Changing Host Key Algorithm in SSH.NET

I’ve used SSH.NET a lot over the years to send and receive files using SFTP and it’s a very flexible and practical library, but the documentation can be a bit thin on the ground when you’re looking to use some of the more esoteric features it has.

As an example, I recently ran into an issue where I was connecting to a remote server and the host fingerprint I was receiving through SSH.NET didn’t match the one that I expected to see (and could see in WinSCP). After verifying that I was using the same connection settings on both and more than a little spelunking through the SSH.NET source code I found that by default the host key algorithms used by the current stable release of SSH.NET (2016.1.0) are RSA and DSA, while WinSCP uses Ed25519. For my purposes I needed to use Ed25519 in SSH.NET as well even though the SFTP host also supported these other algorithms.

Continue reading “Changing Host Key Algorithm in SSH.NET”

SoundFloored: Open Source Soundboard Pedal (Part 4 – Final Implementation)

The top of the SoundFloored pedal. It is held together by various cross-head bolts and has six footswitches embedded in the top, with four along the close long edge and two along the far long edge (with a screen embedded in the lid between them)

This is the fourth and final post in a series about designing and creating SoundFloored, an open source soundboard pedal! Check out the other posts in the series:


So SoundFloored is now working just like I wanted it to with buttons and a screen, but the current build isn’t exactly what I would call robust. As such, the final part of the build involves moving what I’ve built so far into a more permanent home, one that can withstand the rigours of live performance and is far more practical to move around.

Building the Box

Design

Based on some preliminary research on the minimum usable distance between footswitches, I decided to keep them 7cm apart from each other to ensure good clearance. I also thought to leave a 3.5cm gap between the switches and the edge of the pedal since I didn’t need as large of a gap but still wanted the numbers to map out in a simple way.

Since there were going to be four footswitches across the length of the pedal, it would need to be 28cm long (3 x 7cm for the gaps between each switch, plus 2 x 3.5cm for the gaps between the outer switches and the edge). Similar maths for the two footswitches going across the width of the pedal gives us 14cm (7cm for the gap plus 2 x 3.5cm for the edges).

I wanted to find something with these dimensions (or near enough) that I could use to house everything, so I started by looking at “project boxes” (plastic boxes designed for maker projects like this). Unfortunately, the largest project box I could easily order was barely half the size that I needed and I wasn’t interested in putting in a custom order to create one. The only option left at this point was to build something myself!

I figured that wood would be the best material for this project; although not the traditional material for a pedal, I could make it pretty much whatever size I wanted, it’s readily available, cheap and I already have some basic experience in woodworking.

At this point even though I had the dimensions I wanted to get a better perspective of how big the pedal was going to be before I started building anything. Mediocre arts and crafts to the rescue!

Continue reading “SoundFloored: Open Source Soundboard Pedal (Part 4 – Final Implementation)”

SoundFloored: Open Source Soundboard Pedal (Part 3 – Breadboard Implementation)

A Raspberry Pi connected to a breadboard with various wires. The breadboard has a screen on it that says "Memes" on the first row and "RS: STOP" on the second

This is the third post in a series about designing and creating SoundFloored, an open source soundboard pedal! Check out the other posts in the series:


So this project has really been gaining some steam! I’ve figured out the design and managed to get a software implementation with two separate interfaces. Now though, I’m entering uncharted territory; the world of hardware electronics.

Now I say uncharted territory, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’ve previously watched a Pluralsight course called something like “Introduction to Electronics” or “Electronics Fundamentals”, although it’s also worth mentioning that I remember approximately 5% of the content. Actually, one of the few things I did remember was how a breadboard works, which is a place to start at least!

Preparation

So although I’ve owned a number of Raspberry Pis over the years and have a lot of HATs/pHATs to go with them, I’ve never ventured far enough into the hardware electronics side of things to have bought any components. As such, I ordered a pretty generic looking “Electronics Fun Kit” that had pretty much everything I might need for this project; a breadboard, wires (especially wires that I could use to connect the Pi directly to the breadboard), buttons, LEDs, resistors etc. I’m sure there are higher quality components out there, but since this is all for prototyping I decided that in this case cheap and cheerful was what I was looking for.

