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Schwab / Symantec VIP Access vs. Yubikey

A Yubikey 5 NFC turns out to be perfectly compatible with any website using Symantec’s (no longer available) hardware key and VIP Access (definitely a misnomer) app to generate TOTP access codes, because the sites use bog-standard TOTP. The only difficulty comes from Symantec’s proprietary protocol creating the token linking an ID with a secret value to generate the TOTP codes, which is how they monetize an open standard.

Fortunately, Cyrozap reverse-engineered the Symantec protocol, dlenski mechanized it with a Python script, and it works perfectly:

python3 -m venv symkey-env
source symkey-env/bin/activate
pip3 install
vipaccess provision -t SYMC

That spits out a file containing the ID and secret, from which you create a QR code for the Yubikey Authenticator app:

qrencode -t UTF8 'otpauth://totp/VIP%20Access:SYMCidnumbers?secret=longsecretgibberish&issuer=Symantec&algorithm=SHA1&digits=6'

Fire up the app, wave the Yubikey behind the phone, scan the QR code, wave the Yubikey again to store it, sign in to the Schwab site, turn on 2FA, enter the ID & current TOTP value from the Yubikey Authenticator, and It Just Works™.

Of course, you can kiss Schwab’s tech support goodbye, because you’re on your own. If you ever lose the Yubikey, make sure you know the answers to your allegedly secret questions.

Equally of course, you’re downloading and running random shit from the Intertubes, but …

Now, if only all my financial institutions would get with the program.

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Needle Case Repair

A needle case emerged from the bottom of a drawer in need of repair:

Needle Case - unglued
Needle Case – unglued

The original joint used solvent glue and I suppose I could refresh it with acetone, but two blobs of hot melt glue seemed easier and, IMO, more durable.

In any event, it’s once more ready for use:

Needle Case - repaired
Needle Case – repaired

Hooray for another zero-dollar repair, although you can see why nobody else does them these days.

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Kenmore 158 Sewing Machine: Hardware Deglaring

The matte mailing labels on the Kenmore 158’s hand hole cover plate did such a good job reducing the glare from the additional LEDs as to make the shiny hardware around the needle seem overly bright. I suggested gentle sandblasting might improve the situation without changing any surfaces in contact with the fabric.

I was given a spare presser foot to demonstrate my case:

Kenmore 158 Presser Foot - original - front
Kenmore 158 Presser Foot – original – front

The overhead light in the shop produces glare from the nice, shiny steel surfaces similar to what Mary sees from the sewing machine.

A few minutes applying 220 grit blast media with Tiny Sandblaster™ definitely changed its appearance:

Kenmore 158 Presser Foot - sandblasted - front
Kenmore 158 Presser Foot – sandblasted – front

In person, the finish is neutral gray overall, with those odd brown areas appearing only in photographs, perhaps due to the various lights in the shop. The slight texture variations seem to correspond to minor differences in the plating (?) over the steel surface. It definitely cuts down the glare:

Kenmore 158 Presser Foot - sandblasted vs original
Kenmore 158 Presser Foot – sandblasted vs original

The needle clamp and screw across the top of that picture travel up and down, so we decided to deglare them along with the “good” foot:

Kenmore 158 - foot with needle clamp - original
Kenmore 158 – foot with needle clamp – original

Another Tiny Sandblaster™ session knocked back their shine:

Kenmore 158 - foot with needle clamp - sandblasted
Kenmore 158 – foot with needle clamp – sandblasted

Those parts came out slightly less matte, perhaps due to reduced pressure in the propellant can. Seeing as how I’ve had the sandblaster for a couple of decades, I figured it’s time to use the propellant but, as expected, the in-can valve doesn’t re-seal properly, so I’ll be using compressed air the next time around.

After rinsing and blowing and rinsing and blowing the grit out of the threads, everything went back together as expected:

Kenmore 158 - sandblasted hardware installed
Kenmore 158 – sandblasted hardware installed

I’m not doing either of the plates until we have more experience with the matte hardware, but it looks pretty good to me.



Car vs. Pole: That Ain't Gonna Buff Right Out

Spotted at the corner gas station, where they collect wrecks before harvesting their organs:

Car vs Pole
Car vs Pole

As far as we can tell, the car clipped the pole off at the base, whereupon it smashed down across the roof, leaving the trunk unscathed. The lack of blood on the airbag suggests the driver lived to tell the tale, although we’ll never know the rest of the story.

A collection of random stuff tossed on the back seat included a license plate bent into a surprisingly gentle curve.

Obligatory: And Sudden Death reference.


Bird Feeder Icing

After a day of snow + sleet + ice, followed by overnight cooling, the bird feeder looked like this:

2019-12-19 - Ice on bird feeder - Day 0
2019-12-19 – Ice on bird feeder – Day 0

The ice generally doesn’t bond across the top, so the sheets slide off separately to the front and back. This time, they stayed together and began sliding off to the side.

The next two days were unusually cold and the glacier stopped sliding:

2019-12-21 - Ice on bird feeder - Day 2
2019-12-21 – Ice on bird feeder – Day 2

The temperature warmed enough during the day to let the glacier resume sliding, whereupon it fell and shattered on the patio.

No birds or squirrels were injured during this incident.

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Beware the Unit of Measure

While looking for something else, I stumbled across this Amazon offer (clicky for more dots):

Hammermill Truckload Paper
Hammermill Truckload Paper

Yeah, a trailer load a’ paper. Word.

Long ago, in a universe far away, my buddy Mark One mis-read a unit of measure and ended up with a trailer load a’ Tektronix Thermal Paper. It carried a silver-based emulsion requiring constant refrigeration, so he stashed about a pallet of paper canisters under every raised floor on the IBM Poughkeepsie campus. Even though the raised floor acreage has dropped dramatically, some of it may be there to this very day.


Cheese Slicer: JB Weld Epoxy FTW

The JB Weld epoxy I slathered on our trusty hand-held cheese slicer a year ago continues to withstand daily washing and occasional trips through the dishwasher:

Cheese Slicer JB Weld 1 year - top
Cheese Slicer JB Weld 1 year – top

The bottom is in fine shape, too:

Cheese Slicer JB Weld 1 year - bottom
Cheese Slicer JB Weld 1 year – bottom

Compare it with XTC-3D epoxy, which admittedly isn’t rated for continuous water exposure, after a year:

Cheese Slicer - epoxy coating split
Cheese Slicer – epoxy coating split

JB Weld FTW!


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