I’ve just completely re-skinned my IP subnet calculator over at www.subnetcalc.it, hopefully making it much easier on the eye. The original skin was basically the same as the one I used for XKPasswd which is fixed-width and hence very old fashioned. The biggest problem with a fixed-width design is that it doesn’t work well on either large or small screens, which is almost everyone these days!

The new skin is variable-width, so it should scale much better for people. Assuming people like this basic style, my plan is to migrate www.XKPasswd.net to this same basic design. In effect I’m using this new site to beta-test some ideas for XKPasswd.

I’d love to hear any constructive feedback people have.

Tagged with:

Taming the TerminalI’ve not been happy with any of the free subnet calculators I’ve found online, and that came to a head when I was looking for something I could feel happy recommending within the Taming the Terminal series. The great thing about being able to code is that you can scratch your own itch!

The calculator I’ve written is primarily designed around expanding out the network information users will find in the Windows Control Panel, OS X System Preferences, or from terminal commands like ipconfig (Windows) and ifconfig (Linux, Unix, OS X). It’s not realistic to expect users to convert netmasks from one notation to another, so the calculator is very liberal in the netmasks it accepts.

The secondary audience for the calculator is students and anyone else interested in understanding the math behind IP subnets. To that end there is button that will expand the interface out to show the binary calculations being carried out under the hood.

Check it out at: www.SubnetCalc.it

This is a very new site, so I’m definitely open to constructive criticism, but please bear in mind the target audience is home users, not IT Pros, so I’m going to be very reluctant to follow through with any suggestions to add more complication to the interface.

I started this project by developing a set of JavaScript classes for representing and manipulating IP addresses, Netmasks, and IP Subnets. I’ve released that library under a BSD license over on my GitHub page – bartificer.ip.js.

Tagged with:

XKPasswd.net Updated

Filed Under Computers & Tech, Security on November 10, 2014 | 10 Comments

After quiet a few months of work, I’ve just re-launched my secure memorable password generator – www.xkpasswd.net. The entire interface has been re-designed, and under the hood the site now uses version 2 of my XKPasswd.pm perl module.

The interface has been completely re-designed with an eye to making it easier to understand what the various configuration settings mean. The configuration is sections, and each section is headed by an English description of the current settings. You can read down through the headings to get a very good understanding of the configuration. Additionally, there is now a diagram showing the structure of the password that will be generated, and whether or not it will contain mixed case, digits, and symbols.

You can now generate multiple passwords at once, people often like to generate a few and choose one that speaks to them, so while not make that easier! Once passwords are generated, their strength, or Entropy, is reported, and colour-coded – green is good 🙂

I’ll be adding some more features over the next few months. I’ll mainly be focusing on adding more dictionaries, and allowing users to create their own custom dictionaries by mixing and matching separate word lists. What I have in mind is a set of base language dictionaries like English, and French, and so on, and then a selection of special dictionaries like place names, scientific terms, scifi characters and places, animals, fore names, and so on. I’m also planning to add the ability to store your own custom presets locally using HTML5’s local storage feature.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please do share them.

Tagged with:

Big Changes on this Site

Filed Under Computers & Tech, My Projects on August 9, 2014 | 1 Comment

This site started life in the early 2000s as a pure blog powered by the Serendipity blogging engine and hosted on free shared hosting provided by MiNDS>, the IT society of Maynooth University, where I was a researcher in the Computer Science department at the time. The first big change came in the summer of 2006 when I moved the blog from MiNDS> to this domain. As well as moving the blog, I also moved my personal website, though the two remained separate entities which I had to mange separately. While moving the blog I took the opportunity to change blogging engines from Serendipity to WordPress. This was an early version of WordPress, so its evolution from blogging engine to content management system (or CMS) still had a long way to go (arguably it still does). As WordPress’s pages feature evolved, I eventually did away with the standalone site, adding just a handful of pages into WordPress. At that point WordPress became my entire website. It was a viable solution because I really just needed a few simple ‘about the stuff I do’ pages, and the blog.

This month, while preparing for the release of the new version of my XKPasswd open source library, I realised that I needed more from this site. While the blog is still important, and will continue to contain most of the information hosted on the site, it won’t be the view though which most of that information will be accessed. A reverse-chronological list of all posts on all topics is not actually an optimal way of presenting content! This site serves as the anchor of my online presence simple because this is the URL I give out when ever I’m asked where people can find me online. I sometimes wonder if podcast listeners aren’t starting to think that Busschots is just my middle name, and that from bartb.ie is actually my surname! This site has not been a particularly good home page, not because there isn’t useful content, but because it’s been ineffectively presented.

