Tuesday, 23 April 2019

How I do backups: rsync is my friend :)

There are many many fancy backup programs out there, that have all sorts of cool features. I remember, a long time ago, using ntbackup (which saved my bacon and that of the business I worked for at the time), and later Backup Exec. Of course, now, there's cloud cloud cloud all over the place.. What if, however, you just want to backup from one place to another without a subscription fee?

Well, it took awhile, and the script's evolved over time, but I presently use rsync for backups. In conjunction with a filesystem that supports hard links, I can store date stamped copies of a given source, where the backup disk only stores changed files between copies, saving disk space - but all the files are ready for direct access within their respective directory heirarchies.

Your mileage may vary, you may indeed find fancier scripts, but this one works for me :)

Monday, 31 December 2018

Well that sucks: 3D printing a mounting bracket to stow a third party turbo head on a Miele S2130 vacuum

So, my mum's got the Thermomix bug. So much so, she's even bought the German mob's vacuum cleaner. Her old Dyson has been relegated to the shed where Dad uses it around his workbench, and I picked up her old Miele.

Now, at some point, she'd gotten a third party turbo head for the Miele. The first one didn't work so well, but the second one does. It's a bit noisy, but functional. That said, because it's a third party head, it doesn't have the usual hook the Miele heads have. This means that when you are inbetween vacuuming things, you can't stand the wand up in the back of the vacuum, and instead have to rest it up against the wall, or drop it on the floor.

Having recently bought the Aldi Cocoon Create Model Maker, and only printed little models and puzzles to date, I had an idea about something practical. What if I could design a hook that would strap to the third party turbo head, allowing it to hook into the back of the vacuum?

Speaking GCode directly to your 3D printer in Linux when it requires a custom baud rate

I recently impulse bought a 3D printer from Aldi. The Cocoon Create Model Maker HE170707. It's a rebrand of the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Mini. I'm slowly learning how to use it, and how to interact with it.

To date, I've been slicing in Cura and then exporting to SD card, then loading that into the printer, but today I started playing around with sending GCode directly to the printer. Eventually I want to update the version of Marlin it's running, but before I do that, I want to see what settings/version etc. the printer is running.

Cura can see the printer, and can send it basic requests - but it won't show me the printer's responses to particular GCodes, which I want to see. The inbuilt USB to serial adapter the printer uses is locked at 250,000 baud and this isn't supported by minicom.

I did some Googling, and in the end, I found out that I could instead use picocom. It's a very simple, cut down serial terminal package.

WARNING: Don't send commands to your printer if you don't know what they do. Read the instructions first. You change things at your own risk!

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Who's that knocking? SSH connection attempts...

I have a dedicated server overseas that I use for hosting various things. It's handy to have something that lives in a remote data centre, separate from all the local goings on. It is, however, as a LAMP stack server, out there on the internet, and folks do "knock on the door" frequently.

I've disabled passworded logins, changed the default SSH port (I know in and of itself, it's not a solution, but it does reduce a lot of the brain dead noise) and firewalled off all but the services which must be accessible externally for the server to function.

I still get hits to the OpenSSH server.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Setting up Linux to automatically launch a browser in a "kiosk" session

At work, we have some monitoring systems which we like to display on separate screens. These screens are connected to old computers which have been reinstalled with Windows. We have them set to auto-launch the displays, but it took some fiddling to get the chrome windows launched and positioned correctly. These instructions use xorg - I'm still not sure on Wayland... will be great when they figure out quick solution for "remote desktop".

Bringing it all together..

Friday, 9 February 2018

Backups: My "uh oh" moment and what I do now for prevention and recovery

End users generally think, "I've saved the document, I'm all good". They put it into the computer and it'll always be there, ready for when they need it.

My "uh oh" wake up moment with regards to data integrity and backups was a long time ago now. It all started with an Athlon 1.4 system I built for myself. I also built a similarly equipped unit for my parents. Both from parts I purchased at a computer "swap meet" (very rarely these days involving any actual swapping). They both consisted of an MSI motherboard, the AMD CPU, RAM, Sony CD Burner, an ASmart Nvidia based AGP4x card, Creative SoundBlaster Live (which would later fail and make everything sound like cartoon chipmunks), a cheap PSU that came with the case ("Hairong"??), Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional and an IBM hard disk - a 40GB DeskDeathstar (I can sense some of you out there groaning now).

Previously to this, I'd used several machines with several types of hard disk (Maxtor, Seagate, WD, Fujitsu etc.) and never had a problem. I hadn't yet suffered a drive failure and so never really considered it would be a problem.

Well, I copped the Deathstar curse.. bad!

Why integrated smarts in televisions isn't always that good.

Device manufacturers love to add bells and whistles to things to try and stand out from the pack. Promoting the idea that you can do it all with their device and do away with the other stuff you'd usually connect in.. but how does this fare over the long term? I don't think "smart" appliances are necessarily that smart.