PiVPN and my iPhone it still does not work

Adventures with PiVPN and having it not work.

This blog post is an attempt to summarize my battles with openvpn and the Raspberry Pi.

Initially it seemed to be a good idea to get a Pi, and some free software in order to set up a VPN for when I or my friends were not home and required secure internet browsing.

Documentation indicated that in theory all I had to do was run
curl -L https://install.pivpn.io/|bash
and answer a few simple questions to get my openvpn set up.
I tried this setup on a few pi boxes but found that a couple of them just hung at 100% after claiming to install packages.
Reinstalling one of the pi boxes did fix this.
I also attempted to install pivpn onto a vultr node for testing.

Whilst I got the basic configuration of pivpn working and the necessary port forwarded on routers along with dynamic dns where necessary; traffic would not flow over the vpn if packets were larger than a certain size.
If I connected the iPhone through the vpn on either the Pi or the Vultr node, small packets like dns would travel but larger packets would fail and apps such as whatsapp, mail, saphari or youtube would not work at all meaning my phone had no internet access once the vpn was connected.

I tried changing MSS with the mssfix 1300 option on the server, and whilst it did appear to limit the window size on TCP the vpn would still not function.

Currently the Openvpn client does not support the fragment option so not sure what else to try.
Any hints or tips appreciated.

Ghosting

Ghosting:
I had never heard this term until a couple of years ago. For those
who are unaware of what it means ghosting is when someone simply stops communicating with you and does not reply to your messages.
This can be for many reasons, but the difference between ghosting and cutting off contact is that no reasons are given and no communications take place.
The problem with ghosting is that the victim of the ghosting is left wondering what happened and why the communications broke down.

I accept that sometimes people just don’t want to talk to another person and decide that breaking contact is the best and cleanest way to do this.
I personally miss the days when people would just tell you to your face that they didn’t want to talk to you.
Now these days your messages get ignored. At least if I get told someone does not want to talk to me I know to stop trying to contact them.

Seriously: If you don’t want to talk to me let me know and I’ll leave you alone I promise. Ghosting just seems so tedious and hurtful.
I guess Adel had a point with her song “Hello”

I have deliberately left out personal details and stories in this post as putting that stuff online probably won’t achieve anything.

Intel 8th Generation NUC8I7BEH review

Here is a review of the Intel Nuc model Nuc8I7BEH.


Transcript:
Nuc Review

Kerry Hoath: Hello everybody, and welcome to the review of the Intel Nuc 8i7BEH. I don’t ever want to say that again in this interview, because it’s quite a mouthful. The important thing to know about the model number is that NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing. It is a small form factor PC designed by Intel. Generally, the models are laid out by the word NUC followed by the generation of NUC. We’re up to the 8th generation NUC at the moment. We then find out what sort of processor we’ve got, i7, i5, i3, Celeron. Then, we go into the letter specifications. Now, I’m not sure what all of the letters mean, but I know the H means it’s the high one, that can take an extra hard drive.

Jessica Silva: It’s worth keeping in mind, when you’re looking at them, you may see the model numbers like Kerry mentioned, but you may also see numbers like Hades Canyon, Bean Canyon, Baby Canyon, ETC, ETC. Those would also say the model numbers, but that’s basically what I would call the dummy term code for them. Instead of remembering BEH, blah blah blah blah blah, you might remember Intel NUC Bean Canyon. I think ours are Bean Canyons.

KH: It’s worth mentioning – this has turned into a NUC tutorial rather than a NUC review, but I don’t suppose that matters. You can buy these in a number of configurations. You can buy them prebuilt from simplynuc.com. no, they did not pay me to say this. You can buy them as a bear bones computer. That is to say you need to buy disk and RAM.

JS: And OS.

KH: And operating system. Yes. So, if you want to go to simplynuc.com, you can build them up and click on all the buttons, and it will turn up with the specs you want, and the things installed.

JS: The other place you can go to get them, especially if you’re in another country, is just go to intel.com. Go to the product page for the NUCs. What they actually do on the Intel site is give you authorized distributers for the NUCs, and you can find them in your area of the world.

KH: If you are building a NUC, there are two types of NUC. There are various features across the generations, so when in doubt look up the Intel product specs page to find out exactly what your NUC has. Ours are the High ones, which are about 4.5’ square and about 2.5’ high. They have extra height so that they can take an SSD SATA hard disk. It has an M.2 drive and it has a SATA hard drive.

JS: Drive of your choice.

KH: Yes.

JS: Ours have a hard drive HDD SATA and the M.2 SSD.

KH: You could, if you had lots of money, put an SSD in instead of the spinning drive. We didn’t have as much money as we would have liked, and we elected to put a spinning disk in as secondary storage.
Okay, so, the unit is 4.5’ square, it’s 2.5’ high. I’m looking at the unit as we speak. Along the front panel, you have two USB 3 Gen 2 ports, so that’s a maximum of 10gb/s. You then have a 3.5mm four pole, tip ring ring sleeve, headphone jack that could be retasked and made into a mic jack. You have an infrared receive sensor, for a remote control and a power button. Down the left edge, you have a micro SD slot that you can slide a micro SD card in. Only a Micro SD by the way, it won’t fit a full-sized card. On the back you have, at the top, you have the exhaust for the blower that sucks the air through the case to keep the whole thing cool. You then have two USB ports. To the left of the two USB ports, you’ve actually got a USB C port, and to the right of the USB ports you have gigabit ethernet, HDMI and your 19V power input. It is also worth noticing, I forgot to mention, that on the very left-hand back corner there is a Kensington lock slot. So, if you don’t want people stealing your Intel NUC you can lock that away.

JS: I do find, just as a minor, minor complaint, — nothing has happened luckily, but because the exhaust vent is so close to the ports on the back, I always wonder if something’s going to get really hot, you know, a cable, or an ethernet cable, or something, but luckily that hasn’t happened. It’s just really close and it’s kind of like hmm. But it hasn’t luckily happened, so maybe it’s just my paranoia.

KH: The back temperature of the air coming out of it is probably around about 90-100 Fahrenheit when the machine is busy. There is a fan that does run inside these units. Because you can buy the boards separately and you can build them into kits, it is possible to build fanless versions, which is what Simply NUC have done, if fanless is important to you. The NUCs run off a 90-watt, or sometimes a 120-watt power adapter. It’s a bit like a laptop power adapter. It terminates in a barrel connector. It’s 19V DC. The specs page says 12-19V DC, but I haven’t tried 12, so I don’t know what power regulators are inside there or how that would work. It has a cloverleaf lead on the power side, which is the 3 circles, known as the Mickey Mouse ears power connector.

JS: Yep.

KH: C5 I think, …

JS: Or c6.

KH: Or C6, yeah.

JS: I think it’s c5 or c6, either one of those.

KH: That means if you’re going back to Australia, for example, like I will be, you can replace the power cable with the power cable for your country.

JS: I was wondering about that, actually. So even though the voltage is different in Australia, because it’s a cloverleaf plug you can still replace – it won’t overshoot the actual power?

KH: It’s not the fact that it’s a cloverleaf plug, it’s the fact that the power supply is a switch mode power supply. A switch mode power supply is designed to work on multiple input voltages, so it will work on anything from 110 to 220v, and it will convert the voltage down to 19V. That’s what a switch mode power supply does.
What can we tell you about these NUCs? First of all, they’re extremely fast.

JS: Yeah. That’s an understatement.

KH: We’re talking about onto the desktop in under 4 …

JS: I think the most I’ve had mine was 35 seconds.

KH: Yeah, and that was a slow day. Usually, it’s a lot quicker. Ours are an i7a259, so four cores, 8 threads.

JS: Super fast.

KH: Yeah. Very fast. The M.2 drive, obviously, we got a 256GB M.2 drive, that provides enough storage for the operating system. Then we’ve got our …

JS: 1TB HDD SATA …

KH: on top of that. Yeah. The NUCs, if you need to take them apart, have 4 screws underneath in the corners. You literally just undo the screws, and then you can lift the whole thing into bits. We haven’t done that because we …

JS: I didn’t know that.

KH: We have no need to. But that does work. You can also buy NUC carry bags on amazon which, if you are carrying this thing around and taking it places, could be very handy.

JS: And let me tell you, he told you the dimensions, so I won’t talk about the dimensions again, but let me stress, they are really small. You could literally take them in a carrying back with you.