Read more

Tagged with:

xkpasswd - a secure memorable password generator

Steve Gibson really set the cat among the pigeons with his Password Haystacks site a few months ago, and XKCD’s ‘Correct Horse Battery Staple’ web comic brought that message home to many many nerds and geeks. The basic idea is that you’re better off making your passwords long and memorable than short and complex. In the simplified XKCD example the password is simply made up of 4 common words, but Steve Gibson suggests you should add some padding around those words to make the passwords much harder to guess.

This is a lovely theory, but I’m not imaginative, and I need to invent a lot of passwords every week, so I wrote a Perl module to do it for me, and called it xkpasswd.pm. The first thing I’m announcing today is that I’ve made this library available for free for both personal and commercial use (under the FreeBSD license), you can download it from www.bartb.ie/xkpasswd.


It’s great to have a library for nerds to play with, but what about everyone else? Well, that’s where my second announcement comes in, I’ve also created www.xkpasswd.net, a simple web front-end to the xkpasswd.pm module.


In case anyone is wondering where the name comes from? It’s a mashing together of XKCD, and passwd, the Linux/Unix command for changing passwords. Because I used to use Solaris, and hence the yppasswd command, I liked the idea of keeping the prefix to just two letters, hence xkpasswd, rather than xkcdpasswd.

For any programmers interested in using the Perl module, it has no prerequisites other than base Perl, and all you need to get started is the module and a dictionary file to point it at. The download package contains the module, a sample dictionary, and a sample Perl script which invokes the module.

In the future I also plan to release a JavaScript-only version if the library so that others can embed xkpasswd-based password generators in their own sites without needing Perl CGI support on their servers. I’m also experimenting with creating an OS X Service to allow people to easily generate xkpasswd passwords from anywhere within OS X, and perhaps even a native OS X Application. So stay tuned!

XKCD - Password Strength

Tagged with:

Thanks to this nice wordpress plugin/theme from the guys at content robot this blog now displays even better on an iPhone or iPod Touch. It works by first providing a theme that is optimised for use on Mobile Safari and then adding a plugin that uses that theme automatically for just Mobile Safari. It’s a nice idea well implemented. (Thanks to Alison for the tip)

Tagged with:

There was a time when I was one of those freedom of speech nuts who felt I had a right to stick my ore in everywhere, including the comments on other people’s blogs. You know, confusing the non-existent right not to be edited on other people’s websites with the right to free speech. Thankfully I’ve grown up a bit in recent years. Freedom of speech is very important, absolutely vital, but it does not include a right to effectively deface other people’s expressions of their right to free speech with your own rantings. As long as people are free to set up their own blogs you will have true freedom of speech. Don’t just take my word for that. Far wiser people than I have come to the same conclusions. The following articles make interesting reading:

Read more

Tagged with:

Blog Theme Tweaked

Filed Under Computers & Tech, My Projects on March 18, 2007 | 7 Comments

Although I was very happy with the Blue Zinfandel Squared theme as it was out of the box there were one or two things about it that annoyed me so I spent this evening fixing them. I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised when I dove into the code, it was clear, simple and well documented! All my changes were minor, no more than a few lines of code each but they make things pretty much exactly as I want them. Anyhow, in case you care these are the tweaks I made:

  • I moved the search box up to the top of the side bar
  • Fixed the way the categories were shown – it wasn’t playing nice with nested categories
  • Added the full date to the information at the top of posts
  • Added an “edit” button to each post that only shows up when I’m logged in
  • Tweaked the way lists are rendered in posts
  • Tweaked the page header and footers a very small bit

And that’s it. That’s all the changes the theme needed. I really can’t give it high enough praise!

Tagged with:

This is the first post to my new blog since I moved it from www.minds.nuim.ie/~voyager/blog to here. The move has not been a smooth one because I also moved from using the Serendipity blog software to WordPress. ATM all my old posts are here but many have not imported perfectly and all the comments were lost. I’ll be fixing the posts over the next while and I haven’t quite given up on find a way to get the comments across but the changes are it won’t happen.

I still have some work to do here before I get back up to my normal level of posting but from tomorrow on expect to start seeing new posts again.

Tagged with: