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  • Kartik 5:46 PM on April 20, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: curiosity, , ,   

    It feels so relieving to get your lost data back!

    After trying multiple file recovery tools like TestDisk/PhotoRec, Recuva, etc. I had ran chkdsk (of course, from Windows) as a last resort on that particular partition last night. Since, Windows doesn’t show protected system files easily I couldn’t see the content of found.000 directory that got created in the said partition. I made a mental note of checking this directory out later from Linux.

    As most of my mental notes go, I forgot about this as well. Just now accidentally visited that partition from Linux and browsed through the dir0000.chk directory inside, and voilà, there it was – my complete home directory backup! :D

     
  • Kartik 8:25 PM on April 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: curiosity, , ,   

    Another strange thing and a big lesson learned today was regarding disk handling by Windows and Linux. I had been observing missing files from my hard disk for a few weeks now, always suspected it was due to bad sectors but tests didn’t turn up anything positive. When I took the backup of my old Ubuntu home directory to an NTFS partition, installed Linux Mint and then tried to access the backup I was left with a shock – the whole backup was gone!

    I investigated a bit and found the possible reason at http://askubuntu.com/a/120540/112542 and quickly recalled that indeed I had booted up Windows after taking the backup. I felt idiotic not knowing this simple fact before that Windows, when booting to a hibernated system, considers any file system change as data corruption and fixes it. In my case, it was deleting all those files, I thought I was saving for opening in Windows. I immediately turned off the default behaviour of Windows which is to hibernate instead of shutdown, so that now no hiber file is generated. I am left wondering how could such a harmful behavior be default!

    Well, huge lesson learned. And I have no idea apart from my home directory backup how much more data I lost all this time.

     
    • Ankur 9:11 PM on April 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      You can now try Recuva or Hiren Boot CD to recover your deleted files if its not been overwritten yet.

      • Kartik 9:16 PM on April 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, I will try them out. I was able to recover a few using TestDisk & PhotoRec.

    • Jay Aurabind 9:38 PM on April 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      So I think you learned a lesson – Keep Windows Away :P My laptop is windows free. So I`m tension free :)

  • Kartik 12:22 AM on February 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , curiosity, , ,   

    Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth 

    This one needs to be quick, 14 minutes until midnight.

    Logicomix

    Logicomix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    In this post I want to introduce a graphic novel which I read about a year back – Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth.

    How I ended up reading this is an interesting story in itself. Let me try to recite in minimum possible words. During that time (Sem 6) I had enrolled for a course called Computational Complexity by Murali sir. Now, as the name suggests, the course was pretty complex in itself. I had struggled to find good resources to read to ease myself into taking interest in the course. Classic CS hard cover books like Computational Complexity by Christos Papadimitriou weren’t of much help to this cause. Reading about the author, I discovered the UCB Professor had contributed to a graphic novel. I was curious and used some common pirate tricks to get the book’s PDF.

    I have been a comics fan since early childhood. This graphic novel turned out to be a good find. Scrolled through few pages of the PDF lying comfortably in my bed, and I was hooked; finished the book in a couple of nights. The book basically tells the story of Bertrand Russell and his search for the foundations of mathematics, narrated by himself. One of my early mentors, Devendra sir, had once suggested to read the works of Russell (which I still hope to be able to do sometime), this book told me why he suggested that. Also, the book takes us through the interesting history of mathematics of the late 18th century and early 19th century.

    I wrote a small review at Goodreads. FWIW the book got me interested into mathematics once again, which I had started despising since Sem 4, and led me to believe how learning the history behind development of a discipline can make it so interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone who ponders over the question - why learn theory when practice is what helps the most in our professional lives?

    And it’s already 20 minutes past midnight when I finished writing this post. Need to start early next time to meet my daily goal. :)

     
  • Kartik 1:09 AM on June 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Capture the flag, curiosity, ethical hacking, , Hacking, , KaNiJe, Meetup, , Security,   

    A Fun Security Weekend with null and sCTF 

    I know it’s quite late to post about the last weekend when another weekend is around the corner, but couldn’t control myself as the last one was so eventful. :)

    It was almost 2 weeks back that I got to know about sCTF 2012. I have always wanted to learn about computer security (and the darker side of hacking), but haven’t been able to give time it to it. What followed was a quick search for team members from among my batch via FB – Nithin immediately showed interest, we pulled Jerrin in too. We quickly registered ourselves as Team KaNiJe (sounds Manga-ish right?) after calling Vinod Pathari Sir and convincing him to become our mentor.

