Firefox 57 - Enable U2F

I really love the new Firefox. I have the impression it runs much smoother, especially with some bloated sites. I also guess it won't take too long until webdesigners are making their websites even more bloaty, so that in some months from now we will be at the same time again.
Let's see how many new JS frameworks it will trigger 😉

Jokes aside, with Firefox 57 now disabling all legacy add-ons I was wondering, if U2F is finally supported. Turns out, it is, but you have first to enable it manually.

It's hidden in the about:config preferences. Search for webauth and enable the following options:

  • security.webauth.u2f
  • security.webauth.webauthn_enable_softtoken

Here you can see a Screenshot, in order to do so.


The Yubikey-demo page swollows the Yubikey - Seems to work!


Update - On Arch Linux it was not working out of the box. I had to follow the instructions from https://michaelheap.com/yubikey-on-arch/

1. Enable udev rules for Yubikey

2.Install U2F modules

Enjoy!

SQLite3 C++ Wrapper Class

I really love sqlite3 databases. They are small, scalable and just do the job. The only thing they need is a file, so they are also much easier to configure, maintain and backup than heavy database solutions like MariaDB, MySQL or PostgreSQL. For bigger class applications they do a very good job, for most of my personal projects I prefer sqlite3, because they are just slim and easy-to-use.

Due to my affinity to Python I wrote a small C++ Wrapper Class, that should make it easier to handle Sqlite3 database connections in C++. In just 200 lines C++ code. It's really easy, no Voodoo involved.

But have a look yourself at this 13 lines C++ code, that create a table, insert values and read them out.

Tested under Ubuntu 16.04 and Arch Linux. I suppose it also runs on other platforms, but I've not tested it. Use at own risk 😉

Lightning Monitor - Update

Because of heavy rain and thunderstorms this weekend, I had some time to work on my lightning monitor again. With success, I could reduce the "DISTURBER DETECTED" messages significantly by putting the device away from the laptop.

Even better, it was starting to measure lightnings during one of the thunderstorms! Great 🙂

The data makes sense, since we really have been in the center of the thunderstorm. I could verify that the distance estimation works pretty nice, because another thunderstorm that was in a nearby village was giving me lightnings with a distance of 5 km.

The current Arduino sketchbook is, as usual, on GitHub.


Nice thing for a rainy Sunday!

Lightning detector - Kickoff

I recently purchased a MOD-1016 chip for lightning detection in order to improve my weather station. The chip is based on the AS3935 chip and ships as a complete I2C-ready breakout module from embedded adventures.

First steps

I skip the following parts because I consider them trivial:

  • Soldering
  • Wiring to a Arduino Nano

The wiring part is actually the most tricky part, I will provide the schematics once I have a running system. For now I focus on getting the system online. The wiring on the following picture is accurate:

Wiring of the MOD-1016 to the Arduino Nano

I put everything together in a nice box to protect the electronics from the environment. In the end it will end up outdoors in my garden.
The box is IP55 compliant, so when deployed for real I will put it in additional plastic bag to avoid any issues that comes from rain. For the first experiments IP55 is fine. And this is how it looks like

Wired box, open

A small reader program is in my meteo repository (in the Lightning directory) on GitHub, and I let it run for 1.5 days.
I had some problems with the serial port on high baud rates, so i configured it for 9600 baud. The serial connection over this period was fine, but it seems that the location has too much interference.
All I got was constant "DISTURBER DETECTED"

Right now all I get out is "DISTURBER DETECTED"

Looks like I need some fine-tuning. I disconnected the device and will run some tests with my laptop on the go.

For now I have a running serial connection, the chip delivers some output, so I'm expecting that with some fine-tuning I should get this thingy running soon.

The joy of multicore processors

I recently came back from an amazing trip to Iceland. Had a glorious time there - it was an outstanding adventure!

After this trip I had to convert 3200 photos from RAW to JPEG. Turns out, that usually it takes something like 15 seconds for my computer to process 1 file. 3200 * 15 is roughly a bit more than 13 hours.

Some minutes later and a python script I could distribute the work my 8 processor cores of a FX-8350. The script is ugly and very very dirty, that's why I don't want to publish it.
I've started the script, went outside for a longer time and when I returned the process was completed.


This is just one example of things, where a large number of CPU makes sense on a workstation computer. Even normal users benefit more and more from increased CPU cores more and more.

AMD made good work when they were increasing the number of CPU's. And nowadays I willingly have a bit lower single-thread performance but twice as much CPU cores. Makes totally sense for multimedia converting, large picture editing, compiling, ecc.

Intel Skylake Hyperthreading broken

Hyperthreading in Skylake and Kaby Lake seems to be broken and should be disabled in BIOS/UEFI.

My Laptop is also affected by this bug, but I will try to update the Microcode. Since I'm running Arch Linux I should get the update rather fast.

UPDATE
I underestimated the effect of this bug. For now I disable Hyperthreading completely. Hope a fix will be available, if one is even possible.

Ubuntu Linux - Map Wacom to one screen when using multiple screens

Quick Know-how post. How to limit a Wacom tablet in Ubuntu Linux to one screen, if you are having multiple displays.

Keywords: Wacom, Ubuntu, Linux, multiple screens, multiple displays


We need to gather system information with xrandr and xinput. First we use xrandr to determine the display, where the tablet should be active. Run xrandr

I want to have it on the primary display, witch is in my case DP-4.

Next we need to list the devices using xinput | grep -i Wacom

For me, it's id 12 to 15. No we map the Wacom tablet to DP-4

Done 🙂

BIOS Update of the HP ZBook 15u G4 using Linux

(not entirely true, I needed a Windows Virtual machine)


I wanted to run a BIOS Update for my HP ZBook 15u G4. Unfortunately, HP provides updates only for Windows.
Linux users are used to such sorrow - but I will most probably stick back to other vendors in the future, where the Linux support is better.


Quick guide

I've extracted the folders and files and put them into this archive file (Updated 28.02.2018, here is the old file). Download it and extract it directly to you USB device. The folder Hewlett-Packard should be then in the root directory on your flash drive.

Reboot and select the Update options in your BIOS. It will reboot several times. Don't worry, grab a cup of coffee.

Files: [BIOS-P78_0115.tar.xz] [BIOS-P78_0103.tar.xz (old)]


My story: How I run the Update without a native Windows on the Laptop

I downloaded the BIOS update from the HP support page for the HP ZBook and installed it in a Windows-Virtual Machine on another computer. Here you can select the creation of a USB stick. So I've created a "recovery" USB stick and copied the BIOS image from the Hewlett-Packard\BIOS\Current folder on the USB stick to the Hewlett-Packard\BIOS\New folder.

Now I rebooted the laptop into the BIOS and selected Update BIOS. The system recognised the Update from the USB stick and could install it.
IMPORTANT: Plug in the power supply during BIOS update. The last thing you want is a power-down during a BIOS update!

Don't worry, during the Update process the laptop boots a few times and shows some weird behaviour. Just let him do. Grab a cup of coffee

So, although it is officially not supported, there is a way of how to update the BIOS on the Laptop.


Update [28.02.2018] - I updated the archive file to the current BIOS vP78_0115 from 01.02.2018. The old file is still available