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 😉

Rad Power Bikes – Rad Rover

After trying to get back into road cycling with my disability of a prosthetic leg, I’ve become very upset with myself on how I’m not able to do the same as I used to, etc etc.  Natural self-blame.  I decided it’s time to bite the bullet and accept my issues but not give up… only change how I do things.  I decided to buy an electric bicycle through Rad Power Bikes, which is more of a mid-range of the e-bike industry.  The reason I decided to use them is because of their customer support and parts availability.  Sure, I know how to engineer & make things, but I’m not looking to do that with everything in my life or else I’d have nothing nice because my focus would be across too many things.  Besides, for the price they’re nice!  To my door, delivered, it was $1,499 + tax.

I bought a bike labeled “Rad Rover”, which is an all-terrain style bicycle with a motor rated at 750 watts and a battery rated at 48v 14ah 672 wAh.  It’s a tall bike, I’ll give it that.  I’m 5’5-5’6″ (1.65-1.68 meters) tall, and I just barely straddle the center bar, but I do.  It’s a pedal-assist (PAS) at different levels (1-5, different watt delivery depending on choice) or throttle control at your fingertips.  I use the throttle to accelerate from a dead-stop due to my issue, and pedal-assist at level 2 or 3 depending on the elevation changes of where I’m pedaling.  I’m impressed at how long I can keep the battery charge going during pedal-assist 2 since the bike delivers about 140 watts of power to the wheels as I’m constantly pedaling.  Since it is a mountain bike style, the speed averages 17-20 MPH, but does go faster if settings are changed on the display.  I travel about 5-7 miles away for errands, and I never even lost a bar of power on the meter until my return trip.  That is with random throttle use during dead-stops or uphill travels.  My main goal is next week to start using this bicycle to travel to work about 12 miles away.  It shouldn’t be terribly taxing on the battery, and the charger is only about 1 pound in weight.

I already have upgrades and optimizations in mind, and I’ve started already.  Simple upgrades now, such as a gel Cloud-9 brand seat & a skid plate for the underside of the bike where wires are exposed.  I particularly like that since it’s available via E-Bay and made by a fellow rider named “FusedMatter”.  This is a shot of the skid plate attached to the underside of the bicycle, making sure all wiring is safe.

Future upgrades & optimizations already purchased and on the way are a cadence sensor protector (to keep rocks/dirt from destroying it while riding high speed) along with Origin8 Supercell 26×4.0 30-TPI tires with a flat road surface instead of the Kenda brand Juggernaut knobby dirt bike tires currently on there… since I’m mostly on asphalt anyway.  Next at a later time will be a 35A controller and color display, to deliver more energy to the motor along with the display being prettier.  Currently, it is a black-and-white LCD screen.

It’s not the best-of-the-best, but it is much nicer than most I have seen through the years.  I’ve put 120 miles on the bike so far since last monday (10 days), and it’s been friendlier than most other bikes I’ve ridden.  I consider that to be a great baseline, and I can upgrade from that point without worrying.

Gentoo Linux Installed on VirtualBox with UEFI firmware

I haven’t written many blogs since life has taken it’s course, and I figured I’d at least share one thing I know will help maybe one or two people out there.  After fighting with documentation and information, I recently successfully installed Gentoo Linux with UEFI (EFI) firmware on VirtualBox.  Not that documentation isn’t out there, it’s just that the main documentation is so outdated and didn’t handle UEFI properly as well.  So, without time wasted, I will share my line-by-line notes/self-documentation which I did because I suck at remembering things that I don’t do regularly 😉