KH: Yeah. They would fit in your average handbag. They would take up a bit of space in your average handbag, but I’ve seen handbags that these things would totally fit into, if you’re that sort of girl. Most girls have makeup and things in their bag, but I can conceivably see that a portable computer would go in there. They’re light. They only weigh about 2 pounds, so maybe a kilogram. They’re not a heavy thing to take. The NUC and the power adapter would probably be fairly hefty but doable. It’s smaller than a laptop, certainly.

JS: I mean most of your laptops today are pretty light, let’s be fair here. You have a couple of heavy-duty laptops, but generally, they’re about 3-5 pounds. Your NUC is a little bit lighter than that.

KH: So, a couple of the things I want to highlight now, features/idiosyncrasies of the NUC. The NUC does not expect to see a monitor. This is a big deal if you don’t have a monitor, don’t want a monitor, or are simply running it headless. You can set the screen resolution and things to whatever you want, it won’t actually demand that a monitor exists. With many graphics’ cards, it’s actually required that you have a monitor or an HDMI dummy plug to emulate a monitor. Now, we’re only talking about our NUCs. I’m not sure about the ones with the embedded Radeon graphics. They may actually require a

JS: monitor.

KH: Monitor.

JS: That would actually make sense, given that those particular NUCs that he is talking about are for gaming. They have special graphics capabilities and all that. So, that would make sense if they do require it.

KH: Yes. The sound card is a Realtek card, I’m not sure of the exact model, I would have to look at the specs sheet, which has a couple of things to be aware of. It does power save. So after about 5-10 seconds, you will hear a click in the headphones as the op amps shut down. This is normal behavior, and the card will click slightly when it wakes up, when you want to use the computer. This, in my opinion, does not make the system unusable. However, you may disagree with me. If this is the case, you can add a USB soundcard or use HDMI audio to take sound out of the NUC.
The Realtek does do jack sensing, which means that in its default configuration, if you unplug your headphones when Windows is running, the soundcard will disappear, and NVDA will get very upset. The easiest way to fix this is to shut the NUC down and plug in a set of headphones and reboot it up again. This will tend to bring the sound back. If you use Narrator and Windows 10, you can read enough of the Realtek control panel to turn off jack sensing. Once you disable jack sensing, you can unplug and replug your headphones at will.
Now, as far as IO, you’ve got two USB 3 ports on the front. One of them is a charging port, which means it will continue to charge phones and stuff when the power is off to the NUC. You have two USB 3 ports on the back.
It is also worth mentioning that there is a USB C which is capable of supporting Thunderbolt 3. If you want to spend the money on Thunderbolt docks or Thunderbolt peripherals, or USB C peripherals, they can all be connected in at a maximum speed of 40GB?

JS: 40 I think, yeah. Keep in mind, so Kerry corrected me on this, because I said it was a Thunderbolt, which it is in terms of like it does support Thunderbolt, but it’s actually a USB C plug. The point is, is that when you look at the specs, which is what I did, it actually advertised that it is a Thunderbolt port.

KH: USB C is the type of connector, Thunderbolt is the protocol that is capable of running over that connector. Not all USB C Connectors will carry Thunderbolt, and not all of them will carry Thunderbolt 3. So very important to read your specs. Thunderbolt docks are rather expensive, and we haven’t bought one yet. They’re over $200, $300.

JS: I saw one for 1, 1 something. !130 I think. Maybe I’ll think about getting it.

KH: Yeah, we’re still sort of deciding.

JS: Between that and the coffee grinder.

KH: Yeah. It depends on how much you want to spend as to what features you get on the dock.

JS: The cool thing about Thunderbolt docks though, guys, is if you have interfaces that use firewire, you can then use your interface.

KH: Assuming your Thunderbolt dock has firewire on it. Make sure it does, because they don’t all have it. Thunderbolt docks, though, will provide you with audio, so those of you who want line-ins, and line-outs, and all of those sort of audio things may want to consider a Thunderbolt dock.
Another thing that is worth mentioning is that inside the casing there is actually a header for 2 USB 2.0 ports. If your audio interface requires USB2.0, you may have to do some hardware hackery with some cables and connectors to bring the two USB 2.0 ports out from the header.
Now, I think that’s most of the information we need to cover. If anybody has any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. It is very important to look at the specs and the specifics of your NUC before you purchase it, and make sure you are absolutely familiar with the IO options that it has. And no, there are not extra ports that you are going to find or surprises. Some NUCs do have SPDIF out, some NUCs do have rear audio jacks. Not the 8th Gen i7BEH, however.

JS: The other one might. I need to go look at the specs if you really want to know. But I think the hades Canyon is the new new, gamy one. Pew, pew. That one might have a – but they’re also really expensive.

KH: They are very expensive. To give you some idea, you’re looking at essentially, for the ones we got, $609 base price, plus all of the peripherals we added into it. So, certainly not a budget friendly …

JS: We spent, I’m not going to say the exact price, but we did spend over $1000 per computer.

KH: Yes. And, I think relatively speaking, money well spent. The machines are exceedingly fast, they are so far, after a week of usage, reliable, and we are very happy with these small form factor PCs. There are other options on the market, such as the Lenovo Tiny.

JS: That’s a beautiful PC, from what I’ve read. I’ve never seen one. But just about every PC reviewer, at least that I read, including Wire Cutter which is Kerry’s favorite …

KH: I love Wire Cutter.

JS: I love Engadget. But anyway, both of them as well as a few others seem to agree that the Tiny is the number one. But, both of them, most of them also agree that ours our Intel NUCs, are in second place, and not far behind.

KH: It’s worth mentioning that you can achieve some fairly low latency on the Realtek soundcard in

JS: Wasapi

KH: Wasapi mode. You can certainly use this as the center of a DJ rig. We know people who are using these as part of a music or performance rig. And you can connect whatever outboard gear you need.

JS: I actually know someone, I mean I’m sure he’s got interfaces and other things powering it, but I know someone who’s using it literally as a DAW. So, you could use these as an audio work station certainly.

KH: Yeah. But, if you have any questions, any queries, anything that this run-through hasn’t raised, please feel free to leave your questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them either by a reply comment, or by a follow-up posting.

JS: Thanks for listening, guys.

KH: Thanks for listening. Take it easy.

Tell me I do not need to choose but I know I must

In this blog I write about many things and one of them is a list of the struggles I have as a poly-amorous person.

Today i’d like to talk about the desire to have all of someone’s attention.
In your average relationship this is not an issue at all, if you want to spend time with your significant other you simply go find them and choose what you two are going to do together.
You might have to choose if you are going out to the bar or staying at home (to pick on a stereotype) but generally it is smooth sailing.

Often I am put in a situation where one girl desires all of my attention to the exclusion of others.
From a practical standpoint this makes sense and it adds to the amount of together time you get to spend with one of your partners.
The problem arises when one girl wants you all to herself and you have to decide who you are spending time with.

Depending on the day a couple of things can happen.
In the best situation A and B decide to hang out together. In this outcome I get to spend time with both and we all have fun.

Other times one girl will find something else to do leaving me with the other and there is no conflict.
Generally however I either have to choose one or the other or ignore both of them.
It is worth noting however, “I will not make you choose” translates to “Pick one, and I’ll do my best not to complain about it.” in most cases.

I am convinced there is no easy solution to this problem because regardless of what I choose someone is likely to loose out.
If I pick 1: the other is understandably sad.
If I pick neither, then I end up loosing out on company.

Curious to see how other people handle this, feel free to leave a comment.
thanks for reading.

Time to get a New job.

As of the 28th of June 2018I have been made redundant from my job working at Visability WA and I no longer have a job working at the Cisco Academy for the Vision Impaired.

I may retain a few hours a week doing server management however.

As a result I am searching for gainful employment.
I’ll polish up my linked-in profile,
and post my resume up here for those interested.

I am hoping I can find work doing systems administration, teaching, network design, audio editing, hypnosis or one of the other skills I have not mentioned here.
I am looking for work in either Perth Australia or the US and I understand immigration may prove difficult.

If anyone has any ideas or think you might want me working for someone you know, please drop a note to
khoath at gmail and I will get back to you.

I have been working the same job for 10.5 years so I am hoping an older dog can still learn some new tricks.

Thanks for reading.

Spend: The trials of sharing part 2 .

Not all of my blog is about polyamory, hence the use of the categories and tags to separate this stuff out for those who find it too much information or a little confronting.
Legally those under 18 or the legal age in your place of residence shouldn’t be reading this as it contains a bit of adult stuff; so if you are make sure you’re not going to get into trouble for it.

