Hosing my WiFi set up

I have been wanting to put shelves up in my office above my desk for some time. The problem has been that the ones that are sold at Lowe’s or Home Depot are not really what I wanted (too short) and I’m not a super handy guy with building stuff (that’s more my dad and brother) so I’ve just been putting it off. For an embarrassingly long time.

Last a couple of weekends ago my dad had volunteered to help me out in putting up some shelves.

On Saturday at 8:30 we started. All in all the process went really, really well. Only one extra trip to the hardware store (it’s usually about 3) and the shelves were nice and level.

Since I wanted the shelves above my desk we needed to move it, and all of the electronics that were on it, and plugged into the outlet behind it. This included a UPS / Battery backup that all of my electronics were plugged into.

We moved everything away from the wall, and then I moved it back. No. Big. Deal.

Now, the timing may have just been coincidental, but the next morning I needed to do some work for my job-y job from home. I took my laptop into my office (with the brand new shelves) and plugged it into the UPS.

I noticed the lights flicker and discovered that the WiFi router (my trusty AirPort Extreme) seem to have reset itself.

No big deal. I just rebooted and we were all good.

Later that day I plugged in my iMac and then stuff got real. The lights went out. I figured that the breaker tripped, but the sprinklers next to the breaker were on so I waded out through to the box and turned the breaker back on. Or so I thought. I came back in and the lights were still off.

At this point I freaked out because, well, that’s kind of what I do. I went back out and turned the breaker off and then back on. Lights are back.

OK, lets try this again. I plug the iMac back in and … crap. Lights are off again.

Back to the breaker (at this point the sprinklers are off) so off and on the breaker went.

OK, one last time and … mother f!

Somehow I was able to go from being able to have my UPS plugged in and everything being fine, to not.

OK. Swap out the UPS and put back the Surge Protectors. Everything powers on and we’re good.

Except we’re not. The light on my AirPort Extreme is suddenly not a solid green, but instead a flashing amber. I consult the internet and get a very unhelpful message

These are some typical reasons for the status light to flash amber:

The base station hasn’t been set up, or it was reset and needs to be set up again. Use AirPort Utility to set up your base station.

A firmware update is available for the base station.

The base station is set up to use Back to My Mac, but Back to My Mac isn’t working or the password is incorrect. If you’ve upgraded to macOS Mojave, you should remove the base station from your Back to My Mac network, because Mojave doesn’t support Back to My Mac.

The base station can’t connect to the Internet, such as when Internet service is down at your location, the base station can’t acquire an IP address from your primary router, or the WAN Ethernet connection to your router isn’t working.

The base station is set up to wirelessly extend the range of your network, but is too far away from the primary Wi-Fi base station.

If your base station is an AirPort Time Capsule, its internal hard disk is experiencing an issue that requires repair.

And suddenly my entire WiFi is down. And I am sad.

I tried a ton of things to get the AirPort Extreme Back, but nothing is working. I finally throw in the towel and decide to to use the WiFi access point from my Fios router.

This means that I have to update the WiFi on:

  • 3 iPhones
  • 2 iPads
  • 1 MacBook
  • 2 MacBookPros
  • 1 iMac
  • 2 Wemo Switches
  • 2 Raspberry Pi
  • 3 Apple TVs (2 4th Gen and 1 3rd Gen)
  • 1 WiFi connected Scale
  • 1 Ring Doorbell
  • 1 Ring Chime (connected to Ring Doorbell)

It also means that I need to plug my Netgear switch into my Fios router instead of the AirPort Extreme. No big deal, right? Except that it was because I forget that the port that the Cat5 cable is plugged into on a router is important.

I spent an embarrassingly long time trying to figure out why my Sonos and Hue Lights weren’t on my network.

Emily kept telling me to take a break and relax and that was, in that moment, the last thing I wanted to do.

I was able to get all of the iOS and MacOS devices connected back to the internet (via WiFi) and decided that I needed to forget the network and watch game 5 of the World Series.

By the end of the 7th we had the game off and were catching up on CW Comic Book shows.

