Palm T|X Security: Counterproductive

The other day, I was looking through the preferences on my Palm T|X, and I found out that I could enable “Intrusion Protection”. I set it so that it would destroy all data on the TX if I failed to enter my password 25 times. That seemed like enough grace period that I wouldn’t accidentally destroy my data, even if I mis-typed the password several times.

The next day, I let my three-year-old play “Bombel”, and draw on the “Note Pad”. Several minutes later, I noticed that she was pushing buttons willy-nilly at the password screen.

“Oh!”, I thought, “That’s not good.” She was well on her way to exceeding the 25-password attempts and wiping out my data. I knew I could get it back with a hot-sync, but I didn’t want to resort to that.

Palm “intrusion detection” became counterproductive when placed in the hands of a child.


I also tried the Palm TX feature to “Encrypt data when locked”. First, I tried using AES encryption, since it would likely be “stronger” than the default of RC4. AES was unusable — it took minutes to encrypt and decrypt my calendar and address databases. RC4 was barely usable, taking ten seconds or so to encrypt and decrypt my calendar. When I whip out my Palm, I want access to my data immediately, so I disabled encryption.


I’ve chosen convenience over confidentiality for the data on my Palm TX, because I felt that the price to pay for confidentiality was too high. I’m not sure that it’s the right decision. I might feel differently if the Palm is lost or stolen. And so might some of the contacts in the address book. I would re-evaluate my decision if I were required to notify those contacts in the case of a lost Palm.

Fedora 11 and Virtualization (KVM)

I’ve recently upgraded another computer from Fedora 9 to Fedora 11, and I’ve decided to try the built-in KVM (i.e. Applications -> System Tools -> Virtual Machine Manager). I wanted a virtual machine that had bridged mode networking, but it wasn’t available by default. To get it as an option, I disabled SELinux (not sure if it was necessary), followed some special instructions to setup a bridged interface, and restarted my network and libvirtd.

Now I’ve got a working guest OS inside of KVM, and I like it. The guest OS feels snappy and responsive.

Update: KVM and the accompanying tools aren’t as mature as VirtualBox or VMWare. E.g. I didn’t see how to get my USB flash drive to be recognized by a KVM guest OS. At one point, I tried to use VirtualBox at the same time as KVM. VirtualBox told me I needed to disable the KVM kernel module before using VirtualBox.

Switched from digitalspace to justhost

I’ve been running my website on digitalspace.net hosting for years. Then they sold out to jumpline, and my ability to push changes to my website via ‘rsync‘ disappeared, and was never restored. Although I still had ssh shell access, the account was seriously limited. It was probably a good security decision on their part, but I missed having wget, tar, gunzip, chmod, and other essential utilities that I used when upgrading my blogging software. It became tedious, at best, to maintain my website.

I’ve finally switched to hosting through http://www.justhost.com and the transition has taken more time than I wanted. As a father of four dear children, I feel the time pinch. Migrating wordpress has been more tedious than expected. And then there’s email — that was a pain to switch as well. At one point, I even considered abandoning my website and switching my blog to a site like blogger.com. But I stuck with it.

Jumpline support has been good to work with, and I’m pleased with my ssh shell access. I get the power of a typical linux shell with my favorite utilities: rsync, tar, etc.