Category Archives: News

New adventures ahead

First off, I know it’s been ages since I last posted here. I know I always say that but it’s true. I’ve had a bit of a rocky time lately.

I was retrenched at the end of October 2013 and thus have been unemployed for the last 2 months. Being the end of the year, the job market is a bit difficult since everyone is in holiday mode. I’m hoping that thing pick up early in the new year, but my unemployment has lead to the need for changes.

I’ll be moving in with my aunt and her partner after Xmas. They have very kindly allowed me to live with them until such time as I am back on my feet. They have a lovely home in Westville.  Moving of course means having to downsize, get rid of stuff and put some stuff in storage. This is a somewhat sad and stressful exercise, but I’m hoping that it will be for the better in the long run. I seem to have inherited some pack rat tenancies from my parents and grandparents and I’m hoping to use this opportunity to start living a bit more of a minimalist lifestyle, just holding on to the things that are necessary and have actual value in my life. This move will unfortunately cause a period of internet-less-ness in my life. I’ll still have some connectivity via my phone, but that is a far cry from the uncapped ADSL that I’m used to. This may not be my only move for the foreseeable future. There is a very real chance that I may have to move to Cape Town, Johannesburg or Pretoria for work as the job market for people with my skill set is fairly dismal in Durban.

After my move, I hope to start working on a few projects. First of all is revamping the StrangeMinds IT infrastructure. I’ve had everything running on a VPS at Hetzner.de for some time now and it generally works really well. Occasionally though, the system hangs and needs a reboot. I have not been able to ascertain whether this is an issue with my configuration or with the hosting platform. I have since acquired hosting at Cloudatcost.com and will be looking at either totally migrating things there or running both in order to have some level of redundancy. I’m also looking at migrating from Apache to Nginx and putting all the config stuff in a tool like Puppet or Chef. We will see what happens though.

Once the StrangeMinds infrastructure is sorted out, I need to look at infrastructure for the Durban Linux User Group. I currently host their site but I think it needs a bit of attention as it is looking rather bland. Some of the members have formed a Documentation User Group to write manuals and training material to help new users get going on using Linux and Free Software. They need a server on which to host a collaborative editing system and thus we are looking at doing a small crowd funding campaign to cover the cost of that. I will then most likely take on some of the basic system admin tasks of looking after the server.

Over the past year or so, I’ve felt the need to be a bit more active as far as posting content to the net. Thus far I have not been successful, but in the new year I hope to change that. For starters I’d like to document much of my server setup and administration tasks in a series of blog posts. I’m also hoping to start doing a vlog and/or podcast at some point. Vince from the DBN-LUG has made a good start on that for the LUG via the Google+ hangouts that he has hosted and I’d like to help him to polish it into something really awesome.

I think that’s all I really have to report on at this point. I could complain about how The Department of Home Affairs has still not sorted out my new ID book after 15 months but that’s a topic for another post all together.

cya

SB

Durban Linux User Group

So, pretty much anyone who knows me, knows that I’m into Linux. And by Into Linux, I mean I’m pretty much obsessed with it. Well, not necessaries just Linux, but free/libre/open-source software(FLOSS) and hardware for that matter. My journey started back in 1996 when I got my hands on a book called “Running Linux” which was packaged with a CD pack that contained a few Linux distributions and a whole bunch of software. A friend and I messed around with it for a while but it wasn’t until we bumped into the guys from the Linux Enthusiast’s Association of Durban(LEAD) at the local computer expo, that things really got going for us. We attended our first install fest where experienced guys helped us get our computers setup and working properly with Linux. We started attending the monthly meetings and learned loads of stuff and made some great friends. That was all around 1998/1999.

