Apr 112017

I’m considering purchasing a ZOOM B3n bass effect processor, one of the nice features is the program that allows you to edit/load patches via a PC..  vs. having to do so on the device itself.   Being a security minded geek, I downloaded the software and took a look.

After installation, first thing it does is REQUIRE an active internet connection.  No explanation, it’s not in the system requirements..  So a little work with wireshark and a little snooping around, it’s downloading files from www.zoom.co.jp and placing them in %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\ZOOM Guitar Lab.

This appears to be some poor attempt at providing auto updating capabilities.  The first ‘conversation’ is via TLS however they do not appear to be authenticating the server certificate, AND the subsequent downloads .. at least some.. are happening via HTTP connection and appear to not be signed.

Poison DNS servers and reverse engineer their server protocol (likely trivial), and you have an easy way to deploy anything to everyone who uses this software.

Maybe not a likely target, however If you are concerned about your DAW being corrupted by malware, I’d suggest installing in a virtual machine as well as your DAW.  Turn off updating in the installation on your DAW (in Help menu, deselect “Notify when the new version of ZOOM Guitar Lab exists” and  “Notify when the new version of firmware exists”).

Let it do it’s update on the virtual machine, then copy the VM %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\ZOOM Guitar Lab to the same folder on your DAW.  That should get you the updates without any bad stuff (unless bad stuff was to installed in that folder of course).

Mar 292017

As noted here it’s likely that if not already, soon not only will you be paying exorbitant monopoly rates for internet access, the ISP will also sell your web browsing history.

There are many ways you can protect yourself, TOR comes to mind however the performance trade offs are often not worth it.  Personally I block java/javascript, cookies, 40,000 or so domains, ads, tracking sites AND often pipe traffic through Privoxy and TOR.   These tactics assure that my ISP is not getting a complete picture.   However all of this is a hassle, so my wife/guests/etc are not likely to put up with it.

There’s another option, fill their database with so much garbage that it’s useless.  This will not defend against ISP’s selling your data, however if enough people shovel enough shit into the system the buyers will eventually realize the data is useless and stop buying.

Introducing Obfuscatron GIGO this is a start.  I would love to see more people create more systems like this, run them all!  Fill their databases with garbage that is indistinguishable from real data!

If there’s enough interest I’ll keep enhancing this.  One idea I have is to provide a list of Zip codes for the U.S. and allow URL’s in the ‘seeds.txt’ list to contain place holders like %ZIP% that the system replaces with a random zip code..  May be useful for weather and travel sites.

If you have any questions/concerns or would like source code, leave a comment here.

NOTE: this works best if you have a computer that’s on 24×7.  If your computer goes to sleep, so will this.  It’s likely still helpful, just a bit less due to leaking your PC active hours (that may reveal when you work, got to school, come home, etc).

Mar 232017

According to art-technica: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/03/senate-votes-to-let-isps-sell-your-web-browsing-history-to-advertisers/

The fix is easy, obfuscate.. fill their database with garbage that’s indistinguishable from real traffic.  For the do-it-yourselfer that it willing to accept some risk, running a TOR exit node would likely do the job.

For people who want a bit more control over the process, this is the official announcement for the Obfuscatron!  In short it’s a windows service (I’ll write a *nix deamon is there’s any demand) that will run in the background and generate very random web traffic.  The starting sources will be based on the Wikipedia random article function, however from there is will go out to external links on the page.  You will also be able to control the user agent, as well as configure how aggressive it is.

Currently in very early alpha, I’ll be running a version of this locally over the next several days and refining as I go.  Expect an available beta version in a couple of weeks.

I can’t imagine how they’d be able to distinguish this traffic from user traffic..  as long as it’s random enough and not just a constant stream of traffic going to a small set of sites.

