Project Alpha
The home of Project Equinox

Welcome to Project Alpha

What is Project Alpha?

Project Alpha is my small corner of the web.

I specialise predominantly in the hard-core mechanics behind PHP along with JavaScript and jQuery, MySQL, and CSS.

I am a lover of all things mathematical, statistical and so on, especially where these two collide with my first loves.

I have developed many websites and for numerous companies and I hope to continue on this this fashion, either as a consultant, freelancer or (in the ideal case) an employee

Project Alpha

More information will appear here in the future

Project Equinox

See here for information about Equinox, our massively scalable web platform for bespoke websites

Letters

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Other Information

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Please check back here periodically for more information

That genuine e-mail you think is a scam

By ozzyd on Friday, March 24th, 2017 at 11:50 in HACKtivities

I had an e-mail from Amazon last night, at 23:59 of all times, so I wasn't in to see it until the next morning and the e-mail struck me as odd for several reasons:

First off, when you get an e-mail from Amazon, it has all their colour schemes, menu bars, offers and the like. But this one seemed a little rushed. There were no pictures, no links no top or bottom bars, containing things like "Contact us" or "Terms and conditions" and the like. So I got suspicious.

The next thing I started to look at was who the addressee was. To my intrigue, the name printed was exactly the same as that assigned to my account. This is either a good guess, or this was a bone fide email from Amazon.

So not convinced either way, I checked the content of the e-mail. "This is an important message from Amazon"

A good way to start an e-mail right? Spam sense is rising here. "At Amazon," always good to keep reminding the reader who their addresser is "we take privacy very seriously"

Indeed you do! I'm reading an e-mail and I have NO clue who sent it!

"As part of our routine monitoring, we discovered a list of e-mail address and password sets posted online"

Not something you want to hear whether in an official e-mail, scam, or spam e-mail... but the next line interested me most:

"While the list was not Amazon-related, we know that many customers reuse their passwords on several websites"

Really? Seriously?! How can you KNOW this? Is that a fact or are you just making it up. I mean it's a fairly safe bet that with a customer base as huge as Amazon, that yes some password reuse would be prevalent. But my word!

Anyway that all aside, I didn't treat the e-mail as anything serious. Probably just some prank or spam... that was until I logged in to Amazon this morning and I was told my password was incorrect and to fill in a captcha or several hundred... because some of those are craaaaaazy picky even for a human!

So, I requested a password change, got through all their verification, which was easy enough, changed my password and then thought to myself: "That e-mail I saw. Was it an official Amazon correspondence?"

So I got on to the mail server, pulled the entry and started scowering through the header files. Well the document originated from an IP that gave a name of lux.smtp-out.e*******1.amazonses.com, that I cross-referenced against the password change e-mail; a13-2****t.amazonses.com ... but again this e-mail, not like the first which was sent in plaintext, was sent in HTML, and contained scant information and no links back to Amazon.

I found the whole thing curious.

In brief, I thought it was spam, but as it turns out, it's genuine! Who would have thought it!!

[Release] Friday, March 24th @ 17:00

By ozzyd on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 at 13:24 in onSuite

Good afternoon everyone,

There is a scheduled release update for tomorrow (0.3.10-Fortnightly) but I'm going to have to make some alterations to how it's going to be handled. Vis-a-vis nothing at all, I have a so-called "meeting" tomorrow and will be out.

I think all this lot is largely irrelevant as it looks like the main production release is 0.3.6-Fortnightly, so if anything needs to be done, put it down as 0.3.7-Weekly. Here goes:

  • Commit requests for today's release please place in 0.3.7-Weekly and I will close this branch 17:00 today (sorry for the short notice)
  • Anything you want to put, or should be going in tomorrow, please place that in 0.3.8-Emerg which I will put on mantis.projectalpha.co.uk. I will close this saturday 17:00 and full merge will take place then
  • The next update state will be 0.3.9-Monthly (save 0.3.7/0.3.8 being empty)

Thanks for all of this and the necessary changes will be made on mantis in due course.

Oliver.

A lesson to the wise

By ozzyd on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 at 10:55 in HACKtivities

I came into work today and found my computer booting over and over again, with that annoying screen that Macs do that says "Something's gone wrong. Press a key or wait" in multiple languages, only to wait or press a key only to have the kernel panic again.

So how was it done? Purely by accident would you believe, just a rather unfortunate one. After I left and before I arrived the next morning, someone else had used the room. Upon clearing the desk, someone placed a glockenspiel bar across the top of the unit and rested a condenser microphone across the back plate and the USB port area, which is where the FSB would be stored in a Mac.

Let's look at these items. The note wouldn't pose a problem; although it IS metal, it wouldn't hold much of a charge, nor does it get anywhere in contact with electric equipment. Unlike the microphone however, which is laced with electric circuits and a massive, massive magnet. It may not be as strong as some of the internal magnets in say a hard disk drive, yet keeping it across a running Mac Mini would depolarise any electrical currents in the vacinity, causing major damage.

In brief, the disk controller, the FSB and a lot of peripherals like the disk itself, maybe the RAM and perhaps even any connected USB device (who knows) are in danger of damage. Over a ten or so hour period, that's what happened.

Rather an expensive accident, but I am amazed that no more danage than that was caused!

Don't worry

By ozzyd on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 at 15:52 in Oi! Norbert!

I forgive you of your ignorance and arrogance

Back in town

By ozzyd on Thursday, March 16th, 2017 at 00:25 in WifiTracker

Oh by the way, WifiTracker is back in town. I'm going out wardriving and sucking up Wifi APs for our database.

We're also going to be looking into new ways of getting data to us. i.e., we'll make files uploadable on the Wifi Tracker website. We're going to be accepting CSV files from multiple sources; we'll sort out the rest!

Since I'm living in Coalville currently and working in Loughborough, I see a lot of roads that I've not wardriven around here. So I'm going to be hitting areas around here hard.

To see a full list of Wifi access points, please visit our website at http://projectalpha.co.uk/wt/

Oh and as for individual APs and their locations, we're only collating what we can access, so our maps may be changing soon to incorporate WEP, Open and named connections in a specific area of choice.

Keep you posted.

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Project Alpha The home of Project Equinox