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  • 25 Jun 2020 Finding files with PowerShell

    From my May post, in which I started using PowerShell, I have been using it to do a search I would previously have used a Linux environment to use find for.

  • 28 May 2020 Teams backgrounds

    To use your own custom backgrounds, drop the background file(s) in $Env:APPDATA\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads (PowerShell, %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads in cmd). They must be PNG files and will just show up in the list of backgrounds to choose from in the user interface.

  • 28 May 2020 Debian system updates

    I have automated monitoring (via Icinga2) of the update status of my various servers, all of which currently run Debian. To date I’ve been using cron to run a daily apt-get update, to my mind the obvious solution to “I need it to update daily”, which updates the local package cache and then the monitoring picks up whether there’s anything to update. While investigating a problem with another cron-job yesterday, I noticed messages from apt-daily and apt-daily-upgrade services and a quick Google revealed that there is a Debian way to do this.

  • 26 May 2020 PowerShell startup script

    Yesterday I wrote about getting started with PowerShell but in order to make certain things persist, such as aliases, they need to be created each time the shell starts in the “profile” start-up script.

  • 25 May 2020 Getting to grips with PowerShell

    Over the past 6-12 months I have started using a more Microsoft-y environment on Windows, both on my own laptop and work’s. It started with using the bundled Windows OpenSSH client, removing the need for me to launch a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) environment just to ssh to another system. I also been trying out Microsoft Terminal(yes, it is open source), which was released on Tuesday, and it is a really slick tool - a vast improvement on the old command-line windows and/or PuTTY. Yesterday I switched my default session from (WSL) Debian to PowerShell and have started using it as my main shell environment on Windows.

  • 23 May 2020 Adding bonded connection to Netgear ReadyNAS 214

    My Netgear ReadyNAS 214 has two Ethernet ports. It is used as a safe place to store my data as well has hosting an iSCSI target that all my backups are done to (with regular off-site copies made to mitigate against failure or physical damage/loss of the NAS) so some extra bandwidth would not hurt and the web user-interface provides the option to bond them. Since my managed switch also supports bonding, I have decided to do this.

  • 22 May 2020 updating broadband PPPoE configuration

    For a very long time I have been running my own Linux-based routers as gateways to the internet. The configuration was setup a very long time ago and it has not been revisited, other than to update logins etc., since. I discovered today that there is now a kernel-mode PPPoE module (since 2.4, from what I can gather) that I have missed the arrival of and a more performant driver for it. As I was monitoring the route due to line-speed problems, I noted that I could see the process pppoe appear in top hovering around the 12% CPU mark and wondered if that was expected or not. Googling this lead to these changes.

  • 21 May 2020 Dockerised salt-ssh

    For some systems that I have user accounts on but do not administer, I use Salt SSH (agent-less salt minion) to manage the common user-local files that are managed on the systems I do administer on these systems. I have previously made notes about it.

  • 09 May 2020 Upgrading PS3 hard disk

    As I mentioned yesterday, I was planning to replacing the hard disk drive in my PS3™ with a larger SSD I had laying around my desk.

  • 08 May 2020 Formatting FAT32 on Windows 10

    In order to backup my PS3™, in preparation for replacing the hard disk drive with a larger SSD I have laying around my desk, I needed a FAT32 formatted USB disk. Windows 10 will only allow disks larger than 32GB to be formatted as exFAT (or NTFS), which the PS3™ does not support.

  • 20 Apr 2020 Rawlplug UNO sizes technical data

    Rawlplug’s UNO range are currently my favourite wall plug, reliable and I’m yet to have any problems with the installation of one. I struggle to find this information, particularly supported screw sizes, when I want to refer to it to here it is:

  • 26 Dec 2019 Dell XPS 13 SSD upgrade

    In July I replaced my Lenovo ThinkPad x240 with a Dell XPS 13 9370 I impulse bought from the reduced section of John Lewis. Last week I finally got around to installing the new SSD I bought in a Black Friday deal on-line.

