Mark Turner : My sledding souvenir

September 21, 2019 03:09 PM

The start of the fateful sledding run

I spent this past week at the Veterans Administration’s War-Related Illnesses and Injuries Center (WRIISC), getting examined to figure out the strange health issues I’ve had since leaving the Navy (more on that later).

One issue I discussed with them has bothered me for the past few years.I’ve had a numbness that has developed along my right quadricep. It’s icy-cold sensation can wake me from a deep sleep and is quite aggravating. They asked me if I could recall any injury I may have had to my lower back.

At the time I could think of none. but when pondering it this morning the answer came to me and it is decidedly not war-related. Instead, it’s the long-delayed consequences from an injury I received from snow sledding with the family.

In late January of 2014, Raleigh was blanketed in a snow that proved perfect for sledding. After breakfast, the family bundled up and headed to our favorite sledding spot in Lions Park. Gleefully, we raced down the back hill towards the tennis courts parking lot. On one run, however, I raced Hallie down the hill while I was sitting on our green plastic dish sled. At the bottom of the hill, I plowed into a landscape timber at full speed, sending me airborne momentarily.

This is not a happy face.

Fuck, it hurt. Worst pain I ever had. I could do nothing but lie there, too hurt to move, and cursing a blue streak. It took me several minutes to be able to pick myself up.

My sledding was over for the day. I soon hobbled home down icy streets and rested.

Eventually the pain went away. I seemed to suffer no lasting effects until a few years ago when the numbness began spreading along my leg. Recent MRIs showed the damage to my spine but until this morning I had never made the connection to my sledding accident.

Once the pediatrician who saw our kids mentioned to Kelly and me that pediatricians don’t get concerned with the scrapes that kids acquire – they get more concerned with the kids who aren’t getting scrapes.

While that may seem counter-intuitive, it really says that we are here on Earth to use our bodies. Scrapes, scars, and bruises are badges of honor – proof that we are using our bodies and truly living!

While I would prefer not to be dealing with nerve issues today, at least I know now that I earned this particular injury on a day that was otherwise full of very happy moments spent with my family.

Mark Turner : The Book of Prince | The New Yorker

September 03, 2019 12:55 AM

On January 29, 2016, Prince summoned me to his home, Paisley Park, to tell me about a book he wanted to write. He was looking for a collaborator. Paisley Park is in Chanhassen, Minnesota, about forty minutes southwest of Minneapolis. Prince treasured the privacy it afforded him. He once said, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, that Minnesota is “so cold it keeps the bad people out.” Sure enough, when I landed, there was an entrenched layer of snow on the ground, and hardly anyone in sight.

Prince’s driver, Kim Pratt, picked me up at the airport in a black Cadillac Escalade. She was wearing a plastic diamond the size of a Ring Pop on her finger. “Sometimes you gotta femme it up,” she said. She dropped me off at the Country Inn & Suites, an unremarkable chain hotel in Chanhassen that served as a de-facto substation for Paisley. I was “on call” until further notice. A member of Prince’s team later told me that, over the years, Prince had paid for enough rooms there to have bought the place four times over.

My agent had put me up for the job but hadn’t refrained from telling me the obvious: at twenty-nine, I was extremely unlikely to get it. In my hotel room, I turned the television on. I turned the television off. I had a mint tea. I felt that I was joining a long and august line of people who’d been made to wait by Prince, people who had sat in rooms in this same hotel, maybe in this very room, quietly freaking out just as I was quietly freaking out.

Source: The Book of Prince | The New Yorker

Tarus Balog : The OpenNMS Group Turns 15

September 01, 2019 05:10 PM

Fifteen years ago today, on September 1, 2004, David Hustace, Matt Brozowski and I formed The OpenNMS Group, Inc.

This was the fourth business entity to steward the OpenNMS Project, and would turn out to be the one with staying power.

The original OpenNMS Group office was in a single 10 foot by 15 foot room with just enough space for three desks. The landlord provided Internet access. By adopting the business plan of “spend less money than you earn” we managed to survive and grow. Now the company has its main office in Apex, NC, USA as well as one in Ottawa, Ontario, CA, with a satellite office in Germany.

The OpenNMS platform is being used to monitor some of the largest networks in existence, many with millions of devices. With the introduction of ALEC the team is bringing artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to network monitoring to provide the highest level of visibility to the most complex environments.

OpenNMS has always been lucky to have a wonderful community of users, contributors and customers. With their support the next fifteen years should be as great if not better than the first. I am humbled to have played a small part in its history.

Tarus Balog : Crash

August 29, 2019 05:47 PM

It’s been even longer than usual since I’ve updated this site. I’m missing a ton of stuff, including the last day of Dev-Jam as well as my trip to this year’s OSCON conference in Portland. I wouldn’t be surprised if I lose one if not all of my three readers.

But I do have an excuse. This happened.

Crashed F150 Pickup Truck

On Friday, July 26th, I left my farm in Chatham County, North Carolina, to head to town. I needed to get the oil changed in the F150 and I was planning on meeting some friends for lunch.

About three miles from my house, another driver crossed the centerline on Hwy 87 and hit my truck nearly head-on. I suffered a broken rib, a fractured C2 vertebrae, and a fractured right big toe, but the major damage was that my left ankle was shattered.

I’ve spent the last 33 days at the UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill, where I underwent two surgeries and was taken care of by some amazing staff.

I’m home now and plan to return to work (remotely) next week. I still have many months to go before I can approach normality, but a journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single step.

Thanks for your kind thoughts. One good thing that has come out of this is that I’ve spent the last 17 years trying to build OpenNMS into something that can thrive even without me, and the team has been amazing in my absence. I can’t wait to be at full strength again.

Mark Turner : Our car’s keyfob was hacked – the question is how?

August 14, 2019 03:22 PM

We were out of town over the weekend and at 5:30 AM Saturday I awakened to the sound of one beep of our car’s “alarm” horn. Thinking it was the neighbor’s car and knowing our car was locked, I went back to bed. When we walked to the car later that morning, the hatch was standing wide open. Nothing appeared to be touched or taken.

I was immediately concerned that somehow our keyfob had been hacked. Kelly thought something probably bumped up against one of our keyfobs and that caused it to open. We’ve had the car for years, though, and an “accident” like this has never happened. If something pressed a keyfob button, why would it sound just one beep of the horn alarm? Why not trigger it to sound repeatedly, as would happen if it were a single press of the button? Seems unlikely an accidental press of a button would cause one clean beep and then cause the hatchback to open.

So, naturally I am fascinated with whatever technology was used for this! There are a couple of approaches.

One is a hack called SARA, for Signal Amplification Relay Attack. This involves two crooks working together to extend the victim’s keyfob range using an antenna and amplifier. One crook holds the antenna to the windows of the nearby home or business, hoping to bet within range of the legitimate keyfob. An accomplice holds a smaller device to the door of the vehicle, tricking the car into thinking the keyfob has been presented even though it is still inside the building. Crooks can even start the vehicle using this method.

While SARA is pretty ingenious as far as criminal activity is concerned, I don’t think this was what was used in our situation. Our car’s alarm horn sounded first. If I were a crook who had successfully relayed a keyfob, the alarm button would be the last one I would want to press. This makes me think our attack was some kind of brute-force hack, rolling through signals until it found what it was looking for.

The SARA hack got the press last year but a brute-force method came out years ago but quietly slipped under the radar, possibly because it wasn’t given a sexy exploit name. A story Car and Driver ran in 2015 gives some details:

Modern transponder-equipped car keys are supposed to be ultrasafe: The chip-keys and key fobs communicate with readers inside the car, allowing the car to start only once a secret digital password has been transmitted. But a team of security researchers says they’ve figured out a way to circumvent the system used by some of the world’s largest automakers—and that Volkswagen Group used a lawsuit to keep their findings from going public for more than two years.

Car and Driver quotes London’s Daily Mail, which tells us the crux of the issue:

Tim Watson, Director of Cyber Security at the University of Warwick told Bloomberg: ‘This is a serious flaw and it’s not very easy to quickly correct.’

‘It isn’t a theoretical weakness, it’s an actual one and it doesn’t cost theoretical dollars to fix, it costs actual dollars.’

Researchers broke the transponder’s 96-bit cryptographic system, by listening in twice to the radio communication between the key and the transponder.

This reduced the pool of potential secret key matches, and opened up the ‘brute force’ option, which involved running through 196,607 options of secret keys until they found the one that could start the car.

This took less than half an hour.

Bottom line? The maker of the encryption device, Megamos Crypto, appears to have rolled its own cryptography. This is a gigantic no-no, one of the stupidest things one can do. Encryption protocols should be openly published an exhaustively peer-reviewed to ensure there are no flaws in the math. If the implementation is secure, the protocol can be deemed safe for use. Trying to recreate this enormously-challenging wheel on your own – without having several world-class cryptographers on your staff – is an exercise in futility. Once you commit this once-secret algorithm to silicon your secret is now public and your flaws exposed to the world. Then it is only a matter of time before exploits are developed.

The USENIX paper titled “Dismantling Megamos Crypto: Wirelessly Lockpicking a Vehicle Immobilizer” and authored by Roel Verdult (Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands), Flavio D.Garcia (University of Birmingham, UK), and Bar?s ?Ege (Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands) lays out how simple it is to attack this crypto. The researchers were aware of this flaw as far back as 2012 but Volkswagon sued them to keep their research under wraps. A UK court sided with VW and barred publication until 2015 with slight changes made in the publication, which savvy engineers can still decode. The karmic irony is that it was 2015 that Volkswagon was caught cheating at emissions tests, costing the company billions.

I probably have the hardware tools needed for this attack. If I can find the rainbow tables and code I could probably replicate it. Yet it seems someone may have already pre-packaged this attack (if indeed it is the same one). I look forward to researching this more.

Mark Turner : Deed to the Christmas property

August 07, 2019 12:07 PM

I spent a little time earlier this year traipsing through the Wake County Register of Deeds records, trying to find out more about the history of my community. I traced the ownership of my property back to the mid-1800s, including this deed for 109 acres for what became known as the Christmas property, filed in January 1899. Bridges was the owner of the Oak City Dairy Farm, if I recall correctly.

The property was sold for $2,616. According to one inflation calculator, $2,616 in 1899 dollars is equivalent to $80,731. An acre of land here appraises today for $43,200. You could say we’ve seen some growth. 🙂

Below is the deed as transcribed by me. Here’s a scanned PDF of the original handwritten version at the Wake County Register of Deeds.

