Wednesday, October 31, 2018


I'm to the point where I think I need a gadget box... but what should I put in the box? Well the purpose of a gadget box is to help me organize my every day carry and even my hiking gadgets. But when I think gadgets I'm thinking things that require power.

Just looking at my desk I have 6 flashlights each with different battery types including USB rechargeable. I have at least 5 headlamps. 3 power banks of different capacities. Many different cables and all warts. And my waterproof Lumix camera. And plenty of batteries too.

The thing of it is that these devices are spread all over and not just on my desk. Sure would be nice if they were all in one box.

how much is too much gear

Falling back on one of my themes about just in time manufacturing, lead times and the cost of custom gear I'm giving away gear to a local group because it'll be wasted otherwise.  These plastics are not going to last forever in the Florida heat. Just sitting in the garage they start to deteriorate. So I'm giving it away rather than cluttering the garage and making gear decisions before a hike.

That means if I have a failure I need to be able to order it and have it within a week.

It's a simple task but has consequences... the gear will probably be manufactured overseas, in bulk, and probably have some quality issues. Of course this is no guarantee that local sourcing will prevent that from happening or improve the numbers... But comparing the stitching on any of the custom work with Paria and it's no comparison at all.

My active inventory needs to be:

  • a 1P or 2P tent for when I know it's bad weather
  • a tarp and bivy for when it's just hot
  • a hammock for those fun trips where I know I have trees (not mastered yet)
  • a 4P tent for the kids
That's not an unreasonable amount of kit to have. But 3 or 4 of each is.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Amazon refuses a review

I like to review things I purchase on Amazon because somewhere in that machine is someone taking note that not all these products are worth it... and maybe they would protect the brand or even the consumer. But when Amazon allows the merchant to prevent reviews well that;s a shame on both their houses.

TITLE: not for candles

This device is too big for every day carry as a lighter. Does not light candles well as it requires a steady hand not to get wax on the probes.

Monday, October 29, 2018

sizable cordage

Bushcrafters talk religiously about their 550 paracord. There are plenty of uses for paracord and survivor cored if you find yourself in the back country for longer than 3 weeks. And depending where you are and what you are doing a whistle or cell phone is sufficient because if you are in that kinda danger f*ck survival make a call.

Considering the volume and weight of 550 paracord I like this Dyneema from Atwood.
It's made from Dyneema and can support 550 pounds just like the 550 paracord. The best part is that this small 2 inch spool holds 61+ feet of this cord. Sure Dyneema is a bit slippery but it's manageable. But the compactness and weight makes it ideal to carry extra and it also packs downs small so more impromptu setups like wider trees or other configurations are possible.

Also from Atwood are some reflective and solid braided strands that are more compact at 125ft per spool. Let the testing begin.

NOTE: most tarp configurations need 50ft of cordage. Tents need much less than that. You should only carry what you need and so the dispenser is a waste. Also carrying 125 ft could also be a waste.

the cost of who's watching

I was watching a John Oliver clip on the last week channel on youtube when I noticed that youtube was offering season 5 for $24.99.

H*ly Sh*t and WTF!!

A normal broadcast TV season is between 23-25 episodes so to keep the math simple lets say 25 episodes. That means that Last Week costs $1 per episode. One can extrapolate that is about $1 per hour of regular TV where the dollars are divided up between the production company, the distributors, affiliates, residuals and so on. In the regular TV world that cost is paid for by advertisers because they think they are going to make that dollar back through sales.

What is interesting is that in the "over the air" world viewership is determined by systems like Nielsen where viewership is determined by surveys and lots of math. But in the cable and online world it's actual numbers captured by Tivo, and browser cookies. The former being essentially anonymous and the later being breadcrumbs through your day.

So my question is ... is $1 per episode a good or reasonable price? I don't think so. In our house we spend:
  • $75 per month for cable so that we get all of the Disney channels
  • $15 on iTunes all you can stream (mostly music)
  • $15 Netflix
  • $15 Google Play (mostly music)
  • $15 Amazon Prime (mostly shopping but there are good originals)
  • $30 for two Tivo
In the next year or so Disney is going to have it's own stream too.

Now ... let's reconsider that $1 per episode. Assuming that I consume another 20-40 hours a week in media that is not above that would suggest another $160 per month on top of the already approx $150. 

I just watched this tiny house episode and while this young family lives in a 300sqft canvas tent they have a TV and electricity. But they make is sound like they live entirely outside. TV seems to be in it's place as an accessory.

So why does it cost $1 per episode when they use those metrics to charge advertisers for broadcast rights? Nielsen is effectively anonymous but for my $1 the producers have access to my email and phone number. I believe the consumer is getting screwed especially when advertising is replaced with product placement. "hey Bob let's take my Ford F-150 it gets good highway millage".

what's in a color

When I started hiking I made the conscience decision to avoid gear that was red. The idea was that if I were bleeding I wanted to know and for it to standout. Then about 6 months ago I decided that black was an interesting color because it would dry my gear more quickly. That included my poncho and at the expense of being seen.