Prerequisites: Make sure you have a VM setup for Linux, and I’d say above 2G ram and disk space above 10G.  Also, for the sake of the install, set the network adapter to “Bridged Adapter” connected to your internet-connected adapter on the host.  Make sure your VirtualBox VM is configured for EFI.  Even though VirtualBox has cautions about it being for “special OS’es”, it’s not so much the case in todays world any longer.  You can do it through the GUI in “Settings -> System -> Motherboard” at the bottom selecting a button underneath “Extended Features” named “Enable EFI (Special OSes only)”.
You can also do it through the commandline with ‘VBoxManage modifyvm “VM-Name” —firmware efi64’ (Changing VM-Name to the VM’s name in VirtualBox)
  • Boot the cd, choose advanced options, then pick console, then let it boot
  • To ssh in for a comfy install, do “/etc/init.d/sshd start && passwd root” and set roots password (temporarily), run ifconfig to find the IP then ssh into that IP as root.
  • Create the partitions:
    • gdisk /dev/sda
      • Creates GPT partition table:
      • Command: o
        • Proceed?: y
      • Creates partition 1 (/boot)
      • Command: n
        • Partition Number: 1
          • First Sector: <return>
          • Last sector: +128M
          • Hex Code: <return>
      • Creates partition 2 (UEFI ESP)
      • Command: n
        • Partition Number: 2
          • First sector:<return>
          • Last Sector: +32M
          • Hex Code: EF00
      • Creates partition 3 (swap)
        • Command: n
          • Partition Number: 3
          • First sector:<return>
          • Last sector: +1024M
          • Hex code: 8200
      • Creates partition 4 (/)
        • Command: n
          • Partition number: 4
          • First sector:<return>
          • Last sector: <return>
          • Hex code: <return>
      • Write partition table to disk
        • Command: w
        • Proceed?: y
  • mkdir -p /mnt/gentoo
  • mount /dev/sda4 /mnt/gentoo
  • mkdir /mnt/gentoo/boot
  • mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/gentoo/boot
  • mkdir /mnt/gentoo/boot/efi
  • mount /dev/sda2 /mnt/gentoo/boot/efi
  • cd /mnt/gentoo
  • Grab the latest stage3-amd64-* tarball
  • tar xpf stage3-amd64*
  • mount -t proc none proc
  • mount —rbind /sys sys
  • mount —make-rslave sys
  • Mount —rbind /dev dev
  • mount —make-rslave dev
  • cp /etc/resolv.conf etc
  • chroot . /bin/bash
  • source /etc/profile
  • emerge-webrsync
  • passwd
  • useradd -g users -G wheel,portage,audio,video,usb,cdrom -m <userid you’d like>
  • passwd <userid you picked above>
  • emerge -vp vim
  • Create /etc/fstab with the following
      • /dev/sda1 /boot ext4 no auto,noatime 1 2
      • /dev/sda2 /boot/efi vfat defaults 0 0
      • /dev/sda3 none swap sw 0 0
      • /dev/sda4 / ext4 noatime 0 1
      • /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom auto noauto,ro 0 0
  • Edit /etc/portage/make.conf
    • Add in the line: USE=“-X”
  • Edit /etc/locale.gen
    • Uncomment “en_US” along with “en_US.UTF-8
  • Edit /etc/conf.d/hostname
    • Change “localhost” to your hostname: hostname=“localhost”
  • Edit /etc/conf.d/net
    • Add in the following, changing “domain.com” to your domain name 
      • dns_domain_lo=“domain.com”
  • ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/US/Arizona /etc/localtime
  • emerge -av sys-kernel/gentoo-sources
  • cd /usr/src/linux
  • make menuconfig
    Below are kernel configuration options to enable within menuconfig.
    The lines with “Activate blah blah blah” are for people who want the variable names to find in the configuration files instead of manually choosing.

