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Internet Freedom

Senate Vote for Net Neutrality

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Amazon Alexa in the car

Since Alexa for Car is becoming available on Dec. 5th, 2018, I thought I would throw some pictures up of my Alexa installation before it was productized. It was novel at the time. I used a Verizon LTE Jetpack for cellular connectivity. I simply feed the audio into the Auxillary port in the car and tether wirelessly to the LTE modem. This is far from a noteworth project, it’s just something I did for fun and proof of concept.

Perfect fit

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Using Ansible to build a high availablity Nzbget usenet downloader

I’m limited to about 80MB/s on downloads on my VPC at Digital Ocean, but I run Nzbget for downloading large files from usenet. It doesn’t take long to download at all, but out of curiosity I wanted to see if I could parallelize this and download multiple files at the same. I use Sonarr for searching usenet for freely distributable training videos which then sends them to NZBget for downloading. Since Sonarr can send multiple files to nzbget which get queued up, I figured I can reduce the queue by downloading them at the same time.

Using Ansible and Terraform (devops automation tools), I can spin up VPC on demand, provision them, configure them as nzbget download nodes and then destroy the instances when complete.

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Record and playback terminal sessions with Showterm

Showterm

I just found a neat tool that will let you record a bash session for playback / site linking. It’s called Showterm. Adding the playback video is as simple as adding an iframe to your page:

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<iframe src="https://showterm.io/7b5f8d42ba021511e627e" width="640" height="480"></iframe>

or pasting the url:

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http://showterm.io/7b5f8d42ba021511e627e

Here’s a sample:

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Building an executive dashboard with Grafana

Grafana + InfluxDB + scripts = Awesome

I have many interests and some of them have metrics that are useful or fun to watch. For example, I have investment in Bitcoin so it’s nice to be able to keep an eye on it periodically.
I decided to create a graphical “at a glance” dashboard for myself. I chose Grafana as the user interface / front end and InfluxDB a the time-series backend database to store the metrics. I use various scripts and applets to populate the data into Influx and Grafana makes it easy to
render them into a user friendly dashboard.

Some of the metrics I monitor are Pihole stats, the price of bitcoin, how many IPs get banned from my webservers and my network throughput.

Here’s my dashboard:

Grafana Dashboard

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Using Ansible to build a high availablity Sabnzbd usenet downloader

I’m limited to about 40MB/s on downloads on my VPC at Digital Ocean, but I run Sabnzbd for downloading large files from usenet. It doesn’t take long to download at all, but out of curiosity I wanted to see if I could parallelize this and download multiple files at the same. I use Sonarr for searching usenet for freely distributable training videos which then sends them to SABnzbd for downloading. Since Sonarr can send multiple files to sabnzbd which get queued up, I figured I can reduce the queue by downloading them at the same time.

Using Ansible and Terraform (devops automation tools), I can spin up VPC on demand, provision them, configure them as sabnzbd download nodes and then destroy the instances when complete.

The instances all run the same sabnzbd config and the instances use haproxy for round-robin distribution. I will probably change this to Consul, but I just wanted something quick so I used a basic haproxy config.

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System info bash script

I put together a quick bash shell script to view system info at a glance. I know there are existing tools for this like inxi, but I wanted to put something together I can copypasta. This is specific to RHEL, Centos and Sci Linux but it can be easily adapted for other distros.

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Inxi - a utility for viewing system information

Inxi

inxi is a super handy system info utility. These days I typically work with ephemeral instances / microservers, so I just dispose of infrastructure that flakes out. Occassionally I’ll need to see what’s up with a box so I’ve put together some common invocations of inxi below for reference:

Common Invocations

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A systemD unit file for Hexo

Hexo is a simple, lightweight node blog framework. It didn’t include a SystemD Unit file, so I created one:

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A systemD unit file for Hexo

Nzbget is a very fast Usenet downloader. It didn’t include a SystemD Unit file, so I created one:

Nzbget SystemD Unit File

/lib/system/systemd/hexo.service

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[Service]
WorkingDirectory=/home/[yourdirectory]/blog
ExecStart=/bin/hexo server -p80
Restart=always
StandardOutput=syslog
StandardError=syslog
SyslogIdentifier=hexo
User=root
Group=root
Environment=NODE_ENV=production
[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Obviously, you’ll want to replace [yourdirectory] with the location of your Hexo blog.

Start Hexo

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$ sudo systemctl start hexo

View status of Hexo

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$ sudo systemctl status hexo
● hexo.service
Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/hexo.service; disabled; vendor preset: disabled)
Active: active (running) since Sat 2017-10-07 02:27:36 UTC; 7min ago
Main PID: 8997 (hexo)
CGroup: /system.slice/hexo.service
└─8997 hexo
Oct 07 02:27:36 centos-2gb-nyc1-01 systemd[1]: Started nzbget.service.
Oct 07 02:27:36 centos-2gb-nyc1-01 systemd[1]: Starting nzbget.service...
Oct 07 02:27:38 centos-2gb-nyc1-01 hexo[8997]: INFO Start processing
Oct 07 02:27:38 centos-2gb-nyc1-01 hexo[8997]: INFO Hexo is running at http://localhost:80/. Press Ctrl+C to stop.

I recommend Digital Ocean for great cloud hosting.

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Chris Bergeron

Sorry, what you’re looking for is no longer here.

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Comma.ai Panda

Comma is shipping the Panda interface again. I received mine last week. It’s a wifi enabled OBDII interface. The Panda is more than just a reader though. It decodes and enables writing to the Media canbus. It’s going to make for some fun projects. Using Cabana I should be able to create a Database file of the Kia Optima’s CANbus protocol.

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Building a homebrew generator

A few years ago I built my own generator. I cobbled it together with some parts I had laying around the house. I found a free lawnmower on craigslist and I used the engine from it as a power source for the generator. I coupled the engine to an automobile alternator and a power inverter. The result is a cheap AC power generator. It only produces a few hundred watts of power, but it’s enough to power lights or emergency equipment in the event of power failure. I did this project for fun, not as a replacement for a real backup power generator. Here are some pictures:
The generator
The generator
Wood coupler panel
Belt and pulleys

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Interviewed for O'Reilly's Release 2.0 Magazine

O’Reilly’s Radar - Release 2.0 Magazine interviewed me about Dashwerks, Inc’s role in the proliferation of open-source technology and how we were able to develop a profitable business model using a hybrid open-source / proprietary business model. My interview is in the Winter 2007 issue.

In this issue of Release 2.0, we consider the state of the open source hardware products and business models that are emerging. It’s the future of manufacturing - and early signs of it are here now.

You can read the current issue here. You can purchase this issue of the magazine for $129.00, or get a 6 month subscription for $495.00.

Release 2.0 Magazine - December 2007

Update July, 16, 2018:
O’Reilly is updating their website and they have released the eBook version of this for free.

From their site:

O’Reilly published Release 2.0 from February 2007 (when we acquired Esther Dyson’s Release 1.0 newsletter) through April 2009. In this print journal, we endeavored to provide “news from the future.” Looking back, we did a pretty good job. Themes included open source hardware, information visualization, web operations and performance, geo, and big data–all of which matter even more today. We’ve made PDFs of the entire archive freely available, so read, remember, and learn.

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My Homemade Metalcasting Furnace

On this page I highlight how I built my metal casting furnace. It’s a propane furnace capable of melting metals at up to 1,300 degrees F (°F). There are 2 major assemblies: The furnace housing and the burner. The housing is composed of a combination of fireclay, sand and cement; equally mixed in thirds.

An aluminum bar turning into liquid

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