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Vapemania 2014

So this weekend, i went to Vapemania 2014 and it was really cool!  I got a bunch of cheap premium juice and a few freebies that are not bad.  I also discovered that I actually like a little bit of menthol in my juices.  I had smoked menthol analogs for a long time in my teens and early twenties, but had to switch to non-menthol after i was getting constant sore/scratchy throats.  I assumed that i’d have the same reaction to menthol nic juice but i’m happy to say that i was wrong.

I was kind of dissappointed that Space Jam Robofuel decided to drop out of Vapemania as i was looking forward to picking up some more Astro and Andromeda.

I found some really good juices from Puffing Monkey, Mt Baker Vapor, and Mad Mikes that I bought.  I’ll post some thoughts on those later.  I got some freebies from NicQuid, Boosted Vapor and Seduce Juice as well.

Mt Baker Vapor juices:

  • Hawk Sauce – this stuff is awesome.  i need to order some of the flavoring so i can mix it myself, but they only sell it retail in 15ml bottles.  At 20% flavoring, that only makes 75ml of juice 🙁
  • Thug Juice – right now this is pretty harsh, i need to let it steep some.  Very strong on the menthol right now, not getting much of the grape or watermelon as yet
  • 555 – this is a really good tobacco with some nuttiness and chocolate on the exhale
  • Guava

Mad Mikes – Pucker Up – pretty much straight up sweet lemonade/lemon candy. quite tasty

Puffing Monkey

  • Quadraclops – this is from a new line of high VG juices that they premiered at the show.  Very yummy hazelnut biscotti with a few other flavors in there that i can’t quite identify yet.
  • Berry Lemonade
  • Melon Madness

NicQuid

  • Smooththol – pretty much straight menthol.  not bad, but a little strong for my tastes
  • Daybreak – berry lemonade style
  • Daydreamer – very mellow tobacco with some vanilla and nuts
  • Cherry on top – cherry and whipped cream

Boosted Vapor – Betelguise – pretty good fruit mix.  i think i should have grabbed the Twinkle Cake, but when i tasted it in the carto’s that they had for tasting, it wasn’t that impressive.  I’m betting it would have been better out of my dripper though

Seduce Juice – Trinity – got this as a freebie with 0mg, so i’m kinda dissapointed as this could easily be an ADV for me.

Vaping Bans

THIS article sums up my feelings on vaping being compared to smoking pretty well.

DISCLAIMER:  I’ve been analog free for 2 and 1/2 months now thanks to vaping, so i might be a little biased.

linux server set up

Up until around September of last year, i had been running an XP box so that i could have an always on torrent box that i could use to automate my downloads.  I had to manually manage the downloads and pull the data across my network to sort it on the various external storage drives I had connected to my Mac Mini.  Needless to say that this was less than ideal.  I spent a LOT of time managing the disk space on the XP box and copying files.

I have some experience doing unix/linux adminstration due to my day job and about 2 years ago accepted a position as a full time unix admin.  Since then, my unix-fu has grown quite a bit.  I had messed around with RedHat, Fedora, and Slackware years ago, but never really felt that it was ready for primetime for me.  I don’t think I had the proper knowledge to be able to do with it what I could have, so I gave up on linux at home and went back to what  I knew at the time (which was various flavors of windows).

Last year, I bought a raspberry pi to play with.  My intention was to use it as a media server box in my daughters room so that she could watch the movies and tv shows that i’ve converted over the years in her bedroom without having to copy files to an external drive and move them via sneakernet to her room.  I discovered that I could run quite a few programs that would auto-download and sort into a defined file structure with the Pi (blog post HERE)

When i got this working to my satisfaction, i decided to take the plunge and turn my XP box into a full blown linux server (sort of outlined that HERE)

it’s evolved a bit since then, so here is just a record for me (in case i need to ever wipe and start over) of what my servers do.

my linux servers:

Main Server
Intel Core i5-2400 3.1GHz 4GB RAM running Ubuntu 12.04.4
  • NFS/Samba for sharing files across network to media centers and other pc’s on network
  • deluge for tv shows, movies, et al
  • flexget to feed deluge via rss feeds
  • command line encoding of HD mkv’s and DVD’s into mp4 using HandBrakeCLI
  • convert video to dvd (shellscript that automates encoding, creating iso filesystem and burning)
  • convert m4a audio to mp3 (shellscript that exports tags, converts audio and then retags)
  • 2TB internal drive, (2) 2TB external drives storing media for AppleTV running OpenElec in Living Room.
Secondary server
Intel Core2 Duo 3.0GHz 2GB RAM running Ubuntu 12.04.4
  • deluge for torrents (long term seeding of linux isos and other helpful stuff)
  • LAMP stack for webserving (books, comics and magazines that i can dl to my phone and tablet)
  • VirtualBox for playing with VMs running various OS flavors
  • 2.2TB total disk space spread over 2TB external and 150GB internal

 

Mac Mini (Late 2009) hard drive replacement

So my venerable Mac Mini finally decided that the 320GB hard drive was no longer a viable platform and started to error and give me the spinning beach ball of death for minutes at a time.

