12 Feb 2017

A quiet weekend around here. A haircut, some shopping, a few dog walks. Ooooh, yeah: I got my BSidesCharm 2017 tickets tonight. Yay. It’s a superb, impactful, (mostly) defensive security conference. I’ve enjoyed the first two years of this con, and the third year’s program looks like it will be a worthy continuation. The first round of badges has already sold out. The second half of the tix go on sale 26 February. Keep an eye on @BSidesCharm on twit that day. You may need to be quick…

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This Republican Administration continues to disappoint, to no one’s great surprise.

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DoD reported no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

3 Feb 2017

Another interesting week near the heart of power. Well, when I say “heart”, I mean corroded hunk of radioactive tin encased in an orange waste of skin. Ah, well. One does what one can while watching the wreck of trains, above and below.

In the meantime, I managed to get Kubuntu installed on my old Mac Air (2011). The install was fairly trivial, just a couple of trips to the search engines to get me over the occasional install hump. Everything but the thunderbolt port works flawlessly, and here it sits next to it’s new big brother:

AirBuntu next to the new-ish MPB

AirBuntu next to the new-ish MPB

The primary failing of the Air was one of battery life – it had a semi-useful 2 hours worth, which sucked when I found myself stranded in Columbus without a power brick last Fall. The other main issue is the screen. In the last 6 years, my eyes appear to have aged about 10, and with the amount of information I like to keep on screen, the larger, higher resolution MBP is just better. Let’s be clear: compared to the Air, the Retina screen on the MacBook Pro is glorious. Oh, and a much faster processor doesn’t hurt at all either. The air will serve well as a conference laptop. The MBP is a superb work machine for me. All I have to do is get used to floating my palms off that bloody huge touchpad.

4 Dec 2016

We had a lovely supper tonight at Seasons 52 in Columbia – a holiday dinner with my co-workers and plus ones. I had half a chicken, Marcia had some seared cow, both were delicious. Dessert: tiny, delicious, and overpriced. Still, we’ll go there again: Recommended.

Marcia continues to make great progress in her hip replacement recovery. She’s been driving for a week now, and spending a fair bit of time standing, walking, and working on stuff in the house each day. Huzzah!

The week was weird. I took a couple of vacation days on Thursday and Friday. Got a few things done around the house, but mostly relaxed and tried to unwind a bit. I roasted a pound of an Ethiopian SO, cleaned the roaster, etc. It’s almost time to build something in the woodshop – I’m getting that familiar itch.

I’m also getting used to my early Festivus present: an Apple Watch. I like it very much, and it’s hugely more comfortable to wear (as well as much better for my eyes) than the FitBit Charge it replaced. But it doesn’t replace all of that functionality – the biggest lack for me: no sleep tracking, which I really appreciated on the FitBit. That said, I’m provisionally happy with the change, and getting used to the features and integration of this device.

Also from the week past, as posted on teh twitters, where I can be found as @bilborg: Best thing I read in November, BTW: Sarah Tolmie’s The Dancer on the Stairs, in @strangehorizons. Support speculative fiction mags, authors Please do visit Strange Horizons, read, enjoy, and support them if you can.

And with that, and no casualties reported by DoD in the last few days, Ciao!

13 Nov 2016

Friday the thirteenth falls on a Sunday this month. And it’s nigh unto first “supermoon” (the concurrence of the moon’s orbital perigee and the sun/earth/moon syzygy) in 68 years (although the moon won’t be actually full until tomorrow at around 9AM EST). We have a nice view of that large, bright moon on this cloudless evening – very cool.

Meantime, when I’m not actively taking care of Marcia in her hip-replacement recovery routine, Lexi is filling in – keeping chairs warm, for example:

Lexi the chair warmer

Lexi the chair warmer

I managed several hours at work this week, and I have also been making progress on a Django-based project, in and around keeping up with the chores, etc here at the homestead.

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RIP – Leonard Cohen. Turns out I haven’t listened to NEARLY enough of his work. Here’s a good snippet of a recent interview (From September 2016): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4PqY-VgSsI.

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

  • Capt. Andrew D. Byers, 30, of Rolesville, North Carolina, died Nov. 3 in Kunduz, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained while engaging enemy forces.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Ryan A. Gloyer, 34, of Greenville, Pennsylvania, died Nov. 3 in Kunduz, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained while engaging enemy forces.
  • Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Lawrence, Kansas, died Nov. 4 in Jafr, Jordan, of wounds sustained when his convoy came under fire entering a Jordanian military base.
  • Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, of Tucson, Arizona, died Nov. 4 in Jafr, Jordan, of wounds sustained when his convoy came under fire entering a Jordanian military base.
  • Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Texas. died Nov. 4 in Jafr, Jordan, of wounds sustained when his convoy came under fire entering a Jordanian military base.
  • Ronald L. Murray Jr., of Bowie, Maryland, died Nov. 10, in Kuwait in a non-combat related incident.

