wakeonlan – remotely starting another computer

This is something I have been using for literally decades.  Since I have been setting this up in my home office, I am reminded that some people just may not have an idea this exists, and that they almost certainly have it on their computers.  Just a matter of turning it on.

I would have my “big” machine in a room away from where I was seated, then I’d wander off and sit on the couch with the little machine. Then I would need something on the big machine across the network. Since it was typically on my third floor it was impractical to take the laptop upstairs when the TV was on in the downstairs living room. To make it handy I wanted to turn that beast on so I could play music in the kitchen or read a document I have on it on my little machine. This little trick would let me do it.

Wake On Lan” is simple conceptually. You send a “Magic Packet” to another computer on your network, or across the internet. The packet talks to the ethernet card, some wifi cards reportedly work but I have never figured that bit out. When the packet gets there, the computer turns itself on.

Think “Magic Bullet” to wake the computer sleeping at home while you are at work.

Mind you, there are steps to get this to work.:

You have to turn it on in your BIOS.
Ok, better said, you have to find out where it is in the pages of your BIOS, then turn it on.
If you have ever seen your BIOS, and know what’s up in there, you probably are in a small minority of people, but trust me there are good things there.

You look for a prompt that says “Enable Wake On Lan” and make sure it says yes or is turned on or “selected”, then save and reboot the computer.

That computer must be using a wired connection to the internet – an ethernet connection must be used and not Wifi, although I have seen that some people have managed to get this to work on Wifi.

Technically that’s all you need on the “distant” computer you want to wake up, however you do need a few bits of information.

Every network card has a “MAC Address“. Think of it as a telephone number. That network card, and only that network card has that specific number. I have mine, you have yours. Same thing as the phone number on your phone, or your IMEI number on the phone. You and only you have THAT number. It may also be in your BIOS, but every BIOS may vary.

You feed it into a wee little program and it fires off a magic packet to your network. The packet wanders around your network and the ethernet card is listening. If that packet matches the address on the card, the card will wake up the computer from hibernation or turn it on with a “cold boot”.

Then you can get your “stuff”.

The business of across the internet is a bit more complex. You actually would have to punch a hole in your firewall for the purpose, and this is beyond this posting of “Hey look at this cool stuff”.

RaspberryPi users, sorry, you can’t wake a Pi across the network, and I really wish you could! The hardware is built more simply, and the Ethernet port actually sit on the USB Bus.

For Linux users (and BSD) with Debian XFCE, you can find out your MAC Address by looking at the connection information when you right click on the Network Connections icon in the status bar or in the Settings, Network Connections on the applications menu. Right click on the Wired Connection you have hooked up. Look for “Hardware Address:: and you will find a number that looks like 01:23:45:67:89:AB

Windows users, check your hardware manager under My Computer.

Mac, sorry, one isn’t handy to me but the base commands should be there under your network manager.

Look for the Mac Address, again it’s six pairs of Hex numerals that look like 01:23:45:67:89:ab, and write them down.

To test, hibernate or shut “this” distant computer down. Then go to the “other” computer, and launch a Wake On LAN Client. There are many, and they are generally free. Mine is called “wakeonlan” on Linux. It runs at a command line (gasp!) by typing (horrors!) in “wakeonlan 01:23:45:67:89:ab”.  You can easily encapsulate it in a bash shell, of course.

Then after a short pause, the computer turns itself on and presents itself at a login prompt.

Your network shares will be available on that machine, or you can use Remote Desktop or VNC to use it directly from where you sit.

Wake on Lan clients are available:

Linux – called wakeonlan and is available by “apt install wakeonlan” in Debian.

Windows – there are a bunch of them that are available here.

Mac OSX – wakeonlan is available here.

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Rack Can’t Help Fix A Cellphone, or Can He?

I’m that guy. I can repair a piece of electronics down to “the board level” and replace the components that are on it.

Lets be fair, some of the components are beyond me, smaller than a grain of sand. But the larger things are possible.

If I go out and buy a piece of electronics, I look into how repairable it is. I’ve replaced volume controls on a transistor radio, and the USB port on an external hard drive case.

I guess I was lucky that time, everything was spaced out just so.

Some of that can take a small forever to fix too, but I will give it all a try.

Once the warranty is up, I’m going to at least look inside the case of something.

In this case, it was much more involved. “It” was my HTC One M9 Cellphone. “It” was also rated “Very Difficult” to work on by www.ifixit.com and that was fair.