    We were handed over the first set of questions for Round 1 via email. What I liked most about sCTF and its organizers was that they focused on being newbie friendly and were maintaining a decent level of quality with the contest. This was demonstrated in the Round 1 (christened – Learning Round by them) questions. They ranged from basics like installing VirtualBox, learning basics of PHP and SQL, and going up to buffer overflow exploits and reverse engineering. The sets of tasks were many and very few days with us – June 16 was the deadline. During this period I enjoyed hacking the basic missions at hackthissite.org, learnt a lot about iptables – default linux kernel firewall, buffer overflows, etc. I also went through my study report prepared for my Networks course assignment on common networking tools like ping, ssh, traceroute, ifconfig, netstat, wireshark, etc. to recall useful stuff and then tried to familiarize myself with the ethical hacking parlance using the suggested flashcards.

    I also happened to attend null Bangalore’s monthly meetup on Saturday (16th) and, need I mention, this was THE best community meetup I have ever attended! I got to learn basic SQL injection, some JavaScript obfuscation techniques and some memory forensics basics, the last one was arguably the best session in the meetup. Through the meetup I got in touch with an MCA alumnus from my college – Shruti (who apparently knew me by name already) and then enjoyed a buffet at a nearby restaurant with her friends (a gang of 6 white-hat hackers!). I was astonished to discover a whole new (for me) world of security professionals in India and how deeply they enjoy their work. This will definitely keep me interested in security area for a while, more so because I will be taking Vinod Pathari Sir’s elective on Computer Security in the coming sem. Sadly, I was unable to attend BangPypers June Meetup due to approaching deadline of sCTF’s first round.

    Earlier, on 15th night, we had divided the tasks among ourselves with 2 sections for each. On 16th afternoon, Jerrin and me met at CIS to finish up our submission for the first round, Nithin was collaborating from his home at Trivandrum. We had about 3 hours remaining for the deadline and I was yet to start on my sections (the lazy procrastinator that I am; and there had been a confusion about extension of deadline to add to my procrastination). My sections were Part 2 (mysql, apache, hardening, log file, php log file etc) and Part 4 (secure coding, attacks). Given my experience sysadmining for about past three years, it didn’t take me more than an hour to finish up the first section (of course, there were new things to learn as well). The other section was more of a problem with the time constraint but I managed to do most of it. Just near the deadline of 7 pm we submitted our partial solutions (the poor reverse engineering section was left blank completely!) and parted for the day.

    The next day was the second round (also online), scheduled from 10am to 4pm and which along with round 1 would decide our qualification for the finals. I reached CIS at 10 and logged in to the contest portal, Jerrin joined in soon and Nithin too remotely. There were questions divided into multiple sections – Crypto, Web, Binary, and Trivia. We got a good lead in the beginning when Nithin solved the first two in Binary section. I started with Trivia and found it fairly easy (Google was our assistant for that section ;-) ) in the beginning, but really got stuck at two questions in that section. Jerrin was solving Crypto questions one by one. The fun part was that all the teams and organizers were connected together with irc. We could ask doubts from them and they kept us entertained with their irc bot, live announcements of score board, and poking fun at each other and us. So, after a while I discovered that organizers had done a minor mistake which led to our advantage (I managed to finish those nasty 2 remaining Trivia questions) and put us on top for a while on the rankings. The next 2-3 hours were spent struggling on remaining questions with little progress and we ended up at rank 5 among the total 18 teams that were present.

    Two days later, we were informed via mail that we had qualified for the finals! And that we were fully sponsored to attend the first International Conference on Security of Internet of Things to be held from August 16 to 19 at Amritapuri campus. The final round of the contest will be held on Aug 20 after the conference. I was overly excited because I was not aware that we were eligible to attend the conference just by qualifying for the finals. According to Vinod Sir it will be great to listen to Ross Anderson who is speaking at the conference. Looking forward for a great experience at our first academic conference (and lots of learning in the field of security to prepare for the finals). :)

     
  • Kartik 10:12 PM on June 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , curiosity, , , hardware hacker, , Open Hardware, , ,   

    (Bangalore) Summer of ’12… with BeagleBone 

    BeagleBone

    This post will be slightly long. Lots of exciting things happening over a Bangalore summer this year for me. :D

    Somehow I always wanted to learn more about hardware and with a mentor like Khasim the road seems a lot more exciting. I first met him when he came to conduct a workshop on BeagleBoard during Tathva 2009 at my college – NIT Calicut. I was just a fresher then and have since regretted that I could not attend that workshop completely (due to my participation in various CS related competitions).

