GNU Terry Pratchett

I've been chewing through Terry Pratchett's Discworld books while at work (lockdown is great, so much peace and quiet). Sadly, he has passed away but there is a movement around keeping him alive in a sense, via the use of technology.

In my case, its an easy change to my nginx configuration. Just add add_header X-Clacks-Overhead "GNU Terry Pratchett"; to a server or location block.

Additionally, there is a Firefox Addon to let you see who is also participating, as well as a list.

"A man is not dead while his name is still spoken." - Going Postal




Quick bike ride

and a shakedown of a new commuter setup. Since switching to the TAD Fast Pack EDC, I've had to commute with my pack on my back which makes for a moist time. My former GR1 setup could be hung on the pannier rack with a little modification but I can't replicate that with the Fast Pack.

Pig Monkey posted about Rok straps earlier so I picked up a pair and went for a quick ride with my usual commuter loadout strapped to the rack. Some minor movement but otherwise pretty solid.



Drivetrain Refresh

I've not been the best custodian of my bike. I don't tend to do massive amounts of miles so maintenance tends to get neglected. Sadly, this is showing in the drivetrain. The chain was slack and the cassette was filthy and looks worn so I figured I would replace them both. Considering that costs less than a tank of petrol for the car it's almost doable as a yearly service.

It was easy to remove the lockring and cassette with the suitable tools and I took the opportunity to remove the "dork disc" that stops your chain falling off the high gear if your limit screw is set wrong.

I've added a reminder to my todo list on a regular basis to encourage me to be a bit better with my preventative maintenance.

$ task add project:fixmakeready due:May recur:60days wait:due-2days Check bike chain wear


Don't unpack.

Pull it out and put it back. Be ready to leave at a moments notice. “Vanish before you’re there.” --Moat Group


Waterbrick Sterilising

I use Waterbricks for my water storage to help mitigate any unforeseen incidents that result in my local water supply being interrupted for any reason. I posted in one of the Discord servers that I lurk on about using chlorine dioxide tablets for treating stored water and Tim replied about bleach:

Cheapest household bleach, put in 1/2 cup add some water, close and slosh all over like a madman. let sit for 5 minutes you are now sterilized inside. I also setup a spray bottle with the same solution to hit the opening and lids just before filling and fill then close.

I thought that half a cup was maybe too much so I opted for a couple glugs from the jug, maybe 1/4 cup or so but otherwise I did it as described. The rest of the waterbricks will have the same treatment when the time comes for rotation.


Started reading "Say Why to Drugs" by Dr. Suzi Gage.

Dr. Gage first came to my attention via Scroobius Pip's Distraction Pieces podcast. She then started her own podcast, Say Why to Drugs and has just released a book of the same name which basically collates the info given in the podcast into print form. It aims to give a good overview of the various substances consumed by humans - whether legal or otherwise - and does so without judgement or bias. Covering what the substance is, what it has been used for historically, what the intended effects are on the body and the potential side effects it has.

The book is very accessible with minimal clinical language and I think it should be required reading for high schoolers, or even earlier. Certainly much better than the puritanical "drugs are bad" approach I had at school.


I've started using GPG again, albeit in a minimal sense.

I've started using pass as my password manager, having exported the database from KeepassX. Pass is basically a wrapper around GPG for the purposes of securing your passwords. The files are plain GPG encrypted files which means no weird database format to worry about. Additionally I am using a GPG smartcard as the store for the private keys so that physically needs to be plugged into my computer to do anything password related.

I'm not so bothered about using GPG for email purposes, still to date the number of emails from Facebook that were GPG encrypted is much larger than the sum of all other GPG mail I have received (and probably sent for that matter). So I'm going to use it opportunistically. My public key is available if folk want to help me beat Facebook.



Brake maintenance was well overdue.

I'm not the best at bicycle maintenance and repair but needs must. My front brake has been squealing on and off. Compounded with my lack of finesse at adjusting the caliper lead to one pad being a lot more worn than the other.

The rears are fine for now but they are on the todo list for completion in a few months.



Backup Strategy

We have all lost data at some point. Whether it is an accidental fat fingered rm -r or hardware failure or something else, it sucks. Having a decent backup solution helps ease the pain and hassle.

In a previous life, when I used an Apple machine, I had a hard drive set up with Time Machine for local backups and I used Backblaze for off site storage. Now that I am back on a Linux machine, a different approach is used.

The main backups are handled by rsnapshot which backs up my home directory to a hard drive that is always plugged in whenever I am connected to my dock. The config file specifices several levels and retention amounts:

  • Hourly: 24 backups (assuming the computer is on) per day
  • Daily: 7 backups, one for every day of the week
  • Weekly: 4 backup to correspond to 4 weeks a month
  • Monthly: 12 a year, once a month
  • Yearly: just the one

These are kicked off by systemd services and timers. The clever bit is only needing the one service and timer and using arguments to determine the backup level. Running systemctl --user enable --now backup@hourly.timer sets up the hourly backup, systemctl --user enable --now backup@daily.timer sets up the daily and so on. The unit files are stored in ~/.config/systemd/user/ so as to not need to mess around with root permissions or setting up another user. I only care about my home directory, if the system itself becomes bad, I can easily blow it away and reinstall then pull from my backups.

