28 Apr 2017

Ubuntu upgrade news:

I upgraded a Kubuntu 16.10 workstation to 17.04 this week. I ran into just one big issue. I’d previously been running the open source nouveau driver for the nVidia card in that system. After the upgrade, I could not keep the desktop running for more than about 5 minutes before the screen would freeze. After a bit of search-engine foo, I found that the recommended solution was to use the nVidia binary driver instead. As sad as that makes RMS, I went back down that rabbit hole. A brief visit via remote connection (unaffected by the frozen GUI):

apt install nvidia-375 nvidia-settings
shutdown -r now

Poof, the problems were solved. I have other issues with fonts now, in the terminal windows, but that’s minor stuff, easily fixed.

*      *      *

In other computer-related news, I’ll be at the BSidesCharm security conference this weekend. See you there?

23 April 2017

Hullo. For my birthday this year, we went to Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s Cabaret 2.0. A fund raiser for the theatre that’s still a-building, we had a lovely evening of song, mostly Broadway musicals in origin. Wonderful. Upcoming: Richard III, Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), The Miser, and Alice and the Book of Wonderland (an original work). That wraps the current season, and we’re *also* really looking forward to the next year’s shows, too. But we can’t get our tickets for that, just yet. Are you in the DC area? Visiting? You *really* should treat yourself to a show. You’ll love the Company and their work. Seriously.

*      *      *

That was the fun part of the weekend. The rest involved:

  • Fixing a leaking toilet.
  • Replacing the bits of drop ceiling affected by said leak.
  • Patching a raft of production systems.
  • Bathing the dog.
  • Mowing the front yard once.
  • Mowing the backyard for the first time of the year. Twice. It was nearly knee high. Sigh.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, for which we are grateful. Ciao!

16 April 2017

Oh, first: Release your tax info, President Trump. Note: No one paid me to say that. Just do the right thing, please. Just this once…

*      *      *

Here’s a happy dog:

Lexi relaxing on my lap

Lexi relaxing on my lap

This dog had to deal with Marcia’s trip, immediately followed by mine. About 16 hours after Marcia got home, Saturday last, I hopped onto a plane headed for Denver. There, I spent a week in a Red Hat Automation with Ansible class, wrapping up with a brutal four hour practical exam. I learned a bunch of stuff, and I passed the exam. That also extended my RHCE/RHCSA certs into 2020, which is good.

The weekend was full of chores. I’m full of tired.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Maryland, who died on April 8 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations.

9 April 2017

G’day. Lexi was a happy puppy, yesterday late afternoon. That’s when Marcia got back home from a 9 day trip up to Maine, where she was spending time with her sister. This is a dog waiting for his mistress to come home:

Lexi waiting for Marcia to come home from Maine

Lexi waiting for Marcia

For the duration, I was bailing out of work early, coming home to walk the dog and work on fitting out Marcia’s closet. Every time I’d go down to the basement workshop, Lexi would eventually follow, and sit on her perch in Marcia’s sewing room (as above), and look a bit pathetic.

Here’s how the closet came out:

Marcia's closet completed

Marcia’s closet completed

So that, and getting the watering system setup for the hanging flower baskets on the front porch, pretty much ate my non-work week. This upcoming week will be fun – I’m spending some significant focused time on a configuration management tool chain.

*      *      *

What I’ve been reading: Born to Run: Bruce Springsteen by The Boss, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, 3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, and Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson. Note, those are all in-process books and I’m enjoying all of them. Additionally, I just finished reading The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. That was good fun and a great read. Wanting more and I have to wait for it…

Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire

Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire

You can see I’ve got James S. A. Corey’s Caliban’s War waiting in the wings. But I’m not, not going to pick up another book until I’ve got one or more of the currently-reading tomes done with…

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Gratitude.

