fact, the mythic underpinnings of our violent society. The psychodynamics of the TV cartoon or comic book are marvelously simple: children identify with the good guy so that they can think of themselves as good.

[..] When the good guy finally wins, viewers are then able to reassert control over their own inner tendencies, repress them, and re-establish a sense of goodness without coming to any insight about their own inner evil. The villain’s punishment provides catharsis; one forswears the villain’s ways and heaps condemnation on him in a guilt-free orgy of aggression. Salvation is found through identification with the hero”
Once children have been indoctrinated into the expectations of a dominator society, they may never outgrow the need to locate all evil outside themselves. Even as adults they tend to scapegoat others for all that is wrong in the world. They continue to depend on group identification and the upholding of social norms for a sense of well-being.
No other religious system has even remotely rivalled the myth of redemptive violence in its ability to catechise its young so totally. From the earliest age, children are awash in depictions of violence as the ultimate solution to human conflicts

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