You see these days, you find things sealed up, glued together and made so that you the owner never have a chance of putting a knob back on something. Specifically I am thinking of anything that comes out of Apple these days.

It’s also why I don’t use Apple laptops. I’ve had to replace bits on my own Thinkpads, Dell, and HP computers. There’s a limit with those too, but I demand the ability to easily replace the hard drive and the memory.

Try that on a Mac. I’ll wait.

Didn’t think so!

I waited for the house to be empty. Had to. Humans being social, they demand attention. Since the replacement of the battery on iFixIt was rated “Very Difficult” and at 30 minutes, I knew that I would probably have to take double the time to put a new battery in the phone.

It took a half hour alone to find the tools to do the job, and I have the tools. We keep them here specifically to do this sort of thing.

Started the whole mess at about 10:30. It would give me time to get it done, shower before lunch, and do it in a leisurely manner.

Nope.

That first half hour of very carefully taking off the plastic fascia, and a few very strange screws had me stressed.

Then the wet nose happened.

Rack was checking in. He padded across the tile floor in the quiet house without my knowing. I had a tickle at my elbow and looked over at the familiar black and white face.

Then I glanced at the clock. 11:30. I frittered away an hour getting tools, and a plastic sliver off the top of my phone.

Oh and two “T5” Torx screws from the top of the thing. I wasn’t completely lost.

Basically I was taking it slow. It’s a beautiful piece of hardware, but it’s ridiculously difficult to work with.  In comparison, my older Samsung Galaxy S4 snaps open with a plastic cover in the back I can run a fingernail under.  The battery is user replaceable as well as my SIM and my memory chip.  Done in seconds.

I took the rest of the time to Noon to get the entire case open and splayed out in front of me.

Sighing, I got up and let Rack out for a walk in the back yard, and to make my lunch.

Lunch, Shower, and back at it in about a half hour.

The disassembly of the phone is a fourteen step process.

Remove screws.

Remove antenna wires.

Remove ribbon cables held in by ZIF connectors.

Lift motherboard.

Remove battery.

It was about 3 in the afternoon before I had the thing disassembled and reassembled.

Each half hour I had a wet nose looking in on me. I guess that I was worried, Rack probably smelled it. He’d come in, look in on me, sit down, make me clear my head.

I’m glad he did. Oh he can’t handle a screwdriver or a soldering iron. He doesn’t have opposable thumbs. But he did serve a very good purpose.

He made me pause and look around. These pieces are so small that in some cases I used another cell phone to take a picture, zoom in, and look at it.

As a result Rack stopped me from having total vision failure from eye strain induced by bad design and teeny tiny itsy bitsy electronic parts.

Well, great! Time for a Smoke Test. You know, press the magic button and see if it comes on?

Oddly enough I had bumped it trying to seal the back and the phone came on before it was snapped in place.

Camera did not work. Flashlight did not work.

Rack came back. I paid attention to him. Set that phone down. I couldn’t see the monitor without

being right on top of the thing now.

When Rack left, I pried it all apart and re-seated all the connections.

Success! I could tighten those screws down and begin to charge the battery.

That half hour repair took me six hours.

Including lunch and a shower and letting Rack out when he needed it.

I think I needed that pause more than he did but I’m not letting him know that.

Trust In Dog, They Know.

That’s a mantra here. There’s a certain something that having a Herding Dog around the house will enhance. They learn. More importantly, they learn YOU. They also know when you need a distraction.

It’s not a weirdly bark at anything that moves thing. He actually knows when there’s too much going on, time to take a break.

There’s that wet nose.

Postie coming by and you’re involved in something? “Moof.” Rack says. Pay attention. Go get the mail, there’s a wee little box in there as long as some circulars and a J. Peterman catalog.

Like I said, Trust In Dog, They Know.

Now the Parrot? He’s shady. Needs to be watched over. He’s got his eye on the woodwork in this house…

Bougainvilleas and Bananas on Thanksgiving

On this week before Thanksgiving, there is a lot of “Prep Work” to do.

The hedges get cut back,

House gets cleaned,

Shed gets cleaned,

Yard gets cleaned,

Well, you get the idea.

I would say this is where the law of unintended consequences happens.

While I don’t have a good definition for it, I can explain it really well in one short phrase:

Never paint your kitchen.

Why?  Because then your cabinets will look shabby.  You then have to replace them.  While your kitchen is gutted, you look at your oven from the last decade and think this would be a good time to do it.  Maybe swap out the electric range for a gas or propane one.  After all, being able to cook indoors is good for emergencies.

