My New MacBook Pro

As noted, with the new year, I'm starting to use my new MacBook Pro full-time. Last night, it took a few hours to copy everything from my old backup to this new laptop. Did it work perfectly, of course not. Plus, I don't like copying everything from my old laptop to my new one. There is a lot of stuff that I could throw away, but it takes time to go through it all. So I copied just my old home directory, but not the Applications directory. I know there's lots of stuff that won't run or that should be updated, so I installed all that stuff manually.

Anyway, here's the info about my new laptop.

So it's not a current laptop. I bought it off the clearance section because I wanted a laptop that still had usb connections. The idea of carrying a bunch of dongles to plug stuff into a usb-c connection fills me with dread. I'll still have to do that for my network connection, but I do have usb and can still use my old chargers with an adapter. That's good because I didn't want to have to buy an extra one so that I could have one at home and work. I also bought a new 1tb hard drive and installed that myself. I couldn't customize the laptop because I bought it in the clearance section, so it came with a 128mb drive, which is laughable. It also comes only with 8gb of ram and I can't upgrade that. That's sad because my old laptop had 16gb of ram and I wanted one with even more, but Apple has decided that we don't need that much ram.

In my mind, I'm hoping this laptop takes me through retirement. And if that's the case, this will perhaps be my last mac. I'm not liking the direction that their hardware is taking and if I don't have to support macs at work, I really won't need one. I'd be fine with a linux laptop.

Took me a while, but my point of this post is to note that I'm moving from a 15-inch laptop to a 13-inch laptop. Yes, this new laptop is much lighter than my old one. But the screen feels really small as well. One place where I really notice it is in my calendar. The cells are all much smaller so that I can't see all my events. This may change how I use it. Now, I put lots of notes and reminders in my calendar. But if I can only view two or three events, I may stop putting items there. I'm already noticing that I don't really pay attention to the line that says 2 more... or 3 more..., meaning if I don't see them in the monthly view, it's like they're not there.

Another spot where I've noticed the smaller screen is in watching nhl games. It's changed the arrangement of how things are laid out. I'll probably get used to it, but my immediate reaction of course is that I don't like it. Oh well, change is inevitable.

2017 Year in Review

The years just seem to be flying by. 2017 went by pretty quick. I have no complaints because I know how lucky I am. I'm in pretty good health. There are people who like to hang out with me, though I'm never really sure why. And while I'm not crazy wealthy, I can afford to do what I want and still give to causes I think are important. So, life is still definitely good. Let's look at the details of how I hoped by year would go with how it actually went.

My big idea for the year was to not eat any sugar. I started the year out pretty good and did ok for about four months. However, by the end of April, it was basically over. I tried to get back on the wagon, but by September, I had pretty much given up. And that's ok. It was an epic fail, but I'm ok with failing. In my attempt, I did discover a few interesting things to eat and learned a bit more about myself. So, as long as I'm learning from failure, I'm happy to keep failing.

My DIY projects went fine, though I should have done more of them. I made a bunch of beer flights for my brother's brewpub and those were fun. This past week, I finally started learning how to do finger joints in wood, which is cool. When I didn't have a specific project in mind, I did just glue up some boards together so that I'd have them available if needed. And I set up my cousin's sewing machine for a special project that I'm working on. I'll be working on that later today as well. I really enjoy making stuff, so I need to just do it more. I've cut back on a lot of the youtube videos I watch and now I just need to start doing more of my own projects. I did buy a welder and set it up in my garage. I tried welding once and it didn't go so well. I need to put some regular practice time in on it and I think I'd get better at it. Though the thermometer in my garage shows it's 20 degrees F in there, so this will probably wait until spring.

I didn't read that much over the year, but as the weather got colder, I did stay inside and read a few more books. That's good. I tended to stick with non-fiction because that's what I like. And a few books were about gardening, which is quickly becoming a new obsession. So much so that I even took some cuttings of my Mom's gardenia plant to see if I can get them growing here. Not sure if it will work, but it doesn't cost much to give it a try.

Let's see I also was going to work on my book. That didn't happen. Though I did sign up for a class about learning how to write a book and sell it. As of right now, I basically wasted that money. I wanted to tune my tools. Didn't do that, but I know I am getting more comfortable with them. Watch my language...I haven't really kept track, but my guess is I'm still swearing up a storm and there's really no reason I should be.

