All posts by alphageek

Status report 2017

I know it’s a little late to be posting a 2017 update, but, y’know, life happens.

I’ve got several things going on under my belt, so the blog hasn’t been a priority. But, that’s what this post is about.

I’ve got a few interests that keep me going: aviation, photography, computers, politics,  all blog concentrations, of course, but there’s also music, Scouting, robotics, writing, working, parenting, and husband-ing. I’m not really stretched thin so much as some things occasionally take a backseat for a while when I focus on others.

For example: I haven’t flown in nearly a year, and it’s killing me. My flight physical was delayed while they study my EKG and a sleep study…because, y’know, I’m 40 now. Hopefully that will be remedied soon, with a letter from the FAA. I’ve taken some time off from music, too.  I was a band leader for a Jazz band and Big Band in Raleigh for several years, and stepped into a player role for the last year, since I knew we were moving. I was a player in a couple other bands, too, before that including a Brass Choir (that specialized in chamber music), and a Ska band from many years ago.  (I play brass – mainly trumpet- , guitar, and even bass on occasion.) Scouts has become a back burner, since we’ve moved and we’re waiting for the middle child to complete his Eagle Scout before we move to another troop. (He’s almost finished.) I’m nearly completely burned out on politics, seeing as how everyone has an opinion on things they do NOT understand. It’s just painful dredging through BS opinions to find real political dialogue.

That being said, I’ve been focusing a lot on my photography, computers and writing. I’m nearly halfway through a novel I started writing a few months ago. I’ve got enough material for a whole series, just need to get it sorted out and in text. I’ve been learning new computer languages, applications, and suites. I’ve been neck deep in the Atlassian suite this year, and setting up provisioning suites for a small lab at work.

I’m also trying to teach the kids to code. The boys have started learning Java in their robotics program at school. A lot of the robot competition involves controlling the robot, and programming autonomous activity for the machines, too. It’s just too cool. The 10 year old just started learning HTML tonight. I got her set up on Codecademy, running through building her for web page. We got her fist Hello World page, and now she’s heading for the bowels of CSS. :)

So, that’s the update. I actually sat down here because I wanted to write up a schematic for the home network. I got a substantial UPS a couple weeks ago (for free, because it needed a little work), and replaced a blown cap, and VOILÀ!, 2700 watts of backup. That gives me 10 minutes of outage time! That may not sound like much, but if you look at my schematic, you’ll see I’m pulling a LOT of watts. Ha!

 

G’night!

The Pacific Northwest is beautiful.

The trips I’ve made out here have literally been a religious experience for me. Nature is my god, and she is here.  The Water. The Geology. The Flora and Fauna. The Night Sky.  The Open Air.  Any combination. of those. It’s just glorious out here.

Growing up in the Midwest and living in the South, and having visited the Northeast a few times, you get the sense that most everything east of the Mississippi is just variations on a theme. Sure there are subtle differences from one woods to the next,  one field to the next, one hill to the next, and there are significant differences between the woodlands of the upper Midwest and the beaches of the South, or the Wetlands of the Deep South or the mountains of Appalachia.  In most of the Eastern half of the country, though, the most you can see in a days drive is 3, maybe 4, different landscapes.

On this coast, the differences are vast- subtle is overrated. Within 6 hours of Portland I can physically touch at least 3 significantly different types of deserts; dozens of forests whose differences are identifiable in seconds; beaches of cliffs, rock, sand, glass and ash; mountains and volcanoes, dormant and live; hot springs, cold springs and glacial melt rivers; high plateaus; vast meadows and prairies; jagged volcanic gorges, slot canyons, and winding creeks; water formed caves and lava tubes; I can go on! There are just SO MANY different terrains.

It’s been a fun few weeks, as I get to spend most of my weekends out and shooting these places.  The views alone confirm our decision to come here. Pics are forth coming.

Cheers.

Mustangs, and why I love ’em.

