heyrick1973 -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot uk

If you're here for the geekery, you may prefer to skip the political rant?

The best DEAL for Britain

Listen up you stupid delusional cretin...
Yes, I'm addressing Theresa May, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (and God (or any other omnipotent being) help us all). Why so rude? Because it has been a year. A year of worry. A year of sleepness nights. A year of not knowing if I will even be able to continue to live and work in the country I have called home for a decade and a half.
And yes, I say this after May has announced her "generous" offer for EU citizens (with expected reciprocation). I saw this because there is absolutely no alternative that is morally acceptable - and if May wasn't... basically... a $#!+... then she would have not been the only MP to have voted against doing this in the immediate aftermath of the referendum. But, hey, her track record as Home Secretary is why I was horrified when she became PM, so I guess nobody should be surprised. Millions of people have spent a year - a whole damned year - in limbo. Meanwhile while the likes of Paul Dacre's mouthpiece have been talking about the billions of immigrants about to dump themselves on the UK's social system while actually droves of foreigners are giving up on the UK. It is now starting to get perceived as a country full of racists who don't see anything wrong with beating up people who "talk funny" (anything that isn't recognisably English). What the hell? What the hell has become of the country I used to live in? What the hell has gone so very wrong?

Now, the thing to remember is that this is absolutely not May's decision. The EU recognise that the rights, on both sides, need to be sorted out before the millions in limbo lose hope and become basket cases. So they put this issue at the top of the agenda. That's why we have a lukewarm sort-of offer on the table now. It's not as much as the EU wanted, fair enough, and it's only twelve months late. But it's a start.

Now, all this nonsense about "getting the best DEAL for Britain". STFU. Seriously. It isn't a DEAL. It. Is. Not. A. Deal. Okay? Agreement, maybe. Negotiation, if you are capable of another five syllable word. But not DEAL.

Now, here's the awful truth. YOU HAD THE BEST "DEAL" YOU GODDAMNED MORONS. A Britain that was a part of one of the largest trading blocs in the world. A Britain that had a sizeable rebate. A Britain that had numerous opt-outs and exceptions negotiated along the way. A Britain that was a strong voice of reason within the EU, while not being as intricately tied as, say, France and Germany (etc) with Schengen or the Euro. A Britain that was important in Europe and in the world.

What are you going to get now? A Britain that is maybe sort-of not quite in the EU? Britain might choose to wise up and not actually quit the EU. However as Mr. Macron points out, a lot of damage has already been done, so it is unlikely that a non-quitting Britain will enjoy all of its previous privilege. Though to be honest, this isn't likely to happen while Farage, Murdoch, Dacre, and the Barclay brothers are shaping the opinions of the common man.
The next best "deal" is EFTA, or "the Norway way". This is basically like being in the EU without having any say whatsoever in what goes on. I guess it works for countries like Norway, but for all those halfwit Welsh farmers who complain about the EU having "too much red tape", how do you think it will sit to have the exact same amount of paperwork and rules, but no say in the process of making said rules. EFTA is not a solution at all when you're currently a full EU member.

Or, of course, you can take the UKIP/Tory extremist line and just quit, set up trade "deals" with all the thousands of countries flocking to trade with the UK.... except, there aren't any. Seriously, all those state visits, how have they worked out so far? Because right now the UK is a member of Europe and is of interest. In two years with a go-it-alone approach, it will be a country of 65 million annoyed and disaffected people with a crap economy and frequent civil unrest once the people realise what they've lost through stupidity, incompetence, and bare-faced lies.

Forget any other option. The EU is underpinned on the premise of the four basic freedoms. Do not imagine that the entire EU would not choose to cut Britain loose in preference to the unimaginable act of self-harm that would arise if it permitted Britain to pick and choose which freedoms it wanted. No, Britain, you just aren't that important.

Here's the next equally awful truth. The EU doesn't owe Britain anything. It has a duty to ensure the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and also UK citizens currently in Europe (as we're currently EU citizens too). It also has a duty to assist EU business that has interests in the UK.
That's it.
Anything else will arise out of the generosity of the EU. Note well that the EU (minus the UK) is nearly 700 million people (almost twice that of the US) with a combined GDP (PPP) of nearly twenty trillion dollars (more than the US even). Britain, on the other hand, has a population of ~65 million and a GDP a little under three trillion, and no shared currency to buffer financial disturbances. What weight does Westminster think it carries in these negotiations?
Some European citizens (particularly in Germany, it seems) feel that Britain should suffer, however the reality is that the EU doesn't need to take any punitive measures whatsoever. In a few year's time when the dust has settled, it will be quite clear exactly what the mere third of the electorate that voted for Brexit have blessed upon the country. The way it's going, Britain is sliding towards irrelevance. Make no mistake, France and Germany are currently looking to reinvigorate the EU - something Britain should have been a part of. Brexit is, for them, a mere irritation. Their efforts are concerned with their own countries and the EU as a whole. Brexit is not what occupies them. It is not what defines them. It is not even in the papers unless there's something worth mentioning. In the epic year-long lull that followed the Brexit vote, disbelief turned into bemused incredulity. But other than "look what these wallies have thought of now", Brexit doesn't feature much. Indeed, there are a fair few people at work who haven't even heard of it. At all. Compare and contrast with it being mentioned just about every news bulletin broadcast in the UK over the past year. This ought to give an idea of what May and co are up against.

