Archive for the ‘Home Life’ Category

Le Sigh…

Last night a couple of my infrastructure VMs suffered some catastrophic problems due to an unexpected power issue. This brings a couple of notable postables to mind:

Make sure you backup even your development work. The 2 VMs that got corrupted for me were development VMs that I was testing software and configs on, therefor I reasoned that I really didn’t need to back them up. Well, I was wrong.

The second is how to mount an LVM partition from a rescued disk. I had to dig around, but this is the first time this has ever happened to me:

lvm vgscan -v
lvm vgchange -a y
lvm lvs –all
mount /dev/vgname/lvname /mnt/somewhere

Now off to see what all I can rescue from my configs and data πŸ™

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Plex Media Server – Issues



Dang.. Some days it’s hard to find what I need on the net. Now I could have SWORN that some time ago I had not only mentioned on my blog that I was a complete Plex Media Server fan, but that I have been running it forever and have only had 1 issue with it. That issue is I actually moved it from one machine to another (the server and data) and once there I found that I could no longer fix incorrect data matches.. None of the movie databases were listed anymore, etc.. Well it took me forever to figure out not only what the problem actually was, but how and where to fix it. That all being said, it happened to me today again, which is why I went looking here.

The issue is that for some reason whether through updates or whatever, the plugins get messed around and no longer work. The fix for this is relatively simple really:

Stop the service:
/etc/init.d/plexmediaserver stop

Move the Plugins directory (move and not delete – just in case):
mv /usr/lib/plexmediaserver/Resources/Plug-ins /usr/lib/plexmediaserver/Resources/Plug-ins-old

Start the service back up:
/etc/init.d/plexmediaserver start

Give it a minute or three and you should be back in business.


Sunday, October 20th, 2013


OK, so it’s October and once again there is an onslaught of spooky movies and ghost hunting shows all over the digital media outlets. Although I have LONG been a fan of such things, I have a few questions to pose to the ghost hunters out there. Leave it to me to go interjecting logic into all this, but some questions just scream for an answer.

Why is it that all ghosts are presumed to be telling the truth? So assuming that you actually get to talk to a ghost that has been harassing you or your family by haunting and scaring the crap out of you, WHY do you believe a word they say? I mean, I hardly believe anyone living I meet in person, let alone some dead guy that has been hiding for 100 years in my closet.

Speaking of closets, why do all ghosts seem to live in the closet, attic or basement? Presumably, while alive, most people live in their living room, at work, etc.. Why such a change? I mean if you are invisible and stuff, what’s to stop you from hanging on the couch and watching Oprah? What is the allure of the closet? And what the heck are they *doing* in there all day? I assume they don’t need to sleep?

What’s the deal with the dark? You will see countless paranormal investigators tell you that “spirits require a lot of energy to manifest”, but in the same breath, they turn off all the power. Do they *not* want to find them? I also notice that normal people see these ghosts during the day, or while watching tv or doing laundry (again in the basement). So why not follow the scientific method and try and duplicate that and do wash with the lights on instead of bump into walls in the dark while trying to “see” something?

If you have a haunted house and you are terrified enough to seek help. WHY go to a paranormal group? These groups come into your house, declare it haunted and then leave, leaving you with the problem (at least the ones on tv do). I mean, don’t you already know your house is haunted in the first place?

Paranormal groups that use psychics? Seriously? Why not use two psychics, have them write down their impressions independently and then compare notes. Otherwise you have 1 that says whatever they want with no verification, or two at the same time that just agree with each other. And how come they all head straight for the basement, closet or attic πŸ™‚

Cleansing your haunted house with burning weeds. This I do not understand other than the fact that it probably smells up your house. I mean if that makes ghosts go away then great, but what happens when you plug the air fresheners back in? Go and get some *actual* clergy and not some emo chick ringing a bell and throwing rock salt on your floor.

Are there “good” ghosts? Time and time again, I see these paranormal groups saying “there is nothing here to worry about”, “they won’t harm you” or even “the ghost of your -insert relative here- is here to protect you from -insert evil ghost-“. EXCUSE ME?! If there is some invisible person making noises rummaging around in my basement or playing with my dishes and “manifesting” themselves in front of me when I am waking to the bathroom to pee, THAT is not harmless. It is trying to frighten you to death. People actually do get scared to death you know, not to mention the stress that kind of thing could put a person or family through.

