Using a Wireless NIC from a Backtrack VMWare Guest

Posted by : Rob Stevens | Tuesday, May 11, 2010 | Published in

To use a wireless adapter from within a BackTrack (or indeed any other) virtual machine using VMware Workstation, get a USB wireless adapter and once inserted go to VM > Removable devices > USB > Your USB Wireless Device. Bingo. Guest machine drivers permitting, you now have a wireless card in your virtual machine. I'm pretty sure this solution would work with the vast majority of the virtualization platforms out there.

Whilst the above solution seems to be immediately obvious, it's not. Once the idea clicked I was kicking myself for not thinking of it sooner, but I had previously spent about an hour and a half Googling for a solution with little success. Clearly I'm not going to be the first person to have come up with this, but I failed to find it documented anywhere and I hope this post saves someone the same head scratching ;)

Now to play with all those wireless pen-testing toys :)

Graphic.ly

Posted by : Rob Stevens | Sunday, April 18, 2010 | Published in


I meant to do a post about Graphic.ly a while ago when I joined the beta testing program. Graphic.ly is an app for buying and reading comics. There are two versions of it - What they describe as a desktop installation for Windows which is currently still only available to beta testers, and the recently released Adobe Air based version, currently in a public alpha testing phase. There is also an iphone/WinMob 7/Android version in the works which I'm looking forward to testing if possible.


The app includes the currently ubiquitous "shout out" feature with facebook/twitter linking. There's a steadily growing range of thoroughly decent comics, with plenty of free ones to whet the appetite. Once you've ploughed through those, the comics start at a very reasonable $0.99 (or about 70p in real money) and can be paid for using either PayPal or the usual range of cards. Once downloaded the comics save themselves to a folder in your Documents folder and take up somewhere in the region of 60 to 100 megabytes each.


The Air version of the app that I've just been playing with is a great improvement over the beta. The panel transitions are nice and smooth, and the comics are quite speedy to download. There are a couple of bugs here and there, but this is to be expected really in a test edition. Bug reports and support are handled via GetSatifaction.com.


With some bug-fixing, UI tweaking, and a larger product catalogue this app could be great. There are a few features I'd like to see added - the ability to manage you comic collection (as in, delete stuff) from within the program would be good. The other thing I'd like to see is the ability to import other comic file types, such as .cbr archives. I know they wouldn't display in the same manner, but having your whole catalogue together would be useful.

One to keep an eye on, and a must see for comic lovers.

Connecting to a Ubuntu Shared Printer

Posted by : Rob Stevens | Sunday, February 07, 2010 | Published in

I've recently had to rebuild my Linux server following a hard drive failure and have had to go through the hassle of once again getting my file and print shares correctly configured. As with all system rebuilds, you learn from the process of last time and add in the improvements and extra features that you wish you'd thought of then. This time around I've gone with the x64 version of Ubuntu Server 9.10 and tried to keep it much more minimal than last time with as few services running, and as much crap removed as possible.
Admittedly my Linux knowledge has improved somewhat since the last time I did this a couple of years ago, but this time round the process of getting things how I want them has been much less torturous. Setting up the file sharing was a breeze and getting the printer installed and shared, while not exactly easy was not as bad as last time.

Anyhow, I'm digressing from the point of this post. All of the above was fairly straight forward and non-bitchy. The irritations started when I started trying to connect Windows clients to the printer. The two that I set up initially are both Windows 7 Professional. One is x64, the other x86.

The x86 machine connected to the printer fine, but I hit problems when it came to selecting a driver. Obviously the my model wasn't included in the list of pre-installed drivers, that would be far too easy. For some reason Windows 7 doesn't give you the option for searching Windows Update for drivers when you're connecting a network printer and the printer manufacturer doesn't supply one. They tell you to use Windows Update. After much hunting around, swearing, and trying to extract the driver from manufacturer driver releases for earlier OS' I stumbled upon this Microsoft support article telling you how to manually download Windows updates via the web. Yes, it should be obvious that such a useful site exists, but I had no idea it was there, so I'm guessing quite a few others don't either. We learn something new every day, and all that... Anyhow, a quick hunt around on here found me the driver files I needed, and problem solved.

The x64 version however was altogether bitchier. Trying to connect resulted in a typically descriptive error of "cannot connect to printer". A little help here. Why can't you connect? Just a hint? Cue more hunting around on Google. Whilst this failed to produce a direct fix, I did discover quite a useful workaround:

Open up a command prompt and type

net use LPT2: \\servername\printer

Then start the 'Add Printer Wizard' and choose to connect to a local printer. Select LPT2 and you will then be presented with a driver selection screen that actually lets you use Windows Update to acquire your driver. Imagine that!

I also have to get around to adding this printer to the Vista Home and XP Pro machines we have here. Lets see what problems that throws up...

