Interesting Smartcard Behavior…

I ma no expert on smartcards (we use Common Access Cards, or CAC, at work).  Recently, I wqaas having issues with ActiveClient reading my card, which told me I had mistyped my pin twice.  Once more, and it would lock out my card.  So I went and asked a coworker how long the timeout is.  He told me there is no timeout – the card count is reset with a successful login.

Worried, I went to my Linux box and logged into webmail with my card, successfully.  Afterwards, ActiveClient on the other machine saw the card fine.

I had a chance yesterday to retest this behavior when another coworker was having similar issues with his card.  He had tried at two different machines to log in with his smartcard, and each time, it was unable to read his card (I did not see the exact error message, but it was not an incorrect PIN entry).  So I offered to let him try on my Linux box (I am the only one using Linux as a workstation), and he was quite surprised to be able to log into webmail from there.  Afterwards, his card worked fine on ActiveClient Windows machines, which was a relief to him, since he had assumed a trip to the ID card office (and a long wait) were in store for him.

I surmise that something on his card got a little scrambled and the Windows ActiveClient could not read what it needed.  The PCSC client, however, not only worked without flaw, it also seemed to clear whatever was bugging ActiveClient.

So, if this happens again, I hopefully will be able to spare someone else a trip to the ID card office.

Landscaping With Inkscape…

Just a quick post here.  This is not a howto or anything.  I have several projects going on around the house, and I have started using inkscape to put down ideas.  So far, I have designed and build a small piece of furniture with it (a Japanese doll table set that stacks for easy storage) and several landscape designs for my front and back yards.  I have not found any program for Linux specifically aimed at landscape design, but I am really pleased with the ease and power of inkscape to handle the job.

Its 3-D block functions are especially useful for these tasks, when you want to show a side or perspective view of a feature or wall.  I also relied on this function heavily for my furniture project.  By the way, I nailed the furniture set first time – no mistakes.  My first piece of furniture, ever.  I pulled out each piece of the completed drawing to make a parts list, went to Home Depot, and matched up part numbers, quantities, and prices.  I also took detailed dimensional measurements while I was there to ensure proper fittings, and adjusted all of my planned dimensions accordingly.

hina-ningyo-phase1 hina-ningyo-phase1-partslist hina-ningyo-phase1-partslist-2

Using inkscape allowed me to methodically and precisely document all aspects of the project, which turned out to be fairly involved for a beginner like me.  No mistakes.  Next is the backyard patio….

Here are some ideas I was playing around with.  We are going for the trees and raised patio, to keep costs down.

house-now house-new-3 house-new-backyard
house-new-front1 house-new-trees backyard-raised-patio

So, in case you were wondering how to get started on a home project, open up inkscape and start playing around.  You might be surprised at what you can get away with.