North Carolina
Wake County

This deed made by Mary M. Christmas Executrix of the late Thomas B. Bridges to Lewis J. Christmas of Charleston, West Virginia. Witnesseth:

That whereas by his last will and testament the said Thomas B. Bridges directed that all his real estate be sold for cash after giving thirty days notice and appointed Mary. M. Christmas his Executrix, which will was duly admitted to probate in the Superior Court of Wake County before the clerk and said Mary M. Christmas duly qualified as executrix and letters testamentary were duly issued to her as such and whereas it being necessary to sell the lands hereinafter conveyed in order to pay the debts of said T. B. Bridges the said Mary M. Christmas as Executrix as aforesaid after advertisement for thirty days in the Times Visitor a newspaper published in Raleigh, N.C. and the court house door in Raleigh, N.C. did on the 27th day of December 1898 expose the lands hereinafter conveyed to public sale to the highest bidder at the court house door in Raleigh, N.C. for cash and at said sale said lands were purchased by said Lewis T. Christmas be being the last and highest bidder for said lands and whereas said Lewis T. Christmas has paid the purchase money for said lands in cash to wit the sum of $2616.00 for the tract of 109 acres known as the Home Place and the sum of $150 for the tract of about 58 acres known as the Brown tract:

Now therefore in consideration of the promises and the payment to her by said Lewis T. Christmas of said aggregate sum of Twenty Seven hundred and sixty six Dollars the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged and by virtue of deed in execution of the powers conferred upon her by said last will and testament of said T. B. Bridges the said Mary M. Christmas executrix of said T. B. Bridges has bargained and sold and does hereby bargain sell said T. B. Bridges Home Place lying about one half mile North east of Raleigh, and adjoining the lands of William Taylor and others and bounded and described as follows:

Beginning at a stone on the east side of a small branch in Taylor’s line; running thence N. 82 W 19.20 1267′ chains to a stone in a lane leading from The Tarboro road by and Through the property of St. Augustine School; thence N. 8″ E 29.85 1972′ chains to a stone thence N 59 1/2 ” E 11.92 787′ chains to a stone Taylor’s corner: thence S. 80 1/2 ” E. 2.1 1782′ chains to Taylor’s branch thence up said branch 49.95 3295′ chains to the beginning, _____

Second a tract of land containing about 58 acres lying about five miles North Eastward of Raleigh adjoining the lands of R. G. [Dunn] [Porter] & others and bounded as follows: Beginning at a stake in Porters line and running thence S. 86 1/2 ” E 15.85 chains to a [pine] tree, thence N. 3″ E 13.15 chains to a stake on the South side of path, thence S. 88″ E with the South line of the path 7.75 chains to a stone thence N 3 1/2″ E fifty links to a stone thence N 87 1/2 ” E 7.05 chains to a stake on the south side of the path thence S 23″ W 36.90 chains to a stake in R G. [Dennard] line thence N 79″ W 18.25 chains to a stake thence N 3 1/2 ” E 18.60 chains to the beginning.

Being the 45 acres allotted to T. B. Bridges and the 13 acres allotted to Nancy Ferguson or Nancy [Kinston] in the division of the land of S___ Brown: said 45 and 13 acres bring fully described in the report of the commissioners and judgment of the court in the special proceedings entitiled Smith v. Bridges recorded in the Book 7 Records of [Partition] A. at Page 421 [A Sey] of the office of the clerk Superior Court of Wake County see also Book No 89 at pages 186-187 and 277 for said Bridges letter to said land.

To have and hold all and singular the aforesaid described lands and premises with all privileges and appurtenances thereto in anywise appertaining or belonging unto him the said Lewis J. Christmas his heirs and assigns in fee simple forever in as full and ample a manner as said Mary M. Christmas Executrix as aforesaid is empowered to convey the same.

State of West Virginia
Kanawha County

I Grant P. Hall Clerk of the circuit court in and for the state and county abovewritten, do hereby certify that Mary M. Christmas Executrix of T. B. Bridges personally appeared before me this day and acknowledged the due execution of the foregoing deed of conveyance.

Witness my hand and official seal this 2nd day of January 1899.

(seal) Grant P. Hall Clerk circuit court
Kanawha Co West Va.

State of North Carolina
Wake County

The foregoing certificate of Grant P. Hall Clerk circuit court Kanawha Co. W. Va. is adjudged to be [earnest.] Let this instrument with the certificate by registered. Witness my hand this 4th day of January 1899.
W. M. Russ Clerk Superior Court

Filed for registration 5 1/2 o’clock P.M. January 4th 1899 and registered in the office of Register of Deeds for Wake County in Book No, 151 Page 679 Jan 6th 1899.
W. H. [Havel] Register of Deeds

Mark Turner : Go Tell It On the Mountain — THE BITTER SOUTHERNER

August 06, 2019 10:44 PM

Great writing here.

I had a dream.

The Georgia General Assembly funded a memorial for Martin Luther King Jr. and his top aides to be carved on Stone Mountain.

The lawmakers commissioned a bas-relief of MLK and John Lewis and Andy Young, this to be beveled into gray granite beside Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. (A half-century ago, the Georgia General Assembly maneuvered to have that holy trinity of notable Confederates, along with their horses, carved onto Stone Mountain.)

At dream speed, hundreds of stonemasons dangled by rope down the side of the most famous … and infamous … pluton in the South. They lit the fuses on sticks of dynamite. They pounded chisels. They swung picks and fired up thermojet torches.

In no time, they sculpted a brand new Stone Mountain monument.When the artisans stood back to admire their work, they beheld the great black generals of the Civil Rights Movement. They stood side-by-side with the great white generals of the Civil War.

Here stood a New Stone Mountain.

Source: Go Tell It On the Mountain — THE BITTER SOUTHERNER

Mark Turner : Rep. Joe John statement on Abe Zeiger’s arrest

August 06, 2019 01:53 PM

NC House District 40 Representative Joe John was the person Abraham Zeiger was due to meet on Friday before Zeiger was arrested for carrying a pistol and two fully-loaded magazines into the North Carolina General Assembly building. Rep. John read the following statement on the House floor Monday night:

This gentleman actually had an appointment to see me. I made the following statement on the House floor Monday night:

Members, last week I had an 11:30 AM Wednesday constituent appointment with a resident of House District 40, whom I had not met previously, to discuss some fairly non-controversial issue. 11:30 came and went without the appointment being met, not all that unusual as many of you have experienced. When I went to lunch at 12:30, he was still a no-show.

We learned later that day the reason my appointment never arrived. He had been detained at our legislative building security check-in while attempting to enter this building with a loaded handgun and two full clips concealed in his bag, and had consequently been arrested and charged accordingly. He reportedly gave no explanation for his actions and was actually remarkably silent.

I want to thank publicly the members of the NC General Assembly Police Department who were on duty last Wednesday and acted expeditiously and appropriately. I would also like to thank the Legislative Services Officer and the Rules Chair for their follow-up and the many of you who expressed your concern.

That being said, in light of very recent events, I would ask each of you, for a moment, to imagine that the gentleman’s appointment was with you, in your office, rather than with me in mine. This incident after all took place, not hundreds of miles away in the distant states of Ohio and Texas, but right here, not only in our North Carolina capital city, but in this very building where we work and govern and spend so many hours. And as you reflect, I would ask you to consider whether it is now not time to throw partisanship and ideology into the trashcan, and to sit down for a full, frank and open-minded conversation about reaching a North Carolina common sense consensus with regards to role of firearms in our state.

I considered this often over the past weekend which Evelyn and I were able to spend at the coast with two adult children and three young granddaughters. I, for one, greatly enjoyed being “Pa” at the beach, I look forward to many more such weekends, and I am more than ready to have the conversation of which I spoke. If any of you feel the same, please let me know.

Mark Turner : AP: Man with gun stopped by security at N Carolina legislature

August 05, 2019 05:19 PM

Here’s an uncredited AP story on the arrest of Zeiger. It includes a quote from his attorney:

“It is unfortunate that any malice be attributed to such an upstanding citizen who merely made an oversight,” Gibson wrote.

Nice spin there, counselor! At the checkpoint, Zeiger was specifically asked whether he had any weapons in his bag. That should’ve been enough to trigger (so to speak) Zeiger’s memory that perhaps he did, in fact, have a weapon in his bag and that he should take it back to his vehicle. Oversight, my ass.

I look forward to Zeiger’s day in court.

August 2, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A man faces charges of carrying a concealed handgun into North Carolina’s legislative building, which this year implemented airport-style security measures for people seeking to interact with lawmakers.

Abraham James Zeiger, 36, of Raleigh was charged with trying to carry the gun into the building on Wednesday, police records show. He sought to enter the building to speak to his legislator and didn’t realize he was carrying the gun, attorney Emily Gibson said in an email Friday.

“It is unfortunate that any malice be attributed to such an upstanding citizen who merely made an oversight,” Gibson wrote.

The General Assembly’s police chief and its chief management officer didn’t return a call Friday seeking more details about the arrest.

Zeiger was stopped by officers who spotted a suspicious item as his bag passed through an X-ray scanner, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported . Officers found a 9 mm handgun and two magazines, each loaded with 15 bullets, General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock told the newspaper.

The arrest marked the first instance of a gun being found during the screening process at the entrance to the state’s legislative building, which hosts staff and legislative offices, hearing rooms and the chambers where the 50-member Senate and 120-member House meet.

Legislative activities were minimal this week as lawmakers try to overcome Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the two-year state budget. On Wednesday, House members discussed a commission to oversee the purchase and sale of milk and approved legislation to expand the requirement for adults to report claims of child sex abuse to the authorities.

Mark Turner : Letter to the editor on assault weapons

August 05, 2019 05:04 PM

I sent this letter to the editor to the N&O today. I hope it gets printed.

I served four years in the U.S. Navy never having heard an AK-47. Then a week ago, hotheads brought their gun battle to my neighborhood. It became crystal clear hearing that cannon-like booming that these assault rifles are nothing less than weapons of war.

There is no justification for anyone outside of the military or law enforcement to posses assault weapons. Can we get to the well-regulated part of our “well-regulated militia” now?

Mark Turner : Man who brought gun to NCGA expressed far-right views

August 03, 2019 06:19 PM

Update 2019-08-14: I have been pondering Friday’s arrest of Abe Zeiger for bringing a gun into the North Carolina General Assembly and it’s possible that I was wrong about his intentions. Yes, I certainly did find a number of gun-themed and seemingly anti-government posts on his Facebook page but to be fair, these were all forwarded and not authored by Zeiger himself. Other photos portray Zeiger as a family man and I found no evidence that things weren’t going well with his life. I am sorry if I misinterpreted the digital breadcrumbs I was able to piece together.

On the other hand, I hope he sees how someone could draw this conclusion. The Bundy item was especially disturbing – celebrating the pointing weapons at law enforcement officers is no joke – and what’s more it wasn’t even remotely truthful. To repost this on Facebook a week before showing up at the state legislature with a pistol and 30 rounds is enough to put a community on edge.

Any why was the gun in his bag when he didn’t have a concealed carry permit (CCP)? Why didn’t he declare the gun when asked by officers at

While his intentions could have been completely innocent when he showed up with a gun, the truth is that no one could know that for certain. It only takes seconds for a mass shooting to occur and officers don’t have the luxury of trust.