Last week I purchased a "Black Pearl" kit from Light My Fire. It's a Morakniv knife with included fero rod, a spork, and tinder; all black. Soon after I placed the purchase I found an orange spork in my kit that was dirty. At that moment I realized a black spork was a bad choice. If the kit was dirty it was going to transfer. Yuk!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

more than one use

The challenge or problem with selecting kit where something does more than one function means that a malfunction means more than one use might be compromised. For example using a poncho as your shelter (tarp) means that a malfunction of either function compromises the other. Overlapping function makes more sense.

I am becoming more attached with my Snugpak gear because for the extra weight it is quite robust. For example the Patrol Poncho is a poncho but cannot be used for anything else.

Continuing; I have a jungle bag and a jungle blanket. In hindsight I'm not sure why I bought the blanket because the bag opens and can perform dual duty. They are about the same weight. The only difference is the internal pocket, mosquito mesh, zipper. (zippers might not be hammock friendly.)

Recently I have started to use my Patrol Poncho. The best part is the pocket. It keeps my hands warm and dry. But then Snugpak also offers a poncho liner. The liner is essentially a jungle blanket with sleeves and hood.

This is clearly useful in many ways. But as I was thinking about an upcoming winter hike in Lake Tahoe I cannot imagine walking through town with a black poncho and not being labelled or targeted. This reminds me of a BOB demo where the presenter was talking about colors and how camo might draw unwanted attention if bugging out of a city.

Solar Camping

When I take the kids camping we depend on certain modern conveniences.
  • fan when it's hot
  • iPad when their bored
  • LED lights at night to see in the tent and prevent our friends from tripping over our guy lines
  • headlamps or flashlights for getting around
  • 6VDC rechargeable pump for the air mattresses
Many of my peers rely on 120 and long extension cords, However, at some of our locations these resources are limited and from time to time the host vendor will unplug us. At least two peers have CPAP machines and they need the battery option to make it through the night.

Battery power has many challenges especially in large groups including kids. It's not like you can plug-in to any socket and expect to find it there when you return. During a recent trip a kid reached into my car's open hatch and to a friend said she was going to "steal" some bug spray. Steal suggests that she knew the difference between right and wrong. So something similar might happen with rechargeables when I'm not looking. That said I'm not sure what's going to happen with a solar setup.

Solar panels seem to be veiled in voodoo. There is no clear explanation on how to compare one with the other. Not just brand quality and functionality but what it means and how they compare. The Anker brand seems to charge $150 and the big blue $60. The wattage, voltage, and connectors vary.

I'm not sure there is a good solution for hiking. Clearly having a quick charge for town visits makes sense but solar is a huge question.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Jupiterhikes - 6lbs on the PCT

Just another example where price meets going without but from the going without it's probably OK for a weekend:

  • pack
  • phone
  • external battery
  • USB cables
  • external charger
  • headphones
  • one trekking pole
  • handheld flashlight (AAA batt)
  • extra AAA battery
  • neck flashlight
  • watch
  • rain jacket
  • two pairs socks
  • sunglasses
  • food bag
  • toothbrush, toothpaste
  • tarp, cordage, stakes, beanie, gloves
  • puffer jacket
  • wind pants
  • quilt
  • sleeping pad, groundcloth
  • Advil
  • safety pin
  • two 1.5L Zephyr Hills water bottles
  • spoon
  • peanut butter jar (cold soak)
One interesting thing; Jupiter remarks that the food bag might not be completely odor-proof and there seems to be some concern when hiking solo. I'm not sure but it really sounded like fear.

Hiking in the Florida Everglades I would add a few things:
  • mechanical water filter with prefilter, purification tabs
  • compressed toilet paper
  • small knife with tweezers
  • hand sanitizer or soap and a bandanna
  • leukotape
  • bugnet and/or bivy depending on the weather (no quilt)
  • firekit include ignition, tinder, knife/saw (ax and saw are a different kit)
  • hammock shelter instead of ground if I know where I'm going
The firekit serves multiple goals. [1] creatures do not like fire so it's natural security [b] heat in case things are wet or dangerously cold [c] signal not meaningful depending on where you are [d] water purification again not meaningful for an overnight [e] something to do, light the camp area, keep the bugs away, and nature's TV. So for the investment of a SAK and lighter you're good to go... although some hiking books talk about hiking until you sleep.

Versa Blanket

This past weekend I slept in both a hammock and a tent. The temp at 2am was about 77F both nights. The blanket is not quilted so the shell will stick to any moist skin and getting the right lay can be a challenge depending how awake you are.

