Legal Disclaimer

The opinions stated here in this ‘blog or elsewhere on my web site are my own. Any or all facts (real or imagined) are typically presented from my personal point of view. Furthermore these facts and opinions do not necessarily represent or even agree with those of my family, my employer, the US Government, any other organization, or entity (real or imagined). Any similarity (real or imagined) to other individuals, animals, places, items or concepts is purely coincidental.


I got mentioned on Slashdot Review! 

My recent blog post about "Distributed Family / Home Backup Networks" was featured on the August 14th edition of Slashdot Review, which is one of the many podcasts I listen to.

I only found this out today. While trying to catch up on older podcasts I haven't yet listened to, I heard a head line that sounded very familiar. It took a moment or two to realize that it was familiar because I had written it. Needless to say I was excited that


Follow-up: Fab Lab & Open Source Electronics 

The world is several steps closer to the kind of open source innovation in electronics that I predicted back in February. I recently heard a podcast interview with MIT's Neil Gershenfeld about their Center for Bits and Atoms' "Fab Lab" outreach program that brings prototyping capabilities to under-served communities that have been beyond the reach of conventional technology development and deployment. The abilities of these "Fab Labs" is almost exactly what I was describing as "custom electronics manufacturers".

The availability of this kind of rapid and personal fabrication will greatly accelerate the pace of innovation, especially of open design that allow others to freely create derivative designs that build on earlier work of others. One of the strongest assets of open source development techniques is accelerated design progress through the rapid application of small individually applied design tweaks.


Quote: Eleanor Roosevelt 

While looking for tip on baking bacon in the oven,I ran across the following quote on Discuss Cooking.

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission. -Eleanor Roosevelt-"


Random Dream: Composite Team 

As my alarm went off this morning, I was dreaming about coaching a high level Region III composite vaulting team. The along with the other coaches and parents I was just informing the vaulters that we had secured a large, centrally located, living space and that we would be able to begin training more or less full time. This was being made possible by a sponsorship by or a grant from National Geographic, who would be filming a documentary about our training and competition.


Update: Distributed Family / Home Backup Networks 

While I was down visiting my parents, and attending the National Vaulting Championships at the end of July, I reconfigured one of their old computers, PopsHP, as a LAMP server similar my LampCat.

PopsHP started out as an HP Pavilion 6545c. A couple of years ago we replaced the internal hard drive with a new one (approximately 110 GB). On my recent trip I resized the Windows 98 2nd edition partition (hda1) and installed the LAMP server version of Ubuntu 6.06 [Dapper Drake]. I also installed a new USB-2 card and a 500GB external hard drive.

Next I got PopsHP and my parent's home network configured to allow me to connect to PopsHP via SSH from my home computers, LampCat and LinCat64 [my AMD 64 desktop]. The I then installed, setup and configured Samba to allow my parents to access PopsHP like a windows file server. I even setup drive mappings from their desktop and laptop computers to their /home/ directories located on PopsHP's new external HD, while instructing them to save anything they wanted to keep safe onto PopsHP using these mappings. I also booted their main desktop machine off a Live Ubuntu CD and rsync-ed a complete backup to shared directory in PopsHP's /home/ directory. The final task before I returned home was to make sure that whenever PopsHP reboots (like after a rolling blackout) it boots into linux and starts up the various services / daemons.

Since returning home from my parents condo, I've been using rsync to push copies of my main /home/ directory from from LinCat64 to LampCat and then to PopsHP. I'm using an exclude list on the first transfer to only back-up worth while files, but on the second [off-site] transfer I am doing a full mirror of the primary backup. To keep our [Comcast] cable modem usable for basic web browsing, e-mail, etc., and keep my housemates from complaining, I've had to limit the upstream bandwidth that rsync uses to only 35k/s, so the initial 31GB transfer is taking a long time. [67.7% in a little over a week so far with various stops and restarts.]

This afternoon, I've started the first rsync backup going the other way, from PopsHP to LampCat. My parents [SBC] ADLS line seems to have much better upstream bandwidth and as a result the initial 9.4GB transfer is going much faster, over 7% in just a few hours.

The next steps in the development of my Distributed Family / Home Backup Network will be to install passwordless certificates for the underlying ssh connections and setup chron jobs to automate the transfers. I also want to setup access to my Dad's home folder via shttp so that he can access his files while on his consulting assignments.

Longer term, I'll be looking to add a web based configuration and management application. I'd also like to get a server box set up for my brother and his family, to get offsite backups going for them too.

At Christmas time we might also set my Dad up with a MythTV backend in my parents condo and a portable front end that he can take with him on his assignments.

BTW -- If anyone wants me to set up a "Distributed Family / Home Backup Network" like this for their own private use, my normal consulting rate is $50USD/hr plus expenses and my time is subject to limited availability.


Expanding the Patriot Act would mean the Terrorists win. 

I found the following quote in the comments on Chris Prillo's blog.

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both. -- Benjamin Franklin

This bring to mind another quote from that same era.

... "all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government" ... -- The Declaration of Independence

We must stand up, speak out, take political action and if necessary fight and die, to protect our freedoms and liberties from the attacks of religious fundamentalists both inside and outside our governments.


How I got from roads to robots 

I recently got reconnected with one of my fiends from college through LinkedIn, and he asked:
"How did you move from Civil engineering to IT and robotics? The Civil Engineering has continuous needs while other fields are more unsettled."
Well, back in 1996 I got somewhat disillusioned with the impacts of political decisions on public safety and decided to take the first reasonable opportunity to get out of state government. That first reasonable opportunity ended up being a job as a network admin for a small multi-media start-up in Bethesda, MD.

After eight months in what turned out to be a very different job from what was described in the interview process, I got on with a small minority owned government contractor as a database admin / software developer. Both of these jobs built on the inter-networking and software skills I acquired at Virginia Tech and at VDOT. Aside from a boss who was an idiot that managed to loose the contract we were working on, the government contractor gig was a good one. It payed well and the work was very interesting.

In the same time frame, Jen Williams got me really hooked on the sport of equestrian vaulting. Throughout the years I lived in the Baltimore / Washington area I helped out with her team first as longeur / groom and later as an assistant coach.

After a stint as an independent consultant through the dot-com crash, I moved to the Seattle area and got on with a company that had been recently acquired by {Employer’s Name Removed} building high end electronic toothbrushes. However, I was making less the half what I was before the bust, but the work was interesting and the pay was enough to live on.

I also hooked up with a vaulting club, the Redwing Vaulters in Redmond Wa., and continued as an assistant coach. While volunteering with the Redwing I traveled to the national vaulting championships in 2002, 2003 & 2004. When Redwing 's head coach decided to scaled back her club after nationals in 2004, I started up a new club with some of its former members.

In the past 18 to 24 months the work at the toothbrush factory has gotten less interesting and the overall compensation has diminished significantly as our benefits got harmonized with the global conglomerate. However in that same time frame my volunteer work, as Head Coach of the Cascade Vaulters, has intensified in an incredibly satisfying way and I find that I don't really have time or energy to look for a better job.

In what spare time I do have I've been messing around with open source software, especially Linux, and both blogging and podcasting and may try to spin these into a better paying and more flexible gig.


BitTorrent Tips and Tricks ~ Chris Pirillo 

There isn't enough emphasis on rhyming these days.

Check out this apparent abuse of a Seuss. (Well maybe it's just a chat with the Cat.)

BitTorrent Tips and Tricks ~ Chris Pirillo