2 April 2017

A busy week and weekend – I got lots of things started, and a number of them finished. Along with shopping, laundry, front yard edging and mowing, and a car wash … I made progress both days on the closet project for Marcia: After taking down the old wire racks, I removed the anchors and started the wall patching process.

starting the patching process in Marcia's closet

Starting the patching process

Meanwhile, in the woodshop, I :

  • pre-sanded all of the component parts with 150 grit
  • wiped them down with a damp rag
  • let them dry, then resanded with 180 grit
  • coated them with a pre-stain sealer (drying, below), and
  • final sanded them with 220 grit.
Closet components drying, after pre-stain sealer application.

Drying after pre-stain sealer application.

My next steps are to final coat on the wall patching, sand and paint in the closet proper. Then for the components … I’m not sure. Probably just polyurethane for the slats and the rods, and wall-color paint for the brackets. I was going to stain some parts, but time is my enemy.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Austin Bieren, 25, of Umatilla, Oregon, who died on March 28 in northern Syria in a non-combat-related incident while deployed in support of combat operations.

27 March 2017

Whelp. Another week gone. A good work-week with an informative, day-long VMUG event smack in the middle. Wood working on the weekend. I’m making progress on that closet system. All the parts are fabricated and first sanding is done. Next, sealer, resanding, stain, and poly. A couple of weeks should see it done.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors:

  • Sgt. 1st Class Robert R. Boniface, 34, of San Luis Obispo, California, died March 19, in Logar Province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.
  • Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mae Morrow, 25, of Dansville, NY, died March 22, in Southwest Asia, while performing maintenance duties in support of combat operations.

19 March 2017

It was a fairly uneventful work week, if by uneventful you mean a snow-day in mid-March. Three people made it to the office on Tuesday: I was one of them. We have an external vendor event on Tuesdays, and while it *can* be put off in an emergency, an inch or three of snow doesn’t stop me from getting the job done. I did my early morning work remotely, then spent about 45 minutes shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. Then off to work, and stayed there from 9 to 12.

*      *      *

The weekend, though, has been fun. I started out Saturday with a few chores and coffee roasting. Then I went over to one of the local lumberterias to pick up the materials I needed to build Marcia’s new closet system. Clearly, I chose the right transport for the job:

The right tool for the job - BMW M235i for the lumber run.

The right tool for the job

I unloaded the car, and broke down the long boards in the garage to rough design length before hauling downstairs. That pine is going to be the slats on the shelves, eventually.

*      *      *

Yesterday evening, we went over to Annapolis Shakespeare, in their new digs, for an evening cabaret of show tunes and sonnets. It was a lovely two hours of show, followed by a spot of mingling with cast, crew, and audience. Great fun. Next up with ASC: Alice In Wonderland (I think. It may be Richard III, in May … getting a new theatre operational is challenging).

*      *      *

Today, after the shopping, I went down to the woodshop and started making jigs, in order to repeatably make the parts that will end up being part of Marcia’s new closet:

Fabricating main supports using a 30° jig

Fabricating main supports

Much of the initial work was done on the table saw, for both the main supports and the backing wall attachments. Eventually I also hauled out the mitre saw for some angle cuts and working with the poplar I used for creating the supports for the hanger bars. Those got a through-hole put in them with a 1.32″ Forstner bit (in a specific location via stops), then cut to the right size on the miter saw, then a bunch of slots, etc. cut in batches on the table saw. The final bit before assembly was to round over all the outward facing corners, freehand, with a round-over bit on the router table.

Hanger bar supports in process

Hanger bar supports in process

I finished up the day gluing, pinning, and screwing the main support assemblies together. Here they are with spare parts: When I make a batch of identical parts, I’ve found it’s a good idea to make a spare or two while the setup is together. That way, if I ruin a piece, I don’t have to setup to make just one more. It costs little bit in materials, but saves a bunch of time in case of mistakes. Not to mention I’ve got templates to work from if I decide to build something similar again.