By comparison the Sungpak weighs 100g more, however, it is quilted and feels more like a proper blanket. In retrospect the jungle bag is the same product with a zipper and a bugnet. If I had sprayed the hammock with permethrin either one would have been perfect.

The Snugpak gives me more options although I would have preferred a more visible color.

Lastly, my biggest complaint about both is that the stuff sacks are tight fitting. You'd think that the compression straps would make up for any extra room but they don't. It takes effort. In the meantime I don't use the stuff sack instead I use a pack liner.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

bushcraft kicks in

Another lesson learned from this weekend's camping trip, with my kids, is make your stakes.

For this trip I brought a tent, for the kids, and a hammock for me. I keep the stakes for the tent in the bag with the groundsheet. The hammock was new gear and I have not bundled the kit as evidenced by my misplacing the bugnet and forgetting the stakes for the tarp.

Unlike previous setups I used toggles for the ridgeline as the tarp has linelocs built in with cordage pre-installed with loops on the end. For the other tie outs I fashioned stakes from some branches. In hindsight I should have used some green wood rather I used what was at hand. One stake failed so I simply used an exposed root. toggles=no special knots.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Perfect Bonfire

Getting the perfect bonfire is subjective, however, in my case I can define it... 15-20 ft flames lasting 1-2 hours. I'm no expert and there are no howto videos, blogs or manuals that I can find.

To the right is a pseudo Swedish Torch.  I took 5-6 log segments and formed a log; then used some bailing wire to hold it together. On the first night the torch was lit with "fat wood" from home depot and some lighter fluid. For an ignition source I used a yellow torch from Home Depot. On the second night I only used the fat wood. Ignition was achieved using a fat wood feather stick and a small lighter.

  • The bonfire was constructed from 3/4 cord of wood.
  • The core of the bonfire was a log cabin about 5-6 courses
  • The outside was a simple pyramid making certain not to block the holes letting air into the core
  • More fat wood as kindling at the bottom of the log cabin with some extending to the perimeter of of the pit
On the first night ignition was achieved with 3-4 liters of lighter fluid. and two of those yellow torches. On the second night only 2 liters of fuel and a simple lighter at the door.

On the first night the pyramid was tight and well formed allowing oxygen into the core. The tight shell regulated the combustion. On the second night the pyramid was looser and although the flames were similar the pyramid was compromised more quickly. (I wish there was video)

Using a small lighter was probably not the best idea for safety reasons... I think a goose neck lighter or even a oil soaked proper torch. 

Ready for a hike?

This weekend I took my kids for a camping trip with our Indian Princess group. No matter what I did I could not keep everything under control. The strategies for managing clothing pre-sorted by day and in Ziploc bags simply did not work. Finding band-aids or toothbrushes or water bottles or even the right snack was overly complicated. Amazingly the lists are VAST.

Hiking is no different. The number of pockets in a pack is going to make you less efficient. Too much or too little can define success or failure. Whatever it is there is a fine line to success.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

traefik in a box

Before you begin there are a few decisions to be made. The most important is whether or not you want to support wildcard domains or strictly limited to well known host/domains. If you choose to use wildcards then you are limited to dnsChallenge and there are a limited number of providers not to mention that you need credentials. (see providers)
  • choose hardware and operating system
  • optionally install docker-machine
  • init a docker swarm
  • create a swarm network
  • create the 3 config files
  • Launch
  • Basic Authentication
  • my app configuration
  • Launch my app
  • All in one
FIRST you need to deploy machine that can be physical or virtual, however, in order for it to deploy SSL via letsencrypt you must have a public IP and registered DNS and nameserver. Depending on the DNS strategy you may need to create the A-record. The host OS you select should or must support Docker. I prefer CoreOS or RancherOS.

Not all OS' pre-install docker-machine and many container OS' use read-only partitions in order to maintain immutability. This is how I install docker-machine on CoreOS

sudo mkdir -p /opt/local/bin
base= &&
  curl -L $base/docker-machine-$(uname -s)-$(uname -m) >/tmp/docker-machine &&
  sudo install /tmp/docker-machine /opt/local/bin/docker-machine

Initiate docker swarm... this can be one or more machines. You need to know more about this...

docker swarm init

Docker containers can talk to each other via private virtual networks. Swarm has a variation where the network can span physical machines with additional features like encryption. The basic declaration looks like:

docker network -d overlay webtraefik

Create the three config files:

sudo mkdir -p /opt/traefik
sudo touch /opt/traefik/docker-compose.yml
sudo touch /opt/traefik/acme.json && chmod 600 /opt/traefik/acme.json
sudo touch /opt/traefik/traefik.toml

The acme.json file is left blank as traefik will fill it in as it registers with letsencrypt.