  • 24 Dec 2019 Backups with BackupPC and offsite DR backup - automation

    Shortly before this time last year I revolutionised my backup infrastructure. This year I finally got around to scripting updating the off-site version.

  • 16 Dec 2018 Backups with at-rest encryption, BackupPC, iSCSI and offsite DR backup

    For many, many years (at least since 2008) I’ve been using BackupPC to provide backups of my machines, at home and in the cloud. I recently replaces my NAS with one that has a larger capacity (as part of a project to turn my DVD collection into something more convenient to browse and watch) and that NAS has iSCSI support so I moved my backup solution from a USB attached disk to an iSCSI target and introduced off-site replication of the backup pool for DR purposes.

  • 27 Jul 2018 Salt SSH

    salt-ssh provides a way to run salt remotely without it being installed on the destination system. ​ This means, for example, that I can use it to manage my user’s dotfiles on the BlueBEAR HPC cluster.

  • 25 Jun 2018 Masterless Salt Minion

    A master-less Salt minion can be used to manage a standalone machine (e.g. my work Linux desktop) or bootstrap any master-controlled minion (or even the master itself) as the salt states will take over management of the minion’s configuration and reconfigure it appropriately on first run.

  • 27 Aug 2015 Salt

    Salt is a remote execution and configuration management tool that I have been using to manage the many Linux servers and desktops I have. Its state system also replaces some of my notes as a self-documenting machine-readable description of how each item is configured.



  • 31 May 2023 New blog posts landing - update

    I just published 33 new blog posts. Nothing more to say really, other then normal service will hopefully now resume. I have decided that I will adopt a new policy of dating posts when they are published, rather than when I start writing them…

  • 07 Apr 2023 New blog posts landing

    You may have noticed there appears to have been no posts since one on October 30th until one on 5th April. This is not because I have not written any, and a flurry (well, 8 including this one) of new posts have appeared in the last few days, beginning with that one on the 5th April. These are ones that I had “written” in my head but not yet committed to actual posts; the Bank Holiday in the UK, slight reprieve from day-job work in the evenings leading up to it, and my wife abandoning me to my own devices today has given me an opportunity to catch up. There also a further 28 posts in draft, which I have written over the last 6 months, that will hopefully land on the live blog soon. They have not yet been published because many of them link together, or cross-reference each other, in such a way that it will be difficult to publish individual ones until they are finished. Sorry about that.

  • 03 Jun 2019 New Blog ( me?)

    So, I've started a new blog. It think this is my 3rd or 4th Blog, although it's the first new one in over 13 years, since I switched to Wordpress in April 2006.




  • 30 Mar 2023 Goodbye Twitter

    Just a note to say I pushed the red button and disabled my Twitter account today. In 30 days it will be deleted forever, according to the message. The final straw turned out to be the change to only allowing paying users will be able to partake in polls and shown to non-followers in feeds.

  • 05 Jul 2022 Bad habits

    When I was taught typing at school, we were made to type sentences with two spaces after the full-stop. Opinion has historically been split on this practice but most sources these days are clear that one space is now the only correct option (see 1st source below for a study that asserts 2 spaces promotes faster reading). Recently I have annoyed people at work reviewing my documents, as they have to replace my habitual two spaces with one. The problem from my end is that for nearly 30 years, most of which I have been touch-typing, I have consistently used two spaces. That’s a lot of muscle-memory to overcome!

  • 15 Jun 2021 Hay-fever

    For the first time in quite a few years I have been really suffering with hay-fever. The glorious sunshine during peak grass season (which is what causes mine) season has sent grass-pollen counts through the roof. This is coupled with me walking our two dogs during peak pollen times, in the morning and evenings (when the weather is cooler for the dogs) but I have been thinking about whether other factors are at play in my unusually high level of suffering this year. These are my entirely unscientific, layman, musings.