All of the diagnostics pointed to a bad hard disk.  I can’t really complain about this drive as it was in the Mini when i bought it and has been performing admirably for the last 5 years.

I picked up a new 1TB Western Digital 2.5″ drive to replace it with figuring i could make use of the extra space.  I partitioned the drive with 2 500GB partitions and went to install OS X.  I discovered that the newest OS on an install media i had was Lion.  I had apparently upgraded from Lion to Mountain Lion without doing a clean install…..oops…

Install Lion, downloaded Mavericks and while it was downloading, googled around for creating a Mavericks install that would allow me to start clean.

 sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app --nointeraction

This did the trick. I needed an 8GB flash drive formatted with a GUID partition and named “Untitled”.

Booted from this flash drive after it completed and wiped and started install. Started doing this at around 1030 pm, so after the install started, i went to bed…

Woke up to a fresh install of Mavericks that was ready for me to set up. Of course, my Time Machine backup from ML was not recognized, so i had to recreate my user account and reimport bookmarks and data manually.

stuff left to do:

  • reinstall Photoshop
  • reconfigure Calibre and restore my book library
  • figure out how to reinstall apache to serve my book library remotely again
  • restore ssh keys so that i can remote into my servers without passwords again

Fun with Linux!

After my success with Raspbian Wheezy on the Pi, I decided to challenge myself to get Linux running on my torrent/file server box running XP.  I also ran across a website that really helped me to understand how I wanted to approach my set up (http://linuxhomeserverguide.com/)

The set up that is used on that site mirrored alot of what I wanted to be able to do myself at home.  I attempted to duplicate the setup from that site for my own uses, but encountered some issues with getting the virtual machines working the way i wanted.  The set up outlined on that site consists of one physical machine running Ubuntu Server 64 bit with 2 virtual machines running Ubuntu server 32 bit (1 media server and 1 web/mail server.)

I took the XP hard drive out of the machine and installed an older 250GB drive that I had laying around and installed Ubuntu Server 12.04 on it.  I borked something up when doing the virtual machine set up and had to start from scratch.  After evaluating my real needs, I decided to forego the virtual machine route.  I realized that my main focus needed to be torrenting using Deluge and Flexget and then serving those files via samba or nfs to my other machines on the network.  I was less inclined to go the web/mail server route only because i could not really see a need for it.  I have a site hosted via GoDaddy and i’ve been happy with the service for the last few years.

I managed to get the server working with Deluge and Flexget and it was polling my favorite sites to get the stuff I wanted and appeared to be working perfectly.  After a week or so of monitoring the system, I realized that i was barely taxing the quad core processor and 4GB of RAM with the torrent part and figured I could utilize that horsepower in other ways.  Enter Handbrake.

I have been converting my DVD collection of movies and TV shows for my AppleTV for the last few years using my Mac Mini and it would convert fine.  I wasn’t really happy with the amount of time it took to convert a single movie/TV show and it typically taxed my processor quite a bit when it was running, so using my machine while converting was a bit of a pain.

I found a CLI version of handbrake that would run on my server and installed it and was amazed at the speed of the conversions.  i’m sure that the quad core and 64bit OS helped with that 🙂

I bought a few 2TB hard disks a few weeks ago and migrated the server to a 2TB internal drive and created more storage space for it.  I haven’t yet put the other 2TB drive in the system yet, but i’m planning on migrating the 12TB or so of music, software, audiobooks, ebooks, movies and TV shows to the server as I can.  The data is split up among numerous 1.5TB, 2TB and 1 TB drives on my Mini.  I’ll have to move data over to the server, convert the drives to ext4 and then move the data back once I have it all on the server.  This should help to make the media more manageable as it’ll all be in the same place and not split between my server and my Mac.

All in all, it’s been a fun and educational experience doing this.  I can’t wait to see what comes next…

Gurkha cigars

I picked up a couple of sampler packs of Gurkha that were on special from Cigars International.

4 x Gurkha Centurian Double Perfecto (6″ x 60)
4 x Gurkha Warlord (6.75″ x 60)
4 x Gurkha Beast (6.5″ x 56)
4 x Gurkha Vintage Shaggy Gran Rothschild (6.5″ x 55)
4 x Gurkha Beauty (6.5″ x 56)
20 total cigars for around $40….not a bad deal considering that most of the Gurkha’s I’ve seen are anywhere from $7-10 a stick.

I’ve had the Centurion, the vintage Shaggy and the Beauty so far.