This is the traefik.toml file. There are a number of functions here like redirecting all http to https and the acme(letsencrypt) config. Notice the dnsChallenge section and the acme domains. Sine we are configuring wildcard domains dnsChallenge is required. The other challenge methods do not apply.

debug = true

logLevel = "ERROR"
defaultEntryPoints = ["https","http"]

  address = ":80"
    entryPoint = "https"
  address = ":443"


endpoint = "unix:///var/run/docker.sock"
domain = ""
watch = true
exposedByDefault = false

email = ""
storage = "acme.json"
entryPoint = "https"
onHostRule = true
  provider = "digitalocean" # DNS Provider name (cloudflare, OVH, gandi...)
  delayBeforeCheck = 0
entryPoint = "http"

  main = "*"

version: '3.1'

    image: traefik:latest
    restart: always
    command: --api --docker --docker.swarmMode --configFile=/traefik.toml
      - DO_AUTH_TOKEN=api token goes here... env and docker secrets have not been resolved
      - 80:80
      - 443:443
      - webtraefik
      - /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock
      - /opt/traefik/traefik.toml:/traefik.toml
      - /opt/traefik/acme.json:/acme.json
          - node.role == manager
      labels: "webtraefik"
        traefik.port: "8080"
        traefik.basic.frontend.rule: ""
        traefik.frontend.auth.basic.users: "admin:$$apr1$$PfJ7s9fA$$YsXtXor2kSCgjJa."

    external: true

Launching traefik is simple but needs to be done as a docker swarm. It's probably best to know more about how the swarm ingress policy works with traefik. Notice in the docker-compose file above there is a constraint to insure that traefik is only launched on worker nodes.

Also notice that the traefik container offers a basic console and so the labels section registers the URL and configures the Basic Authentication.

docker stack deploy -c docker-compose.yml traefik

You should be familiar with BASIC AUTH... but creating the config looks like:

echo $(htpasswd who password "") | sed -e s/\\$/\\$\\$/g

Unfortunately this does not really work because the result never let me in... but I probably don't know something... Also CoreOS does not have an htpasswd instance. So I found an openssl variation that was also wrong and eventually made this work:

openssl passwd -apr1 mypasswd | sed s/\\$/\\$\\$/g

Now that I have traefik up and running I need to deploy my simple app. Here is the compose file:

version: '3.1'

    image: emilevauge/whoami
      - webtraefik
        traefik.port: "80"
        traefik.frontend.rule: "" "webtraefik"
        traefik.enable: "true"
        traefik.frontend.entryPoints: "http,https"
        traefik.frontend.auth.basic.users: "who:$$apr1$$ItuvI6$$fkOoJ1"

    external: true

Launch my app. Since there is no role constraint the container can be deployed anywhere in the swarm.

docker stack deploy -c docker-compose.yml whoami

Depending on what you have in mind you can deploy the system in an all-in-one configuration so that the traefik and your service(s) are deployed in one deploy command. This has some advantages when your service domain is an all in one universe but it also means that you have a deep interdependence between services.


implementing wildcard DNS means that anyone with access to the swarm manager can instantly deploy a service under the domain either intentionally or unintentionally exposing the domain to various security and data problems. On the other hand not all sites have problems with their people or their content.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

dynamic sizing and reporting services

Most developers and system designers underestimate the complexity of reporting systems. Sure the first few reports are easy and sometimes downright trivial but that does not last long as you become the product of your success.

First of all there is challenge with concurrent reporting... just how many reports can you run at once? That's partly a network bandwidth thing and a memory thing and a computational thing. But it depends where the reports are being executed, local or remote, and whether the DB is sized properly too.

Then there is the catalog of reports and the largest with the most computational stress and the variable idle time between reports. And then there is the reporting schedule and the manual demands; all of which have queuing theory challenges.

Of course then there's report delivery and it's challenges, archiving, replication, consistency between reports, formatting, and security. And it gets worse.

My current challenges right now is that my static reporting server has about 8GB ram which is fine for day to day reports. Running at AWS it costs about $61 a month. A very similar machine at DigitalOcean costs $40.

However the monthend financials report requires 32GB ran and at AWS it costs $320 and $160 at DigitalOcean. The thing is 32GB would be sitting idle most of the month. It would be great to increase the concurrency so the scheduler could spawn execution engines instead of trying to be monolithic. And there is the DB server... it too can limit all of the above.


Recently there was an announcement that Microsoft purchased or acquired LinkedIn. I do not know what the play is because it's not much of a social network and it's not much of a business network. When I joined, many years ago, I linked to anyone and everyone I could. That included recruiters, executives, and many 2nd and 3rd tier contacts. I had some stupid number of connections.

In recent years I have been getting connection requests from more and more recruiters. Non offered real jobs. Many were looking for programmers with 5 years experience... I've been a programmer for 30+ years. Why are these dolts contacting me? If they would spend 5 minutes on my resume they'd know exactly what I'm good for. I FIND AND SOLVE PROBLEMS.

