November 23rd 2016

Scalpel on MacOS Sierra

Recently, I’ve been exploring mobile forensics and I wanted to install Scalpel on my new Mac however, I encountered a few difficulties along the way. These steps seemed to resolve my issues so I thought I’d share what I did.

Download Scalpel from-

https://github.com/sleuthkit/scalpel

Unzip the file and navigate to the root of the folder. At this point, I attempted to run ./bootstrap however, this failed.

Part of the issue seems to be that under newer versions of Xcode, (around version 4.4.1 onwards), Apple doesn’t include Autoconf, Automake, and Libtool.

This link http://jsdelfino.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/autoconf-and-automake-on-mac-os-x.html shows a manual way of installing these tools, although there’s an easier way….

If you have Macports installed-

sudo port install autoconf
sudo port install automake
sudo port install libtool

Note- choose automake rather than automake17

Following this, the machine should now be ready to install Scalpel-

sudo ./bootstrap
sudo ./configure 
sudo make install
November 12th 2015

WALL-E, Lego Ideas

In September, I purchased the latest Lego Ideas set: Disney Pixar’s Wall-E (Lego Ideas #12).

The whole premise behind Lego Ideas is that users can submit an idea for a Lego set which will be sold in shops. Wall-E was chosen as one of these designs. Surely everyone knows who Wall-E is? If you don’t, here’s a synopsis of the film from Wikipedia: “the story follows a robot named WALL-E, who is designed to clean up an abandoned, waste-covered Earth far in the future. He falls in love with another robot named EVE, who also has a programmed task, and follows her into outer space on an adventure that changes the destiny of both his kind and humanity.”.

The Lego set wasn’t too hard to build however, it did take several hours (there’s a lot of pieces and it just takes time). I was very impressed with the final product and the cute little robot now lives on my desk. You can open the door on the front of him and the geek in me is tempted to put a motor in him, allowing him to move around. He also comes with his beloved plant too.

I got some feedback when I first tweeted about the build. Some people felt that Wall-E’s neck was a bit droopy. Admittedly, I thought that 5 minutes after I’d finished building him. I just angled his neck slightly and he now sits perfectly.

Personally, I think his eyes are the best part. Whilst they’re not particularly complex structures, they are so expressive. Lego have absolutely nailed it. Brilliant work.

November 11th 2015

Legofy

Me with Legofy

It’s well known that I love Lego. I also really enjoy working on my photography skills. Recently I was sent a link to a tool which allows me to combine my love of Lego and photography.

The tool in question is called Legofy and it can be downloaded from the Legofy GitHub repository. What does it do? Using a Python script (and the Pillow and click modules), it turns your picture into a 2D Lego image. That’s it.

Neat, huh?

November 11th 2015

The end of Mythbusters

In October, it was announced that after 14 seasons, Mythbusters is coming to an end. That makes me sad.

I’ve watched the show since it started airing on Discovery in the UK. Full disclosure, I started watching it when I was off school on study leave for my exams (don’t worry, I passed my exams but had a week off before I went back to school).

By the time the show started airing, I was already interested in science (an interest which continues to this day). It illustrated a practical use for some of the concepts I had learned in physics class, and introduced me to others I hadn’t yet learned. Just to give an example, until I watched Mythbusters, I had no idea what a Faraday cage was. I’m now a PhD researcher in computing and just last year when working on a system, I was able to suggest the use of a Faraday cage when there were issues with wi-fi signals. Handy knowledge gained from the show.

The show has had a large impact on STEM and I have no doubt it has encouraged a new generation of kids to explore science. In fact, the NY Times has written a great piece about this and the demise of the show.

Whilst I’m sad the show is ending, I can’t wait to see what happens next with the Tested website. If you haven’t yet looked at the site, it’s full of great videos and articles about geeky and techy subjects. I’m particularly enjoying the podcasts which I’ve recently discovered, even if they do occasionally cause me to burst out laughing on public transport.

November 11th 2015

The Enigma Machine talk

At the end of September, I was lucky enough to attend a talk by Dr Mark Baldwin in Dundee about the Enigma machine and the role of Bletchley Park during World War II.

The talk was fascinating, providing a full history of the Enigma machine, and explained the inner workings of the machine. Whilst I knew of the machine (and the great Alan Turing), I didn’t know the full details of how the machine generated a code for the day or how the team at Bletchley attempted to crack it. I also hadn’t realised 3 Polish men broke Enigma first in the early 1930’s. They knew the Germans were going to invade Poland so they shared all their intelligence with the British and the French, before destroying all evidence in their country.

I just missed the end of the talk (had to catch the last bus home). The talk has been given all over the UK so, if you get the chance, go and have a listen.

On a side note, I’ve supported the Saving Bletchley Park book by Dr Sue Black on Unbound. It should be a nice companion piece to go along with the information included in the talk.