Exactly what are they saying? This is probably one of my biggest beefs. Aside from believing whatever unverified malarkey your resident psy”chick” tells you, your options are some kind of one sided conversation like light this light for “yes” kinda thing (what if they want to light it for no?), or EVPs, which to me mostly sound like overdubbed intestinal gas recorded on an 8-track player.

I am sure there is more but I will stop here and leave room for what I hope is the barrage of interesting comments!

Haunt ya later!

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Knock Knock…

Is anyone in there?
Well, admittedly I thought it was time to get in here and blow the virtual dust off. It has been a while and once again, RL has gotten in the way of VL. I have been carrying a bit more burden at work with some issues and projects of late and I have been volunteering my digital skillz lately to help some friends out with their website in the miniscule amount of free time I do have. That left precious little time for anything else. Many of those projects have come to some sort of culmination or at least leveling off a bit, so here I am πŸ™‚

I know a lot of you like my reviews and I do have some lined up with (I hope) more on the way:
On the Techie end of things I have several new books released by Pearson Ed that are currently staring me down. I am also planning on going to the Ohio Linux Fest for some much needed geeking out and R&R in a little over a week. That should provide some content here as well.
You E-Cig junkies won’t have to wait long either. There are a bunch of things I have purchased in the past couple months that I have some strong opinions on and I am happy to share. If I am lucky, I will also be able to do a nice review on a really high end mod shortly as well. Stay tuned for that stuff.

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

On Rotation?

vape rotation

vape rotation

All the time I see people showing their current rotation. Well, here’s mine.

In the front you see a black Vapor4Life V4L Handle. This is a great variable voltage mod that I wish I could use more but I broke the bottom of the battery door. I am going to re-home the innards into something a bit more stable to be able to use it again.

Next to that you see 2 Screwdriver mods. The gold is an MKI (or mark one) made by Screwdriver with a small cartotank on it and the black is an MKII (or mark two) made by I think Totally Wicked and it has a nice 306 dripping atty on it.

Above that is a red Bolt with a black extender ring.

Above that on the left is a Sigelei 20 mechanical mod (or Roller clone). It’s a nice looking telescopic mechanical that works well once you replace the spring in it.

On the right is a Sigelei 19. Nice bottom fire telescopic. I believe this is the “B” version as it only has a battery magnet on the bottom cap. On the top cap there is a spring instead.

And now the bigger pile at the top from left to right. First is a Sigelei 8. Beautiful mechanical. Take a hard look at it. There are multiple tubes in this mod but I bet you can’t see the seams! Unfortunately this beauty suffers from some of the stupidest electronic design and I am going to have to whip out the tool box and make visits to the hardware store in order to get it to work without dramatic voltage loss. Notice no atty on it? Yeah. That’s why.

Next to that is a LavaFire Extension, or at least that is what it was called when I bought it. Later I found it listed as a Sigelei 12. This thing is heavy and the bottom button is a bit fiddly, but once you are done fiddling it seems to work ok.

That black handle looking beastie is an Ovale VV v6. It uses 2 18350 batteries and is a powerful little sucker. The VV is sort if inaccurate as it really is multiple voltages. 3.7ish, 5 and 6 or so. The construction of the case is particularly cheap, which is ok because the mod is pretty cheap itself, but, like i said, it works pretty well actually. Sitting on top is a generic (albeit blue) cartotank at 3 ohms holding some RY4 from Hangsen. I actually like Dekang better πŸ˜‰

The DrawTube or DrawTube Smart telescoping bottom side button mod is shown with a cheapo cartotank holding some Vapor4Life Cinnablaze (one of my staple juices). I wish I could tell you who the actual manufacturer is for this mod because it actually works really well, but if you look on the net you find 10 people all who say it’s theirs. Suffice is to say, like most of the rest, it comes from China.

Right next door is a gunmetal Smok Telescope. Nice heavy mod. Fires well and looks good (I think) with that carbonfiber J-Wrap (yes I know it isn’t the right one but it’s close enough for me). On top is a mini Vivi Nova tank (a good one from Kingpin Ecigs) with some NicVape Chocolate Covered Cherry e-juice from VapingXtreme. I can’t vape too much of that at a time as it is soooo sweet, but it’s delicious!

iTaste MVP with a Kanger ProTank full of LibertyVapor RonY4 Chilled. This is one of my go-to mods and vapes for an all-day haul. The MVP/Protank combo works particularly well together IMHO and they look like they were made for one another.