Zeiger could very well be a stand-up guy, just trying to do the right thing. If so, I applaud his intentions though I’d rather he left the “good guy with the gun” role to law enforcement. At the same time, he made a big mistake by not removing his weapon before entering a secured building, and for carrying a weapon around in his bag without possessing a CCP. While I am not as concerned as I once was that he may be a threat to society, there is no getting around the fact that he was not being responsible with his gun.

Abe Zeiger

On Friday afternoon, a man was arrested at the North Carolina General Assembly for trying to sneak in a 9mm pistol and two magazines of 15 rounds apiece. The man, Abraham James Zeiger, age 36, was charged with unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon and violating legislative building rules. The story by Lauren Horsch in the N&O quoted the N.C. State Capitol Police as expressing surprise at their catching Zeiger as he was not on their radar, so to speak. The General Assembly implemented stricter security measures at the General Assembly in April of last year.

“I can’t be more pleased with the (screening) process,” General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock said of the security measures that caught the gun. “It could have easily been missed.”

Since this story took place on a Friday afternoon – a time when news stories tend to get lost in the lull of the weekend – there didn’t seem to be many in the media who were asking just who is Zeiger? Also since I happen to know several people who work in the General Assembly, I wanted to know what might have motivated Zeiger and what he may have been planning to do with that gun. It didn’t take me long to find the answers.

First up was a search through voter records. An Abraham James Zeiger is registered in 2017 as Unaffiliated and has no voter history. Not much luck here:

A search on Twitter turned up no accounts.

A search on Spokeo brings us this:

A few Google searches show a LinkedIn page for an Abraham J. Zeiger who appears to be the man in the mugshot. According to the LinkedIn profile, Zeiger works as VP of Operations for Branz Technologies, a company in Durham, NC which once had a location in Sterling, VA (along with Zeiger). Documents filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State list Zeigler as an executive with the company.

More searching shows Zeiger commonly goes by the name Abe Zeiger. A Google search for Abe Zeiger leads us to his Facebook page.

It is on Zeiger’s Facebook page where we find the goods. Zeiger posted a number of anti-government, anti-abortion, pro-Second Amendment items to his Facebook page.

Just one week ago, Zeiger reposted an item praising the gun-toting mob who unlawfully threatened federal officials who were enforcing the law against Cliven Bundy in 2014:

Zeiger reposted this item expressing anti-government views

From November 2016:

December 2018:

Another search turns up Zeiger’s name and business in a Town of Cary bidding document. I can never reconcile the irony of people who express anti-government views while at the same time making a living (at least indirectly) from government contracts.

Then there are several Second Amendment posts. From February:

Also from February:


March again:

Zeiger’s court date is August 28th in room 101 of the Wake County Courthouse.

Mark Turner : Newly Discovered Cellular Pathway May Mean New Approach For How We Treat Alzheimer’s and Cancer

July 24, 2019 04:48 PM

They started out studying the immune response to brain tumors in children. But what they found may not only stop tumors from growing, but halt Alzheimer’s disease as well. Scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital—the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children—have discovered a pathway that prevents the buildup of a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The findings offer a possible new approach to treatment of Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Researchers of the study—published this month in the journal Cell—named the pathway LC3-associated endocytosis or LANDO. They hope to now find compounds that will allow them to restore functioning of the pathway to treat Alzheimer’s disease or block it to treat malignant tumors.

Source: Newly Discovered Cellular Pathway May Mean New Approach For How We Treat Alzheimer’s and Cancer

Mark Turner : We Should Never Have Called It Earth – The On Being Project

July 24, 2019 01:42 PM

We should never have called it Earth. Three quarters of the planet’s surface is saltwater, and most of it does not lap at tranquil beaches for our amusement. The ocean is deep; things are lost at sea. Sometimes we throw them there: messages in bottles, the bodies of mutinous sailors, plastic bags of plastic debris. Our sewage.

Sometimes the things we lose slip unnoticed down the sides of passing ships. We expect never to see lost objects again, but every so often they are carried by shifting currents and swirling eddies to wash ashore on distant beaches. We are reminded that things, once submerged, have a habit of returning.

I am not afraid of the ocean, although I should be. On hot summer weekends I take my son to the beach. He toddles toward the water, laughs at the lazy waves splashing his fat baby legs. I follow behind, turn him back when the water reaches his naked belly. He is too young to know the sea gets deeper, that eventually it rises above your head and you must swim so as not to drown. I am prepared for nightmares as he grows and learns about the vastness of the ocean and the monsters real and imagined that swim there. He will soon know that evil things lurk in the deep.

Source: We Should Never Have Called It Earth – The On Being Project

Mark Turner : The Navy’s journey from racial segregation to equality

July 24, 2019 01:17 PM

In the spring of 1945, at age 17, I volunteered for the U.S. Navy.

Nazi Germany had surrendered, but World War II was still raging in the Pacific as the Americans closed in on Japan’s home islands. Kamikaze planes were diving into ships, killing sailors by the dozens.

Most of my thoughts and feelings were with those embattled men 5,000 miles away. When I enlisted, I had no idea I was about to participate in a historic experience that in some ways would prove more momentous than the final struggle against the Axis powers.

Orders from the Navy directed me to report to New York’s Pennsylvania Station, where I boarded a train with other new recruits that took us upstate to boot camp at the Sampson Naval Training Station. Soon after we arrived, we were divided into companies and marched to our barracks, as Seneca Lake gleamed in the distance.

A chief boatswain’s mate led me and some 150 other would-be swabbies to our barracks and checked off our names as we hefted seabags and settled into the spartan interior — where everyone got a shock. We were an integrated company — a third black, two-thirds white.

Without announcing it, the Navy was launching a program to upend the prevailing race-relations formula in the United States — separate but (supposedly) equal.

Source: The Navy’s journey from racial segregation to equality

Mark Turner : Jeffrey Epstein’s travel patterns revealed by public flight data – INSIDER

July 24, 2019 12:36 AM

This kind of article includes so many of my interests: tracking bad guys by combing through crowdsourced, open data.

I maintain an ADS-B receiver, too, and track planes in the Triangle area on a real-time basis but I need to start stuffing this information into a database so I can keep it long-term.

As reporters and federal prosecutors turned the screws on Jeffrey Epstein over the past two years, the notorious money manager and sex felon appears to have enjoyed a globetrotting lifestyle that involved weekly flights between his properties in New York, New Mexico, Florida, the US Virgin Islands, and Paris, as well as occasional excursions to the United Kingdom, Slovakia, and Morocco.

This account of Epstein’s travels is based on two years of flight data associated with two of his Gulfstream airliners. Without detailed passenger manifests, it’s impossible to know whether Epstein was present on each individual flight. In the aggregate, however, the flight records illustrate an improbably lavish life, and raise further questions about how he earned and spent his fortune.

Source: Jeffrey Epstein’s travel patterns revealed by public flight data – INSIDER

Mark Turner : Watch as the Ridgecrest earthquake shatters desert floor in stunning before-and-after images – Los Angeles Times

July 23, 2019 05:53 PM

It’s pretty amazing to see an earthquake’s effects captured in one GIF.

Millions felt the shaking from the Ridgecrest earthquake.
But new satellite images offer a dramatic and instructive view of the immense power of the magnitude 7.1 quake, showing how California’s biggest earthquake in nearly two decades caused the ground to break.

Animated slides show how the quake permanently jolted a huge block of earth northwest while the other side of the fault moved southeast.

Some of the clearest images show long scars on the surface of the Mojave Desert, indicating precisely the 30 miles of earthquake fault — oriented in a northwest-southeast direction — that moved within moments on July 5.

“I’ve never seen this before,” said Brian Olson, engineering geologist with the California Geological Survey. “It’s really dramatic and a super-good illustrator, even for the advanced scientists, all the way down to the grade-school kids.”

Source: Watch as the Ridgecrest earthquake shatters desert floor in stunning before-and-after images – Los Angeles Times

Mark Turner : Navy Answers How a 57-Year-Old Maverick Could Still Feel the Need for Speed – USNI News

July 23, 2019 05:50 PM

Maverick flying 33 years later? File this under “unlikely.”

Late last week, as the official motion picture trailer for “Top Gun: Maverick” raced around social media, among the questions without easy answer was how was Pete “Maverick” Mitchell still feeling the need for speed as a 57-year-old captain with 30-plus years of service?

Paramount Pictures hasn’t released much about the plot of what will presumably be a summer 2020 blockbuster, and all fans have to go on are film industry site IMDB and what’s in the trailer released last week. However, the trailer addresses how odd it would be to have a captain in his late 50s when his peer group would have either made flag officer or hit the statutory retirement of 30 years of service.

In the trailer, Ed Harris’ character, an unidentified rear admiral, gives a brief overview of Maverick’s career.

“Thirty-plus years of service. Combat medals, citations, the only man to shoot down three enemy planes in the last 40 years. Yet you can’t get a promotion, you won’t retire, and despite your best efforts you refuse to die,” he said.

“You should be at least a two-star admiral by now. Yet here you are. Captain. Why is that?”

Could a real-world Capt. Mitchell still fly missions 33 years after audiences first saw the iconic naval aviator buzz control towers in the 1986 blockbuster “Top Gun”?

Source: Navy Answers How a 57-Year-Old Maverick Could Still Feel the Need for Speed – USNI News

Mark Turner : How did Kim Jong Un get his Mercedes-Benzes? – CNN Style

July 16, 2019 06:40 PM

On June 14, 2018, two armored Mercedes-Maybach S600 Guard vehicles were shipped from the Dutch Port of Rotterdam, heading out on a journey that would take months and see the cars transported thousands of miles through six countries, according to a new report from the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS).

After stops in China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, the two cars — each worth about $500,000 — are believed to have been flown to their final destination, Pyongyang. And in the North Korean capital, there’s only one customer who likely requires this type of ride.

The origin and journey of the two Mercedes luxury vehicles were exposed in the C4ADS report. CNN has not independently verified C4ADS’ reporting.

Source: How did Kim Jong Un get his Mercedes-Benzes? – CNN Style

Mark Turner : How a Flock of Birds Can Fly and Move Together | Audubon

July 16, 2019 06:36 PM

Many birds flock, of course. But only a relative handful really fly together, creating what University of Rhode Island biologist Frank Heppner, in the 1970s, proposed calling “flight flocks”: namely, highly organized lines or clusters. Pelicans, geese, and other waterfowl form lines and Vs, presumably to take advantage of aerodynamic factors that save energy. But the most impressive flockers are arguably those that form large, irregularly shaped masses, such as starlings, shorebirds, and blackbirds. They often fly at speeds of 40 miles or more per hour, and in a dense group the space between them may be only a bit more than their body length. Yet they can make astonishingly sharp turns that appear, to the unaided eye, to be conducted entirely in unison. Imagine doing unrehearsed evasive maneuvers in concert with all the other fast-moving drivers around you on an expressway, and you get an idea of the difficulty involved.