28 Aug 2016

Well, another busy week gone.

Sadly, I’m a cranky bastard today because they had a late-night party at the pool last night that ran until midnight (a bit later, actually) with loud music. It was a neighborhood-approved event, so I didn’t set the cops on them, but I’ll bitch about it to the management and the board. If they can’t control the volume, I don’t want my HOA fees going to that sort of event. The restless first part of the night leaves me feeling altogether unrested. Sigh. The good news is that next weekend is the last weekend for the pool season. Yay!

Exercise for the week was acceptable – 5 days with more than 10K steps, 4 days with significant exercise including the normal stretching and calisthenics followed by 35-45 minutes on the elliptical. So I’ve got that going for me. It’s still quite warm and humid in these parts. I’m hoping that fades out over the next week. Where I exercise, in the top floor, has been pretty warm. It’s a good workout, but too draining.

On the computing side of the ledger, I spent part of the weekend (for work) migrating a legacy system to a virtual environment, and patching another one. On the home front, I’ve got a test system with FreeBSD 11 RC2 installed and I’m doing some ports builds to exercise the OS. Since I use FreeBSD for both home and website, it seems fair that I not only kick the Project a few bucks a year (I do), but also test the latest and provide feedback as necessary, as a service to the OS and dev team that serves me well.

I harvested half a basket of assorted bell peppers out of the garden today.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson, 28, of Irvine, California, who died on Aug. 23 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, of injuries caused by an improvised explosive device that detonated near his patrol while conducting dismounted operations.

16 June 2016

Friday last, while at the office, I patched and rebooted the server this site and others runs on. That’s not totally uncommon: unlike most of the servers I manage for work purposes, I had no remote console access to my server. And since $FIRM kindly gives me power and pipe for this place, that’s just fine. Sadly, upon reboot, I waited … and waited, and finally went into the data center and connected the crash cart to the system. Um, kernel panics and NMI (non-maskable interrupts) all over the screen – it appears I had a hardware problem. Finally the system finished booting, and surprisingly it was working. I didn’t, however, expect it to remain in that state for long.

Come Monday, I went shopping in the recycle stack for a slightly newer retired server, finding a freshly-out-of-warranty R710, not much RAM, but two quad-core Xeons. Permission attained, I then racked the box, cabled it, and started thinking hard about how I was going to get everything migrated. I’ve done it before, but configuration from scratch is hard and prone to errors, since I don’t have this one artisanally crafted host under any sort of configuration management. Yes, yes, the cobbler’s child has no shoes, I understand. I have good backups, but I’d still rather not rebuild the whole system from scratch.

And I shouldn’t have to. I’m using FreeBSD 10.x as my server OS, which brings me a couple of strong advantages: good support for server-grade hardware, and ZFS, the best filesystem on the planet. So I spent a little while poking around the Internet, and formulating a plan, which combined elements from these two sites:

http://daemon-notes.com/articles/system/zfs-maintenance/clonezfs, courtesy of ‘ken’, and

https://forums.freebsd.org/threads/49702/, thanks to Farioko and the FreeBSD forums.

The former helped me get the initial copy over to the new system, and the latter provided guidance in properly configuring the second disk to mirror all that stuff over. Grand total of actual time working on the transfer and getting the mirrors setup: About 45 minutes. Then I had a full copy of the old machine’s system running on the new hardware. Finally, I moved the ethernet  cable over, and wiped the old system’s drives clean with DBAN.

*      *      *

Exercise:

Monday – 80 sit-ups, 40 squats, 32 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 7000 strides on the elliptical in 50 minutes.

Tuesday – Off. I pushed really hard Monday.

Wednesday – 100 sit-ups, 50 squats, 40 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6400 strides on the elliptical in 46 minutes.

Thursday – I substituted yard work for exercise this evening, getting the lawn mowed before big rains move in tonight.

Ciao!

9 June 2016

The weather has cooled dramatically, after a day of wind and a spot of rain yesterday. This morning it was 47° F during my drive in. Busy week, what with chores and a CALUG (Columbia-Area Linux Users Group) meeting last night.  The speaker was Eddie Roache, on the topic of Docker. That’s something I know very little about, which makes it fun! Now all I have to do is find time and resources to play with it…

Exercise:

Monday – 60 sit-ups, 40 squats, 24 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6150 strides on the elliptical in 46 minutes.

Tuesday – 48 sit-ups, 30 squats, 21 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 4100 strides on the elliptical in 32 minutes.