    • Activate CONFIG_DEVTMPFS and CONFIG_DEVTMPFS_MOUNT
      • Enabling devtmpfs support
        • Device drivers —>
          • Generic Driver Options —>
            • [*] Maintain a devtmpfs filesystem to mount at /dev
            • [*] Automount devtmpfs at /dev, after the kernel mounted the rootfs
    • Activate CONFIG_BLK_DEV_SD
      • Enabling SCSI disk support
        • Device Drivers —>
          • SCSI device support —>
            • <*> SCSI disk support
    • Activate CONFIG_EXT2_FSCONFIG_EXT3_FSCONFIG_EXT4_FSCONFIG_MSDOS_FSCONFIG_VFAT_FSCONFIG_PROC_FS, and CONFIG_TMPFS
      • File systems —>
        • <*> Second extended fs support
        • <*> The Extended 3 (ext3) filesystem
        • <*> The Extended 4 (ext4) filesystem
        • <*> Reiserfs support
        • <*> JFS filesystem support
        • <*> XFS filesystem support
        • <*> Btrfs filesystem support
        • DOS/FAT/NT Filesystems —>
          • <*> MSDOS fs support
          • <*> VFAT (Windows-95) fs support
      • Pseudo Filesystems —>
        • [*] /proc file system support
        • [*] Tmpfs virtual memory file system support ( former shm fs )
    • Activate CONFIG_SMP
      • Activating SMP support
        • Processor type and features —>
          • [*] Symmetric multi-processing support
    • Activate CONFIG_HID_GENERIC and CONFIG_USB_HIDCONFIG_USB_SUPPORTCONFIG_USB_XHCI_HCDCONFIG_USB_EHCI_HCDCONFIG_USB_OHCI_HCD
      • Activating USB support for input device
        • Device Drivers —>
          • HID support —>
            • -*- HID bus support
              • <*> Generic HID driver
              • [*] Battery level reporting for HID devices
                • USB HID support —>
                  • <*> USB HID transport layer
          • [*] USB support —>
            • <*> xHCI HCD (USB 3.0) support
            • <*> EHCI HCD (USB 2.0) support
            • <*> OHCI HCD (USB 1.1) support
    • Activating CONFIG_PARTITION_ADVANCED and CONFIG_EFI_PARTITION
      • Enable support for GPT
        • -*- Enable the block layer —>
          • Partition Types —>
            • [*] Advanced partition selection
            • [*] EFI GUID Partition support
    • Activating CONFIG_EFICONFIG_EFI_STUBCONFIG_EFI_MIXED, and CONFIG_EFI_VARS
      • Enable support for UEFI
        • Processor type and features —>
          • [*] EFI runtime service support
          • [*] EFI stub support
          • [*] EFI mixed-mode support
        • Firmware Drivers —>
          • EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) Support —>
            • <*> EFI Variable Support via sysfs
  • make -j3 && make -j3 modules_install
  • make install
  • emerge —ask sys-boot/grub
  • grub-install –target=x86_64-efi –efi-directory=/boot/efi
  • grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
  • emerge –ask sys-apps/iproute2 net-misc/dhcpcd
  • unmount all partitions and shutdown with “shutdown -h now
  • Start the VM again and once booted and hitting the UEFI shell, do the following
    • Type: “fs0:
    • Type: “edit startup.nsh” (this will be an interactive editor)
      • Add in: “\EFI\gentoo\grubx64.efi
      • Hit “ctrl-s<return><return>” to save
      • Hit: “ctrl-q<return>” to quit the editor
    • Type: “reset” to reboot.
  • Now, the UEFI 5-second delay will be there before booting Gentoo.  You’re done.

OmniShaver bi-directional shaver

As I’m usually experimenting with new razors, be it straight razors or double edge razors, I ran across one being invented specifically for head or limb shaving that is made for quick and simple shaving.  I’ve been searching for one to shave my head quicker, since I usually have a shaved head but it takes 15-30 minutes to do it without issues.  It may not seem like a long time, but that’s more time than I care to spend on aiming a blade toward my skull.  The shaver in question was on IndieGogo called “OmniShaver”, and is being freshly delivered now to those who pre-ordered.  When I purchased it, there was a pre-order discount for the premium model (metal head) of $20 which I didn’t see as much of an amount.  I’ve been waiting for about a month or two until now, and I just received my order today!

Here you will see a snapshot of the case provided along with the OmniShaver (which seems to fit perfectly), and the other picture is a shot of the OmniShaver that was freshly washed.  (Ignore the water drops)

I used it for the first time tonight, and I’m impressed with how quick it shavers, and not needing to worry about tearing your skin up with the blades either.  I only have one cut, and that was from my accidentally stopping the blade and sliding it sideways without thinking about the logic behind why NOT to do that.  It was only a little mark, and was easy to stop.  The premium model, which I purchased, has a metal head which gives it weight during the shave.  The head pivots on two axis, and it floats very nicely on the skin.  The blades I did not notice an aggressive dig to, and I think that’s a good characteristic for blades that are touching sensitive areas like limbs or skull.  I noticed I was able to pass the blade over the same area multiple times and due to the blade not being overly aggressive it did not make the skin red or tear it up at all.  From my use tonight, I’m seeing the blade being great for daily (or 2-day) shaving, but will require multiple passes to handle longer hair.

