μBlog - Aaron Jackson

Technology, environmentalism, cycling and ranting. This is my alternative to twitter. There's an RSS feed too!


Sat, 31 Oct 2020 16:13:52 +0000
Speaking of cycling, I think I might have to replace my brake pads soon. This will be my first time changing disc brake pads and I've heard they should get around 700 to 1000km. Think I'm coming up to about 1000 km soon on this bike. Also, oil change, wow, so complicated. No idea. Lots to read...

Sat, 31 Oct 2020 16:12:55 +0000
Back in February I was around 95Kg, thanks the lockdown giving me a chance to get some more road cycling experience and confidence, I now weigh 78.9kg. Very happy :D

Sun, 25 Oct 2020 22:53:47 +0000
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention... I'm running Proxmox on it, and I'm amazed at the quality of this software. Makes spinning up VMs ridiculously fast.

Sun, 25 Oct 2020 22:50:32 +0000
Craving the ability to host some virtual machines at home on a full time basis, I decided to buy a used ThinkCenter M93p. It's one of those cute tiny Lenovo computers. It's slow by modern standards, but low powered and has enough RAM to run many VMs. I now have my own mini slurm cluster for development and testing, as well as a proper DHCP server, rather than messing around with poorly implemented static bindings on a Cisco switch. I will hopefully move back my website and email when I can be bothered. Good buy though :D

Sun, 25 Oct 2020 20:39:05 +0000
Thought Lucy (one of my cats) had a cold, but I noticed something green popping out as she was sneezing. Pulled on it, and it just kept coming! A 5cm long blade of grass up her nose. Poor thing, she seems much happier now.

Sat, 24 Oct 2020 13:10:10 +0100
While in the mood for posting photos, here's Dilbert, from a couple of days ago.

Sat, 24 Oct 2020 13:08:53 +0100
Bike chain and cassette cleaned up nicely this morning. It'll be one ride before it's filthy again. Can't wait for summer so I can switch to a dry lube.

Sun, 18 Oct 2020 22:23:55 +0100
Last month I broke my favourite mug :-(
Was randomly looking through the “RedHat Cool Stuff Store” and saw they had an Ansible branded, but very stylish mug. $13, not too bad, plus a little shipping, I thought. Nope. They wanted $110 to ship it to the UK. Ouch. Guess I'll find a mug from somewhere else...

Fri, 16 Oct 2020 21:25:55 +0100
If you like cycling, I'd like to draw your attention to Bone Shaker Magazine. Really nicely put together. I ordered my Lockdown Love Bundle last night and they are really nice to read and flick through.

Tue, 13 Oct 2020 00:14:25 +0100
MAKING AN OSCILLION TRANSMITTER TUBE - Awesome video about making an oscillion transmitter tube. They ran into a few issues but still managed to test it while hooked up to a diffusion pump. Nice!

Sun, 11 Oct 2020 10:34:40 +0100
Had some fun playing with the National Careers Services' Skills Assesment. It suggested a number of possible careers, the first being an actor. Although it also suggested writing for a magazine, which I think I'd quite like actually. Not very good at acting though.

Sat, 10 Oct 2020 13:21:30 +0100
Ok so managed to complete the upgrade from Fedora 30 to Fedora 32. Bit of a hassle due to the small rootfs, but seems good now. Kernel 5.8 included a bunch of nice updates for the amdgpu module, and I'm not sure if it's just a placebo, but my AMD ThinkPad (T495) feels WAY faster. Very impressed. Hopefully it's sorted out a few of the smaler bugs too.

Sat, 10 Oct 2020 11:57:12 +0100
Trying to upgrade from Fedora 30 to Fedora 32 this morning. So many issues from a small rootfs. I've symlinked the dnf cache directories to a folder in /home, and sadly uninstalled all 10GB of texlive :-(

Thu, 08 Oct 2020 17:22:49 +0100
A Peek Inside Loose Cycles in Ljubljana, Slovenia on bikepacking.com. Looks like such a cool bike shop.

