Clone Wars!

November 2008:

Clone wars!

At last back amongst the surviving packets on the grand isobaric terrain of the intArweb.  In my travels I have seen many lonely deserted packets, dropped needlessly from their groups… 8, 32, thousands… why do they not care for the feelings of a single packet, leaving them to separate into fragments of bits at our very feet.  But behold, I have before me packets folded to my bidding.  Networks staged on the very air over my living establishment are now mine, MINE, at my very bidding… my beckoned call to bow upon my every whim and desire.

Oh yes… I have internet access now.  Clandestinely perhaps, but I never claimed to be a Greenpeace activist.  I’m not armed enough for that role, yet.

June 2010:

Time progresses and this blog consists of things I have ran across and/or learned within the last 2 years.  In some cases, simply being a documentation for me to refer to later, along with sharing to the rest of the world.  I forget more than I ever type, sadly.
No longer am I clandestinely pirating airwaves to gain ‘net access.  I find my own connection to be far more sound.  That, and I can afford it now ;)

2007 Honda VTX 1300C – Changing the final drive gear oil

After buying my new used motorcycle, I noticed it wasn’t maintained very well by whoever owned it previously.  There aren’t a lot of miles on the odometer, so no real damage has happened.  It’s always best to nip it in the bud and change out the vital fluids when you can!

After looking up the gear oil needed (80w-90), I looked at the rear drum and it’s super simple.  A drain plug, a fill plug, and a axle plug in the center that isn’t a part of any of this.  I also found out from reading that the bike is designed to have the gear oil changed while the bike is on it’s kickstand, which makes life easy.

I purchased a bottle of Royal Purple 75w-90 hypoid gear oil and an injector syringe from Amazon.

I first put my oil catch underneath of the rear drum on the bike, then I pulled out a 17mm socket and loosened the large fill plug on the middle right of the drum face.  Check for debris from the oil on it, and wipe it down.  If there’s metal debris, there may be issues inside there so keep your eyes open.  Place the plug aside, then down to the drain plug which required a significant more amount of force to open. (it was really too tight, the person who did it before over-torqued it)  Once it was loosened, I manually unscrewed and removed the drain plug and let the oil drain for a minute or so as I did other things.  Mine did not have a crush washer, and I did not have any available to me at the time.  When I came back, I wiped the plug off, and screwed it back on.  I’m lacking a torque wrench but I’ve done bolts through the years enough to know when it’s good enough.  The recommendation is 14 ft/lbs of torque.  I got my trusty syringe out that I bought for this occasion!  The amount needed to fill the rear is 4.1 oz, which is about 120cc.  I filled my syringe to 60cc, and since I didn’t have a long hose to go deep into the rear drum, I injected the oil with extreme force. (there’s a deep hole between the outside and the inside in the fill plug)  I then re-filled the syringe with another 60cc of gear oil, and force injected it into the rear drum.  Once that was done, I wiped clean the fill plug bolt rear seal and traced a small amount of new gear oil over it with my finger.  I screwed it back onto the thread of the fill plug hole steadily by hand to make sure there’s no cross-threading, then socket-tightened it.  It needs very little tightening, be gentle with it as it only needs 9 ft/lb torque.

Once you’re done with that, wipe everything down and clean up.  It’s time to warm that rear gear up and make sure everything’s in good shape.  I ran her about 5 or so miles at 45-50 MPH and everything went fine.  Actually, smoother since the gear oil that was in there previously was black as sin and dirty.  You won’t need to do this but every 30-40K miles, but I think I’ll be doing it once a year since it’s so damned easy and cheap.

Linux/UNIX/OSX Security

I’m pretty adamant that once a machine is actually needed to do real work, heavy security measures need to be taken to isolate, quarantine, and protect the files & applications running on a host/server.  of course that goes without saying to anyone in the I.T. industry, so I figured I’d share some documentation to help along the way to proper digital hygiene.

The NSA is quite helpful when it comes to the documentation, and has been for over 10 years.

