Monday, May 24, 2010

Lock picking basics

Recently the lock of my mailbox fell into my hands (yes, it is junk but the mailbox is temporary). Now to your regular Joe out there this is usually an inconvenience but I was happy about it because now I could study the lock and try to understand what the good people of Toool where demonstrating at HAR2009.

First we have a look at the lock how it fell into my hands.
If we take out the pins, we see the little, tiny, springs that give the resistance when you put your key into the lock.
This is a detail of a pin. The key goes through the little hole.
If we have a look at the key we notice the pointy and flat parts.
If we put the key into the lock we see that the pins move into their positions. The pins move up and down when the key goes trough it.
If you have a good look you will recognise the flat parts of the key. They are exactly positioned where the pins are.

The picking is done with fine picks you slide into the lock and put gentle pressure on the pins so that they line up. It is easier said than done but it is fun to see a lock pop open without a key and not damaging it ... do you have a mailbox?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Even a 10 year old would guess it

Recently I was somewhere in a data center in Belgium where the local administrator password was written down on a post-it and was next to the screen of the console. I don't say I would approve but I could understand if you put it there and the password was complex. This was absolutely not the case, it was the company name.

Some people wonder how those evil hackers can get into their systems even if they have the latest antivirus updates and a firewall ... there is no patch for HumanOS.

My first SQL 2008 cluster on vSphere

Recently I had to install a SQL 2008 cluster on Windows 2008 cluster which was virtualized. I learned some valuable lessons I want to share with you.

First of all there is this new feature in the VM Tools called shared folders. Make sure it is off. It causes an error message and the description has nothing to do with the cause.

The second thing is if you want to install service pack 1 for SQL Server, slipstream it. There is a bug that crashes your installation and you can't actually remove it. The term slipstream is a not really the correct term but it works.

First you unpack the service pack with the /x option and then you need to run /x64/setup/1033/sqlsupport.msi and run it. The next step is to start the SQL Server setup and start it from the command line with the parameter /PCUSource=

More info on slipstream can be fount at