Happily cruising my mid-life crisis.

Hello dear readers,

I think I’m going through my mid-life crisis.

It isn’t really a mid-life crisis in terms of me trying to retain/regain my youth, that’s not an issue for me, that boat has sailed. My crisis is that I haven’t completed the technical projects that my mind has been proposing for many years.

I’ve made SOME progress. I have my home network wiring nearly 90% completed. I have acquired a cider block of IP addresses that I can use to put a server or what not directly onto the internet.

And the great thing is, I just took on another short term personal project.

My Eldest Son is talking about getting into Cyber Warfare in the Army. He is already a solider in the Army, which makes it infinitely easier. For his recent birthday I got him a new computer. A shiny black streamlined screamer of a machine. The Intel NUC Skull Canyon.

I’ve been spending a couple of days installing operating systems (Windows 10 and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS). I have installed a copy of Sun’s Virtual Box software and nearly 10 different Linux/Unix ISOs for him to use and learn with. Also the ultimate in security and pen testing; Kali Linux.

I think it’s cool my Son wants to get into my field, a very promising and growing field it is.

For myself, I have Linux+, Cloud+, and VMware VCP certifications on the horizon. So I am going to be busy, which is a great thing.

I will be documenting my progress and any observations I have.

I’m most happy when I can get 5 hours learning a new thing a week, 1 short hour a day. Be it reading or a hands-on project, that’s what makes my heart sing.

The latest trend that I am hoping to spark.

So through the years there have always been trends that I have watched, shaken my head over, and even participated in.  This time, just this once, I have come up with a pretty snazzy and neat idea that could be an upcoming trend.  Not to say I’m all that, I’m not, but my little idea is.

I really hate when I’m going to a) the doctors or b) any business that I may be doing business with, and they want my phone number and email address. Well brilliantly, my lazy mind got creative and produced this:

chris@8582204384.cloud

So I’ve got two great tastes that taste great together… (sorry couldn’t help it)

My email address contains my phone number, brilliant eh?  I chose .cloud because, well, just because.

I’m sure I’m not the first to do something like this, but I’d like to think the idea is sort of unique.

More later…

 

 

What is our purpose in the digital age?

I’ve recently thinking about my daily routine. I wake up, collect my digital devices as I get ready for work, which consist of:

  • Apple MacBook Pro 13″ (for work)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 15″ (personal use)
  • Work iPhone
  • Personal iPhone
  • 8″ Windows 10 Laptop/tablet
  • Lenovo Yoga pad 3
  • Wireless media drive (128gb)
  • Wireless media stick (200gb)

And that’s just what I bring to work. What I operate at the Wagner Ranch is a crazy amount of technology.

That’s a lot of gear indeed!  I find myself like a farmer or rancher rustling the technology and ensuring that a) it’s operational and b) all their little batteries are charged up.

A cowboy wrangling technology on a server farm near 192.168.1.1.

So here is my prediction: When the AI reaches the singularity, we will be safe as long as we maintain the technology and the batteries.

 

-OR-

Sleep well!

Automating the homestead

Yep, I have started working on home automation. So far it has been interesting and frustrating.

The frustrating part came with my brilliant idea of extending my wifi signal throughout the house so I wouldn’t have any wifi shadows or dead spots. I used Apple airport express units, wired into the network, configured to extend the wifi; Man that caused a nightmare on my wifi. I removed the airport expresses, to reconfigure and use them for different purposes in the future.

So this whole automation thing started because I’m inherently lazy and since we all live in the future I thought it would be cool to tell the computer to do “such and such” verbally and it would comply.

The first time I bought a home automation device was when I got my iPhone. Now I haven’t used it for that since I first got it, but rather in the last month. And that is only after I was using the home automation built in with Alexa. I had purchased a phillips hue bridge and a couple of light bulbs (to start) plugged in the bridge, added the lights and pretty much immediately I was able to direct Computer (Alexa) to turn them on and off.

I thought myself brilliant, but the next part of my adventure would prove me to be the lucky recipient of well designed devices that work well together simply and quickly.

I wanted to be able to control a light switch not just a single bulb.  Thus began my research.

Since I already was using Phillips Hue successfully I thought that seeing if Hue has a smart switch that is in-wall. And they do sell a smart switch. But it is like an IoT button, it communicates with the bridge to turn on or off devices associated with it. I am using the few I purchased, but I needed a different solution; a hardwired one.

Hue uses ZigBee to communicate, so I looked for ZigBee hard wired in-wall smart switches. I didn’t find any I liked, so I got a Z-Wave bridge (VeraPlus) and some GE Z-Wave smart switches.

The VeraPlus actually connects Z-Wave, ZigBee, Blue Tooth and others. It allows me to control it all from one dashboard. I haven’t delved in too much, but the front lights come on 30 min prior to sunset and get turned off at around 10:30pm.

It’s just all so neat!

I have three women in my house!

Ok, so normally I would say “Big deal” because it isn’t the first time I had three ladies in the house, but this time two of the “Ladies” are digital assistants.

There is my main squeeze, Regina, the light of my life, my lovely wife, Siri and Alexa (or “Computer” which I have it’s name set to).  Now my wife and Siri have had a long and interesting relationship, which consisted of my wife requesting something from Siri, and Siri completely not getting what she wanted. And then follows the continual fight to get Siri to get it verbally rather than type a search term into google or yahoo.

And now, I have added another “Sister wife” to the mix, Alexa, whom I call computer because living in the future is rad and I love Star Trek.

I also have made the move to start getting connected lights, and most recently connected light switches.

I also picked up a new (and cheap) “laptop” by Hyundai, yep they make computers as well. It really just is a tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard, I had to purchase a Bluetooth mouse. It’s cute,  4 core 64 bit intel processor.

Neat, it is really designed as a windows 10 gaming machine. I almost took a version of Linux to it, Kali for the flavor.

But back to my home automation, I will be posting more as information become available.

 

Linux, is it the siren song of the Windows world?

I thought about that today, mainly because I’ve moved 98% of my computing off of Microsoft’s products.

I’m not talking about Office or any of Microsoft’s bloated software, outside of the bloat that is Windows, even Windows IoT would be a bad choice in my opinion.

I left Widows for Mac, yep, I jumped off of the ship that I had been riding for years… and before that DOS, funny, I did miss DOS after windows effectively killed it

But am so much happier now that I’ve gone much further down the “rabbit hole” into Linux.  If I were to purchase a desktop computer again, I would be installing CentOS, or at the very least Ubuntu… because I have grown apart from windows. I want control, and flexibility. If it means that I need to learn more coding, or a different platform, I will intend to do so.

Actually recently I have played with setting up a cluster of computers to serve a web site, and am deciding if I want my servers to be Raspberry Pis, with one weird Pine64 machine. And I’m not even sure I will use the Pine64… Still up in the air.

The benefits I have found with Linux over Windows is that I don’t have to pay a few hundred dollars for an Operating system that is riddled with bugs and other issues that attract Virus writers. It’s Free; Linux is, and secure as long as you set it up correctly.

Recently I set up a URL shortening service and I left it open, meaning that anyone could create a short URL against my web site.  I’ve fixed that issue so I won’t bore you with any more of it.  Let’s just say it was a good learning opportunity.

Geek on!