  • Centurion Double Perfecto – It was a decent smoke. Interesting shape. I’ve never smoked a Perfecto cigar before so that was a new experience for me. A little hard to get an even burn at first, but once it got past the taper at the head, it started burning a lot more evenly. Good flavor throughout, and it got a little more intense in the last third. Kinda spicy and a little earthy towards the end. Definitely going to enjoy going through the rest of those. At close to $10 a stick, i’ll be keeping on the lookout for these when heavily discounted or in sampler packs though.
  • Beauty – Not initially all that impressed, but it was a decent smoke. I’ve grown fond of medium to full bodied cigars of late and this was more on the milder side. The construction was pretty solid, although the draw was a bit tight until about the middle third. Good taste, but not much smoke volume. It did get to be a lot tastier in the last third however with more spice and woodiness coming out on the finish. At $12 a stick at most retailers, i’ll pass these up unless the price is ALOT lower.
  • Vintage Shaggy Gran Rothschild – This was a great smoke. Not a very pretty cigar as the head is unwrapped for about a half inch to 3/4 inch showing the binder and filler leaves. Toasted up very quickly and lit very well. Good smoke volume and excellent taste from start to finish. Construction was a little off in the last third as it started to come apart in the very last third, so that was kind of annoying, but it had a nice finish and pretty decent smoke volume. Not a horrible price at $7-8 a stick, but definitely not going to be buying these in singles.

Tonight, I’m trying out the Warlord. Nicaraguan filler, Connecticut binder and oily Nicaraguan wrapper. Very smooth draw and even burn. Good strength on this one too, definitely a little more punch to it than the others I’ve tried so far. These would definitely be one of my go-to sticks, but at roughly $6 per stick, they will have to be reserved for the occasional treat.

Cutting the cable cord…

For the last few years, i’ve been downloading and streaming approximately 90% of the tv that i use to watch via DVR or live. As technology has progressed, i’ve been moving closer and closer to completely eliminating my TV service altogether since the rates have been steadily increasing. This is especially frustrating as i’ve been a customer of my local telecom for the last 10+ years and can’t seem to get a good rate yet someone moving into the area can get the same service i do, but at a third of the price.

I’ve had numerous media players through the years (AppleTV 1st gen, Roku, Raspberry Pi, DVD/BluRay player that can play avi/divx/mp4, etc) and the only one that i’ve consistently come back to time and again is the AppleTV.

I’ve been able to hack it to play non-apple approved content, add an external USB drive to increase storage capacity, ssh into it and install various extra plugins.

The system is awesome and very intuitive for my young daughter and wife to use.

The main obstacle to me cutting the cable cord altogether is the wife and kid. They want to be able to watch live tv or at least watch programs on live tv when they want. I’m still planning on maintaining my internet service through my current provider which should allow me to get the very basic cable tv channels.

I have found a site that i think i’m going to model my set up after… Colin Waddell’s AppleTV Guide

it appears that he’s using transmission on the appletv to dl content via torrents and SABNZB to dl content from usenet, all on the appletv. gonna have to read up on this stuff and figure out how i can apply some of this to my home set up.

UPDATE:  Transmission isn’t suitable for my needs unfortunately, but I’ve gone the route of a home linux server and it seems to be working perfectly.

Viewsonic gTablet and Asus Nexus 7

Recently i’ve been getting back into reading comics since getting a Nexus 7. I had tried using comic readers on my old Viewsonic gTablet, but it was heavy and cumbersome. The gtab was one of my first forays into the Android world. I had been wanting to get an iPad for the longest time after using one of the ones that the corporate support team has, but could not justify the expense of it. I didn’t see the logic in paying the same amount as i would for a pretty good laptop for a large ipod touch.

I had picked up the gtablet cheap from woot.com a few years back and started learning about the process of rooting and installing new roms. Thanks to a pretty active developer community on xda-developers.com there was a lot of different things to do with the gtab. The stock ROM was pretty much useless and crippled the functionality of the tablet. The hardware specs of it were very similar to that of the Motorola Xoom just no 3G. The screen was pretty crappy which is ironic considering Viewsonic is/was a monitor manufacturer.

After using the gtablet for a while, i discovered an issue with the charging port. If the tablet was plugged in just right, it would charge, otherwise, there was no connection to the charger. I picked up a Malata Zpad stand that would allow me to charge the tablet via the 15 pin connection at the bottom of the tablet so that took care of the charging issue. I did find that this caused me to not use the tablet as a tablet. I was treating it like a tv; using it for netflix and watching downloaded movies while sitting at my desk.

I posted it for sale on xda and got no nibbles and was able to sell it to a co-worker for his kid. Found a 1st gen Nexus 7 for sale cheaply from Staples and i’m back in business.

Since I had experience with rooting on the gtab, doing it on the Nexus 7 was pretty simple. It also helps that the Nexus is Google’s flagship hardware device and gets all of the newest Android updates before other devices out there. I had it rooted within about 6 hours of picking it up.

 

New blog

So i decided to try out wordpress and see how it works.  I had been using a blogger account for a while for my old blog.

This one will primarily focus on unix, os x, android and other techie stuff.