The backup drives are many and redundant. The hotstore drive I have plugged in all the time, I have 2 coldstore drives which are kept in a Pelican 1200 case and I have just provisioned one offsite drive, cunningly named for being stored outside of my home so that in the event of a fire or what have you, I at least have a semi-up to date copy of my stuff.

Of course, having data encrypted at rest is always a good idea. All of the drives are set up using my encryption script which uses some sensible defaults to help protect my data.

Data replication is handled by a script called (funnily enough) syncstuff which is basically a wrapper around rsync. Takes a while to do the job but I am happiest with that way of doing it. This also syncs up my documents and mail to the various drives, as well as a microsd kept on a necklace most of the time.

Date Tags backups

DIY Skin Salve

A while ago, Brian Green of Brian's Bees posted about some skin balm that he created using wax from his beehives. I've tried some commercially available salve and figured a replica of Brian's salve could be tried.

My partner and I have had a couple goes at it now, pretty simple. Melt down roughly 1:1 beeswax:food grade coconut oil by weight in a container, add some olive oil to make it easier to apply to skin plus any essential oils for aroma. Mix thoroughly and decant into little tubs and let them cool down and solidify.


Any cuts, dry patches, blisters, cracking or flaking gets a dollop of the salve rubbed in and it seems to make a difference in healing time.

I've been having some issues with skin irritation on the back of my knees for a couple months. Initially, I thought it was some sort of fungal infection and I have been slapping on some anti-fungal creams of various brands, none of which had any effect. On a whim, I had a look at other possible options and figured the next best fit was likely to be dermatitis.

I started using some of the hand salve on the offending skin and I have seen a massive improvement in condition. Much more pleasing is the lack of itching at night which is aggravating when trying to sleep.



I have been swithering on getting my Foundation license for a few years now.

The one time I went to an amateur radio club meeting, the main business was that the name was not representative of the location the club was meeting at. Which you can imagine, was not that exciting.

However, I came across Julian OH8STN's videos which centre around amateur radio as a means for disaster resiliency and that has piqued my interest again. As a result, I picked up a Yaesu FT-817ND from eBay which seems like a solid bit of kit and I have been told it is a decent radio, especially for beginners to the hobby. I haven't used it much, mainly to confirm that it turns on, transmits and receives so more experimentation will need to happen.

In the meantime, it needs charged.



The bikes I have had in my life have always had flat bars. Until now.

I decided to swap my Jones H-Bar to drops in an effort to improve fitness and aero, maybe shave a few seconds off my commute time. The overall width of the bike has dropped quite significantly which will improve manoeuvrability and make getting it down the hall at 04:30 much less of a hassle.


The Dissect Podcast is not afraid to cut away to the heart of the matter.

The podcast is a long form discussion (with a significant number of rabbit holes along the way), primarily focused on fitness and nutrition. The hosts are not afraid to tell it how they see it (with a hefty amount of not politically correct crude humour and cynicism) from their point of view of being highly advanced athletes in a number of disciplines.

If you have several hours free and want some knowledge bombs about being fit and healthy, give it a shot.


Today is world backup day.

A Pelican 1200 case holds my redundant backup drives.

8TB of storage goodness, media mirrored and system backups managed by the OS.

Another 3TB drive in the background as my daily backup and media storage drive.

A convenient format to lug if I need to hightail out for whatever reason.


Kanteen Maintenance

I've been a firm proponent of Klean Kanteen bottles for nigh on a decade now. The two I have have suffered a bit of abuse, scuffs and dings, which only marginally reduce the capacity. I think I could drop one off a building and it would survive.

The stainless bottle and the plastic cap are easy to clean. Sadly, over the years, the rubber o-rings that seal the bottles up and stops errant drips have degraded somewhat. I am not sure what the black stuff is, I can't clean it off and it looks pretty unsightly. Also, there are some tears in the rings which compromise them.

Thankfully, a replacement aftermarket set is available on Amazon and it is a quick job to whip off the old ones and replace them.

Ready for another 10 years of service.



Backpack Pannier

Cycling to work is undeniably a good thing. Sweat on the other hand, is not. My commute is 7.5 miles, a lot of which is uphill. Riding a bike with a backpack full of stuff makes me sweat quite badly and my work doesn't have any sort of showering facilities. Couple that with being required to wear a shirt and tie and you have a recipe for disaster.

My bike has a pannier rack on it so the natural idea is to put a pannier bag or two on. This however would mean transferring stuff between the pannier bag(s) and my EDC backpack irritatingly often and means having extra kit about the place.

The solution then is to put the backpack itself on the bike. A few options were brainstormed. Ratchet straps were tried but ended up being more hassle than they are worth. Using a Greyman Tactical RIP-M panel was attempted but unsatisfactory. What is needed is a way of hooking the backpack straps to the rack.

Way back in the day, I got a Kifaru Paratarp with the peg and pole kit. The kit has basically been retired, got better pegs and hiking poles for that purpose but I kept the poles around for future use. I attached one of the pole segments (basically a bit of aluminium pipe) to the rack with a couple of hose clamps and used a couple pieces of kydex from a previous project to space it out. Hook the straps over the pipe and tighten them down and the bag is securely attached to the bike. Doesn't move an inch.

The major downside to this approach is at low speeds (namely moving off and manoeuvring on foot) the bike is biased to one side which is interesting getting it down the hall at 04:30. At regular cruising speed I don't notice a thing.