It was a rough day. But I learned a couple of things:

  1. LAN Port 1 on the Fios Router is the right port
  2. Sometimes, you just need to take a step back and think instead of just react
  3. I have a crap ton of WiFi devices

I’m still working on trying to get the AirPort Extreme back to working so that I don’t need to get a new WiFi router ( have I mentioned how awful the Fios one is? ).

New  Watch

New  Watch

The first week

I’ve been rocking a series 2 Apple Watch for about 18 months. I timed my purchase just right to not get a series 3 when it went on sale (🤦🏻‍♂️). When the series 4 was released I decided that I wanted to get one, but was a bit too slow (and tired) to stay up and order one at launch.

This meant that I didn’t get my new Apple Watch until last Saturday (nearly5 weeks later). I wanted to write down my thoughts on the  Watch and what it’s meant for me. I won’t go into specs and details, just what I’ve found that I liked and didn’t like.

The Good

Holy crap is it fast. I mean, like really fast. I’ve never had a watch that responded like this (before my series 2 I had a series 0).

It reacts when I want it to, so much so that I’m sometimes not prepared. It reminds me of the transition from Touch ID Gen 1 to Touch ID Gen 2. I really appreciate how fast everything comes up. When I start an activity, it’s there (no more waiting like on Series 2). When I want to pair with my AirPods … it’s there and ready to go.

I also really like how much thinner it is and the increase in size. At first I thought it was ‘monstrous’ but now I’m trying to figure out how I ever lived with 2 fewer millimeters.

I also decided to get the Cellular Version just in case. It was a bit more expensive, and I probably won’t end up using it past the free trial I got, but it’s nice to know that I can have it if I need it. I haven’t had a chance to use it (yet) but hopefully I’ll get a chance here soon.

The Bad

So far, nothing has stuck me as being ‘bad’. It’s the first Apple Watch I’ve had that’s really exceeded my expectations in terms of performance and sheer joy that I get out of using it.

Conclusion

Overall I love the Series 4  Watch. It doesn’t do anything different than the Series 2 that I had (except I can make phone calls without my phone if I need to) but oh my is it fast! If someone is on a Series 2 and is wondering if jumping to the Series 4 is worth it … it totally is.

SSL … Finally!

I’ve been futzing around with SSL on this site since last December. I’ve had about 4 attempts and it just never seemed to work.

Earlier this evening I was thinking about getting a second Linode just to get a fresh start. I was this close to getting it when I thought, what the hell, let me try to work it out one more time.

And this time it actually worked.

I’m not really sure what I did differently, but using this site seemed to make all of the difference.

The only other thing I had to do was make a change in the word press settings (from http to https) and enable a plugin Really Simple SSL and it finally worked.

I even got an ‘A’ from SSL Labs!

Again, not really sure why this seemed so hard and took so long.

I guess sometimes you just have to try over and over and over again

Using MP4Box to concatenate many .h264 files into one MP4 file: revisited

In my last post I wrote out the steps that I was going to use to turn a ton of .h264 files into one mp4 file with the use of MP4Box.

Before outlining my steps I said, “The method below works but I’m sure that there is a better way to do it.”

Shortly after posting that I decided to find that better way. Turns out, it wasn’t really that much more work it was much harder than originally thought.

The command below is a single line and it will create a text file (com.txt) and then execute it as a bash script:

(echo '#!/bin/sh'; for i in *.h264; do if [ "$i" -eq 1 ]; then echo -n " -add $i"; else echo -n " -cat $i"; fi; done; echo -n " hummingbird.mp4") > /Desktop/com.txt | chmod +x /Desktop/com.txt | ~/Desktop/com.txt

(echo '#!/bin/sh'; echo -n "MP4Box"; array=($(ls *.h264)); for index in ${!array[@]}; do if [ "$index" -eq 1 ]; then echo -n " -add ${array[index]}"; else echo -n " -cat ${array[index]}"; fi; done; echo -n " hummingbird.mp4") > com.txt | chmod +x com.txt

Next you execute the script with

./com.txt

OK, but what is it doing? The parentheses surround a set of echo commands that output to com.txt. I’m using a for loop with an if statement. The reason I can’t do a straight for loop is because the first h264 file used in MP4Box needs to have the -add flag while all of the others need the -cat flag.

Once the file is output to the com.txt file (on the Desktop) I pipe it to the chmod +x command to change it’s mode to make it executable.