So last time I posted on these topics I talked about sharing and the psychological difficulties I struggle with attempting to achieve happiness.
today I’d like to talk about the actual mechanics and the physical messy bits, the stuff people tend to shy away from talking about in polite company. that’s why the rest of this requires you to click the read more link so that if you do: it is on you.

I recall asking a female friend at the time when I was 15 why people were so sensitive about sex, and why cheating was such a big deal.
wasn’t it only sex and a physical act? Did it matter who you did it with and why? Why couldn’t you just do it with whoever with minimum consequences given the ease of access of cheap contraception.
She thought about it for a bit and explained that sex was messy, personal and intimate and you got to see people at their most vulnerable and that people found that precious.
Sex was to be shared between 2 people who were close physically and hopefully emotionally. she was about the same age as me and the answer made sense at the time and still does today. I’ll refer back to this later in the post.
Love and sex are things that are definitely a core part of the human condition and many many things have been written about both concepts over the ages so I won’t try invent the wheel on this blog in that respect.

Fast-forward 20 years, and I become relatively involved with the kink sceen and polyamory.
I learnt about soft limits and hard limits.
for those who have been living under a rock, greatly oversimplified: soft limits are things you would prefer not to do without negotiation and serious consideration: and hard limits are things that you refuse to do.
An example of this is perhaps your partner is okay with spanking as a soft limit and will do it in certain situations but anal sex is an absolute no no and should never happen.
Obviously humans are humans and they change the rules all the time on things which is why we have safe words and the ability to negotiate things as we go along, even if those negotiations might be challenging to both parties.

In the last post I discussed my problems with sharing and lack of compersion. Now we get down to the physical nity gritty details of things that can be a problem.
For ease of typing I’ll use the term “Spend” in place of ejaculation or something more vulgar to both shorten the post and save keystrokes.

When anyone is sleeping with multiple people there are a whole pile of issues that need to be considered.
Contraception: If impregnation is likely to happen, is it desirable and who is the father.
Nicely encapsulated in the saying, “Momma’s baby: Papa’s maybe.”

Sexually transmitted infections: doing your best to avoid them and keep people accountable.
Research seems to indicate that poly people generally try to be more responsible about this sort of stuff and as we are considering the safety of not only ourselves but all our other “fluid bonded” partners we all try to get tested.
Gotta love that in every specialized subject area we involve ourselves in we have a slew of new terminology to come to terms with.
Fluid bonded of course means you are exchanging fluids with another, in hopefully some of the more fun ways you can imagine. People generally don’t include kissing here although theoretically infection is transmittable via this medium so maybe it counts. I’m sure their are poly people that don’t much enjoy their partner sloppily kissing another, all this is a scale from don’t care to deal breaker.

Now the struggle that I am talking about in this blog post is how to deal with the fact that another man has spent in your partner.
Rationally I realize with good contraception and safe practices that the risk of long term consequences are low.
Irrationally what if he gets her pregnant? That should be mine… and all those aggressive testosterone driven rants.

It’s honestly quite difficult to be possessive and say “that is my girl and she belongs to me” when someone else is having their jollies inside her.
Before all the equality people come after me for expressing such sentiments, let us assume for this situation that the girl does wish to consider herself my primary partner and accepts that the proceeding statements are made about her, and that she may find these statements reassuring and comforting: subject to change hopefully with notice.

I’m genuinely curious how much of my aversion to having another man spend in my partner is biological and how much of it is psychological.
Girls often find the concept of more than 1 guy finishing inside them extremely hot, and I would assume that they are biologically wired this way in order to having the highest chance of conceiving.

Guys are likewise often more aroused when multiple girls are around. Obviously having another girl around to make your man hard again is not an option for everyone, but it is handy when it works.

Now group stuff can be fun and many girls enjoy this, especially because they are getting attention from multiple guys. (this is the configuration we are discussing here even though others are possible).
Hopefully all the guys are going to get to finish with her, in her and possibly on her.
I tend to have a bit of a problem with this for a number of reasons I’ll try to note down here, in an attempt to catalogue them.
Ejaculate is messy stuff, it’s wet, sticky and it smells because of all the stuff it has in it.
Nature’s procedure for insemination is messy although we are generally wired to find the experience fun for if we didn’t we might not procreate.
Each guy smells different, and the stuff has a different consistancy. It is a little off-putting for me to smell or in some cases feel or taste the spend of another.
Subconsciously I object to the experience even if rationally I can justify some of it to myself.
I believe this is one of the reasons I like to be first, and I realize this has the potential to inconvenience other guys.

Ultimately I have no choice over what my partner chooses to do with her body; and any suggestions I make are only suggestions.
am I wrong to request that she take a bath/shower after being with another to clean up a little?
this obviously isn’t going to work in group scenes generally.
Is this something I need to learn to be comfortable with or should I have it as some sort of negotiable limit and pay the cost for my inability to negotiate?

Some guys don’t mind at all; taking turns, eating cream pie or getting all messy with the spend of another.
I salute you guys for your open mindedness and flexibility something I have yet to master.
I myself need to be very hot or feel very safe before I will even consider it and the smell is a little off-putting.
As I am not the only person who gets to spend in my partner I guess this is another thing for me to do my best to work on over time.

I suppose this is just another complexity of being poly that the mono people feel they have no issue with because short of an affair they never have to deal with this.

Happy to read any feedback in the comments, please try to remain nice and constructive.
Thanks for reading.

Compersion and my struggles with the poly lifestyle.

This blog post is an attempt to write down some of the feelings related to situations I face in life, and my methods of dealing with them.
If something here resonates with you ; well and good but this is not theroputic advice and no bennifit is intended. If you need therapy don’t use this blog post as a substitute.
If I write poly below, I am just using it as shorthand for polyamorous and not the lattern word meaning many.

Over the years I have learnt that the general idea of the average life is to become a better person, learn from your mistakes and treat people as well as you think they deserve to be treated: understanding that mistakes may happen and you might mess up judgements.
You’re supposed to do what is right, and morally bennificial to society and in short be the best human you can be in your dealing with others.

I have also learnt that humans are messy, we all make mistakes and often we don’t achieve our goals. I’ve also discoverd that many issues in life do not have nice or easy solutions.

Are the failings of a person because the person fails and is responsible for those failures or are they to be chalked up to past history, psychological disorders like ADHD autism etc or other mitigating circumstances?

A couple of weeks ago I discussed the fact that I am not particularly good at polyamory with my primary partner.
I’ll elaborate below and hope for not too much vitriol in the comments of this post.

If you are monogamous and think that polyamory is wrong for whatever reason and you choose not to have an open mind then I would suggest you stop reading here.
If you are looking for a howto manual on the best ways to be poly, this article is unlikely to assist.

I’ve been to plenty of polyamory groups and I feel they are an excellent place to share techniques and tips on how to be poly.
those tips and techniques usually include a set of tools to deal with jealousy that might show up in your relationships.
Many people say that compersion is the solution for them in how to deal with their jealousy.
In case you have not come across compersion as a word, it is deriving joy from another’s joy. So for example you should be happy if one of your partners is sleeping with another person because they are happy. If they are happy then you can be happy.
If this genuinly works for you: I’m impressed and would love to know how you managed it.

Empathy is always something I have struggled with and I may elaborate on that below.

I remember at age 5 watching someone receiving birthday presents. I remember asking what the point was. People told me that the fact that the person was receiving presents made them happy, and that seeing someone happy genuinly made them smile.
this to a point I can understand. Emotion can be contagious and to see others happy can make you happy.
If you are the person making someone happy then this also can have a payback in you beeing happier.
I also learnt that whilst it is more blessed to give than it is to receive, one should give without any expectation of receiving anything in return for the maximum return on giving.

Giving people presents that are useful and desirable is certainly one of the ways one can assist people in being happy.

Happiness is also not universally contagious as I found out. I recall someone winning a prize that contained money.
I recall sitting through the ceremony non-plussed waiting for the prices to be awarded. People asked me “aren’t you happy for them?” to which I replied “No, not really.”
It was here that I learnt that part of being a good human involved experiencing happiness when others are happy.
The theory here is that the more happier people are in general the happier society is as a whole.

Polyamory as you can immagine involves a lot of sharing.
If your partner is allowed to have multiple relationships then it is expected that you share them with others.
Sharing is one of those skills we learn when we are young or we are supposed to learn when we are young.
Keeping something all to yourself is greedy and greed is one of the 7 deadly sins or so it is said.

I believe sharing is important in society for if people did not share then there would certainly be a resource shortage in many areas.
Sharing is rarely fair and equitible in my experience which one can easily see when looking at the world’s population where some are very rich and others are very poor.
Tax isn’t fair, but that is not what this post is about, so I won’t elaborate here.

