Tag: howto

  1. Linux on the Dell XPS 15 Touch (9570)

    05 March 2019

    UPDATED: 18 March 2019 - External display adapters that actually work with this model (and Arch Linux) added.

    For various reasons, I found that I had a need to upgrade Windbringer's hardware very recently.  This might be the first time that a catastrophic failure of some kind was not involved, so it's kind of a weird feeling to have two laptops side by side, one in process and one to do research as snags cropped up.  This time around I bought a Dell XPS 15 Touch (9570) - I was expecting things to be substantially the same, but this did not seem …

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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. Life and times.

    18 October 2018

    Long time readers are probably wondering where I've been lately.  The answer is kind of long and is worth a post all on its own.  The short version of the story is, work's been eating me alive lately.  This is our busiest time of year and it's been all hands on deck for a couple of weeks now.  In point of fact, last week was our quarterly all-hands meeting, where everybody on my team was flown into town for a solid week of meetings.  All day, every day.  Most of my visible activity lately took the form of parts of …

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  6. Interfacing Huginn with Mastodon.

    20 August 2018

    It seems that there is another influx of refugees from a certain social network that's turned into a never ending flood of bile, vitriol, and cortisol into what we call the Fediverse, a network of a couple of thousand websites running a number of different applications that communicate with each other over a protocol called ActivityPub.  Ultimately, the Fediverse is different from Twitter and Facebook in that it's not run as a for-profit entity. There are no analytics, no suggestions of "thought leaders" you might want to follow, no automated curation of the posts you can see versus the ones …

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  7. The Doctor's boot care regimen.

    16 July 2018

    Boots: 14 hole Doc Martens, black, real leather.

    Unlace.

    Wipe down with damp paper towels.

    Wipe down with dry paper towels.

    Coat with Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam using included sponge.  Be sure to work balsam into stitches and exposed edges.  I ordinarily don't like to shill for particular products, but I started using this stuff to help break in my boots (it makes the leather softer, so it adapts to your feet more readily) and I was wearing them clubbing within a month of getting them (instead of six months to a year).  It's amazing stuff.

    Wait half an hour …

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  8. Setting random backgrounds in LXDE.

    29 June 2018

    So, here's the situation:

    On Windbringer, I habitually run LXDE as my desktop environment because it's lightweight and does what I need: It manages windows, gives me a menu, and stays out of my way so I can do interesting things.  For years I've been using a utility called GKrellm to implement not only system monitoring on my desktop (because I like to know what's going on), but to set and change my desktop background every 24 hours.  However, GKrellm has gotten somewhat long in the tooth and I've started using something different for realtime monitoring (but that's not the …

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  9. Algorithm for implementing a dead man's switch.

    09 March 2018

    So, you're probably wondering why I'm posting this, because it's a bit off of my usual fare.  The reason is I think it would be useful to make available a fairly simple algorithm for implementing a general purpose dead man's switch in whatever language you want, which is to say a DMS that could conceivably do just about anything if it activated.

    But what's a dead man's switch?  Ultimately, it's a mechanism that has to be manually engaged at all times if you want something to happen, and if that switch turns off for some reason, something else happens (like …

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  10. Making offline backups of a Linux machine using Backblaze.

    19 January 2018

    UPDATE: 20191229 - Added how to rotate out the oldest backups.

    As frequent readers may or may not remember, I rebuilt my primary server last year, and in the process set up a fairly hefty RAID-5 array (24 terabytes) to store data.  As one might reasonably expect, backing all of that stuff up is fairly difficult.  I'd need to buy enough external hard drives to fit a copy of everything on there, plus extra space to store [incremental backups]((https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incremental_backup) for some length of time.  Another problem is that both Leandra and the backup drives would …

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