1. Systembot: Adventures in system monitoring.

    31 December 2018

    If you've been following the development activity of Systembot, the bot I wrote to monitor my machines (physical as well as virtual) you've probably noticed that I changed a number of things around pretty suddenly.  This is because the version of Systembot in question had some pretty incorrect assumptions about how things should work.  For starters, I thought I was being clever when I wrote the temperature monitoring code when I decided to use what the drivers thought were high or critical values for sending "something is wrong" alerts.  No math (aside from a Centigrade-to-Fahrenheit conversion), just a couple of …

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  2. Ansible: Reboot the server and pick up where it left off.

    03 December 2018

    Here's the situation: You're using Ansible to configure a machine on your network, like a new Raspberry Pi.  Ansible has done a bunch of things to the machine and needs to reboot it - for example, when you grow a Raspbian disk image so that it takes up the entire device, it has to be rebooted to notice the change.  The question is, how do you reboot the machine, have Ansible pick up where it left off, and do it in one playbook only (instead of two or more)?

    I spent the last couple of days searching for specifics and found …

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  3. VLC crashes when trying to play stuff over the network from Kodi.

    03 December 2018

    This took me a while to figure out, so here's a fix for an annoying problem:

    Let's say that you have a media box running Kodi on your local area network.  You have uPNP turned on so you can stream videos from your media box across your LAN.  You want to use VLC to watch stuff across your LAN.

    Problem: When you select your Kodi box in VLC and double-click on the server to open the directory of media to watch, VLC crashes with no error message (even in debug mode).

    Explanation: VLC is configured to exit when the current …

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  4. Build your own time server with a GPS receiver.

    28 November 2018

    If you've had your ear to the ground lately, you might have heard that the NIST timekeeping radio station used by devices all over the world as a time reference for Coordinated Universal Time as well as some experiments in signal propagation and geophysical event notices might be on the chopping block in 2019, leaving the HF bands quieter and, let's face it, we can't have nice things.  Clocks that rely on this time source signal won't have any way to stay in sync and the inevitable drift due to the imperfections in everything will cause fractions of second to …

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  5. Technomancer Tools: Note taking with Joplin.

    02 November 2018

    Some time ago I began a search for a decent note-taking tool that I could carry around with me.  For many years I was a devotee of the notes.txt file on my desktop, constantly open in a text editor so I could add and refer to it as necessary.  When that ceased to scale I turned to software that replicated the legions of sticky notes on my desks at work and home, such as Tomboy.  And that worked well enough for a while, but when I started relying upon my mobile more and more for things it too stopped …

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