Category Archives: Uncategorized

Facebook Messenger Alternatives Redux (Federated and Non-Federated)

While I post mostly on Fediverse platforms like Diaspora and Mastodon, and am focusing my development efforts there, the instant messaging accessibility of Facebook Messenger has been illusive. I tried Wickr and it’s okay but not the most user friendly. It’s claim to fame is the messages only go from the participant to the receiver without a server between except for authentication. That makes the flow clunky, to say the least.  Which is why leaving Facebook has been one of my least successful aspects.    I wanted to explore other options and in the last week I pulled the trigger and actually did it.

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MacBook or XPS Linux Ultrabook…looks like a Mac after all

I have had two laptops for most of the twenty years: a personal laptop and a work laptop.  Before I owned my own company that was a question of the company’s I worked for policies.  While I had my own company it was about living by the same rules that applied to everyone else in the company (I’m a big fan of dogfooding anything I do).  Now that I’m on the individual consulting/developer bandwagon I’m in the same boat.  I have a pretty decent System76 Linux laptop that’s a couple years old but pretty bulky.  I have a positively ancient 2011 MacBook Air.  Disk space and speed wise it is fine.  Memory wise at 4 GB it’s starting to get a little cramped if I have too many Google Drive tabs open and the like.  Processor wise though it is a dog.  It’s at the point now where some sites like Facebook and Gmail can take tens of seconds to complete rendering.  At least they allow interactions while they finish parsing their JavaScript etc.

When the MacBook Pros came out it looked like that’d be a great opportunity to switch and while the feature set finally looked reasonable the price point for what I want was artifically high due to selections that I couldn’t get with other configurations.  It’s not that a particular end configuration was expensive compared to a Dell (or System76) but the fact I could get the exact configuration I wanted out of the Linux laptop and not the Apple made the actual price point lower by over $1000.  With the new MacBook Air models that just came out I decided to do my standard configuration.  For this one I’m doing a 13″ to replace my MacBook Air but with the reasonable bump ups to make it last a long time.  After all, I like to keep hardware for awhile so no reason to skimp out to have to replace it yet again in a couple years.

What were the end results?  When I put together the exact configuration I’m looking for in both systems the Mac comes out to $1599 compared to $1659 for the Dell.  That’s pretty astounding to me.  I finally have a Mac option that fits my need at essentially the same price point.  What does that mean?  First, it means that the imminent demise of my antique personal laptop is imminent.  Second, it means that it’s probably getting replaced with another Mac.

Ubuntu MATE 16.04 to 18.04 Upgrade Hiccup on VirtualBox Guest Additions

Since the release of Ubuntu 18.04 I’ve been using it a bunch in various VMs.  I do love the new minimal install feature.  Even though it doesn’t save that much hard disk space it does make things a lot less  cluttered, which I absolutely love.  Because I work in VMs I’ve been experimenting with migrating OS’s up to 18.04 rather than crushing old VMs, building from scratch, and porting data over.  This process has worked almost seamlessly the dozen or so times I’ve done it across many VMs from various different baselines: Mainline 16.04, Mainline 17.10, Ubuntu MATE 16.04.  The actual core software itself seems to work perfectly fine out of the box, but as I said it is almost seamless not seamless.  There seems to be a bit of a wrinkle with the Ubuntu MATE update with respect to the VirtualBox Guest Additions, specifically with respect to shared folder drives.

I first ran across this in one of my main VMs when I tried the update.  Everything went great, I re-applied the guest additions and voilà my shared folder drives mounted and I was in business.  The next day when I fired up the VM they were missing.  It was a hectic day, so I thought perhaps I had remembered it working so I applied the guest additions again.  The drives reappeared.  This time I rebooted to confirm it stuck but sadly they did not.  I’ve continued to do some experimenting and have come to discover that while they are there the systemd process doesn’t seem to want to start on reboot even though it is set to. So to fix it I just need to do the following command to get them to show up:

sudo systemctl restart vboxadd-service.service

I wasn’t having this problem on Ubuntu 18.04 or Ubuntu MATE 18.04 virgin machines so this was either a problem with the general Ubuntu 16.04 to 18.04 upgrade process or specific to Ubuntu MATE 16.04 to 18.04 upgrade.  I therefore went about creating two brand new VMs, one each for mainline Ubuntu 16.04 and one for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 and then went through the upgrade process directly.  Those steps are:

  1. Fresh install OS with 3rd party and upgrades turned on
  2. Follow https://virtualboxes.org/doc/installing-guest-additions-on-ubuntu/ for installing guest additions
  3. Shutdown/Power on
  4. Add user to the vboxsf group (sudo usermod -a -G vboxsf <username>)
  5. Restart
  6. Confirm RW shared folder
  7. Bring up graphical updater, do any additional updates
  8. Invoke Upgrade to 18.04 through graphical system:
    sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade
    update-manager -d
  9. See if shared folder drive there
  10. After Update re-apply kernel extensions
  11. Restart
  12. Confirm shared drive

I can repeatably show that mainline Ubuntu 16.04 goes through these updates without this artifact but the MATE version does not.  Again, a fresh Ubuntu MATE 18.04 install doesn’t have this behavior at all.  I wonder if this write up can shed some light on this problem for the Ubuntu MATE team.

Paleo Diet, The Quiet Phase

This seems to happen with each of the diet phases, at least the first two.  Like most people that change up their lifestyle we settle into a routine.  Once we are in a routine the goings on of a given day are actually quite boring.  While I could sit here and type out each day that I ate eggs (or a shake) for breakfast, had sushi (or a Chipotle Paleo Bowl) for lunch and had a huge salad (or one of other three options) for dinner, I really don’t see the point.  I have a food journal for that.   Some days may be interesting and worth blogging about.   Maybe I’ll try a new recipe.  Maybe I’ll have some training event that is especially noteworthy.  Other than that though it’s all starting to sound rather repetitive.  I’m therefore going to drop back to only blogging on days that really stand out to me and leave the rest to summary reports at the weekly and/or monthly level.

Post Deluge About To Commence

While I have been dutifully writing up my daily updates on the Paleo phase of my experiment, I haven’t had the chance to get them posted to the blog over the past few days.  Rather than just dump all of them at once, I’m rolling them out two at a time.  I’ll keep blogging about my days but add them to the back of the queue, so in essence I will be publishing two daily updates a day for awhile.  Everything should be caught up to real time by Saturday, if I’m doing my math right (I hope).

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Monthly Measurements, February 2014

After a month of eating cleanly and getting some exercise, but not as much as I would like, my measurements have snapped back to the way they were before the end of year binge.  Depending on the measurement they have gone back even as far as before my October holiday binge as well.  I knew I had dropped a bunch of weight on this Virgin Diet.  That isn’t completely intentional.  Since I put on three pounds of excess weight during the holidays, I wanted to shed it over the first three months of the year.  It seems that I’ve done that in the first month plus a little more. I hope that levels off some, but unless I’m eating a ton of excess nuts, nut butters or oil it is really hard to bump up the calories enough to avoid more than a nominal calorie deficit eating this way.  I was glad to see that what little yoga and calisthenics I did do, which will hopefully ramp up in the next couple of weeks, already showed some gains on my arms.  It is amazing how fast things improve when you start from doing nothing at all :-).

MeasurementSites

Measurement 12/2013 01/2014
1 Neck (in) 16.25 15.75
2 Shoulders (in) 51.1 51.4
3 Chest (in) 43 42.75
4 Left Bicep (in) 13.25 13.5
5 Left Forearm(in) 11.5 11.5
6 Right Bicep (in) 13.25 13.5
7 Right Forearm (in) 11.6.25 11.625
8 Torso (in) 35.1 35
9 Waist (in) 36.25 36
10 Hip (in) 35.75 35.5
11 Left Thigh (in) 23 23.75
12 Left Calf (in) 16 16
13 Right Thigh (in) 23.375 22.75
14 Right Calf (in) 16.375 16.5
Weight (lb) 182 177.9
Skin Fold (mm) 13 11.5
Body Fat Percentage 17 16.

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Day 22 and 23: I think I’m switching to weekly updates

As the diet experiment drags on it’s clear that the novelty quickly wears off, and therefore so does the need to have literally daily updates.  Sure, it is interesting when I’m first getting the hang of a diet.  There will always be times when I have a new recipe I tried, or something along those lines as well.  However after a while this whole thing becomes rote, and the daily update is really just overkill.  I will still track all my foods and moods daily, but I think unless an interesting thing happens on a given day, I’ll be reverting back to once a week updates for this phase.

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