Geoff Collyer

copyright © 1986 Gillian Collyer

Plan 9 and (l)unix system programmer and administrator.

I started at Google in September 2014.

From 1994 through 2001 and again from 2006 to 2014, I was a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs (originally a part of AT&T, now a part of Alcatel-Lucent) in Murray Hill, NJ, where I worked on operating systems and messaging systems and protocols, among other things.

a test

pgp public key(s)

My current RSA public key was generated by PGP 2.6.2 (i.e. it's in the second of three or four incompatible formats) and its fingerprint is
Type bits/keyID    Date       User ID
pub  1024/1F08CB75 1996/06/24 Geoff Collyer <>
                              Geoff Collyer <>
                              Geoff Collyer <>
          Key fingerprint =  67 08 1E F6 6B F3 1B 1B  CF 27 87 7B 3D 59 30 A1 

ranting and raving

osx viruses, 18 April 2012

I have just read several clueless articles (in a long series of them) by alleged ``technology'' writers and professional security paranoids flogging their commercial ``security'' snake oil claiming that Macs are no safer than PCs for any technological reason, it's just that PCs have the bigger market share and so that's what the criminals spend their energy on. Bzzzt! Wrong and clueless, but thanks for playing.

Unlike Windows, Unix-derived systems have clean user/kernel mode separation crossed only by system call traps, which validate their arguments and check permissions. Programs running as ordinary users (and not root, say) cannot directly access the hardware. So an ordinary Mac user running as himself can't trash the system by executing bogus code. Unix has had this for about 40 years and it wasn't a new idea then. That Microsoft still hasn't figured out that this is a good idea is a source of continuing amazement.

Windows doesn't get bashed solely because it has or had the most market share, it's also truly technologically inferior, and would be even if it had 1% market share.

the sad state of crytographic infrastructure, 17 May 2012

I've been looking at ssh and IPsec again and it's made me realise again that we (in the computing field) have made a mess of the artifacts of cryptography and it's entirely our own fault. Starting from goals such as privacy and authentication of communication, we have taken aim at our feet and fired with PGP is a sad example: by changing key formats and algorithms repeatedly (sometimes for compelling legal reasons), interoperability is so impaired that you pretty much need to know in advance which version of PGP each recipient uses.

The triumph of ssh v2 (a classic second system) over v1 is another example: whatever the theoretical weaknesses of v1 were, it was surely better to encrypt one's communication than not. We need a v3, a stripped-down and streamlined version closer to v1 than v2.

We seem to be better at building great steaming piles of crypto (e.g., OpenSSL) than getting to the core of what needs to be done and doing just that.

computing experience


computing interests

undocumented things you may need to know

how to configure Vonage's Motorola VT1005V VOIP phone adapter

The thing won't talk to anybody initially. It's initially configured to be and listen for web connections; that's documented. What doesn't appear to be documented is that the machine running the web browser needs to have, possibly as one of several, the IP address I found this in a discussion forum on and it works.

Also, the RJ-45 Ethernet port labelled `PC' is expecting a cross-over Ethernet cable if you plug it into a switch rather than directly into a computer. If you do plug it into a switch, it's a wise precaution to unplug the WAN port first to avoid the possibility of looping packets.

It's arguably a bug that the box won't respond to pings from anybody else (nor will nor

The ``diagnostics'' available when something goes wrong consists of a single blinking light, the meanings of which are documented. What's apparently not documented is that the light lies. From personal experience, some operations seem to just time-out and the box moves onto the next step. It's entirely possible to get the box into its `light on solid' state, which is supposed to mean that it's ready to go, without it having made contact with Vonage's servers.

Adding a serial port, through which one could configure the box and receive error messages, would be a big step forward.

The box is a little too eager to be your router and NAT translator and serve DHCP.

utf-8, unicode and fonts test

This is a test, this is only a test:

most difficult

bullet: •
ellipsis: ⋯
smiley: ☺ @ 0x263a
white king: ♔
<=: ≤


c cedilla: ç
cyrillic small letter ia: я
hebrew letter bet: ב
beta: β
latin small letter sharp s: ß
latin small letter thorn: þ
ligatures oe, then ae: œuf Œ æsthetic Æ
scandinavian vowels: å mÖØse


cjk, ideographs, etc.: 逸 逹 @ 0x9038—0x9039, ぴ @ 0x3074
copyright: ©
half-sign: ½
pounds sterling: £
euro: ₠ @ 0x20a0, € @ 0x20ac
registered: ®
section mark: §
trademark: ™
w cubed: w³ (0xb3) w⁳ (0x2073)
Geoff Collyer
geoff at