Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pickup truck market

There will be a glut on the market for fullsize/oversize/jacked-up pickup trucks very soon.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Idea 1 - Reduced tillage modification for paper pot transplanter, plus bigger scale.

Our garden is tiny, and all raised bed. But I think about small-scale farming from time to time. When I do think about it, I tend to research it in depth and some pretty obscure subjects, and I like to combine seemingly disconnected ideas to make new things. Two of the things that have caught my eye are reduced-tillage techniques and paper pot transplanters.

Reduced tillage techniques seek to improve soil conditions while simultaneously reducing inputs (herbicide, labour, tractor fuel, fertilizer, etc) by incorporating cover crops and just not ploughing as much - or at all on some farms. For example, in the fall after a field has been harvested the farmer would plant a mix of fall rye and clover which would grow until it is killed off by frost, mechanical action, or herbicide . Once killed off, it is left undisturbed, adding carbon  and nitrogen back to the soil and acting as mulch to block weeds from growing. Come spring, the field is planted with a special seed drill which sweeps the planting rows clear of "trash" (cover crop debris) then cuts a channel more aggressively with a sharp fluted opening disk then plants the seed and rollers compact it in. Most zero-till seed drills are huge units for industrial-scale farms - though there is a unit manufactured in Canada for 5' wide planting with a small tractor.

On a totally different scale - paper-pot transplanters are a system for transplanting a single row of closely spaced seedlings (originally rice, now many plants) into soft, loose, trash-free, well-worked soil. They are pulled manually while another person loads trays of seedlings. The seedlings are growing in little paper cells in a honeycomb pattern which tear apart in strips as the transplanter is pulled along. A regular angled opener opens a  furrow in the soil for the seedling strip as it is pulled along, the seedling strip is pulled out the back, and little wheels close the furrow around the seedling. Because the transplanter is being pulled by a person it would be too hard to pull if it had a row sweep or disk opener required to plant into soil with a lot of old roots.

A handy farmer could rig up a paper-pot transplanter to a small tractor and add a trash sweep/hoe and heavy fluted disc opener  - but then he'd be running the tractor (paying for fuel and labour) to very slowly plant a single row of crops... which are plantable at very narrow spacing so he'd probably prefer to plant many rows or interplant several crops at the same time...

Well, fortunately the paper pot transplanter is mostly flat and at an angle... so if the feed were set up to come off one corner of the tray rather than the middle of the end, several rows of them could be stacked staggered - just like mouldboard ploughs are - to plant several rows while still having access to load trays from the front/top.  

So there you go - a multi-row paper-pot transplanter which might be able to plant into zero-till fields.

Add a roller-crimper in front and you can kill off the cover and transplant your crop in a single pass.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 - Expanding the topics to be covered

When I started this blog I wanted to write primarily about my experiments in setting up a domain server using Ubuntu - but work obligations took my attention away from that project.

Now it's 2016 and it looks like the Zentyal CE project is a better solution than mine for most use cases - maybe I could do a few things better ... but the people on that project have a lot more time to consistently work on it.

A while back I expanded to include anything related to small  heterogeneous  networks... But I didn't have much time to devote to that either as my work schedule is pretty erratic.

At my wife's urging I have now decided to expand the topics covered to include my invention ideas. Some of them are ideas for new products - some changes to existing products - and some are process ideas or comparisons of different ways different companies do things. She probably is tired of me coming home saying ... truck designs are bad, they should be like this... and ... small business server designs are ill-fit, they should be like that, and small retail site networks are unnecessarily complex, they should be like that.... etc but then never telling anyone else about it.

I often come home telling my wife about how x-company does their network (inefficiently) or the like and it should be like this - her response is usually that I should blog about it (without naming names) in the hopes that someone who is in a position to change things reads it.

Some of the posts may not be new ideas - just explanation of existing ideas that are not implemented often enough because people are just too rushed to do them - for example a planned post about mounting wall-mountable electronics to your desk to cut clutter. Others are not often done presumably because of corporate inertia or contractual obligations.