Finally, I pipe that to a command to run the file ~/Desktop/com.txt

I was pretty stoked when I figured it out and was able to get it to run.

The next step will be to use it for the hundreds of h264 files that will be output from my hummingbird camera that I just installed today.

I’ll have a post on that in the next couple of days.

My Mac session with Apple

For Christmas I bought myself a 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Several bonuses were associated with the purchase:

  1. A $150 Apple Gift Card because I bought the MacBook Pro on Black Friday and Apple had a special going (w00t!)
  2. The Credit Card I use to make ALL of my purchases at Apple has a 3% cash back (in the form of iTunes cards)
  3. A free 30 minute online / phone session with an ‘Apple Specialist’

Now I didn’t know about item number 3 when I made the purchase, but was greeted with an email informing me of my great luck.

This is my fifth Mac1 and I don’t remember ever getting this kind of service before. So I figured, what the hell and decided to snooze the email until the day after Christmas to remind myself to sign up for the session.

When I entered the session I was asked to optionally provide some information about myself. I indicated that I had been using a Mac for several years and considered myself an intermediate user.

My Apple ‘Specialist’ was Jaime. She confirmed the optional notes that I entered and we were off to the races.

Now a lot of what she told me about Safari (blocking creepy tracking behavior, ability to mute sound from auto play videos, default site to display in reader view) I knew from the WWDC Keynote that I watched back in June, but I listened just in case I had missed something from that session (or the 10s / 100s of hours of podcasts I listened to about the Keynote).

One thing that I had heard about was the ability to pin tabs in Safari. I never really knew what that meant and figured it wasn’t anything that I needed.

I was wrong. Holy crap is pinning tabs in Safari a useful feature! I can keep all of my most used sites pinned and get to them really quickly and they get auto refreshed! Sweet!

The other super useful thing I found out about was the Split Screen feature that allows you to split apps on your screen (in a very iOS-y way!).

Finally, Jaime reviewed how to customize the touch bar! This one was super useful as I think there are 2 discoverability issues with it:

  1. The option to Customize Touch Bar is hidden in the View menu which isn’t somewhere I’d look for it
  2. To Customize the Touch Bar you drag down from the Main Screen onto the Touch Bar.

After the call I received a nice follow up email from Apple / Jaime

Now that you’re more familiar with your new Mac, here are some additional resources that can help you go further.

Apple Support
Find answers to common questions, watch video tutorials, download user guides, and share solutions with the Apple community. Visit Support

Today at Apple
Discover inspiring programs happening near you. Visit Today at Apple

Accessories
From the Apple accessories page, you can learn about all kinds of new and innovative products that work with iPhone, iPad, Mac and more. Visit Accessories

How to use the Touch Bar on your MacBook Pro – https://support.apple.com/en- us/HT207055

Use Mission Control on your Mac – https://support.apple.com/en- us/HT204100

Use two Mac apps side by side in Split View – https://support.apple.com/en- us/HT204948

Websites preferences – https://support.apple.com/ guide/safari/websites- preferences-ibrwe2159f50

I’m glad that I had the Mac session and I will encourage anyone that buys a Mac in the future to schedule one.

  1. They are in order of purchase: 2012 15-inch MacBook Pro, 2014 27-inch 5K iMac, 2015 MacBook, 2016 13-inch 2 Thunderbolt MacBook Pro; 2017 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

Setting up the site with SSL

I’ve written about my migration from Squarespace to WordPress earlier this year. One thing I lost with that migration when I went to WordPress in AWS was having SSL available. While I’m sure Van Hoet will “well actually” me on this, I never could figure out how to set it up ( not that I tried particularly hard ).

The thing is now that I’m hosting on Linode I’m finding some really useful tutorials. This one showed me exactly what I needed to do to get it set up.

Like any good planner I read the how to several times and convinced myself that it was actually relatively straight forward to do and so I started.

Step 1 Creating the cert files

Using this tutorialI was able to create the required certificates to set up SSL. Of course, I ran into an issue when trying to run this command

chmod 400 /etc/ssl/private/example.com.key

I did not have persmision to chmod on that file. After a bit of Googling I found that I can switch to interactive root mode by running the command

sudo -i

It feels a bit dangerous to be able to just do that (I didn’t have to enter a password) but it worked.

