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?

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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

Using a Manifest to Recreate your Linux System Selectively

Last week, I had finally had enough of not being able to hibernate my computer.  There was enough “chaff’ and weird things happening.

I did realize that I could create a list of everything I had, and then get Linux to import that list and reinstall all my programs.

That would be my Manifest.

I did it knowing that I could be reintroducing the problem that I created with the old system.

I was right.  So I did it over, selectively.

And it worked.  Hibernate and video crashes were problems, and after 17 consecutive hibernate cycles over two days of active use, I’d say I am done.

This was a whole lot simpler.  You see, this scary Manifest thing is nothing more than a text file that is generated within “Synaptic” that contains all the markings of the programs that I installed over the 7 years that I had that Linux install.

I went through that file and deleted everything that I did not expressly know what that particular program was, or anything I knew I did not want.

Easy except the file was in chronological order or … well, lets just pretend it was and leave it at that.  Basically it can be sorted in alphabetical program order simply.

One line in Terminal, just like everything in Linux, would solve it.

Assuming the Manifest is called /home/bill/Desktop/Manifest.txt

In Terminal, issue this command string on one line:

cat /home/bill/Desktop/Manifest.txt | sort > /home/bill/Desktop/SortedManifest.txt

Now you’re in alpha order, and it makes it easier.

I did delete anything that started “lib” as well as KDE, gnome, and mate since I strongly prefer XFCE to all of those.  My choice, no big deal

I simply edited the file in Mousepad, and deleted all things I did not want.

If you want the long form description of all of this, Last Week’s Post is at this link.  However the short form is here:

1) on original install create a Manifest within Synaptic Package Manager.

a) open synaptic

b) Select File, Save Markings As

c) navigate to the place you want to store this file, and give it a name.

d) Tick the box “Save full state, not only changes”

e) Click Save.

2) Verify that your manifest is on removeable media.

3)  Remove any unwanted programs from the Manifest

4) save your important files from the operating system on removable media
/etc/samba/smb.conf,

/etc/apt/sources.list,

the Manifest file

5) Install a fresh copy of your Debian Based operating system on the destination computer.

Debian, *Ubuntu, Linux Mint, whatever…

6) Get the destination computer “up to date” and stable.

7) compare and manually update your /etc/apt/sources.list file from the original computer

copy the installed version to a save file

I copied my own from the original computer in its place and updated

then you will need to update the PGP keys for one or more added such as http://www.deb-multimedia.com

8) install the manifest by

a) open synaptic

b) Select File, Read Markings

c) find and open the manifest.txt file

d) click open

e) verify needed markings have been imported into Synaptic, and click Apply.

f) there will be additional libraries incorporated into your install list due to any new dependencies.

8) you’re done.  Verify everything is OK.  Live with it for a while.

You will want to add in programs like libdvdcss to allow DVDs to play, Samba to share files, but these things will need to be done individually.

9) File Sharing.  I used the Debian Wiki entry at https://wiki.debian.org/SambaServerSimple

a) apt install samba samba-client

b) edit /etc/samba/smb.conf  – or put the one in from the old computer assuming you had it working.

c) add your samba users:  smbpasswd -a USERNAME

replace USERNAME with the correct name, and it will ask you for the password

d) restart Samba:

    # /etc/init.d/samba restart
    or, if you are using systemd
    # /usr/sbin/service smbd restart

Green Onion Flower, or When Internet Memes Bloom

We have all read them.

Internet Memes that promise that you can grow your own food forever.

Guess what, they’re right.

Actually, in some cases they are.  Others depend on how good a gardener you are.

When I was a wee brat, I had pots and plants all over my bedroom.  Along with fish tanks and the sort, there was always something growing, living, bubbling.  The room was always a little more humid than the rest of the house which was great in Winter I guess.

Those Suburban South Jersey split level tract homes could be rather dry, even if you had the bedroom over top of the garage.

I guess I had some luck with growing flowers.  I had a marigold bloom that grew in a thimble sized pot once with a tiny little flower that surprised me.

But this was a surprise.

The meme said that there was a list of food plants that you could grow from the root portion of the plant.  This promised to be a “forever” thing, if you got it right and used them well.

Carrots, Onions, Green Onions, and Celery, as well as a laundry list of other things.

Green Onions.   We would get a package of them and end up tossing some of them every time.  There is an ongoing “discussion” here about green onions.  When I was growing up you used up the entire plant.  Green leaves and the bulb.  Nothing was wasted.  Others would only use the bulb and leave the leaves in the trash.

I decided to stick those extras in a pot.  They started to grow.  I would cut a leaf off when I needed some green onion for my Pizza or what ever else I was making.  They kept growing.

In fact, the problem I have now is that the plants are a bit too prolific.  I have two pots that have green onion in them and we don’t use that much in the way of greens.

One of the plants in particular must have been very happy because it sent up a little spike that bloomed.  I never thought too much of a Green Onion as a garden flower, but this was a rather beautiful white and green tinged puff that came up in the pot.

All of this out of some plants that I rescued from the trash.

So yes, as for this Meme?  You can grow them over and over.  If you do, you can just stick the extras in the soil.  As for recipes, the green portion tastes the same, the white is there for crunch.

Simply leave a little bulb on the bottom of the white portion of your Green Onion and you may get good results.  The suggestion with regular onions is to slice about 1/2 inch or 1.5 cm above the bottom root portion, and stick it in water until you see growth.  If you do get some root stock showing, then you can plant that and later get another onion.

Bottomless, never buy vegetables again?  I won’t go that far but I certainly can’t see buying Green Onion in the next trip to the grocer, that’s for sure!