And so I started dumping my connections.

REALLY! I only have 33 connections. None of the other 500+ connections ever reached out. These 33 have not either but they are more likely to respond to an email or a message.

PS what's also amazing is the number of people who say they worked for a company that I did at the same time.... and it's a clear lie.

it's a spork or trash

Pissed off

damn spork cracked while I was hand washing it. I admit I put some pressure on it but I was not expecting that.

Just rain

Last night the kids had soccer practice. The evening started off pleasant and I managed to start re-watching season 2 of Bosch. At 730p it started to mist and then quickly sprinkle and then it came down in sheets. Luckily for me I had my Snugpack poncho in my backpack so without skipping a beat I pulled it out and slipped it on. That's when the kids started to run off the field.

Sitting under my poncho I was very comfortable. I really like the chest pouch and pockets. The neck zipper and adjustable hood were excellent. Unlike other ponchos there are no side snaps it's already closed so it will not be useful as a tarp or groundsheet. As it is black it will dry quickly but it is hot in the sun.

I'll have to try the Sea to Summit next time.

PS there is something to be said for carrying my BOB to the soccer field.

Monday, October 15, 2018

traefik one domain multiple IPs

Things get crazy if you have a domain that you want to manage with more than one public IP address. You need to know a few things before you go crazy with traefik configuration so let's list things...

[a] you have 2 IPs
[b] you own the domain and have a nameserver
[c] you might set a wildcard A record and you might also set some hardcoded A records
[d] you configure traefik to update your nameserver and you do all that config foo

What I determined was that the system with the wildcard will get all the default or unknown name resolutions... that means that the second IP needs to have all of it's host subdomains set in A records.

I tried more than one domain as a wildcard. For the moment it seems to be working but there is probably a timeout or cache thing going on.  Let's see what testing does.

docker and system memory

I created a 1GB server on Digital Ocean, installed CoreOS, docker-machine, docker-compose, deployed traefik and a simple whoami container.

I'm pretty certain that it does not support swap even though it has not started to use any but I do see that just that little bit of work used up 800MB (including the OS).

What this tells me is that 32x 1GB machines are not the same as 1x 32GB machine. The overhead is just too damn high. On the other hand there is something to be said for adding systems to expand rather than taking the downtime to resize and re-deploy the resident apps.

SSL sucks

Don't read this post unless you want to read about FAILs.

Trying to deploy a secure "developer in a box" domain is non trivial. Which also means that trying to deploy any kind of domain is also non-trivial. The challenge is the bootstrap which is also a "race condition" or a "chicken and the egg".

For example in my system I have a single public IP address. The router forwards ports 80, 443 and a few others to my traefic server. My traefic server allows my projects to register with traefic so that their various network requests are forwarded properly. However, since my traefic server is also version controlled in my private git repo and I cannot deploy traefic until my git server is also in place. And therefore the chicken and egg.

As for the SSL title... when you let your SSL certificate expire because it's too hard to remember what you had to do last time to renew and reload the certificate or that you've imposed too many guardrails in the organization in order to manage secrets that any sort of tweak requires a complete redeploy... or when using mechanical and mutually dependent chicken-eggs systems that it's too easy to lose control.

Here's the outline of my hyper developer domain in a box.

  1. create an account on a VPS service like digital ocean
  2. create a project
  3. register a DNS domain and configure your nameservers.
  4. create a gitlab instance (good luck configuring it. so that it's secure)
  5. configure gitlab including letsencrypt
  6. import the baseline traefik project so that [1] you have a known version rather than relying on release version numbers or public repos [2] consistent deploys
  7. create a console machine instance that would be used to deploy the swarm of instances.
  8. ...
OK, first FAIL. Git is famously difficult to deploy and gitlab does not make that much easier especially since we are talking about the bootstrap and console. Starting again... this time instead of deploying a bootstrap git repo and a separate console I'm going to deploy a small container OS like rancher, install docker-machine and docker-compose then install fossil-scm.

  • Add support for Docker. Just install docker and type "sudo docker run -d -p 8080:8080 nijtmans/fossil" to get it running.
Another FAIL. RancherOS does not install anything less than 4GB of ram. Or at least not that I can be certain of. So this time I'm going to try fedora... I like CoreOS, however, releases have been slow and now that RedHat owns them it's tough to know what it's future is.

And another FAIL: FedoraAtomic 26 uses stock docker 1.13 and the latest docker release is 1.18++. Even though RancherOS has some heavy ram requirements at least it stock with the latest version. Now as I'm trying to upgrade my atomic host Atomic failed.


another FAIL -- 'curl' does not exist on the base RancherOS... you have to convert the console to alpine and then apk add curl... and CoreOS does not permit writing to the /usr partition. So you gotta change it to /opt and add that to the path. UGH And on CoreOS forget any plan to add auto-completion.

