Smoke Alarms... again!

In what's becoming a yearly ritual, I bought a battery, couldn't work out how to get the cover off the front smoke alarm, then remember that I wrote about this and check my site again. Four years of this, four years of the same frustration and then kicking myself for forgetting that I documented it.

Anyway, it went entirely uneventfully once I stopped trying to get the cover off the front alarm.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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Happy New Year!

Been a bit slack on the blogging lately, but it's okay. Long story short: Christmas went well, New Years was uneventful, and I just noticed I'm late for changing our smoke alarm batteries. Whoops!

We had a power outage the other day, the first in quite some time. The server shut down, but came back on it's own after some time (the boot time is very slow on this machine, it takes some time to go through the BIOS, then LXD takes it's time starting each of the containers). However I noticed some days too late that the disk I replaced not long ago had fallen off again. You're fucking kidding me. But wait, there's no orange blinking light, what's going on?

Turns out, it fell off for the silliest of reasons. My ZFS pool is, apparently, configured to use the drive letters for the pool members rather than IDs. I'll have to work out how to fix that, but I had a backup disk and a test pool on the machine when I put the replacement drive in, so it was christened as /dev/sdi, and when it came back up after the power outage, it was /dev/sdd so ZFS was unhappy. Fixing it seems fairly trivial, but I'll get around to that later... what's more pressing is I once again went several days without noticing a complete lack of redundancy, even after narrowly skirting disaster before!

So two steps required: step #1, configure my existing Icinga deployment to monitor the output of zpool status. Step #2, configure outbound email so that I get notifications when something fails.

Step #1 was easy enough - at first I went looking for something someone's already written, but I wasn't happy with anything that showed up immediately, but I didn't think it would take long to whip up something on my own and that's what I did. It's not perfect, it probably misses a few error states, and I might find that it overstates the gravity of errors a bit, but for now it seems to do the job.

After verifying it works (by dumping the output of zpool status to a file, changing it to cat that file, then editing it to show various failure states) I was satisfied it works, so it's time to look into notifications. Sending email from my home network is quite a pain in the arse, so that's why I've put it off for so long. I really don't give a shit about it, there's almost no good reason I'd want email so I haven't bothered.

Telegram!On a whim I decided to check another idea: a Telegram bot to send me a text message when there's an alert. Sure enough, someone else has already done the heavy lifting for me so it was dead easy to hook up and get working. Telegram isn't the greatest messenger in the world, but I fought hard enough to get my family members off of What'sApp when Facebook bought it, moving them to yet another app is pushing shit up hill when you have the almost flawless Gif integration and stickers that Telegram has. It suffices for our purposes anyway, it's nowhere near the worst thing on my "washed up hacker bad at OpSec" list.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the results, the messages come through reasonably quickly, have adequate detail (a far cry from when I used to pipe Nagios alerts through SMS at 140 characters!), and I can mute the bot if it gives me the shits when it shouldn't.

One more thing off the todo list!

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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Smash Weekend!

Score!It's finally arrived, the weekend Smash Ultimate comes out! We picked it up Friday after work and set about playing it, and it really does what it says on the box. You start with a very small roster, but all the maps are available, and the new fighters turn up rather quickly if you get stuck into it. I looked up how to unlock Zero Suit Samus (beat Classic mode with Captain Falcon) and we were away. Duncan, after a shaky start, is finally getting better... he does very well as Inkling!

Saturday morning we were up to do our shop, and I decided to take a look in the Opp Shop while we were out, and found a handful of things worth having including an officially licensed Space Invaders LCD game thing which is kinda cool. For two bucks I couldn't pass it up... Duncan found it, but it won't hold his attention long so it'll go on our shelf to make another thing to annoy Sabriena.

I also managed to find some speakers I don't hate, which is cool... I think I saw these for sale on Facebook and spaced on it, and the seller must have gotten tired of waiting and donated them. For ten bucks, I decided to take a gamble. They're Edifier Prisma (the non-BT though, it seems). Considering I was psyching myself up to spend the eye-watering amount Sabriena spend on AudioEngine A2s, I can put up with the fact they're not quite as good. There's a handy volume puck that goes on my desk that actually feels really great to use, and they sound perfectly acceptable (a significant improvement over the K-mart logitech 2.1 unit I've been using, which sounds utterly awful). The Bluetooth would have been nice, because I could hook that up to my Mac and it'd switch things over the way I want without having to unplug anything, but for ten bucks I really can't fault them at all.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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More blackout curtains

Quite some time ago now we noticed that Spotlight were having a sale on blackout and thermal curtains, and decided to buy some for the living room to see if it helped the afternoon temperatures (the living room is at the west end of the house, and in summer time at around 4pm the temperature in there just skyrockets to the point the air conditioner simply can't keep up). We picked up some thermal curtains, enough for both windows, and put them up in winter time.

I thought perhaps it was a case of confirmation bias, but I definitely felt like having them shut overnight in the winter helped keep the temperature up... but the start of this summer sealed the deal. Even on a 42C day, the air conditioner was able to keep up and I'm fairly sure they help a significant amount.

We didn't think about it until Thursday, when another thought struck me. Duncan's been complaining that in the summer it's too bright in his room at bedtime (8pm), what if we got some for his room? We could get the thermal curtains as well and it might just help the temps as well. They happened to be reasonably priced again (after we just about left due to everything being $100+ a pair!) so we picked up two for his room and two for our bedroom, and I put them all up last night. What a difference in temperature!

If we end up buying a house, I'm going to have to get serious about decent thermal insulation because this is just silly - we spend so much on electricity (and who knows how much it adds to our carbon footprint) just trying to keep this stupid house comfortable when all we had to do is manage the sunlight better.

Horsham, VIC, Australia fwaggle

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