54 and Counting…

54 down, ? to go…

Today marks the completion of my 54th trip ’round Sol, a time for reflection, celebration, and looking to the future. Not to wax philosophically, but with what is certainly the greater fraction of my life gone by, it is a bit of an eye opener.

There are good things to be thankful for. My health remains good (even though I could stand to lose some weight,) I am doing meaningful – if highly stressful – work, I have a wonderful family, my wife and our two fur kids, and finally, it could be a lot worse.

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Photo Management – 2017

As a quasi-serious photographer, I have at multiple times posted about the trials and tribulations of photo management, here, here, and here as I struggled with the zigging and zagging that Apple has done on native photo management on OSX. The net result was me going all in on Adobe Lightroom that I got as part of my Photographers Bundle from Adobe. It is an amazingly powerful package with many built in capabilities that are immensely useful, and it got me completely out of the iPhotos/Aperture/Photos morass.

I also did a little diversion into the Google world with the now defunct Picasa, shudder no, Google photos is not a product that I am willing to use. They already can mine too much of my data, no need to add a couple hundred gigabytes of personal information, thankyouverymuch.

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The Lawn

For the first time in my life, I have a house with a yard that I take care of, or, more importantly that I care about. Something about a $700K house.

One of the factors in our selection of this house was a safe, sane yard for our dogs, at the time an epileptic greyhound, and his older brother, a well aged greyhound. The small back yard had a pretty decent piece of grass, my lawn, and I have put effort into keeping it nice.

The first challenge was the west end of the yard, it is perpetually in shade, and when it rains (which happened a lot the last year), it never dries out, grass didn’t get enough sunlight to grow, and it was almost a permanent bog. Continue reading →

Back in the Saddle

The downside of working full time again is the dearth of time to exercise. Little over a year ago, spending some down time between jobs, I was able to get out for lengthy exercise sessions every day. That included typically 3 bicycle rides a week, often up to 30 miles at a through. Alas, that freedom to get out and pound the pavement was severely curtailed with a regular job.

I still did get out on the weekends to walk and hike, but the bicycles have remained (mostly) parked in the garage. Earlier this spring I did get out a few times, but ouch, the acclimatization of my derrière to the saddle was punishing, so apart from isolated rides, they remained hung up in the garage. Continue reading →

More VTA Observations

Schedules

Capital of Silicon Valley? Perhaps. But on April 10th, the VTA changed the schedules of the buses and light rail trains. Here we are, two and a half weeks later, and they still haen’t posted updated schedules at their stops.

How freaking hard is it to print 50 or so posters of the new schedule, and get them posted? Seriously.

And the changes? They moved the times ahead 3 – 5 minutes. That means that I need to leave my house no later 6:30AM if I am to make 8:00AM calls in the office. Sigh.

Maintenance

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Music, on Vinyl, and cheap sleeves

I am going to admit that I am mostly streaming my music (and I pay for Apple Music and Pandora), so when I come across something I really like, I go out of my way to buy it.

Being an old fart, and having inherited a decent stereo with turntable when my Father in-law passed, I try to buy on vinyl. I know that it isn’t as crisp as a good digital copy, and that in a blind hearing, I probably can’t tell the difference, but I don’t care. I like the tactile feeling of pulling an LP down from the shelf, removing it, putting it on the turntable, using the Discwasher to remove the dust, blowing the dust off the stylus, and dropping the needle on the disc. Continue reading →

Fun and games – Cloudflare and SSH

As I mentioned in a recent post, one of my sites, a WordPress site to help a friend sell their house, got hammered with xml-rpc requests. It didn’t get hacked, but it did bring apache to a painful halt, and filled the memory.

To prevent that, I setup Cloudflare in front of it, to act as a CDN and a way to prevent it from being attacked. Thus, in the future, I should be able to regain control without too much pain and suffering.

However, I discovered one minor issue. Since I pretty much use ssh to login to the droplet almost daily, I quickly discovered that just didn’t work.

At first, I was scratching my head, thinking that I messed something up majorly. Then I recalled that I had switched to Cloudflare for my DNS and CDN, and it clicked. Alas, how they work is they hide your IP address, and then use the magic of their service to serve up your cracking good jams.

Unfortunately, the ssh request gets routed to the wrong ip address, and naturally, no response.

Not being able to ssh into my server is a really bad thing. But how to work around it?

First I tried to set a local hosts file to override the DNS, but that didn’t work. Bummer.

Second, I can ssh if I use the dotted quad IP address. It works, but, I am too old to remember that many dotted quads.

Third, and the one that I am using is to create a cname that points a prefix to the original address (in this case, I am using ssh so ssh.tralfaz.org will point to the TLD, and then I turn off the cloudflare redirect. Not optimal, but it works. It does leave me somewhat vulnerable, but alas, not many attack vectors happen to the subdomains.