As a child, I learnt how to share, and that sharing my toys and belongings with others was expected and necessary.
Doing without; and not having a particular toy all the time was supposed to be part and parcel of the experience of the world.

I also sadly learnt that sharing your things often resulted in them getting broken or stolen. Lending someone something did not necessarily mean you would get it back in a usable condition if it was returned at all.
The 2 offered solutions to this involved either dealing with the loss and chalking it up to experience or deciding whether to lend things out in the first place.
I lost many material possessions in my early years to theft and shared goods that were never returned.

Sharing means that you have less, but I was told that keeping everything to yourself was selfish and was to be discouraged whenever possible, because the world would not exist as it does if you did not share.
Those who have everything are less likely to share, and those who have nothing are in the most need of them sharing.

Now it turns out sharing people makes life far more complex.
If one were to get jealous over some other having a particular toy or other this feeling was somewhat transient and one could eventually forget about the toy or go buy yourself one.
Obviously people are not toys, and have sensience and feelings.

Jealousy is something I have always struggled with in my quest to be the best polyamorous person I can be.
I don’t think their are easy solutions to this.
Partners that appreciate you and tell you that you are wanted, loved and desired help an amazing amount.
I remember one of my previous partners always wanting to run away with others, which she finally ended up doing.
I recall the days with butterflies in my stomach trying to keep my mind on anything else so I did not become stuck in thought loops of what if he is better than I am, what if she likes him better than me, what if she leaves me? Am I any good at anything?

Talking through your jealousy with others does help a bit, although that only goes so far.

People said keeping busy helps, and it is true: if you occupy your mind with other things then you do not leave as much room for cogitation.
Idle hands are the devil’s workshop or something like that.
For me though, the trick is to do enough so that I do not think about my partner and what else she might be doing: and keeping all the doubts at bay all the time does not seem achievable in this state.
Trusting her that she still loves me, and will return, gets me about 85-90% of the way to a solution.
I still worry, and frett to a degree, and I don’t stop missing her until she returns.
Perhaps time to press play on “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone” or similar.

I get that relationships are not all rainbows and butterflies and we must work towards compromise and make things as good as we can for each other.

I’ll admit it: I get jealous when my partner goes and spends time and has sex with others.
I try not to make it her fault, or give her a hard time because she does this but it is still something I struggle with whenever it happens.

I don’t feel compersion when she is having sex with others, even when I am present for the act.
I get jealous when she does other things with other people and I get insecure.
It’s not the crippling insecurity that I once felt with the partner that left me, but it is certainly a force to be reckned with.

I had considered going back to a monogamous lifestyle and in the words of Neil Diamond “having one girl who loves you…” but I honestly don’t believe that I am wired this way.
I am tempted by other women, and long for variety in my experiences, and have had many amazing experiences with many amazing people.
I can’t see myself 100% exclusive with one person, although I reckn I can manage 90-95%.
I have no right to dictate the actions of another, and I respect my partner’s choices to be with others even if I do not always agree with them at times.
Whilst she still loves me and returns to me, I guess I simply have to do the best I can to fight my own internal battles in an attempt to feel happier when she is away.

If you have managed to read down this far thanks for reading.

What is wrong in #a11y land

Good evening everyone, and welcome to the Audioboo for June 10, 2016. Having a few problems with the main computer, so I’ve decided to put this onto a digital recorder, because I think the digital recorder is going to be more stable, and may actually record what I have to say.

I want to talk this evening about a few problems that I see in the Adaptive Technology industry, and why adaptive technology may not be as cool or moving forward as much as we’d like. I think this is down to a couple of things.

First of all, we’re dealing with a small market. How many blind people are there? How many blind people can actually buy equipment? How many blind people can get the money out of Rehab/Workplace Mod/whatever your organization of funding is? Adaptive technology venders are selling things to a small population in small quantities. Generally speaking, if you want to get circuit boards made, the higher the quantity they are made in, the cheaper it is to get them done. If you do them by the thousand or ten thousand or by the hundred thousand, it’s significantly cheaper, hence the cheapness of the Raspberry Pie.

I think the other thing that comes into play here is profits. You’ve got to pay all your staff. Most people want to be paid a salary. They don’t want to earn based on units sold. “I’ll tell you what. If you sell a few more braille senses this month, I’ll up your Commission.” That can work for independent distributors, and people who are working for bigger places, but it doesn’t generally work company wide.

Innovation seems to be slow because nobody shares. This is well and truly evident in the way products bet developed. HIMS comes out with a product, and then HumanWare comes out with something that they think is going to be cooler, and then Freedom Scientific comes out with something cooler than that, Depending on what product you’re dealing with. Or the order could shift round, just depending on how quickly they put the product to market.

There’s pressure between development and marketing as there always is. Marketing wants product out the door at the technology conferences, because that’s where you hook Rehab people and figure out who’s going to buy your stuff. Development says “It’s not ready yet. We’re still putting the last coat of A11Y paint on this baby.” Products are pushed out the door in various states of stability. People expect computers to be unstable. People expect computers to be unreliable. If computers are unreliable, running things like Microsoft Windows and the wide variety of hardware, why not have your assistive technology be unstable? Why not have bugs in your assistive technology that causes it to stack when you have written that 10000-word essay? Well, that’s just how it is, and you should have had backups, and you should do this and you should do that. As far as reporting bugs and reporting problems, there seems no easy way to do that sadly. It seems to be a hodgepodge, depending on the company and depending on who you talk to.

The other problem is that innovation isn’t shared. If you come up with a really good idea or you come up with a niche product, and you decide to develop it and make this thing cool, — I can’t mention any names because I don’t want the lawyers coming round and knocking on my door, — but essentially you look at a product, and somebody says “This product’s pretty cool. I want to come out with a free version that works with NVDA.” And then little empire, little tiny company, jumps up and down and says “I’m going to send my lawyers over to have a talk with you.” The other company says “Yeah, but we didn’t nick any of your stuff. It’s all our stuff. It’s not your stuff.” “I think we’ll let the lawyers sort that out, shall we?” “I’d sort of prefer you didn’t.” “I suppose, but I think we really should.” They have a big back and forward fight, and nasty letters are posted up on various accessibility blogs, and then pulled Down, where things get really nasty. Because we wouldn’t want the public to know about the level in in-fighting, backstabbing and backbiting that goes on in the A11Y community. I’ll be your friend until I turn around and stab you in the back because I’ve got a product that does better than you. It’s a dog eat dog world out there in A11y. Yes, there are niche products. Yes, there are products that service a certain percentage of the market that do something specific, something useful, something specific to a Disability. But to have those as the only product starts to look like protectionism if you ask me. What if there is a free version of a product or an extremely cheap version of a product?

Interestingly enough, one of the quotes that Bruce Schneier has been known to say is something along the lines of “When information is stored in a digital retrieval system, making data unduplicatable is a similar task to making water not wet.” Let’s face it. We all know that there are cracked versions of Jaws bouncing around the internet. Let’s face it, if you need Jaws for a particular product, and you’re not legally licensed like me, you toddle off to the Pirate Bay, figure out which Jaws torrent actually has a working crack in and which ones actually stack your system so bad that you’re glad you have backups. The cracking and modification of screen reader software is well and truly known about.

Back in 2007, when I had a class full of Indians, when we were teaching the classes in Bangalore and Enable India, “Does Sir have the latest crack for Jaws for Windows?” “Does sir need the latest crack for Jaws for Windows?” “Jaws for Windows new build only came out yesterday.” “Oh, yes, but this is the latest crack for the latest build.” I honestly asked them why. “Why do you have the cracks for the latest copy of Jaws?” Their honest answer was “Because we cannot afford Jaws, and Jaws is the best thing that is out there.”

Obviously, I was legally licensed for Jaws. I paid for my software maintenance agreements, something I’ll talk about in a minute. I was up to date. I didn’t need the crack. But half the class did, and the class that did need the crack shared it around as you’d expect them to. Sendspace, Dropbox, Mysendspace. Whatever other file sharing service that blind people have managed to find useable and accessible and stuff like that.

I’m sure that all of the adaptive technology companies are aware that they lose a lot of their sales to piracy. People nick it. “I’m not buying Jaws. That’s 1200 orders of pizza right there.” Or “Think how many ounces of dope I could get if I didn’t have to buy that SMA. Yeah. Man, I’m hungry, I think I’ll just eat my Jaws CD,” (With a note that you shouldn’t be eating your Jaws CD, just in case somebody was silly enough to go do That).

