Playing with Smart-Cards

Ever since reading the book “Kryptographie und IT-Sicherheit” where I first learned about how SmartCards work, I wanted to do some SmartCard programming. In the book it describes some inner workings of Smart Cards, and that some of them have a small Java VM inside. But it turned out that the entry was not as easy as in many other fields. First of all, you have many smart cards (SIM of your mobild phone, Credit Card, Debit Card, Health insurance card, …), but usually they are protected so you can’t install anything of your own. Technically, it would be possible to have many applications on the same card, like CreditCard, DebitCard, HealthInsurance, PublicTransport, and so on. But with very few exceptions, the issuers don’t feel confortable sharing a card with someone else. Then there seem to be many different standards, and the companies seem to bee keen to obscure as much as they can. And then you also need kind of specialized hardware, but that’s the easier part.

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Installing to an external harddisk with qemu

The harddisk of my aunt’s pc was broken, and I had an old disk around that I could use for replacement. Now I wanted to install it prior to go there. Of course there is the option to take my harddisk out, and use my PC to install her harddisk. But I wanted to use my machine for other things during that time. So I checked, if I can configure VirtualBox to use an external harddrive connected with an IDE to USB converter. I didn’t find such an option. So I read up a bit on qemu. I used qemu before, and quite liked it. Qemu is fully commandline which is cool sometimes, while other times I like to have a GUI such as with VirtualBox. This time it didn’t matter, I only needed to be able to install an iso onto the external harddisk. And it’s as easy as this:

sudo qemu -boot d -cdrom ~/Downloads/linuxmint-12-gnome-dvd-32bit.iso -hda /dev/sdc -m 512

The sudo is only required because as a regular user I don’t have write permissions on /dev/sdc.

edit 5.Aug 2012:

On Ubuntu 12.04 replace qemu with qemu-system-i386 or qemu-system-x86_64

Reviving my vintage 3d shutter glasses

Many people don’t even know that there were 3d rushes before the one that’s currently fading. In a previous one, some ten years ago, I bought a very expensive ASUS graphics card with shutter glasses. It was really cool for gaming with the 21 inch CRT, but nothing compared to the graphics of today’s games. I still have the glasses, and I wondered many tmes, if I could use them with current equipment. There have been pages on that topic for a long time, but only now I found a page that has all the details to get me interested enough. It features a preload library with which you can hook into the process of switching the image. It has different color schemes as well as sequential for shutter glasses. It uses the V-Sync of the VGA connector to trigger the glasses. But VGA is not so common these days. Luckily, the preload lib is opensource. That allowed me to modify it so as to communicate to an Arduino or orher micro controller through USB FTDI.

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A sink for the kids to play

When the new kitchen was installed in our camper, I didn’t throw everything of the old one away. Only the part with Mirella’s bad memories. I kept the faucet so that I could use it for the kids one day. Recently I exchanged the pump and the water tank. With the old parts I had almost everything I needed. The only things left to buy were a crate and a drain. Mirella gave me a bucket where I could drill a hole for the drain. Assembling it was easy, and Levin was lost in playing for hours…