Wed, 07 Oct 2020 21:10:52 +0100
The medical centre I am registered at for general healthcare uses an online service called Patient Access. Recently they sent an email out to everyone encouraging people to use a secure password. I've checked a few times over the years to see if they have an option for 2FA, and they don't, so I contacted them asking why. 2FA is basicaly the bare minimum these days when it comes to security, and it's especially important when information about your health and medication are accessible.
Today I received a generic response offering help with logging in. Very frustrating.

Wed, 07 Oct 2020 19:19:52 +0100
In an earlier 'toot' I mentioned that Bristol was thinking about pedestrianising their city centre. Looks like they've decided to go ahead! Very good :D Article in The Guardian

Wed, 07 Oct 2020 18:02:55 +0100
World leaders must urgently phase out factory farming to cut future pandemics risk, says report. Fully agree! Factory farming animals is not only unethical but puts us all at risk of antibiotic resistance and perhaps more viruses in the future.

Tue, 06 Oct 2020 20:13:27 +0100
Scientists call for herd immunity Covid strategy for young according to an article in The Guardian. Not sure I agree personally - we still know quite little about the virus and its long term effects.

Tue, 06 Oct 2020 17:54:06 +0100
After I deleted my Twitter account, I installed FeedReader and added a bunch of RSS feeds. Some have been quite boring and got removed, but others such as Input Mag have been weird and interesting. I hope RSS survives!

Mon, 05 Oct 2020 21:31:20 +0100
Tried a few different spots for my bike rollers tonight. First I tried in the louge, next to my desk. We have a wooden floor and it was very loud. Next, I decided to try outside. It was raining a tiny bit, but not enough to cause my wheels to slip on the rollers. For some reason the wall kept giving me quite big static shocks. Must be something to do with the plastic rollers and the moist wall. Once I moved it back inside, I couldn't muster enough energy to do more than about 5km. Went upstairs, and then for some reason decided to go for a bike ride outside. Bit wet. Cold now.

Mon, 05 Oct 2020 21:30:28 +0100
This could be fun! A new space camera just sent to the ISS will bring spacewalks to VR

Sun, 04 Oct 2020 23:16:55 +0100
Ok, so the COVID reporting is not as bad as I initially thought. The first chart on the website shows the number of cases per specimin date. So we can have an accurate but outdated view of the number of cases per day. The highest being 30th of September with 11,404 positive tests.

Sun, 04 Oct 2020 21:41:36 +0100
The number of COVID-19 cases reported today is 22,961. Many (hopefully most) of these are from the 24th of September to the 1st of October. The same is also true for the large number reported yesterday. What I do not understand is why they can't add them on to the correct date - why can't they say Sorry there was a mistake, we've updated period _x_ to include missing cases. You can see the old counts _here_. Surely they logged the dates for these?

Sun, 04 Oct 2020 19:25:50 +0100
First attempt at capturing an image from the ISS via SSTV. Not the strongest signal, and it's hard for me to pick up anything south of my house because of a bunch of corrigated steel buildings. Not bad though :-)

Sun, 04 Oct 2020 17:54:39 +0100
I think Nissan are onto something here! The Nissan Re-Leaf can power your home when a natural disaster knocks out your power. I think some other electric vehicles are able to backfeed into the grid to handle sudden demand, but the Nissan Re-Leaf seems to focus mainly on being a UPS For Your Home. A weird/fancy slideshow thing from Input Mag.

Sun, 04 Oct 2020 10:02:48 +0100
Article in the Guardian saying working from home will add £100 to fuel bill. Likely true as well, we rarely have the heating on even during winter, but you really do start to feel the cold when you're sitting at a desk for eight hours. If working from home becomes the new norm (and I hope it does), employers should start to take this sort of thing into account when making hires, and for existing staff.

Sun, 04 Oct 2020 00:37:45 +0100
One thing I am looking forward to is the release of the YubiKey Bio. Not a huge amount of information released about it, except for supporting finger print recognition. I would guess it would have the usual functionality, including OATH, FIDO, GPG / Smart Card, PIV, etc.