Never forget - it is Britain walking away from the EU, not the other way around. Maybe this is why the "bloody difficult woman" caved in her first meeting? Maybe because when you strip off the xenophobic posturing and outright racism, the truth is, Britain needs the EU... Certainly, the NHS needs the EU.

Well. Whatever. Good luck getting the second-best "deal", now that the best one has been thrown away. Twats.

 

IPCAM recovery

So, having some spare time on my hands, I decided to solder some pins to the place where I identified a potential serial port. Actually, they are sewing pins clipped to about the height that I wanted. A bit of probing with the multimeter identified the ground plane, and for some reason the 0v on the SoC isn't the same as the 0v on the outer board... Once I had a ground plane, the oscilloscope could provide me with a reliable signal so it wasn't hard to identify 3.3V, input, output.

I didn't have luck with the serial adaptors I got from... was it Amazon or eBay? I don't recall. They're basically a MAX232 on a board with a 9 pin serial socket on one side, and some headers on the other. The LED flickered, but I didn't see anything being send on the appropriate pin of the serial port?

Luckily I had that clone 2303 USB adaptor I use when debugging my Pi. I've not used it in a while so I unplugged it from the Pi's GPIO and hooked it to the IPCAM. Then I realised that this PC has no drivers. Knowing it was a clone chip, I Googled for a driver that works - the same as in the EeePC - PL2303_Prolific_GPS_AllInOne_1013.exe. Downloaded it, virus scanned it, installed it...

HyperTerm wouldn't connect to the port.

I remember HyperTerm is weird, and so the port needed to be configured as a high number (I picked COM10) and it needed to have hardware flow control active regardless of whether or not it was used.
That done, the port opened. I recalled that the 'scope showed a serial burst that looked wider per bit than the time I played with the other camera and determined it to be 115200bps. So I set the port to 57600bps, 8N1.


Wiring is +3.3V (unconnected), Input (green), Output (white), 0v (black).

U-Boot 1.1.3 (Oct 31 2012 - 23:46:19)

Board: Ralink APSoC DRAM:  32 MB
relocate_code Pointer at: 81fb4000
sysctl:40200300
spi_wait_nsec: 42 
spi device id: c2 20 17 c2 20 (2017c220)
find flash: MX25L6405D
raspi_read: from:30000 len:1000 
.
raspi_read: from:30000 len:1000 
.
============================================ 
Ralink UBoot Version: 3.5.3.0
-------------------------------------------- 
ASIC 5350_MP (Port5<->None)
DRAM_CONF_FROM: Boot-Strapping 
DRAM_TYPE: SDRAM 
DRAM_SIZE: 256 Mbits
DRAM_WIDTH: 16 bits
DRAM_TOTAL_WIDTH: 16 bits
TOTAL_MEMORY_SIZE: 32 MBytes
Flash component: SPI Flash
Date:Oct 31 2012  Time:23:46:19
============================================ 
icache: sets:256, ways:4, linesz:32 ,total:32768
dcache: sets:128, ways:4, linesz:32 ,total:16384 

 ##### The CPU freq = 360 MHZ #### 
 estimate memory size =32 Mbytes

Please choose the operation: 
   1: Load system code to SDRAM via TFTP. 
   2: Load system code then write to Flash via TFTP. 
   3: Boot system code via Flash (default).
   4: Entr boot command line interface.
   7: Load Boot Loader code then write to Flash via Serial. 
   9: Load Boot Loader code then write to Flash via TFTP. 
 0 
   
3: System Boot system code via Flash.
## Booting image at bc050000 ...
raspi_read: from:50000 len:40 
.
   Image Name:   Linux Kernel Image
   Created:      2012-11-16   2:03:25 UTC
   Image Type:   MIPS Linux Kernel Image (lzma compressed)
   Data Size:    4112320 Bytes =  3.9 MB
   Load Address: 80000000
   Entry Point:  802f9000
raspi_read: from:50040 len:3ebfc0 
...............................................................
   Verifying Checksum ... OK
   Uncompressing Kernel Image ... OK
No initrd
## Transferring control to Linux (at address 802f9000) ...
## Giving linux memsize in MB, 32

Starting kernel ...


