5 May 2019

Window Week

We had all of the above grade windows in our house replaced on Friday. It’s been a really busy week.

I came home Thursday after a half work day, and spent the balance of my waking hours preparing the house for window replacement to start early Friday morning. All the window coverings (but for the master suite, which I held up until 7 AM Friday) were remove, cataloged and set aside (there’s a story there, hang on…) Everything not nailed down was mostly moved at least three feet away from all the window openings, to facilitate the work. A fragile cabinet in the dining room was left in place, but I removed the glass doors and covered it with cardboard. My home office cabinetry is in a fairly permanent state, so they just had to work around that. Still, a sweaty, sweaty few hours. Good workout. Lexi’s normal look-out chair was moved, but that didn’t stop her from following her watch dog routine…

Lexi on watch: right perch in the wrong place.

Friday, we were up at the normal work day alarm time of 0545. Brewed the coffee, walked the dog and got a bite of breakfast, then it was time to do the last of the window coverings, and patrol the house for things that needed to be secured and/or gotten out of the way. Cars out of the garage and out of the way, parked on the street. We were ready! Spot at 0900, the crew from Window Nation showed up. Those five guys started right in, tarping things and setting up – they worked their asses off for 10 hours with a short break for the pizza we had delivered for lunch. Nineteen windows replaced, insulated, wrapped in bent-on-site-to-fit aluminum, and caulked. Impressive amount of work. This would have taken me a year of Sundays to do on my own, and I might have started getting good at it by the end, then I’d have to go back and do most of them over, right. So, winner.

Saturday and Sunday have been full of me putting things back inside. Some notes about that: Turns out that getting things down and out of the way is easy compared to putting them back. First of all, when putting back, cleaning should be done. So, as I did each room, cleaning came first, middle, and last. Mostly vacuum and dust rag work, but occasional cleaning products were brought to bear on the issues at hand. Then there’s the minor flaws that really should have been dealt with years ago, but there’s no time like the present. For example, that filing cabinet in Marcia’s office always should have been affixed to the wall via a bracket. It is now. Last, but certainly not least – window coverings.

Turns out that the vinyl replacement windows, while better in every way than the builder grade aluminum ones from the late 1980’s, fit into the opening in such a way as to make the interior window well a lot shallower than before. Too shallow to use almost all of the blinds we had in place. Now, to be fair, some of the blinds we installed when we moved in 15+ years ago. And some of them were … older than that. So they were crufty, crusty, and a lot of them were malfunctioning a bit, just like the windows that we replaced. So Saturday morning we went off to a big box store and spent several hundred dollars on assorted window blind products for the twelve upstairs windows. The downstairs ones didn’t have inset blinds and for the most part we could reuse the prior curtains (for the time being). Almost all of those, and almost all of the rooms have been reassembled now. And I’m tired.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Pfc. Michael A. Thomason, 28, from Lincoln Park, Michigan, who died on April 29, 2019, in Kobani, Syria, of wounds sustained from a non-combat incident.

29 April 2019

Monday

Saturday was a full, wonderful day at BsidesCharm 2019. I saw a number of interesting talks on security topics that taught me a lot. Sunday I planned to attend a second full day there, but the crashing near-migrane I woke with put paid to that plan. I just relaxed, and that’s made today ever so much better.

Looking forward

The thing I’m looking most forward to soon is Good Omens. If you aren’t, you should be. The book is wonderful, too, and read it first if you can. My preparatory work for this is to watch some Neil Gaiman interviews. Note – I still miss Terry.

Wrapping up

Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Michael T. Osorio, 20, from Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, who died on April 23, 2019, in Taji, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident.

24 April 2019

Hi!

I just stopped in to say Hi! Not dead yet, although it is my birthday today. So I took half of yesterday off to toddle down to the theater and help strike the set for Pride and Prejudice (which we saw twice and loved it). Then I came home and did yardwork: mowing and edging, mostly. That meant working a full day today to recover from physical labor.

Other than that, all is good.

See ya soon!