Wednesday – 64 sit-ups, 40 squats, 28 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6100 strides on the elliptical in 45 minutes.

5 June 2016

On the exercise front:

Monday – Holiday.

Tuesday – 75 sit-ups, 50 squats, 30 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 5100 strides on the elliptical in 38 minutes.

Wednesday – 45 sit-ups, 30 squats, 18 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6060 strides on the elliptical in 45 minutes.

Thursday – 60 sit-ups, 40 squats, 24 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6130 strides on the elliptical in 45 minutes.

Friday – My back was wonky from a new addition to the “assorted stretches”, so I took the day off. I didn’t even get up to 10K steps (but close-ish at 8900).

Saturday and Today – Yardwork counted by Fitbit as exercise to the tune of 3.5 hours and 30K steps. Good enough.

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Yep, the lawns are edged and mowed. The veggie gardens are weeded. And I pulled out enough broccoli to provision three dinners for two. Tonight’s was brown rice cooked with chicken stock, chicken breasts braised in chardonnay and fresh chives, and … broccoli. I also added some chopped fresh chives from the yard to my rice.

I spent some time in the woodshop working on a project for my dad, and that covers the non-working week.

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I’m falling behind on my reading, though. There just aren’t enough hours and energy in these summer days.

Ooooh, yeah. There was something else…

I have a large primary UPS here in my home office, to run the always-on home server and assorted network gear, along with backing up a couple of other computers that are running from time to time (but I never like exposing a computer to line power). I’ve had it for several years now, and while the available run time has dropped off a bit, I never got a “replace battery warning”. Instead, at about 10 after 6 (AM) yesterday, it startled me out of sleep with a screeching alarm and an error code that didn’t make sense in context (overloaded). Hmmm. A bit of exploration online, and it seems that there’s something fundamentally off. More than just replacing the battery will fix, I’m sure. So instead I went down to Best Buy and picked up a replacement APC XS 1500 unit. On trying to shut down the old one a last time, I managed to elicit the same error that woke me in the morning. So it’s a good thing I replaced it.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

24 April 2016

Another day, another birthday. And this one accompanied by a wonderful cake made by Marcia, with a decoration assist by Linda Rose:

Occupationally appropriate birthday cake

 Job-appropriate birthday cake

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I, of course, witnessed little of this activity, because I spent the weekend absorbing InfoSec goodness at BsidesCharm 2016. An excellent two day conference with interesting keynotes and talks. Because of the setup of Bsides, the sponsors don’t get the attendee lists, there are no scannable badges, and sponsors don’t automatically get speaker slots. Truth be told, in our area, the sponsors weren’t there to sell (mostly), they were there to recruit. As one of our keynotes mentioned, in the DC area, InfoSec is at negative three percent unemployment. There are Bsides events across the country – look for one near you at the SecurityBsides.com site. Highly recommended.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. That’s a good thing. Ciao!

17 April 2016

This was a good week. Not a great week – that would have required all seven days to have been above 32° F for the full 24 hours each. That only happened four times. That said, work was good and productive, including the weekend work that ate half of yesterday, as well as patching last night and this morning.

The rest of the weekend was given to yard work of assorted types. I mostly did lawn care, but we did get a couple of new rose bushes for the front porch pots, a couple of herbs for the herb box in back, and I’ve stocked up on mulch (for yard bed dressing) and manure (for garden bed amendments). I’ll probably take a couple of days off this week to get the beds turned over and that manure turned in, so that it can rest for a week before I start planting veggies in the last week of April.

Oooh. Marcia made a couple of superbly yummy apple pies yesterday. We might have completely demolished one of them already. I’m taking the second one to work, tomorrow.

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Technology update: I’ve gotten OrbDesigns.com setup with SSL, finally. This long-overdue development is courtesy of letsencrypt.org: “Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority brought to you by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).”

I’d always been a bit of a cheapskate about SSL on the sites, mostly because I don’t do any financial or personal transactional business here. And an SSL certificate for  just orbdesigns.com would have cost me more than the annual domain registration fees. I’d been following the progress of Let’s Encrypt with some interest, and jumped on the bandwagon, totally by chance, the day after the public Beta ended. I’m pleased that the service is available, and that there’s a couple of options for FreeBSD. I took advantage of the directions on Bernard Spil’s blog on the topic at wiki.freebsd.org/BernardSpil/LetsEncrypt.

I’ve still got to setup auto-deploy to accompany the automatic renewals that are already configured. And I’ve got certs for Marcia’s two main sites already: I just have to configure and deploy to those.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Airman First Class Nathaniel H. McDavitt, 22, of Glen Burnie, Maryland. He died on April 15 in Southwest Asia as a result of injuries sustained after extreme winds caused structural damage to the building in which the airman was working.