I the years that followed I attended every meeting that I could, even if the topic wasn’t something that interested me at the moment. I partly did this so that I would know who to ask later if I needed help, partly so I could point people at the right person if they asked me for help and largely because it meant that I got to socialize with a lot of people who were just as passionate and geeky as I was. As time went on, my skills grew and I was able to help people with questions on the mailing list. I even started doing presentations to the group which was scary at first, but also loads of fun. Over the years at least 2 really great jobs came from my involvement with the group. Sadly, around the end of October 2009, the LEAD mailing list ceased to function. I don’t know all the details, but from what I hear, the free hosting that was being used, became no longer free and a suitable new host was not found in time. Meetings had not happened for some time at that point due to a lack of speakers and subject requests from the community.

Anyway, fast forward to March of this year(2011). My girlfriend and I were in the car driving somewhere, when I started complaining about the lack of Linux community in Durban. Having been a community organizer for many years, her response to me was “if the community you want doesn’t exist, create it yourself”. I took this to heart, and by the end of the weekend I had created a Google Groups mailing list and invited a bunch of the people who I still kept in contact with from the old LEAD days. Moderation duties were and still are being performed by Andrea Foster, Edrich de Lange and myself. Initially I had thought to just keep it a mailing list and let others arrange meetings/events if they wanted to as I didn’t want to end up in a situation where everything was lumped on me, I burn out, and the community goes away. In May a number of people mentioned that they would really like meetings to start again, so we organised a meeting to discuss it. This took place on 29 May 2011 at Europa in Florida Road. About 10 or 11 people attended and it was decided that we would start meetings again, but that a committee would be formed to spread the workload. 5 committee members volunteered, Edrich de Lange, Ralfe Poisson, David Bisschoff, Vincent Swart and myself. Meetings were scheduled for the first Thursday of the month and our first official meeting was held on 7 July 2011. I was really happy with the turnout of about 12-13 people, especially since the venue had to be changed the day before the event. What really made me hopeful for the group’s future was that at least half of those in attendance were new faces to me.

When I started the mailing list, I called it DBNLUG, short for Durban Linux User Group. This was partly because I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes from the previous group, and partly to show that it is a new group, under new “management”. Those of us on the committee and moderation staff, hold no ill will towards the LEAD organizers, in fact I still have the utmost respect for them and their hard work for so many years. It’s just that DBN-Lug is sort of the next generation of the LUG if that makes any sense.

Over the past almost 2 months, the committee have been hard at work getting this organised for the group. We now have a hosted server where we will be moving the mailing list to since the Google Groups system seems to have some nasty glitches from time to time. The new mailing list is not yet active, but it will be soon. We also have a basic website up at http://durbanlinux.org.za which has links to places where you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. There are placeholder links that will link to a Blog, Wiki and Planet page as soon as we can get those setup. And lastly there are links to the current mailing list and a link to mail the committee.

All in all, I think the LUG is coming together nicely with quite a few very enthusiastic users. An LPI study group mailing list has already been spawned by one of our members and there are whispers of the possible resurrection of BarCampDurban at some point in the future. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Linux community in Durban and I’m glad I get to be a part of it.

A new year

Well its a new year already. Eek, half way through February even, and its already looking to be a busy year.

First off, lets look at what happened in 2010.

  • I planned to blog more and totaly flaked on that.
  • I started a new job at a business inteligence company where I look after linux servers and VOIP call center stuff.
  • At the end of May I moved out of my dad’s house and into a nice little flat with my wonderful girlfriend.
  • I joined up with the Durban Wireless Community. Handy that one of their high sites was on the top of my new building ;-)
  • I built a new gaming PC that should last me a good long while.
  • I signed up with Virgin Active again, but started slacking towards the end of the year.

So far in 2011…

  • Got back from a lovely holiday in CapeTown. Such a wonder full city full of great people. Btw, the Protea Hotel Fire and Ice is quite something to see.
  • My girlfried and I celebrated our 2nd aniversery.
  • Signed up with Unisa again. I last studied with Unisa in about 2003/2004 and I figured its time I got back to it. A lot has changed at Unisa in the last few years, so I only signed up for one module this semester, but I’ll probably pick up a few more in the second half of the year.