Naomi Wu posted on Twitter a guide on forcible entry by the New York Fire Department.

The guide primarily focuses on how to get rapid entry to a premises on fire using various implements, as well as an overview of different doors and locking mechanisms. Obviously it is meant for legal rapid entry to save lives but also unintentionally gives ideas when looking for a new home or how to secure your current front door from people trying to gain unlawful entry.

It also reminds me that I want a Halligan bar, more useful in a post apoc situation than a crowbar.


Food Prepping With Huel

If you have been in the tech circles in the last couple of years you will have heard about Soylent, powdered food for techies and folk who don't want the hassle making food. Sadly its not available in the UK (at least without paying shipping and import fees).

I found a couple offerings this side of the pond but none were too satisfactory, shipping delays and other faff being the main issues. Until I stumbled upon Huel. Same idea as Soylent but made in the UK, next day delivery with a reputable courier and 100% RDA of everything.

The "food" is dry powder and comes in plastic foil lined bags which are sealed from the factory. I figure they are ripe for food storage. 1 bag is 14 meals at 500 calories a go. 4 bags is a month of calories, assuming a daily intake of 2000 calories. Since they are foil lined, the use by date is a good 8-12 months but being dry powder and (presumably) relatively sterile, the shelf life is probably a good bit longer.

There will likely be a cutoff point where the powder does start to spoil so it will need rotating out. A simple way to keep track of it is to just write the delivery date on the bags I get.

I keep one bag in my bugout/travel bag and another in a pelican case which I can wheel along behind me. If I need to hightail it out, I have at least 2 weeks of food. These 2 bags are the first to be rotated when I get a new delivery which ensures I have the longest life for any bugging out. Old bags get slotted into storage by date order and consumed in time.

I use Taskwarrior to remind me to order more Huel on a monthly basis:

$ t add project:foostorage recur:monthly wait:due-2days Buy 5 bags of Huel

I get my Huel deliveries in 4 or 5 bags a go, my one or two meals a day means I only consume about 3 bags worth a month. If I get 4 or 5 bags every month, then over the course of a year, I can build up several months of stored food. Assuming I can procure potable water, I can basically live for an extended time without having to procure sustenance of any significant value.

Now, I'm not one of those people who are on 100% Huel, I like my real food too much to do that, but I usually have one "meal" for breakfast and depending on what is going on with work, another one or two that day, with a real meal at some point during the day.



The first week of December 2015 brought a massive storm to Lancashire and Cumbria,

causing severe flooding which resulted in a loss of power to 61,000 homes and businesses. The Royal Academy of Engineering put out a report of the situation (mirror) discussing the situation:

Most homes in the affected area have gas-fired central heating with the control system and circulating pump reliant on electricity, so had no heating. Many homes have all-electric cooking and thus were unable to heat food. There are few high-rise buildings in the city but all lost power for their lifts and some upper floors lost water supplies. After 30 hours without electricity, many households had to throw away at least some of the contents of their freezers.

The biggest impact on most people was that few knew what was happening. By looking out of the window, it was obvious that there was a widespread power cut but none of the usual sources of information – TV, internet, text messages or social media – was working. Although there was FM radio coverage, many people did not have a suitable battery- powered radio and reporters in the area had serious difficulties in communicating with their studios.

Vulnerable groups, including those relying on electrically-powered medical appliances and residents of care homes, were more seriously affected.


I've been a double edged razor user for well over a decade now.

I find the shave to be much more pleasurable than the multi-bladed cartridge monstrosities, not to mention the cost is much reduced.

The main issue comes when it is time to change the blade. Have a fairly sharp (not so good for shaving but will still mess you up) blade - covered in scraped off skin and possibly blood depending on how badly I shave - to be disposed of.

Simply throwing the naked blades in the bin is not suitable. The hazard to anyone down the chain is too high. Similarly, putting the blades in the cardboard container they came out of is also not great.

I thought about the sharps bins you see in hospitals and clinics for needles and scalpels and wondered if there was a consumer version.

Small enough to sit on a shelf and enough capacity for at least a decade of shaving. Clearly marked as hazardous and easily sealed for future disposal into a suitable waste stream.


Rantmedia 1999-2019

At 21:00 PT, after 20 years of continuous broadcasting, the internet's longest running internet radio station is coming to an end. James O'Brien (aka Cimmerian) made the decision to end the run instead of letting it atrophy and wither away.

Sad to see it go, Patrolling was a formative part of my teenage years and I fully credit Rant with the solid friendships and the current relationship I have.

Sean Kennedy:

James O'Brien:

Don't hate the media, become the media!


Ytget

I've been a fan of command line scripts and software to get tasks done for a while now. A few weeks ago, I tried having a go at hacking on Bashpodder to add Youtube functionality via the use of youtube-dl to get videos automatically, podcast style.

Annoyingly, I couldn't make it run properly and left it for a while. Until this morning when I had some coffee and decided to just break out the functionality to a separate script. Two scripts for podcast downloading may be a bit much but needs must.

Like my bashpodder hack, this script requires youtube-dl to be installed.

It also requires two text files to be in your home folder (or symlinked from elsewhere). .ytget.conf is a list of channels that you want to download from, whether from Youtube or any other service that youtube-dl supports. .ytget.lastrun just contains a timestamp in date +%Y%m%d format - eg. 20190101 - that is when the script was last ran. I recommend initially using a date from a month or two ago, else the script will default to 20180101 and get all videos uploaded since then.

