NeoPixel Christmas House December 9, 2015

IMG_1625We have these Christmas houses that the Mrs digs out each year.  I suppose that would be a Christmas village…  Anyway, they’re painted ceramic houses, chock full of fiber optic wire, which pokes out around windows, doors and signs and through bits of snow on each roof.  Within each is a small motor that turns a rainbow striped color wheel.  The wheel is transparent and sits just above a small incandescent lamp.  All of this is poised just beneath the bundled end of the a fore mentioned fiber strands with the result being that the exterior of each house slowly shifts color, the change washing across the surface in a wave.

IMG_1626Cute as they are, they scare the crap out of any sensible homeowner who’s spouse wants to run them nonstop during the holiday season.  But as luck would have it, one of the motors died 2 years back.  It was in the “Candy Shoppe”.  I jumped at the chance to do an autopsy only to be terrified to see that the lamp had, over it’s decade of service, begun to brown the plastic housing that enclosed the mechanism.  But I failed to order parts, the season got busy, time fled and soon the-Candy-Shoppe went back into storage.  Another season came and went before I got tired of seeing the lonely lump of porcelain sitting at the edge of the village, in darkness.


<sniff> Ok, let’s light this popsicle stand.  But in doing so let’s nerf the moving parts and for the love of peace of mind, let’s use some lamps that don’t get so hot.

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Troubleshooting DNS Mayhem with nslookup November 12, 2014

One skill set that I find myself using on a nearly daily basis is the ability to troubleshoot DNS issues. This isn’t just for a handful of specialized problems but for a wide variety of issues at all levels of the organization. I do it so often that there is no excuse for not being able to move fast when the time comes.

Recently, I read a post1 that noted the death of nslookup , heralding the supremacy of tools like digg and host. I found myself feeling defensive. In all fairness, it is an old dog. It was even deprecated for some time by the ISC folks. That said however, nslookup is my go-to option for the above mentioned task. “But it’s like, ancient”, you say. Yes, yes it is. And it’s everywhere. The broad advice is “learn to use them all”. Good advice that, but in the real world you’ll find nslookup on more modern operating systems than you can shake a stick at. The best part is that the syntax will be roughly the same on each. Here are some of the ways that I use it regularly.

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Pocket Full of SSH Forwarding Tricks November 5, 2014

SSH makes a great ad-hoc VPN/SOCKS-Proxy depending on your needs. A couple of times now I’ve lost my .bash_profile file and had to look all of this up. I’m writing this down here so that I don’t loose it again.

SSH with a SOCKS Proxy

You can forward any port across an ssh connection by running

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Clearing Your Fluid App Cache October 15, 2013

If you’ve discovered Fluid App by Celestial Teapot then you know how handy it can be for encapsulating web apps to help them better fit your workflow.  One bit of mayhem that I’ve run into however, has been needing to clean out the browser cache when one of the webapps that my organization uses decides to swallow it’s tongue.

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Bottle Cap Capacitive Touch Button for Arduino April 18, 2013


Here’s a cool trick that I picked up a few months back.  We’re all familiar with the capacitive touch tech that enables our mobile devices.  Come to find out, integrating basic touch functionality into your Arduino projects may not be as tricky as it looks.

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Gesture Based Screen Lock for Mountain Lion December 18, 2012

One of the hardest features to loose in the process of moving from a Linux based workstation to a Mac is the ability to quickly and securely lock your screen. At first glance it looks like the feature is none existent, but for OS X users (Mountain Lion) the magic lies in your Hot Corner controls.

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