Anyhow, hopefully people find my ideas interesting. Also I intend to learn a few skills to experiment with my ideas - drafting with sketchup, exporting for CNC/3D-Printing/Lasercutting etc,   and sewing would be super handy to create diagrams and/or proof-of concepts pieces.

Currently I have a list of 27 ideas to blog about, I'm sure I will come up with more over the year.
Also I'll likely have occasional posts about how to do things computer/network wise...

So, here's a few from my current list:

  • A new class of work truck
  • Simple kit for humanitarian relief for hard to get to areas
  • New (slightly different) form factor for small retail/branch office server
  • A line of work clothes - because most workwear companies assume you're in construction OR a mechanic OR a lawyer, with little in between
  • Changing network scope on SOHO RouterOS routers (Routerboard) - there is a trick to it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Backup thoughts, hard won from recent experience.

Time machine is cool when it works.

When it does not though it is not so cool. 

Same goes for windows backup and rdiff-backup to another disk.

But! If the backup disk (or sparsebundle) is directly mounted on the machine that is doing the backup...  what if there is some hickup in your filesystem code somehow while the backup disk is mounted...? BOOM! goes your system disk AND backup.

This is exactly what happened recently with my wife's MacBook Pro. It appears that the machine had a crash somehow going to sleep while doing a backup to the NetATalk share on my home linux server. The system partition was irrecoverably corrupted and so was the sparsebundle containing time machine. (After cloning the system drive with dd) I ended up having to reinstall OSX and restore the profiles from a backup of the server, then recover some of the more recent files from the system drive image using DiskWarrior.  

I am rebuilding the home server real soon now (the new HDD is backordered and now I am on call until next weekend). I was already planning to set up a complex set of btrfs subvolumes, so now the plan is to have the TimeMachine NetATalk shares be subvolumes with frequent snapshots so that previous snapshots are out of scope of the machine doing the backing up. Likewise with the smb shares that 2 windows machines are backing up onto.

So the server's subvolumes are like so:

root (and snapshots)
home (and snapshots)
mytimemachine AFP (and snapshots)
wifestimemachine AFP (and snapshots)
aperturevault AFP (and snapshots)
testWin7Box SMB (and snapshots)
worklaptop SMB (and snapshots)
persistantshare SMB (and snapshots)
volatileshare SMB (NO Snapshots)

And after several steps, the intirim backup solution for the server itself will be one 2TB disk in   
an eSATA cradle with one main subvolume (and it's snapshots) to which the current version of each of those (except the volatileshare) are rsync'd.

Eventually the plan is to score a gratis small desktop with room for up to 4 drives that can live in another building (we have power line ethernet to it working already) so it can wake on schedule daily, receive the backup via rsync, snapshot the backup, and shut itself down when complete. Thus the server also will not have write access to it's own past backups. Also the uptime of the second server should be minimal (first backup will be done in the house via gigabit LAN) and thus power consumption as well.    

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Create a roaming profile user from the command line

Use this to create a roaming profile user named potato with password potatopass

samba-tool user create potato potatopass --profile-path='\\testdc\profiles\potato'

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I am currently working on a new version of the script that does the directory setup for roaming profiles and folder redirection, but it's not yet ready to share.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

BTRFS mirroring on root

If you have set up your system with btrfs mirroring for the root drive (ie by booting into the rescue environment on the installer, making the FS, then booting the installer, telling it to use one of the btrfs partitions as btrfs but not format... then when done doing a grub-install onto the other drives)...

If you lose a drive (on purpose or otherwise)...

When you reboot the first time if you have not replaced the drive you need to edit the kernel command line so that it says "rootflags=degraded,subvolid=@", not "rootflags=subvolid=@,degraded"...

Also, if you're testing by yanking the sata cables, re-adding, rebalanceing, removing the failed drive-id, etc over and over without rebooting, it will get to a point where all the data lives on only one drive without a mirror. If you reboot and rebalance again and remove any missing drive it should fix it.