The reality is these companies need their income, and they need the continue income from software maintenance agreements. I think it would be fair to say, and I hope you wouldn’t disagree with me on this, Christopher Toth of Accessible Apps learned the hard way that if you sting people one $10 fee or one $30 fee, or one $15 fee for say Hope, Read and Chicken nugget, then that’s all you get. You sell your first run of software, and you make $2000 or $5000 or $10000, and you spend it on whatever it is you spend it on, Pizza, Dope, CAVI course, whatever. It doesn’t matter. Whatever you spend it on. And then the money runs out. It was a cash cow. You don’t have any sustainable income. Oops. But try to charge blind people a subscription, and have them bleat about how unfair it is to be charging them anywhere between $2 and $5 a month. You can’t charge any less than $5 a month, because by the time the processing fees of your credit card gets to it and stuff, you really don’t get much out of it. Not only dew we have this need for continued income, which is why if you’re designing stuff for adaptive technology, you’ve got to figure out how to continue to get money out of the people or, heaven forbid, make it free, but you’ve got to figure out how the whole shebang is going to be sustainable.

Innovation is stifled enough because everybody knows everybody else, and nobody’s going to share anybody else’s stuff, because it’s all trade secrets. “Unless you’re one of the insiders, we can’t possibly talk to you about how that product works. I mean, seriously.” News flash, people. The smart people of the planet have torn these products apart. The smart people on the planet have made these products into their constituent parts. There are at least three Jaws script decompilers that I Know of. That’s right, any of those custom Jaws scripts you’ve sweated hundreds of hours into have been decompiled. I’ve never done it. I’ve never needed to. I’ve gone out and bought my scripts. Because I’ve had the money to. But do you really expect someone in India to shell out for JDictate or JSay or Cake Talking? Obviously some of these scripts are quite Cheap. Say, for example, Snowman’s Forge scripts and stuff. We’re talking $25 USD. It’s not a lot of money. Though don’t try to get blind people to pay for too Much, because Blind people, or people in general, will nick anything that they don’t think they can afford or that they don’t want to pay for.

How do I know that? The academy I work for, half of the students didn’t pay for the HTML. Half of them! A whole half of the course did not pay. What can we do about it? Nothing. Did we send out emails and remind them? Yep. But you know how it is. They just didn’t get around to paying. So our instructors get less money. It’s probably what happens to the Assistive technology companies when people nick their stuff. But if you think you’re living in a walled house where everything’s safe and everything’s wonderful and everything’s amazing, someone’s cracked your scripts. Somebody’s busted your serial number protection wide Open.

And while I’m on the subject, is it up to a third party script to decide whether somebody is running a legitimate copy of Jaws? It’s a nice feature script author, nice feature to check your script against a set of blocked serial Numbers and squalk if one of those serial numbers shows up. Don’t you think that’s the job of the vender? Don’t you think that’s the job of Window Eyes or Freedom Scientific or one of the other people that’s trying to track misuse of their software? After all, Freedom Scientific sunk so much money into Internet License Manager you’d hope they were getting their money out of it.

Perhaps they can track copies of their screen reader that had been cracked themselves. Anybody who thinks that adaptive technology doesn’t phone home, what do you think it does every time you check for an update? Obviously, if you update NVDA, which is a nice, free open piece of software that’s supposed to be quite nice and stuff, there’s something in their logs that said that you checked for an update, that you were going to pull an update down. That information is probably sorted for statistical Purposes. But given the fact that people are jumping up and down because web developers want to know what screen reader you’re using, and that’s an invasion of privacy, don’t you think that information would be kind of useful so that you could adapt the page to the screen reader and work around the stupid bugs that haven’t been fixed yet?

Finally, — I agree, this rant has gone all over the place, all over the shop, — missing features. You go out and you buy a $6000 or $7000 note taker a $6000 or a $7000 piece of equipment, and it really can only understand Microsoft Files in 2014 or 2015, 2016? It took the vendors that long to unravel doc files? You know, I’d feel sorry for them if the specs weren’t openly available. Yes, you heard it, the specs for .doc and the specs for .doc and the specs for .xls and .xlsx are available on Microsoft’s website. You’d don’t even have to pay for them as far as I know. Otherwise, how the hell do you think Open Office and Libra Office could manage to implement the reading and writing of the Microsoft formats? Sure, knock yourself out. Our note taker’s cool. Our note taker lets you surf the Web, most of the time. Except for when there’s things like JavaScript or complicated web page things that came out in about 1998 that the browser can’t handle. Because your base platform is a crusty version of Windows CE or an ancient version of Android. 4.3.

Android 4.3 on the Braille Note Touch. Look, I’m sure there are really good reasons why they did this. I don’t even know what they’d be, but there probably are really good Reasons why they are running Android 4.3 on this brand new product. A release that’s 4 years old. We’d hope that the hardware could support something better, we’d hope that there will be an upgrade in future to 5 or 5.1 or android N. But who knows? It’s blind technology, so we don’t know if it’s going to get any better or not. It all depends on our capital funding, and how much everyone makes, and whether we stay in business. Because there is no certainty in the world of AT. You can be the golden boys of business and raking in the cash today and be the favourite product of the Rehab agencies and be laughing all the way to the bank and the pub and the pizza shop and the wherever else you happen to go, and then somebody innovates and comes out with a better product that completely wipes yours off the map. That’s true in any business. The world just doesn’t have that level of certainty.

Finally, DRM. Digital rights management. That’s what DRM stands for. IT’s the stuff that’s supposed to stop all of the blind pirates from copying stuff. “Ar, shiver me timbers, hoist the mainsail, hand me that book of sea sayin’s, and can ya be puttin’ that latest book of Mosen’s on iOS inta me Dropbox? Ha. Ar!” Well, maybe they’re not exactly pirate pirates with a cutlass and one leg, m dollar that somebody puts out a book like Mosen or Anna Dresner, or one of those quite competent people that put out good training materials at that reasonable price, even the NVDA book is $23, that’s not a lot of money, it’s about the same as a pizza, and blind people hand it around. “Oh, have you got that new iOS book”? “No, I haven’t.” “Oh, I’ll stick it in your Dropbox. It’s really good.” “Oh, I suppose I should go off to the website and buy myself a copy” said by almost no one, ever. How do you lock up your stuff so that people won’t copy it? How do you make sure that the books don’t get shared and copied and duplicated? They did the hard yards for NVDA to come out with vocalizer. A legitimate way of running high quality voices on your NVDA. Well, of course, there’s a copy bouncing round the internet. My wife went and bought her own copy, because it continues to work. But, there’s a copy out there, well their was a copy out there, with an .ini file from a bloke called Josh Kennedy. Never met the fellow but obviously he doesn’t mind handing his .ini files and his codes around. Don’t know what they’re really supposed to do about this. Live with the level of piracy and hope that it doesn’t get too bad? Hope that they’re going to sell enough volume of their books to get rich without people nicking it?

Which brings me onto my final point. I thought I was on my final point, but here’s my final, final point. Codex. It’s a piece of software that removes all the DRM from Amazon books. Kindle books, and other digital books. There are legitimate reasons for removing DRM. One of them is so that the files can be converted into other formats and be read on all sorts of different devices so that you can read somewhat comfortably on your braille display. Another one is so that you can remove the DRM and then shovel it across into different reading applications on your iPhone or whatever. I seriously know of people who rent books from Amazon, remove the DRM, and then return the books and rent some more. Don’t you think that’s kind of wrong? Don’t you think that’s kind of a theft of services? I don’t know where people’s moral compass is pointing in 2016. I’m certainly not going to claim that my hands are lily white and that I haven’t engaged in the acquisition of certain things over the years, but we’ve all got to take a look at what supports the industry, what keeps the industry running, and what is going to give us the best accessibility experience. Isn’t the aim of this game to make as many products as accessible to as many people with as many different disabilities as we possibly can to improve their quality of life, or is it to get more money in the bank?

