The Anatomy of Assholes

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The journey to Linux KVM virtual hosting

Last week I decided that I should check out KVM as an alternative to VMWare’s Vsphere ESX for my home lab.

ESX worked fine-ish – relatively easy to setup and well documented online – but their update process left something to be desire. Plus – they’ve been phasing out old hardware (shocker, when your parent company is one of the world’s largest server manufactures, maybe you don’t want to support anything that’s getting a little long in the tooth) which is the whole point behind a home lab.

So – here’s documenting some things that I’ve been figuring out in the last few days:

  1. Installing KVM is easy.
  2. Migrating works great with Ubuntu. (only thing I had to fix was network interface names). Centos – not so much (can’t find disk volumes, etc). Since Centos has that whole big policy change, I’ve been meaning to migrate to something else anyways so not a big deal.
  3. Windows is quite a beast. You need to install a bunch of vert-io drivers, and if you remove the random “EvTouch USB Graphics Tablet” device, your mouse will stop working properly.
  4. You can get a simple web GUI with cockpit-machines
  5. If you want to troubleshoot something like “why is my windows vm crashing whenever I run blueiris” – you’ll probably want to enable a remote xserver connection so you can use virt-manager and really get into all the options with a GUI instead of trying to google different types of CPU options for a day like I did.
  6. At the end of it all, you’ll figure out that has nothing to do with why BlueIris kept crashing, and you instead need to
echo "options kvm ignore_msrs=1" > /etc/modprobe.d/kvm.conf

to fix the issue.

More to come!

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Project Coop – Automated chicken coop door opener

Recent task, build an automated & wifi controlled chicken coop opener without spending a ton of money.

Props to for the original idea and providing such an in-depth explanation.

Parts list:
1) Functional Devices RIB2401D DPDT relay
2) Weatherproof 1-gang deep junction box
3) 12V linear actuator, 8? extension, IP65 rated w/ mounting brackets (you may want a different size for your particular door/setup
4) Wemo wifi plug

Basically the secret is in the double pole double throw relay: you configure it so that it receives positive 12v when activated, and negative 12v when off. The actuator has internal limit switches so it turns itself off at full extension.

Once the Wemo is configured and hooked up to Alexa, you can have it automatically turn on at sunrise and turn off at sunset.

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POCSAG and pager traffic

With the recent rise in COVID-19 activities, I decided it was time to resurrect my page sniffer.

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Kubernetes Cluster on Raspberry Pi B (part 2 – Base OS and software prep)

Continuing my documentation on building this Pi cluster. If you want to read the full thing, start at Part 1 – hardware.

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Kubernetes Cluster on Raspberry Pi B (part 1 – Hardware)

I’m going to document this out as my personal reference, and also for anybody else who starts thinking about doing something like this. This page was helpful in figuring out what I was doing.

Last week, I decided that I needed to learn Kubernetes. Basically, I’ve been reading a lot about the development going on in next generation networking – and I keep running into Kubernetes as the backend for all of the management systems.

I don’t really know much about Kubernetes. It’s some kind of container management system, and seems to front-end docker, but that’s pretty much where I stop right now.

In general, when I want to know more about something – the best way for me to learn is to dig in and start using it. So – I’m going to start building and working with one from scratch.

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Mid 2012 Retina Macbook Pro – Battery Replacement

One of the things that the Tysons Apple store flagged on my laptop during diagnostics for the LCD replacement was the battery. I hadn’t really noticed it before, but sure enough – when I checked it was showing 75% functionality, 500 some charge cycles, and “service battery” warning. And yea, in the following month it seemed to be down to about an hour functional battery life.

Having been through the Apple store attempted repair once before, I wasn’t going down that option, so I started looking for replacements.

It was hard to find anything with a lot of good reviews. The most popular Amazon choice has a number of reviews like this one, talking about the battery arriving totally dead and MacBook refusing to charge it.

I ended up purchasing the ANGELWEL replacement battery kit for $37.
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Mid 2012 Retina Macbook Pro LCD replacement

Back in October, my laptop screen started acting funny after a business trip. It didn’t take any major hits or anything that I’m aware of – but it was showing every other line as black. Then it started having every two second freeze and flicker. I plugged in the HDMI port, and everything showed fine there – so I thought it was probably the LCD assembly itself.

The Reston store was booked for the next two weeks and not accepting appointments, so I went to the Tysons Mall store.

Once I got there, I demonstrated the error, they ran some tests, and told me it would be about $580 to replace. Gave them a sigh, told them ok. They took it in the back to try reseating the LCD cable and in general ‘check it out’.

The lady who was helping me came back about five minutes later. She said that Apple wouldn’t repair this out of warranty laptop because it had a non-Apple solid state drive, and according to Apple, such devices weren’t ‘user replacable’. She said that if I could go home and find the original drive and put it back in the laptop, then Apple would do the repair. She also said that is was dirty, there was some weird gummy material inside and two screws were missing. I pointed out that dust is pretty common inside a four year old laptop, and not much you can do since Apple discourages anybody from even opening the case. I started getting a “ugh, dirty laptop user” vibe from here, and was pretty ready to go.
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Year of Macbook pro repairs

Well, my 15″ Retina Macbook Pro is hitting it’s fourth year with me, and it’s now starting to show it’s age. I’m really not that impressed with either the specs, look, or price of the newly announced Macbook so I’ve had to do some repairs. I’ll make posts about those here.

Also, I purchased the 1st Generation Retina MacBook Pro – and man it was buggy.

List of issues:
1) Screen Ghosting. Took it back to the Apple store and had a new screen put on within a month of purchase.
2) Flickering display. Took it back to the Apple store, and they replaced the LCD and the main board.
3) Non-functioning USB. As soon as I got it home from the Apple store from the second repair, the right side USB port wasn’t working.
4) Extremely hot charging port. As in, smelled of something burning. Touched it with my hand, and it seared a little flat spot into my index finger. This time, Apple did a whole replacement ‘capture for analysis’ as they were concerned it was a ‘customer safety’ issue. They gave me a new laptop after that, and moved my original serial number to the new device.

Also, I made one minor upgrade – replaced the 256GB SSD on the motherboard with a 960GB 3rd party SSD. That will play into the story later.

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I’m spending a month in Kaua’i, and thanks to some extremely generous friends, lodging is covered – while cashing in some of the last decade of air miles covers the flight.
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