Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Day 421 of self-isolation - Voter ID

Voter ID

This sounds like a good idea to me. Look at the kerfuffle that is still going strong in America, where a large percentage of the population think that the election was fraudulent.

In the UK, as in America, there is very little voter fraud, but we've seen now how even a completely baseless claim, can undermine people's faith in democracy.

The idea is that you show a picture ID when you vote (postal voting is a lot easier to secure). That picture ID would be your driving licence or passport. For those people without either of those, the government would provide a photo ID free of charge.


Monday, 10 May 2021

Day 420 of self-isolation - Hugs are go!

Hugs are go!

Michael Gove has revealed that hugging will be allowed very soon.

Ladysolly is being asked by several bridge clubs if she's willing to play face-to-face in a few weeks.

We're planning a trip to London very soon.

Things are getting back to normal!


Sunday, 9 May 2021

Day 419 of self-isolation - The Great Influenza

The Great Influenza

By John M Barry. I've been reading this, and it's really good. It explains things about viruses in general, and influenza in particular that I hadn't known before. It explains how viruses can acquire characteristics from other viruses, and how an initially weak virus, can increase in infectiousness and deadliness. How the "cytokine storm" is not a new thing, it happened 100 years ago. It explains "long Covid", because flu can do the same thing.

Covid-19 looks bad - but actually, we've dodged a bullet. Coronaviruses don't mutate as rapidly as influenza. Influenza is more like a swarm of similar viruses, of which a large percentage can't infect, but those that can, evolve rapidly.

Also, the symptoms, including anosmia, can be the same as for flu. And flu can be a bigger killer than Covid.

Spoiler - 50 million died, but eventually the pandemic ended.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Day 418 of self-isolation - Fan


While I was in the server room, I heard a grinding noise. That's usually a bad noise. I have two ears, so I was able to track down the server making that noise, and sure enough, when I powered it down, the noise stopped. 

A grinding noise is usually a faulty fan.

I opened up the server, and it was easy to locate the fan with the problem. I had to dismantle the power supply to get it out, and it checked out - the bearing had worn out.

Fans run 24/7, and because they are mechanical, they are a frequent failure. This fan was 40x40x20 mm, and I have a few of those in stock, so I replaced it with a good fan, and everything is OK now. 

But what was I doing in the server room? Another computer was faining to start up. When I put it n the workbench, it was starting up then immediately going into a "kernel panic", which is a situation where the  system has failed so badly, it has to stop immediately.

I swapped out the memory, and replaced the system drive, and one of those two changes fixed the problem. Some time soon, I'll test the memory to see if it's usable.



Friday, 7 May 2021

Day 417 of self-isolation - an election

An election

Which we didn't vote in, because we don't know the candidates, or the issues, and we aren't going to vote Conservative because of the two major ways they have messed up this country (Brexit and Covid), and we aren't going to vote Labour because I'm still seeing a disturbing amount of racism there.

So we decided not to vote.

The important election will be 2024.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Day 416 of self-isolation - Fedora 34

Fedora 34 

The latest version of Fedora is out. I've downloaded it and burned to DVDs, and I'm updating each of the servers to this new version. Updating is fairly easy.

yum update -y

dnf -y --releasever=34 --setopt=deltarpm=false distro-sync --allowerasing

There is a problem with updating the rpmfusion apps, but I don't think that's important.



India is getting worse. 3982 deaths and 412k new cases each day. At this rate, India will push the USA off the top slot for new cases per day within a month. And only 11% of the population is vaccinated.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Day 415 of self-isolation - Single figures

Single figures

We've seen single-figure numbers for new deaths this  weekend; it even got down to a single death. Things are looking really good, and the lockdown is being ease even more.

In India, the disaster continues to unfold, with nearly 4,000 deaths per day and nearly 400,000 new csaes. And that probably under-reported.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Day 414 of self-isolation - Hello, Albert Einstein here ...

Hello, Albert Einstein here ...

I keep hearing an advertisement that starts " Hello, Albert Einstein here ..." which goes on to promote smart meters.

This is fundamentally dishonest. Einstein never said anything at all like this, and pretending that he did, or would, is dishonest.

If this is someone's recommendation, then the advertisement should name him or her. "Hello, Jane Formby here ...". Or don't use a name, just give your opinion that more people should use smart meters.

They go on to claim that if everyone in this country used a smart meter, then it would save CO2 like planting 10 million trees every year until 2030.

This is a claim that you use less energy if you have a smart meter. The assumption is that people will have a better sense of how much electricity they are using, and would therefore use less. I query that. The latest research is that such a saving would be 21p per week. But it would also mean that energy providers could start to use surge pricing, making electricity cost more at peak times.

There are better ways to save electricity consumption.

So we have a weak claim (saves you CO2 and money) and a clear falsehood (I'm Albert Einstein).

If I hear this one more time, I'm going to complain, on the grounds that advertisements should be truthful.

Monday, 3 May 2021

Day 413 of self-isolation - Fifteen love

Fifteen love

My weight is down to 15 stone zero pounds, that's 210 pounds, or  95 kilograms. That give a BMI of 29.4. which puts me as "Overweight"

That's good news, because until recently, I was "Obese".

But the BMI calculator tells me I need to lose another 32 pounds and get down to 12 stone 10 pounds.