I’ll be using this buddy on a daily (or bi-daily) basis from now since it isn’t easy to damage yourself and it does a great job quickly by passing your hand back and forth.

Echo controlled power plugs

I’ve recently taken the time to purchase an Amazon Echo.  Well, an Echo, Echo Plus, & Echo Spot to be my alarm clock.  Initially, I was only going to use them for music through the house, timers, list management, and along with verbal random Alexa questions.  They worked great for that, but then I figured it’d be nice to control some of the stuff in my house by voice.  The Echo devices really do a nice job of picking up my voice – I can be in my kitchen while my Echo Plus is in the living room with a wall between us, and if I speak loudly it’ll pick up everything I say.  With that being that case, I shopped around for prices on electrical socket plugs that were Echo compliant.  I ran across quite a few, but the one I ended up with was an electrical socket dongle that goes between the plug and the socket.

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The brand name I went with is Teckin, and received 4 for $33.99 off of Amazon.  After receiving them, they weren’t exactly a,b,c to install but they work great.  Here’s how it went:

Before anything, Enable the Smart Life skill on your Amazon Echo device.  In the Amazon app on your phone, in the Home screen press the button in the upper left corner that looks like horizontal lines” then choose “Skills & Games” in the pull-down menu that appears.  In the search bar, type “smart life”, and in the search results the first one should be “Smart Life” by Tuya Inc.  Pick that one, and select “Enable Skill”.  There, you now have the ability to use Smart Life on your Echo device(s).
Just an aside, pretty much how it works is Smart Life is run by another company that handles the plugs (or whatever else), while Amazon Echo talks to the application behind the scenes with the “skill”.  The Smart Life application will ask for the wifi password during installation, for this very reason.
1) first step was to install a software on my phone called “Smart Life”.  It may sound simple, but I have an iPhone and there are quite a few softwares named “Smart Life” and that can make things tricky.  The good thing is there is a QR code on the box, and pulling up the camera application on the phone then lining up the square with the QR code will allow it to detect the proper app and give you the app store posting for it.

2) Pull up the app after it installs, and create an account through there.  It’s for the Smart Life application, and they link the plugs directly to it.

3) Plug one of the Teckin plugs into a socket.  Take a look at the plugs on/off switch on it’s side – it will either be constant blue or blinking.  If it is not blinking, push the button for 5+ seconds until it blinks then let go.

4)  In the application, do a scan for electrical outlet, and give it 30 seconds to a minute to run a detection.  It should pick it up.  That’s the Smart Life part, which is pretty straight forward.

5) Open the Alexa app, & hit the Devices button on the lower right. (looks like a house with dials in it)  Then hit the plus symbol in the upper right, selecting “Add device” in the pop-up menu.  In the setup screen that appears, choose “Other” at the very bottom, then in the next screen click “discover devices” at the bottom.

Sometime in the mix, the Smart Life application will ask for your login information, prompting for a phone number and a password.  During this time, use your email address instead of phone number.  This is a bug in the software and it took me a while to figure it out myself.

After all of that, the devices are available within the Alexa app.  Rename them by simply selecting them within the settings and editing their name.

I’m personally very happy with them.  I have lights handled by them in almost every room.  (“Alexa, turn on living room light”). The part I’m really loving is powering off my computer desk when I leave, completely.  No more monitors blinking and waiting to be turned on, I simply power down my computer then “Alexa, turn off computer” and bam… off go power to monitors and computer.  This saves money in the long run with trickle-power going to them through the hours they aren’t used, along with giving them a longer life as well.

