Spring Training 2017: Day 3

This morning we had breakfast at our hotel and then drove over to the Cleveland Indians Players Complex in Goodyear to watch their warm-ups and shag some fly balls during batting practice (we each got one). It was Corey Kluber bobblehead day at the ballpark so we were in line to shortly after it opened at 11:30am to get our vouchers. Strangely, getting a voucher didn’t guarantee getting a bobblehead so we got in another line to pick up our giveaway.

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Spring Training 2017: Day 2

Our morning started out early with a hike up the Echo Canyon Trail to the summit of Camelback Mountain, our annual tradition. It was great weather for the hike and we were in the shade most of the time. It only took us just over an hour to reach the top. After spending about 20 minutes taking our obligatory mountain-top photos, we made our way back down which took another hour. This was perfect timing as my sister was flying in to join us and her flight landed at 10:15am. We drove directly from the trailhead to the airport, picked her up, and went back to the hotel to watch the end of the Dayton/Davidson basketball game. The Flyers were the regular season A10 champs this year, but unfortunately lost to Davidson in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament. We’ll have to wait until Sunday to see if they’ll be dancing in the NCAA Tournament next week.

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Spring Training 2017: Day 1

It’s been two years since I’ve been out to the Cactus League to watch my Cleveland Indians at Spring Training … but it’s time! The tech arsenal is pretty simple this year: my Surface Pro 4, iPhone 7 Plus, Canon PowerShot SX710, and FitBit Charge 2 (I also brought my trusty Garmin nüvi GPS but ended up not using it because the rental car didn’t have a CD player so I couldn’t use my magnetic slot mount and hadn’t brought the beanbag dashboard mount … oops! So I ended up using Waze on my iPhone).

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FitBit Charge 2

FitBit Charge 2My two-year old FitBit One started having a problem last month where I would find it just off. Holding down the button would cause it to “boot” (showing “FITBIT 6.60”) on the screen but while it was off it wasn’t tracking any activity. It wasn’t a battery issue as far as I could tell as the app was reporting an accurate status. I tried working with FitBit support but since the unit was out of warranty, all they could offer was a 25% discount code towards the purchase of a new FitBit device.

After waffling between just getting another One, or upgrading all the way up to a fitness watch like the Blaze, I decided to try the Charge 2.

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Web Power Switch 7

Web Power 7

Over Christmas vacation I had a network outage that left me without remote access to my home network for a week. While I was at my in-laws, unable to connect to my server or cameras, I started researching options for out-of-band management of my home network. I started with cellular devices like this, but they all seemed to be GSM (2G) and most carriers are shutting down those older networks. I decided instead to go with a “smart” power strip, the Web Power Switch 7, which can power cycle devices plugged into it based on network connectivity criteria.

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Trackr Bravo

Trackr Bravo

There’s no shortage of Bluetooth trackers out on the market. These are small devices you can attach to your car keys, wallet, pets, etc. and then pair to an app on your smartphone so you can presumably find them when they’re lost or misplaced. I recently picked up three TrackR Bravos (one for my keys, one for my wife’s keys, and one for my daughter’s wallet) to see how they would work.

The Bravo is one of the smallest of the trackers out there, barely larger than then user-replaceable CR1620 battery that powers it. It’s metal, and comes with a ring for your keyring, and a small adhesive sticker if you’re going to mount it on something instead. A small blue LED also doubles as a button for pairing or finding your phone (more on that later). Set up is fairly straightforward: install the Trackr app on your phone, create an account, and step through the wizard for pairing the Trackr Bravo with your phone over Bluetooth.

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iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 7 Plus

Right after Thanksgiving my iPhone 6 Plus started exhibiting the symptoms of touchscreen disease: the screen would just stop responding to taps (unless I turned it off and back on again), would scroll erratically (or not at all), and had a slight yellow tinge around the edges. I toyed with the idea of getting a “new” device from someplace like Gazelle or eBay, but decided to just re-up with AT&T. After figuring out their byzantine terms and condition for the AT&T Next program, I placed my order for a new matte black 128gb iPhone 7 Plus and had it a few days later.

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A week without remote access … (the blog is back!)

In case you hadn’t noticed (and if not, why not? 😉 ), windracer.net was down for the past week. This was because my cable modem decided to lock up just hours after I left town for Christmas in north Florida with family. I called Spectrum (formerly Brighthouse Networks) from my in-laws’ house hoping they could reset the modem remotely, but the tech informed me the modem was fine, it must be my router. Grrr.

So this past week away from home was a real eye-opener to me on how reliant I am on internet access for the house. I couldn’t check on my cameras, my home automation schedules didn’t run (so no randomized indoor lights, no Christmas lights or landscape lighting, etc.), I wasn’t getting e-mails from my servers, couldn’t remote in to anything, my domains were down … the list goes on! So over the Christmas break I did some research on out-of-band access options that would allow me to get into the home network in case something like this happens again. I originally was looking at cellular devices like this, but they all seem to be GSM (2G) and most carriers are shutting down those older networks. So I decided to go with a “smart” power strip, the Web Power Switch 7, which can power cycle devices plugged into it based on network connectivity criteria. For example, if it can’t ping the internet, it can power cycle my cable modem (which would have fixed the problem I had this past week). I will, of course, write up a review once I receive it and have a chance to configure and set it up.

When I finally got home today, I checked my router and it was fine! But it was reporting a problem on eth0 (which is the cable modem). I rebooted the cable modem, and everything came back online! So it was the modem after all, despite what Spectrum had told me. Hopefully the Web Power 7 helps me to avoid these long-term internet outages in the future!

ActionTec ECB6200 MoCA adapters

ActionTec ECB6200

I was doing a bit of a network re-org and realized that the old MoCA adapter that connects my home office to the network was only a 100mbps ethernet connection. Since everything else on my network is now gigabit (except for the occasional exception like my PiDP-8), I decided to upgrade to ActionTec’s ECB6200 MoCA adapters.

These units support the MoCA 2.0 specification which allows for theoretical throughput of 800mpbs via two 400mpbs bonded channels (while still being backward compatible with MoCA 1.1 devices) and gigabit ethernet. I figured swapping out the two ECB2200s (one in my office, the other in the computer closet before the cable modem) with the ECB6200s would be plug-and-play easy.

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Yelling at the Yakkety Yak (but it won’t talk back)

Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) was released almost two months ago, but I only just realized I hadn’t upgraded yet (this happened to me during the last .10 release as well). This upgrade was a little smoother than last time, but not without its hiccups.

The upgrade process uses screen to keep everything running separately in a separate shell in case you’re disconnected (I run a headless server, remember). The download of all the upgrade packages went just fine, but at the first configuration file difference (where you’re prompted to keep the maintainer’s version or your customized one), after I viewed the details of the change screen terminated and I wasn’t able to reconnect to the session! I tried sudo screen -list followed by sudo screen -d -r root/30719.ubuntu-release-upgrade-screen-window but that just reconnected me to the terminated screen session and dpkg wouldn’t resume because another process was already running. I had to manually kill all the upgrade processes and the use sudo dpkg --configure -a to resume the reconfiguration step. The rest of the upgrade went fine, luckily.

Post-upgrade, I re-applied my changes to the affected configuration files. Additionally, I had to update the Blowfish secret for phpMyAdmin to fix an error there. I also had an issue with wpa_supplicant (my server has wired and wireless NICs) that I had to fix to be able to re-connect to the WiFi network (hence the reference to “it won’t talk back” in my post title 😉 ).

Next year we’ll get 17.04 Zesty Zapus. Will Ubuntu then wrap around back to “A” names?