Monthly Archives: November 2021

Ripping Those Old DVD’s

Well I finally COMPLETED my new server build project.  I built a big old bad machine based on an Intel Xeon E-2136 Chip, 32Gb of RAM and about 20TB of hard drive storage.  I’m using Unraid as an OS.

One of my goals was to rip a bunch of my old DVD’s to put on the media server.  If the internet goes out………we will still have some entertainment.

The last piece of my server build was adding an internal DVD / Blu-Ray burner (Panasonic UJ-265).  Even though they advertise 6x read speeds I hope everyone knows you don’t always get that, if ever.  Anyway I hooked my drive up and did the old rip-a-rooni and it took a natural lifetime.  My read speed was 1.0x’s.  It was crawling and certainly not what I paid for to accomplish.

My ripper app is called MakeMKV.  It rips the DVD then I make it media sized with another program called Handbrake.

So why is my drive stuck at 1x’s read speed and taking so long?  I dunno but it is possible to set the speed to maximum in MakeMKV but it is a command line hack.

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Why Don’t We Encrypt Our Communications?

I’ve been on a security kick and asking myself, why don’t more people protect their personal communications?  Here’s the short list.

  • It’s hard.
  • Or it costs money.
  • If it costs money, it’s still hard.

If you use a web-based service like ProtonMail it is actually pretty easy.  It’s all built in.  But God forbid you use Mac Mail, Outlook, or Thunderbird to bring in encryption certificates.

I’m pretty tech savvy, and I’ve played with email encryption before and it just is beyond the scope of most average computer users.  People in corporate or government roles are most likely to use it, and then they have dedicated IT Departments to set it up.  When I worked in the government it was as simple as pushing a padlock button in your email.

At home, not so much.   First of all, I use Mac.  And while it is possible to add certificates to your store for free it is all command line stuff and again, it is beyond the scope of most users.  The solution is a program called GPGSuite but not only does it cost money, it seems to keep costing money as their upgrades cost money.   Mac goes from Big Sur to Monterey……’re buying a new encryption Suite.

What’s a boy to do?
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ProtonMail – Not Just Webmail

I had a fit when I found out that the Justice Department was “threat tagging” American citizens who dared to speak out at school board meetings.  It was at that point I knew I needed to go dark on my personal communications.

Now, don’t think I went into full Prepper or Patriot mode.  I still have a few regular email accounts and I’ll still use them for various things.  I use gmail for a spam trap.  And getting emails from Amazon and all the other marketing crap can still come in through good ol’ dot Mac.

But if you are a human carrying out conversation with me, especially any kind of business or family business or especially communications with lawyers………….our email is going to be encrypted.   I even changed the email address on my “Contact Me” tab of this page.

So lets talk about the service I’m using………….ProtonMail.  I’ve had a ProtonMail account for years, but I almost never used it.  I got it because I was going to hire a lawyer for something once and the first thing he did was direct me to get a ProtonMail account so our communications would be private.
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Protonmail Bridge on Unraid

Now more than ever in this Social Media day and age I think it is important to encrypt your private communications.  Most people think they are boring but as the current news feeds amplify, if you dare speak out on a subject you may be a target.  I won’t get into details beyond that but …….why not encrypt your on-line conversations?   No one needs to know what you like and don’t like, and what you stand for or don’t stand for.  Or what your vaccination status is.

If you think Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo are not spying on you there is no hope for you.  You need to move on from here.  Email encryption is nothing new and in fact I remember the first consumer grade stuff ………Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) in the mid 90’s.   It was super cool but people just would not take the extra steps to do this.   I suspect they still won’t.  But they should.

There are several secure email services and in this blog I will focus on ProtonMail   They use end to end encryption and if you have a ProtonMail account and you email someone that doesn’t…….you can still create an encrypted environment.

ProtonMail is web based, and for most of you that isn’t an issue.  You are used to logging into your Gmail or Yahoo account on a web browser, so don’t let this scare you.  You’re simply using another service except this one is more secure.

Let’s move on with this discussion.

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Synching Folders Easy and Cheap

This is something that is OLD, and something I once knew and did and forgot about.