    Well, life took strange turns and I along with friend Jerrin landed up in Bangalore and got to hack together on a BeagleBone (a low-cost, high-expansion hardware-hacker focused BeagleBoard). We initially learnt the very basics of working with a board like this using the serial output on UART console (and discovered that we couldn’t proceed further until R219 was plucked out, thanks to another mentor Mr. Satish Patel from Khasim’s team; fiola on #beagle channel on freenode was a great help in troubleshooting as well), then there was Starterware which enabled us to experiment with blinking LEDs and other small programs for Bone.

    I then learnt how to read a schematic using the great book by Barr & Massa which Amarjit Singh suggested (now I will recommend this book, Programming Embedded Systems, as a TO-READ if you want to learn basics of embedded systems programming) and tried to understand the schematics of BeagleBone (rev. A4). I was able to identify how various components on the board connect to the processor and the direction of data flow among them and to understand how simple things like power reset, user LEDs, SDRAM, USB host & connector, microSD and expansion slots interact with the CPU.

    Exploration of the design specifications of the board with some details about each external peripheral present on the board from the BeagleBone System Reference Manual followed. I even tried to read ARM335x datasheet and Technical Reference Manual to extract useful information (like memory locations of on-chip peripherals, handling of interrupts at CPU level, etc.) – datasheets are HUGE documents! Using this data, referring the book by Barr & Massa and taking help from Starterware example programs I was able to write my (own) code from scratch for blinking an LED on BeagleBone as a pure learning exercise – believe me it was total fun (no matter however it may sound in this post)!

    Just today, I got my hands on Microchip’s Accessory Development Starter Kit for Android (pictured below). I will be using this to understand the ins and outs of Android’s Open Accessory Protocol and try to port the firmware on BeagleBone such that it could be used as an ADK platform as well. Lots of learning, fiddling with USB APIs, Android hacking, and of course embedded C programming to follow next (and I am up for the game!).

    Here are some pics of the awesome things I am playing with these days (click on image for larger view):

    I will try to regularly post about my progress here and yes, there is a lot more I have to say about this Bangalore Summer, but some other post, some other time. :)

    Ciao

    k4rtik

     
    • appu sajeev 10:30 PM on June 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      from where did u buy the beaglebone?

    • Sajjad Anwar (@geohacker) 12:16 AM on June 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Yay! Super excited to know that you are enjoying your time in Bangalore! Good luck :)

      • Kartik 12:45 AM on June 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks. And it’s because of you and so many other people I am meeting here in Bangalore. :)

    • Pranav 9:50 AM on June 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Awesomeness :D

    • Pramode 10:02 PM on June 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Have fun hacking the BeagleBone (and other stuff)!!

      • Kartik 10:06 PM on June 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, loving it.
        And this time I would really love if you could visit our campus for a workshop on hardware hacking. We two would be able to assist too. :)

  • Kartik 2:33 AM on March 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , curiosity, , Friend, , Friendship, , , Relationships, self discovery   

    Ponderings of the Year Past: Part 2 

    The following are few important lessons I learnt over the gone year – 2011 (see Part 1 here):

    Friends

    To be very frank (and you can call me weird), I didn’t know the meaning of a close friend until about early 2011. As far as I remember, until first semester, definition of a friend for me was somebody who shared similar interests, mutual respect, and trust. I remember objecting to Rama to call him names (in return of his such various favors) by saying “dude, I respect you!”. But I have learnt friendship was much more than that – sharing your deepest secrets, laughs and cries together, making fun of each other, having frequent fights but getting along soon after and more. Looking back at school life, I had one such friend; hundreds of acquaintances otherwise. You want the count, see your Facebook (and next sub-section). Somehow, there was loneliness in college, nobody to call a friend with its new definition, getting along was not so easy, something was obviously wrong.

    I did an experiment once using WhatIsWrongWith.Me, but failed to get too many sample points to form a decent conclusion, only one of the 5 responses seemed honest which called me ‘a guy who is afraid to make friends actually close friends’ and having ‘very very bad dressing sense’ among other things. I failed to recognize who could it be from, until he told me himself months later. This and some other self-discovery related events initiated a feeling of self-remorse and burning need to correct these things.

