At HOPE 2020...

Jul 25 2020

Wednesday... 29 July 2020... 1300 hours Eastern... the Fediverse takes Manhattan.

Join us... at HOPE 2020.

I dropped out of sight for a couple of days.

Jul 22 2020

Observant readers may have been wondering why I seemed to drop off the grid for a couple of days.  Timed posts kept going up as expected, and undoubtedly other socnets seemed like they were being operated by my exocortex (which they were, for the most part).  You've probably been wondering what happened.

You know what?  Fuck it.  I don't have the compute cycles right now to do a proper intro.  I count it as fortune that I have the compute cycles just to type this right now.  There's no easy or polite way to talk about it.  My concentration is shot, my attention span rapidly approaches epsilon, and to be honest I'm a little fed up with Dora (Mom's cat) attacking me repeatedly because she's scared, confused, and doesn't understand what's going on or where her catmom is.

I will say, however, that I sought out permission before writing this.

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Simple environment monitoring with spare parts.

Jul 04 2020

It's going on summer in the Bay Area, which means that it's warming up a bit both outside and inside (because air conditioning is Not A Thing out here).  That, coupled with the not inconsiderable research infrastructure I have at home has left me wondering and worrying about just how hot my office gets during the day while I'm working.  Now, I could just put a simple little thermometer on my shelf (and I did) but my concerns are a bit bigger than that.  What happens if my office temperature reaches a critical point and servers start melting down on me?  I've dealt with heat damage in the past and don't particularly care to shell out a grand or so to replace parts that flatlined because I was away from the house and couldn't respond in time.  That, and the fact that I need to keep my mind busy while I'm stuck in quarantine if I'm going to be honest, are the reason why I built yet another weird-assed exocortex project: A relatively simple hardware monitor connected to a Raspberry Pi, and a bot that listens for commands and responds with what it can detect of the local temperature or humidity when I send it a message.

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Neologism: Code Puce

Jul 13 2020

code puce - noun phrase - An IT or ops situation in which the software installed in production is one version and the management system expects a different version.  This results in a situation in which everything is running more or less smoothly, and at the same time everything in the monitoring system is going bonkers.  Compare with code red, code blue, and so forth.

COVID-19 quarantine, day... who knows anymore.

Jul 04 2020

I have no idea how long I've been in quarantine.  I've stopped counting because the numbers were just making me twitchy.  Life is going about as well as one could reasonably expect.  We're all save and sound in northern California, as much as we can be during a pandemic.  Working from home is working from home.  To minimize risk we're getting as much stuff delivered as we can, modulo periodic trips to the local pharmacy to pick up filled prescriptions and suchlike. I wish I could say the same of things back home in Pennsylvania, but I'd be lying and I'm really not ready to talk about that right now.

I keep thinking of stuff that I want to write about, but everytime I sit down at a keyboard state-dependent memory kicks in and I forget all of it.  It is equally annoying and frustrating when that happens.  So I think I'm just going to ramble a bit and see what pops out.

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Hanson's Razor

Jun 15 2020

Hanson's Razor - Never attribute to stupidity that which can be adequately explained by (unconscious) malice or selfishness.

Lizardman's constant

Jun 15 2020

Lizardman's Constant - A rough heuristic of the population of people who troll data collection polls.  Comes from asking the question "Do you believe that the President is a shape-shifting lizard person?" and consistently getting a roughly 4.5% "yes" response.

Extending a wireless network with OpenWRT.

Jun 13 2020

One of my earliest covid-19 lockdown projects was doing a little work on my home wireless network.  I have a fairly nice wireless access point upstairs running OpenWRT, sitting behind the piece-of-shit DSL modem-slash-wireless access point our ISP makes us use.  All of our devices connect to that AP instead of the DSL modem.  Let's call it Upstairs.  However, the dodginess of the construction of our house being what it is (please don't ask), wireless coverage from upstairs isn't the greatest downstairs.  The fix for this, conveniently, is to set up another wireless access point downstairs and connect the two in such a way that wireless devices downstairs connect to the second access point (let's call this one Downstairs), which then transparently relays the users' traffic to the Upstairs AP, and then to the public Net (or one of the machines also hanging out on Upstairs).  This was a remarkably easy thing to do but it did take a little background research, which was daunting in and of itself so my goal here is to lay out a nitty-gritty, "Here's how you do this thing" process so you can do it yourself.  Also, in today's political climate, this process has the potential for filling in some essential gaps in emergencies.

First, some basic assumptions that you have to make for this to work: Your wireless access points have to be dual-band - they must be capable of supporting both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networking simultaneously.  This means that they have two independent radios on board.  If they don't this won't work.  Seriously, don't try to get clever with this.  Any hackery you try to pull is going to be brittle, and you'll be inflecting upon yourself to kinetic pattern baldness needlessly.  Second, it is entirely possible to extend one SSID using this technique but you don't have to.  We have three related wireless networks here: Upstairs-2.4GHz, Upstairs-5GHz, and Downstairs-5GHz but you can do it differently if you want.  Third, unless you're already using OpenWRT for your wireless network, this probably won't work.

This is an advanced project so you might not want to tackle this on your own if you haven't been tinkering with OpenWRT for a while; this includes being comfortable with SSHing into your access point and installing software (including the web control panel).  I won't walk you through the installation process because OpenWRT already has good documentation for this.  Follow it first to bootstrap your second access point-slash-wireless network extender before you start this tutorial.  I'll also walk you through some of the gotchas I ran into to make life easier for everyone else.  We're going to assume that you're using OpenWRT's default 192.168.0.0/24 private network layout already but if you aren't adjust the instructions as required.  You do not have to be running the same version of OpenWRT on your access points.  I'm running v18.06.2 on Upstairs and v19.07.2 on Downstairs.

When I built this out at home I purchased a duplicate of the access point I already have.  You probably don't have to do this, but I did just to be sure I knew the make and model was solid.

For the record (and the same of my external memory) here are the instructions I used when I originally figured this out.

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