Archive | May, 2014

Old Skool Drum & Bass Bra!

I was listening to this:

It was rocking.

I made this video.

You’ve probably already seen this on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. But it doesn’t matter, watch it again.

Have a nice weekend 🙂

Tags: , , , , , ,

Continue Reading · 3 Comments · Music

Koh Lipe, Thailand – A Peaceful Paradise

So a while back, a bunch of decided to head to Koh Lipe for a beach getaway and probably a bit of SCUBA Diving too, it was a great trip (where I finally managed to propose to my lovely wife Kim) and we had loads of fun.

Also been thinking about going there again, so probably better write about the first time I went before that I go again! Yes, this is one of those travel posts that for some reason, I still haven’t written about – which is rare as I’ve already processed and uploaded 110 pictures from the trip on Flickr and Facebook!

Anyway, back to Koh Lipe! We drove down to Penang overnight then took the ferry from there to Langkawi early morning (RM115 return at that time, still the same now I think). It takes about 2 hours 45 minutes and is a fairly slow, comfortable journey in a large ferry.

After that it’s another ferry from Langkawi to Koh Lipe, this a much smaller, much faster boat and costs RM240 return, it takes about an hour to 90 minutes depending on conditions (around the same now at RM248).

Langkawi - Koh Lipe Ferry

For going again, I’ll probably just fly straight to Langkawi (flights are cheap now with Firefly or Malindo) and get the ferry to Koh Lipe. One of the charms of Koh Lipe (which keeps it quiet) is there’s no way to fly there directly.

Once you get near, you have to take a long tail boat into the beach as it’s shallow and there’s no major jetty there – the boats are the only bane of Koh Lipe as they act as a taxi service between the beaches, and are very noisy (for Pattaya Beach especially).

Koh Lipe - Long Tail Boat

When I hit the beach, this was the view I was greeted with and I was glad I was there – it’s a truly beautiful spot.

Koh Lipe - Pattaya Beach

We chose to stay on Sunrise beach, which is quieter and has an awesome breeze – really glad we chose that side rather than the more happening Pattaya beach where all the massage places/bars are at. It’s not a long walk between the two.

The place we stayed at is called Zanom Sunrise Resort and was a cheap and cheerful kind of place, very clean and tidy, family run, friendly and has AMAZING food. We went in off season so at that time we paid around RM180 for 2 nights there (in peak season it’d be about RM140 per night).

Zanom Sunrise Resort

If you want to be on the happening beach choose Pattaya, if you want to be right in the middle of things (nearer restaurants/massage etc) you can stay in the walking street and if you want it a bit quieter, stay on Sunrise beach.

We bought loads of booze from Lankgawi to enjoy while we were there and they also had their own bar, serving quite a variety of reasonably priced drinks. They also had Wifi, which was a bit shaky when we were there (probably satellite link which is never the best).

Zanom Sunrise Resort Bar

The restaurant was nice and comfortable and caught a wicked breeze from the beach, the seafood BBQ was quite famous too as they got stuff every day fresh from the fishermen and grilled it up right on the beach. Not so cheap – but REALLY good!

Zanom Sunrise BBQ Restaurant

We spent a fair amount of time in the Walking street, that’s where the vast majority of restaurants are, a bunch of larger commercial places, massage joints and a few small shops selling bikinis etc, there’s a small pharamacy. Most your basic needs will be fulfilled.

Koh Lipe - Walking Street

If you want to drink, have a bit of a dance etc – just head to Pattaya Beach. It’s not a massive island honestly, the walk between Sunrise Beach and Pattaya beach (even if you walk slow) is no more than about 15-20 mins.

Pattaya beach gets pretty rowdy at times, so consider where you stay – that’s where we had some drinks and the proposal took place..

Pattaya Beach

It’s truly a beautiful place, and amazing to get away from the city. It’s one of the places I can remember the clear air, the breeze and the relaxing sound of the ocean.

Koh Lipe Beach

Yeah, let’s do it again!

Koh Lipe Pattaya Beach

I’ll write separately about my diving activities there, as it turned out to be quite an adventure..

The full set of pictures is on Flickr here – Koh Lipe – Nov 2011

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Continue Reading · 5 Comments · Thailand, Trips & Travel

Project Airtrek – Fixing The Stalling Problem

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my black beauty, a 2004 Mitsubishi Airtrek Turbo – since the first (and terrible) mechanic I had for my car – Project Airtrek — The First Service – Part 2. So here’s my story about the fixing the stalling problem.

