ASP.Net MVC Framework – Initial Thoughts

Having just completed a relatively large project using the newly released ASP.Net MVC Framework, I thought this would be a good time to post my thoughts on the framework.  I have to say that the bulk of my experience with MVC framework comes from my time using Ruby on Rails, so many of my perceptions will be coloured by this. Continue reading ASP.Net MVC Framework – Initial Thoughts

TinyMCE and jQuery validation

I’ve recently been working on a project using the ASP.Net MVC framework (more on that in a later post perhaps), where the TinyMCE editor was used as the rich text input method of choice. We hit a snag when it came to applying client-side validation through jQuery: jQuery was validating the textarea before TinyMCE was filling it in with the editor content.
Continue reading TinyMCE and jQuery validation

Accelerometer touting alarm clock

I saw this article pop up on the Engadget feed, and immediately saw the making of a fantastic little novelty item. Sadly, it fell slightly short of what I was thinking.

The proposed design contains an accelerometer, so that when you flick/prod/sledgehammer it, the alarm snoozes for 9 or so minutes. Sadly, someone else got to the comment board before me, pointing out that the duration of the snooze should be directly proportional to the amount of force applied to the offending clock. Must be quicker.

Digital recycle bins

Reading this article, I really can’t help but think that this is such a cool concept.

Who wouldn’t want this nifty little e-trash receptacle sat on their desk? I really like the way that it shows capacity too. One thing that did strike me, though, was the issue of power: where does it get it’s juice? I think that having to run a power cable to the unit would really ruin the aesthetics – after all, who wants another cable on their desktop? The file transfer can be accomplished easily enough through WiFi, Bluetooth, or maybe even this wireless USB thing that I’ve seen bandied about.

Clearly, a prime case for wireless power. Less of a pipe dream now than previously, but still not quite available to us the unwashed masses yet, unfortunately.

Google: Hard Disk Drive Failure

Failure Trends in a Large Disk Drive Population

Another interesting little thing that I found, published this month, the paper outlines several conditions that are often perceived to be the cause of hard disk failure and, using the data that they have gathered from the hard disk in their server farms, have compiled some interesting statistics. It is, though, a technical paper – so not suited to everyone’s tastes, but it is quite a quick read.

Unfortunately, they don’t release the data about which manufacturers and models have the highest rates of failure, although it does refer in several instances to one hard disk manufacturer – for example: “When examining our population, we find that seek errors are widespread within drives of one manufacturer only…”[p. 9] It would be nice to know which this is, so they can be avoided; still, perhaps that is the very reason for why they did not publish the name.

RFID tags

Prompted by: InfoWorld Video | InfoWorld | RSA IOActive

While I was aware of this issue before now, the video in the article prompted me to write something. As I’m also procrastinating, it seems like a good idea to me.

RFID tags are the bits inside those cool little cards or dongles that you can wave at a reader to let you into a building. They’re widely used on campus, and I’ve also seen them used in the more modern apartment buildings for the main door. Unfortunately, these aren’t quite as secure as everyone would like to think. The video shows a compact sniffer device that can be used to record the signal that an RFID tag sends out, then replicate it at a later point, alowing them to impersonate you.

Obviously, this situation could easily be resolved by having a challenge-response system: both the system and the card know the card’s “password” – the number that’s is hard-coded into it, the reader sends out a challenge string, the card encrypts the challenge with the password and transmits the result, the reader checks the result against the expected answer, and access is either granted or denied. Simple… unfortunately, not so.

In the majority of cases, the RFID tag is passive, meaning that it does not have its own power source, it gets its power from the signal it receives from the reader. Thus, it is difficult to integrate the encryption hardware without increasing power requirements. Other methods include a rolling response – the response changes with each access – and many others. Hopefully, though, we see one coming into mainstream usage soon, as I don’t think it will be long until these devices become readily available.