Human Infrastructure 355: Getting Beer from a Cisco 7609


In this 2009 blog, Terry Slattery explains the Mathis equation. “Good network engineers know about TCP performance over Long, Fat Networks (LFNs – see RFC1323) and how to use bandwidth, delay, and window size to calculate the maximum throughput of a connection. But it seems that not many people know about the Mathis Equation, which describes how packet loss factors into the throughput calculations.” Terry goes on to explain. - Ethan

This maker project from 2021 redefines throughput, putting beer through a Cisco 7609 instead of packets. And no, they didn’t put beer in the chassis, nothing like that. The idea was to make it look like a working chassis (even though the insides were mostly gone) that happens to have a couple of taps on the front. They worked within these parameters.

  • All LEDs on the front needs to work

  • Ethernet cables needs to be connected

  • Fiber cables needs to be connected

  • Can’t sound like a jet engine

  • Preferably controllable intensity of the ports

The piece explains how they got to a result, and the result is pretty cool, I must say. - Ethan

Not literally an AirTag, but functionally the same. Brian reports…

“Both Apple and Google operate their own Wi-Fi-based Positioning Systems (WPS) that obtain certain hardware identifiers from all wireless access points that come within range of their mobile devices. Both record the Media Access Control (MAC) address that a Wi-FI access point uses, known as a Basic Service Set Identifier or BSSID.

Periodically, Apple and Google mobile devices will forward their locations — by querying GPS and/or by using cellular towers as landmarks — along with any nearby BSSIDs. This combination of data allows Apple and Google devices to figure out where they are within a few feet or meters, and it’s what allows your mobile phone to continue displaying your planned route even when the device can’t get a fix on GPS.”

That is, Google and Apple have global databases of Wi-Fi devices broadcasting BSSIDs along with their approximate locations, and can use that figure out where your phone is. Those databases are queriable via APIs, although the data they return is different from one another. “In essence, Google’s WPS computes the user’s location and shares it with the device. Apple’s WPS gives its devices a large enough amount of data about the location of known access points in the area that the devices can do that estimation on their own.”

The Apple response is the interesting one, because it’s ripe for abuse. The rest of the article explains how researchers at the University of Maryland demonstrated how such abuse could happen using the Russia-Ukraine conflict as an example. Fascinating and frightening.

The UMD folks are often up to fantastic computer science research. We’ve had them on the Packet Pushers network a few times. - Ethan

A most excellent list! - Drew

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A fresh report from our boring dystopia. As currently deployed, AI can be used for misinformation and disinformation, and tends to abuse copyright. The EU has created the AI Act in response, attempting to limit the negative impacts that AI can have on society. “The AI Act imposes strict transparency obligations on high-risk AI systems while such requirements for general-purpose AI models will be lighter. It restricts governments' use of real-time biometric surveillance in public spaces to cases of certain crimes, prevention of terrorist attacks and searches for people suspected of the most serious crimes.”

The legislation will be phased in over time, but it’s relatively fast-acting. “While the new legislation will apply in 2026, bans on the use of artificial intelligence in social scoring, predictive policing and untargeted scraping of facial images from the internet or CCTV footage will kick in in six months once the new regulation enters into force.” Did you catch the words predictive policing? Me, too. I’m going to go re-watch Minority Report and marvel. - Ethan

Ars reports, “Computer pioneer Gordon Bell, who as an early employee of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) played a key role in the development of several influential minicomputer systems and also co-founded the first major computer museum, passed away on Friday, according to Bell Labs veteran John Mashey. Mashey announced Bell's passing in a social media post on Tuesday morning.”

The article summarizes Gordon’s many accomplishments including the invention of the first Universal Asynchronous Receiver-Transmitter (UART), architecture of the DEC PDP-4 and PDP-6, oversight of the DEC VAX engineering (I both learned on and supported many VAXes early in my career), and work as a entrepreneur, policy adviser, and researcher in later years. Gordon was also given many industry awards and honors recognizing his significant contributions to our world.

Lest we forget. - Ethan

Pretty simple really. Safety gets in the way of money, blitz-scaling, and power.  - Drew



GitHub user HackerTarget describes this project thusly. “nmap-did-what is a Grafana docker container and a Python script to parse Nmap XML output to an SQLite database. The SQLite database is used as a datasource within Grafana to view the Nmap scan details in a dashboard.” You get a slick visualization of what nmap has scanned. - Ethan

Nmap doesn’t get updated all that often, so even minor point releases feel notable for the stalwart network scanning tool. Lots of fixes and performance enhancements in this release, as well as many new OS fingerprint & signature additions. Still relevant after all these years. - Ethan


Tom Hatch, creator of Salt and the found of the Salt Project, announces that he’s leaving Broadcom. How’d he get there in the first place? VMware acquired Salt, and Broadcom acquired VMware, you see. Ah, Tom hates Broadcom? No, he doesn’t seem to. Tom says, “I do think that Broadcom has, for the most part, made excellent management decisions for VMware. During my brief time inside Broadcom I have become a great admirer of Broadcom’s CEO, Hock Tan. I feel that he has repeatedly done the right things in the management of VMware and pushed it forward in ways that will ensure the longevity and profitability of VMware products for years to come.” So why’s he moving on? Read his thoughtful post if you can, but the TL;DR is that the time was right. - Ethan

Got a project in mind that needs funding? ARIN would like a word with you. The organization is in its sixth year of providing funds that support “operational and research projects that improve the overall Internet industry and user environment.” Who’s eligible? ARIN says “Individuals may apply on behalf of organizations pursuing projects that are noncommercial in nature and broadly benefit the Internet community within the ARIN region.” If you meet those requirements, click above for more details and a link to the application.  - Drew 

Torq provides a no-code, SaaS-based automation platform that aims to help Security Operations Center (SoC) analysts automate processes and tasks to assist with common jobs such as investigations and incident response. Originally developed to help SoCs operate more efficiently, Torq now offers a full SoC itself. And as you might expect, Torq leverages its own automation platform within this SoC offering. The company says the HyperSOC includes event analysis supported by AI, automated case management, and human-in-the-loop processes in case you aren’t ready to turn every decision over to the machines just yet. - Drew

RtBrick builds routing software for telcos and service providers that runs on whitebox hardware. The company recently announced that its software can now support Layer-2 VPN services alongside other service provider offerings. From the press release: “The network edge is a crucial component of an advanced telco architecture. Now, operators can provide a multiservice edge on the same open switch, which reduces complexity and costs, and brings valuable power and space efficiencies.” - Drew

DigiCert is adding new features for organizations to help manage the lifecycle of IoT devices, including providing Software Bills of Materials (SBOMs) to get visibility into firmware and other software components in IoT devices, and anomaly detection capabilities. One trend I noticed at the RSA Conference 2024 is the growing converge between IT, IoT, and OT; meaning, IT will be incorporating more responsibility for IoT and OT device management and security. Expect to see more announcements in this vein over the coming year. - Drew