“The parameter is incorrect. (0x80070057)” and other Windows Defrag issues.

•February 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’ve tried to defrag a 2TB hard drive for a couple of days now.

When defragging with /A /H /U /V /O, defrag nears completion, but throws a “The parameter is incorrect. (0x80070057)” error instead. This also happens when using the GUI, but defrag silently logs an error to the Event Log.

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Another serious issue is the speed of defragmentation. As of right now (while consolidating free space), the defrag service spends the majority of it’s time eating 100% of a single core, and very little time on actual I/O. A quick bit of investigatory ProcMon work suggests a cause:

Is somebody incorrectly calling FSCTL_GET_RETRIEVAL_POINTERS?

Is somebody incorrectly calling FSCTL_GET_RETRIEVAL_POINTERS?

The only filter I’m using is:defrag4With that many BUFFER OVERFLOW events, there must be something wrong. Eventually, a Read Metadata DOES succeed, but that’s after several pages of BUFFER OVERFLOWs!

defrag5The Windows Dev Center gives us some insight:

Note that I've highlighted references to 'buffer'.

Note that I’ve highlighted references to ‘buffer’.

Note that I've highlighted references to 'buffer'.

Note that I’ve highlighted references to ‘buffer’.

If you really want to go deep, Mark Roddy has written a great article: Adventures in Luserland:  Finding Disk Sectors Associated with File Records.

Mirrored here: Adventures in Luserland

I’ll conjecture that Microsoft needs to review any defrag code related to FSCTL_GET_RETRIEVAL_POINTERS – but for now, I’ll just have to wait. And wait. And wait.

An update on Circadian Rhythms, F.lux, and DDC/CI (i.e. part IV)

•February 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’ve made a number of minor changes in the C# code from part three, fixing a few bugs and cleaned up the code. Scroll down for the binary + source code.

Continue reading ‘An update on Circadian Rhythms, F.lux, and DDC/CI (i.e. part IV)’

Hype versus Miscommunication, or the Language of Importance

•February 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

“You don’t fall in love because the target of your affections is the most perfect person in the universe, you fall in love because they’re someone who can constantly surprise you.”

4 gravitons

A fellow amplitudes-person was complaining to me recently about the hype surrounding the debate regarding whether black holes have “firewalls”. New York Times coverage seems somewhat excessive for what is, in the end, a fairly technical debate, and its enthusiasm was (rightly?) mocked in several places.

There’s an attitude I often run into among other physicists. The idea is that when hype like this happens, it’s because senior physicists are, at worst, cynically manipulating the press to further their positions or, at best, so naïve that they really see what they’re working on as so important that it deserves hype-y coverage. Occasionally, the blame will instead be put on the journalists, with largely the same ascribed motivations: cynical need for more page views, or naïve acceptance of whatever story they’re handed.

In my opinion, what’s going on there is a bit deeper, and not so easily traceable to any…

View original post 477 more words

The Blue Brain project | Year 4

•February 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

“When you see a visionary in front of you, and I never met many like this, that it’s clear this is a visionary – He could completely fail, it could be complete nonsense, it could be a megalomaniac without foundation, so this I could not judge at that point, I was surprised and I looked at it reluctantly; What is this courage to think so big before you start and you are so small??

It took me ten years to understand,  but then I realized that there is a very good chance that  with him, especially with him, the combination of a ground on earth and [a] mind in the sky to [make] the change.

And here we are.” -Idan Segev

Blue Brain year 4 construction timelapse

An ambitious 14-year documentary, Bluebrain is.

The Blue Brain Project,  is one of the most ambitious projects in human history; I’d say second only to the Apollo program. If (when) it succeeds, it will not only be the most complex thing ever built by humans,  not only offer hereto impossible paths to treatment of mental illness, not only drive the design of evermore powerful computers, not only offer the architecture for new kinds of computers, not only give fundamental insights into the problem of consciousness, we will, in the words of Henry Markram, no longer be “Strangers to ourselves”. It will mark the beginning of a new era in  human history.

Continue reading ‘The Blue Brain project | Year 4’

“Come fly with me”

•February 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

A few weeks ago, nature published this beautiful video. Researchers at the UK’s Royal Veterinary College designed and built devices to collect flight data from birds, and then partnered with another incredible project – to reintroduce the Northern Bald Ibises into their natural habitat – and discovered a tremendous aerodynamic advantage in their (the Ibises) natural V formation.

This has incredible implications for the future of biomimetic flight. Perhaps Robo Raven can learn from this?

Nature paper.

Biomimetic flight|Robo Raven

•February 3, 2014 • 1 Comment


Beautifully simple. Dr. S.K. Gupta’s blog, Here.