Grab the script, stick it in your $PATH and grab your Youtube subscriptions, free from the need to have a Google account!


Contain Yourself

Firefox added containers to compartmentalise web browsing. A smart individual took that concept and made an add-on to containerise the abomination known as Facebook.

Today, I found that another person took that idea and made one to corral Twitter and I had the idea to see if the same has been done for Google. It has.

Those 3 add-ons should go a way to keeping data leakage under control. Of course, augmenting your browser with uMatrix and uBlock Origin is thoroughly recommended for further hardening.


Let's Know Things

Recently, Jon Antilles reposted a masterlist which had a link to a post by Colin Wright. Digging around, I fond that Colin hosts a podcast, Let's Know Things, which aims to give contextual information on a wide range of subjects (including tech, politics and sociology) and integrates them into a high level view of how they fit in the world.

The episodes are not particularly in depth, being about 45 to 90 minutes long but they do give a good jumping off point for folk wanting to research them further. Or just gently drift off to sleep to Colin's gravelly voice (dangerous when on night shift).



Been commuting for 3 out of 4 shifts on the bike this week.

It would have been 4 for 4 but tonight is night shift, no way am I cycling home 7.5 miles after being awake for 24 hours. My ebike makes the commute much easier and a lot more fun. Aside from nearly running into an idiot who pulled out on me. And having to do a ninja landing after my front wheel hit an edging stone at the wrong angle.




Goruck GR1 Framesheet Upgrade

I've been rocking a Goruck GR1 as my EDC pack for several years now. Sadly, over time the stock plastic framesheet has slacked off a bit and allows the pack to sag when it is sitting upright. Its a common issue with Goruck packs but is easily replicated with a 3m A3 sheet of Kydex from Ebay.

Simply pull out the stock sheet, draw round it onto the Kydex and cut out with some sort of rotary tool. Wrestle it back in, job done.

Don't forget your eye protection for when structural failures happen.


Pioneer AVH-X8700BT Password Reset

While I was at EMFCamp this year, one of my friends gave me a Pioneer AVH-X8700BT head unit for my van. The cool thing with that radio is it will do Apple CarPlay which is useful since I am currently an Apple user. My current setup is a bluetooth audio adapter kludged into the back of the stock head unit, this new to me head unit lets me connect my iPhone SE to it via a lightning cable.

Sadly, when I powered it up on my desk, I found it was password protected and the hint wasn't any use. Asking my friend what the password was got nowhere, he couldn't remember, any guesses he came up with didn't work.

So it sat around for a week or so while I was at work. Until I had a look around the internet and came across a random forum post for a different radio. Not the same one as mine but I figured I would have a go, the radio was free so if it failed then nothing lost.

I grabbed the RAR from the Dropbox link (mirror) and dumped the contents to a freshly formatted 16GB pendrive, plugged it in the top USB port and powered on the radio. It sat at the password screen for a few seconds then rebooted into maintenance mode. From there it was simple to hit the factory reset option in the menu, remove the pendrive and power cycle the head unit to the language selection screen.

Fantastic! From there I plugged the phone in, set the radio to work with Apple devices and had CarPlay running, controlling my phone from the head unit. Much better than faffing with a bluetooth puck on the dash.

This fix may work for other Pioneer radios from the same family, the link above is for the AVH-4000 but worked just the same.




Ditching GPG

I've been a user of GPG for over a decade if I recall. Been through some trials and tribulations with keychain issues (admittedly mostly PEBKAC) and even switched to using a hardware token for storing my keys on to increase security.

The issue is, the folk I am primarily in contact with don't use GPG. One friend maintains a keychain himself but our communications are over Telegram for the most part. I have had more encrypted emails from Facebook than all other contacts put together. Say what you will about other communications systems and their cryptography (or lack thereof) but they just get out of the way and let me get my messages out to people.

So I am thinking I will ditch the use of GPG. I see no utility in keeping a keychain up to date with subkeys and expiries and moving things to the token etc for one person I don't communicate with on that medium.

If anyone has a really good reason for me to expend effort in maintaining my keychain then please contact me, ideally using GPG. Otherwise I will likely revoke my keys some point this week.


The trick with running

is to get into a slight zen/dissociative state. Let the subconscious take over the movement of your legs and have your conscious go elsewhere. Whether it be plans for the day, thinking about things that could have been improved or just plain idle thoughts.







CryptoStorm OpenVPN for iOS

I'm a user of the CryptoStorm VPN service for over a year. Took advantage of their Black Friday deal for renewing and got a year of use for $26. 50 cents a day for bypassing any state or ISP tracking and filtering seems like a good deal to me. Bonus: can use the same account on multiple devices at the same time, such as my laptop and phone.

The latter being the sticking part. Could not for the life of me get my iPhone (I'm an Apple user, sue me) to connect, constant timeouts. Well today I found the solution and it is really simple. Just need to go into the Settings app, down to OpenVPN and select the "Force AES-CBC cipersuites" option in the Advanced Settings portion.

Connects within 2 seconds. At the time of writing, my laptop appears to be in Lithuania and my phone in Latvia.


Dash/Plus Extension

I've been using Patrick Rhone's Dash/Plus notation system for todo lists for a while now. While idly at work, I came up with a couple extra metadata notations for done items.