So, this boom’s asked a lot of questions. It hasn’t really come up with a lot of Answers, and it certainly hasn’t solved any of the underlying problems. But lack of innovation, in fighting in the community, gentleman’s clubs in the community, are a thing. I know this because I’ve been to the conferences. I’ve seen them all sit down and start talking after few scotches about what really goes on. Trust me, you don’t want to know. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you, because well, I don’t have the moneys to be waving off the lawyers right now. I suppose that’s the way it is. I know this stuff goes on because a number of years ago, we were requested by a high profile person in the accessibility community that I shall not name, “could CAVI please not run an iOS course? This would be very damaging to my business model, and I’d really prefer that you don’t run an iOS course.” We ran an iOS course. Why? Because people needed it. Because there was a demand for it. Because there was a need in the community to educate and empower. Just because we run an iOS course doesn’t stop anyone else from running an iOS course. Just because Mosen or Dresner or somebody else writes a book, doesn’t stop you from writing your own book and getting your own piece of the A11Y pie. But watch out for the Gentleman’s clubs. Watch out for the unwritten rules. Watch out for the traps that are going to trip you Up as you try to negotiate your way through this den of intrigue, mystique, and strange under-the-table dealings. Not all is what it seems in A11Y land. There’s far more to it than meets the eye, ear, hand, tongue, whatever you’re using to perceive your world.

If this boom has made you think at all, has made you consider things in a different light or at least opened your eyes to something, I’m glad. This is only my opinion. It’s only my experience. I could be completely wrong. I could be completely way off the base. But this is what I’ve seen in the last 25 Years of being involved in the A11Y universe. If you’d like to get in touch with me, @khoath on Twitter www.kerryhoath.com. You can check out my blog. I do hope you’ve enjoyed listening. I do hope you’ve found this somewhat interesting. I hope that we can have a better, more open freer sharing medium in the Future, although I think this may be a pipe dream. Thanks for listening.

Polyamory is not a Love RAID

Polyamory is not a love RAID

This article is meant to inform those who are not polyamorous about what I believe polyamory is about.

The technical definition of polyamory is “Many Loves” where poly means many and amour refers to love.
People who identify as polyamorus generally have multiple partners and often complex relationship structures.
this article is not a story on why I became polyamorous although if there is interest I can certainly post that story here from my perspective. It explains my original motivations about becoming poly and what has changed over the years.

This article is here to combat a few things that are often said to me about beeing poly, and share my viewpoints on them.

One of the disturbing things that was recently said to me was that my poly relationships are a love RAID.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with what RAID is I point you at the wikipedia article at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID

In summary RAID is a storage virtualization technology that uses multiple disk drives to provide data redundancy in the case of a disk failure.
If a drive fails in a RAID array the system will continue to operate and rebuild the array when the drive is replaced.

Comparing my multiple relationships to a RAID array is rather insulting both to me personally and to my partners and here is why.

In a RAID array drives are basically interchangeable and when a drive fails you just replace it with another of the same capacity.
All of my partners bring different strengths and skills into my life. I pick my partners because of their indevidual traits and the things that I love about them.
Each person is unique, indevidual and special to me in their own way.
Each partner brings something indevidual and special to my life and experiences.

All relationships have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Losing any partner from my life, or the ability to openly show affection to any partner is always an extremely difficult thing for anyone to deal with.
As each person is indevidual, a loss of any kind brings its own unique pain and challenges.
Whilst my other partners provide a support network and do their best to help me to get through adversity, any loss is keenly felt by me, and I must do my best to work through the grief.
No partner can be replaced by any mix of other partners, regardless of how hard they may wish to do this.

Poly is all about getting more notches on the bedpost.
This is a commonly held belief by many people that polyamory and or swinging is just about getting as much sex with people as you possibly can.
In my case I have 2 separate groups of people I am with.
1 group of people are play partners, and this is made abundantly clear to them. Of course it is always possible for someone to move from the play group into the relationship group as things change.

People in the relationship group are those who are in a relationship with me.
These are people who are close to me, and have a long-term special involvement with me.
People in the relationship group often share in my struggles and help me get through challenges in my life helping out where they can.
Whilst losing a play partner is certainly a cause of pain, the pain from losing someone out of a relationship is far more immediate, sharp and difficult to deal with.

Pure swinging (the idea of sleeping with multiple partners for sex) pre-supposes that long-term bonds are not formed with these people.
One logically has to ask the question, if these encounters are short-term, what is the bennifit in putting all the extra effort into building trust and a relationship is necessary.
Trust is important in any relationship, however people who are in relationships generally have much more access to me and my private information.
Trust tends to be far deeper with those who are in a relationship with me to enhance and strengthen the bonds of that relationship.

All of the people that I am involved in are important to me, especially those who I am conducting a relationship with; and I treat these people and situations with the seriousness that they deserve.

If anyone has any questions or wants me to write more on anything or something else please say so in the comments.

I am an erotic hypnotist

I am an erotic hypnotist, so what does that really mean?

This article is not here to discuss whether hypnosis exists or not, or whether it is scientifically proven. I refer you to the skeptoid episode on this topic which I will link to soon.

firstly a little history. I started studying hypnosis toward the end of 2012 when I discovered it was indeed possible to be a totally blind hypnotist. I had always been fascinated by the processes involved in hypnotizing people and was keen to learn the skills to help people.

Grace bought me a ticket to a 2.5 day hypnosis certification course run by the Success Academy Australia which I had planned to attend in late January. As I was set to travel to the eastern states before this, I loaded up my iPhone with media and some of that media consisted of Hypnosis a comprehensive guide, Creating Deep Trance Phenomena by Tad James. This is an 8 part audio program that teaches various hypnotic inductions from direct style through to indirect.
This program was enjoyed on the flight to Brisbane and I was excited to dip my toe into this amazing world.
I tried an induction on the trip with a friend, however it was not as successful as I hoped it would be and I realized I needed more practice.
Upon my return to Perth I attended the 2.5 day workshop and they showed us a progressive relaxation induction and a few techniques to help people stop smoking, gain confidence, control food cravings and the very basics of pain control.

The organizers tried to sell us their expensive NLP courses however I didn’t have the money or inclination to continue on with their style of training.

I do plenty of theraputic hypnosis, and in fact pain control is something I specialize in however this is not what this article is about.
Grace was cruising through fetlife and discovered a local guy was running an Erotic Hypnosis workshop.
I contacted him and asked if I could show up and learn some stuff stating I had a little hypnosis knowledge but was willing to learn. He actually encouraged me to teach what I knew and get involved with the group and contribute what I could.

This group of people taught me about the power of the human mind especially where imagination and hypnosis is concerned. By learning basic techniques, polishing some inductions and optimizing my wording I learnt it was possible to assist people in exploring their erotic limits.
Girls could have multiple orgasms, and be brought to an extremely high level of arousal using trance to intensify their experiences.
Guys could also have their state enhanced and could have some amazing experiences.
By building hypnosis into my phone and skype play I learnt that using trance and reality shaping could greatly enhance the power of the encounters. A secret sauce if you like.

I’m not going to outline how this works on this blog, as I do not want any school child using these techniques to influence or covertly manipulate people. If you want more info then feel free to get in touch with me or hit your favourite search engine for more info.
There are books on Amazon such as Hypnotize your lover a complete guide to erotic hypnosis, and mindplay-erotic hypnosis which are good resources to start with.
Whilst it is possible to use a simple induction and basic erotic hypnosis techniques to get results, you become far more adaptable as a hypnotist if you learn more induction styles, and basic concepts. for this you may want to look at books like Hypnotherapy, client centric aproaches and other books that show up well rated in the hypnosis category on kindle.

You can buy programs on erotic Hypnosis from people like Major Mark Cunningham and David Shade however these programs are not cheap, and if you have a local group or meeting, this might be even cheaper.

Ethics are also extremely important. If you break someone’s trust in trance, it can be incredibly difficult to re-establish it again.

Erotic hypnosis is a lot of fun and for the curious it can certainly widen your horizons.

I did get the chance to try these skills out on my partners at the time and have achieved some amazing results.
Not everyone is hypnotizable, and hypnosis is not a magic bullet solution to all of your problems, it is a tool that can greatly assist with change and experience amplification.

If you want more information do feel free to get in touch and i’ll help as I can.
thanks for reading.

The things that suck when you are a blind computer tech.

I haven’t posted on the blog for awhile as nothing has really moved me to posting anything for public consumption. The last week has involved getting over a fairly minor cold and not too much to report there.

A week before christmas eve and we had a power outage. We have these from time to time and usually they aren’t that critical, the standby power supplies usually insure that nothing crashes too spectacularly.

Well I powered everything down as I usually do, powering off the bepeing standby supplies and waited for power restoration. Once the juce came back I turned everything on again to find that gotss1 would not boot up.

I’m probably going to get someone with eyes to take a look but below is some pontificating.

There are genuinly people in this world that claim that there is no such thing as a disability and that anyone with a disability is just differently abled.
Now after having a server fail to boot i’m inclined to think that the above centiment is just sugar coating a shit.