First Time Trying Keto Brick

keto_brick_copy_5_800xThere’s a nifty product that hit the market called “Keto Brick” that is made for people who want eat in a ketogenic way but don’t have time to prepare food.  It is stable at room temperature (and a bit above), and has contents that are both tasty and heavy fiber.  The company (private company for now) has been inundated with people wanting it, and they didn’t expect that!  Naturally, the ingredients don’t come easily when you make it one time en-mass to see what will happen.  For a while, the website for Keto Brick (www.ketobrick.com) had “sold out” on the product, with the ability to sign up for a newsletter emailed when the product would be available.  I signed up for it, got an email randomly and quickly went to the website to order a week’s worth (7 bricks).  After I finished my order, I refreshed the website and saw they were sold out yet again.  That was lightning fast!  With the growing popularity, they released a newsletter already saying they were expanding production and working on a large-scale ingredient vendor, etc, and the next order would be soon once all of that arrives.

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Here are the nutritional facts.  Keep in mind this percentage list is graded on the FDA nutrition guidelines, and not for ketogenics:
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Today I ate my first Keto Block during the day at work for breakfast & lunch.  It’s simple to bring along, easy to unfold from it’s aluminum foil wrapper, and what I did for breakfast was eat half of the bar.  I didn’t cut it in half, since I didn’t want to fiddle with it.  The first thing I noticed was the flavor which is a complex mixture of chocolate & cocoa flavor, mixed with many subtle almost indistinguishable flavors.  It’s simple to bite into, and is very fiber-filled.  It will fill you up, quickly.  When I ate the half for breakfast, I was full completely until lunchtime without even a thought of food.  When lunch came around, I figured I’d go outside while at work and sit at a table to enjoy it… slowly.

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Be sure you drink water with this, as it is dense and the fiber needs water to move properly though the digestive system.  I drank a liter after breakfast, and a liter after lunch.  No, it wasn’t too much… you could tell the stomach needed it.  Other than the density, for those who have any adverse effects to caffeine, be careful with this since it has cocoa in it twice (once in the protein), and coffee beans as well.  Eating this fast may cause bad things to happen if you are sensitive to it.  That being said, it gave me energy through the rest of the day, and I went to the gym for 20 minutes fast-walking on the treadmill (I’m disabled), and 20 minutes level 8 stationary cycling.  Not an Olympic activity and probably laughable to most but that it was after work and I had the energy to last through it and through the night without any fatigue feeling.  Note I’m not hyper just alert, and my heart rate (which I monitor continuously) was stable.  Not too shabby in my opinion.  Today my entire day’s food was the Keto Brick, however I wouldn’t recommend it long-term.  The macros are good, but the micros (vitamins/minerals) are lacking big-time.  With only 1000 calories to the bar, it allows a meal separate from breakfast/lunch to fill in the gap with calories & nutrition.

As of right now, they are entirely sold out due to the tremendous amount of sales during their last newsletter.  Once they are back and I receive a newsletter, I’m buying a month worth. (Two 2-week packs)
With two uber awesome superhero bracelets 🙂

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Fasting – first successful 24-hour dry fast

Today was the first day I was able to last to 24 hours for a fast, and it was a dry fast.  I was surprised at how little of a difference it was feeling wise between a dry fast and a water fast.  In fact, I actually felt less hunger today with a dry fast.  I did notice severe amounts of what felt like primal thought manipulation going on by my brain, and it taught me a lot of what I need to look forward to and work on as well.

My last meal was at approximately 5:00pm yesterday evening.  I’m waiting for my burger to come in front of me at the restaurant right now, about the same time (5:18pm now).  Not a lot to say really since it was only 24 hours and the real action doesn’t happen until after 48 hours, but this means I’m one step closer.  Tomorrow will be a 24 hour water fast, then I’ll go from there.

Fasting – Psychological blocks

This weekend’s fasting was blocked from issues I ran into with psychological blockages.  I’m noticing an issue with my lifestyle that has made my mind think about two things: work & eating.  I’ve noticed while trying to fast the first 24 hours that my life needs to be changed big time to fast.  I had to break my fast after 22 hours since basically I had no idea what to do.  I normally work (which is easy to not eat at! LOL) but after work I notice my life is working on personal things at home and going to a local dive bar where I hang out with friends there while I eat food & drink a diet soda while talking.  I need to change my life.

My goal this week is to force myself through a 24 hour fast.  It will be hard for me, as silly as it may sound since my mind will be screaming at me but hey.  If I make it through the 24 hour fast, then I will try to continue through a 48 hour fast.