Upgrading & migrating pip packages, en masse

•December 16, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Upgrading, faster

Pip, the Python package management system, still lacks an easy way to update all installed packages. The “upgrade-all” ability has been in the works for nearly 4 years now.

In the meantime, many simple hacks have evolved to meet the demand. They’re all simple, and quite slow.

About six months ago I wrote a fast Python script to upgrade all local pip packages.

The idea is simple.


import pip
import queue

Then, query pip for the list of installed packages:

def buildQueueOfInstalledPackages():
    distQueue = queue.Queue()
    for dist in pip.get_installed_distributions():
    return distQueue

Here is where my script gets interesting:

Continue reading ‘Upgrading & migrating pip packages, en masse’

Ambulance drone can help heart attack victims in under 2 minutes

•November 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Alexander Riccio:

This is beautiful :)

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Drones get a bad rap from the FAA but there’s growing evidence that more unmanned aircraft in the sky would do more good than harm. We’ve already seen how drones can save the day in search-and-rescue situations, and now a Dutch student is showing people how the devices, which can weigh under 5 pounds, could be a game-changer in medical emergencies.

Alex Momont, an engineer at the Technical University of Delft, has created an airborne defibrillator-delivery system that can reach anyone with a five-square-mile area in less than minutes. The school has posted this remarkable video showing how it works:

The so-called “Ambulance Drone” was the result of Momont’s Master thesis research. On his website, he likens the project to a medical toolbox:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]”The first minutes after an accident are critical and essential to provide the right care to prevent escalation. Speeding up emergency response can prevent deaths and accelerate recovery dramatically. This is notably true…

View original 160 more words

PREVIEW: How fast are FindFirstFile/FindFirstFileEx, and CFileFind – actually?

•September 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I have a post in the works about the performance of enumerating a directory with FindFirstFile/FindFirstFileEx, and CFileFind.  I also investigate the various performance “tricks” (more like myths) used to speed these APIs up.



(sneak peek)


Two key findings:

  1. They’re actually fairly – but not terribly – fast
  2. FIND_FIRST_EX_LARGE_FETCH doesn’t do what you think it does.

An INVALID_POINTER_READ_EXPLOITABLE (buffer overrun) in Notepad++

•August 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Earlier this week I tracked down an insidious bug in Notepad++.

Continue reading ‘An INVALID_POINTER_READ_EXPLOITABLE (buffer overrun) in Notepad++’

CrashPlan log categories

•July 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’m a very happy customer of CrashPlan. Offsite backup is a critical component of any backup plan!

Without advanced¹ filesystems² like btrfs³, maintaining up-to-date backups is an arduous task. CrashPlan’s fire-and-forget nature lifts that weight from my shoulders, freeing my mind & time. Better yet, CrashPlan supports Windows & Linux.

However, like many large-scale cross-platform programs, it’s far from perfect. There are many cases where certain files fail to backup, where scanning for files slows the entire computer to a grinding halt, backups take longer than they should, file upload is not fully utilizing available bandwidth, or memory usage seems inordinate.

Fortunately, CrashPlan has a mature logging infrastructure. Code42 provides some insight on their website (mirror). If you investigate these logs, you’ll notice that they (a) are marked as a logging “level” (ERROR, WARN, INFO, DEBUG, TRACE, ALL, OFF), and (b) are categorized.

For (a), CrashPlan PROe “ADMINISTRATION CONSOLE COMMAND-LINE INTERFACE OVERVIEW“(mirror) suggests that the levels are actually [Error, Warn, Info, Fine, Trace], but I’ve never seen ‘Fine’ in the home edition.

For (b), the aforementioned document says only “The complete list of options is  available by contacting our Customer Champions.”.

Continue reading ‘CrashPlan log categories’

Goals: The Intended Outcomes of Higher Education

•June 27, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This chapter, written by Howard R. Bowen in “Foundations of American Higher Education” is a brilliant read.

Marx sought to change the world through changing social institutions, Jesus through changing the hearts of men. Higher education tries to do both.

Update: The Windows Phone app for WordPress makes no distinction between “save” and “post”. Here’s the chapter: Goals: The Intended Outcomes of Higher Education

Make VC++ Compiles Fast Through Parallel Compilation

•April 16, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Alexander Riccio:

Random ASCII always writes brilliant in-depth analyses!

Originally posted on Random ASCII:

The free lunch is over and our CPUs are not getting any faster so if you want faster builds then you have to do parallel builds. Visual Studio supports parallel compilation but it is poorly understood and often not even enabled.

I want to show how, on a humble four-core laptop, enabling parallel compilation can give an actual four-times build speed improvement. I will also show how to avoid some of the easy mistakes that can significantly reduce VC++ compile parallelism and throughput. And, as a geeky side-effect, I’ll explain some details of how VC++’s parallel compilation works.

Plus, pretty pictures.

View original 3,184 more words

“destroyed in a heartbeat”

•April 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’ve recently stumbled across this slashdot article (mirrored)wherein the comments, MadX says:

*If* such a mechanism was coded in, the nature of open source would mean it would be found by others. This in turn would compromise the trust of the ENTIRE kernel. That trust can take years to build up – but be detroyed in a heartbeat.

Now that has a special irony.


“detroyed in a heartbeat”….or a heartbleed?

Arduino device driver trouble? A simple fix!

•April 13, 2014 • 2 Comments

Have you tried fixing an “Unknown device” error with your Arduino? If you’ve failed to resolve the issue, you likely saw a screen like this:



And maybe you even tried disabling driver signature enforcement as such:


That is a very bad idea – and also unnecessary. Driver signature enforcement is a critical security feature, as a tremendous number of modern rootkits (and other malware) install drivers to do their dirty business.

Continue reading ‘Arduino device driver trouble? A simple fix!’

Rush post: heartbleed-masstest

•April 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The Heartbleed Bug (CVE-2014-0160) is not just a run-of-the-mill bug, it’s a damn scary bug. Most “nasty” vulnerabilities are quite limited in scope – maybe an attacker has a tiny chance of exploiting the vulnerability to execute (a tiny segment of) code, or they corrupt the appearance of files (ahem, winRAR) so the user is tricked into executing malicious code.  The heartbleed bug however, can be exploited without leaving any evidence of exploitation, and requires NO user interaction. The Heartbleed bug lets attackers read from arbitrary locations in the OpenSSL address space, including those used to store the PRIVATE keys.


As a result of this danger,  Mustafa Al-Bassam created a tool to scan websites for this vulnerability. I forked it on GitHub, and quickly hacked it to scan in a multithreaded fashion, much faster than the original serial method.


It’s really ugly at the moment, but you can clone it here: https://github.com/ariccio/heartbleed-masstest/

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