8 April 2019

Tooth

I’m on the recovery road. I was two hours in the chair this morning, getting a four-root canal job done on number 15, and there are two things that can be considered to be the best news. First best news – the tooth is saved. The worry was that there was a vertical crack in the tooth, invisible to the xray images, that would mean that the tooth would have to go. The second best news is that in the hours since the root canal, I’ve had my most comfortable eight hours out of the last three or so weeks. Yes, my jaw feels a bit jack-hammered, and the spots in my gum where all the Novocaine went in? It feels like I’ve been jabbed and perforated (big surprise, that!). And still it’s better than the ebb and flow between the always there throbbing mild pain and the every couple of hours peak of “hand me the damn pliers” agony that I’ve had. So, a good experience with Doctor Renie Gross and the excellent team at Endodontic Specialists. Highly recommended, should you need such treatment

Song and Dance

There was a bit of dance and a lot of songs from the 70’s last night at Annapolis Shakespeare. Unlike last month, when Marcia was in Utah for a training week, she was able to go to the show with me. What a hoot. Next month, the 1980’s. You should be there.

Winding Down

That’s really all I’ve got. I spent most of the past three weeks in a fog of intermittent pain and broken sleep. I expect things to be much improved Real Soon Now.

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

1 April 2019

Unplanned

I surely didn’t plan to have a Monday post, much less one with such an unfortunate date attached to it. But I’ve been in some toothy pain, and was focused on the weekend on … getting through the weekend. I visited the endodontic specialists today, and joy! I’m going to get another root canal, Monday a week. That is, unless the tooth is cracked vertically down one or more of the roots, in which case they’ll stop, pack the tooth with temporary filling, and tell me to schedule an extraction with yet another specialist. I’m in the market to trade upcoming weeks. Any takers? Meantime I’m on antibiotics to knock down the infection from the partial abscess.

In related reality, this means that I really have nothing of interest to report. We had one day of spring, on Saturday, when it was in the mid-70’s. But Sunday’s high was in the mid-40’s, and back below freezing overnights. Also yay?

Winding Down

DoD reported no new casualties in the last week.

Oh, hey … if you’re in area, Annapolis Shakespeare is putting on a 70’s music Cabaret Night on the 7th (Sunday) – they’re a blast, and you’ll have fun. Buy tickets and go! ALSO get tickets for Pride and Prejudice while you’re on the site. You are welcome.

24 March 2019

Sad News

My friend Mark Camack died this last week, after a battle with throat cancer. We’ve been in the exchange holiday cards / biannual phone call place for the last couple of decades, but I’d still have jumped up and headed out if he needed help. I didn’t hear about this until his wife Bonnie got in touch, the other day. My heart goes out to Bonnie and their extended families. Rest in peace, my friend.

New Beginnings, Old Endings

The big news is that I migrated all of the personal sites I manage from an old server to a new server. Not super-exciting from an external perspective, but I did manage to separate the WordPress instances from being embedded in the old sites far too deeply. We *should* have had them be something like blog.orbdesigns.com, but then the site was already a blog, just pre-dating WordPress. So, anyway, www.mumble is the wordpress site for this place, and for Marcia’s two sites. The older, more static sites are more easily accessible via legacy URLs, for example legacy.orbdesigns.com.

One of the links on the legacy site that I clicked in testing was from December 28, 2009. And that was the day we said goodbye to Lucy, our cocker spaniel. So, “Old Endings.” There’s plenty of stuff there in legacy land, from . I’m probably going to fix just a couple of top-level internal links that will make the site work better.

I’m also changing horses on the two-factor authentication tools I’m using, both on the device and on the sites. So, lots of behind-the-scenes technology updates. Drop me an email, or comment here if you find something that’s so deeply broken that I absolutely must fix it. Of course, I may choose to leave something broken, but that’s another story.

Winding down

I’ve got a busy week in front of me, so pardon if I’m even less loquacious than usual.

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

  • Spc. Joseph P. Collette, 29, of Lancaster, Ohio, died on March 22, 2019, in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay, 33, of Cortez, Colorado, died on March 22, 2019, in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations.

17 March 2019

Entertaining

But first, here’s hoping that St. Paddy’s Day brought you joy today, whether you’re Irish, Irish-adjacent, or just … I dunno … human.

