Proved right!

I hate being right all the time.

I said a new job would probably mean I’d not be posting as frequently as before… and so it has proved :-(

I doubt the situation will get better any time soon, either: the new employer has an SOE that is locked down so tight it’s difficult to breathe at times. Amongst other things, this means no wordpress.com sites can be visited (so Jonathan Lewis is out… please get a proper, independent domain name for your blog, Jonathan, so I can visit once more!) and no sites that involve a login (including this one) are accessible.

Fair enough, actually. I approve of SOEs on the whole, and I can understand the particular reasons for this one to be as strict as it is… but it sure makes things inconvenient at times, too!

It hasn’t helped that I ditched Google and self-hosted all my email: my email servers cannot make it through the SOE cloaking shield, either, so I’ve effectively had 3 weeks without any personal email at all. Why not email at home, after work, I hear you cry? Er, well… yes: had I not made to foolhardy decision to try out new ISPs, I suppose that might have worked. As it is, living where I live, it turns out that I have a choice of one ISP that actually works, so I’ve ended back with the one I started with… but it’s been mayhem getting there.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I will update this blog with something whenever I can, but you really don’t want to be holding your breath in the meantime!

Firefox 10 on Scientific Linux 6.2

Red Hat recently decided that they would jump from Firefox 3.6.26 (which is pretty long in the tooth) straight to the 10.x series: the relevant packages are therefore available automatically to proper Red Hat Enterprise Server users.

It takes a while, of course, for ‘official’ Red Hat packages to make their way onto Centos and Scientific Linux repositories -but Centos got them anyway on or about February 25th (they’re in the updates repository) and Scientific Linux has had them in the fastbugs repository since about the same time.

For Scientific Linux 6.2 x86_64, therefore, here’s what you do to get the latest Firefox (all done as root, of course):

  • nano /etc/yum.repos.d/sl-other.repo
  • set enabled=1 for the sl-fastbugs repository
  • yum update firefox

That should trigger a 33MB-or-thereabouts download, after which you should be set to go. Personally, I’d then edit the repo file once more and put the enabled back to ’0′ so that you don’t keep being bombarded with suggestions for new updates to things.

Bear in mind that, eventually, the Firefox packages will make it into ‘standard’ repositories (potentially, within days), so this approach is only if you are truly impatient (like me!) and want the latest Firefox right now.

Steganography on Red Hat-type Distros

If anyone has any tips on how to do steganography on RCSL distros, I’d be grateful! The repositories are not exactly full of nice GUI programs that will let you embed a message in a JPEG or PNG file, as far as I can tell.

The best I’ve been able to come up with is this:

cat image_name.jpg -> newimage.jpg

…at which point, you press Enter, type your secret message, press Enter again and then Ctrl+D to quit.

So this image:

…is a rather nice picture of our back yard, suitably sized for a 1080p wallpaper (provided you right-click on it and do a Save Link As, rather than trying to do anything with the thumbnail image shown!)

But if you were to type:

tail <path>/lyrebirdsteg.jpg

…in a terminal (the path bit being wherever you saved the full-sized file to), you should see something like this:

Deep in that feeble attempt to display binary data in a textual fashion you should see, one line before the end, a very clear copyright message, to complement the one that is visible in the bottom right-hand corner of the image itself. This is the text message I appended to the end of the JPG file, and you wouldn’t know it was there, except by this use of the tail command.

It’s this hidden, secret nature of messages encoded within an image that has always fascinated me about steganography (the word itself is Greek for “secret writing”). Using boring old ‘cat’ to make it happen is not what I had in mind, however: there are lots of lovely GUI programs available for Windows users and even Ubuntu and Fedora users. But not us old fuddy-duddies using RCSL, it would seem.