You get the idea.

So we got started.  Actually we started a while back before the hurricanes hit South Florida and cleared out the shed.  That gave me the open “16th Puzzle Piece”.

I talk about this often.  There is a game that has 15 square pieces.  Usually has numbers on them.  There is one piece missing, the 16th Puzzle Piece.  You slide the pieces around to get them out of order for someone and then hand it to them to “fix”.  I guess it was a Rubix Cube before there were any.

I often joke that I feel like the 16th Puzzle Piece.

It makes me feel like a banana.  Or this banana leaf, you never know where they will crop up.

Once you have managed to go out to the shed to get that piece you need to fix something that just broke, you notice the yard and the plants and take a pause.

But there is rather a lot to get done.

Also remember, the dog lives here and you don’t.   Different lecture but the tumbleweeds under the AC Intake that the dog left there need to be picked up reminding you that you need to replace the filter bag in the vacuum and no you can’t just pull the old dirt out and dump it into the trash because that bag had that done once already.

It’s a process.

But I will say that if you are reading this and your Turkey is still frozen, you may be out of luck.

I can help but I am not guaranteeing it will work…

Place your wrapped in plastic, frozen, and un-thawed meat (Turkey, Chicken, Beef, it doesn’t matter) into the sink that has been thoroughly cleaned and plugged up.  Fill the sink with tap water.  It does not have to be hot, and it won’t be for long.  Submerge that package of meat/poultry/frozen stuff in the water.   Check back in an hour.

The water will speed your thawing up.  It’s of course at your own risk so make sure it isn’t in there longer than you need it to thaw and it does not spoil.  The good thing is that it is faster and safer than leaving a frozen block of dinner out on the counter overnight.  But you do need to use your own judgement on how long to keep it in the water bath.

At least that one hour will let you vacuum the dog or the cat fur out of the kitchen and maybe even let you scour the bathtub.
Isn’t having guests a pain in the tail?

Speaking of guests and pets – remember don’t let anyone feed traditional Thanksgiving food to the dog.  Raisins, onions, and many of the herbs and spices that are in that feast will sicken or kill your dog outright.  Better to stick with their dog food if there is any doubt.

And no matter how much they beg, no Onions for the dog.

When you’re through with all of that and the meal is done, you can start on the wiring in the backyard.  You really did want to get the low voltage wiring run the 100 feet from the front yard to the shed so you can see inside the thing, didn’t you?

Ok lets just skip it and hit the Chinese restaurant for some Curried Chicken instead!  They’re open, aren’t they?

Debian Linux Stretch – Backup or Restore Your Blog or Website Into Your New Server Using Blogger or WordPress

Writers will understand this.

Have you ever meant to write something but had no idea what to call it?  This is where I am at.

Basically these instructions will work with Blogger or WordPress.

It will work with any operating system because both of those are Cloud based.

WordPress may be “local” or on the cloud.

I tagged this with Debian because it’s a logical endpoint for a series of articles that I wrote here about how to create a Debian Web Server with WordPress so that you can muck about with your systems.

Blogger is only blogs, but these instructions for WordPress may be used for entire websites if you are working with WordPress only.

First: Export your Blog or Website

Blogger:

  1. Log in,
  2. Go to the Settings page
  3. Select Other
  4. Click on the button to “Back up content”
  5. Click on “Save to Computer”
  6. Tell the browser where to save the file.
  7. Success!

WordPress:

  1. Log in to your wp-admin page
  2. Click on “Tools”
  3. Click on “Export”
  4. Click on “Start Export” button
  5. Choose What To Export.  “All Content” is most likely.
  6. Click on “Download Export”
  7. Go to your email account that is specified in the message and follow the link to download your blog’s content.

Second: Import your Blog or Website

Blogger:

  1. Log in,
  2. Go to the Settings page
  3. Select Other
  4. Click on the button to “Import content”
  5. Check the box saying “I am not a Robot”
  6. Check the box saying “Automatically Publish”
  7. Answer the annoying Capcha and click the appropriate pictures
  8. Click on “Import from Computer”
  9. Tell the browser where to find the file.
  10. Success!

WordPress:

  1. Log in to your wp-admin page
  2. Click on “Tools”
  3. Click on “Import”
  4. Click on the link for the kind of blog you want to “Run Importer
  5. Click on “Browse” to Choose File to import.
  6. Find your file on your computer.
  7. Assign Author, Click the box saying to “Download and Import File Attachments”
  8. Click on “Submit”
  9. Success!  But note that the information will be in which ever template that you had chosen for the install of the WordPress software.  You will probably want to adjust that as needed since it probably does not match the original blog.

