You may have noticed that DarkerView got hacked back in late March. Somehow malicious files were inserted that sent search traffic to various less than reputable websites, of course that means mostly sex sites. Sorry about that.
Only search traffic was affected, those who went directly to the site saw the correct webpage, thus I did not notice right away as I use direct links. As a side note, getting hacked does result in a huge spike in traffic volume, that was the first sign. This sort of hack is apparently called conditional redirect hack, essentially borrowing a reputable website’s reputation with the search engines to send traffic towards certain websites.
As a result I have been tightening up security around here. Removing some old plugins, changing things around and checking for known vulnerabilities. One thing you will soon see is that the old theme will be replaced for an entirely new look for DarkerView.
The old theme is just that… old. Also probably insecure as there has been no maintenance on it in years. As I really do not know how the attacker got in I need to look to everything that could have been the weakness. Time to update the look and update the code to something that is modern and supported.
The usual engineering minutia takes up much of my week… Paperwork, documentation, purchase orders, meetings, etc. There are the occasional chances to just have a little electronic fun. Thus I greeted a request from a couple of our support astronomers with some enthusiasm. They needed a variable intensity light source for calibration of the OSIRIS spectrograph. This source sits inside an integrating sphere on the AO bench along with four spectral sources, small tubes of neon, argon, xenon and krypton.
There was already a white light source in the calibration sphere, but control was limited to simply on or off. The spectrograph uses various filters that each let through differing amounts of light from the calibration source. This created problems during calibration, some sort of variable intensity source was needed. It also needed to be quite precise, with a well regulated output that would not vary during the hours a calibration script could run.
I set aside a bit of time each day to design and build the source. The last couple hours of the afternoon are best, at this point I have had quite enough paperwork. A chance to practice my trade sketching out the circuit, or simply sitting at the bench and soldering… Perfect.