The issue I have had is when I do my lists, there is no space for results to be noted or extra explanation to be done. Putting the information at the end of the list gives no link back to where it came from and reviewing the initial todo item gives no idea of what was done.

Basically I solved this with a right angle bracket. The cool thing is it can be done on paper and digitally. +> for done items with more info elsewhere and >+ for the extra information later in the list (or another list altogether). Simple.



Thought I would spice up

my usual morning run. Stuffed an improvised 9kg(20lb) ruck plate into my bullet ruck and went out on the 5k loop. Started huffing almost instantly and sweat was dripping off 1/3 the way round.

Still got a good time, just under 32 minutes.


Morning Routine

  • Wake up around 5am (not quite #0445club but works for me)
  • Pint of coffee
  • 5km run
  • Shower
  • Depending on how hungry I am, breakfast either before or at work

Been doing this the past week while pulling 12 hour shifts at work and I have to say it is working out really well for me. Combination of early runs and long days mean my sleep is much improved.

Date Tags routine


Cordyceps Sinensis

Jocko and Echo both sing the praises of Onnit's Shroom Tech products which claim to help both immune system and physical fitness. Sadly, Onnit products are quite pricy, more than I can justify right now. So I got a generic version.

Been taking these strange brown capsules twice daily for about a week now. This is totally subjective and may be completely placebo but I do feel better and happier. My athletic performance feels stronger and unusually I'm not feeling famished mid-afternoon. No capacity to do a proper double-blind trial but this impromptu experiment does seem to be a success.

If I ever end up sprouting growths from my body (or worse), please incinerate me.





Been off the bike for far too long.

Went to cash a cheque and found myself very unconfident at riding, especially in traffic. Doesn't help that the main road to go anywhere is a dual carriageway, nor does the lack of cycle-friendly paths around here, nor the lack of good places to lock up to.

Excuses I know. Need to make an effort to cycle more and become less dependent on refined dinosaurs.





A Year of Crossfit

Well, year and a few weeks. Been going 2-3 times a week to Claymore Crossfit and I have to say, I have had a blast. Cardio has improved, lifts have gone up, all round fitness has increased. And I have to credit it with some other benefits to my life.

Here's to another year of Crossfit!



One of the great things

about having a 110 Defender hardtop is the ability to stick a bicycle in the back and have it be completely protected from the elements, as well as not having to partially disassemble it to get it in.


Training

Listen, Genos. You just have to keep doing it. No matter how hard it gets. It took me three years to get this strong.

One hundred push-ups! One hundred sit-ups! One hundred squats! Then a 10km run! Every single day!

And of course, make sure you eat three meals a day. Just a banana in the morning is fine. But the most important thing is to never use the A/C or heat in the summer or winter so that you can strengthen the mind. In the beginning, you'll wish you were dead. You might start thinking what't the harm of taking a day off? But for me, in order to be a strong hero, no matter how tough it was, even if I was spitting blood, I never stopped. I kept doing squats even when my legs were so heavy they refused to move. Even when my arms started making weird clicking noises, I kept doing push-ups.

A year and a half later, I started to notice a difference. I was bald...and I had become stronger!

In other words, you gotta train like hell to the point where your hair falls out. That is the only way to become strong.

--Saitama, One Punch Man episode 3


EDC 2016-03

  • GR1 26l
  • Field Notes notebook
  • Pack of tissues
  • Sharpie marker
  • 1.2 litre Klean Kanteen
  • Book (Left of Bang by Patrick Van Horne and John A. Riley)
  • Patagonia Houdini jacket (stuffed into its pocket)
  • Goruck foot care kit with added plasters
  • Improvised trauma kit (Combat Application Tourniquet and Quik Clot)
  • Burt's Bees lip balm and hand salve
  • Goruck Wire Dopp
  • 15000mAh power bank
  • Micro USB cable and USB condom
  • 3.5mm audio patch cable (for vehicle radio AUX connections)
  • Headphones
  • Network cable and Thunderbolt adapter
  • Satnav, stupidly long mini USB cable and triple USB power adapter






Not been on the bike for months.

Shocking behaviour, I know. Needs to change. Went up to the co-op for some salad for dinner in an attempt to arrest the dependence on the Land Rover. Legs are burning, throat is raw. Only a 2km trip. Caught a midge in the eye too. Must get better.


Currently reading "Moods of Future Joys" by Alastair Humphreys.

It is the first half of his autobiographical account of the 4 years he spent traversing the globe by bicycle on a slim budget of £7000. From London, through Europe, the Middle East and down the east of Africa.

Mornings come peacefully on the road. I wake slowly with the daylight, turning in my sleeping bag, adjusting the bundle of clothes that act as my pillow and dozing off once or twice until my head is clear and ready to begin the day. I lie still and listen to the sounds outside my tent. Sometimes birdsong, sometimes whooshing vehicles, sometimes water, sometimes silence. I unzip the tent door and feel the fresh air on my face. I check the weather and particlarly the wind: strong winds can seriously spoil my day.


What do you need to survive on the Pacific Crest Trail?

Turns out, not a whole lot.

