More Delays For Mars Rover

As the ESA ‘Mars Express’ passed 1,000,000km from the Earth, the first of the NASA backed Mars Rovers is still Earthbound after thunderstorms surround the launch site.

‘Spirit’ and ‘Opportunity’ are scheduled to arrive in January 2004. Each is a golf cart sized explorer specifically designed to examine the geology for past evidence of water.

The end of this year is set to be busy for Mars: Beagle II should arrive at Christmas aboard the Mars Express.

Mars Express and the NASA MER mission have not coincided by chance: A rare proximity between Mars and Earth means more payload and faster transit: the typical journey is down from 9 months to 7.

Both missions also share the same planetfall approach: Airbags. Although it sounds risky its a proven technique and significantly reduces the mass of the landing system.

Sources: ESA Mars Express, Nasa MER

DVD Lending Library

The DVD Lending database for Horley/Crawley is up and running. Presently it has around 150 movies recorded. Try guest/guest to take a peek.Participants enter the details for their own DVD’s and have access to the lists of the others via search and browse facilities.

Using the Reserve/Borrow facility results in an email to the owner asking to lend the media to the borrower. The database also takes care of reminders and stats etc.

If you’d like to participate in this clever scheme, just drop me an email and I’ll set you up. You need to know me personally or work for the same company to be able to take part: implicit trust is required for the scheme to work!

May 5th 2003 – Security Fixes

New Today:


Of these, MySQL is the one to watch: It fixes both a denial of service problem and a root exploit. The man vulnerability is a minor one and is not so important, particularly if no login accounts exist on the box.

Who is Wgeting TurboTas?

On Thursday 1st May, odd log entries were noted on the TurboTas web site. Most strange: with only 10 registered users and 20 posted articles, mirroring the website every 15 minutes
seems a bit overboard.Nevertheless, some plum is WGET’ing the whole site every few minutes and has been doing so for 5 days now.

As the traffic is small, I’ve been bemused to see what would happen. Alas, no phone calls or emails from people loving the site and wanting to buy it for squillions. Today therefore I decided to dig a bit further.

Stats have been on the list of things to do, so I did this first using awstats See Links. Next I used half a days stats to get a feel for the bandwidth this mirror was causing. It works out to quite a few megs:around 14 megs per day.

I figure that it’s one of you guys rather than something deliberately intended to leech the bandwidth:14 megs is pretty hopeless as an attack profile.

Next job was to identify the source.
Okay. The source address is A quick squint at the other stuff on the subnet shows us someone who doesn’t work in IT (HP switch, hah!).

I’ve left the IP address unfiltered as analysing these problems is really interesting.

Stay tuned for the next installment!

New Packages Releases


Of These Zlib is the one to watch: the last zlib bug was really nasty and it’s really easy to forget how easy it is for a would be attacker to pass data to zlib: http, email, images. the list is long

May Day Militants to cause chaos in echoes of 2001? are reporting more anti-capitalist mayhem planned for this bank holiday weekend. This year the proceedings have unsurprisingly taken an anti-war slant.

The web site has posted the registered addresses in London for many of the major Defence companies operating in Europe.Think about taking some electronic precautions this weekend or have some extra monitoring in place: Worms and Viruses are often timed around organised chaos events.At least check for virus updates more regularly and for unusual gateway activity.

Some anarchy related sites have recently gone offline, so perhaps agency moves are afoot.

So far (oddly), is still online. Checkout if you might be affected:

TurboTas Site Changes

Lots of changes here at the TurboTas site. Firstly the SSL site now works properly and has a proper Certificate and Chain. This should minimize security warnings.In fact, the non-SSL site is deprecated to further improve security.

MAES is now deprecated, see the original link for details of getting the new access. Otto, it’s replacement supports only download (No streaming), but the database is faster and the front end is much slicker. This change has been carried out as MAES no longer meets my own needs.

HTML cleanups carried out, modules tidied up a bit and spurious old content removed.

Let me know what you think of the changes or if you need access to the authenticated area’s.

Preliminary Columbia Results Published

The preliminary reccomendations following the loss of the shuttle Columbia have been published at the official accident investigation site (see links). Tragically, it seems that complacency may be creeping back in at NASA: one possible cause, falling foam, has affected many previous flights.There are two basic changes recommended by the CAIB, namely that Shuttle Imaging on Orbit be a standard feature (bearing in mind that the US government have this ability, and that it’s rarely used). This facility is intended to be able to assess the condition of the orbiter after ascent.

Secondly that the examination of Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC) components be made a comprehensive one to include all possible forms of non-destructive testing. This is in response to the most likely reason for the loss of the orbiter: that of failure of a structural RCC component in the leading edge of the left wing.

There is as yet no final verdict on the root cause of the RCC component failure: Much speculation exists with present favorite being either pre-existing damage not spotted by inspection or a strike from other material (foam from the tank for example).

The leading edge components are extremely complex and have many layers and treatments. If the thermal protection the RCC parts provide is breached, even in a small way, a super heated air stream can enter the wing and burn the structural aluminium components.