That might not be possible.


Sunday, 2 May 2021

Day 412 of self-isolation - Pi wifi access points

Pi wifi access points

Following the investigation into wifi access points, I decided to set up some pi access points.

I didn't do the DHCP stuff, there's already four DHCP servers on the network.

As you can see, I'm using a Pi version 1 for this. 

I've built two of them, so if I need to, I can scatter them around.


Step 1: Install and update Raspbian

Check out our complete guide to installing Raspbian for the details on this one. Then plug everything in and hop into the terminal and check for updates and ugrades:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

If you get an upgrade, It’s a good idea to reboot with sudo reboot.

Step 2: Install hostapd and dnsmasq

These are the two programs we’re going to use to make your Raspberry Pi into a wireless access point. To get them, just type these lines into the terminal:

sudo apt-get install hostapd
sudo apt-get install dnsmasq

Both times, you’ll have to hit y to continue. hostapd is the package that lets us create a wireless hotspot using a Raspberry Pi, and dnsmasq is an easy-to-use DHCP and DNS server.

We’re going to edit the programs’ configuration files in a moment, so let’s turn the programs off
before we start tinkering:

sudo systemctl stop hostapd
sudo systemctl stop dnsmasq

Step 3: Configure a static IP for the wlan0 interface

For our purposes here, I’m assuming that we’re using the standard home network IP addresses, like 192.168.###.###. Given that assumption, let’s assign the IP address to the wlan0
interface by editing the dhcpcd configuration file. Start editing with this command:

sudo nano /etc/dhcpcd.conf

Now that you’re in the file, add the following lines at the end:

interface wlan0
static ip_address=
denyinterfaces eth0
denyinterfaces wlan0

(The last two lines are needed in order to make our bridge work –- but more on that in
Step 8.)

After that, press Ctrl+X, then Y, then Enter to save the file and exit the editor.

Step 4: Configure the DHCP server (dnsmasq)

We’re going to use dnsmasq as our DHCP server. The idea of a DHCP server is to
dynamically distribute network configuration parameters, such as IP addresses, for
interfaces and services.

dnsmasq’s default configuration file contains a lot of unnecessary information, so
it’s easier for us to start from scratch. Let’s rename the default configuration file and
write a new one:

sudo mv /etc/dnsmasq.conf /etc/dnsmasq.conf.orig
sudo nano /etc/dnsmasq.conf

You’ll be editing a new file now, and with the old one renamed, this is the config file that dnsmasq will use. Type these lines into your new configuration file:


The lines we added mean that we’re going to provide IP addresses between and for the wlan0 interface.

Step 5: Configure the access point host software (hostapd)

Another config file! This time, we’re messing with the hostapd config file. Open ‘er up:

sudo nano /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf

This should create a brand new file. Type in this:


Note that where I have “NETWORK” and “PASSWORD,” you should come up with your own names. This is how you’ll join the Pi’s network from other devices.

We still have to show the system the location of the configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/default/hostapd

In this file, track down the line that says #DAEMON_CONF=”” – delete that # and put the path to our config file in the quotes, so that it looks like this:


The # keeps the line from being read as code, so you’re basically bringing this line to life here while giving it the right path to our config file.

Step 6: Set up traffic forwarding

The idea here is that when you connect to your Pi, it will forward the traffic over your Ethernet cable. So we’re going to have wlan0 forward via Ethernet cable to your modem. This involves editing yet another config file:

sudo nano /etc/sysctl.conf

Now find this line:


…and delete the “#” – leaving the rest, so it just reads:


Step 7: Add a new iptables rule

Next, we’re going to add IP masquerading for outbound traffic on eth0 using iptables:

sudo iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE

…and save the new iptables rule:

sudo sh -c "iptables-save > /etc/iptables.ipv4.nat"

To load the rule on boot, we need to edit the file /etc/rc.local and add the following
line just above the line exit 0:

iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.ipv4.nat

Step 8: Enable internet connection

Now the Raspberry Pi is acting as an access point to which other devices can connect. However, those devices can’t use the Pi to access the internet just yet. To make the possible, we need to build a bridge that will pass all traffic between the wlan0 and eth0 interfaces.

To build the bridge, let’s install one more package:

sudo apt-get install bridge-utils

We’re ready to add a new bridge (called br0):

sudo brctl addbr br0

Next, we’ll connect the eth0 interface to our bridge:

sudo brctl addif br0 eth0

Finally, let’s edit the interfaces file:

sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces

…and add the following lines at the end of the file:

auto br0
iface br0 inet manual
bridge_ports eth0 wlan0

Step 9: Reboot

Now that we’re ready, let’s reboot with sudo reboot.

Now your Pi should be working as a wireless access point. Try it out by hopping on another device and looking for the network name you used back in step 5.


Saturday, 1 May 2021

Day 411 of self-isolation - Sorting out Wifi

Sorting out Wifi

After considerable cogitation and use of nmap, I found the problem. Some of the wifi access points were offering dhcp service that led to no access to the internet, because they weren't giving the right  gateway. I've disabled those, brought Buffalo-10 into ladysolly's room, and everything looks good now.

The Pfizer jab gave me a slightly sore arm, but I think it's calming down now.

And today, I did my VAT, the tax codes, and all the end-of-month stuff.