Step 2

OK, so the tutorial above got me most(ish) of the way there, but I needed to sign my own certificate. For that I used this tutorial. I followed the directions but kept coming up with an error:

Problem biding to port 443: Could not bind to the IPv4 or IPv6

I rebooted my Linode server. I restarted apache. I googled and I couldn’t find the answer I was looking for.

I wanted to give up, but tried Googling one more time. Finally! An answer so simple it couldn’t work. But then it did.

Stop Apache, run the command to start Apache back up and boom. The error went away and I had a certificate.

However, when I tested the site using SSL LabsI was still getting an error / warning for an untrusted site.

🤦🏻‍♂️

OK … take 2

I nuked my linode host to start over again.

First things first … we need to needed to secure my server. Next, we need to set up the server as a LAMP and Linode has this tutorial to walk me through the steps of setting it up.

I ran into an issue when I restarted the Apache service and realized that I had set my host name but hadn’t update the hosts file. No problem though. Just fire up vim and make the additional line:

127.0.0.1 milo

Next, I used this tutorial to create a self signed certificate and this to get the SSL to be set up.

One thing that I expected was that it would just work. After doing some more reading what I realized was that a self signed certificate is useful for internal applications. Once I realized this I decided to not redirect to SSL (i.e. part 443) for my site but instead to just use the ssl certificate it post from Ulysses securely.

Why go to all this trouble just too use a third party application to post to a WordPress site? Because Ulysses is an awesome writing app and I love it. If you’re writing and not using it, I’d give it a try. It really is a nice app.

So really, no good reason. Just that. And, I like to figure stuff out.

OK, so Ulysses is great. But why the need for an SSL certificate? Mostly because when I tried to post to WordPress from Ulysses without any certificates ( self signed or not ) I would get a warning that my traffic was unencrypted and could be snooped. I figured, better safe than sorry.

Now with the ssl cert all I had to do was trust my self signed certificate and I was set1

  1. Mostly. I still needed to specify the domain with www otherwise it didn’t work.

Installing fonts in Ulysses

One of the people I follow online, Federico Viticci, is an iOS power user, although I would argue that phrase doesn’t really do him justice. He can make the iPad do things that many people can’t get Macs to do.

Recently he posted an article on a new font he is using in Ulysses and I wanted to give it a try. The article says:

Installing custsom fonts in Ulysses for iOS is easy: go to the GitHub page, download each one, and open them in Ulysses (with the share sheet) to install them.

Simple enough, but it wasn’t clicking for me. I kept thinking I had done something wrong. So I thought I’d write up the steps I used so I wouldn’t forget the next time I need to add a new font.

Downloading the Font

  1. Download the font to somewhere you can get it. I chose to save it to iCloud and use the Files app
  2. Hit Select in the Files app
  3. Click Share
  4. Select Open in Ulysses
  5. The custom font is now installed and being used.

Checking the Font:

  1. Click the ‘A’ in the writing screen (this is the font selector) located in the upper right hand corner of Ulysses

  1. Notice that the Current font indicates it’s a custom font (in This case iA Writer Duospace:

Not that hard, but there’s no feedback telling you that you have been successful so I wasn’t sure if I had done it or not.

Switching to Linode

Switching to Linode

I’ve been listening to a lot of Talk Python to me lately … I mean a lot. Recently there was a coupon code for Linode that basically got you four months free with a purchase of a single month, so I thought, ‘what the hell’?

Anyway, I have finally been able to move everything from AWS to Linode for my site and I’m able to publish from my beloved Ulysses.

Initially there was an issue with xmlrpc which I still haven’t fully figured out.

I tried every combination of everything and finally I’m able to publish.

I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth so I’ll go ahead and take what I can get. I had meant to document a bit more / better what I had done, but since it basically went from not working to working, I wouldn’t know what to write at this point.

The strangest part is that from the terminal the code I was using to test the issue still returns and xmlrpc faultCode error of -32700 but I’m able to connect now.

I really wish i understood this better, but I’m just happy that I’m able to get it all set and ready to go.

Next task … set up SSL!