“This was not a typical backpacking or camping trip—there is no real time spent in camp, per say. You’re not sitting around and roasting marshmallows and singing songs. You eat for functional purposes—not for the experience of eating. At the end of the day, all you want to do is set up camp and get to sleep so you wake up and do it all over again. So bringing books, Kindles, or other luxury/recreational items that have nothing to do with survival or with walking very clearly becomes superfluous.”


Running downhill

is one of the best things in the world. So fast and easy. Running on the flats is tolerable to acceptable. Uphill sucks.






31C3 Packing List

I'm headed to Hamburg, Germany for the 31st Chaos Communications Congress, a week filled with hacking, geekery and strange German food. Thought I would make a post detailing the kit I am bringing with me since I have never done one before.

I was going to bring either my Kifaru Express or the E&E for this trip but I decided to get a new pack. The Express is way too big for the short time I'm away for and I have had issues getting it into a plane overhead locker. The E&E is just a bit too small to fit everything I want to take with me.

Enter the Goruck GR0. Plenty of room to fit what I need yet not unwieldy.

  • Clothes in a Kifaru extra large pullout (2 pairs boxer shorts, 2 pairs socks, 2 tshirts, 1 pair sleeping boxers, merino wool thermal top
  • 1.2 litre (40oz) Klean Kanteen
  • Map of Hamburg
  • Notebook, Sharpie and passport
  • book
  • USB battery, mini and micro USB cables
  • Laptop and charger with EU plug (UK one in the photo)
  • Kindle (not shown)
  • Spork
  • Self aid kit
  • Towel, hygiene stuff and tissues

On me:

  • Tshirt, socks, boxers, trousers, hoodie, boots, hat
  • Pen, wallet, phone

Only 2 changes of clothes for a week? Won't you smell? No. The plan is to wash the stuff I wore each day in the shower at the end of the day. Gives me 2 days for everything to dry which is easily doable. Rotate as I go. Trousers can go for a week without being washed though if they get dirty I can wash them and they will be dry in the morning. Gotta love synthetics.

Total pack weight: 10kg. Pack light, go fast.


Well that was easy

On Christmas Day last year, I made the decision to not consume any alcoholic drinks for a year. I am pleased to say that I have managed that goal. Like I thought, it was pretty easy. Five nights of drinking a year to zero is a pretty simple goal to reach.

Another year teetotal? Challenge accepted!


Tolerance and Acceptance

Last week, one of the folk in an IRC channel I hang out in (#r4nger5 on freenode) came out as being transgender. The single negative comment? Your room is a bit messy.

Tolerance and acceptance, we has it.

Date Tags lgbtq+





So I did

07:40 < IronAngel> I'm horny drunk and mean spirited, and you can quote me on that

#r4nger5 on freenode

Date Tags irc / quote

Wherein we find out about the author's inability to follow instructions

So I've been thinking that I really should learn Lisp. A nice programming language unlike any other I have seen. Clojure is one dialect of Lisp which is targeted at the JVM and .NET CLR. A quick search of the Youtubes revealed a decent video introducing Clojure with a practical example and a quick touch on Leningen.

I started going along with the video a couple days ago when I hit a snag. Errors about not finding files, no such namespace etc. The versions of the libraries I was using were quite old, was that the issue? Has the syntax changed?. The answer is a lot more depressing.

(defroutes (GET "/" request (homepage request)) (GET "/:id" [id] (redirect id)))

Can you see the issue? I coudn't.

(defroutes myroutes (GET "/" request (homepage request)) (GET "/:id" [id] (redirect id)))

I missed a single argument from (defroutes). Literally could have put any old ascii string in there and it would have worked.

2.

Sodding.

Days.

Remember kids, when copying code from a video, make sure to get it all.







Outside!

A few days ago my friend Scott and I made a couple of videos.

This one is about stoves and whatnot.

This one is about the fire kit I threw together the night before.

This will hopefully be a semi-intermittent thing, especially now that we have 2 cameras for capture. Recorded some stuff today so expect that in the near future.

Date Tags video


When geeks and occultism collide

Yes, its a pentacle. Yes, he's using a fifty kilovolt HT power supply and some mucking great capacitors to drive the laser. Yes, that's a flayed goatskin on the coat rack and a half-eaten pizza whirling round at 33 rpm on the Linn Sondek turntable. This is what you get when you live with Pinky and the Brain: I said it was a geek house and we all work in the Laundry, so we are talking about geek houses for very esoteric - indeed, occult - values of geek.

-- Charles Stross - The Atrocity Archives

I think I'm gonna like this book.


2014 is the year of vagabonding

Lots of travelling going on this year. First up, I'm camping in Galloway forest for a week in May. Then in August I'm headed to Illinois to meet up with some folks to head down to Indiana for Gencon. The week after that is Electromagnetic Field 2014. Then if I can get the time off from work, I will be going to the next Chaos Communications Congress in Germany.

Good times.


I think I have a minor Triple Aught Design addiction

Now own 2 pairs of TAD trousers. Force 10 AC to be precise, tan and grey colours. Best. Trousers. EVER! Hell, I may retire my DPM trousers.

Bought them from Hennie Haynes who I cannot praise enough. Ordered yesterday at about 3pm, arrived at about 10am this morning. They are bloody quick at processing orders and they nearly always arrive next day. Even with free shipping.

Now, if I could get them in navy blue so I can use them for work instead of the naff trousers provided.


New bike hardware.

Got a rear pannier (which will act as a mudguard), front mudguard and a decent pump.