Sun, 04 Oct 2020 00:23:52 +0100
Playing around with Personal Identify Verification (PIV) with my YubiKey a little tonight. I managed get client certificate authentication working with Apache and Firefox. Firefox does a reasonable job with this, but if you unplug the YubiKey, I found you need to restart Firefox before it'll work again. It also seeds that SSH has a flag `-I`, which will link to a library (e.g. libykcs11.so) to provide communication to a PKCS#11 token. This worked ok, but you have to have all the YubiKey PIV libraries installed. I think I prefer using gpg-agent for SSH auth. Anyway, just a neat thing I hadn't played with before on the YubiKey.

Sat, 03 Oct 2020 20:24:28 +0100
It was great listening to music while riding the rollers. Using bluetooth on my phone seemed to mess up my connection with my vivosmart watch though. It seems I have to reboot my phone after using the headphones, in order to sync with the watch? Stupid phones...

Sat, 03 Oct 2020 16:55:39 +0100
I bought some bluetooth earphones for when I'm riding my bike indoors. I went with the Linklike ones on Amazon. They are just under £30. I went cheap because I'm entirely expecting my sweat to destroy anything after a while. These are ok for the price, handy for taking calls etc. The sound quality I'd say is pretty bad, but ok for the price.

Sat, 03 Oct 2020 15:27:23 +0100
The new ThinkPad X1 Nano looks quite cute and a reasonable machine. I'm not going to get it, but if I did, would I actually like it? Last year I upgraded from an X220 to a T495. The 5 means it's an AMD Ryzen machine. It was cheaper and I'd heard good things about Ryzen, but this machine is incredibly slow. I wish I had instead upgraded to an X270. Still, a sub 1KG ThinkPad with a 48Wh battery is pretty nice. No USB ports though, only USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4. Anyone want to buy a bad T495? :P

Sat, 03 Oct 2020 13:40:58 +0100
Interesting video from CNET about a new large telescope in Hawaii, capable of capturing an image 12 times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope. However, the planned location of the telescope is considered sacred by many Hawaiians. The existing 20+ telescopes were also built on this land, after the US Government shutdown the Hawaiian monarchy. I think this should be respected, there is at least one other location which could be used, with some limitations. Anyway, checkout the video!

Sat, 03 Oct 2020 10:19:03 +0100
Another big security flaw in Grindr according to The Register. Back in the early days of Grindr, the API ran over plain HTTP. There was also no authentication on certain actions, such as seeing who had added who to their favourites etc. Ten years later and they're still finding big security flaws.

Sat, 03 Oct 2020 00:31:59 +0100
Last I heard, Uni of Notts were not going to keep students locked up like prisoners. Seems this might not be the case. I think it's probably quite reasonable to try to enforce this, but at least follow dietary requirements. Giving non-vegetarian meals to vegetarians. Guess we will see how it goes...

Sat, 03 Oct 2020 00:24:02 +0100
Got myself a new cycling helmet today. Finally decided it was time to switch to one with MIPS. Safety first etc. I went with the "Vinci MIPS Helmet", seems quite nice and is a way better fit than my old one. Anyway, it's going to rain for the next few days almost continuously so I probably don't need it yet. Having lots of fun on the rollers anyway.

Fri, 02 Oct 2020 00:37:08 +0100
Also, before I go to bed... I'm quite enjoying this as an alternative to Twitter. It's less social, sure, but I can write whole paragraphs instead of just a couple of sentences. I can also hyperlink things and insert any HTML I want.
Basically I just run `toot` from a terminal and $EDITOR opens up. Once I'm done writing, I save and close and the script does the rest. I also added the functionality to post an image, if passed as an argument, but haven't used this yet. :-)

Fri, 02 Oct 2020 00:35:05 +0100
Thinking a bit more about converting my old road bike into a single speed... I think, although I'm probably wrong, I can just remove the derailleur and install a new chain. I'll have to check that the frong and rear rings I want to use line up, but I don't really see why it wouldn't work.