No wonder observers have been left groping for an explanation. When Heppner, now semi-retired, began studying pigeon flocks more than 30 years ago, he suggested that they communicate through some sort of neurologically based “biological radio.”

Source: How a Flock of Birds Can Fly and Move Together | Audubon

Mark Turner : New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

July 04, 2019 01:28 AM

Los Angeles Power and Water officials have struck a deal on the largest and cheapest solar + battery-storage project in the world, at prices that leave fossil fuels in the dust and may relegate nuclear power to the dustbin.Later this month the LA Board of Water and Power Commissioners is expected to approve a 25-year contract that will serve 7 percent of the city’s electricity demand at 1.997¢/kwh for solar energy and 1.3¢ for power from batteries.

“This is the lowest solar-photovoltaic price in the United States,” said James Barner, the agency’s manager for strategic initiatives, “and it is the largest and lowest-cost solar and high-capacity battery-storage project in the U.S. and we believe in the world today. So this is, I believe, truly revolutionary in the industry.”

Source: New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

Mark Turner : Renewable electricity beat out coal for the first time in April | Ars Technica

July 04, 2019 01:23 AM

A remarkable thing happened in the US in April. For the first time ever, renewable electricity generation beat out coal-fired electricity generation on a national level, according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA). While renewable energy—including hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass—constituted 23 percent of the nation’s power supply, coal-fired electricity only contributed 20 percent of our power supply.

Source: Renewable electricity beat out coal for the first time in April | Ars Technica

Mark Turner : The Navy Says UFOs Are Real. UFO Hunters Are Thrilled – VICE

July 04, 2019 01:21 AM

With the Navy’s recent revelation that its pilots have been regularly spotting unidentified flying objects, some of those in the UFO community who were once thought crazy now have some concrete evidence to point to. And the regular spate of mainstream news stories about UFO sightings has inspired a new generation of UFO hunters and researchers.

I’m regularly asked why I, a 32-year-old man with a good job and a young family spent six years researching the UFO subculture. Simply put, I find the culture and the people fascinating.

Ufology has always been a counter-cultural movement. Faced with decades of ridicule, the UFO community has always been the underdog. I like underdogs. But unidentified flying objects have made a cultural comeback, and the last two years have seen a huge growth in popular media coverage of this curious phenomenon and the people who explore it. It seems that UFOs have become all the rage, and this popular resurgence is inspiring a young new breed of UFO researchers and hunters.

Source: The Navy Says UFOs Are Real. UFO Hunters Are Thrilled – VICE

Mark Turner : June was hottest ever recorded on Earth, European satellite agency announces | The Independent

July 04, 2019 01:01 AM

Last month was the hottest June ever recorded, the EU‘s satellite agency has announced.Data provided by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the EU, showed that the global average temperature for June 2019 was the highest on record for the month.

Source: June was hottest ever recorded on Earth, European satellite agency announces | The Independent

Mark Turner : Florida sewage pipes feed fish and pollute beaches.

July 04, 2019 12:45 AM

Ten feet before us, a sewer pipe made out of limestone spews yellow-brownish insults into the reef ecosystem. The pipe’s mouth is barely visible through the cluster of baitfish and foragers, a silver mass of twitch and glide binging on nutrients long processed and evacuated by Broward County taxpayers. A goliath grouper bullies its way through and enters the pipe to feed. I’m told to watch out for fishing lines—an entanglement hazard for the sub’s thrusters. The Hollywood outfall pipe serves as a popular fishing spot, toilet to table.

Source: Florida sewage pipes feed fish and pollute beaches.

Tarus Balog : 2019 Dev-Jam – Day 4

June 29, 2019 02:24 PM

The next to the last day of Dev-Jam was pretty much like the one before it, except now it was quite clear that Dev-Jam was coming to a close (sniff).

I actually managed to get some of the work done that I wanted to do this week, namely to start working on the next version of my OpenNMS 101 video series. A lot changed in Horizon 24 and now the videos are a little off (especially when it comes to alarms) and I want to fix that soon.

2019 Dev-Jam: Group of People Hacking Away

I did make one bad decision when I purchased take-away sushi from the Union, but I was lucky that I got over it quickly (grin)

2019 Dev-Jam: Jesse Talking About ALEC

It’s so nice to be able to break out into little groups and share what is going on in OpenNMS. Jesse gave an in-depth talk on ALEC (and I’ll be presenting it at this year’s All Things Open conference).

It wasn’t all work, though.

2019 Dev-Jam: Table with Snacks and Ulf

A group of people had gone to the Mall of America on Sunday, and Markus bought a Rick and Morty card game that seemed pretty popular. Parasites!

For dinner I ordered some delicious pizza from Punch as many people wanted to stay in and finish up their projects in time for tomorrow’s “Show and Tell”.

It’s hard to believe Dev-Jam is almost over.

Tarus Balog : 2019 Dev-Jam – Day 3

June 27, 2019 04:52 PM

Not much to add on Day 3 of Dev-Jam. By now the group has settled into a routine and there’s lots of hacking on OpenNMS.

As part of my role as “cruise director” Mike and I ran out for more snacks.

2019 Dev-Jam: Table with Snacks and Ulf

On the way we stopped by the Science Museum of Minnesota to pick up a hoodie for Dustin. As fans of Stranger Things we thought we should get our Dustin the same hoodie worn by Dustin in the show. The one in the show was apparently an actual hoodie sold by the museum in the 1980s, but it was so popular they brought it back.

2019 Dev-Jam: Dustin and Dustin in Brontosaurus Hoodie

While not exactly the “Upside Down” in the evening the gang descended on Up-Down, a barcade located a few miles away. Jessica organized the trip and folks seemed to have a great time.

2019 Dev-Jam: Selfie of Folks at Up-Down.

The combination bar and arcade features vintage video games

2019 Dev-Jam: People Playing Video Games at Up-Down.

as well as pinball machines

2019 Dev-Jam: Selfie of Folks at Up-Down.

Of course, there was also a bar

2019 Dev-Jam: People at the Bar at Up-Down.

Good times.

Tarus Balog : 2019 Dev-Jam – Day 2

June 26, 2019 01:54 PM

While the OpenNMS team does a pretty good job working remotely, it is so nice to be able to work together on occasion. Here is an example.

I wanted to explore the current status of the OpenNMS Selenium monitor. My conclusion was that while this monitor can probably be made to work, it needs to be deprecated and probably shouldn’t be used.

I started off on the wiki page, and when I didn’t really understand it I just looked at the page’s history. I saw that it was last updated in 2017 by Marcel, and Marcel happened to be just across the room from me. After talking to him for awhile, I understood things much better and then made the decision to deprecate it.

The idea was that one could take the Selenium IDE, record a session and then export that to a JUnit test. Then that output would be minimally modified and added to OpenNMS so that it could periodically run the test.

The main issue is that the raw Selenium test *requires* Firefox, and Firefox requires an entire graphics stack, i.e. Xorg. Most servers don’t have that for a number of good reasons, and if you are trying to run Selenium tests on a large number of sites the memory resources could become prohibitive.

An attempt to address this was made using PhantomJS, another Javascript library that did not require a graphical interface. Unfortunately, it is no longer being maintained since March of 2018.

We’ve made a note of this with an internal OpenNMS issue. Moving forward the option looks like to use “headless Chrome” but neither OpenNMS nor Selenium support that at the moment.

We still have the Page Sequence Monitor. This is very efficient but can be difficult to set up.

Playing with that took up most of my morning. It was hard staying inside because it was a beautiful day in Minneapolis.

2019 Dev-Jam: Picture of Downtown Minneapolis from UMN

Most of my afternoon was spent working with OpenNMS customers (work doesn’t stop just because it is Dev-Jam) but I did wander around to see what other folks were doing.

2019 Dev-Jam: Jesse White with VR headset

Jesse was playing with a VR headset. The OpenNMS AI/Machine Learning module ALEC can create a visualization of the network, and he wrote a tool that lets you move through it in virtual reality (along with other people using other VR headsets). Not sure how useful it would be on a day to day basis, but it is pretty cool.

That evening most of us walked down the street to a pretty amazing Chinese restaurant. I always like bonding over food and we had discovered this place last year and were eager to return. I think the “bonding” continued after the meal at a bar across the street, but I ended up calling it a day.

2019 Dev-Jam: People at a table at a Chinese restaurant

2019 Dev-Jam: People at a table at a Chinese restaurant

Tarus Balog : 2019 Dev-Jam – Day 1

June 25, 2019 03:08 PM

Dev-Jam officially got started Monday morning at 10:00.

I usually kick off the week with a welcome and some housekeeping information, and then I turn it over to Jesse White, our project CTO. We do a roundtable introduction and then folks break off into groups and start working on the projects they find interesting.

This year we did something a little different. The development team scheduled a series of talks about the various things that have been added since the last Dev-Jam, and I spent most of the day listening to them and learning a lot of details about the amazing platform that is OpenNMS. While we had some technical difficulties, most of these presentations were recorded and I’ll add links to the videos once they are available.

2019 Dev-Jam: Graph of Main Projects Over the Last Year

Jesse started with an overview of the main development projects over the last year. Sentinel is a project to use the Kafka messaging bus to distribute OpenNMS functionality over multiple instances. While only implemented for telemetry data at the moment (flows and metrics) the goal is to enable the ability to distribute all of the functionality, such as service assurance polling and data collection, across multiple machines for virtually unlimited scalability.

After the Sentinel work, focus was on both the OpenNMS Integration API (OIA) and the Architecture for Learning Enabled Correlation (ALEC).

The OIA is a Java API to make it easier to add functionality to OpenNMS. While it is used internally, the goal is to make it easier for third parties to integrate with the platform. ALEC is a framework for adding AI and machine learning functions to OpenNMS. It currently supports two methods for the correlation of alarms into situations: DBScan and TensorFlow, but is designed to allow for others to be added.

The current development focus is on the next version of Drift. Drift is the feature that does flow collection, and there are a number of improvements being worked on for “version 2”.

2019 Dev-Jam: Title Slide for the Contributing to OpenNMS talk

Markus von Rüden gave the next talk on contributing to OpenNMS. He covered a number of topics including dealing with our git repository, pull requests, test driven development and our continuous integration systems.

2019 Dev-Jam: Title Slide for the Karaf/OSGi talk

Matt Brooks presented an overview on how to leverage Karaf to add functionality to OpenNMS. Karaf is the OSGi container used by OpenNMS to manage features, and Matt used a simple example to show the process for adding functionality to the platform.

2019 Dev-Jam: Title Slide for the OIA talk

Extending on this was a talk by Chandra Gorantla about using the OIA with an example of creating a trouble ticketing integration. OpenNMS has had a ticketing API for some time but this talk leveraged the improvements added by the new API to make the process easier.