All this will take a while, go pet your dog, or make coffee.

 

At this point your server will have your blog or website.

In my case, it’s local so I can make changes to my look and feel without harming my “production” website.

That new site can be anywhere, it could be on WordPress on the cloud.

Hurricane Irma, The Wait For Power

Really.   If I can sit here on a Wednesday Morning and bust out some blather about the electricity being out and that’s about it, then I will survive.

The one story that keeps coming through my mind is a woman on Barbuda in the Caribbean.  She was one of 1600 people there.  She was watching a baby and a tornado hit her home.  The baby was sucked out of her arms.  Baby found dead later when the storm passed.

Really.  So, count your blessings.  If you are reading me, you are better off.

We are without power.  The gasoline supplies are very low, we’re waiting on the coast guard to allow tankers into Port Everglades to refill.  I guess we join a long line to fill gas cans like many others.

But we’re intact here.

I caught news that the west side of the state, Naples, Fort Myers, and the like got slammed by this horrible storm.  Here, not so much.  We didn’t have a predicted 9 feet of water in a storm surge come in.  We did have white-out conditions with rain so strong that I couldn’t see the wall of a building 250 feet away briefly.

The eye of the storm crossed Cudjoe Key.  Call it MM 52 – 52 miles East of Key West.  As well as they prepared, anything not nailed down is now not in the house.  Those folks will need help getting onto their feet.

So I’ll return to putting the plants back out and scooping my neighbor’s tree leaves out of the pool.  Not unscathed, just a bit muddy.  Not really even worth taking pictures of it.

A cycle of running the generator an hour, then waiting three hours to run again.  It keeps the bags of ice in the freezer frozen and the refrigerator cool.

Much better off than many.

Yes.  This is global warming.  Anyone that tells you otherwise is a fool and should be returned to their medications.  Anyone who makes laws or votes to the contrary is a damn fool and probably should not be allowed to effect other’s lives.

But after all is said and done.  A few observations.

Gasoline.  I suspect the state has been pretty much drained of this stuff.  We’re ok for four days now, after having gotten some.  I’m sure many won’t be as lucky.  Some of the lines were blocks long.  Police were thankfully directing people around.

And Gasoline is beginning to flow in which is a major plus.  It will take a while before we start to see supplies even out in South Florida.  There was a report that in Tampa, simply forget it.  Again, Thankful but that could be “helped”.

Traffic.  We drove down to Davie about 10 miles off.  I have to say the roads work better with fewer lights.  I’ve heard a saying that “Every Traffic Light Means Someone Died Here” but I have to question if streets aren’t just badly designed and enforcement of traffic laws are simply not stringent enough.  If you follow the rules, you’ll have a better time of it.  If you drive a car like an idiot, you’ll wreck it for everyone else.

A Traffic Light that is out is considered a Four Way Stop by the universal vehicle code.  Yes, Even For you.

We did make it to Wawa in Davie.  The line was untenable.  Close to 100 cars waiting for fuel.  Might need to get up in the middle of the night to attempt it next time.

Count your blessings.  If you can read this, you’re better off than many others.  Now, go talk to your neighbor.  They just may need something.   Mine just put out another bucket of Avocados.  There are plenty left, go and enjoy.

If I could just figure out how to eat the darn things other than sliced on a bagel!  I am thankful even for avocados, weird though they are!

 

Hurricane Irma, Slogging Through Saturday Into Sunday

But hey, I still have power…

At least through Sunday Morning, I have.

It wasn’t until 4PM here that I saw the first rain that left enough water on the ground to sheen the streets.

The county declared a curfew from 4PM through.  I’m guessing the duration.  I don’t know when that is.

The only thing that has bothered me is a few power pops here and there.  When power does go out, we’re sunk.  I can’t say that they’ll be by to reconnect us at that point, because there is some wind speed that they stop work at.

I seem to remember 35mph.  We are over that now.  44 was the last check, although it’s been gusting faster.

Then you’re on your own, cowboy.

Net’s up.  Power’s up.  Water’s flowing.

This isn’t a whole lot to deal with compared with Antigua, Puerto Rico, the DR, Haiti, and Cuba.

Now the Florida Keys.

