colourful words and phrases

techy tangents and general life chatter from a tired sysadmin.

Taking a ride on the Universal Serial Bus

Hello! I'd like to take a minute here to talk about some fun I've been having with the USB interface for the Paperang P1 and P2 portable thermal printers.

I discovered recently that these devices had a USB interface (I'd previously thought the USB port was only for charging the internal battery) when I stumbled onto the (Chinese-only) download page for the Paperang software, which contains something omitted from the English variant of the page; Mac and Windows software, and mentions of using USB to print.

Unfortunately the official Paperang software is very sparse in its featureset, and doesn't appear to properly communicate with the P2 model (It'll produce incorrect print results), so I was motivated to try and reverse-engineer the communications protocol used (a fantastic series of blog posts made by a good friend of mine on the subject of hacking a cheap chinese USB mouse provided added inspiration, and I sincerely recommend you read them).

Read more!

On encryption and jails

It was reported recently that Let's Encrypt had recently launched their private beta. As someone who does their best to ensure encryption is as widely-available as possible, I was excited.


New site, fantastically perl-y, because why not

Oops, and then I didn't have a blog for a few months. I pulled down my old blog (formerly located at, partially the .scot TLD launched and I wanted to move to as soon as possible, and partially because I wanted a blog system I was happier working with (The old blog was dotClear-based, and hosted at Gandi because it was a free addon and I was lazy. I'd looked around for a while to see what blogging systems I could try out, but I didn't want to go near Wordpress and none of the other systems really appealed to me. Some friends suggested I try Jekyll, but I couldn't really grok that; I also found Dapper online, but as far as static-site platforms go it wasn't the best for a blog. So I wrote my own.


Gone, but not forgotten

Just a short post today.


Why I never (or rarely) place phone calls

If I want or need to contact someone, typically the first thing I check is my instant messenger. I use Trillian, which keeps me logged into every IM service I use regularly (AIM, MSN and Gtalk). I also log into Skype on it if I need to. If the person I want to talk to isn't online or available there, I check Steam. If they're not available there, I text them. If I don't have their number or something, I message them on Facebook.