2019 Dev-Jam: Title Slide for the ALEC talk

Following this was a talk by David Smith on ALEC. He demonstrated how to add a simple time-based correlation to OpenNMS which covered a lot of the different pieces implemented by the architecture, including things like feedback.

That ended the development overview part of the presentation but there were two more talks on Docker and Kubernetes.

2019 Dev-Jam: Slide showing Useful Docker Commands for OpenNMS

Ronny Trommer gave a short overview of running OpenNMS in Docker, covering a lot of information about how to deal with the non-immutable (mutable?) aspects of the platform such as configuration.

2019 Dev-Jam: Kubernetes Diagram

This was followed by an in-depth talk by Alejandro Galue on Kubernetes, running OpenNMS using Kubernetes and how OpenNMS can be used to monitor services running in Kubernetes. While Prometheus is the main application people implement for monitoring Kubernetes, it is very temporal and OpenNMS can augment a lot of that information, especially at the services level.

These presentations took up most of the day. Since it is hard to find places where 30 people can eat together, we have a tradition of getting catering from Brasa, and we did that for Monday night’s meal.

2019 Dev-Jam: Table Filled with Food from Brasa

Jessica Hustace, who did the majority of the planning for Dev-Jam, handed out this year’s main swag gift: OpenNMS jackets.

2019 Dev-Jam: OpenNMS logo jacket

Yup, I make this look good.

Tarus Balog : 2019 Dev-Jam – Day 0

June 24, 2019 02:13 PM

For the fourteenth time in fifteen years, a group of core community members and power users are getting together for our annual OpenNMS Developers Conference: Dev-Jam.

This is one of my favorite times of the year, probably second only to Thanksgiving. While we do a good job of working as a distributed team, there is nothing like getting together face-to-face once in awhile.

We’ve tried a number of venues including my house, Georgia Tech and Concordia University in Montréal, but we keep coming back to Yudof Hall on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. It just works out really well for us and after coming here so many times the whole process is pretty comfortable.

My role in Dev-Jam is pretty much just the “cruise director”. As is normal, other people do all the heavy lifting. I did go on a food and drink run which included getting “Hello Kitty” seaweed snacks.

2019 Dev-Jam: Hello Kitty Seaweed Snacks

Yudof Hall is a dorm. The rooms are pretty nice for dorm rooms and include a small refrigerator, two burner stove, furniture and a sink. You share a bathroom with one other person from the conference. On the ground floor there is a large room called the Club Room. On one side is a kitchen with tables and chairs. On the other side is a large TV/monitor and couches, and in the middle we set up tables. There is a large brick patio that overlooks the Mississippi River.

2019 Dev-Jam: Yudof Hall Club Room

The network access tends to be stellar, and with the Student Union just across the street people can easily take a break to get food.

We tend to eat dinner as a group, and traditionally the kickoff meal is held at Town Hall Brewery across the river.

2019 Dev-Jam: UMN Bridge Over the River

It was a pretty rainy day but it stopped enough for most of us to walk over the bridge to the restaurant. You could feel the excitement for the week start to build as old friends reunited and new friends were made.

2019 Dev-Jam: Town Hall Brewery

When we were setting up the Club Room tables, we found a whiteboard which is sure to be useful. I liked the fact that someone had written “Welcome Home” on it. Although I don’t live here, getting together with these people sure feels coming home.

2019 Dev-Jam: Welcome Home on Whiteboard

Mark Turner : Recordings by Elton John, Nirvana and Thousands More Lost in Fire – The New York Times

June 13, 2019 09:58 PM

This is astonishing. As an IT guy, I have been responsible for backups. How Universal could be so careless with priceless audio tapes just boggles my mind.

Eleven years ago this month, a fire ripped through a part of Universal Studios Hollywood.

At the time, the company said that the blaze had destroyed the theme park’s “King Kong” attraction and a video vault that contained only copies of old works.

But, according to an article published on Tuesday by The New York Times Magazine, the fire also tore through an archive housing treasured audio recordings, amounting to what the piece described as “the biggest disaster in the history of the music business.”

Source: Recordings by Elton John, Nirvana and Thousands More Lost in Fire – The New York Times

Mark Turner : Don’t Panic about Rare Earth Elements – Scientific American

June 13, 2019 09:55 PM

As trade tensions rise between the U.S. and China, rare earth minerals are once again in the political spotlight. Today Chinese mines and processing facilities provide most of the world’s supply, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping has hinted about using this as political leverage in trade negotiations with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. But in the long run, many experts say the global market involving these materials would likely survive even if China completely stopped exporting them.

Source: Don’t Panic about Rare Earth Elements – Scientific American

Mark Turner : Cheap Thoughts: flash magnetism

May 21, 2019 02:42 PM

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could “flash magnetize” ferrous metal? Put a current or magnetic field into something, magnetize it, remove power/field and STILL have it be magnetic? And more importantly, demagnetize it instantly. Passive electromagnetism. I know you can impart magnetism into certain things but how strongly can this be done?

This may all be simple stuff to others, I don’t know. It’s been a while since I’ve played with magnets and motors so I’ve forgotten a lot. Seems useful to have an electromagnet which only uses electricity to change its state.

Update: This is exactly what I need: an Electropermanent magnet. Interesting!

Mark Turner : New teeth – invisible aligners

May 20, 2019 02:56 PM

For the past few years I’ve been getting a chip in my front tooth patched by my dentist. This patch will last anywhere between 8 months to as short as one hour before it pops off and I have to get it done again. I’m not a fan of the look of this chipped tooth but I can’t keep getting it patched, either. My dentist, recommended I get orthodontics to help keep my teeth from smacking together and dislodging the patch.

The orthodontist recommended by my dentist put a hefty price tag on moving my teeth and I just couldn’t justify the cost. I put that on hold before I checked out Smile Direct Club (SDC). SDC would use the same invisible aligners (InvisAlign) that the orthodontist would use but the cost would be less than two-thirds the price. The downside is I wouldn’t receive personal care from an orthodontist. I decided to go for it, since I have had three years of orthodontics experience as a teenager and know what to expect.

So far, it’s been so good. I put in my first aligners a week ago Saturday and began my second one this past Saturday. My teeth ached a bit for most of the first week but by that Wednesday I felt comfortable enough wearing them that I didn’t mind them anymore. There’s no question that my teeth have shifted in the 9 days I’ve worn the aligners, so I have no doubt that they’re working. And I’ve become a bit obsessed with wearing them.

The only downsides are that sometimes the edges of my aligners feel a bit sharp to my tongue. I have to make sure I keep my tongue as still as possible to keep from rubbing it raw. There’s also the mild ache I feel from my shifting teeth. I cannot eat anything or drink anything but water while I’m wearing them. Finally, I have to brush my teeth each time I remove the aligners. Overall, not too difficult to manage.

I had wondered at the start of this if I’d have the discipline to deal with aligners. It turns out I do. I think I’ll be looking back on this in October and feel like it was worth the cost and effort.

I’ll keep y’all posted on how it goes.

Mark Turner : Cat-tastrophe averted

May 14, 2019 09:28 PM

Jupiter came wandering back up to the house around 4 PM today like nothing had happened. I suppose he went on a bender last night and was sleeping it off somewhere. Glad to have our kitty back!

Mark Turner : I fear for my cat

May 14, 2019 05:21 PM

Update 5:28 PM: Jupiter has wandered back home. Yay!

Early this morning I was awakened from a deep sleep by a repetitive noise outside the house. A moment’s reflection in my foggy mind identified the noise as a screaming raccoon. I put on my clothes, grabbed a flashlight, and stepped onto the front porch as quietly as I could.

But I wasn’t quiet enough. The screaming stopped; I was noticed. I wasn’t able to pinpoint where the raccoon was or what was happening. What I do know is that there was no sign of my porch cat, Jupiter. What I also know is that Jupiter would’ve most certainly reacted to the sound of the front door opening, which may have possibly doomed him if he were facing off against a raccoon.

I walked down the street shining my flashlight carefully into backyards, trying not to light up my neighbors’ windows while looking in the bushes for the tell-tale glow of animal eyes. After a few minutes of seeing and hearing nothing, I crawled back into bed.

Just as I did, I heard the faint sound of a meow. Or did I imagine it?

This morning, I would’ve expected his furry face to be glued to the front window, demanding his breakfast. On occasional nights I’ve made a point of putting his food away to keep from attracting raccoons. Last night was one of those nights. The kitter should’ve been famished and yet he was nowhere to be found.

There are other signs from the universe that he may no longer be around, such as Elton John’s “Circle Of Life” popping up unexpectedly on yesterday’s playlist. And my pondering yesterday of the freedom that I’ve always given him: he has always been free to come and go as he pleases. I can’t let him be free to come without also letting him be free to go or it isn’t really freedom.

I hope to see his striped tail hanging off his food table tonight but I am not optimistic. It’s going to be a tense next few days.

Mark Turner : New York Times story focused on Raleigh gentrification | Raleigh News & Observer

May 09, 2019 02:43 PM

Ned Barnett’s opinion piece last week, downplaying the damaging effects of gentrification, was incredibly tone-deaf.

Indeed the Times story called attention to the implication that there is something wrong with downtown neighborhoods gaining new homes and more value as white flight reverses.

Well, yes, yes there is. There is something wrong with it, Ned. Surging property values are great for owners, unless those owners are unable to pay the soaring property taxes. Surging property values aren’t too fun for the renters who get pushed out by skyrocketing rents or by the flipping of homes.

We can improve neighborhoods without pushing out the long-time residents – the people who actually contribute to the character of any neighborhood. The question we should be asking is: how can everyone benefit from prosperity?

Raleigh is now almost blase about being cited in the national media as a city on the rise, but a New York Times report last week cast that growth in a less flattering light. It used Raleigh as exhibit No. 1 of how well-off whites are moving into traditionally black neighborhoods near urban centers and converting longtime nonwhite areas into white enclaves.

The story stressed that Raleigh’s pattern is part of a national trend, but its focus in photos, videos and quotes was on North Carolina’s capital. The theme was that poorer blacks are being pushed out and those who remain feel their neighborhood is being usurped.

The coverage put a spotlight on an issue Raleigh’s leaders know about but have not directly addressed: How much should growth be allowed to displace residents and transform neighborhoods?

Source: New York Times story focused on Raleigh gentrification | Raleigh News & Observer

Mark Turner : Something in the blood – ME/CFS Research Review

May 01, 2019 12:13 AM

Fluge and Mella used an expensive bit of kit called the Seahorse analyser, which measures glycolysis through the lactate production and mitochondrial activity through changes in oxygen levels.

They tested normal healthy muscle cells that had been grown in the lab. But they added to those cells serum taken from either ME/CFS patients or healthy controls. Serum is the fluid left over after blood has clotted and it contains small molecules and other soluble substances.