Support assemblies completed

Support assemblies completed

What’s next for those is to cut and add some slat attachment surfaces along the top edge of those supports, then sand and finish them. Then I’ll make the slats themselves. Everything will get sanded, stained, and a coat or three of poly. THEN we can dismantle Marcia’s closet, patch the walls, sand, paint, and assemble the new closet system. It’ll be a while, yet. But the job is finally started, so we’ve got that going for us.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. We are grateful for that. Ciao!




12 March 2017

Wednesday, I attended an Ansible Automates event downtown. I’ve been making use of Ansible for configuration management for nearly three years now, but the rate of change and new capabilities since the project was purchased by Red Hat about 18 months ago is stunning. There’s a lot I have to learn to find out what else I should be automating with this tool.

A good weekend: got assorted things done, including roasting some delicious-smelling Tanzania Mbozi – Iwezya Station beans from Sweet Maria’s. We (mostly Marcia) cooked a lovely salmon supper followed by a blueberry pie for dessert last night. I had one responsibility: the garlic bread. It was all gone, so i guess I did my part okay, too.

Up next: Getting my Hugo nominations in, that closes on Friday, so I’d better be getting to that… Done. And I got my driver’s license renewed for another seven years.

*      *      *

No new casualties were reported by DoD in the last few days. Ciao!

7 Feb 2017

Wow. Am I a slacker, or what? I’ve been really busy. Work is keeping me on my toes, and (wonderfully), we’re finally cooking with gas!

Cooking with gas: Our new KitchenAid Dual Fuel range

Cooking with gas

We got a KitchenAid Dual Fuel range – a natural gas range (that could be converted to LP if needed) with two electric ovens. Yay! Getting the range was Marcia’s birthday present, and she got the gasfitter to run the line for Valentine’s Day. No massacres yet!

*      *      *

On the professional front, I’m working on the options for extending my Red Hat Certified Engineer status. I’m probably going down the automation path, with Ansible, for a variety of reasons. So I’ve got to spend a fair bit of time building test environments and building my skill set with the range of capabilities that Ansible offers today. I’ve been using it for a few years now, but not taking advantage of all that the tool suite has to offer. Should be fun.

*      *      *

Books: I finally finished reading Leviathan Wakes – Book One of The Expanse by James S. A. Corey. Wonderful space opera set believably in our solar system (so, no light speed drives required to move the action along). Miller and Holden. Holy cow. If you’ve not read, you should. I’ll be reading the books before I start watching the series, which I hear is also seriously awesome. Next up, Born To Run, by the Boss.

*      *      *

Lazy lookout guard - Lexi has to rest her head

Lazy lookout guard

Lexi had her annual check-up last weekend, and flew through with flying colors. The nail trimming and first round of shots didn’t make her very happy, though. She’ll be even less happy when she goes back for two more shots in a couple of weeks. The rabies vaccine booster was part of this year’s regimen, so the vet likes to split up the shots when there are a bunch, for a little dog like Lexi.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Pfc. Brian. P. Odiorne, 21, of Ware, Massachusetts, who died on Feb. 20, in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident.

19 Feb 2017

Well, here we are, barely a month into this Republican Administration. How do you think it’s going. I’m pretty disappointed. By now, I was sure we’d ALL have gold-plated hotels of our very own. Sad!

*      *      *

I was helping Marcia box up some stuff in her sewing area in the basement, and I may have gone overboard:

Lexi's ready to go!

Lexi’s ready to go!

Of course I blamed the dog for this. Why wouldn’t one?

*      *      *

We’ve had an unseasonably lovely President’s Day weekend so far. Unlike the heavy snows of the last few years, we’re up into the 60’s and 70’s for highs. That’s probably going to end in sorrow (and snow) though, because I washed both cars this weekend. We all know that car washing beats forecasts, every day of the week. That, with other chores and remote work for the office has meant a full weekend so far. Tomorrow’s moderate temperatures are indicative of yard work, more’s the pity.

*      *      *

DoD has reported no casualties in the last week, for which we are grateful. We can but hope that this Republican Administration doesn’t lead us into new wars. Ciao!