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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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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Chris Bergeron

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

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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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Building an Ethanol Still

A few years ago, when gas prices were exorbitant, I started to build my own Ethanol Still. In light of the global energy crisis, I figured that being able to produce my own fuel was a useful endeavor. Creating ethanol fuel requires distilling corn (or other vegetables/fruits) and extracting its potential liquid energy. I did some research on the web and discovered the Charles 803.
I bought plans and began building the still. I’ve put this project on hold for now but perhaps one day I’ll complete it. Until then, here are some pictures of the project:

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How high gas prices paid for my new (used) car

The stage is set:

I drive my VW Jetta exactly 50 miles a day to and from work. When gas prices started going up in the Summer of 2006, I decided to figure out exactly how much fuel was costing me each workday. So, one morning on the way to work, I stopped at the gas station nearest my home. I filled my tank and reset my trip counter to zero. I recorded the price per gallon ($3 something a gallon!). Then, I drove directly to work, worked, and drove back to the same gas station. I pulled up to the same pump I filled up at that morning. I took note of how many miles I had driven, and sure enough it read almost exactly 50 miles. Next, I refilled my gas tank. It cost me $7. I had burned $7 dollars worth of fuel just going to work and back! That came as quite a shock. I knew gas prices were high, but I never thought that I was spending that much each day. $3 a Gallon?!? Somethings gotta give! After doing some homework on the web (fueleconomy.gov), et al., I decided to buy a much more fuel efficient car (and a soon to be FREE CAR).

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Dashpc Carputer

My carputer: The Dashboard PC
In 1999 (many years ago), I had the crazy idea of putting a personal computer into my car. After much though and some serious planning, I decided to do it. I started the project in 1999 and its been evolving ever since. A lot of people may wonder why I wanted to put a personal computer into my car. Well, back when I started the project, there were no iPods or portable music players. Navigation systems for cars only existed in specialty markets (military, super luxury, etc) and nothing provided useful information like traffic conditions. So, I set about installing the computer and customizing it for my needs / desires. The project became wildly popular on the internet and it catalyzed the carputer craze. I blogged about it as I built it and it developed quite a following on-line. It was featured on a popular technology website slashdot.org and later in two books:
Geek My Ride (forworded by Apple co-founder Steve Woz Wozniak) and Car PC Hacks. As I built the carputer, I had to develop my own electronic circuit to control power issues in the car. After an overwhelming number of requests to purchase this circuit, I began selling it (the DSSC startup and shutdown controller) via my company Dashwerks, Inc.

I created a website dedicated to the project, dubbed The DashPC where you can find more detailed information. DashPC is an amalgam for Dashboard Personal Computer.

Here are some pictures
Screenshot of my dashpc software
Red Hat Linux booting in the car
The screen and keyboard
The computer in the trunk
The wireless keyboard




Technology Used:

(add freshmeat link here)

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