Category Archive: g33k stuff

Serving

After I got home from work tonight…er…last night…um…when I got home from work 3 hours ago everyone was asleep. So I decided to take this opportunity to watch some TV and work on my little PiServer. I haven’t worked on it in quite a while because I was getting frustrated by not being able to make it do what I wanted it to do. I know I have the right software installed, but my mind just wasn’t working in the right way to get it done and that was frustrating me. Then, while in the shower getting ready for work a random idea came into my head about how to approach my problem. Five hours later, I finally got one of these things working!

So what has been vexing me? It’s setting up an FTP sever that can be accessed internally and externally. Accessing it internally was never an issue, but getting access to it externally was the issue. I thought I was going in the right direction when I was setting it all up, but obviously I wasn’t. Well, at least not totally right. When I had my breakthrough moment in the shower, I realized that port forwarding wasn’t the solution and dedicating a domain to the FTP server was indeed to right option. (trust me, this makes total sense if you look at my setup) So when I got home, I implemented the changes and in 25 minutes I had a totally functional FTP server that I can access outside of my intranet. How do I know I can access it outside of my intranet you ask? Simple. I logged into the server on my iPhone via LTE.

Now, one of my last issues still has me shaking my head. The whole point of this server is for web development, and for that I need multiple instances of WordPress installed. I can install and configure WordPress without issues, but WordPress cannot update itself or download plugins and themes from inside of the software. When I input my FTP info to get those files (something I have NEVER had to do with my site on my actual webserver — weird) every installation/update fails. I have no clue why. I thought it had to do with the fact that my FTP server could not be accessed outside of my intranet, but now that I solved that issue, I still cannot connect. But, that’s going to have to wait until another day. It’s late, and I need to get to bed. Only one problem shall be solved tonight, but it was a problem that I’m glad was solved!

Serve Me

Back when I moved into this house in late 2000 there were only 2 computers in this house. (the horror!!) After a few months I wanted a way to easily transfer information between the two computers without having to use a floppy disk (oh yes!) or a CDR. Thus began my foray into home networking.

I was working as a assistant store manager at Electronics Boutique at the time, and we had a decent array of computer equipment back then. I picked up an unmanaged 5 port Linksys switch, 2 Linksys LAN cards, and a CAT-5 cable. I had no clue what to do with this stuff since my only experience with networking up to that point was with the AppleTalk network at my high school. I talked to one of my part time associates, Jerry, (not that one) and he gave me a quick tutorial since he had experience with ethernet networking. I brought the equipment home with me that day and decided to get started. Within a matter of an hour I had both computers talking to each other. Little did I know this would light a fire under my ass. Although I wouldn’t realize this for a few more years, I knew I wanted every piece of electronics in the house to be networked together.

A few years later I found myself living here on my own and licking my wounds from a 7 year relationship gone wrong. I decided to embrace my inner geek. Over the course of the next year I would amass a small lab of computers in my home. To give you an idea of what I had, here is a picture of just my computers that I had, removed from my computer room to rearrange it back in 2004.



Not only did I embrace my inner geek when it came to things at home, I also jumped in with both feet into my website. Not only was I constantly working on my site but I was doing websites for other people as well. Being the geek that I am, I decided to take one of my old computers, a Pentium II IBM Aptiva (still have it!!) and turn it into a server. I got a copy of Windows Server 2000 from my man JP, installed it and configured it over the course of a week or so. In the end I had a fully functioning DHCP, web development, file, and FTP home server. I used that for years, finally getting rid of it when I had to abandon my computer room to make way for Jackson. Since then, I have wanted to make another home server but just haven’t found a viable way to do it.

About 2 months ago I got the bug again and pulled out my old IBM Aptiva from storage. I was going to start working on recreating that server but then things started getting bad with my dad’s health and pretty much everything was put on hold. Fast forward to the beginning of this week. Things have started to stabilize regarding my dad — unfortunately not so much with his health, but with all of the paperwork that needed to be completed regarding his condition. With that said, my mind started to wander back to that server. After thinking about how much work it was going to be to get that up and running, and the reality that having a server running a 17 year old operating system probably won’t be able to handle today’s current releases of PHP and MySQL, I wanted another option. I tried around Thanksgiving to do just this with my Mac Mini but I ran into the same problem I feared with my Aptiva — the OS and machine were just too old. After mulling it over for a while, I got an idea — a Raspberry Pi. I did some research and found that the latest build of Raspbian (custom Linux distro for the Pi) can get me everything I want in a web development server in under an hour. Not only that, but I should be able to install a Plex server on there, freeing up that task from my iMac. I was sold. I ordered another Pi, power supply, heat sinks, and case yesterday afternoon from Amazon. I’m kind of an impatient kind of guy so I paid the extra $8 and did next day shipping. It’s for delivery right now. I got out a 32gb SD card yesterday and put an image of Raspbian on it, so when it arrives this afternoon, I simply have to assemble the unit, pop in the memory card, and go to work. Right now I’m like a little kid on Christmas Eve looking out the window waiting for Santa — in this case the UPS guy — to arrive. The nice thing is I am off today and I only have work until 10am tomorrow, which means I have plenty of time this weekend to get things configured exactly how I want them. I can’t wait!!

