Might have broken the site

Perhaps I am overly obsessive, but since I am newer blogger, I tend to check my daily stats with some regularity.  More from a sense of small accomplishment, rather than any expectation of a growing audience.  However, since I rebuilt my FreeNAS server, which meant a restore of the site, my visit count has crashed to 0 (from a huge number of 3).  I am assuming those other “visitors” are automated bots scouring the web, which no doubt have now become confused by the size-able re-alignment of the site links.  But if these happen to be the one or two true visitors, my apologies for any disruption.  Obviously, I will be attempting to avoid such issues in the future.


And… it appears to be fixed.  I apparently had a problem during my site restore, and the custom content (pictures, etc) were not fully restored.  I manually re-ran that process, and graphics are back.

I also had a problem with the default LAMP install of Ubuntu – apparently the Apache mod_rewrite module (which auto-creates links and such) is not enabled by default.  Once that was corrected, all the article links began working again.

Hopefully this will resolve the web crawler errors as well, once the site is able to be indexed.

Happy Memorial Day

A special thanks to all those that serve or have served in the military, as the United States celebrates Memorial Day.

Ark: Survival

The last few days have been rather hectic, as shows in my recent posts – my focus has been a bit all over.  Work has been rather crazy, several major outages and other critical work, resulting in long hours.  And we have had a resurgence in interest in Ark: Survival, starting from scratch on the Valhalla world, and using the Survival Plus mod.  This changes the game extensively, which has been a challenge learning.  Unfortunately, that added to the schedule, and this last week has been several very late night, grinding just a few more pieces of wood or stone.

Catapults ready for summer camp

As a project for the Cub Scouts, for this year’s summer camp, I am constructing a pair of sling-shot style catapults for the kids.  This weekend was the final time I have to finish them, and I managed to complete all the pieces and do at least a test assembly.  The real test of course will be putting them together and seeing if they actually work, but that won’t come until the start of summer camp on June 19.  In the meantime, here are a couple of pictures.

The first is of one of the “legs”, assembled to test how rigid it ends up being.  The second is of the stack of pieces, ready for transport to the summer camp location (where they will be put together for use during the week).

Hopefully will have a few additional pictures from the week itself.

I broke the chain :(

Unfortunately, timing and events conspired, and I broke my recent string of consistent posting each weekday yesterday.  As such, my count gets to reset back to 0, and I start again.  Overall, not a bad run, I think I managed nearly 2 months of consistent little articles, which for me is a personal best.  And it was enough to form the start of a habit, such that it was nagging me yesterday when I realized I was going to miss my target time.

In related notes, I am still working on the last Pathfinder video, it is a bit later than expected due to a change in my travel schedule.  It is still coming though, if anyone was waiting anxiously.

The weekend project

Between rebuilding my FreeNAS server, editing gaming videos, traveling for work, and various other activities, my schedule is rather full these days.  The latest challenge is an ask from the Cub Scouts to build a functional set of “rubber band” style catapults for use during Day Camp this year.  Since that is rapidly approaching, and I have few weekends to complete the task, this weekend is the designated window for construction.

When we say rubber-bands, we are really talking about large springs or bungee cords – enough force to launch a kickball or similar object a decent distance, with enough interaction (and safety) to allow cub scouts to aim and fire.  A more mechanical tension catapult or trebuchet would certainly be interesting, but the safety starts to push what 10 year old boys or younger can reasonably expect.  So my general approach is more slingshot than lever.

Completely unnecessarily and with over complication and detail, I spent a bit of time with SketchUp and drew out some basic designs.  The cords would obviously attach near to top of the front legs, and the boys would then pull the payload back until they release.  This should keep most things out of the way so there is nothing to block and snap back, and give them the flexibility to aim as they desire.

No doubt the design will change a bit as I actually construct the systems – I need to make 2 so that they can have competitive target practice each day of the camp.

Do you have any suggestions or feedback, or is this a project you have attempted in the past?


FreeNAS configuration – the starting point

This listing will end up rather technical, but it is mainly for my own use, to catalog my current FreeNAS configuration and hardware specs.  If you find it useful to model after, so much the better.  As for general performance, I have been very happy with FreeNAS.  As a comparison, we as a family routinely run 2 or 3 720p video streams from Plex, or 2 1080p video streams, with rarely any issues and virtually no lag or buffering.  This while the server is also handling all the other activities like Crashplan backups, downloads, etc.

Should be noted, this is not a guarantee of performance or capabilities – your mileage may vary – but this is a solid budget hardware layout for a FreeNAS system.

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FreeNAS 10 is dead, long live FreeNAS 11

So, after quite a bit of development and experimentation, I found out that apparently the Corral release of FreeNAS (FreeNAS 10.x) has been abandoned as unsupportable by the company that releases it.  Fundamentally, I don’t fault them for their decision – if there are too many problems it doesn’t make sense to keep it going.  Unfortunately, since I took the leap from 9.10 to 10.x, I no longer have an upgrade or migration path to the planned version 11.x, set to release next week, and my current version will eventually no doubt develop critical errors (or at least security concerns).

As a result, I am faced with the prospect of a re-install of FreeNAS to the latest 9.10 build, or the new 11.0 build, but either way, a rebuild.  Although this “should” not impact my actual data, it does force a re-creation of all of the plug-ins and their configuration.  10.x used a Docker-based environment, 9.x and 11.x use the older Jails-based environment, and the two are not directly compatible.

What this means is that in the near future, I will have to take the site offline, and recreate it, and (fingers crossed) re-import all my posts and configuration.  This of course will need to be done with several Dockers I use for various tasks, but the most visible will of course by my WordPress site.

The silver lining is that this gives me a very good excuse to fully document the build and configuration process starting from step 0….

Scheduling change

The good news is that I will have a longer period of time before I am backlogged by our ongoing Pathfinder gaming schedule, and the associated video production.  The bad news is that it is because we will not be playing the campaign during this week’s scheduled sessions.  With school wrapping up, we have players taking family vacations and others preparing for Summer Camp commitments, and we simply wont have enough players at a fairly critical stage of the storyline.  Fortunately, that time allows me to spend more time completing the tasks I have, including properly editing the last session without having to rush to keep from falling behind.

We are going to try a 1-day short game with the players that are available, but I don’t know if I will bother to record it or not, or just take it as a simple session.  Really depends on the game we end up choosing, and if we end up playing at all.

Video challenges

Entering the world of YouTube video creation has been an interesting journey so far, with several challenges.  How to handle the stresses of posting regular videos, and handling the feedback associated.Continue reading