I’d spent so much, but didn’t manage to get the car in working order..It still kept stalling – as you can see in this video here, these were the symptoms (hard to start, after a slight revving the car would stall):

It was REALLY annoying, and sometimes terribly embarrassing as it would happen at junctions, when parking etc – so I’d stall in the middle of the road..and it would be hard to restart so I’d be blocking traffic. And in the daytime it was SUPER hot as the aircon would go off.

After going to a new mechanic in a weird back alley all the way in Balakong, he diagnosed the problem within 30 seconds..I found the new mechanic from the Malaysia Mitsubishi Airtrek club (which no longer exists sadly). You know what he did? Started my car and turned the steering wheel, when the RPMs dropped he said straight away it’s the Stepper Motor problem.

The Stepper Motor AKA the ICV or Idle Control Valve also AKA the IAC or Idle Air Control is an odd little piece of kit which regulates your cars idling and also manages the RPM during cold start etc (why you no longer have to step on the pedal when you start a car). This is what it looks like:

Airtrek Turbo Stepper Motor / ICV

Managed to get a Throttle Body with the ICV attached (and a bonus TPS or Throttle Position Sensor) for about RM500 and get that into my car, boom problems gone.

So at this point I was up to a rather eye-watering RM9200 spent on the car, but to be fair – it was riding pretty well.

As for the Stepper/ICV it’s a lot easier to find now though (and cheaper), there’s even someone selling new ones on ZTH since 2012:

Brand New Stepper Motor aka Idle Air Control Valve

Next up? Cracked manifold (the most common Airtrek Turbo problem) and much much more.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Continue Reading · 4 Comments · Cars/Motorsport

Yah I Got Hacked – Facebook & Hotmail – Don’t Save Passwords!

So almost a year ago I got hacked, hacked real bad in fact and I literally (almost) pooped my pants – it was scary watching your whole online life disappearing before your eyes. Ironic in a way as I spend my time securing other people’s sites and lives – but often forget about my own.

Seriously, getting hacked – in front of your own eyes in not fun or nice – it’s really very terrifying thinking you could lose all those memories/connections/messages/e-mails.

I’d been ‘meaning’ to transition to some kind of online password management system for a long time – but as usual never actually got around to it.

I Got Hacked

I was super lucky that I was actually online when it was happening, I was browsing something on Facebook then suddenly I got logged out and I couldn’t get back in – then the panic set in because when I tried to login..Facebook said there was no account with that e-mail!

Incorrect Email
The email you entered does not belong to any account.

You can login using any email, username or mobile phone number associated with your account. Make sure that it is typed correctly.

Luckily it prompted me and I tried to login with my mobile number (and luckily I HAD put my mobile number in against my internal privacy complaints) and the hacker couldn’t change it (because they probably didn’t want to put their mobile number and get it verified).

As you can see though the e-mail had already changed to something ending in the Albanian TLD .al – it was actually.

Facebook Password Reset

Another reason I was ok, is that my primary e-mail was which I kept very secure (I actually use the Google Authenticator app for that account so it was safe, even if the password was leaked).

And the smart thing is (Which I didn’t know) and I guess Facebook does for cases like this – it actually remembers your previous e-mail addresses – so it can test you on them and revert the account back to you.

But he was in my secondary e-mail which was a recovery account for my Gmail account – so that was pretty scary.

My Gmail account was also a secondary for my account though, so I managed to lock it up pretty quickly. It also now supports 2 factor authentication using the same Google Authenticator app – so I turned that on to secure the account for good.

I managed to get the reset code via SMS though and eventually I managed to get back in – although after regaining access I was locked out of Facebook for 24 hours after answering a bunch of stuff.

Facebook lock-out Timer

Facebook actually has a lot of cool security features I didn’t know about, like the fact that during a dispute (this was pretty much a real time tussle between the hacker to lock me out, and me to lock the hacker out) it does stuff like show you pictures of your friends and asks you to identify them from a list of names.

Obviously if it wasn’t really your account the best you could do was guess – this was how I managed to get back in – by identifying my friends.

Another feature I discovered during this whole debacle, was that Facebook also has a trusted friends feature where you can add friends or family members that can verify your identity during a dispute over an account.