Bike is looking sexy. Plus I can cycle in the rain without getting my arse soaked by water thrown up by the rear wheel.



sshuttle

A couple of my friends have been playing about with getting VPNs running. I have tried to do similar in the past but never got it to work very well. However, while skiving at work, I came across sshuttle which is sort of a transparent proxy, ssh tunnel and VPN all rolled into one nice package.

The neat thing about sshuttle is it doesn't require much setup. All it requests of your endpoint is ssh access as a regular user and the ability to run python. Locally you need python and root or sudo privileges as it manipulates your iptables rules to get the job done.

The really neat thing is you can get it to capture your DNS requests so that an eavesdropper can't tell what addresses you are looking up.

sshuttle --dns -r username@sshserver 0/0

is the command to use once you install it. You can add -v flags to make it more verbose but it is already quite verbose as it is.

The one drawback I have found is that it doesn't use my ssh keys very easily. As it runs as root, the root user has no access to my ssh keys and wants the password to login to the remote machine. You can pass it the ssh invocation to use your keyring but if you have that password protected like I have (a good idea), it requests the password for that. Thus, you still have to type in a password no matter what you do.

Its a small drawback, especially seeing as it protects your traffic from eavesdroppers right up to your remote machine. Very handy for hostile (publicly accessible) networks.


Reading TFM does work.

Fixed my bike. At least it shifts between all 3 ranges now, albeit with some delay at times. No chain rub though which was the reason for the faffing. Time to get my cycling on!


Better the devil you know?

Independence.

Conjures up visions of bloody struggle and violent revolution. But this isn't Ukraine or Venezuela. The streets don't run red with the blood of people fighting for their lives.

No, this is altogether a much less violent affair. A bunch of middle aged men and women having childish arguments about the future of a nation.

As someone who lives north of the imaginary line in the ground that divides this island, I am frequently asked what I think of the whole deal. How will I vote?

Honestly? I have no idea.

I am fairly anarchist leaning and as a result, I would like power to be moved more towards the individual. Independence would be a step in that direction. Not being governed by a group that allows the Church of England to have a say in folk's lives does appeal to me.

However, ideology is not the best thing to make such a decision on. Can Scotland survive being split from the rest of the UK? Do we have the economic power to make it? Oil won't last forever and the shipyards certainly aren't making boats any time soon.

The Scottish Parliament (Alex Salmond and co) seems to think we can. They have produced a rather weighty book which can be delivered for free for you to have a read. My Dad got a copy and when I had a flick through, it was dripping with fervent nationalism from the first page.

I do know one thing. If Scotland does get independence, it will make my trips to Yorkshire a hassle. The Tories have said they will institute border controls which will undoubtedly make things very difficult. The economic losses from the time taken for lorries to cross the border alone will make life more interesting.

The other issue I have with gaining independence is that the Prime Minister will be Alex Salmond. I really do not want that smug face on TV for months. The man is an arse. His sole platform for years has been "independence will fix everything". OK, maybe a little artistic licence has been taken but you get the point.

I also take issue with allowing those 16 and over to vote on the matter as opposed to the usual 18 or over. I don't know about you but I don't trust 16 year olds to act in a rational matter on this subject. You just know they are gonna broadcast Bravehart the night before the referendum to whip them up and "fight back against the English, innit?" or whatever the current vernacular is.

I still haven't made up my mind. Do I go with the same old garbage from London or do I try the new possible garbage from Edinburgh? Middle road of not voting at all?

I'm interested in what you think of the whole thing. Contact me in the usual places or leave a comment below.


My name is Kevinus Isageekus

Owner of a slow moving website, caretaker of a buggered land rover! I will get my geek on in this life, but not the next, as I'm an atheist!

--Coined by V, with apologies to Russel Crowe



Made it to work on the bike

Made it to work on the bike without dying. Helmet also fits in my backpack. Great success!

Dreading the ride home though. Bloody hill.

Date Tags bicycle

We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers

"We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers. We study the mysteries of laser and circuit, crystal and scanner, holographic demons and invocation of equations. These are the tools we employ, and we know many things."

-- Elric, Babylon 5 Series 2 Episode 3: The Geometry of Shadows





Triple Aught Design trousers are the shiznit!

They really are. So comfortable. Pockets within pockets. Only been wearing them (Force 10 AC cargo in tan btw) for about 10 minutes and I have fallen in love. Well, when I was in America I got a chance to look at the pair that Pig Monkey gave to Avagdu as a wedding gift. Decided then I wanted my own.

I ordered through Heinnie Haynes here in the UK, less hassle than ordering direct from America, less customs fees and shipping and whatnot.






Well, today could have gone better

I've just finished working on Serenity for the day. I would have been finished hours ago on a job that was supposed to be about 30 seconds long. I was relocating the aux battery ground point to a seatbelt mount to cut down on the amount of wiring running all over the place.

I was torquing the nut down to the post when suddenly it got very easy to turn. Lifted the wrench off and saw that the post had sheared.

Balls.

Of course, being a Land Rover, things are never that simple to fix. If the post was in fact a bolt that could be removed, this 30 second job would have turned into a mere 5 minute job. Sadly, the post is welded into place.

Cock.

Cue 20 minutes underneath faffing about with the socket set and a spanner removing 2 nuts and bolts that have been covered up with the general crud that accumulates under Land Rovers. Didn't help that I was scraping my knuckles on the outrigger every 10 seconds.