First off, this is NOT a car blog, but if you bear with me, this gets filed as a tech/aviation tag. Trust me. :)

I grew up in a town owned by GM. Delco Electronics, at the time a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors, was responsible for the largest percentage of the economy of the county. There was also a Chrysler plant in town, and combined with the GM money, the two of them were easily the source of 80% of every dollar spent within 50 miles of city center. There was a Ford plant to the south, but they weren’t anywhere near as big a deal as the GM/Chrysler plants.

Continue reading Mustangs, and why I love ’em.

Rambling on the Viral Pool Incident in Texas…

How do you take an event and make it viral?

Apparently you pick a side, remove all traces of rationality,  and scream as loud as you can.

The “Pool Incident” in Texas this week has taken a much more trivial event than Ferguson or Baltimore, and made it screamworthy. From both fringes. My ears hurt, my brain hurts, my heart hurts. My eyes are bleeding at the comments I see on pages dedicated to it.

Continue reading Rambling on the Viral Pool Incident in Texas…

Trojanized PuTY for Windows users: another reason to not to

So, here you are, using PuTTY to connect to legitimate operating systems….Linux, AIX, BSD, Unix, etc. Being proactive, while still trudging along on Windows. Maybe you’re firced to because they won’t let you  reload your computer…i won’t judge.

But, there’s always  but…, Symantec released this week that there is a version of PuTTY that’s been out for a few months now, and if you’re using it, all your credentials have been compromised.

How can you tell if you’re affected? Pretty simple. The fix? Also pretty simple. The Aftermath? Well, that’s yet to be seen. You may have thousands of servers to recredential, not to mention the scanning for intrusions and wayward user accounts.

The test:

simply open the PuTTY window, and click “About” in the lower left. The bad versions will look like this.

This is the bad version of PuTTY. Maybe you should upgrade?
This is the bad version of PuTTY. Maybe you should upgrade?

The key words there are the “Unidentified build”. If it just says version 0.63 you may be at risk, but not infected.

The fix:

Just get the most recent version, or downgrade if you really wanna, but don’t get version 0.63. Who am I kidding….just upgrade already.

The aftermath:

I’ll leave that between you, your sysadmins, and your boss. May whatever god(s) you believe in have mercy on your soul.

 

 

 

Discount Card Fundraiser for Boy Scouts

We have a new Scout Fundrasier- Discount Cards!

They are $5 a piece, but if you’re local to the triangle, you get your money back and more.

These Camp Cards offer discounts and coupons at 7 local businesses. In most cases, you get your money back with a single purchase, and most people will save more than the cost of the card.

There are 2 one-time discounts of $5-

–     $5 off of any $50 at Harris Teeter
–     $5 off of any $20 purchase at Tijuana Flats Mexican Restaurant.

There are 6 discounts that can be reused any time between now and December 31st-

–     $5 off any $25 purchase at Advance Auto Parts
–     Free Kids Meal at Tijuana Flats
–     BOGO for Durham Bulls tickets
–     1/2 off car wash at Handee Hugo
–     $1.00 off pizza at Miltons
–     BOGO Hot Dog at Snoopy’s

2015-05-20 13.24.272015-05-20 13.23.49

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Email me at jkling@klingsweb.com if you want one, or hit me on FB.

 

J </Kling>

 

The Pixel. Chromebook at it’s finest.

I drooled over these for a year after they came out. Minimalist design. All brushed aluminum. Etched glass touchpad. Lighted keyboard. All the style of a Macbook Pro, without the necessary hipster pretensiousness. Specs of a top of the line notebook (at the time.) It had some weaknesses- the limitations of ChromeOS, 64GB storage, and NOT upgradable…4GB RAM, and same limitations, but it was PLENTY usable. Add in the dual-boot, keystroke-only Linux, and it does EVERYTHING I’d need it to do. Photo and vdeo editing, games, Steam and Skyrim, and anything else I can throw at it with out it puking.

The screen is BETTER than a retina display (no, really), and 10-point multitouch.

The SDCard port is the recessed style, and not the 720 abomination.

