The Wonderful World of Fibre Channel on eBay

I just bought a fibre channel HBA for $15 on a whim. This is (was) expensive equipment, and I joke that I have spent a significant portion of my career trying to kill the technology (see, e.g., iSCSI). Now that it’s cheap, I figured the least I could do was play with some equipment at home; and hopefully learn something.

Well, first I needed to connect it to something. Witness, a Brocade Silkworm 3200 switch (with 6 SFPs installed) that I bought for $9 (plus shipping).

Brocade Silkworm 3200E

But I still needed cables to connect the devices. At work they were throwing away fiber optics, and I also bought some for $1 each (free shipping!).

Picture of a fiber optic cable

But now I had a problem. I suspect the reason for the multi-thousand-dollar switch selling for under $10 was that the passwords were lost. Oh dear. Apparently many of these switches have been junked because the person who knows the passwords leaves the company. Brocade does not provide any support for these bricks (why should they, when you can buy a new one from them?) and the password reset is unique for each switch.

No problem, find a serial cable, and… oh, the management port is also password protected. Never mind, vxWorks has a terrible password hash (only about 80k unique hashes), so I tried them all over telnet. No dice, but the python telnetlib is nice.

Brocade was nice enough to leave the boot loader program in only a slightly disabled state though. That meant that I was able to dump the firmware out over the serial port (several hours of pressing ‘d’ to get a 9600bps hexdump).

The passwords were listed in the dump! They weren’t vxWorks, they were MD5-crypt(), gah! So I embarked on a fruitless guessing spree, but the standard password guessers (including a 15GB dictionary and brute force) only found a single, disabled user password. Hmm.

Another tack. After uncompressing the OS code, I was able to compile an old GNU binutils for the Intel 80960 and disassemble the machine code. Using the ECOFF information gleaned from Brocade’s obsolete procedure, I was able to flip a bit in the firmware. Yay! Default passwords again, and zones removed.

Now I can find out what FC is all about. In the mean time, I’ve learned a bunch of useless, but very enjoyable, password workarounds.

Utopia Limited Recordings

Fresh from the digital mixing toy, here are the recordings for Lyric Theatre’s Utopia Limited Sitzprobe. (From Dropbox, dismiss the sign-up ad, go to Download and select as .zip.)

Image of Lyric Theatre's 'Utopia Limited' poster from the 2014 performance.

The recording was made 26 September 2014 at Cupertino Middle School’s music room with a (pretty full) orchestra and cast.

Individual tracks are listed below.

Continue reading ‘Utopia Limited Recordings’


The kids now have their own YouTube channels. Visit:

I hope you like Lego….

Xorg Nvidia and Ubuntu Trusty

I have a rather picky home-theater-PC screen. After upgrading Ubuntu on the HTPC from Precise to Trusty, I just couldn’t get the display to sync. After switching out HDMI cables (which did change things, but not for the better) I figured out that xrandr --output HDMI-0 --mode 1348x752 would bring the display back. (It’s a custom mode line.)

However, I couldn’t make this mode change permanent in /etc/X11/xorg.conf. The nvidia-auto-select mode kept overriding things.

The solution was to add this line to the Monitor section of xorg.conf:

Option "ModeValidation" "HDMI-0: NoPredefinedModes, NoXServerModes, NoVesaModes, NoEdidModes"


Mikado Recordings

Somewhat faster than usual (thanks to less splicing and editing being required), the Mikado sitzprobe recordings are now available. From Dropbox, select download as .zip

Poster image from Lyric Theatre's 2014 performances of The Mikado

The recording was made 14 June 2014 in the Miller Middle School music room with the orchestra and a reduced cast.

Individual tracks are listed below.

Continue reading ‘Mikado Recordings’

The Grand Duke sitzprobe recording

For those of you seeking to relive the awe, wonderment and confined space of performing in Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘The Grand Duke’ sitzprobe, I present:

The Grand Duke Lyric Theatre sitzprobe recordings!

The Grand Duke artwork

(In Dropbox, select Download as .zip, or see below for individual songs.)

Continue reading ‘The Grand Duke sitzprobe recording’

Composting robot

Ashton mentioned that our composting cart looked like a ‘leaf-eating monster’, so I introduced the kids to rattle-can art.

Leaf-eating monster robot composting cart and kids.

Ashton also learned the incorrect way to test whether paint is still wet (observe left hand).

Then Brennan helped me inspect the deck by testing the lawn with a #2 square drive bit.

Kid with tools.

VFR 8:00pm

I was keeping an old (warped) disc brake and chain sprocket from my ’99 VFR800 around because they looked kind of cool. I knew what to do when I found an $8 clock at the flea market….

Clock with VFR800FI sprocket and disc rotor.

Then I went OTT and added some $6 under-vehicle lights from Meritline and hooked them up to the garage door opener.

In fact, the most expensive part was the steel backing sheet from the hardware store. Sigh.


Today we went to the beach. Since there was quite a lot of driftwood, we built Seaweed Fort.

Mudman and Brak

Kids crossing a sagging cushion bridge.

Ashton: I am MudMan. You are Mr Clean.

Me: I have the amazing power of napkins.

Ashton: I am sad. I have no family. My assistant is Brak.

Brennan: Here I am!

Me: Oh no, Mudman has slipped off the cushion bridge into the canyon. Brak, can you rescue him?

Brennan: He’s dead.