Facebook Trusted Contacts

After some research I figured out some time in 2011 my passwords had been snatched, sometimes we get complacent and save passwords in our browsers for convenience, what we forget is that the passwords are saved in plain text (that’s how the browser can retrieve them to fill in the web forms) and thus any nefarious little piece of software (security tool/keygen etc) can grab ALL our passwords from whatever browsers we use (Chrome/IE/Firefox) and other software too (I found passwords in the list from Filezilla too – FTP passwords to all my sites).

Another irony, in 2011 I wrote this –

How To Secure Yourself Online – Twitter, Facebook, Google (Gmail) & WordPress

Sometime early in 2012 they were posted in public on some kinda script kiddie hacking blog and so my blog, Shutter Asia and some other sites that I had saved in my browser had kept getting attacked and defaced.

I’m fortunate in two parts:

  • Firstly, nothing really serious happened, some annoying defacements and a lot of time was wasted trying to figure out how they got in
  • I’d stopped using FTP a long time ago for important sites and only use SSH access with keypairs (no password access at all)

So they couldn’t actually get any raw server access, only WordPress admin panel access – which can cause some mischief but nothing that couldn’t be repaired.

What did I do to stop it happening again? I signed up for Passpack and went onto every single site that I could remember (especially those in the ‘hacked’ list of which there were 57 – yes FIFTY SEVEN of my login/password combinations) and changed them to secure passwords and saved them in Passpack.

I also went into the browser saved password list, and trolled through ALL those sites and transfered them to Passpack too with secure passwords, I ended up with about 87 sets of passwords in Passpack all with unique strong (12-15 mixed upper/lower with special char) passwords.

There are other choices if you want – LastPass, 1Password, KeePassX on Dropbox etc – just PLEASE use at least one of them.

It’s actually really important to do this, not only for this scenario but if you use 2-3 combinations of passwords for everything, and one of the sites you use gets hacked and exposes your e-mail address password you’re pretty screwed.

But if you use a unique password for every site you use – you’re gonna be fine (especially if you turn on 2FA for all important accounts).

So yah, that’s my cautionary tale of being complacent online – I managed to keep my shit together because it’s what I do for a living (don’t panic and fix it!) but if it happens to you, you might not be so lucky.

So get your passwords in order and save yourself the stress of what I went through, or what I’ve seen of some friends who’ve completely lost control of their Facebook/e-mail accounts.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Continue Reading · 7 Comments · Hacking & Infosec

Downton Abbey Review – What a Rollercoast Ride!

Downton Abbey Review

Downton Abbey is a British period drama television series created by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece. The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era—with the great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy.

So I heard about this series a few times that I thought was called Downtown Abbey – I had no idea what it was about. Later I learned (after Googling) that it was in fact Downton Abbey and it was a period English drama about some rich people in an abbey.

Then I wondered what everyone was raving about, but my family in the UK LOVED the show – so I was quite intrigued. I didn’t really read anything about it before watching, I just started watching with a fairly open mind – and wow – I was hooked!

I did check the ratings first (just as a general gauge) even though I’ve pretty much lost all faith in IMDB when it comes to Movies, it’s not bad for TV shows (apart from the fact EVERY show is between 7/10 and 9/10 even the terrible ones).

Downton Abbey (TV Series 2010– ) – IMDb – it scores a solid 8.8.

Another one that isn’t too bad is Metacritic – Downton Abbey : Season 1 where it scores 91/100 for Season 1.

I LOVE this show, the twists and turns, the villainous characters who are ass-holes for no particular reason, the grandness of the aristocratic life. It’s just genuinely entertaining!

Miss O'Brien

GOOD things about Downton Abbey

– It’s amazingly entertaining and has really sweeping plot arcs involving real world events like the World War, Titanic etc
– The characters are so sharp and well defined but also have true depth (Why they are the way they are etc)
– Grand settings, beautiful English countryside
– No annoying Americans anywhere – yay!
– Xmas specials! They are brilliant
– No cheesin’ cliffhangers – even at the end of the season it always ends peacefully

BAD things about Downton Abbey

– Once it gets you gripped, it can be hard to stop
– It can be a little too sad sometimes, as you really connect with the characters
– If you’re English, your granny probably watches it..which can be somewhat embarassing
– Season 5 isn’t out yet!

Seriously there’s not a whole lot wrong with it. Well there you go, that was my Downton Abbey Review. Go watch it now if you don’t already.

Tags: , , , , ,

Continue Reading · 3 Comments · TV Series