Tag Archives: BIOS

The Logitech F310 on Retropie

Having not gotten much satisfaction out of my used Retrolink SNES-style pad, I went looking for an alternative controller. I wanted something as retro-like as possible–along the lines of a Genesis or SNES pad would be ideal–but was worried about the quality, so I ended up settling on a Logitech F310, which is priced much like most of the retro controllers anyway, and, I hoped, had comparable quality to Logitech’s keyboards and mice. The reviews I found suggested this was the case, and I found enough people who said they got it working with Linux to feel confident I could get it working on the Raspberry Pi. And sure enough, I did.

I paid $18 for mine, and my first impressions of the quality were good. It’s precise, and button pushes register with a slight click. It’s no worse than a Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo controller, and if anything, I think I liked it a little better. A pair of Logitech F310s costs more than the Raspberry Pi board, but playing games is a lot more enjoyable when the controller does what you want it to do all the time, not just most of the time.

The F310 wasn’t a drop-in replacement for the controller I’d been using, though. I had to configure it for Retroarch, the software that provides most of Retropie’s console emulation.

Continue reading The Logitech F310 on Retropie

Setting up Retropie on the Raspberry Pi

I bought a Raspberry Pi over the weekend intending to turn it into a retro gaming system. I’d rather not have a mess of systems and cartridges out for my kids to tear up and to constantly have to switch around at their whims; a deck-of-cards-sized console with everything loaded on a single SD card seems much more appealing.

I followed Lifehacker’s writeup, which mostly worked. My biggest problem was my controllers. NES and SNES games would freeze seemingly at random, which I later isolated to trying to move to the left. It turned out my Playstation-USB adapter didn’t get along with the Pi at all, and was registering the select and start buttons when I tried to move certain directions, pausing the game.

When I switched to a Retrolink SNES-style pad, the random pausing went away. The precision reminded me of the really cheap aftermarket controllers of yore for the NES and SNES, but at least it made most games playable. It could be my controller, which I bought used, is worn out. I’ll revisit controllers later this week. Continue reading Setting up Retropie on the Raspberry Pi

Curious conspiracies… or maybe just progress all at once

In the wake of Truecrypt’s sudden implosion, someone sent me a link to this curious blog post. I can see why many people might find the timing interesting, but there are a number of details this particular blog post doesn’t get correct, and it actually spends most of its time talking about stuff that has little or nothing to do with Truecrypt.

What’s unclear to me is whether he’s trying to say the industry is deliberately sabotaging Truecrypt, or if he’s simply trying to make a list of things that are making life difficult for Truecrypt. His post bothers me a lot less if it’s just a laundry list of challenges, but either way, the inaccuracies remain. Continue reading Curious conspiracies… or maybe just progress all at once

When Linux is easier than Windows

A few months ago I bought a Gigabyte GA-Z77M-D3H to learn computer forensics on, because at the time I thought that was the direction my career was going. I dropped it into a neglected Compaq case and installed Linux on it, since most of the free forensics tools run on Linux. The current version of Debian loaded effortlessly and ran nicely, as you would expect on a dual-core CPU with 16 gigs of RAM.

Then my career went another direction. Today I analyze Windows threats and vulnerabilities for a living. That’s a better match for my experience and the pay is the same, so I’m perfectly fine with that. But my mind turned to that hotrod computer in the basement. I suppose I could still use it to learn forensics, but I probably won’t, so why not see how Windows runs on it and bring it upstairs? Continue reading When Linux is easier than Windows

The NSA’s disaster aversion by keeping BIOSes safe for the free world

This weekend, CBS ran a story about how the NSA foiled a sinister plot to brick millions of PCs and cause a financial meltdown. At least they didn’t say MELTDOWN.

My opinion is that this is a puff piece. A source managed to scare a journalist with a threat that sounded credible enough, and make something routine sound big and threatening.

Continue reading The NSA’s disaster aversion by keeping BIOSes safe for the free world

A dark day for security

A security professional’s nightmare happened to AMI this week. Tons of confidential data, including the source code for the UEFI BIOS for Intel Ivy Bridge-based systems and an AMI-owned private key for digital signatures, turned up on a wide-open FTP server for all comers to download anonymously.

The implications are nearly limitless. To a malware author, this is like finding a hollowed-out book at a garage sale stuffed with $100 bills with a 25-cent price sticker on the front. If you’re a budding security professional, count on being asked in job interviews why you need to protect confidential information. The next time you get that question, here’s a story you can cite.

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Is TRIM better than Native Command Queuing?

Another question from the big bag ‘o search queries: When you’re shopping for an SSD, is TRIM better than Native Command Queuing?

It’s an interesting question, and my first inclination is to say no, because TRIM and NCQ solve two similar but distinctly different problems. But the more I think about it, the more I understand why it’s possible to confuse the two.

Continue reading Is TRIM better than Native Command Queuing?

Was CP/M overrated?

I think everyone knows the story of how IBM almost used CP/M as the operating system for its PC, but ended up using an upstart product from a small company named Microsoft instead. We’ll probably never know exactly what happened, seeing as the author of CP/M is dead and his business partner is no longer able to recollect those events from the 1980 timeframe, and IBM and Bill Gates have no reason to embarrass themselves by revisiting the story.

But CP/M was the first and most popular operating system for early 8-bit computers, so people who used it remember it fondly, and the way Microsoft steamrolled it made Gary Kildall and his operating system folk heroes to underdog lovers everywhere. Even people who never used it and weren’t even born when Kildall’s company ceased to exist have at least a vague idea of what it was.

Veteran tech journalist Dan Tynan recently published a list of 10 overrated technology products, and CP/M was on his list.

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Beware the Mebromi, my son

Symantec has identified Mebromi. a piece of malware that not only infects the MBR, but also infects the Award BIOS, making it very difficult to detect and eradicate.

By hooking into the BIOS, Mebromi can easily re-infect a system the next time you reboot. Which is exactly what it does. Continue reading Beware the Mebromi, my son

Happy birthday, IBM PC!

The IBM PC 5150 turns 30 today.

IBM didn’t invent the personal computer, but if your computer has an Intel or AMD CPU in it, it’s the direct descendant of the beige box IBM unleashed on the world on August 12, 1981. Without a huge amount of effort, it’s even possible to run most of that old software on your shiny new PC. You probably wouldn’t want to, except out of curiosity, but you can do it.

I wasn’t one of the people who rushed out and got one. At the time, I was still watching Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. I had my first experience with a computer–a Radio Shack TRS-80–in 1982, and the first computer my family bought was a Commodore 64 in 1984. Even in 1984, there were still plenty of people who questioned why anyone needed a computer in their home. My introduction to the IBM PC and PC-DOS didn’t happen until 1987.
Continue reading Happy birthday, IBM PC!