Now that fossil is running on my console machine and I've installed docker-compose and docker-machine... I've also updated the admin password on fossil. At this point I've gone back and deleted the RancherOS instance because it's 2GB requirement is 2x the 1GB for CoreOS. At this point this machine is meant to be basically idle although I need to add my swarm tools and traefik.

And another FAIL -- the fossil container is over 2 years old and does not provide any information on hosted persistence and no link to the Dockerfile.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

you bought what?

I have no idea what this guy was thinking or if he's even telling the truth. As I listened to him wander about his condo home office telling us about moving and putting things in storage he started talking about his computer that he dismantled. WTF! I've moved many times and I've always boxed my computer last for the same reasons. Then he goes off and spends some stupid money on a non-modern laptop with an exotic docking station. Then we hear that he has a mac at work.

So maybe he does not work at home. But what's with the exotic docking station and the older laptop with a "maybe" runs Windows 10?

I clearly missed something in the video but if all this was really all that important why not just get something that could run Chrome or even a ChromeOS machine and use it for the basics? For that matter get a tablet and a bluetooth keyboard; that way when your home station is restored you have a different use-case...

or is there some untruth in there?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

when 25 is less than 18

Two packs.... a Naturehike 25L and a Klymit Dash 18 (18L) The pictures are not to scale...

But when you picture them

The 18 is clearly bigger than the 25.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The ultimate backpack

I'm struggling to find the perfect pack and it seems that it should be possible. It seems obvious to me that the pricing is a function of labor costs and materials so generally speaking if the packs are made assemble or manufacturers in bulk the cost will be lower. And for the same reason as before something that can be shipped in 24 hours has an advantage.

1) Price: $15-$50.

2) Weight: under 1 lb

3) At least 1 stretch pocket for instant access to food, larger water bottles, rain gear, tarp etc

4) shoulder strap pockets for water bottles

5) One main compartment 30L with a drawstring closure and an inside pocket.

6) Some way to carry a bedroll/cell mattress

7) carry capacity 25 lbs (10 lbs food, 2-3 lbs water, plus other kits)

8) comfortable straps

9) foam pad back

10) overnight delivery

Not needed

  • hip belt
  • tons of shock cord
  • load lifters
  • brain
  • hydration port

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Hyper Dynamic Development

Back in the day IBM decided that it was cost effective to turn off the lights, turn off the monitor and computer.... and to wait for it to boot up in the morning when employees arrived. Similarly there is a daemon called inetd that would listen to various network ports for remote access. When it sensed a connection it would launch a command. Basically responding to a request on demand. This had a number of side effects in latency and performance but it did mean that system resources would not sit idle consuming resources.

I have 4 Intel Nuc systems on my desk. Each cost between $600 and $1100. That goes a long way especially when trying to get some work done. One real challenge is that 2 of the machines are running CoreOS and 2 are running VMware and I just cannot control the upgrade process and maintenance. Additionally Let'sEncrypt SSL certs are painful to manage. And in any 24 hour day I'm not always writing code or sitting in front of the console. I really want to be able to launch the docker containers on demand as well as their host.

Make sense?

Docker vs VMware .. again

I'm staring at Google+ and switching through my browser tabs and I stop on the Digital Ocean NEW Droplet tab. I see GitlabDiscourse and Ghost one-click machines and I'm sad. At the moment I'm thinking about a developer in a box approach to dev-DEVOPS and what happens once a second person joins the team. The fact of the mater is you cannot just roll an entire system that people depend on for an upgrade of the base system(s).... whether it's VMware or Docker makes no difference. What's worse is that I have docker systems running on VMware systems and it's clear that recycling the hosts is a challenge with an interruption of service consequence. Bare metal solutions do not solve that problem either.

The only way any of this seems to work is if you have twice the basic hardware so that things can be located and relocated as needed.

3 Variety hamburger casserole

There are so many variations of the hamburger casserole out there but they all start like this:
  • White Castle burger casserole
  • White Castle bacon burger casserole
  • Bacon Burger casserole
  • Taco burger casserole
Start by optionally crisping some bacon (1 lb)

  • 3 lbs beef (70-30 preferred but 80-20 is OK)
  • optionally cook the bacon with the beef
  • optionally season with taco seasoning packet
  • optionally season with french onion soup mix
  • season salt, pepper, garlic, onion to taste
Optionally drain the fat... but if you are a real Keto person then you'll likely leave it in.

mix in
  • cheese (2-3 cups)
  • eggs (6-12) depending
  • optionally mix in the crisp bacon
For the White Castle variation you'll "mix in" Mayo(1 1/4 cup) (I use Avacado Mayo) and heavy whipping cream (1 cup).