This year I did get a free drill press from Mick. And I bought myself a new bike that I'm really liking. Financially, I did pretty good. I didn't save as much as last year, because I did have two pretty big purchases. As mentioned, I took the class on writing/publishing a book which cost around $1800. And I also bought myself this new laptop that I'm working on. That was a little more than $2000. The laptop was a good investment because my old one was over five years old. And I use this laptop on a daily basis, both at work and at home. My savings for this year was around 36%. Last year I did better at 46%, but that's ok.

One thing that I think I've finally fully embraced is to "trust the process". You can set goals, but it's the day-to-day habits that will get you there. I had refinanced my house four years ago and I just checked that I'm right on schedule to have it all paid off in four more years. I told myself that I would pay a consistent extra amount each month and I've been doing that. So my process is working. I'm not financially independent yet, but I'm getting there. I joined the park fitness center a little over a month ago and I'm trying to get myself in the habit of going 2-3 times per week to lift weights. I think if I just follow this process, my strength and flexibility will improve. And if I'm lucky, perhaps I'll lose a little weight in the process. On that note, today I weigh about two pounds more than I did at the start of the year. That's nothing to beat myself up about.

One interesting thing this year was I had a small bout of depression in the fall. For part of October and November, I just didn't feel like myself. It was very odd. However, I could tell what was happening and I just kept telling myself that it would pass eventually, which it did. It took a bit longer than I thought to break out of it, but that's ok. I joined the gym soon after that because I think staying active is a very good way to combat depression. And especially in winter, I tend to be a hermit, so I want to keep myself going out.

Another new thing I decided to to this year was to try volunteering again. There's a literacy center about four blocks away and I signed up as a tutor. I'm helping an older Mexican woman learn english. I don't know that I'll be able to help her much, but I'm going to give it a try. I had to volunteer for four months, so we'll see if this works out.

I did do some travel this year. I flew down to Arizona to hang out with my friend Ellen which was fun. And Mom and I drove to Florida to spend a week with Mary and Mickey at their place there. If I count the trip to LA in November 2016, my last three trips have been south. They were all fun, but I reinforced the idea in my mind that I'm a city girl. My favorite places were when I was in bigger cities. I might like to go back to Savannah because Mom and I spent one night there on the drive back from Florida. It seemed like a neat town.

I still ride my bike a lot, but I didn't ride very much this year. My total for the year was 1082 miles vs. 1720 miles last year. I will note that this year, I didn't turn on my cyclemeter app for every little ride to the grocery store or library. And I'm very good about riding to places in my neighborhood. But I should have biked to work more. I'll try to improve that next year. As for driving, I think the odometer was around 44,800 miles. (John and Ted have the car right now, so there will be a few more miles put on it.) But roughly, that means that I drove around 10,400 miles for the year, which is almost exactly what I drove last year. Since I didn't take any major driving trips, I think the bulk of those miles were from driving to work. So I can get that down next year for sure.

I didn't work on the house at all. And I'm not planning on doing any work until John and Ted move their stuff out. I did find out this year that I have lead in my water. The city replaced the water main in the street and were looking for people who would let them check the water before the change and then after. I signed up and that's when I found out I have lead. After a bunch of testing, it was determined that the lead is only a problem when it sits in the lead water line coming into my house for a long time (like overnight or after I'm at work). The quick solution is to run it for 10-15 minutes and then fill up a bunch of gallons of water to keep in the frig. The longer term solution is to replace the lead line to my house. I've heard this could cost around $12k. So my next immediate house plan is to save up that money so that I can get that line replaced. If I'm lucky, I'll have the money to do that next summer.

I think that's about it for the year. 2017 was an ok year. Pretty quiet in fact. No major issues. I'll think about it for today and tomorrow will post some things that I'd like to do in 2018. Since that's the year I'll turn 50, I feel like I should try to do something special.

Learning More Windows 10 Stuff

My last post talked about using xcopy to copy a bunch of files from one server to another. I had been running this for a day, but a couple of times the command failed with the error "Insufficient Memory". Since my new server has four times as much memory and three or four times as much disk space, I didn't think that error was actually true. A quick google search shows that this message usually comes up when filenames are over 255 characters long, which was going to be a problem for me. Instead, robocopy (robust copy) should be used. The command I'm now trying is:

robocopy U:\ F:\data /MIR /Z /XA:H /W:10

/MIR = specifies that robocopy should mirror the source directory and the destination directory. Beware that this may delete files at the destination
/Z = ensures robocopy can resume the transfer of a large file in mid-file instead of restarting
/XA:H = makes robocopy ignore hidden files, which is usually system stuff that we don't care about
/W:10 = reduces the wait time between failures to 10 seconds instead of the 30 second default

There's also one very large directory with software that I've downloaded that I don't want to copy. I can always just redownload it, so no sense in taking up space on my backup drive. So the command that I'm finally using is:

PS C:\> robocopy f:\data j:\edgwin\data /MIR /Z /XA:H /W:10 /XD "F:\data\installed_software"

Windows 10 – More Stuff I Didn’t Know

I'm installing a new Windows 10 computer in our office to replace the old Windows XP one. All this computer is going to do is host our shared windows disk. Not a lot of people use this disk, but it's really good for sharing files or if a student is going to work at different computers in the lab.

