Chris Elleman Technical Stuff

14 Oct/11 Off

Skipfish - Free Web Security Scanning Software

So at the media company we've been having problems with hackers, so there is a renewed focus on security (never a bad thing). We have a comporate tool called HP WebInspect, but I've been waiting for almost a week to get my logons, so in the meantime a quick search has revealed Google Skipfish.

Skipfish is written in C so it should run very fast; you download it and then have to compile it, I tried it on SUSE Linux Enterprise 11, I had to install the following additional libraries to get it to compile.

  • libidn
  • libidn-devel
  • openssl-devel

I then ran with the following commands:

cp dictionaries/minimal.wl dictionary.wl             # does around 50,000 requests
mkdir output                                         # make an output directory
./skipfish -W dictionary.wl -o output http://<url>   # run with a URL to test

I ran this on an Amazon large instance, testing against an Amazon micro instance running tomcat and it took just over 3 mins. The HTML output is very readable, so we are going to trial running it as a post deployment process on our UAT environment.

7 Aug/11 Off

Exciting new 15GBP computer due later in 2011

A while ago BBC Click Showed a potential new £15 computer, the full report can be seen here:

Also the main site of the company is here:

7 Aug/11 Off

3D Printer - build your own

RepRap Logo

An open-source project called RepRap allows you to build your own 3D printer, project site is here: 3D printer can then print designs you download from the Web or draw yourself, but the great part is that it can print parts to build more RepRaps as the designs are distributed for free; although in version 1 it can only print about 50% of the parts, they are working on version 2 which will hopefully have the ability to print the circuit boards as well.

25 Apr/11 Off

Well done Facebook - openness should extend to hardware

Just reading about Facebook's Open Compute Project and I think its a really good idea:

Seeing how Facebook builds its data-centres should hopefully inspire all the big tech companies into a pi55ing competition which will make data centres more efficient globally - well that's the dream!

15 Jan/11 Off

My iLife

Read an interesting article in the Evening Standard (Living the iLife) about people who were abandoning all of their possessions for a suitcase and laptop and just wandering around with all of their data "out on the cloud"; reading the article I found it interesting that none of these people seemed to have kids, but it got me thinking, could I achieve something similar?

A problem I have, is that I'm quite mobile (being at home over the weekend, then on the train and/or staying in London during part of the week), and having my digital content tied down to one place is a real pain; so how could I change to make my data more mobile, this is a particularly relevant, as the media company is going through a big technology change looking at these different issues, so here's my quest...

Step 1: Music

I like listening to music, but the "old" way of doing it just doesn't work for me; buy a CD, rip it to MP3, upload it player of some sort; even the iTunes route still feels a bit rubbish; buy it on iTunes, download it, sync it to device. In both these instances, I seem to spend a lot of money and time downloading and managing different devices, what I need is a different way of doing it. A work friend was a big user of the legal Napster service, I gave that a go, but ran into several problems, firstly, the search feature was awful, I had real difficulty finding stuff I knew was on there, secondly, the music selection wasn't that great, thirdly, I still need a PC to use it, so it got binned.

I did some more research on the web and found Spotify, now this seemed more like it, really good search feature, good level of music content (although Dance/Trance music is still a bit under-represented, but nothing is perfect), and the killer app, software for all of the major mobile vendors, i.e. Android, iPhone/iPad, Symbian/Nokia, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile - finally, wherever I am, whatever device, I can access the same play lists, and as I'm now a premium subscriber, I can sync the play lists offline, so I can listen to music without an Internet connection, sorted!

Step 2: Documents

Another problem, as I'm an avid Microsoft user, all of my important documents typically live within my home PC's My Documents folder and have for many years. A number of years ago I wrote a PHP based internet file store, so that I could upload documents and have them available whenever I needed them, typically, between home and work. There have been major advances in this field over the last couple of years thanks mainly to Google Docs, this service allows you to upload your MS documents onto Googles servers, then access and edit them from anywhere, provided you have an internet connection, although, Google are talking about an offline mode coming soon. This negates the need for an expensive office suite, certainly for home documents, and gives you the piece of mind so that when your home PC dies, the important stuff is backed up offsite.