If I were not totally blind, i’d power on the server, look at what showed up on the monitor and take appropriate action given the BIOS messages or in an extreme case a lack of these.

BIOS messages show up on a monitor before a screen reader can be active and aren’t accessible unless you have either a pc-wiesel card or one of those funky servers with remote admin stuff.

well you guessed it this box is one of the ones that I didn’t put a PCI serial card into as it was working so well I didn’t see the need. Now i’m left with a number of ways to proceed.

Convincing a modern box to boot from alternative media involves pressing a function key at boot then selecting the boot device from a list using the keyboard.
This works just fine provided you can remember what key you need to hit and what order the menu shows up in.

Back in the good old days (TM) all the boxes I built had floppy drives in them. they were set to check the floppy for boot media and in this circumstance I could just put a modified kernel on a floppy and force it to boot another Linux distribution.

I don’t have a CD drive in this box at the moment so i’m left to plug in an External USB one or go dig up a SATA burner and put that in the top of the case.

This box has a RAID5 array consisting of 4×1.5TB drives, and either one of these (or more if i’m really unlucky) has failed, or something else has toasted the boot loder.
Ironically /boot is a 4-way mirrored raid-1 array so I’ll be extremely surprised if I can’t get a kernel and initrd loaded.
I guess I could unhook all the hard drives and boot the box either off CD via SATA or USB, then run diagnostics with GRML.
Whilst all of this is doable, it’s beginning to look like a large investment in time. convince the box to boot GRML once I find out where SATA1 is or unplug all the drives and add them in one by one.

So i’m torn between waiting for someone with usable vision to come over or spend an hour or 3 messing around with hardware and cables.
I guess life priorities change as you get older, 20 years ago I had nothing better to do and would have puzzled this out.
10 years ago I had a set of workable eyes that could have squinted at a monitor for me.

Today? Well I might take a look with GRML tomorrow but if I can’t make it fly i’ll pay someone to take a look.
What will I do to mitigate this problem in future? I’ll probably put a floppy drive in the box if I have one, and i’ll probably put a PCI serial card in so I can get a serial console.

I guess that the whole point of this post was to highlight that I just can’t be bothered spending 5-6 hours working on hardware as I once could.

Well thanks for reading and back to your regularly scheduled programming.

My new MSD Powerball Neon

This is an audio demonstration of the MSD PowerBall Neon I just received. Definitely a fun gyroscopic exercise device.
The original article eroniously referred to a GSD powerball, which does not exist, it is an MSD Powerball; Sorry for the confusion. You can buy them from
http://www.powerballs.com/

Backing up big data on a budget

In which I discuss the various ways of backing up all of your stored data.
Transcript:
Big Data on a Budget

Good evening everybody and welcome to this short chat on backing up big data on a budget.

How many times have you heard it? Back-ups are important. you need to back up your data so that you don’t lose it in the event of a catastrophe. The question arises: how many back-ups should you have? Where should they be stored? How much do you want to spend protecting your data?

There are a number of options for backing up your stuff. some people use external hard drives. Some people use CD and DVD media, blueray media, tapes. Some people even print data out to be scanned back in. But let’s consider the average hoarding person. You’ve managed to collect a couple of terabytes of data over the years because let’s face it, you’ve been on the internet, you’ve got a reasonably fast internet connection and your hoarding instincts as a person have resulted in you downloading a stack of stuff that is considered highly, highly important to you.

The first thing you need to decide is how much of your data actually needs to be backed up. Yes, it would be inconvenient if those three seasons of Game of Thrones were deleted off your hard drive but you could probably torrent them down again. Not so much the back-ups of your commitment ceremony or some song you slogged four hours out on to work with with a group of friends that are never ever going to meet in person ever again.

So first of all, decide whether you’re backing everything up or whether you’re only backing the important stuff up. If you’re backing up everything, then that’s pretty streight forward and we can move on to the people who might be backing up some of their stuff.

How much do you want to spend on storage and how reliable do you want that storage to be? Nothing is ever a hundred percent reliable so you’re always working against probabilities, equipment failure and acts of God to decide how stable and reliable your back-ups are going to be.

If you have under a terabyte of data, then potentially one of the online cloud services such as Google Drive or Dropbox or Box or Spider Oak might be worth looking at. However, it’s worth considering: do you trust these services to look after your data and if you intend to encrypt the data before you back it up, how are you going to do that? With what program, what algorithm and what are you going to do in the event that you lose a pass phrase?

There are various back-up services that claim to be able to back up unlimited amounts of data for, for example, $5.00 a month per computer and I’m referring here to services such as Crash Plan or Back Blaze. A couple of things to keep in mind with these services. you probably want to use the local encryption settings so that your data is encrypted before it leaves your computer so that even if Crash Plan or Back Blaze or one of the similar services is subpoenaed for your data, nobody will be able to decrypt it. This is probably important if you’ve nicked a whole pile of pirated stuff or you’ve got a whole lot of data on your hard drive that you really shouldn’t have; child porn; terrorist bomb plans; the list goes on. (I hope nobody listening to these audio boos has those sorts of things on their hard drives.)

Now Crash Plan claims that they do in fact back up unlimited data but there’s a couple of things to consider when backing up unlimited data. How fast is your internet upstream? If your internet upstream is fast enough, you might be able to push one to ten gig of data a day. It still means that backing up two terabytes of data is going to take a significantly long time. You can drop $350.00 on a C drive that they send to you and you fill up with up to a terabyte of data and you ship it back to them. They preload that to your account. However it is still going to take significant time and significant bandwidth, possibly impacting your internet use, to decide whether that is actually worth backing up all of that data over the internet.

If you decide to back it up though, Crash Plan, Back Blaze, whatever, will store all of the stuff that you need to store. Do however be aware of the terms and conditions of the plan and read the find print to make sure that unlimited truly does mean unlimited.

Another option for people may be external drives and a lot of people are seeing external hard drives on Amazon for $129.00 so that you can buy a 5 terabyte hard drive. These are probably quite handy and can store a lot of data but a couple of things need to be kept in mind. As I always say and as many other storage experts say, it’s not if a hard drive will fail, it’s when a hard drive will fail. All hard drives fail eventually. Some of them fail within a day or a week or a month of being owned and some of them are still ticking away for ten years. The probability of hard drive failure is something you can read research papers on and there can be endless debates as to whether Western Digital or C Gate or insert your other favourite drive brand, is the best type of hard drive. But even that can fluctuate between manufacturing batches, temperature considerations and shock considerations. So if you are going to go out and buy yourself a five terabyte hard drive, it might not be a bad idea to go out and buy two five terabyte hard drives so that you’ve got one that’s connected to your computer as hot storage and a back-up drive that acts as your back-up in case something goes wrong with the hot storage. You’ll need a way to keep the two drives synchronised. If you’re on a PC platform, I would strongly suggest something like Robo Copy. Teracopy is fine in the GUI and the Microsoft Sync Toy will handle GUI lists of folders that need to be kept in sync, however I’m not sure what the limitations on Sync Toy are. Robo copy will quite happily copy terabytes from one drive to another and keep the archives in sync. you do however need to be careful with Robo copy however, because you need to specify the /xo switch so that it doesn’t copy old information over new information. It’s also worth noting that Robo copy is a command line utility and unless you get hold of a friendly geek to help you with the batch file, then you may have trouble automating this. Also, not all batch files are created equal. I’ve seen a lot of batch files for Robo copy missing the /xo switch. But a peruse of the Robo copy documentation does in fact point out that /xo is somewhat important. You also need to exclude the files that you don’t want to back up with Robo copy such as BTSync folders, dropbox control information, etc.

the other thing you probably want to keep in mind is if you’re on a mac or a linux box, you may want to consider RSync for backing stuff up. RSync is handy in the fact that it is quite flexible, can handle thousands and thousands of files and can be fired off from chron jobs relatively easily.

So you have two hard drives. One primary, one secondary. You went and ponied up and got two five terabyte hard drives. It’s up to you whether you switch the hard drives around on a weekly or monthly basis so that the spare becomes the regular one and the regular one becomes the spare. But there’s another thing that you need to keep in mind. Even storing data on hard drives has a probability of failing. Drives have an uncorrectable bit error rate that means that occasionally they’re not going to be able to pull back a sector that was written to them. This doesn’t happen very often but it does in fact happen. What is the guarantee that all of the data that you have written to your drives is actually uncorrupted?