I have about 1tb of data on the old XP computer that I want to copy to the new Windows 10 computer. And I'd like to keep permissions, ownership, etc. of all the files. I googled around and found that xcopy is the command that I want. Specifically, something like this:

xcopy s:\sw f:\sw /O /X /E /H /K

I started windows powershell and tried to run this as me, since my account is a domain administrator. That didn't work. I always got access denied errors. So I tried to start powershell as administrator. Here, I couldn't "see" the s: drive, which was a mapped drive. I even tried logging in as a local computer account and then manually mounting the s: drive. Powershell would not see the drive mounted that way.

The solution was to login with my local administrator account. Then start windows powershell as administrator. The in powershell, run net use s: \\XPcomputer\sw, where I'd be prompted for my login credentials on our samba/ldap domain. Then, I could run:

xcopy s:\* f:\sw /O /X /E /H /K

What I found interesting is that after I did the net use command, I couldn't see the S: drive if I went to "This PC" even though it was currently copying from the S: drive. The screenshot below shows this. I found this weird. This may also have been true in earlier versions of windows, but I had never come across this before.

Windows 10 in My Samba PDC

I had recently installed windows 10 on one of our computers at work. I was able to successfully add it to the domain, but then none of my users could login. The error message was:

We can't sign you in with this credential because your domain isn't available.  Make sure your device is 
connected to your organization's network and try again.  If you previously signed in on this device with 
another credential, you can sign in with that credential.

This error message contains pretty much no information about the problem. The domain is/was available, as I was able to join it. After some looking around, I found that the problem is I missed a setting in my smb.conf file on my samba server. I needed to add this line for windows 10 computers:

server max protocol = NT1

Restart samba and things worked fine.

Note, this page gives you all the required settings for samba domains. Since I have been using the same smb.conf file for years, I didn't have the line needed because it's a more recent addition.

Time for Change

On October 29, 2013, I bought unlocked iphone 5s for $689.56 plus $99 more for AppleCare. The phone works ok, but the battery wasn't lasting very long. If I listed to music and tracked my ride to work and then went to the gym after work, it wouldn't last through a short workout. That seemed pretty short to me, so I bought a new battery from ifixit to replace it. I put it in this morning. First of all, it was a royal pain to take the old battery out because it was basically glued into place with sticky strips. I had to just continually pry around the battery to get it unglued. And while I was prying, I know I cracked some plastic stuff. As far as I could tell, I got everything back together. However, when I turned the phone back on, I got a message that touch id didn't work and the speaker wasn't working either. I don't use touch id at all, so I don't care about that. The speaker is a bigger deal. I don't know why it doesn't work. I've taken the phone apart three more times to check all the connections and it still doesn't work. Most importantly, the phone will no longer take a charge. So it's basically junk because the battery is now dead. I find this incredibly annoying. I should not break my phone by just changing the battery. I'm done with Apple because this is bs. I'm basically paying $200/year for my phone, not including the service. This to me, is ridiculous. So I'm looking for a new phone. And the primary feature that I'm looking for is repairability. Here's the list I'm looking at:

iFixit Repairability List

I'm looking at phones that have come out since 2016 or later only because it'll be hard to get parts for the older models. So right now, I'm looking at an LG G5, which has a score of 8. (Ironically, the newer G6 drops to a rating of 5.)

On the plus side, I now don't have to deal with a phone for a while, which is mildly relaxing.

New Speaker

I bought this speaker yesterday to give to my Mom.

I bought the speaker because my Mom wants to listen to my brother's podcast, but her ipad doesn't get loud enough for her to hear. My brother bought the JBL - Xtreme Portable Bluetooth Speaker and recommended that I buy it for my Mom, which was my intention. However, when I got to Best Buy, I found it cost $300, which was a lot more than what I wanted to spend. Instead I found the one above, which I bought for basically $100. I charged it last night and have been listening to it and it should work fine. But I'm not crazy about this speaker.