On the entertainment front, we attended opening night for Pride and Prejudice at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company last night. The show is a real joy, and introduced us to some new actors, including a superb Mr. Darcy being portrayed by Daniel Beason. Old friends on stage included the marvelous Laura Rocklyn as Elizabeth Bennet, Dexter Hamlett as Mr. Bennet, and Ian Charles playing the unpleasant Mr. Wickham. My secret joy of the show was Kitty Bennet, played by Molly McIntyre. The way Kitty’s inner responses to the main action of each scene made it onto her face and physical reactions added much to the play. The hard set is minimal. matching vertical flats running floor to ceiling, draped in yellow chiffon. Scenes are set mostly with Regency period-correct images projected on the back screen on stage, and the actors bringing chairs on and off stage as needed. I’m fond of a well-done play that doesn’t need a lot of set dressing. Running time about 2:45, Pride and Prejudice is a wonderful production. Highly Recommended.

Along with being subscribers and patrons, Marcia and I both contributed to this show with a bit of skill-appropriate assistance – I helped with set load in, and Marcia helped out with some of the costume work.

The Rest of the Time

Well, the rest of the time this week was mostly spent patching systems and testing them. Really. Pretty boring work unless things go horribly wrong … so boring is good. Boring is also Lexi’s natural state of being:

I woke Lexi the chipuggle mutt up to take this picture.
Lexi being disturbed while napping

This is about the last weekend for several months that doesn’t include yard work of some kind or another, so I had that going for me.

Winding Down

DoD reported no new casualties in the last week. Now, on to reading.

10 March 2019

And Back

It was an interesting week. I skipped last Sunday for a variety of reasons. The most important is that we were up early that day, to get Marcia onto a plane for Salt Lake City, Utah. She was there for a few days doing Handi Quilter factory training on her software and machine. She learned a lot, and is now taking advantage of some superior features in the new motor control software.

I worked short days for most of the week, to burn a few hours of vacation time and reduce stress on a little Lexi that was missing her mum.

Lexi  the mutt wanted lots of attention while Marcia was travelling.
Lexi wanted lots of attention…

Marcia flew back late Thursday, and we’ve been trying to settle into normal, only to have AN HOUR STOLEN FROM US. WHERE DID OUR HOUR GO?

Entertainment

(Sadly for Marcia) I had a wonderful time last Sunday evening at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, attending a Cabaret Evening featuring 60’s popular music performed by Sally Boyett, Christine Asero, and Joe Rossi. My favorite bit was at the beginning of the second act, when Joe and Christine did “I Got You, Babe”, and Christine nailed the Cher hair flip. All music I knew, all fun

Pride and Prejudice is opening this next weekend at ASC, too. We know a lot of the actors in this one, which always makes the show more fun for me. You should see it, too. Are you anywhere nearby? Go to the site linked above, and get thee some tickets. I promise you’ll enjoy yourself

I’ve been reading the Frontlines series from Marko Kloos. So good so far. Grunt in interstellar conflict unexpectedly lived through sequential should-have-died events, while traveling between stars in the appropriately unexplained (the math is too hard) method. But I’m enjoying the books (currently in Angles of Attack, book 3).

Winding Down

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

  • Sgt. Holli R. Bolinski, 37, of Pinckneyville, Illinois, died on March 5, 2019, as a result of a non-combat related incident.
  • Spc. Jackson D. Johnson, 20, of Hillsboro, Missouri, died on March 5, 2019, as a result of a non-combat related incident.

Oh, hey. It got up to nearly 60ºF today. Fishing is JUST AROUND THE CORNER, FOLKS!

24 February 2019

Farewell

Our family said their goodbyes to Dennis yesterday. He’s resting by his grandparents now. Sadly, I didn’t know him as well as I’d have liked, and we didn’t make the trip for his memorial, because it was a small affair, and nobody needed out-of-towners to deal with on top of everything else. He’ll be missed, rest in peace.

Hardware Woes

Work was a week like so many others, not worth remarking on. However, on the home front, the computing environment continues to have drastic changes.

Yesterday, I pulled the final backup from my FreeBSD 11 server, Serenity. After that, I shut it down. Later in the evening, I went to spin it up in prep for putting VMware ESXi 6.7 on the hardware. But it stayed dark. Hmmm. Power supply bad? Dunno. Left that for today.

