Today we had a symmetric gigabit internet connection installed giving us far more up speed at home.

Jumping from 10Mbps to 1Gbps is exciting because it means we don’t have to worry about Zoom bandwidth and as a bonus I can also reliably run my own VPN

This xkcd is immediately one of my all time favourites

Final Exam

I started reading Anand’s take on Apple Silicon on my iPad and it brought back memories of reading Anand’s take on the Pentium M using AvantGo on my Palm Pilot.

I still need to dig in to the details more but the Apple M1 announcement and the updated Mac Mini definitely seems like a candidate to replace my elderly 2012 Mac Mini as a home server at some point in the future

I am always astonished by how applying some artificial constraints to my regular work routine always leads to a surge in creativity. I am feeling pretty jazzed about work potential today.

Step one in my 2020 home backup strategy is complete. Drives acquired, now I just have to wait for the RAID enclosure.

This week marks 3 months at 1Password and last night I received a “swag” package. They definitely went all out.

I am not usually keen on Buzzfeed quizzes, but this one gave me some good chuckles this morning.

Answer Some Questions About Git And We’ll Tell You Which Disney Princess You Are

Elsa with the description

I changed jobs a little over a month ago and yesterday I received a belated welcome pack!

An Afternoon of Snake-charming

This past week marked two months of working from home full time so I made the choice to improve my workspace by replacing the desk I have been using since grad school.

A decade ago I felt like a black metal desk with a glass surface was super cool and the sort of thing that a computer programmer definitely should have.

Glass desk with cables everywhere

Unfortunately, the side effect of a glass desk is that no amount of effort put into running cables will actually hide the mess. You see it every time you look down.

A rat's nest of wires

Today I assembled my new desk from IKEA, just something small but with a lot of storage and cable management potential.

White IKEA desk with many fewer wires.

No more mess of wires visible all the time and as an added bonus all the hardware that used to be visible all the time is now neatly sorted into some storage.

Open door showing neatly sorted shelves.

Spending more than an hour running cables can seem silly, but it felt good to organize my long term work space.

A 24 hour update on my homework experiment with using Cloudflare for my domain.

Most of the traffic is to my micro.blog site and the photo posts I made last night.

The 93% cache rate is awesome and the Cloudflare speed tool is reporting a 30% reduction in page load time!

A little bit of Homework

This past week I did a few homework projects applying some of the “best practices” from work to my home technology setup. My goal was to improve the security of my home network and the reliability of my hobby project infrastructure. Like any good homework it felt like I should “show my work”.

DNS Setup

Working for technology security companies has definitely led me to be a bit on the paranoid side of device and home network security. I have run content blockers on my mobile devices, little snitch on my mac with block lists, and even experimented with running a Pi-hole setup on my Mac Mini last year.

All of these options have resulted in different pain points:

  • The Pi-hole would need to be rebooted regularly and broke my Guest Wifi network
  • Content blockers
    • only work in Safari
    • only on my devices on the network (not my partner’s or things like a smart TV)
  • Little snitch was WAY overkill for my use.

For the last year I had mostly settled on using a combination of [Quad9 DNS]() and Cloudflare DNS (First 1.1.1.1 and more recently their malware blocking 1.1.1.2) configured on my Router as the solution the got me the most benefit while producing the fewest headaches. It didn’t do much for me around ad or malware blocking per device, but it was something.

Last weekend I found out about a startup, NextDNS, that might just be exactly what I wanted. First, this is my favourite kind of startup, one whose monetization plan is “charge people money”. It brings all the benefits of the Pi-hole DNS server without me having to run a DNS server in my house, plus the block lists I was using with Little Snitch were available in NextDNS. Early this week I configured my home network to use NextDNS and the graph below shows the early results.

Graph of DNS requests over the past week

Overall I am very pleased with the service as it has meant that I have to do less per device configuration, and I have also gotten to play with some DNS over TLS and DNS over HTTPS configurations.

Terraform

For over a decade I have managed too many domains and run servers manually, assuming that nothing would break and that I wouldn’t forget anything. Technically this bit of the homework didn’t happen this week, I actually started this 4 or 5 months ago and just tied a bow on it this morning. For those that don’t know what terraform is, it is a way to describe Infrastructure as Code and make any updates by editing the configuration files.

I run a small server using Linode that hosts a few websites and is a place for me to run some little experimental side projects. The server itself is nothing complicated, but it felt good to move it from beings something I created in a web dashboard, to something that could be reliably recreated if I needed to.

The more impactful use of Terraform was moving all of the DNS configuration into configuration files for all of my DNS configurations. Over the last decade I have moved Nameservers used for all my domains a few times and every time it involved copying all of the entries by hand from one website to another. This was also the only time when I would check for old entries and remove anything not useful. Not really the best process for me to manage anything. Having all the DNS records in a single file per domain makes it much easier to review and update.

Cloudflare

The final bit of homework was that I decided to experiment with using Cloudflare’s CDN product on my domain. I have heard lots of good things about their ability to efficiently cache requests and responses so I thought it would be interesting to see what sort of impact that will have on this blog and on various videos, silly gifs, and random images that I host on my Linode instance.

It will be interesting to see how this performs over time. The early results are interesting, in less than 2 hours I am already seeing almost 30% of all requests being cached and served from Cloudflare. Unlike with NextDNS or Terraform I don’t have a specific goal in mind with this experiment, this one is definitely more of a “just for fun” experiment.

Let’s hope I didn’t break my email setup. 🤞🏻

Space 📷

A little literal today 🤣

Technical debt is the process of avoiding work today by promising to do work tomorrow

A great opening line to a good read that caught me immediately. I especially like the focus on the Social aspect of tech debt.

Scaling Beyond Ourselves

Too often we think only of ourselves and our own experiences, which is reasonable given those are the only ones we have to go on.

With respect to Software I came across these two posts this weekend that do a great job of reminding you to take a moment and follow your assumptions to their logical conclusion beyond your gut feel.

Yesterday I spent a few hours fighting with a clever idea I had to make testing a network routing change easier. While chatting with a coworker about it he replied

I think a good rule of thumb whenever you think you have a good idea is to remind yourself it probably isn’t and move on to something else

It cracked me up and perfectly broke my frustration

so long and thanks for all the fish

There was a point to this story, but it has temporarily escaped the chronicler’s mind

– Douglas Adams

by now some of you may have noticed that you haven’t seen much of me lately. some others of you may have noticed that you have seen much more of me lately. finally others still will be surprised that they had forgotten about me completely but are happy that they find themselves reading my post so they can catch up on what I am doing.

two weeks ago I was offered a full time position as a developer with Ping Identity. I started less than a week later and have been tackling interesting challenges pertaining to online identity management since (also attending a lot of training).

the last two weeks have also seen me move to the Halifax area because I am working in the downtown core. so if you have found yourself wondering why you haven’t seen me around, this is likely because I no long live in the valley. alternatively the reason you are seeing more of me may simply be because I am living closer to you.

so here is to the next chapter, a fresh canvas, a new adventure. to those who were integral in the last chapter, thank you for your efforts. to those of you who want to remain crucial supporting characters, the best of luck. finally, to those of you who will be participating in this new adventure, brace yourselves and god speed.

Anything that happens, happens. Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen. Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again.

It doesn’t necessarily do it in chronological order, though.

– Douglas Adams