That little blue square dealie is an L-Rider Robust VV. Nice little mod with a CE4 or similar style clearo on it. Has a great spring loaded centerpost design. Inside that clearo is some LibertyVapor Deer Blood (it’s a delicious Jagermeister flavor).

A black Bolt with a chrome extension ring is next in line. Bolts are just fantastic rugged mods. I think everyone should have a couple, and they are inexpensive enough for everyone to do so. Topping that off is an VapeOnly BCC tank. This is a bottom coil tank much like the Kanger T3, Protank or Evod. It seems to work quite well after you take out an extra wick string. It is full of LibertyVapor Starz and Stripes juice – that’s blueberry, strawberry and cream and it’s delicious!

A special one is next. It comes in a box that says “Hybrid” and nothing more. In reality that is not the case. This is some king of Caravela clone packaged together with a ZAU clone. They sure do look good together though. and that Caravela clone just *feels* classy (and works well too). This clone set is expensive but clearly worth it.

Next to that expensive set, we have the anti-expensive set. It’s a CCTS or China GG (Not the KTS – well it is but it’s not). This is another one of those who dunnit mods and my first mechanical. This thing works great and sitting on top is a Cobra RBA clone full of VapingXtreme Vanilla Sky Tobacco Road. It’s a mouthful to say, and one of my must-have juices. You can buy a KTS mod (same as what I have but different logo) for less than $20 if you look around.

Next one over is a Smok Natural. This looks a lot like the Sigelei 8 but not as elegant. For instance you can see all the tube seams and the locking ring is not as finger friendly. However, there is a big difference, this one works pretty well. A cartotank full of LibertyVapor RonY4 sits at the top and it’s what I am reaching for right now.

The next 3 are Vapor4Life Vapor Zeuses. A Large black automatic filled with Vanilla Sky Tobacco Road, a smaller black auto filled with RY Twist (also from V4L) and a Faux Tobacco looking one that is a switched manual/automatic. These things vape like freight trains smoke.

My most expensive mod there is a nice black Provari Mini with 2 extension rings on it so I can use 18650 batteries. Sitting on top of that is an iClear 30 with some LibertyVapor Missing Linc (spiced pear w/ a little menthol – redonkulous!)

Sigelei Zmax in silver with a cheapie cartotank full of LivertyVapor South Vaniladelphia. This is another vape I always seem to keep close by. IMHO, this is probably almost a Provari replacement for those people on a budget. This is a good VV/VW mod!

That big beefy silver thing is one of my all time favorites. It is a Silver Bullet. This one with an extension ring and a kick set to 8 watts. It is often said that all serious vapers will own one or more of these and after having used this one I know why. It works SOO well, it’s beautiful in its simplicity and it just feels right. Sitting on top if mine is a V-Core 2 tank full of LibertyVapor (do you notice a pattern?) The Phoenix.

iTaste SVD is that lightsaber looking thing next to the SB. A Kanger ProTank full of LibertyVapor Orange Cream sits atop. Note that this mod looks even more impressive if I put that V-Core 2 on it. Then all the StarWars junkies start crawling out of the woodwork!

And Last on the hotlist is my gunmetal Vamo (v2) with an iClear 30 holding some Caramel e-juice by the Vapor Cafe in Ephrata. Quite yummy! The Vamo is hands down the best VV/VW mod for the money (around $40ish) in my opinion.

There are a couple other notables that didn’t make the pic because I temporarily misplaced them in the melee. I have a eGo passthrough with a mini nova full of Nukamelon I always have handy as a standby, and a Smok E-Pipe sporting a mini DID clone full of Deer Blood. Fun to use but too damn expensive right now.

I have some other odds and end eGo stule batteries and clearomizers that seem to make the rounds to new vapers and such, but that’s about it!

Hey! It’s better than smoking! πŸ˜‰

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Hey! Wait a Mint-it…

Broken Cinnamon

Broken Cinnamon

I spent an entire night in frustration with this so if anyone has any ideas, I am all ears.

I upgraded my Linux install from Mint 13 (yes I know – old) to a fresh v15. After a couple hours the lappy locks up hard, and I mean hard. Video still running but nothing else working at all. No kb/mouse/ssh/nothing. I jumped to a VT and let it go until it hung again and see this (pictured). DAMN, I thought. I have a bad CPU – just my friggin luck. I decided to do a bit of googling around and I saw a post somewhere that someone had some hard lockups running Cinnamon on v13 (I think it was), so I figured I would install XFCE and let it run under that just for a test. Guess what? It ran all night under XFCE with no issues. Although I am relieved that I probably don’t need to buy another new laptop (I am so damn poor), I am somewhat frustrated by the effect of Cinnamon on my machine. Anyone, anyone?