Looking forward for the rest of the year, I can see that there will be changes and with everything that is going on I’m gonna be rather busy. Some projects for the year include…

  • Playing with plug computers. I’ve already ordered one from Tonido, but if it works well, I’ll probably get a few more for various projects.
  • Adding IPv6 support to my home network and get a new certification
  • Start playing with Asterisk at home again
  • Go to gym more. I really need to eliminate a bit of spare tire and work on my flexibility.
  • Start playing with Android programming
  • Look into playing with Software Defined Radio and maybe setup a WebSDR
  • I plan to investigate the use of standing desks and tread desks
  • Look into starting a GeekNic
  • And much more…

Anyway.. this post has been siting in my drafts folder for about a month now, so I’m going to leave it there for now.

ToDo list 2009

I’ve been thinking about what I have done this year and what I want to do next year.

This year(2008):-

I got some guys together to start the Ductape Hackerspace, possibly the first hackerspace in Africa
I joined 2 groups alternate lifestyle groups and made some great friends
I bought 2 waist coats and a pocket watch. :-) trying to go for a Steampunk look but not quite getting it right yet I think
I changed jobs and found that I don’t enjoy the corporate environment. Well at least not this corporate environment.
I bought an Arduino and a Wiimote. Probably 2 of the coolest toys ever.

Plans for 2009:-

Build something cool using the Arduino
Organize a locally made run of Arduinos and teach a class on how to use them at Ductape
Get Ductape organized and running smoothly. Hopefully find a permanent venue.
Write at least 1 blog entry every day. This could get challenging, but I’m gonna give it a try.
Build and wear a Gloging rig. A glog is a cyborg log. Basically a webcam on my shoulder taking a picture ever minute throughout the day.
Move out of my parents house
Find what makes me happy and do more of it
Consume less caffeine
Exercise regularly. This is just for flexibility and basic health purposes.
Learn to program in Python
Build a RepRap

Well thats all I can think of right now. This list is more of a guideline/reminder than anything else. Hopefully I will get a few of these done. What have you accomplished this year and what do you hope to accomplish in the coming year?

cya

SB
P-)

Weekend Projects

Ok, so I haven’t posted in a while. So sue me. I’ve been really busy with work and Ductape and just trying to survive life in general. Anyway, since my friends all seem to be busy or broke or just uninterested in me, I need to find other things to keep my mind occupied. Since IT is my job, I often don’t want to look at a PC on the weekends and I need to find something else to do, so here are my ideas for this weekend.

Electrolytic etching/machining
Making custom T-Shirts
Drawdio

I will try to take lots of pics and post info over the weekend or next week. I’m hoping to show and explain the etching stuff at Ductape next Tuesday. I know I have the etching stuff at home, all ready to go. I just need to grab myself a few cheep t-shirts after work. The Drawdio I spotted on LadyAda’s blog yesterday. Not sure if I have the parts at home for that. I might have to make a trip to A1 Radio tomorrow morning.

If all else fails, I really need some sleep. Caffeine might keep you awake but its no good for your body. Trust me, I know. Maybe if the sun sticks around, I’ll head to the beach for a bit.

cya

SB

Ductape – Durban’s First Hackerspace

Ok, So I’ve been a bit busy lately, but here’s an update.

A few weeks ago I got talking to a couple of guys I know in the Durban area about hackerspaces. I then setup a Facebook group in order to guage interest and to allow everyone to start communicating. Within a few days we Had our first meeting and blog, wiki and mailing list were all setup. The name of the hackerpace is Ductape which has so many meanings but all fit. For now we are having weekly meetings on Tuesdays at random places. The first one was at Europa in Florida Road, the second at Spur in Musgrave center etc.

We really seem to have a good group of guys interested in getting things going. Most of the guys seem to be on the more IT/programming side of things but we have a number of radio hams in the group, a few people with electronics skills, and some with more mechanical skills like metal casting and such. Quite a few people have expressed an interest in micro-controller programming and electronics, so I’m looking into getting some kits together for some training workshops.