Dec 202016

I’m somewhat active in various online RV communities, and it never fails to amaze me how people can be easily manipulated into purchasing a trailer that is unsafe to tow with their vehicle. Or even better are the people that show up with an unsafe combination and try to justify it, “but the towing capacity is 10,000 pounds”. What most do not realize is the numbers are cooked in all manner of ways, starting with a basic understanding of the terms Towing Capacity, Tongue Weight, Payload and Axle Ratings. Towing Capacity in particular may not mean what you think.

Further RV manufacturers actively confuse things (and IMO outright lie) about numbers, they get away with this by including “specs subject to change” in all marketing materials. I cover that in more detail in When Optional = Mandatory.
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Dec 202016

RV manufacturers lie about weights, no two ways to say it. They actively use numbers for trailers that they will never deliver in an attempt to get people to buy more trailer than they can tow safely. If that causes an accident, not their problem because YOU are responsible 100% and they surely told you clearly ‘specs subject to change’.

One way they obfuscate numbers is by listing weights using a base model trailer that they will never build or sell because (if you read the title you know what’s coming) of the options that are mandatory.

Here’s some examples from Coachman Apex line:



The mandatory APEX NANO PACKAGE further hides details under a ‘show more’ button.. if you press that you find the following:
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Mar 112016

Make sure the ‘charity’ isn’t a scam.  Having ‘non-profit’ status means nothing except they filed forms.  In order to be considered a public charity an organization must receive a substantial part of its support from a ‘government unit’ or from general public support.  There’s the first part of the scam, many charities are just a front to launder grant money which for some idiotic reason is considered ‘public support’ even though nobody in the public has any control over this money.  Feeding at the public trough does not make for a good charity.

So how do you do a ‘background check’ on a charity?  Easy, non-profit organizations tax returns are public information.  They are fairly easy to find, I used to use guidestar however they’ve gone to a subscription only format so currently the easiest free site is Foundation Center. Decoding 990’s isn’t very fun, however it’s the only way to get facts.  I’ll try to walk you through an example.  For the purposes of this article I’m using the 2014 990-EZ for Project Great Outdoors, if you want to follow along here it is: 943368163_201412_990EZ

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Jan 162016

Continued from Part 2

Next step was making clearance and moving electrical/gas out of the way.  The water heater was connected to an iron iron pipe (running the length of the TT) with 3/8″ soft copper tubing and flare fittings..and done with a big loop that extended into the center of the frame.  I cut this out and left things hanging for now, I’ll run a new copper line after installing the tank. (edit: ended up not having to run new copper)

Today I had time to see about mounting the tank.  The rear frame rail that the tank ‘ear’ fits into was very tight, I create a wood block to use as a gauge and used pliers to bend the bottom of the C-channel until the block fit snugly.

wood spacer

I test fit the tank, used a couple of trailer stab jacks to hold up the forward mount bar (no pics, was busy).  Using a rubber mallet I gently gave the forward outboard tank edges a whack or two to make sure the tank was seated.  Snugged up the forward mount bar and verified clearances.  Then into the trailer I used a paint pen to mark the existing toilet flange and vent holes.    I also marked the holes in the mount bar so I could pre-drill the frame.

Prior to removing I marked the tank and frame as a reference so I could the tank in the same position as before.  I carefully removed the tank and brought into the garage.  Hole markings were positioned nicely and clear, went ahead and cut holes for the fittings.  Back outside, drilled frame holes for mount bar.

Brought the tank back out, fitted, bolted up mount bar and verified hole alignment on the inside..BINGO.  The only possible problem was the opening in the floor for the vent pipe (behind the access panel for the rear of water heater) is a bit sloppy.  I’ll have to open that up to make sure I have good clearance to install the fitting.

In this picture you can see the copper line for the water heater, and the tank in place and fully installed.  The mount bar is red’ish (looks like rustoleum).. You can also see the gray water tank to the right.