Well, it finally happened again. It appears that it is actually the CPU. Dang.

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Adventures in Virtualization

A long long time ago, I virtualized all my home infrastructure onto an ESXi 4.0 server. It has run perfectly fine, minus one hard drive failure, for quite a few years. Lately, though, I had been wanting to upgrade it because it’s not terribly fast and I have run out of resources to be able to add new VMs. It was running on a dual cpu machine (single core) with 160Gb HDD and 4Gb of ram, and I was just using it all up. No more ram for new stuff.

I decided that I would upgrade the matching spare server I had and try out KVM because I had used it a bit for RedHat training and it worked so well. Of course, Fessenden’s law, as opposed to Murphy’s law, stated simply that “Something will go wrong.” And it did. Over and over again.

First off, let me say that on an enterprise class server system, if it says it needs registered ECC ram, it is NOT kidding. I must have swapped ram around in that server 50 times before I noticed 2 sticks of non-registered ram in there. Once I got over that, I had 8Gb of ram and a new 250Gb HDD and I was ready to rock! Or so I thought.

I decided to use CentOS 6 as my virtualization host OS and that went right on but I soon discovered that my CPU doesn’t support virtualization. Ugh. So I decided that I would switch gears and go with virtualbox instead so that I could continue using my current hardware. I have often used virtualbox on other machines and it is a fantastic platform. I set about getting things running.

When I installed the base OS, I did a minimal install. No GUI, etc.. There is no sense in putting stuff on there you don’t need on a server right? Well, the very first thing I found was that I could not use the virtualbox gui controls because I did not have any X installed. To rectify that:

yum -y install xorg-x11-xauth dejavu-lgc-sans-fonts

You need the auth to be able to forward your X session, and need the fonts to be able to actually see words on your app.

Next I copied all my vmdk files to the new server. This takes a LONG time for old servers to move around 100Gb. Once there, however, I discovered that virtualbox cannot read native vmdk files. Ugh again.

yum -y install qemu-kvm

And then I could convert the vmdks to raw images, and then again to native vdi files for virtualbox.

qemu-img convert machine-flat.vmdk machine.bin
vboxmanage convertfromraw --format VDI machine.bin machine.vdi

I put all my machines together and noticed that virtualbox was complaining about uuid on some of the disk images. To fix that:

vboxmanage internalcommands sethduuid machine.vdi

The first machine I started up was a CentOS 6 machine and that fired right up, however, udev immediately reassigned my ethernet device to eth1. In order to get thatr back where it was supposed to be I had to go into /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules and delete the ethernet rules in there and reboot.

Along about this time my server powered off. No idea why. It powered itself back on again about 30 seconds later. I checked everything on the server and it looked fine. Curious, but I kept on going.

Next I tried to start up my remaining Centos 5 VMs. These were problematic. The very first thing I noticed here was that they were barking because I never uninstalled the vmware drivers. I fired them back up on the original server and ran the program. I turned them back off and spent hours re copying the over, and then reformatting the vmdk files into vdi.

Starting them back up, I found that, again, they would not run. This time I received the error that it could not locate any LVM partitions. This, it turns out, is because the initrc files did not have the appropriate drivers in them. Fixing this was fun. First off, you need to add a cdrom drive to the vm and put a CentOS rescue cd/dvd there. Boot it up in rescue mode, chroot to the /mnt/sysimage and then fix the /etc/modprobe.conf file:

alias scsi_hostadapter mptbase
#alias scsi_hostadapter1 mptspi
#alias scsi_hostadapter2 ata_piix
alias scsi_hostadapter1 mptscsih
alias scsi_hostadapter2 mptscsih

The entries with the #s are the ones I had to change. Then I needed to rebuild all of the initrd images.

cd /boot
for file in $(ls init* | cut -d'-' -f2,3 | cut -d'.' -f1-6); do mkinitrd -v -f /boot/initrd-$file.img $file; done

After that, the machines came right up! Of course, the host powered right off. Several times over the next day. Grrr.