If anyone is interested in what Ductape is up to or if you are keen to come along to one of our meetings, more info can be found on the Ductape website http://www.ductape.co.za/

Untill next time, happy hacking :-)

SB

Update….

Ok, so I haven’t posted any updates here in ages. One would think that I’ve been busy but I actually cant remember what I’ve been up to.

Lets see. My caffeine intake is down which I think is a good thing. I rejoined the gym but got sick a while back and haven’t been back since. I plan on getting back into the habit of going again. I don’t plan on becoming the next Arnold Schwarzenegger but a bit of definition would be nice. I’m gonna blame my desk job and genetics for the padding I’m getting around my middle. I don’t intend to let it get any worse so off to the gym for me.

In November I stumbled across an online 3D world called Second Life. I instantly fell in love with it as it brought back memories of the Metaverse from Snow Crash. a warning to anyone wanting to try SL. Its extremely addictive and it eats bandwidth. I know people who have stayed up for 3 days without sleep because of SL and I was going through 3GB of bandwidth a week some time back just because of SL. On some weekends I can go through 1.5 -2 GB in a day depending on what I happen to be doing. It is a very interesting system though. Its not a game, though people might think it is. Its more like a 3D version of the internet. You can walk around and interact with other “residents”, you can make items through the building and scripting interfaces and you can then sell and buy they items that you and others have made. You can buy or rent virtual land on which you can open a shop or build a home, or you can just wander around and take in the sights or go dancing at a light club.

Hmm, what else has happened. Oh yes, my car was damaged in a storm toward the and of last year and was fixed in January. The panel beaters did not do a great job on matching the colour of the paint so it is quite obvious which bits got painted when the car is in direct sunlight. I am still trying to get it sorted out. Still on bad news, my car was broken into in my back yard a few weeks back. My radio/CD was stolen along with a bag of beach stuff. On the up side I got a nice new radio out of it that plays DVDs, though I still have to organise a screen for it. I have an old PS One screen here that I want to re-case and modify to run in the car. With a small mod I’ll be able to make it work as a VGA screen too so I can plug it into my laptop too.

What else can I say… life doesn’t change much for me. I still work at the same place, doing the same thing, though things do seem to be improving. I did decide a while back that I am going to get Cisco certified and look at getting into a bigger IT company. Where I am at the moment i just don’t get to play with the really cool big network toys.

Not much else to say really, other than I’ll be 27 in 3 weeks time so don’t forget that I like gifts from thinkgeek.com ;-)

cya for now. have fun.

SB

Still allive

Ok, so I’m still alive……barely. Been busy at work, stress levels through the roof and I’m back to drinking a minimum of 1L of coke a day in addition to coffee.

On a happier note, I found a great comic the other day called Girl Genius. Found some nice steampunk stuff too – The Steampunk WorkshopThe Steampunk HomeBrass Goggles. Oh the good old days when mad science was easy.

keep well

SB

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The Mugging

Hi all

Its been a hectic last couple of weeks. This last Sunday(14 January) I was mugged in the Umhlanga Nature Reserve. I was walking along one of the trails when I was grabbed from behind and pulled to the ground. There was only 1 guy and he took my wallet and cellphone. I didn’t see a weapon but I wasn’t gonna find out.

I’m ok. When I hit the ground I think I landed on a root or something and bruised my coxics. My back is still a bit sore but other than that I’m fine.

Yesterday I got a call from the bank saying that someone had found my wallet on the beach and had handed it in. All the cash had been taken, but my drivers license and cards were all there. I had canceled all my bank cards so I am still waiting for then to be replaced, but at least I still have the wallet and drivers license.

I got a new sim card on Monday and my boss has kindly lent me a phone in the mean time untill the insurance replaces my stolen one, so I am still reachable. Unfortunatly I have lost a lot of cellphone numbers, so if people wouldn’t mind droping me a mail with their numbers, that would be great.

cya

SB