I understand that this is entirely a portable speaker, so it runs on a battery. The battery is recharged using a usb cable. So periodically, you need to plug it in to your laptop. When I was looking at these in the store, a guy came up to me and started talking about these speakers. He said that the usb cord only charges the battery. So if your battery is dead, you can't just plug this in to your laptop and use it. You have to wait for the battery to charge. And in a year or two, when the battery no longer takes a charge, the speaker will be garbage because there's no other way to run it. I'm not sure if he's right, but he said that he has the jbl one that my brother has and had wished that he knew that before he bought it. If that is true, and I'm leaning to believe that, it's really poor design. So I was looking for something that I could just plug in to use. I get that it means it wouldn't be portable at that point, but at least it would be usable if the battery died.

Then I started to think about how I'd use the speaker and I realized that for me, portability isn't that big of a deal. But I like the idea of connecting via bluetooth. I mainly have Apple products and I have an airport express that is connected to my stereo to use, so I could play sound via that. But, it limits me to Apple products, like iTunes. I listed to lots of podcasts and I'd like to be able to play them on my bluetooth speaker. And I could use iTunes for my podcasts, but I like using Clementine. And I'll be honest, part of this is that I want to move away from Apple products. This could be an entirely different post, but Apple is moving in a direction that I don't necessarily want to go. As an example, they've taken most built-in connections off of their laptops. You get a single usb-c connection. Then you have to spend even more to buy all these dongles to do things that used to be built-in. I still use my ethernet connection a lot. I'm a system administrator and have to check if jacks are live or not. I also use usb a lot. I really don't want to have to carry a handful of dongles everytime I go to someone's office to check things. Right now, I need to be able to support Apple, Windows and linux. My macbook pro has been great in that I can run virtual machines with each of those operating systems, so I check things in all of those. The one improvement that I would like from Apple would be to be able to get more ram to make my virtual machines run better. I've upgraded my macbook pro from 2012 to 16gb of ram. Five years later and that's still the most I can get. In fact, I bought a new (to me) macbook pro from Apple's clearance section because it still had usb connections. It doesn't have the network one, but Apple has definitely given up on that port. In my mind, I'm thinking this is probably the last laptop I'll be buying that I'll use at work. Once I'm not longer working, I can use whatever OS I want and these days I'm leaning toward linux. And so I've been looking at programs that I want to use that run on linux. That's how I found Clementine and it's worked fine for me. So getting off this tangent I just took, I like the idea of a bluetooth speaker because it doesn't care what the OS is.

I haven't been able to find a bluetooth speaker that I like, so my idea now is to build what I like. I like the YouTube channel Kirby Meets Audio and I actually bought some plans from him. It looks like a fun project and I think it would be exactly what I want. We'll see how it goes.

RHEL7 Kickstart

Now that I'm in a place where all ip addresses are handled by dhcp, I need to change how I do kickstart installs.

  1. Boot the new system and start the installation process. Be sure to note what the name of the network card is and the mac address of the network card. Example: enp7s0f0 and 00:25:ab:cd:ef:aa
  2. Manually register the mac address with our dhcp system.
  3. Create a kickstart file and put it on a website.
  4. Boot the system and enter this on the boot line:
    vmlinuz initrd=initrd.img inst.ks=http://www.example.com/ks/server.cfg ip=enp7s0f0:dhcp inst.noverifyssl
    

If the install fails and you get a python error that near the end says something like:
"xfs filesystem is not valid as a default fs type"

It likely means the disk you're booting from is not the same version as the os you're downloading. Look in your kickstart file for the url line. It should look something like this:

url --noverifyssl --url=https://rhn01.example.com/pub/build/7

Put that link in your browser and look at the file media.repo. Mine looks like this:

[InstallMedia]
name=Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2
mediaid=1446216863.790260
metadata_expire=-1
gpgcheck=0
cost=500

This is telling me that it's expecting the boot disk to be redhat 7.2. So make sure you're using the correct install disk.

Season Over

Today, I finished pulling up all my tomato and pepper plants. I also took down the old chickenwire fence I had around my raised bed. And I filled five grass clipping bags full of plants and weeds that I pulled. I had thought of trying to make my own compost pile. But I found out that the city will pick up the paper bags and I can pick up as much free mulch as I can carry from a city building not too far from my house. So this year at least, I've decided not to do any composting. I may change my mind in the future.