They have data for 12 people with ME/CFS and 12 healthy controls, a relatively small sample.What they found was, surprisingly, that the muscle cells produced more lactate and burned more oxygen when they were incubated with ME/CFS serum than when incubated in serum from healthy controls. And the effect was particularly strong when the cells were made to work hard.

Source: Something in the blood – ME/CFS Research Review

Mark Turner : The Neighborhood Is Mostly Black. The Home Buyers Are Mostly White. – The New York Times

April 28, 2019 02:24 PM

A sobering read on gentrification of downtown Raleigh from the New York Times.

RALEIGH, N.C. — In the African-American neighborhoods near downtown Raleigh, the playfully painted doors signal what’s coming. Colored in crimson, in coral, in seafoam, the doors accent newly renovated craftsman cottages and boxy modern homes that have replaced vacant lots.

To longtime residents, the doors mean higher home prices ahead, more investors knocking, more white neighbors.

Here, and in the center of cities across the United States, a kind of demographic change most often associated with gentrifying parts of New York and Washington has been accelerating. White residents are increasingly moving into nonwhite neighborhoods, largely African-American ones.

Source: The Neighborhood Is Mostly Black. The Home Buyers Are Mostly White. – The New York Times

Mark Turner : The Final Secret of the USS Scorpion | HistoryNet

April 23, 2019 12:43 PM

The article doesn’t say it but I will: fuck John Walker, Jr.

In 1968 one of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarines went missing in the Atlantic. Now, 50 years later, the full story of its disappearance can finally be told.RADIOMEN 2ND CLASS MIKE HANNON WALKED TO WORK WITH A PALPABLE SENSE OF UNEASE on the morning of May 23, 1968. As a communications specialist at Submarine Force Atlantic Headquarters, he was responsible for processing dozens of messages each day from submarines at sea, ranging from routine announcements to top-secret operational dispatches. But hours earlier, when his eight-hour shift had ended at midnight, Hannon feared that one of the submarines on his watch might be in trouble—or worse.

The Norfolk-based USS Scorpion, one of the Atlantic Fleet’s 19 nuclear attack submarines, had been scheduled to transmit a four-word “Check Report”—encrypted to prevent the Soviets from intercepting it—that meant, in essence, “Situation normal, proceeding as planned.” In this instance, the Skipjack-class submarine was returning to Norfolk after a three-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. Its standing orders called for a burst transmission every 24 hours that, when decrypted, read: “Check 24. Submarine Scorpion.” But the previous day no message had come clattering out of the secure teletypewriter that Hannon used. As he prepared to leave for the night, Hannon had briefed Radioman 2nd Class Ken Larbes, the petty officer coming on duty, about the overdue message. He then tapped on his supervisor’s office door and asked whether any late word had come in from the Scorpion. Warrant Officer John A. Walker Jr. silently shook his head no. Was this the first hint of an emergency, Hannon wondered, or merely a delayed transmission caused by mechanical problems or stormy weather conditions?

Source: The Final Secret of the USS Scorpion | HistoryNet

Mark Turner : Trump’s Orders Are Routinely Disregarded by His Staff – The Atlantic

April 22, 2019 01:22 AM

It’s been another dizzying few days in Washington, starting with yet another border controversy, as President Donald Trump threatened to bus unauthorized immigrants to sanctuary cities, and ending with the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which turned out to be far more damning than advertised by Trump’s attorney general.

These two very different stories have more in common than meets the eye. In each case, there’s a central tension between the president and aides who refuse to execute orders from him that they believe are illegal or foolish. Mueller’s report is packed with incidents in which White House staff not only didn’t do things Trump said, but never had any intention of doing them. In the case of the border, Immigration and Customs Enforcement staff rebuffed Trump’s plan to bus migrants on legal grounds; meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan refused to turn away migrants seeking asylum, concluding that it was illegal. (Nielsen was sacked soon after, while McAleenan is now her acting replacement.)

Source: Trump’s Orders Are Routinely Disregarded by His Staff – The Atlantic

Mark Turner : Utility CEO: new renewables will be cheaper than existing coal plants by the early 2020s – Vox

April 13, 2019 12:18 PM

It is difficult to exaggerate just what a sea change has taken place in the discussion of renewable energy in recent years.

Oldsters like me remember when the idea that (unsubsidized) renewable energy would be able to compete directly with fossil fuels was downright utopian. As late as the early 2000s, people were debating whether it would happen this century, or at all.

But the extraordinary progress of renewables in the past two decades has moved that hoped-for future closer and closer. And now, unbelievably, it is right on our doorstep.

It’s one thing for advocates or energy analysts to say that, of course. It’s something else to hear it coming out of the mouths of energy executives. But these days, residents of the C-suite are discussing renewable energy in terms that would have made hippies blush a decade ago.

Source: Utility CEO: new renewables will be cheaper than existing coal plants by the early 2020s – Vox

Mark Turner : Julian Assange Got What He Deserved – The Atlantic

April 13, 2019 12:17 PM


In the end, the man who reportedly smeared feces on the walls of his lodgings, mistreated his kitten, and variously blamed the ills of the world on feminists and bespectacled Jewish writers was pulled from the Ecuadorian embassy looking every inch like a powdered-sugar Saddam Hussein plucked straight from his spider hole. The only camera crew to record this pivotal event belonged to Ruptly, a Berlin-based streaming-online-video service, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of RT, the Russian government’s English-language news channel and the former distributor of Julian Assange’s short-lived chat show.

RT’s tagline is “Question more,” and indeed, one might inquire how it came to pass that the spin-off of a Kremlin propaganda organ and now registered foreign agent in the United States first arrived on the scene. Its camera recorded a team of London’s Metropolitan Police dragging Assange from his Knightsbridge cupboard as he burbled about resistance and toted a worn copy of Gore Vidal’s History of the National Security State.

Source: Julian Assange Got What He Deserved – The Atlantic

Mark Turner : The healthiest people in the world don’t go to the gym — Quartzy

April 13, 2019 01:13 AM

More evidence that our reliance on cars is killing us.

If you want to be as healthy as possible, there are no treadmills or weight machines required. Don’t just take my word for it—look to the longest-lived people in the world for proof.

People in the world’s Blue Zones—the places around the world with the highest life expectancy—don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms.

Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without even thinking about it. This means that they grow gardens, walk throughout the day, and minimize mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.

In fact, Blue Zones researchers determined that routine natural movement is one of the most impactful ways to increase your life span, and a common habit among the world’s longest-lived populations.

Source: The healthiest people in the world don’t go to the gym — Quartzy

Mark Turner : Will Uber Survive the Next Decade?

April 09, 2019 10:52 PM

By steamrolling local taxi operations in cities all over the world and cultivating cheerleaders in the business press and among Silicon Valley libertarians, Uber has managed to create an image of inevitability and invincibility. But the company just posted another quarter of jaw-dropping losses — this time over $1 billion, after $4.5 billion of losses in 2017. How much is hype and how much is real?

Source: Will Uber Survive the Next Decade?

Mark Turner : San Francisco’s Decline: Failed Government Policies and Cultural Paralysis | National Review

April 09, 2019 09:29 PM

A thought-provoking piece on what’s killing San Francisco.

It’s not what celebrants want to hear when the champagne is exploding out of shaken bottles of Dom, the confetti is falling, and their stock is up 8.7 percent at the market’s close, but I have an announcement to make: San Francisco is past its prime and the fires of creation have abated.

With all the millionaires newly minted by Lyft’s IPO, and with those set to be minted by Uber’s and Palantir’s and AirBnB’s, you might expect this enclave to become the next Babylon of American capitalism. While our moralists in the media — Nellie Bowles, Emily Chang, et al. — busily tsk-tsk the greed and the lust and the hypocrisy and the hubris, there is a story here they miss: The city’s current concentration of wealth likely doesn’t represent the beginning of a golden-if-sinful era, but the end.

Source: San Francisco’s Decline: Failed Government Policies and Cultural Paralysis | National Review

Mark Turner : The Water Hawk: in-your-face water stats

March 22, 2019 01:27 AM

The Water Hawk.

Teenagers like to take long showers. They can easily spend 20 minutes in there, idling away their time as well as the family’s hot water. I’d done a few rounds of knocking on the bathroom door. I’d even taped photos of baby Arctic seals on the door to remind the kids of the consequences. Didn’t seem to get the point across.

When one night came where one of the kids drained the hot water from our tank I knew desperate measures were needed. I threatened to switch out the nice Delta showerhead with a miserly spray one, guaranteed to save water at the price of a miserable shower experience. Certainly that would get the point across but I knew I’d soon have to swap it out. You know, the Geneva Convention and all.

I began to ponder how a proper geek might solve the problem. I am a Site Reliability Engineer in my day job and I love gathering metrics on the computers I wrangle. What if there were a way to track my kids’ use of water? Wouldn’t it be great to show them how much water their showers actually use? I began to dream up a product I could create that would do just that but then some clever Googling showed me one was already out there: the Water Hawk.

The Water Hawk is a showerhead with a self-powered display that shows you not only how many gallons have been used but also the temperature of the water. A tiny water-powered generator provides the electricity to light up the display so it needs no batteries. It keeps track of a shower’s usage up to ten minutes after the shower has ended. While I would like some remote way of reading its values, I know I can flip the water on afterwards and get the numbers if I want them.

The cool thing is, though, that since I put in the Water Hawk I haven’t had to get the numbers. My kids have miraculously returned their showers to civil levels – all by themselves! I never had to say a word – they just did it.

The first time my son showered with the Water Hark I was so stunned at how quickly he shut off the water that I thought something must be wrong. Maybe he’s turning off the water to lather up or something, I thought. But no, he was in and out. A shower that used to take 20 minutes was done now in 5. It was the same for my daughter, whose was done in a teenager-respectable time of under 8 minutes. Mission accomplished!

I think that when people know what their habits or activities actually cost, when numbers can be applied to quantify something, it spurs a shift in behavior. I first saw this when we got an eGauge power meter along with our solar panels. The eGauge itself, costing a fraction of the solar panels, was enough to spur better energy conservation in our household, all because we could now see our energy habits as they happened in real time. Water Hawk does the same but with showers.

Now I’ve got the best of both worlds: water conservation and pleasant showers. No longer do I have to bang on the door to tell the kids they’re using too much water – the Water Hawk does that subconsciously. I couldn’t imagine a better solution to my teens’ long shower habits.

Jesse Morgan : proxmox PCI passthrough with windows, Geforce 1070, Ryzen, and B450 Tomahawk

March 21, 2019 12:27 AM

I set up my first Proxmox implementation on my rebuilt gaming PC.  The goal was to run proxmox on bare metal, then run a windows VM with hardware passthrough so I could play Elite Dangerous in windows with only a 1-3% performance loss. This would also give me a platform to work on automation tools and containerization.