Braindump: QUANTUMINSERT staring us right in our face? Intel Management Engine as the ultimate backdoor

•January 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Note: The “brain dump” series is akin to what the support.microsoft.com team calls “Fast Publish” articles—namely, things that are published quickly, without the usual level of polish, triple-checking, etc. I expect that these posts will contain errors, but I also expect them to be mostly correct. I’m writing these up this way now because they’ve been in my “Important things to write about” queue for ~5 years. Alas, these topics are so broad and intricate that a proper treatment would take far more time than I have available at the moment.

EricLaw [ex-MSFT]

This post is a “brain dump” as described by the Microsoft support team. I’m attempting to publish many an article held back by perfectionism, and to publish time-sensitive ideas; special thanks to my first semester freshman year writing teacher,  anybody


I’ve been thinking about the NSA’s office of Tailored Office Operations, and how  some of their exploits may work.

I’ve known for years that Intel’s Management Engine is a persistent bastard. It hitches on to many intel drivers and associated control applets. It can be remotely installed. Online “Store-bought” (preconfigured) computers offer the Management Engine as a feature for computers sold without an operating system. I didn’t understand that last bit (without an OS), but I figured that it was some ugly BIOS + OS magic that I didn’t  yet understand.  I only grasped the significance of the Management Engine a few days ago.

Over Winter Break, I’ve been busy catching up on reading. Particularly on Computer organization, Processor microarchitecture,  Translation Lookaside Buffers, page tables, processor datapaths & codepaths, kernel design, protection rings, the interaction of the kernel & the processor, and other really low-level things.

Yesterday I caught up on another concept, that of negative protection rings,  a concept mysterious and captivating as negative resistance, negative refraction indicesnegative gravitation (mirror 1), negative impedance, negative bulk moduli, and negative absolute temperature; a concept so exotic that I had neither conceived, nor would I ever so much as consider-but for derivation by formal reasoning.  Truly compelling, but I digress.

The idea of negative protection rings has, in fact, long been considered academically – considered that is. The incredible resources required to actually properly exploit (i.e. fully functioning rootkit) these lower rings ensures that said exploits are never within reach of the academic community.


The first negative protection ring is, in simplest of terms, a mechanism explicitly designed to operate outside of the operating system’s reach,  but not explicitly designed to do so maliciously. Ring -1 is hardware acceleration intended to allow OS virtualization at tolerable speeds, and in this role it is known as a Hypervisor. As a Hypervisor it’s job is to present a convincing image of actual hardware to the virtualized ‘guest’ OS, allowing the Hypervisor (the ‘host’) to share a single physical computer among multiple guest OSs. If each OS were to (try to) share control of the same hardware without a Hypervisor, they’d all crash and burn.

Continue reading ‘Braindump: QUANTUMINSERT staring us right in our face? Intel Management Engine as the ultimate backdoor’

Harvesting the world’s (wasted) mechanical energy

•December 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

With one stomp of his foot, Zhong Lin Wang illuminates a thousand LED bulbs – with no batteries or power cord. The current comes from essentially the same source as that tiny spark that jumps from a fingertip to a doorknob when you walk across carpet on a cold, dry day. 

-Georgia Tech News Center (John Toon)

Dr.Zhong Lin, the Chair in Materials Science and Engineering & director of the Center for Nanostructure Characterization,  has leveraged the enormous surface area enabled by nanostructures & the triboelectric effect to generate incredible quantities of electricity.

Since their first publication on the research, Wang and his research team have increased the power output density of their triboelectric generator by a factor of 100,000 – reporting that a square meter of single-layer material can now produce as much as 300 watts

-Georgia Tech News Center (John Toon)

Continue reading ‘Harvesting the world’s (wasted) mechanical energy’

“The Invisible Bicycle Helmet | Fredrik Gertten”

•November 11, 2013 • 2 Comments

This is brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Cyber-weapon authors catch up on blog reading

•October 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The arms race continues.


One of the more popular posts on this blog was the one pointing out how Stuxnet was unsophisticated. Its use of traditional malware methods and lack of protection for the payload indicated that the authors were either “Team B” or in a big hurry. The post was intended to counteract the breathless praise in the press for the advent of sophisticated “cyber-weapons”.

This year, more information was released in the New York Times that gave more support for both theories. The authors may not have had a lot of time due to political pressure and concern about Iran’s progress. The uneasy partnership between the US and Israel may have led to both parties keeping their best tricks in their back pockets.

A lot of people seemed skeptical about the software protection method I described called “secure triggers”. (I had written about this before also, calling it “hash-and-decrypt”.) The general…

View original post 596 more words

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