LINUX started...
At this point we skip wads of gibberish, eventually ending up with:
BusyBox v1.12.1 (2012-11-16 09:58:14 CST) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.

# ls
var     tmp     sys     proc    mnt     lib     home    etc     bin
usr     system  sbin    param   media   init    etc_ro  dev
#
And there we are. Didn't even need to log in, we're there as root by default. So I deleted the errant files and copied from backup (I'd thought to copy the original files in place with a "__" prefix in case I needed to revert). One reboot later and the above wads of gibberish were followed by silly amounts of it as the daemon and encoder loaded, initialised the system, and got the camera running.

In the startup, there was quite a lot of:

sit 0 login status:1 iRet 0
=========connect failed============
I put this down to my hacking the hosts file to point the named domains at 127.0.0.1 to silence them. ;-)

While I was hooked to serial and thus able to talk to the bootloader, I had a look at the environment:

U-Boot 1.1.3 (Oct 31 2012 - 23:46:19)
RT5350 # printenv
bootcmd=tftp
bootdelay=1
baudrate=57600
ethaddr="00:AA:BB:CC:DD:10"
ramargs=setenv bootargs root=/dev/ram rw
addip=setenv bootargs $(bootargs) ip=$(ipaddr):$(serverip):$(gatewayip):$(netmask):$(hostname):$(netdev):off
addmisc=setenv bootargs $(bootargs) console=ttyS0,$(baudrate) ethaddr=$(ethaddr) panic=1
flash_self=run ramargs addip addmisc;bootm $(kernel_addr) $(ramdisk_addr)
kernel_addr=BFC40000
u-boot=u-boot.bin
load=tftp 8A100000 $(u-boot)
u_b=protect off 1:0-1;era 1:0-1;cp.b 8A100000 BC400000 $(filesize)
loadfs=tftp 8A100000 root.cramfs
u_fs=era bc540000 bc83ffff;cp.b 8A100000 BC540000 $(filesize)
test_tftp=tftp 8A100000 root.cramfs;run test_tftp
ethact=Eth0 (10/100-M)
ipaddr=192.168.1.106
serverip=192.168.1.99
stdin=serial
stdout=serial
stderr=serial
Gotta love that MAC address... :-/

So, the camera is running again. I just can't connect it to the public internet. It's a shame as it isn't bad for a cheap controllable camera. Okay, the picture quality isn't so great, but the IR illumination is pretty impressive and the movement has been reliable. It's just yet another in a long list of devices I have come across that is functional/adequate hardware let down by abysmal horrible firmware.

 

 

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William Bentley, 26th June 2017, 21:32
I think it's a little unfair to say Brexit is just a minor annoyance. The way Donald Tusk phrases it, it's close to a tragedy for them, and I think his hopes of the UK staying in the EU aren't misplaced.  
 
Obviously, we've probably already left, but out of desire to maintain a good working relationship with the UK, I think it's really not too optimistic to hope the EU shows the UK some mercy here.
Rick, 28th June 2017, 22:48
It is very upsetting to see one of the main EU countries choose to walk away, and it will be an incredible mess to sort out how to go forward from now - especially seeing as Theresa May seems to think that the UK should be entitled to an open customs union that's basically the EU minus the immigration and payments. Oh, look, a flying unicorn! 
 
Despite what the likes of the Telegraph would have you believe, the EU is already showing a fair degree of generosity. The offer on the table for UK citizens in the EU is about three pages long and basically states "everything they can currently do" including the pleasant bonus of retaining the right to move to other EU countries, in case I should wish to retire in Spain. 
The UK, on the other hand, released a ~24 page document that seems to begrudgingly allow a tad more rights than the UK might offer, say, an American. But only so long as one never leaves, if you're out for more than two years all rights are lost. It's hardly the same offer in return... 
 
I can't help but feel this is going to be an indication of how things are going to continue through the negotiation process. 
 
I think they want this completely settled by September. Because then comes the issue of who pays what, to sort out by Christmas. And then... untangling some forty years of agreements in a mere twelve months. Given that it took a whole damn year for the UK to even begin to approach the issue of citizens rights, and that only once the EU made it clear that nothing else would happen until, and given that it took about six months for the UK to create its nonsensical Brexit white paper, the idea of getting everything arranged by March 2019 is so unrealistic as to be a very poor joke. 
 
But, the EU is going to try. Even as Macron and Merkel are working to improve the EU, what it is and who it represents, and how. One might say that it became a little complacent with its lot, but Brexit and Trump have reminded many of why the EU exists, what its aims are, and why it is important. It's just sad that the British are not going to be a part of this.

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