I figured that there was a hardware issue with the host somewhere and resolved to buy myself a new server. I picked an open box refurb from microcenter that had 8Gb ram, a 750Gb HDD and a nice quad core cpu that supported virtualization. Wohoo! I can now switch to KVM!

I set up the new machine and installed KVM and started copying vmdk files over again and, bingo, kernel panic. I rebooted and the machine would not even get past bios. This went on for a couple days until I took the machine back to microcenter. I picked up a different machine, better quad core with 12Gb of ram and 1Tb HDD and set about getting it running.

This time, success! I set up CentOS 6 and KVM, added the bridged networking and copied over the vmdk files. KVM will read vmdk files but I decided to convert to a more native format, qcow2, the preferred format for qemu, anyhow. that is fairly simple to do.

qemu-img convert -O qcow2 machine-flat.vmdk machine.qcow2

I put all the machines back together again and started them back up. I still had to do the initrd fixes on the CentOS 5 VMs to get them going, but after that all has been running fantastically!

Somewhere along the line here I figured out that my issue with my secondary server powering off was a bad port on my UPS.

KVM is really easy to run and manage for a Linux geek as opposed to VMware 4. The native gui tools do the job just fine, although they are not quite as intuitive to me as VMWare’s VIC. I am quite happy, though, with the switch. I now have more than twice the resources of my initial virtualization environment. Now I am good to go for several more test VMs and the new machine is nice and quiet and doesn’t have to hide under my couch πŸ™‚

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Happy Father’s Day!

My Dad

My Dad

I was, I think, 7 years old when this strange furry creature married my mother. I remember being really excited at the time, because my mom was so happy, and I remember being kind of scared about what would happen to me.

I had never had a dad up to that point, so you can imagine that the transition was quite difficult for me, and, in turn, I made it hard on him. What he did, however, was miraculous and a true testament to his character.

My dad took me as his own. I NEVER remember hearing the words “step son” from his mouth. He always introduced me as his own. I was included, whether I wanted to be or not πŸ™‚ It was certainly a learning experience for me. He taught by example.

He taught me to be responsible.
He taught me to have integrity.
He taught me to be honest.
He taught me to have fortitude.
He taught me how to love my wife and daughter.
He taught me to respect other people and myself.
He taught me how to be a man.

I respect my dad more than any other man alive. I could never tell him “thank you” enough, but I hope this gets me a little closer. If you ever meet a certain Roy Fessenden, you can thank him for me too. I love you dad! Happy Father’s Day!

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

Helping Kids

I grew up in a town of 2000 people in Upstate NY called Laurens. There are currently approximately 350 students enrolled K-12 in my old school and they are desperately trying to win a chance to sing with Foreigner (yes the rock band)! PLEASE help me help them by visiting this link and casting your vote for the kids at Laurens Central School!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

An open letter to NY state police.

This week I am in NY visiting helping out my mother after her knee surgery. This morning around 7am I ran to the post office for her and stopped at the gas station to pick up a pack of smokes. On the way home, about 2 houses down from my parents place I see this guy aggressively yanking on the leash of his dog he’s walking down the sidewalk. I keep an eye on him as I drive past and then I see him throw his dog down to the ground and start kicking it (think superbowl field goals here) and then he doubles up his fist and just starts pummeling the dog. I slam my breaks on and jump out of the car and yell at the guy to stop and he tells me to mind my own “effing” business. I tell him he needs to simmer down and he says he can’t get the dog to walk (no kidding, if he beats the thing like that). I tell him he needs to understand that dogs have the mentality of small children and ask him if he would beat a child like that. Again, I get the mind my own business stuff. I tell him I will call the cops and he says “do what you want”. So, I pull up 2 houses and park in my parents driveway and watch this guy go to his house. Turns out he’s my parents’ new neighbor on the street, almost directly across from them.

So, I call the cops. They have me call the dog warden. I call the dog warden. She has me call the State Police. They said they would send someone by but “couldn’t really do anything about it.” I asked them if this guy has this much of an anger issue, what happens when he gets mad at his wife/girlfriend/kids/etc.? They said they could send someone out to talk to him. That was over 4 hours ago now. Sheesh!

I am certain if this had happened outside Philly, where I live now, there would have been some kind of reaction from the authorities. Here in nowhere NY I guess it is completely legal and acceptable to be cruel to animals. It really makes me sick. Honestly, in hind sight, I should have just run the prick over and taken the dog.

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012