Step 3: TV

This is a tricky one, if I wanted to download TV from various places, again I am faced with a problem, the content will be at my house, but now I want to view it on the train; the problem here is the file size, typically, for a 40min TV show, the file size is ~400MB which presents a problem for Wifi networks available on virgin trains and even in some hotels. Luckily, virginmedia just increased my upstream bandwidth to 5MB (as I'm on the 50Mb service), which means that I can stream the entire file if required, but currently, I'm thinking about how I could sync the data to all my devices and this is a question to which I don't have an answer, I could even upload the files to one of my "Cloud" servers and stream from there, but this is something I'm definitly going to have to think about...

Step 4: Favourites/Bookmarks

A very simple problem, making sure that all of your bookmarks are accessible on all devices, and google springs to the rescue with Google Bookmarks, which really does what it says on the tin.


DocumentsGoogle Docs
Favourites/BookmarksGoogle Bookmarks

27 Nov/10 Off

Home Network

For the media company, I've been doing a lot of work drawing network architectures; so I thought it would be fun to draw my home network, just for a laugh...I mean, how big can it be:

*updated 2011-01-15

Home Network

Jesus Christ!

27 Nov/10 Off

All Microsoft Software for 133.55 GBP

While working at the media company a great employee offer came up, Microsoft Office 2010, full licensed for £8, yes that's right, £8.So I have decided to go completely legitamate, and bring all of my Microsoft licenses up to scratch, but I'm not made of money, the employee license was good, but I need operating systems as well as Office Suites, so I started to look around the internet to find how I could do it. I came across Microsoft Technet, this allows you to subscribe and then download 2 or more copies of all the Microsoft products. It is a subscription service, but after the first year the subscription price drops. A list of downloadable benefits is here.

19 Oct/10 Off

Removing Security Tool from Windows 7 Netbook


My uncle rings me out of the blue and says that my much younger teenage cousins Netbook has a virus and he thinks it "just needs AVG installing on it"...well, it has a virus alright, SecurityTool or Security Tool depending on how you write it; a fake piece of virus/spyware removal software - removing it is a journey in itself...

So, for starters the machine is a Dell Inspiron mini with Windows 7 Starter Edition; of course it has the obligatory array of social networking software installed on it set to start when windows does i.e Skype and Windows Messenger, for those digital natives we hear so much about.

  1. First things first, just try downloading AVG free the website, of course, Security Tool doesn't let me, as well as creating pop-ups at least every minute saying that files are infected, this gets annoying very quickly.
  2. I reboot into Safe Mode (pressing the F8 key whilst windows is starting, prompts you which Safe Mode you like, I go for the standard Safe Mode).
  3. Tried the usual running regedit, find SecurityTool.exe - didn't find anything
  4. Download AVG free from Grisoft's website and copied over using a USB drive, didn't seem to work, so used this Yahoo Answers article:, this pointed to this AVG URL, downloaded the 32bit version: copied over using USB drive.
  5. Tried to install AVG Free, got an error saying that because McAfee Security Center was installed, it wouldn't run. Uninstalled McAfee Security Center from Programs and Features, then had to restart, went back into Safe Mode.
  6. Ran AVG Install as Administrator (right click on file "Run as Administrator")Choose "Quick Install", didn't install the AVG Security Toolbar, space within IE is limited enough
  7. Got Error 1935 something about an assembly not being valid, the installer than quitThis article didn't really help and seemed to point to a windows problem:
  8. Removed the SecurityTool exe referenced from the start menu shortcut %APPDATA%\Local\9875893.exe
  9. Rebooted into normal mode, hey presto - no SecurityTool
  10. Installed AVG using all defaults, except for the IE ToolBar
  11. Did a full AVG scan - chose Whole computer scan, all Clean
  12. Also installed Ad-Aware Free - copied over from USB Key as performance of the SSD didn't seem that good

I also removed a couple more programs which were present, namely "PC Optimizer Pro" and "Registry Helper", both completely useless in my opinion. So there you go, the system now appears nice and stable and Virus/Adware free, although I'm sure it won't be that way for long.