Assemble in a buttered casserole dish and top with more cheese (1-2 cups).

Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes or the top is brown.

Since this is not a cake very little can and will go wrong. Keep in mind that bacon can be salty and so be careful when seasoning. Also you probably do not need all that salt anyway.

Google Plus no more

Whatever happened Google seems to be dumping Google+ and I'm OK with that. Google+ seems to be pretty useless... it was never a better twitter than twitter and never a better blog than a real blog. On the other hand Blogger (this platform) has yet to receive any sort of face lift. MEH

Now, if only there was a way to import my content from Google+ to my blogger timeline?!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Stripping down

I have bunches of ziploc bags all over my space and it's driving me crazy. Also this weekend I cut myself at my daughter's soccer tournament and I realized I did not have band-aids or tape even though I was carrying everything in a pack. Now that I have everything tucker neatly into my Klymit Dash-18 I need to figure out what kind of EDC I need.

This started off as a crappy mess. Too many bags.

Now that I have removed the bags and de-duped let's organize.

I've organized the first-aid, daily, fire kit, everything else.

Now I have everything, except the food, in a one gallon bag.

And then I pulled out the first-aid and daily kits for my travel bag with the kids:
  • sunscreen
  • bug repellent
  • lip balm
  • hand sanitizer
  • duct tape
  • band-aids
  • neosporin
  • foot balm
  • swiss army knife
  • tweezers
  • Tums
  • Imodium
  • Aquamira tabs
  • Tylenol and Advil
  • Benedryl
  • leukotape
  • padded tape
Watching some of the SUL hikers pack their bags I could do with about half this stuff but there is something to say about having it too.

MSR Hyperflow and Nalgene

Filtering water in the everglades is necessary as there are all sorts of bugs and floaties out there and it's also necessary to prefilter too as there are many sources of water that may damage normal sawyer-type hollow fiber filters stranding you in a place without water and few options other than getting off trail and genuine risk to human life.
Drink unfiltered water at your own peril.
Lot's of hikers have their own way to collect and filter water in Florida. Many use their Gatorade bottle to collect dirty water and filter that through a coffee filter into smartwater bottle. Some will filter that water into a clear bottle and some will drink directly from the filter. I'm not a fan of the later due to the possibility of cross contamination.

After my latest experience I have a new plan.

STEP 1: tie my sil-bucket to a piece of cordage. Put a rock in the bucket and toss it into the water. Pull it out and find a spot away from the waters edge.
This bucket weighs practically nothing carries plenty of water and gets you away from the waters edge where it might be dangerous.

STEP 2: At this point it might seem like a good idea to camel up whatever water you have but it's safer to have two bottles and combine whatever you have for the moment just in case the filter malfunctions and you have to ration what you have left.

At this point put the prefilter in the bucket and start pumping. Depending on the performance of the filter your container should be filled in just a few minutes.
I like to carry two 750ml smartwater bottles but it could easily be two 1L bottles. I drink more than the 1L per 4 miles that people talk about. Water is heavy and I also like a light and small pack. (very few small packs have deep pockets for a 1L bottle.

STEP 3: camel up and repeat steps 1&2 as needed.

STEP 4: clean the filter.

Recently I started to consider a different MSR filter, the Hyperflow.

Features that make it interesting it the size of the prefilter, the length of the hose and the wide mouth bottle top and connector for the filter. The kit is heavier than the trailshot.
I purchased a clear Nalgene so I could see how clean the filtered water is. At this point I could always decide whether or not to add Chlorine or other tabs. These bottles are considerably heavier than the smartwater and I'm also less likely to carry more than one which makes my steps above a challenge.

But some things I noticed this weekend with my Nalgene...

[1] the wide mouth is great. But when it falls over dirt is caught on the lid's grip as there is not much of a lip between the lid and the sidewall.

[2] it does not fit all pack's side pockets

[3] the lid that came with the Hyperflow is probably not meant for long term use but just the filling process or some emergency should the original break. The MSR filter door kept opening.

[4] On a multi-day hike ICE is not usually an issue but when I iced my water this weekend the bottle had lots of condensation getting my pack and gear wet... so leave the ice at home.

One piece of interesting new is that there is a 48oz Nalgene bottle that seems to stand taller and not necessarily wider but I won't know until arrives. It's also an opaque white instead of clear. The white seems to be a lighter material than the clear so that might make for a better container.

Lastly while bushcrafter's like Dave Canterbury like stainless containers so purification is through heat they do not talk about water sources in Florida or water sources with high levels of particulates. They seems to like clear running streams. Also, fire means dealing with fire season and precautions.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The right pack

Today's adventure was not really a hike although given the size of the park it could have ended up that way. My kids started a two day soccer tournament this weekend. That meant folding tents, ponchos, a small tarp tent, 32oz water bottle, few snacks.