Going Back 17 Years

As you may have noticed, I’ve been in a real retro gaming mood these past few months. There is a small list of games that I have been playing non-stop since they have come out. While it is well known that the Doom series is probably my favorite game series of all time, there is another series that I continue to play to his day — Diablo.

I bought the Collector’s Edition of Diablo II the day it came out, and played it heavily for many, many years. Sadly, when OS X discontinued PowerPC emulation, I was unable to play it anymore. After years of playing it on my various Windows machines when I upgraded to OS X Lion, I was shit out of luck. Until now….

I was curious if there was ever a work around to this problem so I did some Google searching and I found a thread on the official Blizzard forums about this exact issue. The thread was started in 2013 and the Blizzard rep said they were working on a new Mac installer for over a year, but there was no ETA. I fast forward to the last page in the thread and see a message from April 2016 that the new installers we finished. Oh yeah! Needless to say I went and downloaded the installers for both Diablo II and Diablo II – Lord of Destruction. I was able to transfer my 17 year old CD-Keys which meant I didn’t have to pay for it again! I have been waiting a few years to see this again…




Time to go back to Tristram!

How I Caused An Evacuation At An Apple Store Without Even Being There

I’ve had my iPhone 6S since September 2015. While I love the phone dearly, I did noticed after a few months that my battery was a bit wonky. First, it would just seem to eat itself randomly by jumping down sometimes 20% of battery life at a time. Then came the random shut offs. Without warning, the phone would literally turn black and shut off. I would turn it back on to be greeted by that red empty battery icon telling me to plug it into a power source. After a few tries I could get it turned back on where my battery meter would confirm that I wasn’t even close to being out of power. Sadly, there was no fix for this so I just lived with the uncertainty of having a phone that would shut off at any moment. Then I finally found an article online about 3 weeks ago FINALLY confirming that this is indeed a defect and Apple was replacing faulty batteries for free. Unfortunately, finding the time to make an appointment at my nearest Apple Store (almost 90 minutes away) was an issue — I would just have to wait until Jess and the kids were on Christmas vacation and find a day to sneak down there. Well, that day was yesterday.

I arrived at the Apple store for my 1pm appointment and went over everything with the tech. I signed the paperwork for the repair, confirmed it would be free, and was told because of their volume it would take about 2 1/2 hours to do. So, I left him with my phone and proceeded to try and kill 2 1/2 hours at the mall without a phone to keep me company. Spoiler alert — it sucked.

I returned 2 1/2 hours later and told the person at the door I was there to pick up my phone that I had dropped off for repair. She told me to get into a small line along the side of the Genius Bar and they would get me my phone. After a few minutes I was at the front of the line and the girl there asked me what I was picking up. I told her my name and it was my iPhone. She then looked at me and made a face. “Yeah…there was an incident with your phone. You’re going to be getting a brand new phone. Just wait over here since we have to fill out some paperwork.” Somewhat worried, I tried to image what the hell could have happened. Well, after a few minutes she came back out with a box, a bag, and motioned me over to the other end of the Genius Bar and asked me to take a seat. In the box was a brand new 128gb iPhone 6S and a bag of…something. I was curious about what the hell happened to my phone so I asked her just that. What apparently happened was when they opened my phone up to replace the battery, the battery was swollen and it burst, causing smoke and chemicals to be released into the air — that triggered an evacuation of the repair area of the Apple store. Once everything was clear, I guess there was no saving my phone. What was in the bag was the remnants of my phone that I had dropped off a few hours earlier. She even laughed because since she was retrieving repairs all day, there was a long line of people at the time that were pretty pissed off because since the room had to be evacuated, she couldn’t go in there to get the completed repairs.

So in true Shafer fashion, I caused a major issue without even being there. In the end though, I did score a brand new iPhone with a working battery so for me it was a win!

Digital Gold

I am a digital hoarder. This stems from my old days on dial-up where it would take me so long to download a file I dare not delete it in case I ever needed it again. Because of this, I have gigabytes upon gigabytes of files that are what some people would call useless. Me? I call them digital gold. So what digital gold did I find today? I found an old Photoshop file from sometime in 2003 when I was building the i/o Comics site. It’s a simple file with the initial layout, but the base layer is a screenshot from my first rough layout in Microsoft FrontPage.



To my knowledge, this is the only screenshot I have from all of the sites I ever made in FrontPage. Since I used to live in both Front Page and Photoshop, this is a very nice memento of those days.

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