    To loosen up, I went out, apparently had lot of fun, made blunders – did things I would never imagine myself doing (not anywhere near ZNMD in scale though), made some better acquaintances (one such, who claims he has no friends only acquaintances – pretty close to my idea of friends now), and more. And as I discovered later, this led to more harm than gain – including loss of interest in things I was passionate about, growing carelessness, and even integrity of self. Anyhow, going over all these experiences, I did gain realistic perspective of relationships – all’s well that ends well.

    Friends != Facebook Contacts

    This new year’s eve, I sat down to review the list of friends (Damn FB, it has made it so tough to organize friends list with the introduction of timeline, why can’t they just show the list in alphabetical order? Or provide an option to sort friends list with various parameters?), and removed about 140 after checking whether we ever had a message exchange, or any other interactions by using “See Friendship” option. Now I have made it a point to accept requests only if I know the person or if they respond reasonably to my simple question – do we know each other?

    Part 3 will be out soon. Criticism welcome on this and other posts.

     
  • Kartik 1:29 AM on March 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Computer engineering, Computer science, curiosity, , , , , ,   

    Ponderings of the Year Past: Part 1 

    It’s been long since I wrote something. To be frank, it was last July in which I actually spoke out my mind. Of course, I wished to write a lot more (who doesn’t). This one is going to be long, so I decided to partition it.

    The following are few important lessons I learnt over the gone year – 2011:

    Computer Science != Computer Engineering

    Vineeth Sir always calls it Computing Science, we even had a discussion over it, perhaps over a year back( and once again recently); the doubt got cleared up only after I looked up ACM’s Computing Curricula Recommendations which defines five sub-disciplines of computing: Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Information Systems, Information Technology, and Software Engineering (they have pretty decent comparisons among these disciplines using pictures and charts). The story didn’t end there though, I was yet to realize what repercussions this seemingly subtle difference had in store for me.  Some people like Nandu (had an hour-long discussion with him months back) would call it the Department’s shortcoming that it is too focused on the Science part of the field, which leads to lesser interest in technology among students and hence, lack of quality of academic (or otherwise) projects. Anyhow, for me this was the year of actually realizing this difference – with low scores and finding lesser interest in some of the core theory subjects including Data Structures and Algorithms (not all though – I loved Discrete Computational Structures and managed to secure an ‘S’). Perhaps I always wanted to be a Computer Engineer! I was always the tech-geek with basic know-how of (almost) everything, mostly counting on my experience, trying to help others and having the fondness for cryptic syntax, etc; but over time it dawned on me that that’s not all – theory subjects tend to be more intellectually inclined (or research-focused if you may), and as Murali Sir frequently points out – it should be a matter of choice and not inability to prefer systems over theory in CS. Perhaps the most important thing that I missed to do was reading owing to over-confidence and a fuzzy image of self.

     

    Lot more to say. Part 2 coming out soon.

     
  • Kartik 12:03 PM on January 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: curiosity, , rationality   

    Intension and Extension

    To give an “intensional definition” is to define a word or phrase in terms of other words, as a dictionary does. To give an “extensional definition” is to point to examples, as adults do when teaching children. The preceding sentence gives an intensional definition of “extensional definition”, which makes it an extensional example of “intensional definition”.

    Source: http://lesswrong.com/lw/nh/extensions_and_intensions/
     
  • Kartik 2:33 PM on March 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: curiosity, , ,   

    The Hacker Attitude:

    1. The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved.

    2. No problem should ever have to be solved twice.

    3. Boredom and drudgery are evil.

    4. Freedom is good.

    5. Attitude is no substitute for competence.

    Eric Steven Raymond at How To Become A Hacker
     
  • Kartik 12:31 AM on March 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , curiosity, , ,   

    Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams – The Last Lecture 

    I finally got a chance to watch this wonderful talk (by Randy Pausch) popularly known as The Last Lecture. I wanted to watch this for a long time – since Anjhan mentioned about it in his keynote at foss.in and since Prateek Kalyankar had recommended this to me in Jan.

    A really nice watch for anyone who has ever dreamed and thought of fulfilling them. I was particularly amazed to see a youthful, energetic, handsome Randy deliver that talk in such a cheerful, darkly funny way, while being just a few months away from his death (and knowing it!). How was he able to do it? The answer is expressed in the talk itself. One can learn the way of living a life with this talk.

    I remember trying out the this software – Alice – years ago which is mentioned in this talk. But never knew it was a product of CMU or if Randy Pausch was the man behind it.

    There is also a website for the related book which I intend to purchase in the near future (it’s one of the bestsellers at flipkart).

     
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