When we arrived at the field I was watching the game before us. I had my pack and the folding tent was still in the car. At one point the rain started and about 5 minutes into the rain, wearing my poncho, I decided to setup my tarp. It was a half pyramid with 5 guy lines and one pole. I managed to finish the setup only to get a call from my wife that we were on the wrong field. So I broke everything down and just balled it up into my pack.

LESSON #1 - If the pack is just the right size then there is no room for rushing. My kumo pack is huge and so there was plenty of room, however, I'm reminded that the "hikers" talk about keeping the days tools in the outside pockets. And now I know why. Rushing to get in and out of the main compartment only creates more challenges.

Where the kumo is 36L and the minimalist is 24L The kumo has a hip belt and shoulder strap pockets.

LESSON #2 - you need what you need. Even though I've packed to use the minimalist tomorrow and left the tarp behind having that stretch pocket and the sit pad in the back is comforting. Unfortunately that's simply not how the day is going to go. Either the poncho is on or off. Either the water bottle is accessible or not. Know how you plan to use your gear!

So if there is time tomorrow the dash 30 will be my pack. My stuff is either in the pack or not. But not both.

Monday, October 1, 2018

I'm not a coach but...

When I was a kid I played baseball in the spring and soccer in the fall... or something like that until I was in high school when I finally tried out for the Sr soccer team (as a junior). As a goalie I was not cirque de soliel but more hulk smash... and fearless. So I got the starting in net; and I fought to keep my job every day. At least that's how I remember it. I did not finish my senior year on the team and that was my choice not to mention another story.

After playing 2 years of rec soccer between the ages of 5 and 7 my daughters have developed an affinity for the sport. They are actually pretty good. Last year we moved them from the rec team to the affiliated travel team. Both are interested in what they call "player development". There are many facets to player development that I think we can agree are partly mental, endurance, skill and aptitude.

Last year they completed a 4 month section with the team and they spent most of their time learning to dribble. The first month this season they continued to learn to dribble and do certain ball moves... "the mesa", or "the ronaldo". Or whatever they called it.

Both kids are on the U9 team and this week we had our 3rd league game in Miami and we have learned a few things...
  • even though there are sufficient U9 teams for a proper league the organizers mixed the U9 and U10 girls. And sadly even our own U10 girls are losing in their bracket. 
  • our team is 1-2 and near the bottom
  • while the kids are supposed to learn from the loss they do not all see it that way. My daughter was and is devastated. To the point where she may not want to play again.
But here we are... dribbling ... and doing ball tricks that just do not work.

We are now on our 5 week of practice and all we do is dribble. It seems to me that by the time the kids learn to shoot on goal they might be in college. So then what's the point of this other than a subscription model for coaching? And frankly this strategy is not very transportable from club to club.

I know I'm not making sense here but I'm frustrated. When I was in rec we did it all. Every aspect of the game. When I was a softball coach we taught how to run all the bases not just to first.

IT infrastructure best practices

Yikes! Do the masses get lost and confused in the buzz word and buzz tech of the day. Let's consider:

  • configuration as code
  • idempotent
  • micro services
  • CI/CD
  • full stack automated deploy
  • fail early fail fast
  • agile - scrum
  • six sigma
And then there's what Kubernetes got right but that we do not really understand and how it might be wrong after all.

Taken separately each item in the list seems like a good idea and together they feel like powerful tools. In practice, however, there is no magic brush that allows you to paint the Mona Lisa in a single stroke. Even in the most ideal HA cluster scenario there are so many dependencies that have to be addressed and at some point you have to make decisions on the many single points of failure and risk.

For example; building a docker swarm from scratch from a batch file is pretty simple. Just configure and license one or more VMware or bare metal docker servers and deploy to your heart's content. Make sure that the containers you install are trusted then you are still OK. Somewhere you need a git server and some shared volumes and some sort of CI/CD to deploy your apps and services on the swarm/cluster. That's gong to work for a while until you add a second customer or a second cluster or when a package needs to be upgraded or report deployed.

Configuration in code and full stack deployment means that if one service changes then the entire stack needs to be relaunched. This way DEVOPS knows, verifies and trusts that they can recover from a failure. But when your services are a combination of OLTP and OLAP services then a full redeploy may have other types of unwanted side effect. Also depending on the size of the system it could take hours to redeploy a system.

But if you have to deploy manually it's also a challenge to keep the docs and scripts in order.

Six sigma is a waste of a good tree because you can still be in compliance if you schedule the downtime. So what's the point of that?

The other problem with an all in one approach is that we NEVER seem to execute the promise of move everything at once. Management always seems to change their mind and move things one piece at a time which actually creates it's own set of problems.

another bad day for open source

One of the hallmarks of a good open source project is just how complicated it is to install, configure and maintain. Happily gitlab and the ...