It could be worse, I could be in the Keys.  The Eye of the Storm right now is crossing into the lower keys, and they’re still predicting that trip through Key West and up the west coast of Florida.  My heart goes out to them since I can’t say I would want up to 9 feet of salt water piling up on my house.  That’s going as high as 270 CM.

This map is of the expected storm surge.  Those pink areas are where the 9 feet of salt water comment comes from.  Naples, Marco Island, north up the coast.

I grabbed that map from the NWS Miami Twitter Feed.

I stocked up on rechargeable batteries a while back.

I’ve also been harvesting old laptop battery packs.

Why laptop batteries?  Each one is a larger and longer cell configuration so they will not fit inside of a standard radio or flashlight.  They also put out more voltage at 3.7 VDC compared with 1.5 VDC for a D, C, or AA Cell.

But.

Each one puts out between 2 and 4 amps.  Connect four together and you get 14.4 VDC.  Run them through a voltage regulator like that cigar lighter thing to charge your phone in the car and you now can recharge your phone a couple times.

So those 18650 batteries will charge my flashlights for months.  Battery operated fans for weeks.  Radios will play.

The air conditioning may not work due to power outage, but I will be able to listen to crappy music.

If you want radar?  Follow this link.  Remember that the highest point in the Keys is on Key West at 18 feet.  The map showing those islands should be considered a suggestion since most of them will be overwashed by storm surge.

That “9 feet” again.

But so far, for me, I’m lucky.  Not even anything worth taking a picture of here in Wilton Manors, and I thank my lucky stars for that.

How to get Tap To Click back on your Debian 9 XFCE Linux install

We are at an early point in Debian 9, and therefore many of the “downstream” distributions in Linux-Land these days.

Debian just made Debian 9, Stretch, the Stable version.  It also came out with an upgrade to 9.1 a couple days ago.

Since my own laptop was a Debian 9.0 install, I had a problem.  The track pad no longer did a “tap to click”.  It was there in the earlier versions, and removed in a Debian 9.0 install.  They migrated to libinst.  It promises to be new and shiny and do many new things but most of these things are in the future – or so my lack of Tap To Click would show.

I don’t use many of the more complex mouse options with my laptop.  It’s a non touch screen, Lenovo Thinkpad T530.  I heavily use Tap to Click so I want it back.  My other laptop, a Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga S1 had the same problem.  After a lot of research, this was shown to be a design decision.  Debian is my go-to operating system distribution due to the absolute depth of software and documentation out there.

So I set about to “fix it”.

DISCLAIMER:  I was able to do so on two computers but with some thrashing around.  I will give here the information that I have, but that thrash may make it less solid than my usual “cook book recipe” guarantee of any technical articles that I write.

Give it a shot.  If it works, let me know if you did anything different and I’ll mention it here.

Background – the documentation for Debian 9, Stretch, is still incomplete.  The files that I created had to be placed in Xsession.d and the directories that Debian gave were either missing or empty for me.  What they have is correct for the earlier versions and the docs need to be proofread.

Or I went crosseyed and got the wrong damn directory…

Since this blog is a place I put documentation for my own uses (Linux as well as recipes and photography), I’ll put it here.  I’d rather not have the heat of an official inquiry on me since I live in Florida and it is quite hot enough as it is.

First:  Create a 50-synaptic.conf – the file should probably not be there on a “clean install”

1) edit /etc/X11/Xsession.d/50-synaptics.conf

2) at the top merge (Copy and Paste) in the following lines:
Section “InputClass”
        Identifier  “touchpad catchall”
        Driver  “synaptics”
        MatchIsTouchpad “on”
MatchDevicePath “/dev/input/event*”
        Option  “TapButton1”  “1”
        Option  “TapButton2”  “2”
        Option  “TapButton3”  “3”
# This option is recommend on all Linux systems using evdev, but cannot be
# enabled by default. See the following link for details:
#       MatchDevicePath “/dev/input/event*”
EndSection
Second, copy that file to /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf
Third open terminal and sign into root to install a package:
apt install xserver-xorg-input-synaptics
Fourth: reboot.
On return, you should have tap to click working.  Entering “synclient TapButton1=1” on a command line should give you information for further research.
You may diagnose what the touchpad is doing by running as root “synclient”.
Entering “synclient TapButton1=1” on a command line should give you information for further research.
Further options such as multitouch, double finger tap for scrolling, and coast speeds and so forth are described in detail in the Debian Wiki Synaptics touch pad page at https://wiki.debian.org/SynapticsTouchpad