I would strongly suggest finding a utility that will generate SHA1 sums or MD5 sums of trees of files. Make lists of the files on your hard drive with their MD5 or SHA1 sums and scatter the manifest and catalogue across a couple of cloud services so that if you do need to run a test on a hard drive to see if indeed it is failing, you consider pulling back the SHA1 sums and running it against the data to catch any differences. At least that way you will be able to tell which of your two drives is good and which has gone bad.

the other thing to keep in mind is that all of this takes some time and some ingenuity to actually set up. you’ll have to find the right utilities; you’ll have to find the right batch files and you’ll have to be disciplined enough to actually carry out this back-up plan on a regular basis. Things like Carbonite, Crash Plan and Back Blaze make it easy because services run in the background that back this data up to the cloud or your external hard drives or your friends’ computers. Now it’s worth mentioning that if you do use Crash Plan to back up data to your friends’ computers that you’ll be using their hard disk space and you’ll have to negotiate with them but also keep in mind that the data is in fact encrypted and your friends don’t get access to your Crash Plan data.

If you are going to back up data to locally connected hard drives, you may wish to consider whether the data should be encrypted to protect it from prying eyes. But the SHA1 sums are certainly worth considering.

So some of you were going to ask me well how do we even know if hard drives are going to fail? Is there any warning that a drive is on the way out? Well it turns out that in approximately 70 to 80% of cases, there is actually warning that a drive is going to fail. The technology that tells you this is known as “Smart”: Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology. There are utilities for Linux, MacOS and Windows called Smart Mon Tools that can run in the background on your system as a service and can provide you with information about impending drive failures. This is fairly good for connected drives that are directly installed in the computer. But some USB to Sata bridges don’t pass through the Smart Inquiry commands in a standard method. you may have to do some fiddling to actually get Smart Mon Tools to check these.

Other external drives such as the WD series of drives and some of the C Gate drives do come with software that is meant to monitor the health of the drive and warn you potentially of an impending drive failure. It’s possible that the warning will not come in time though and a mechanical fault that stops the drive from powering up or stops the drive from spinning will give you no amount of smart warning even if you do choose to use this technology. So Smart is one of those things that just makes things a little bit safer and a little bit more informative. It has allowed me however to replace failing arrays in raid arrays.

Raid. I suppose I should mention Raid. A Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disk drives. If you have multiple copies of data, then it’s less likely that you’re going to lose the data. This is a pretty simple idea. Raid1 is an exact mirror of the data. Two drives contain exactly the same data. It’s fast to write data to both drives identically. It actually doubles read speed if you’re using both the drives but it does halve write speed. So raid cards with caches and stuff can be useful so the operating system can dump a bit under a gig of data at the drives and the drives can get on writing it to the array. Be aware though there are pitfalls to Raid.

Most people consider that going out and building themselves a Raid5 array in a home NAS is probably going to be a good way to back up the three or four terabytes of data they’ve got. A couple of things with Raid5 arrays that I have learnt from painful experience. When a drive fails in a Raid5 array, it is imperative that you replace the failed drive as soon as possible. that is dash on down to the computer store the day the drive fails or have another drive as hot spare. There is however a problem with Raid5 and that is that once one drive has failed in the array, it is potentially possible and in fact more probable than you’d think, that whilst rebuilding the array onto the spare drive that you’ve just replaced, one of the second existing drives will fail. If two drives fail in a Raid5 array, you’re essentially left doing block level restores and dragging as much data off the arrays that appears readable as possible with tools that might break your brain. Raid5 does use a fair amount of CPU. So for example some of the home NAS’s which vary in accessibility such as the QNAP, etc, they’d use a 1.2 GHz arm processor and a cut down version of Linux with maybe 256 or 512 meg of ram, will read and write to the raid drives fairly OK but will burn a fair bit of CPU doing it. These home NAS’s will take anywhere between two and four devices and are fairly quiet and fairly low power and have Itunes servers and all sorts of other stuff in them. The question you’ve got to ask yourself is how accessible are the web interfaces, are they in fact usable, and are you going to pay for the extended tech support who will help you rebuild the array in the event that it fails or are you an MDADM ninja and can SSH into the thing like I usually do and rebuild the arrays by hand provided that they’re willing to be rebuilt? Raid5 is a nice option because it is n -1 drives. So if you have four two terabyte drives — so that’s eight terabytes of actual storage — and you put them in a Raid5 array, one drive is used or the amount of storage for one drive because in Raid5 the parity is actually plexed across all of the drives, one drive’s worth of data is used for parity redundancy information which means that with four two terabyte drives, you will end up with six terabytes of usable storage minus a little bit for administrative overhead in raid5 array. Raid could probably have its own discussion and I could do an entire boo on Raid and that may happen another night.

Raid6 is a little bit nicer because we run the array with dual parity drives. This means that you can handle the loss of two drives in a raid array that is in Raid6 mode. You don’t really win much though if you’ve only got four drives in your raid. Four minus two is two so if you’ve got four two terabyte drives, you only end up with four terabytes of fairly reliable storage in Raid6. Raid6 however does start to make sense if you have six or eight drives. If you have eight drives in Raid6, you lose two drives for redundancy which means that if we have 16 terabytes of storage and we have eight drives, we subtract two drives for storage and we end up with 12 terabytes of usable storage which means that the storage ratio is more efficient the more drives you have in Raid6. However don’t think you’re going to go out and build a Raid6 array with 27 drives. Unfortunately, the more drives you put in a raid array, the increased chance of failure that one of the drives is going down for the count and isn’t coming back up again. In fact, I could probably do an entire boo on the failures and shortcomings of raid.

But that will give you some idea as to how safe your data may or may not be. For the technically apt, you could potentially store your data on cloud services such as Google Drive or Amazon S3. You will however have to be fairly competent with command line tools and web API’s unless you’re going to use something like Amazon Back-up for S3 or Amazon S3 Explorer which are two of the almost accessible apps for Windows. There are of course command line tools for the Linux and Mac users such as S3Cmd that will put and retrieve objects from buckets on Amazon S3 including multi-part uploads etc. Amazon S3 however does cost and you’ll have to look at their pricing page. Essentially three cents a gig a month to store last time I looked in the US West 1 region and nine cents per gig to actually retrieve the stuff from Amazon S3. You can store the data for 0.01 cents a gig if you push the data off into glacier which is to say that when you push data off into glacier, the storage costs reduce amazingly however the restore time jumps to three to five hours if you restore an Amazon Glacier batch. Also if you store more than I believe 25% of your data, there are extra restoration fees for Glacier. Somebody’s probably running around in a data centre somewhere jamming tapes into tape drives. I have no idea whether this is actually true and if anybody has any information about how Glacier actually works, I’d be happy to hear from you.

Google is playing with a new set of technologies which is currently in beta called Google Nearline Storage. The ability to back up piles and piles of data to Google services with the correct web API’s with a three to five second restore time. I don’t know whether that classes as warm storage but if the technology matures and becomes reliable, it could be quite useful for people running a blindy radio station. Back up a couple of terabytes of music that you’ve got for your radio station on the Google Nearline Storage and have a jukebox application that allows you to pull back a song in three to five seconds from warm storage whilst the other song is queued and playing or you’re banging on about what time it is and how many friends are tuned in.

Look guys, if you have any questions about big data and big data home storage, I’d be happy to hear from you and I’d be happy to answer them. I don’t know whether this talk has been useful to anyone or instructive. If there are any things people want me to talk about specifically, I’d be more than happy to put some posts out there to inform you guys about how to handle big data storage and stuff like that. If you’ve listened this long, thank you very much for listening and feel free to leave comments on my blog www.kerryhoath.com. Goodnight everyone.

Hypnosis guild lecture 1

This links off to lecture 1 of the hypnosis guild.
In 2014 I ran a hypnosis guild for vision impaired hypnotists that ran for 10 weeks. It was a success and I offered the lessons for free.
this year I ran a 5-week hypnosis guild for people, charging $20 for access to recordings. I have decided to publically post week 1 on this blog in case anyone is interested in discussing hypnosis with me in more detail.

Hypnosis guild
Or now that the media is hosted on Amazon S3 you can play it from here:

One of those test posts to make sure I know how this works

This is one of those test posts, right in the middle of the blog to show that I know how to make this thing work and how to make posts show up.
Today was good, went out for Dinner with Friends and had Steak and Garlic Prawns along with Mango cheesecake. Learning little bits more about reaper, and gearing up to listen to a DVD on the Dave Elman induction. Right that’s enough time wasting with this post now let’s see if I can get it to go up.