How did the season go? I had lots of tomatoes. A success. I had a pretty good turnout of mini red peppers. A success. I also got some type of hot green pepper that I didn't plant. A success. Lots of beans. A success. A couple of zucchini after which the plants died. So that's probably more of a failure. I now know zucchini plants need a lot more space. Next year, I think I'll plant them by themselves on the back of the house. This year, the pumpkin vine was there. It grew a ton, but I only got one pumpkin. That's a failure. I found one cucumber somewhere in the raised bed. And it was such an odd shape that I didn't realize it was a cucumber. That was a failure. Tons of flowers by the garage, so that was a success.

Yesterday, I cut off most of the grapevine and moved it to where the beans were. I never thought it was going to grow, so I didn't put any thought where I planted it. Now if it grows, I'll try to get it to go up the garage. I now have some space next to the garage. Ideally, I'd like to build a greenhouse there. When I run new power lines to the garage, I can put an outlet near there so that I could plug in some kind of electric heater and an arduino to control it. That would be a very fun project. I've been thinking of designs where basically I extend the roof of the garage down with windows and then put windows all around. I'd have to build some type of door or access, but I think it would be possible.

What have I learned? I put way too many plants in my large raised bed. Zucchini need lots of space. They got so big that they blocked the sun of some of the other plants. I got a couple of really big zucchini and then the plants just seemed to die. I'm not sure what happened. Next year, I think the zucchini will go by the house by themselves. They'll have lots of room there. The miniature red peppers were good, but some were ridiculously tiny. Cutting them up and pulling out the seeds was a pain, but they were good. I'd like it better if they got a little bigger, but I'm not sure such a thing exists. So I'll plant those again next year. I wasn't crazy about the beans, but I think it's because I waited too long to pick them. I read somewhere they're tastier if you pick them before you see the shape of the seeds inside. I thought you were supposed to wait until you saw the seeds, so I definitely waited too long. I'll try those again next year. The Jack and the Beanstalk story is much funnier now. Beans do go really fast. And they climb up anything. It's kind of cool. Think I'll pass on watermelon again because I only got two. They were small and I never even cut them. They just didn't look that good. I'll probably also pass on the pumpkin. They grew like crazy, but I only got one. So I just don't think I have the space for them. I like the lettuce a lot and have already planted some more in the fall. I put some in the smaller raised beds and have a glass window on them. I'm hoping to still get some more lettuce before it gets really cold.

The biggest lesson is that I enjoy gardening. And the more I read about food, the more I want to be able to grow more of what I eat. I also like the idea of building a greenhouse. It seems like a good challenge.

My Latest Obsession

In my second summer of gardening, I'm thoroughly enjoying it. This year, in addition to tomatoes and peppers. Ted also gave me some beans, watermelon and pumpkin. And I also had zucchini. The pumpkin was weird. The vine grew like crazy all over the back of my house, but then died for some reason. I ended up getting one pumpkin, about the size of a 16" softball. It was green when I picked it, but as it's been sitting on my counter, it's turning more orange. I picked one small watermelon and there are a couple more still growing. I haven't yet cut it open to see how it looks or how it tastes. The tomatoes have been reliable. I planted some miniature red peppers and I like eating those the best. There are a lot of green ones out there now, so I think they tend to come a little later in the season than the tomatoes. I got a few good size zucchini. However, after I picked them, the plants seemed to die. Since I think I planted them too close together, I ended up pulling them out last month.

Now however, I'm thinking about what's next. I had a bunch of lettuce plants in one of my boxes. After it got hot, I noticed that the lettuce tasted pretty bitter. So I was mainly letting them grow to get the seeds, which I ended up not harvesting. Oh well. But in their place, I planted some green onions. They went in the ground on Labor Day. Yes, that seems pretty late for planting, but I feel like we're getting longer growing seasons now. The past winter wasn't really that bad and this summer didn't get blazingly hot. Of course, this is just my own judgement. I haven't consulted any tables of temps in Chicago. But it seems like climate change is starting to affect things. With the hurricanes this year and crazy high temperatures in San Francisco, I think we've reached a tipping point. So, if our winters aren't as cold, perhaps we'll have a longer growing season. Again, I haven't quantified any of this, but I'm planting now because I feel like it's a good idea. Today, I also moved some pea plants and lettuce outside. We'll see if those take.

So, my latest obsession is to try to garden year round. Now I don't think that we won't get any snow, but I feel that it might be workable for growing. I need to build a greenhouse of some sort. I tried a cold frame last year, but that didn't really work with my simple box and plastic window on top. I think if I were to use two pieces of glass (my own double-pane window) and perhaps put some thermal mass inside the greenhouse to collect the heat during the day and distribute it at night...I may be able to grow stuff year round. I've been spending most of the afternoon looking stuff up to see how I might do this. And it's another crazy idea, that I totally would like to try.