The Lego Scavenger Hunt

Lego!Saturday morning we took the car in to have the brakes serviced... on our way back home last week, Sabriena stepped on the brakes and there was a horrible grinding noise. Fuck, I know exactly what that is. I've been super-slack on one of the most important maintenance checks of the car, and now it's time to pay for it... the rotor's ground to shit! In to Supercheap Auto immediately after, and I picked up a rotor and a set of rear pads. After work one evening, I threw everything on the offending corner, and then it promptly squealed like shit when coming to a stop every time thereafter.

Rather than try work out why, I decided to just pay someone that knows what they're doing to do it right (again, pretty important the brakes work correctly!). I have money, I'm not stuck in a "figure it out or else" situation, so why mess around with it? I'll do the fun, risk-free tasks instead. So long story short, saturday morning the appointment rolled around (just in time too, with the shit weather coming in, not using the car was getting more and more difficult) - which left Sabriena and I with a couple of hours to kill (Duncan was spending the night at Lincoln's house). As it turned out, the other side rear rotor was below the minimum thickness anyway, so being cheap didn't actually cost more in the long run - both rotors needed replacing regardless!

We wandered around various shops, spending money on stupid shit like clothes and a travel case for my Nintendo Switch. Then into K-mart because we still had about a half hour to go, and we happened to stroll through the Lego aisles. There we found a set at a pretty steep markdown, I'm not sure why... the box was dinged. But it was #60167 - Coast Guard Head Quarters at about half the retail price. It was the only one marked down, and after pondering for a bit we decided to pick it up.

After contemplating putting it back for Christmas, we decided to just say screw it and let Duncan have it after he came home. Then in the morning, I came up with a fun idea: let's make him do a scavenger hunt for it! I came up with several cryptic clues, eventually leading to the box but starting in the bag of groceries we were about to head out to buy. Sabriena rewrote the clues on little pieces of paper, which we rolled up and tied with string and hid in the appropriate locations, each leading to the next. We stuck the original clue in the grocery bags, went shopping, then picked Duncan up.

Duncan cheerfully helped us put away the groceries, during which he stumbled upon the clue and the hunt began. It took a little while, the second last clue being particular cryptic but he eventually figured it out. I put up the rest of the groceries, and then sat down to help him build it.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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Horsham, VIC, Australia

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New Router: Alpine!

So after last weekend's experiment using FreeBSD as a router OS again, and learning that almost all my pf(4) knowledge has gone out the window lately, I decided to have a crack at installing Alpine Linux. I did an even worse job documenting my progress here, but I'll try get something together as documentation for this is entirely nonexistent.

For reasons unknown to me, Alpine uses vfat filesystems for removable media like SD cards. Once I got around (or rather, merely understood) that, it was fairly easy to use setup-bootable to write the image to an SD card using my desktop, edit syslinux.cfg to enable the serial console (with appropriate baud rates), then chuck it into my APU with the serial cable connected and PuTTY running.

From there, it was fairly trivial to get simple NAT running, with DHCP and BIND for DNS - I spent Sunday putting the finishing touches on Dynamic DNS for the two zones for my home network. There's lots to like - it's a tiny bit cooler again under normal operation than FreeBSD (which was substantially cooler than pfSense), in entirely unscientific testing. I definitely dig the fact that I can yank the power at any point and the system is unlikely to shit itself - I could probably have reproduced that by implementing NanoBSD, and I may still do that if I find myself bored one weekend. This particular behaviour is apparently going away in future versions of pfSense though (but they will not support my aging hardware anyway).

Alpine's lbu (local backup) makes things super easy once I've made changes to the configuration though, and it's not that difficult a step to remember after changing something. Better still, my power-off outage time is super fast: ~35 seconds from boot to having network connectivity - and most of that is spent in the APU's BIOS (I'll have to investigate if it's possible to cut that time down). I'm pretty sure after a power outage my VDSL will not negotiate a connection that fast, so we'll be back online with the absolute minimal delay (of course if I really cared, I'd invest in UPSes).

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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Horsham, VIC, Australia

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New Router: FreeBSD!

I've been using pfSense on our router for some time, and it's started to irritate me. If it breaks, I basically have no recourse to fix it but to reinstall and upload a backup configuration - for some reason, despite the NanoBSD setup (which is going away in future versions anyway), on a power failure it's liable to wind up leaving the SD card in an unbootable state.

From the time running it, and the time before that using a SoHo router appliance, my firewall skills have atrophied terribly. For the most part, expressing the way you want things in pfSense is fairly trivial, but every so often there's something where I think "if this were a real machine I could just...".

Finally, future versions of pfSense won't run on my hardware due to it lacking AES-NI... I might as well jump ship to something else now, but what? OPNsense initially looked promising, but one of my complaints about pfSense has been that at times it seems to be PHP with root access, held together with duct tape and bandaids, and OPNsense certainly seems a step in the wrong direction on that front.

I briefly contemplated a flavor of Linux... Ubuntu, Alpine, or Voyage, the last of which I know absolutely nothing about. I eventually settled on trying plain ol' FreeBSD, so that I'd at least have something remotely familiar while I dabbled. I did a pretty piss-poor effort to document the process, which is still not quite complete.

I am still very seriously considering dropping Alpine on there, as much as it pains me as a massive BSD fanboy of more than 20 years. That's probably a task for a different weekend though.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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Horsham, VIC, Australia

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My Nintendo 64 is back!

Mario 64!After being let down that I didn't think it was coming today, we had a knock at the door just before dinner time... My N64 arrived back from RGB Rob, with a fresh new RGB board! We abandoned Donkey Kong and hooked it up to the OSSC. Stoked with the results!

I've heard folks say that the UltraHDMI mod results in a superior picture due to undoing both sets of filtering that the N64 does (it's my understanding Tim's board only undoes the second), but I honestly don't mind. I think the N64RGB comes out as aesthetically pleasing as the PS1, which I think is pretty high praise considering this was never my favourite console in terms of graphical output.

So Duncan and I played Mario 64 again after dinner and put another couple of stars on our save, and I even gave Wave Race a go and I don't absolutely hate it... it was a blurry mess before and very hard on the eyes, so I am beyond thrilled.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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Horsham, VIC, Australia

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