Evony, Interupted

Posted by : Rob Stevens | Thursday, February 04, 2010 | Published in

Players of the online RPG Evony have apparently logged on today to find there's something missing. Something as in everything. Nothing left. Gone. The forum dwellers are going mental.

The game has been running for quite some time now and people plough real cash into it, so there's going to be some seriously pissed off gamers out there! The companies' main site says that they are doing some server upgrades. One can only assume that someone screwed up.

Haven't played it my self, but if everybody's being dropped back down to the same level I may just have a look...

I'd say that it's very unlikely that they'll not have backups, but who knows. Sillier things have happened.

Edit: And they're back. Ah well, drama while it lasted ;)

Logitech Touchmouse App

Posted by : Rob Stevens | Wednesday, February 03, 2010 | Published in

For my media centre at home I have pretty simple system of a PC connected to my TV via S-Video and the sound run through my stereo system. I'd previously been controlling it either via a wireless keyboard and mouse, or by using the free version of VNC. Both of these have drawbacks. The keyboard and mouse are an absolute bitch to keep paired. They both run through the same receiver and every time the batteries go on one of them it takes large amounts of time resetting, swearing, resetting again and more often than not, failing to get both to pair. This is were VNC usually comes in. For the most part it's OK, but it does get really laggy when watching streaming video (Youtube, iPlayer, etc.). This gets really annoying when you start watching something and it takes 20-30 seconds of frantic scrabbling before the volume can be pursuaded to go low enough for the building to stop rattling. I had been thinking of trying out keyboard and mouse with seperate receivers to cut down on the bitchiness, but obviously this is an outlay of cash that I would rather avoid.

Enter my latest iPhone based toy. At the end of last week the Logitech Blog announced an iPhone app and corresponding computer service that allows you to use your iPhone as a touchpad mouse, and includes the usual iPhone keyboard. The app offers a three button mouse with configurable tracking speed (I found the default needed turning down a bit), and two finger hoizontal/vertical scrolling (again with ajustable speed). The app apparently works on the iPod Touch as well and is available for free from the Apple App Store.

The app and server seem to work very well. There is the occasional stutter, but I expect this will be ironed out through performance tweaking in later realeases. The only major thing that's missing that I would like to see from this is the ability to create access lists on the server end of things. As it stands, anyone joining the same wireless network will be able to connect and control any computer on the network running the service. The app doesn't give any sort of visual feedback, so actually doing anything would rely on guesswork, but being a picky, security minded type, it's a hole I'd rather wasn't left open. The other minor niggle is that the connection seems to drop when the iPhone goes to sleep, meaning that you have to disconnect and reconnect to keep using it. Again, hopefully these minor issues will be corrected.

Overall, an excellent app that provided a much needed scratch for my mediacentre itch.

Edit: Just in case any of the good folks at Logitech happen to see this, I have another addition to my feature wish list, this time on the UI front. It would be good if there was an option to choose the screen position of the mouse buttons. I think I would find using the app more intuative if the mouse buttons were at the bottom of the screen, in a similar position to those on a laptop trackpad. Having them at the top feels awkward and can require two hands to perform tasks that could be done with one with suggested layout.

MyEnTunnel - SSH Based Encrypted Web Traffic

Posted by : Rob Stevens | Sunday, January 17, 2010 | Published in

I've been playing with SSH tunnelling for a little while for things like forwarding RDP sessions into my home network, and encrypting web traffic. I've usually done this either by using the tunnelling options within Putty, or I've done it via command line (e.g. 'ssh -ND 9999 you@example.com' - do a 'man ssh' in your terminal for a full range of options).
I had had suspected that there was a simpler way of doing this, particularly for the encrypted web proxy, but I hadn't gotten round to actually looking into it. I spotted MyEnTunnel in some comments on a Hak5 show that had covered a similar topic so I thought I'd give it a go. So far so good.

To quote the description on the program's homepage,

"MyEnTunnel is a simple system tray application (or NT service) that establishes and maintains TCP SSH tunnels. It does this by launching Plink (PuTTY Link) in the background and then monitors the process."


It's a Windows based app and at its simplest level this gives you a GUI that allows you create a SOCKS based encrypted proxy on a specified port, as shown:



N.B. the specified port 7070 can be set to any unused port, just remember it for later.

Once the tunnel has been configured and successfully connected, the next step is to configure your browser. I use Firefox, but these settings should be fairly simple to apply to any browser.

Open your main options panel for you browser of choice (For FF Windows version go to 'Tools>Options' then select the Advanced tab. Click the 'settings' button in the connection box and you will be presented with a list of different connection settings for your browser. Now all you need to do is change your settings to reflect those in the image below (obviously changing the server, username, etc. to point at your own SSH server).



Voila! Encrypted web traffic.

There's obviously plenty more you can do with this app. If I come across anything particularly exciting during the course of playing with it, I'll either post it here or to Twitter.