Eventually the bolts came out and after a little prying the plate dropped onto my gut, along with more built up crap from behind it. I must have looked a right state getting out from under Serenity.

The next task was to grind off the remainder of the post and then drill a new hole for a replacement bolt. Easy enough though my drill bits leave a lot to be desired.

Screwfix is a great place to go to get replacement fixings and fittings. Cheap and they do stainless steel nuts and bolts. However, I must have a wee rant about something.

Bolts are sold in packs of 10. Washers in packs of 10. Nuts in packs of 100.

WHY!!!!

What the hell am I gonna do with 100 nuts! I only needed 3! Come on Screwfix, sell nuts in packs of 10! Make it easier for the DIY crowd to get stuff done.

Anyway, I have the bits I need and the plate is drying after having rust and crap ground off and a coat of hammerite.  Need to do the other side but that can wait till tomorrow.

Land Rover Defender ownership is never easy.








Timelapse Test

I decided to test out the timelapse feature of my new to me GoPro camera. Set to take a picture every 2 seconds. Mounted using a cheapo windscreen mount I got from eBay.

To render the video I used this incantation:

ffmpeg -r 1/0.5 -pattern_type glob -i '*.JPG' -c:v libx264 timelapse.mp4

The result is below.

Not too shabby.



Democrats Vs Republicans

< mephyt> half retarded with the ability to handle velcro shoes is better than trying to hump peanut butter jars while screaming incoherently

I'll let you decide which is which.







Il Vicino Italian Resteraunt Review

After a long day out in Albuquerque, some form of sustenance is needed. Pig Monkey found a potential candidate so we made our way there.

Il Vicino is an Italian restaurant specialising in pizza but has other stuff available too. The strange thing about the place is that you order and pay for your food before being seated. However, that has the advantage of not needing to hang about waiting for the servers to get your receipt and all that faffing about.

We got ourselves seated and began to take in the atmosphere. The major feature is the 2 large fired ovens used for cooking the pizzas and other food. Evidently they cook really quickly because barely 5 minutes after we sat down we had our food on the table. Quick service or what?

I can't speak for the others but my sandwich (a Panino Casino) was bloody fantastic. Lots of ham and cheese with a nice side salad. Less than \$10 after tax. It was so good that I left a \$5 tip. Seriously, if you ever find yourself in Albuquerque then get to this place. You will not regret it.

Il Vicino, 3403 Central NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87106. +1-505-266-7855.



Off to New Mexico

Agent Coulson: "I’ve been reassigned; director Fury wants me in New Mexico"
Tony Stark: "Fantastic, land of enchantment"
AC: "That’s what I am told"
TS: "Secret stuff?"
AC: "Something like that"
--Iron Man 2


Disabling your trackpad when a mouse is connected

Typing on my laptop often has the side effect of touching the trackpad and sending the cursor wildly off and insterting text elsewhere. This is highly irritating when programming. Thankfully there is a simple one line fixfor GNU/Linux systems using udev. Simply add

ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="input", KERNEL=="mouse[0-9]", ENV{DISPLAY}=":0", ENV{XAUTHORITY}="/home/<your username>/.Xauthority", ENV{ID_CLASS}="mouse", ENV{REMOVE_CMD}="/usr/bin/synclient TouchpadOff=0", RUN+="/usr/bin/synclient TouchpadOff=1"

to

/etc/udev/rules.d/01-touchpad.rules

unplug and replug your mouse and you should be good to go.

Source.

Date Tags code / udev


Be wary of strong drink

Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors...and miss

--Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love

Date Tags quote

Wombling

For those wondering what the hell this british guy means by wombling, The Wombles were a fictional species of anthropomorphic burrowing creatures who reused and recycled human rubbish. Wombling therefore refers to the act of making use of waste that others would simply throw in the bin (or worse, leave on the ground for others to deal with). In this case, I have wombled a large amount of polypropylene rope and several meters of good quality copper wire from a skip.

Who in their right mind throws away mains thickness copper?! At the very least, it could be scrapped for cash.

The rope hasn't been cared for particularly well. I will need to get the ends whipped to prevent further fraying. Its nowhere near recovery grade so no towing or winching but it will be useful for tying down stuff.  Free cordage is always a good thing.

Its worth keeping an eye out for things that have been discarded that could be of use. As the saying goes, one man's garbage is another's treasure.


UK Self Defence

11:57 < IronAngel> the example further down of picking up a brick to fend off an attacker
11:57 < IronAngel> soon you will have to have a letter from the home office to buy bricks
11:57 < kevinisageek> true story


Predator Archive

Thought I would throw up a copy of some interesting files written by Michael Carlton aka Predator. He was a rather influential dude from Sydney, Australia who was involved in several underground media projects and a whole bunch of other stuff. Alas, he is no more, having passed nearly a decade ago. Information on the guy is surprisingly sparse, the main project he was involved with, http://cat.org.au is offline so information cannot be gleaned there.

However, all is not lost. I managed to get what is essentially a dump of his home folder (predarchive) from my mate Harlequin, who I believe was connected to Pred in some way. I have also just stumbled on the book which is mentioned in various places, Pred.txt(not actually .txt but .pdf).

Go have a read, if you are anything like me, you will enjoy and want more.