David McBride

This is the personal website of David McBride. Find out more about me.

Configuring open emergency WiFi at home

I remember Cory Doctorow writing that, in a crisis, you are more likely to be okay if you treat your neighbours as allies rather than threats. If everything does go sideways, as things are looking like they could to a lesser or greater degree in the UK, then one of the most important things to do is to rapidly make friends with your neighbours, if you're not acquainted already - because together, you can make things better.

One of the things I started doing a few years ago — just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, in fact — was to set up an open WiFi channel called Emergency Internet on my home router that didn't provide access to my own machines, but did provide open, unrestricted access to the public Internet. Because it would cost me nothing, and it could help out a neighbour in need.

Response to BBC DRM Consultation

As has been reported by Tom Watson MP, Cory Doctorow, the Open Rights Group, Danny O'Brien at the EFF, and the BBC itself, the BBC has petitioned OFCOM to be allowed to encrypt metadata in over-the-air digital terrestrial broadcasts. The BBC plan to use the encryption key for this data as leverage against manufacturers of decoder devices; if they want to be able to use DVB-T2's automatic tuning, Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), interactive teletext and other features, they can license a copy of the encryption key -- but only if they also promise to implement various optional anti-features into their products.

Design for a Generic Wishlist Service

Many online shopping services — Dabs and Amazon.co.uk, to name but two — provide a wishlist facility, where you can store lists of things that you wouldn't mind being bought for you. (See, for example, my Amazon wishlist.)

These lists can be enormously useful for the people who use them, because they can make gift giving for events like birthdays, weddings, or Christmas much more efficient — it makes gift selection much more straightforward, and it stops two or more people from inadvertently giving the recipiant two of the same item. (Plus, online retailers can take care of the packing and delivery of gifts, which in many cases can be most useful.)

Mitigating SSH Attacks

Brute-force password-guessing attacks on SSH services are common on the Internet today. They are a threat for two reasons:

Both of these scenarios are bad. We can substantially reduce, or even eliminate these threats by rate-limiting incoming SSH connections — not globally, but on a per-source-IP basis. On Linux, we can use the RECENT match facility available in modern versions of iptables to achieve this.