I did a test fitment of the dump valve. Everything looked good, measured, cut.  Checked again and everything looks like it’s lining up very nicely. As a bonus the black tank dump is straight, that’s going to make for easy/good dumping!  It all looked good so I slathered on some ABS glue and installed.  I’ll need to purchase some 1.5″ pipe to extend the gray dump but that’s not a big deal.  I’m very pleased with how well this is going.


You can see behind the tank the black plastic wire loom bit I have to deal with.

Tomorrow I’m going to fill the tank with water and make sure it’s mounted well and nothing sags or leaks.


  • Filled the tank with water, everything is water tight and the tank itself didn’t seem to sag at all (entire back end of TT sank a bit, not surprising).
  • Gas fitting to water heater: I ended up swapping the T fitting so it was T’ing off to the outboard side which brought the pipe a couple of inches closer to the rear. This allowed me to cut off the munged end of the 3/8″ soft copper tubing, flare it and attach.  Pressure tested, no leaks..ran the water heater a bit and it’s all working.

I think this my be the last update.  All that remains are what I could consider easy/common tasks.  I’m going to pick up some 1.5″ schedule 40 ABS pipe and 2 couplings to re-connect the gray water drain to the output.  Going to use some self-adhesive cable tie mounts to tie up the wiring run that goes from side-side of the trailer.

Only major work remaining is to attach the ‘grommets’ to the tank, reinstall vent and toilet.  I’ll probably take some pictures of that and describe the process, however for anyone handy those parts should be easy.

Update: Everything else went pretty well.  I wish I had more space around the vent fitting, it was a bit of a challenge getting it seated properly. Other than that buttoning up the project went smoothly.  I filled the tank to full capacity using buckets, counted 24 gallons until it was full… a nice upgrade.

Thanks for reading, if I add a Part 4 I’ll link here.


Jan 112016

Continued from Part I

New tank arrived today, appears to be in good shape.  I was pleased to find that the outlet already had an adapter attached so that I can connect directly to 3″ ABS pipe.  Note the slight difference in size, tank on the left is also approximately 2″ deeper.  The added depth isn’t a problem as prior to this upgrade I flipped the axles to overslung which increased ground clearance by about 4.5″, lots of articles on that so not posting one here.


You can see from the huge length of plumbing for the dump that there’s a bit of extra space under the trailer.  My plan at this point is to center the tank (old tank was offset to door side) and use the straight section of pipe from the old tank.  This should result in a straight shot for dumping.  The existing valve assembly has the gray tank coming in at a 90 degree angle already so I should be able to just extend the gray dump to the new valve location and be done.

I crawled under the trailer with the tank to verify fitment, plenty of space.  There are a few things I’m going to have to re-position, some wiring that’s attached inside the frame rail will be moved to outside (hidden behind the bumper) and I may have to redo the gas line for the water heater.

It’s still fairly cold out here, I’ll work on preparing the underside of the trailer at a leisurely pace.  Once I can position the tank temporarily I’ll be able to start figuring out all the details, final position, plumbing, etc.

Proceed to part 3.

Jan 112016

I’m upgrading our travel trailer black holding tank and realized that there’s not much information about this on the net (for some reason, probably everyone wants to sell new RV’s). So a useful non-controversial post! This is the first part of a x part series, following along the process.

First some important details you will need before embarking on this ‘adventure’ yourself. You will need to find the GAWR (Gross Axle Weight Rating) of your trailer, the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating), tire rating (make sure total of all tires is equal or greater than GAWR). Then get your trailer weighed, ready for camping (gear packed, food, etc.), full propane, I would recommend empty holding tanks as we can calculate their weight(s).

Measure your holding tanks! This can be a tiresome process, however I feel it’s very important as you may find (as I did) that my TT black holding tank was listed as 12 gallons in the trailer specifications however the tank + 2′ of 3″ piping + the neck of the toilet only manage 6 gallon total! Manufacturers get away with this by simply stating ‘specifications subject to change’. In my case I found out that both the tank AND trailer manufacturers over stated the capacity.
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