Here is one document for OSX 10.4+ hardening: https://www.nsa.gov/ia/_files/os/applemac/I731-006R-2007.pdf

Information on Wireless LAN intrusion detection: https://www.nsa.gov/ia/_files/factsheets/I732-011-2008.pdf

Hardening of RHEL5 (also applies to 6 for the most part): https://www.nsa.gov/ia/_files/factsheets/rhel5-pamphlet-i731.pdf

Data Execution prevention on Windows: https://www.nsa.gov/ia/_files/factsheets/I733-TR-043R-2007.pdf

SELinux documentation for Red Hat 6: https://access.redhat.com/documentation/en-US/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux/6/html/Security-Enhanced_Linux

A good addendum to the NSA OSX lockdown procedures (post-NSA documentation, for newer versions): http://www.macworld.com/article/2048160/how-the-nsa-snoop-proofs-its-macs.html

“Panther” through “Snow leopard” OS X security documentation from Apple: https://www.apple.com/support/security/guides/

“Little Stitch” OS X Firewalling utility: http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/10426/little-snitch

A few tidbits of things that can be done with OS X to harden (these are pretty straight forward, but worth a read): http://laketa.com/how-i-setup-my-mac-when-doing-a-fresh-install-of-os-x/

Windows 7 hardening & countermeasures: http://download.microsoft.com/download/B/D/8/BD827E3F-2C24-4DD5-965B-C21F8101E477/ThreatsAndCounterMeasures.pdf

Windows Baseline security: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc526440.aspx

Let’s face it, some people run Windows XP (I do in VM for some software!)  This is a good security guide: https://www.nsa.gov/ia/_files/os/winxp/NSA_Windows_XP_Security_Guide_Addendum.pdf

Information about IPv6 and security within: https://www.nsa.gov/ia/_files/factsheets/Factsheet-IPv6.pdf

‘ShellShock’ BASH vulnerability (this is about OSX but affects Linux & UNIX as well)

I’m sure if you haven’t been under a rock the last week or two, you’ve heard about the BASH shell vulnerability called ‘ShellShock’ that affects Linux, Unix, & OSX. (also, anything else that runs BASH including Cygwin on Windows)
If you haven’t, it’s a variable manipulation vulnerability that can inject whatever it wants into a file, or get data from a file.  To check if you are vulnerable, paste the following into your BASH prompt (no, it’s not dangerous):

env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable’ bash -c ‘echo hello’

If you are vulnerable, it will print out:

vulnerable
hello

Red Hat Linux has an advisory update about this: https://rhn.redhat.com/errata/RHSA-2014-1306.html

Apple has a patch for this on OS X Mavericks: http://support.apple.com/downloads/DL1769/en_US/BashUpdateMavericks.dmg

It updates the BASH version from 3.2.51(1)-release to 3.2.53(1)-release

Check yours by simply typing ‘bash –version’ at the prompt.

Milk Kefir has been fine tuned now!

My milk kefir grains have been run through many containers of milk and have been cultured properly, now.  They’ve changed their temperament, and are more mellow.  They’ve started becoming puffier, though not multiplying yet.  I’ll give them time for that, since they are doing the fermentation properly.

Right now, I have my milk kefir producing 1/2 gallon kefir daily, which works out just about right.  I’ve purchased 4 64-oz growler bottles, and 8 32-oz grolsch-style brown brewing bottles from Total Wine.  I pour each 1/2 gallon mason jar into 2 of the grolsch bottles and let them run through a second fermentation with the flip-top locked tight while in the refrigerator.  Afterwards, I pour them into one of the growlers, and store in the fridge for use.  What I’ve started doing is adding a touch of Stevia to the growlers, approximately 2-3 tiny scoops for the full container.  I then swish it up and it tastes wonderful!  I usually drink 2 glasses a day, and as the amount grows too large to make more I place the milk kefir grains into a quart mason jar and put it into the fridge.  a day or two before I’m ready for more, I take that jar out and let it warm up then ferment for a day to get them spun up again for production.

EDIT 9/14/2014:
And just when I get something how I like it, it disappears.  I made the mistake of putting the grains into the freshly emptied 1/2 gallon mason jar before I put the milk in.  Normally that isn’t a problem, but I turned to do other stuff and was side tracked, and later turned around and saw the container there needing to be cleaned… and well… cleaned it quickly.  After turning around for the grains and noticing they weren’t in the strainer as usual, I went cold.  They are down the drain now.
So, I have another set from a comrade coming via mail to my address this coming week, and hopefully this set will reproduce unlike the previous ones.  We shall see!  I am sad though.