Fri, 02 Oct 2020 00:15:48 +0100
Getting so frustrated with this 5G health stuff. I'm not particularly bothered by having the fastest speeds possible on my phone, but for rural areas, it actually means a usable internet connection. An article tonight saying that the government faces legal challenges due to safety fears. What is wrong with people?
5G masts transmit at a much lower power. The frequency is not particularly relevant unless you are the size of a grape, and even at these powers, not relevant at all. The amount of time exposed to the 'radiation' will be reduced compared to previous generations, due to phased antenna arrays steering the signal, with occassional sweeps to find devices.

Thu, 01 Oct 2020 14:07:55 +0100
When I first started my undergraduate degree at Bangor University, the mail setup was very simple. We had a simple webmail, IMAP access, or you could log into ~publix~ and run pine or mailx. I believe the same was true in Computer Science at Nottingham, but general access to this was disabled just before I started my PhD. These days, everyone is using Office 365, and it sucks. Nottingham doesn't even allow IMAP access anymore. The Register has lost count of their uptime this year already.

Wed, 30 Sep 2020 21:07:28 +0100
Kind of embarrassing - A state law passed to remove the measures intended to reduce climate change, including a 1.3 billion USD bailout for power stations in the state. This also includes the removal of an app which allowed Ohio residents to closely monitor their energy use. To make matters even worse, the one of the people involved in this bill was arrested on suspicion of taking a 60 million USD bribe in order to get the bill pass. All crazy. Article in The Register

Wed, 30 Sep 2020 19:35:38 +0100
I got a new road bike last month and have been trying to decide what to do with my old one. It's in very rough shape, chain and chain rings are completely worn down, so the entire drive chain would have to be replaced. It would be kind of handy as a runaround / comuting bike so I just watched a few videos about converting a road bike into a single speed or fixed gear bike. This video was absolutely fantastic in explaining the steps required, but also made me realise I am completely ill equipped to make such a change. Hmm.

Wed, 30 Sep 2020 16:13:02 +0100
Hydrogen-powered train tested on Britain's railway tracks as diesel alternative. I'm guessing but perhaps lighter and longer lasting than big litium batteries? Good as long as the hydrogen is being produced from a carbon neutral energy source. Article in The Register

Tue, 29 Sep 2020 21:48:14 +0100
Just came across a few interesting plans to pedestrianising city centres. Bristol plans to fully pedestrianise historic streets, while Birmingham plans to ban cars entirely from the city centre. The articles are 4 and 8 months old at this point (respectively), so it would be interesting to know if there have been any updates.

Tue, 29 Sep 2020 21:40:56 +0100
Adding to my earlier (and first!) toot about electric vehicles... While I think they are incredible and 100% a step in the right direction, electric cars are certainly not going to reduce traffic. They will just be the next iteration of traffic. Creating more cycle paths and slowly pedestrianising roads is basically the only way to have a sustainable travel infrastrcture, at least in my opinion. Not only that, but people will be healthier and happier, thanks to lower pollution and actually getting some exercise. Just a short rant. :-)

Tue, 29 Sep 2020 18:47:56 +0100
Brexit has been so outrageously expensive. We could have built another space station instead, it would have been cheaper! Article in The London Economic

Tue, 29 Sep 2020 13:57:37 +0100
Tesco sets a 300% sales target on plant based alternatives to meat. Very nice! As a lactose intolerant vegetarian, I've basically adopted a vegan diet anyway. I feel great for it, in terms of health, ethics and the environment. Guardian link

Tue, 29 Sep 2020 13:16:17 +0100
Dave Jones published an interesting video about the electric buses in Sydney. Hoping the future consists of electric buses, electric cars, and people riding bicycles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbDGxn0yYfA

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Copyright 2020 Aaron Jackson (compiled: Sat 31 Oct 16:16:05 GMT 2020)