Jacen Sekai

A guy with very strong opinions about a lot of things

Qubes is a project that has always intrigued me. Although I don't have a threat model that necessitates the level of compartmentalization it provides, the idea of organizing my computer usage into containers is appealing from an organizational standpoint.

All my previous attempts to daily drive Qubes were cut short for one simple reason: performance. I simply didn't have a device that could run Qubes at an acceptable level of performance.

However, now armed with a shiny new Framework 16, I was hopeful that I could actually run Qubes to a degree that I was happy with. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as smooth as I would have hoped.

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A few years ago when I first heard of Framework and their 13” laptop, there were a couple notable dealbreakers for me. First, I had fairly recently purchased a laptop, and it was still running well enough that I wasn't in the market for a replacement. Second, it was missing two features that I really need in my laptops: a dedicated GPU and a number pad.

Fast-forward about two years later, when Framework announced the Framework 16, a laptop that checked basically every box I could imagine. The only question is, did it actually live up to my hype?

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I noticed recently on my Matrix Synapse homeserver that my storage was starting to get a little bit full. I hadn't considered it in the past since the server sees very little use, but I decided the best way to solve the issue would be to move my media storage onto an S3-compatible service.

Unfortunately, I overestimated the number of useful resources that would exist to help me configure that, and underestimated how difficult it would be. Here's a quick rundown of what I learned after a full day of hair pulling and how to set things up for your own server.

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Tax Heaven 3000 has taken over the Internet, partly by continuing the ever-present trend of weird visual novels, and partly due to the ever-present meme of giving an anime girl your personal information.

Tax Heaven 3000 asking the player for their Social Security number

At the same time, as a tax preparation program, it does need some of your personal information in order to properly fill out the forms. So, should you trust Iris with your Social Security number? There's only one way to find out.

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Project Sekai, or Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage as it's called in English, is one of the plethora of rhythm games chasing after the success of franchises such as Love Live! and BanG Dream!, and is also one of the few to gain that same success. Like those other games, it features an event system, where players earn points for playing the game and compete on a leaderboard for the top spot. Unsurprisingly, it's attracted a number of diehard players who compete for those top spots and the bragging rights that come with it. Like most diehard gamers, playing the game as efficiently as possible is important to those players and their quest to the the very best. So, in the interest of hyperfixation, let's take a look at one of the resources those players use as they climb the ladder and aim for the top.

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The company I work for has a program where we take old computers and load them with Windows XP and various educational games to send to schools in other countries. They aren't top-of-the-line workstations, but it's enough for basic computer literacy, as well as any lessons taught by the educational software.

Low-budget education endeavors tend to lead to sketchy and unorthodox solutions, so I felt it would be a good idea to document the various problems we rant into and the solutions we used to get around them. Maybe one day someone else will find them useful.

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Chill Hack is an easy-ranked box. Unfortunately, it wasn't the most fun box to do, with a handful of unrealistic and unintuitive stops along the killchain.

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Advertisements suck. Beyond being generally obnoxious, they can cause performance issues and even sometimes be downright malicious. There are plenty of ad-block solutions for your browser, but not as many to help with ads not hosted on websites, especially in apps on your phone. One of the most notable solutions to that problem is Pi-hole, a DNS-level ad-blocker that can run on something as simple as a Raspberry Pi. That's great for when you're at home, but the official solution for using Pi-hole on the go is a bit obnoxious.

Fortunately, there's always an alternative solution.

It's not a good or viable solution, but beggars can't be choosers, right?

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For a few years, modern flagship phones have had comparable specs to mid-tier computers, which gave me a thought: why can't you just run a full-fledged virtual machine on your phone?

The short answer is “because virtual machines don't quite work like that”. The long answer is a bit too complicated for my small brain to properly explain, but the point is that running a virtual machine from your phone isn't really feasible for the average user.

Fortunately, there's another solution: emulation.

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HackPark is a Medium difficulty room, although it guides you along fairly well for the initial foothold, and it's pretty easy to root if you do proper basic enumeration.

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