Today: Same thing. Swapped power supply to my backup Antec. Still no joy. Plopped in the emergency Corsair PS. Still no joy. Okay. the hardware is actually dead. This chassis has seen 3 or 4 motherboards, several different Linuxen, FreeBSD 10 and 11. It’s been the home server and primary home workstation for a long time. But lately it’s ONLY been the home server, which is asking not very much for a server motherboard with a Xeon and ECC RAM. And I was burning 100W continuously keeping that system online. So it was time for a re-purpose.

The little NUC box is now running FreeBSD 12, disk mirrored on a couple of 1TB drives. I’ve got too much RAM in it, 32G, because I planned on something different. Best part: 11W draw in normal operations. So, a good home server.

But it isn’t a good VMware host for a couple of reasons. So I wanted to use the Xeon box for that. Nope. I’ve got another NUC8 Performance on order, and that’ll be the VMware box.

Winding Down

Not much to promote – we’ve not got a show at Annapolis Shakespeare until next weekend. And I’ve not had much time for reading. Pretty boring, outside of my normal tech routine.

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

Ciao!

17 February 2019

Sheepishly

Yet utterly unlike a sheep. Last Sunday, we were out at Cabaret Night at Annapolis Shakespeare. It was song and dance and showtunes from the 50’s, and the joint was rockin’! So much fun I forgot to post. And as I remembered, each ensuing day, well, I was at work, not relaxing at home, so I kicked the can down the road and here we are. The cabaret was wonderful, as always. Up next at the theater, another Cabaret Night, 60’s this time, and then it’s time for Pride and Predjudice to open (runs for 6 weeks starting on March 15). So good, so looking forward to the work!

Computationally

I’ve been building out new infrastructure for this joint, and for the home server. FreeBSD 12 has been out for a while, and I wanted to upgrade at a reasonable pace, rather than waiting for the 11 branch to go out of support. Additionally, unlike the transition from 10 to 11, I’m not upgrading these systems, but building out fresh, and doing clean configurations of the services I really need (and leaving every prior experiment behind).

Additionally, for home backups, I’m migrating to using the Free edition of the Veeam Agent for Windows. I’m a big fan of Veeam, and there are features in the free agent that are perfect for my needs.

First, the backups can be encrypted. Do that. Keep the credentials in a password manager software, use a good passphrase, and secure your backups. Why? Because you plug in the disk, run the backup, unplug it and take it offsite (like to work, or keep it in the glove box of your car). Because the backup might be in a less-than-secure environment, encrypt that backup.

Secondly, by default Veeam runs backups based upon changed blocks in the volume, rather than changed files. So if you edit a few bytes of a huge document, you may only have to back up a few tens of kilobytes instead of the whole file.

Finally (for me, there are lots of features), while Veeam defaults to configuring a job with a calendar schedule, that doesn’t make much sense when you’re backing up to media (say, a 1TB USB3 mobile disk) that only gets plugged in when you remember to bring it home. The answer is to change the job schedule to simply run automatically when the media is plugged in, then eject the media when the backup is done. That’s about the best you’ll be able to do. Why is this important? If you click on a malicious link in an email, and your AV solution lets you down, some jerk’s ransomware will encrypt or wipe every file on your system. Your backup won’t help you IF it’s also attached to the system, encrypted or not. Only attach your backup disks for as long as you need to run the backup.

One last point – every once in a while, plug up the backup disk, and restore a file or two and check them. Backups are wonderful, but you don’t know if they’re good unless you test them, regularly. You don’t want an emergency restore to be the time you find out that the backup wasn’t really working because you misconfigured the job, or the disk has errors, or whatever.

Bottom line: Make backups. Encrypt the backups. Test the backups. Only leave them connected for as long as needed for backups and testing. Store your backups offsite – a disaster that takes your house shouldn’t take your precious data, too!

Winding Down

It’s been a slightly busy weekend – we celebrated Marcia’s birthday on Friday, so I took off work that day. We hung out, did stuff together, and went out to supper in the evening. Saturday was a total write-off. I relaxed. Today was shopping and remote work and haircut and coffee roasting, oh my! Tomorrow’s a holiday, so it’s a four day weekend, but I have an office that needs cleaning, yet.

DoD announced no new casualties in the last two weeks.