An ELEGOO Electronics Fun Kit, which is comprised of a cardboard box and various electronics components such as wires, buttons, capacitors, resistors etc.
Continue reading “SoundFloored: Open Source Soundboard Pedal (Part 3 – Breadboard Implementation)”

SoundFloored: Open Source Soundboard Pedal (Part 2 – Software Implementation)

A diagram of the SoundFloored Architecture. There is one long red box at the bottom with the text "PyGame" inside. Above that is a single green box that says "SoundFloored Logic", with three seperate side-by-side blue boxes above it that say "Raspberry Pi", "Gui" and "Keyboard" respectively.

This is the second post in a series about designing and creating SoundFloored, an open source soundboard pedal! Check out the other posts in the series:


So now that I’ve prepared what I can, it’s now the step that can often derail the whole project: implementation.

For context the “Plan” section of this post was written before I started writing any code and “Implementation” was written shortly after I’d put the first version together.

Plan

I know, I know, I’ve already done the planning in the first part, “when are you actually going to start writing code“?

Well, except for tiny projects (usually single file, one-off scripts) I like to spend some time considering how the different parts will interact. The reasoning is that as soon as you start working with multiple modules and classes you’ve really got to consider how the parts will hang together, including what should “own” which parts of the logic, what the different interfaces should be and how the code should be laid out.

Continue reading “SoundFloored: Open Source Soundboard Pedal (Part 2 – Software Implementation)”

SoundFloored: Open Source Soundboard Pedal (Part 1 – Planning)

This is the first post in a series about designing and creating SoundFloored, an open source soundboard pedal! Check out the other posts in the series:


So I’m a guitarist in a band (shout-out to #DemocracyManifest). Not a particularly good guitarist, but nonetheless it’s a whole lot of fun and a great excuse to hang out with some friends for our weekly practice.

One of the issues that we have is that there are only three of us in the band; a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. This is the dream when it comes to planning practices, but we’ve always had trouble with feeling our sound is “full” enough since a lot of the songs we cover have way more instruments and numerous subtle elements like small synth riffs, choir aahs and audio clips that we can’t really replicate in any appreciable way while trying to also play our instruments.

So “hey” I thought, “let’s try to over-engineer build something that can”!

Continue reading “SoundFloored: Open Source Soundboard Pedal (Part 1 – Planning)”

The 2020 Twitter Account Takeovers and How They Were Different

A hand holding an iOS device. The device has an app folder open called "Social Networks" with various social network apps visible

The recent Twitter account takeovers that are all over the news right now are yet another entry in the long list of hacks, exploits and security problems that have hit major social media platforms over the years, but this particular attack was different and really piqued my interest. There’s a few reasons for that.

First of all, the number of incredibly popular accounts that were hit (on one of the biggest social media platforms in the world) is absolutely mind-boggling. These sort of takeover attacks have happened plenty of times before, but usually on a far smaller, much more targeted scale (such as the SIM swap attack that hit Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in 2019 for example). In yesterday’s case, these attackers managed to take over the accounts of some of the biggest companies and some of the richest people in the world on a scale I’ve personally not seen before.

Continue reading “The 2020 Twitter Account Takeovers and How They Were Different”

Working from Home in the Age of Lockdown

A kitchen table with a laptop on the left and a large external screen on the right. A keyboard and mouse are visible in the foreground, with a large Sports Direct mug on the right and a pair of over-ear headphones charging in the centre

Important context/timeline for this post: I live in Guernsey, which went into a full lockdown at the end of March (although I started working from home about a week before that occurred). Lockdown was slowly lifted in phases which meant increasing ability to go out and see other people, with things largely returning to something resembling normal (being able to go out to shops, see friends casually etc.) around phase 4 (end of May).


