Recent Posts — Page 2

Transitioning to Haunt

May 04, 2019 ❖ Tags: writeup, programming, lisp, scheme, emacs, emacs-lisp

Rather than study for finals this week, I spent my time moving this blog over to Haunt. Previously, I was using Hugo, and while ox-hugo made the authoring workflow tolerable, doing anything on the rendering side of things was unsavory at best. I eventually had enough and decided to look for another solution, of which Haunt was the most enticing.

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Writeups for PlaidCTF 2019

April 14, 2019 ❖ Tags: writeup, security, reverse-engineering, capture-the-flag, x86, c, python

My long-lived hiatus from capture-the-flag has come to an end, as I got off my ass this weekend to play in PlaidCTF 2019. Being a one-man team is pretty lonely, but my old team wasn't playing, and even if they were, I don't know if I would've wanted to make the commute just to play with them.

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Writeups for Dennis Yurichev's Reverse Engineering Challenges (#2-#11)

March 10, 2019 ❖ Tags: writeup, reverse-engineering, arm, x86

As mentioned in the (now deleted) post I wrote describing my plans for 2019, one of my goals this year is to get through at least 50 of the exercises on Dennis Yurichev's challenges.re. I've decided to document my progress in the form of writeups for the challenges I complete, batched in sets of ten exercises. For each challenge, I'll try to explain the intuitions that brought me closer to answering the recurring question from Yurichev, "[w]hat does this code do?"

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First Impressions of the Kotlin Programming Language

December 17, 2018 ❖ Tags: opinion, programming, java, kotlin, android

In the introduction of the previous post I wrote for this series, First Impressions of the Rust Programming Language, I alluded to the presence of arguments that programming language safety should be achieved by moving to languages such as Java which run on a virtual machine. While "safety" may no longer be the first thing that comes to mind in discussion of these languages, especially with the hundreds of vulnerabilities in various implementations of the Java virtual machine, it would be unfair to deny that the principle of running programs in a sandboxed virtual machine is safer than running machine code directly. This post won't be making any claims about safety, though, as I'm more interested in writing about my impressions from a language design perspective. So, how does Java fare in this regard?

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Slime the World: A Postmortem

November 02, 2018 ❖ Tags: writeup, video-games, programming, game-development, lua, lisp, fennel

Slime the World was my entry to this year's Autumn Lisp Game Jam, and it managed to win second place. The theme was slime, so it’s a game about covering everything in sight with slime, and the dialect of Lisp I chose to use was Fennel, a simple and elegant Lisp that I feel perfectly matches the simplicity and elegance of Lua. It takes on a more "modern" style that I associate with Lisps such as Clojure. I had initially pushed Clojure to the side, feeling it was too different from Common Lisp, but now that I've had a positive firsthand experience with a Lisp where lists aren't the data structure you always reach for, I'm hoping to return to it with an open mind.

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First Impressions of the Rust Programming Language

June 08, 2018 ❖ Tags: opinion, programming, rust

C is almost 50 years old, and C++ is almost 40 years old. While age is usually indicative of mature implementations with decades of optimization under their belts, it also means that the language's feature set is mostly devoid of modern advancements in programming language design. For that reason, you see a great deal of encouragement nowadays to move to newer languages - they're designed with contemporary platforms in mind, rather than working within the limitations of platforms like the PDP-11. Among said "new languages" are Zig, Myrddin, Go, Nim, D, Rust… even languages like Java and Elixir that run on a virtual machine are occasionally suggested as alternatives to the AOT-compiled C and C++.

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Installing Gentoo: One Month Later

May 28, 2018 ❖ Tags: opinion, linux, gentoo

It seems that the general consensus on "distro hopping," the act of constantly switching between distributions of GNU/Linux, is that it's a bad habit that should be consciously avoided. If you do a search for the term, you'll get articles with titles along the lines of "How I Stopped Distro Hopping." But it's also a term that gets thrown around loosely, and I think that that "distro hopping" is an acceptable practice in a lot of the contexts where the phrase is used. Needless to say, I've "hopped" distributions in the past month, and this blog post is going to describe the highs and lows of that experience.

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Reverse Engineering By Hand

March 01, 2018 ❖ Tags: tutorial, reverse-engineering, x86, c, linux

My capture-the-flag team played in the Insomni'hack teaser this year. During the competition, I worked on a single challenge titled "sapeloshop." It was labeled as "Medium-Hard," and it was in the binary exploitation category. The source code for the server wasn't provided, so reverse engineering was necessary. I don't think that having to reverse the binary was supposed to be the hard part, as most of the behavior could have been inferred through some high-level analysis, yet I spent nearly five hours fruitlessly trying to reverse it, and the subsequent burnout was bad enough that I went home early. This wasn't the first time a reversing task had gotten the best of me; there had been a few competitions last year where I felt a similar loss in motivation. Noticing this recurring pattern frustrated me, and that frustration drove me to think about ways to improve myself as a reverse engineer.

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Duke on Fluidsynth

January 13, 2018 ❖ Tags: writeup, programming, video-games, audio, c++

My first experiences with Duke Nukem 3D were with EDuke32 ages ago. This was back when I was running Windows Vista, and while my memory is a bit lacking, I swear that I had working music then. Ever since I made the switch to Linux, I haven't had working music playback in EDuke. Frustrated at the fact that my past few years of Duke 3D have been devoid of all sound besides the screams of death and Duke's trash talking, I've finally decided to troubleshoot it.

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January 04, 2018 ❖ Tags: writeup, security, binary-exploitation, video-games, x86, doom

TL;DR, I discovered a stack-smashing vulnerability in GZDoom's interpreter for ACS. As a preface, there's a tendency for whitepapers like this in the security community to be written with a somewhat condescending tone towards the product's vendor. I do not mean for any portion of this writeup to come off as degrading to the developers involved. Yes, the bug was obvious to me, but it was still subtle enough that it went under the radar for nearly 23 years. Most developers aren't actively thinking about this kind of attack while writing a bytecode interpreter. I have an enormous amount of respect for the development teams of both GZDoom and Zandronum, who were quick to issue a patch addressing the issue and were respectful of my wishes to release this whitepaper to the public. I'd also like to thank everyone I had the pleasure of working with during this process; it warms my heart to know that the communities behind these open-source software projects are this friendly.

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