So how did I go about doing it? Well, I started by reading this article:

That did most of the heavy lifting, but it was specific to intel processors. Here’s what my final changes looked like:


I needed to enable 3 main things:

  • WHQL for windows 10
  • UEFI Bios
  • enable virtualization under the Overclocking-> CPU Features panel



/etc/default/grub needs to have the following DEFAULT line:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet amd_iommu=on iommu=pt video=efifb:off”


Modprobe blacklist

/etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf needs the following entry:

blacklist radeon
blacklist nouveau
blacklist nvidia
blacklist amdgpu


QEMU Host config



agent: 1 
bios: ovmf 
bootdisk: scsi0 
cores: 8 
cpu: host,hidden=1
hostpci0: 1c:00.0,x-vga=on,pcie=1 
hostpci1: 1c:00.1 
hostpci2: 1d:00.3 
hostpci3: 1e:00.3,pcie=1 
ide2: local:iso/virtio-win-0.1.141.iso,media=cdrom,size=309208K 
machine: q35 
memory: 12000 
name: gamey 
net0: e1000=DE:F7:85:97:FF:22,bridge=vmbr0 
numa: 1 
onboot: 1 
ostype: win10 
scsi0: local-lvm:vm-101-disk-0,size=100G 
scsihw: virtio-scsi-pci 
smbios1: uuid=d0e62ae5-0939-4544-aa2e-7e92f872cc39 
sockets: 1 
usb0: host=1-2 
usb1: host=0c45:7605 
usb2: host=046d:c332 
virtio2: /dev/disk/by-id/ata-CT500MX500SSD1_1817E1395213-part1,size=476937M 
vmgenid: fa74f2e1-46d1-444b-963a-1f0417d18fd0


options vfio-pci ids=10de:1b81,0de:10f0


I apologize that this is super rough and poorly formatted, but I figured that was better than nothing.

Mark Turner : Rivendell in the cloud

March 17, 2019 07:48 PM

I joined up with a Facebook group called Rivendell Open Source Radio Automation Users as a place to trade tips on using Rivendell. A question that comes up frequently is how Rivendell can be run in the cloud. Since I’ve been doing this for eight years or so I have a pretty good understanding of the challenges. I’ve mentioned some of it before but thought I’d go into more detail of my current setup.

I’m running Rivendell 2.19.2, the current version, and presently I’m not actually running it in the cloud though I could easily change this in a few moments. The magic that makes this happen is containerization. I have created my own Docker instance which installs everything I need. This container can be fired up virtually anywhere and it will just work.

Here’s a summery of my setup. In my container, I install CentOS 7. Then I pull in Rivendell from Paravel’s repos with a “yum install rivendell” command. Rivendell needs the JACK audio subsystem to run so I install Jack2 from the CentOS repos, too. To this I add darkice as an encoder, JackEQ for some graphical faders/mixers, a LADSPA-based amplifier module to boost gain, and of course Icecast2 to send the stream to the world.

Now, one of the problems with a CentOS-based setup is that CentOS tends to have fewer of the cool audio tools than distributions like Debian and Ubuntu have. These Debian-based distros are not officially supported with Paravel packages so you either have to hunt for your own Rivendell dpkgs or you build your own. I’ve found a few of these dpkgs mentioned on the Rivendell Developer’s mailing list but I’ve not had the time to make sure they’re up to date and meet my personal needs. Thus, for my personal setup you’ll find a few parts which I have compiled myself, rather than install from a package. A project for me to take on in my Copious Free Time is to create an entirely repo-based Docker container but I’m not there yet.

Rivendell needs a MySQL/MariaDB database to store its data. I rely on a non-containerized instance of MariaDB in my setup because I already use the database for other projects and didn’t want to create an instance solely for Rivendell.

So here’s how it all works.

Once Rivendell and JACK packages are installed, you’ll need to get Jack running first. Here’s the command line I use in my container for running jack:
/usr/bin/jackd -r -t2000 -ddummy -r48000 -p1024

For ease of connecting, you should run all audio parts under the same Linux user. I usually create an “rduser” user under Linux to take this role. Do not use the root user for this as anyone exploiting any flaws in Rivendell would have total control of your system! Good UNIX philosophy calls for only giving processes the minimum permissions needed to carry out their tasks.

IF you’ve started JACK as the rduser user, log into a terminal as that user and perform the “jack_lsp” command. This will show you the JACK channels that are available. Starting Rivendell using the “service rivendell start” or “systemctl start rivendell” should populate the JACK channel listing with the Rivendell channels. Make sure you edit the Rivendell config file at /etc/rd.conf to get Rivendell to start under the rduser user so that Rivendell and JACK can talk to each other.

Once you see Rivendell’s talking to JACK, you need to connect these virtual JACK channels so that your audio gets somewhere useful. In my case, I want to take the following path: Rivendell -> JACK -> JackEQ (with amp plugin) -> JACK -> darkice -> Icecast2 -> cloud-hosted Icecast2 on my VPS.

I connect Rivendell output channels to JackEQ’s inputs:

You should see the VU meter in JackEQ’s channel 1 light up with audio from Rivendell. JackEQ’s master channel should also light up with audio. You can raise the levels here in JackEQ and your audio gain should be boosted. While you could theoretically pipe the Rivendell output straight to darkice through JACK, I’ve found in a virtual or dummy sound card Rivendell setup that the levels are too low and need a boost. If you try this and find that you need to boost it even further, check out the “Jack Rack” set of audio plugins for Linux. Several plugins are available to create a very professional sound. I highly recommend it.

So now that we’ve got the audio in JackEQ and nicely boosted, we need to connect it using JACK to our encoder, Darkice. I looked at many encoders when I was first getting started but few seemed to be as flexible and efficient as Darkice. As far as I know, no ready-built packages exist for Darkice. Fortunately it’s not difficult to compile once you have rounded up all the audio libraries needed for your particular setup. I use Ogg Vorbis and AAC+ streams for my stations and Darkice supports them well.

Here’s what my JackEQ – Darkice links look like in JACK (via the “jack_lsp -c” command):


Here’s an edited version of my darkice.cfg file:

# sample DarkIce configuration file, edit for your needs before using
# see the darkice.cfg man page for details

# this section describes general aspects of the live streaming session
duration = 0 # duration of encoding, in seconds. 0 means forever
bufferSecs = 5 # size of internal slip buffer, in seconds
reconnect = yes # reconnect to the server(s) if disconnected

# this section describes the audio input that will be streamed
device = jack # OSS DSP soundcard device for the audio input
sampleRate = 48000 # sample rate in Hz. try 11025, 22050 or 44100
bitsPerSample = 16 # bits per sample. try 16
channel = 2 # channels. 1 = mono, 2 = stereo

# this section describes a streaming connection to an IceCast2 server
# there may be up to 8 of these sections, named [icecast2-0] … [icecast2-7]
# these can be mixed with [icecast-x] and [shoutcast-x] sections
bitrateMode = abr # average bit rate
format = vorbis # format of the stream: ogg vorbis
bitrate = 96 # bitrate of the stream sent to the server
server = <my_icecast_server>
# host name of the server
port = 8000 # port of the IceCast2 server, usually 8000
name = Neuse Radio OGG 96Kbps
# name of the stream
description = Let the music flow!
# description of the stream
url = http://<my_webserver>
# URL related to the stream
genre = Alternative # genre of the stream
public = yes # advertise this stream?
#localDumpFile = /tmp/dump.ogg # local dump file

# aacp low stream
## aac high stream
#bitrateMode = abr # average bit rate
#format = aac # format of the stream: ogg vorbis
#bitrate = 64 # bitrate of the stream sent to the server
#server = <my_icecast_server>
# # host name of the server
#port = 8000 # port of the IceCast2 server, usually 8000
#name = Neuse Radio – AAC
# # name of the stream
#description = Let the music flow!
# # description of the stream
#url = http://<my_webserver>
# # URL related to the stream
#genre = alternative # genre of the stream
#public = yes # advertise this stream?

## mp3 low stream
#bitrateMode = abr # average bit rate
#format = mp3 # format of the stream: ogg vorbis
#bitrate = 64 # bitrate of the stream sent to the server
#server = <my_icecast_server>
# # host name of the server
#port = 8000 # port of the IceCast2 server, usually 8000
#name = Neuse Radio medium mp3
# # name of the stream
#description = Let the music flow!
# # description of the stream
#url = http://<my_webserver>
# # URL related to the stream
#genre = alternative # genre of the stream
#public = no # advertise this stream?
##localDumpFile = /tmp/dump.mp3 # local dump file

## mp3 hi stream
#bitrateMode = abr # average bit rate
#format = mp3 # format of the stream: ogg vorbis
#bitrate = 128 # bitrate of the stream sent to the server
#server = <my_icecast_server>
# # host name of the server
#port = 8000 # port of the IceCast2 server, usually 8000
#name = Neuse Radio – Alternative MP3
# # name of the stream
#description = Let the music flow!
# # description of the stream
#url = http://<my_webserver>
# # URL related to the stream
#genre = Alternative # genre of the stream
#public = yes # advertise this stream?
##localDumpFile = /tmp/dump-high.mp3 # local dump file

As you can see, you can define as many encoded streams as you wish. Just increment the name of the Icecast2-x sections as you go.

Now that you’ve got darkice configured, you’ll need to set up Icecast2 to distribute the stream darkice creates. Put your Icecast address and service password in your /etc/darkice.cfg file. I tried sending darkice connections from my local computer to an Icecast server on my hosted server but I found that darkice is really finicky about latency. If for some reason your Icecast server hiccups and darkice can’t send out the packets is creates then darkice begins to act really squirrely and eventually will crash. The best workaround for this is to run darkice and Icecast on the same machine, then have Icecast do the sending! If Icecast is set up to relay to a hosted Icecast instance you will avoid any latency issues with darkice.

After hosting my Rivendell in the cloud for a few years I opted to host it on a home server instead. I wanted to listen to my stream while I’m around the house but only send packets over my Internet connection when I have to. Thus, I have my hosted Icecast instance set up to pull a steam from my home Icecast server only upon demand. Here’s a snippet from my hosted Icecast server which shows how relaying is configured:


My Docker container has no display of its own and any server in the cloud won’t have one, either. So how do you manage Rivendell when it’s headless? You create a virtual display in the form of VNC. I install a lightweight display manager called ICEWM, the Ice Window Manager. It’s not fancy but it works well for a virtual environment. You could now access your desktop by installing something like the tigervncserver but I prefer for security reasons only to run VNC when I need it. Thus, I ssh into my container and run the “x11vnc” command from the command line. I then port-forward my ssh session so that it connects with x11vnc on my container using the localhost:5900 port. Now I can manipulate Rivendell remotely! It’s nearly as good as running it locally but any latency you have between you and your hosted server will make audio editing challenging at best and impossible at worst.

How do you import audio? I use scp to copy my audio files to a folder on my hosted system. Then I open an ssh session there and run “rdimport” from there. Then I delete the uploaded audio once it’s imported.

