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.