I finally broke down and ordered one, but a used one. The 64GB, Verizon LTE variety. We no longer have Verizon, but I’d consider adding a plan if I was a true road warrior for work.

The biggest downsides are the non-upgradeable disk and RAM. The disk I can mitigate with SDCards, but the RAM is a bigger blow. Still, 4GB is plenty  in a lappy- it’s not like I’m running virtual machines on it. Oh, wait….yes I am. If I run a Windows VM in Virtualbox, I make sure I am not running anything else, and give it a full 3GB. It’s not the best solution, but it works. And I’d rather not run Windows unless I absolutely *have* to.

The other downside is the total lack of USB3. That is almost unforgivable, but …. with only a 64GB disk, it’s not like you’re going to be transferring a lot of data.

I really have no true complaints with this beauty.  She’s alright in my (chrome)book.

 

Next Chromebook…the C720

With the damage, Mom earned the new replacement, instead of the kid that broke his lappy, and kid got mom’s “old” one. We decided to up hers to one of the new, flashier C720’s. (She didn’t need, nor want the P model- no use for the touchscreen, and the shorter battery life it come with.)

So first things: the graphics are MUCH more crisp on the 720. Significant upgrade. It also has a more powerful, but still low voltage processor. It also has the smaller 16GB SS HDD. Much faster boot, but less storage. I got the 4GB version, but once I got it, I learned that the memory is soldered on, and not upgradable. The HDD has no such limitation, but is a NGFF SSD, and not a SATA, like the 710s.

I found a 128GB NGFF disk on Amazon for ~$100. It swapped easily, and the Chrome repair tool flashed it with ChromeOS in about 5 minutes. Very impressed with the Chrome software.

Even better was the new firmware- it supports USB and Legacy boot loaders. Meaning- I can now install Chrubuntu next to ChromeOS, and it’s only a keystroke at boot (Ctrl+L  … L for Legacy) to select linux- and a keystroke (Ctrl+D …for Default…or just wait the 20 seconds for timeout) to boot to Chrome. A separate keystroke (Ctrl+U….for, well, duh…) boots to the USB bus. Much slicker process. Legacy boot also supports booting to a SDCard, which also expands storage. I’ve got a few 64gb SD Cards, so 128GB SS + 64GB SD is reaching a reasonable size.

The CPU/RAM combo makes Ubuntu usable, but not exactly a speed demon. I can run photo editing software, and games, but running more than one large application will slow down the system significantly. Video editing is possible, but almost as slow as using Youtube or some other online editor.

It’s thinner and more sleek than the C710, but the downside is it definitely feels flimsier than the older model.

It also loses several ports- it’s only got 2 USB, the full size HDMI, 3-way audio mini-8 (that’s a standard headphone jack, people), and the SDCard slot. It loses the VGA out, a third USB and the ethernet jack. The network jack I can understand, with wireless and all, but sometimes you just need a 10/100/1000 line. The VGA I get, too, as it still has HDMI. I don’t like the loss of the USB port, but they try to make up for it by making one of the two remaining ports a USB3 jack. That does lessen the sting. However, the dealbreaker for me was the SDCard port.

The SDCard on the 710 was similar to ones in a camera- it slides all the way in, and has a click-in, click-out mechanisim, where when it’s in use, only about 1/16″-1/32″ of the card is exposed. The click-in/out mechanism is recessed, so you have to use the very tip of your finger, or thumbnail to eject/seat the card. It keeps it clean and out of the way. It means I can insert a card, and throw it in a laptop bag and not worry about the card.

On the 720, the card port is a friction port, no click-in/out, and it leaves almost a full inch of the thin, flimsy, (did I mention thin and flimsy?) card exposed, outside the frame of the laptop. If you leave a card inserted and put it in a bag, you *will* break your storage stick, or the port, or both.

For the wife, it wasn’t a deal breaker, so she seems plenty happy with it. Being able to upgrade the storage internally made the SDCard less mandatory- being stuck with the 16GB SSD would have been unbearable for me.

However, I still wanted something more powerful….and Google provided. The Pixel.