How do you get around the latency issue so you can edit audio? This is best done by running a local Rivendell instance and setting up both instances to share the same /var/snd directory and the same MariaDB database. You can use NFS or SAMBA to share the /var/snd directory ,or if you are feeling extra geeky, you can make S3 buckets look like a filesystem using the fuse-s3 package. As for the database, you can either connect to the same database instance for both Rivendell instances or you can set up database servers on either end and configure them to replicate. Setting up MariaDB for replication is beyond the scope of this article but there are several good resources on the Internet that show how to do this.

How to connect between your home and your hosted server? I use a one-way VPN to get to my hosted server. WireGuard is my VPN of choice at the moment.

So there you go. Below is the Dockerfile I’m using. Note that you’ll have to supply your own binaries for the parts not already packaged, like the LADSPA plugin and JackEQ. Hopefully this is enough to get you going! I’ll refine this process further and post a followup someday. Enjoy!

FROM centos:7
ENV container docker
RUN (cd /lib/systemd/system/; for i in *; do [ $i == \
systemd-tmpfiles-setup.service ] || rm -f $i; done); \
rm -f /lib/systemd/system/*;\
rm -f /etc/systemd/system/*.wants/*;\
rm -f /lib/systemd/system/*; \
rm -f /lib/systemd/system/*udev*; \
rm -f /lib/systemd/system/*initctl*; \
rm -f /lib/systemd/system/*;\
rm -f /lib/systemd/system/*;
VOLUME [ “/sys/fs/cgroup” ]
CMD [“/usr/sbin/init”]

# Create rduser (password is rduser)
RUN adduser –create-home –groups wheel,audio rduser ; \
echo “rduser:rduser” | chpasswd ;\
mkdir -m 0750 /etc/sudoers.d && \
echo “rduser ALL=(root) NOPASSWD:ALL” >/etc/sudoers.d/rduser && \
chmod 0440 /etc/sudoers.d/rduser

# locale-gen en

# Install EPEL repos
RUN yum install -y epel-release; \
yum-config-manager –enable epel-testing

# Get repo GPG keys
RUN rpm –import

# Install rivendell stuffs
RUN yum-config-manager –add-repo ; \
yum install -y rivendell sudo lame faac libaacplus twolame libmad id3lib icewm jackd x11vnc openssh-server tigervnc-server-minimal tigervnc-server supervisor cronie ghostscript-fonts less; \

#COPY rdmysql.conf /etc/mysql/conf.d/rdmysql.cnf
#COPY rd.icecast.conf /etc/rd.icecast.conf
COPY rd.conf /etc/rd.conf
COPY supervisord.conf /etc/supervisord.d/supervisord.conf

# copy darkice binary and config
COPY darkice /usr/local/bin
COPY darkice.cfg /etc
COPY rlm_icecast2.conf /etc

USER rduser
COPY /home/rduser/
COPY icewm /home/rduser/.icewm
COPY xstartup /home/rduser/.vnc/xstartup

RUN sudo chown -R rduser.rduser /home/rduser ; \
echo ‘rduser’ | vncpasswd -f > /home/rduser/.vnc/passwd ; \
chmod 700 /home/rduser/.vnc ; \
chmod 600 /home/rduser/.vnc/passwd ; \
chmod +x /home/rduser/ /home/rduser/.vnc/xstartup
USER root

COPY start /start
RUN chmod +x /start

#set proper timezone
RUN sudo rm /etc/localtime && sudo ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/New_York /etc/localtime

# Expose ssh, vnc
# Set boot command
CMD /start

# Set permissions on /var/snd
RUN chown rduser /var/snd

# Add fftw-3.3.3* and libaacplus*.rpm to get darkice running (and cfg file, too)
#RUN mkdir /usr/local/src/rpms; chown rduser /var/snd
#COPY rpms/libaacplus-2.0.2-1.el7.centos.x86_64.rpm rpms/fftw*.rpm /usr/local/src/rpms/
#RUN sudo yum install -y /usr/local/src/rpms/*.x86_64.rpm
RUN mkdir /usr/local/src/rpms
COPY rpms/*.x86_64.rpm /usr/local/src/rpms/
RUN sudo yum install -y /usr/local/src/rpms/*.rpm && rm -rf /usr/local/src/rpms/*.x86_64.rpm

# add cron job to generate logs
COPY cron.rduser /var/spool/cron
RUN mv /var/spool/cron/cron.rduser /var/spool/cron/rduser && chown rduser.rduser /var/spool/cron/rduser && chmod 600 /var/spool/cron/rduser

# copy jackeq bin, oggimport and library
COPY jackeq /usr/local/bin/jackeq
COPY oggimport /usr/local/bin/oggimport
COPY /usr/local/lib/ladspa/

#Copy asound.conf for using alsa apps (linphone) with JACK
COPY asound.conf /etc/

# mount music dir
RUN mkdir /mnt/music

Ben Reed : About San Juan…

March 16, 2019 02:09 PM

So now we’re back on land and I want to talk about an epic thing that happened on JoCoCruise. Of course, epic things happen routinely on the nerd boat but this one, especially, got me.

For the last few years we now have an entire boat for our group/themed cruise. There was a lot of concern when we got big enough that we would no longer fit in a single cruise ship auditorium for the main stage shows, and a fear that the inside jokes and “feel” would be lost. One concession to this is that on one of our stops, we had a giant festival concert where everyone could attend together. While things would never be the same, this was an awesome experience that once again showed how hard The Home Office works to make things great every year.

This year, that concert was to be in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with headliner They Might Be Giants. In true JoCo Cruise fashion, the cruise raised $80,000 for relief efforts in PR on top of all the OTHER logistical stuff that goes into running a full week themed cruise AND a concert festival. It is mind-boggling.

There was no rain in the forecast, but a sprinkling here or there happened as each of the acts played. Then we got a bigger dump of rain that backed off again pretty quickly. Jonathan Coulton did his set and things were pretty OK but starting to pick up.

Then the deluge began.

They delayed as long as they could, but sometime after 10:00 they announced they would not be allowed to turn anything on the stage back on and would have to give up hope.


They said they were working with TMBG to get them on the boat to attempt to do a quick, stripped-down show on the main stage for anyone that could get to it. We were all disappointed but understood and started walking back — soaked — from the festival grounds to the boat.

We had every right to be angry, frustrated, sad, the whole gamut. A bunch of newcomers to the cruise this year literally signed up specifically because TMBG was going to be performing.

And yet…

The magic of the culture this crazy cruise experiment we’ve built was that everyone was laughing, telling stories, talking about how crazy it is, talking about how they’ll tell this story, SINGING AT THE TOP OF OUR LUNGS, and generally just amusing ourselves as Holland America had to process almost 2000 wet sea monkeys all at once. People jumped in to help move equipment back to the boat double-time, as they set off the fireworks that were supposed to be at the end of the show because hey, why not?

We got on the boat, went to our rooms to hang up our wet clothes and then heard the announcement. If you can get there, go to the main stage right now! TMBG will be playing until the last possible minute. They also arranged to have the show broadcast to the in-room TVs and other locations around the ship.

Holland America allowed John Linnell onto the ship as a visitor (since he did not sail with the rest of the band) and he had to get off BEFORE MIDNIGHT because the visitor pass runs out and we needed to leave the dock by 1am.

They Might Be Giants played an amazing frantic electrifying 50-ish minute set that blew us away, and then got the hell out of there in time for us to get back out to sea.

The logistics involved in putting an emergency concert together in about an hour are beyond comprehension, but they made it work. The thing that gets me, though, is that I did not hear a single complaint about a short set, or them not doing the “real” show at the outdoor venue. All I heard was thanks to The Home Office for making it possible, and an energy that can’t be replicated for all of us being a part of it.

The next day we went to a get-together for folks who have done the JoCo Cruise a lot, and the folks involved in running it were beside themselves with emotion at how everyone came together to make it happen and to support them, when it would have been so easy to let everything fall apart and be awful and wallow in the failure.

*That* is JoCo Cruise, to me, in a nutshell.

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Tarus Balog : Meeting Owl

March 14, 2019 06:54 PM

One of the cool things I get to do working at OpenNMS is to visit customer sites. It is always fun to visit our clients and to work with them to get the most out of the application.

But over the last year I’ve seen a decline in requests for on-site work. This is odd because general interest in OpenNMS is way up, and it finally dawned on me why – fewer and fewer people work in an office.

For example, we work with a large bank in Chicago. However, their monitoring guy moved to Seattle. Rather than lose a great employee, they let him work from home. When I went out for a few days of consulting, we ended up finding a co-working space in which to meet.

Even within our own organization we are distributed. There is the main office in Apex, NC, our Canadian branch in Ottawa, Ontario, our IT guy in Connecticut and our team in Europe (spread out across Germany, Italy and the UK). We tend to communicate via some form of video chat, but that can be a pain if a lot of people are in one room on one end of the conference.

When I was visiting our partner in Australia, R-Group, I got to use this really cool setup they have using Polycom equipment. Video consisted of two cameras. One didn’t move and was focused on the whole room, but the other would move and zoom in on whoever was talking. The view would switch depending on the situation. It really improved the video conferencing experience.

I checked into it when I got back to the United States, and unfortunately it looked real expensive, way more than I could afford to pay. However, in my research I came across something called a Meeting Owl. We bought one for the Apex office and it worked out so well we got another one for Ottawa.

The Meeting Owl consists of a cylindrical speaker topped with a 360° camera. It attaches to any device that can accept a USB camera input. The picture displays a band across the top that shows the whole panorama, but then software “zooms” in on the person talking. The bottom of the screen will split to show up to three people (the last three people who have spoken).

It’s a great solution at a good price, but it had one problem. In the usual setup, the Owl is placed in the center of the conference table, and usually there is a monitor on one side. When the people at the table are listening to someone remote (either via their camera or another Owl), the people seated along the sides end up looking at the large monitor. This means the Owl is pretty much showing everyone’s ear.

It bothers me.

Now, the perfect solution would be to augment the Owl to project a picture as a hologram above the unit so that people could both see the remote person as well as look at the Owl’s camera at the same time.

Barring that, I decided to come up with another solution.

Looking on Amazon I found an inexpensive HDMI signal splitter. This unit will take one HDMI input and split it into four duplicate outputs. I then bought three small 1080p monitors (I wanted the resolution to match the 1080p main screen we already had) which I could then place around the Owl. I set the Owl on the splitter to give it a little height.

Meeting Owl with Three Monitors

Now when someone remote, such as Antonio, is talking, we can look at the small monitors on the table instead of the big one on the side wall. I found that three does a pretty good job of giving everyone a decent view, and if someone is presenting their screen everyone can look at the big monitor in order to make out detail.

Meeting Owl in Call

We tried it this morning and it worked out great. Just thought I’d share in case anyone else is looking for a similar solution.