Caffeinated Bitstream

Bits, bytes, and words.

I recently talked at the Denver Rust Meetup about my side project to implement WebRTC data channels in Rust. I'll probably blog about this project in more detail in the future, but in the meantime here are the slides and a short demo video. Presentation slides (PDF, 1.7MB) A quick video of the demo (MP4, 5.3MB) I also made the following informal "studio" video of the talk.

Tokio is a Rust framework for developing applications which perform asynchronous I/O — an event-driven approach that can often achieve better scalability, performance, and resource usage than conventional synchronous I/O. Unfortunately, Tokio is notoriously difficult to learn due to its sophisticated abstractions. Even after reading the tutorials, I didn't feel that I had internalized the abstractions sufficiently to be able to reason about what was actually happening. My prior experience with asynchronous I/O programming may have even hindered my Tokio education.

It's easy to imagine that computing sprang into existence with the advent of home computers in the late 1970's and 1980's, just as many people have the perception that the Internet sprang into existence in the mid- to late-1990's. In both cases, these technologies crossed thresholds that made them accessible to general consumers, leading to greatly increased usage that makes their pre-consumer existences seem quite meager. However, in the early days great minds were hard at work on developing revolutionary ideas that are so ingrained in computing today that they are largely taken for granted.

Cursive: Writing terminal applications in Rust

As a learning exercise to sharpen my Rust programming skills, I recently toyed with writing a small program that uses a terminal-based user interface which I built using the Cursive crate developed by Alexandre Bury. Cursive provides a high-level framework for building event-driven terminal applications using visual components such as menu bars, text areas, lists, dialog boxes, etc. Conceptually, developing with Cursive is one level of abstraction higher than using a library such as ncurses, which provides a more raw interface to managing screen contents and translating updates to the terminal's native language.

After almost ten years of using Apache Roller to power this blog, I'm making the leap to the Hugo static site generator. Roller served me well, but after years of watching Roller+Tomcat use hundreds of megabytes of memory on my server, I decided that it was overkill for my needs.1 The only major feature which absolutely demands dynamically generated pages is the comments, and I've migrated that functionally to a distinct service using Isso.

The past couple of years have been tough for digital security. A few disasters and near-disasters include: Heartbleed, a buffer over-read vulnerability in OpenSSL allowing unauthorized remote access to data which may contain private keys. Shellshock, an issue with Bash allowing remote code execution in many varied scenarios. A bug in Microsoft's SSL/TLS library (Schannel) allowing remote code execution. POODLE, a flaw in the SSLv3 protocol that an attacker can leverage on many connections by forcing a protocol downgrade, or relying on certain flaws in TLS implementations.

Battery cost of periodic mobile network use

As the consumer electronics revolution brings more and more of the digital world to handheld devices, the chief constraint developers often face is not bandwidth or CPU cycles, but rather battery life. Since many next-generation applications require creative use of the network, I decided to run a few tests to discover the true battery cost of network use in certain scenarios. I have an interest in mesh overlay networks, and I'm curious about the cost of mesh maintenance on power-constrained devices.

Highlights of DEFCON 22

The twenty-second DEFCON took over Las Vegas last week, and brought many interesting and notable speakers. I took a few notes from the talks that stood out to me, and I'm passing them along here. Paul Vixie, Internet pioneer and DNS expert. Vixie spoke about his DNSDB project for accumulating global DNS resource records in a passive fashion, and making this information available to researchers and security product vendors.

Recent Android "Package file is invalid" errors

In the past day or so, I've been noticing these "Package file is invalid" errors on my Android devices while trying to upgrade or install certain packages from the Play Store. A bit of searching revealed that many others are having this problem, and various home remedies abound for trying to fix it, such as clearing the Play Store's app cache. Unfortunately, while these remedies may have worked for past problems that led to this error message being displayed, they are useless when trying to fix the issue people are experiencing this weekend.

While finishing up my holiday travel, I decided to stop in for a couple of days at the Kansas City Hacker House, a place for aspiring technology entrepreneurs to live and work on their projects while connected to the Google Fiber gigabit network. Unlike my previous Google Fiber experience, I had an opportunity to plug my laptop directly into the network via gigabit ethernet and run some more tests.

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