Fresh Water Kefir from Yemoos Nourishing Cultures

After fighting for a week or two with getting the water kefir I purchased from Cultures For Health to be normal, I finally gave up and purchased a package of NON-dehydrated water kefir grains from Yamoos Nourishing Cultures. (http://www.yamoos.com)  I was really surprised at how thick and ready they were!  The package contained liquid surrounding the grains, which was a welcome sight.  It was an immediate usage, just cut open the pouch and toss it into the sugar water.  I really do wish Cultures of Health would have done that instead of being dehydrated.  I realize they say it’s to stabilize them during shipment but I shouldn’t have to struggle to get my water kefir grains to act proper.  They should work right out of the package, with no “activation time”.

Right now, Cultures For Health (http://www.culturesforhealth.com) is on my last nerve.  First the Kombucha I ordered from them basically sits there and does nothing, as I have another Kombucha SCOBY purchased from Kombucha Kamp (http://www.kombuchakamp.com) that is already done it’s first fermentation.  It seems I’m going to need to avoid anything dehydrated, but then again I guess I am new to the whole swing of things and need to learn somehow…

Anyhow, that’s my beef for the day.  More later.

First taste: kombucha fermented tea (scoby from kombuchakamp)

After about 7-8 days of fermenting my sugar and tea with the kombucha scoby, I pulled out a small scotch glass and poured a small amount into it.  The smell is definitively kombucha with its lightly vinegary scent, and clean body.  I tasted it and immediately noticed several flavored at once, a sort of vinegar undertone with woodsy main taste with a few other notes around it.  Definitely delicious.

The body of the container now has the entire surface covered with a new scoby that is slowly growing.  Yeast clusters are blow the surface, where you can definitely see the work being done.  The entire bottom of the container is coated with yeast, a remnant there from the life cycle of each yeast and passing to the floor after its life is over.  I can see now the plus side of a conical brewing system, but the glass versions of those are $500+.  Not my cup of tea, no pun intended.

so yeah, that’s my kombucha brewing so far, and I am leaving it until 21-30 days.  I have a continuous brew system, so all I will do is add more sugar tea to the mix after this cycle is finished.  That one will only take 5-7 days maximum with all of the existing kombucha surrounding it, and away we go!

My houses temperature in the kitchen area where it resides is about 82 degrees, according to the thermometer on the wall.

More updates as time goes.

Milk Kefir – first fermentation run

After activating my milk kefir purchased from Cultures For Health (in dehydrated form, not my favorite but it is what it is), I’ve reached the point of the first fermentation run after activation!  I’m lactose intolerant, so bacteria that breaks down lactose into it’s simpler components makes my life far better.  Not to mention the added benefits of gut bacteria being added, along with the additional vitamins and such.  It’s also fun to screw around in the kitchen :-)

photo

That’s how it looks as it’s fermenting.  Pretty simple and easy – whole milk in jar, milk kefir grains plopped in, and a thin tightly woven fabric over the top, and a rubber band holding it on.  I pick the jar up and swirl it once or twice a day in order to get the bacteria worked around in there. (it does help)

photo

After I let it sit for 24 hours and it was thick and *just* starting to get lumps, I swirl it good to mix everything together then toss a funnel onto the jar seen above and put a strainer over the funnel to pour it through.  It’s not necessary, but it’s called the second fermentation process.  It helps more B vitamins become bioavailable, along with other things in it becoming bioavailable.  It’s also the time you can include flavors that you want!  Since this is my first time, I haven’t done any experimentation since I just wanted to taste the base.  This is what I’ve seen as good ideas for flavoring:

  • Citrus fruit peels
  • Vanilla + cinnamon
  • Cocoa powder
  • Garlic or onion (for use in savory kefir dip)
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Chopped fruit

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After 8 hours of second fermentation, I figured I’d take the time to try it for my first time.  The glass above is how it looks, much thicker than milk at room temperature.

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As can be seen in the glass above, the fermentation has broken down the milk quite nicely.  The taste is unique, vinegary with a hint of various other flavors.  As a base product, I can see this being very easily manipulated to my liking.  The major plus side to it all is that it’s very good for the digestive system.  The flora that is in the milk after fermentation makes yogurt pale in comparison.  I’m storing the 4 cups in the lock-top bottle, and brewing 1-cup at a time since it only takes 24 hours for each fermentation.  As a single guy, 1 cup of milk (of any type) for drinking is enough for any day, especially when there are other beverages such as water kefir!  (and soon after it brews, kombucha)

Here’s to health, and trying new things.  

As a side note for those that have come to this page that are lactose intolerant – After drinking 2 glasses of milk kefir 6-7 hours ago, my digestion is fine.  I’ve not had any symptoms of lactose intolerance so the lactose was broken down correctly.