If I’ve done this right this post should be published on the first day that I’m back in the office since this global pandemic started, which by my calculation means that I’ve been working from home for the last 16 weeks(?!). While it’s been a tough experience overall, I’ve learned a lot from it and wanted to get some of those thoughts out of my head and into a post.

Flexible hours were a game changer

One of the biggest and most notable changes when working from home was how flexible my hours became. Instead of trying to get into the office for a strict 09:00 start ever day, my schedule was based a lot more around what hours worked for me. Was I ready earlier than usual? I’d just jump online at 08:00 instead and finish earlier. Forgot to put on a load of washing? I’ll down tools for 10 minutes mid-morning and make that time up later on in the day. This is definitely something that is heavily dependent on/needs to be supported by your company, but I’m very lucky that the work I do is really flexible and that my manager is awfully accepting of my ever-changing work hours.

Continue reading “Working from Home in the Age of Lockdown”

Can You Rely Exclusively on Digital Tickets When Travelling?

A photo taken from an aeroplane looking out the window. Clouds can be seen for miles and the front part of an aeroplane engine can be seen in the lower right

Late on Sunday night a few weeks ago I was sat hunched over my computer. My girlfriend and I were going to be flying out the following morning on holiday and that meant that I was knee-deep in the task of printing out the reams of tickets we would need while we were away: flight boarding passes, hotel reservations, train tickets, event bookings etc. The only useful information on them is often just a QR code or a confirmation ID, but I always worry about forgetting important information and so I tend to just send it all to the printer anyway. The whole process takes ages, wastes paper and ink and generally feels unnecessary.

Although I was already most of the way through the printing, I’d been in the same position so many times in the past that I decided that enough was enough and it was time to switch to the alternative: digital tickets. Almost all of the documents that we needed could be downloaded as a PDF, and even those stubborn ones that demanded a printer could be fooled by printing to PDF as well.

I was quite anxious about trying this out; I’ve always relied on having physical tickets so this was an entirely new experience for me. While I kept copies of the most important print-outs, I decided that I was going to see if I could avoid using them for the whole trip and instead rely wholly on the digital copies on my phone.

Fun fact: I wrote most of this blog post on the two flights back home!

Continue reading “Can You Rely Exclusively on Digital Tickets When Travelling?”

The Power Of Naivety

A red heart shape that has been sewn onto a white piece of fabric

For Valentine’s Day this year, I wanted to go a bit fancier than my usual shop-bought present, deciding instead that I would handmake a cushion and embroider our names on the front. My grandma taught me to sew many years ago and even though I’d not really used those skills much in the intervening time, I figured that it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Oh how naive of me.

If I’m going to be honest, my original plans were probably about as detailed as:

  1. Buy cushion
  2. Embroider names on the front
  3. Success

As you might imagine, this wasn’t really sufficient planning on my part. By the time I was finished, my original plans had ballooned out to a frankly ridiculous number of individual points that I hadn’t even realised would be relevant at the start. As well as that, I began a couple of weeks before Valentine’s Day, worked on it whenever I had any spare time and still only finished it late in the evening the day before. In all, it probably took me about 15-20 hours of work to go from an initial idea to a finished project (what can I say, I’m apparently incredibly slow at sewing).

Continue reading “The Power Of Naivety”

Why Should We Care About Accessibility?

Accessibility is such an important topic, but it doesn’t always get as much attention or focus as it should, often because people don’t realise how much of an impact it really has. As such, I wanted to write this post and cover at least a few of the reasons that accessibility is important and why you should care about it.

I originally wrote this with a mind towards the accessibility of digital content (such as documents, websites and software), but hopefully it proves useful to people looking at accessibility in other contexts too.

In no particular order:

Disabilities are more common than you probably realise

According to Jenny Lay-Flurrie (Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer) there are more than 1 billion people worldwide that have some form of disability. 1 billion! That’s more than three times the current population of the entire United States (approximately 328 million at the time of writing). You can’t afford not to care about accessibility; no matter the industry you work in, you almost definitely have customers or users that have some form of disability and you’re doing them a disservice if you don’t take steps to include them.

Continue reading “Why Should We Care About Accessibility?”