My digital life is HUGE …….. huge in the amount gigabytes of data I have archived over the years.   If I buy something……..I download and save the manual for it.  Stuff like that.

I built a SuperServer™ and have just copied all the data over to that device.  Trouble is when I put some new data on my laptop I want it to upload to the server, at least on a weekly basis.

There is NO SHORTAGE of programs to accomplish this and most of them COST MONEY.  Or they have a free one that doesn’t quite do what you want but the Pro Version that COSTS MONEY does.

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Raspberry Pi NAS……kind of

UPDATE Jan 31 2021:  I updated from Pi OS Buster to Bullseye which broke the Geekworm fan control.  The only way to get it going again was to do a fresh installation.

This was a fun albeit unnecessary project that costs a few bucks. I wanted to build a small portable NAS around a Raspberry Pi 4.

I ended up buying parts to create a polished, professional looking solution that utilizes a SATA 2.5″ SSD.  Here are the parts I bought:

Geekworm Stuff

This is a good looking case and I obviously have the front panel off of it for this picture.

There are a few things you need to know about this set up though.  It may or may not be the solution for you.

First the case fit and finish is beyond exceptional. The SATA board is excellent for mounting the SSD on the bottom side and pogo pins make the appropriate connections to the Pi.

Make no mistake though.  The SSD is connected via the USB 3.0 bus. And herein lies the rub.

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You should NEVER hook up to a free wifi hotspot.  EVER.  If you MUST then you should instantly connect to a VPN to create an encrypted tunnel for your traffic to keep you safe.

Trouble is VPN’s either:

  • Cost money
  • Or are difficult to configure

Enter Tailscale which advertises itself as a zero configuration VPN and for the most part……….that’s true.

Basically, you install the app or program on your phone, tablet, or computer (easy) and then log in either by making an email account, using a Google or Microsoft account or a Github account. I personally would only do Github or the private email.

Tailscale login

That was easy.

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Apple USB Superdrive with Unraid and MakeMKV

I’m ready to start ripping DVD’s on my newly built Unraid server.  In order to do it efficiently I ordered a SATA Optical Drive and my case (Fractal Node 804) has a slot in the front panel for just such a device.

In the interim, I have an old Apple USB Superdrive.  I plugged it in the server ……….and ……….nothing happened.  The disk wouldn’t insert.  It was like it was dead.   I plugged it in my laptop and it worked fine.  The dirty dogs at Apple make it so that their proprietary drive needs a wake up command that the Mac OS of course gives it.

SSH into your Unraid server and issue the following command.  If there is a disk in the slot it was auto-magically get sucked in.

sg_raw /dev/sr0 EA 00 00 00 00 00 01

In order to rip DVD’s directly into your file system in Unraid you need to add an app called “MakeMKV”. Once installed click on the logs to view.  We are looking for something specific.

MakeMKV Logs (click pics to enlarge)

Scroll through the logs until you find the section that deals with

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DIY NAS Build – Network Attached Storage

Your house may have numerous computing devices which means you probably have data you want backed up.  Yes, there are all manner of cloud services (Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, etc.) that you can utilize and they are indeed handy but your data now exists on SOMEONE ELSE’S COMPUTER.  And maybe that is what you want because there is something to be said for off site back up’s.  If there is a natural disaster and something tragic happens then you may lose all your data if it is stored locally.

That is a subject all in itself but back when I was working I built two small, identical NAS servers and just took one to work.  Because there was no private internet connectivity besides a phone hotspot, I would just bring one from home and take the other one back home to update it.  Again, off site back ups are an entirely different subject.

Another very common reason you might want a dedicated locally controlled server would be to rip all those DVD movies, and CD music you have to a media server.  Or a NAS server can act as storage for your security cameras (to hell with paying some company a monthly fee for your video) or for DVR.  I have a couple favorite old shows that I record currently from over the air (OTA) TV to my media server.

And if you build a device that is probably going to be on 24/7 you probably should exploit the heck out of it and make it do stuff.  Let’s build a NAS, shall we?

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Vaccines and Shit

I’m putting this on my own blog because:

a) It is interesting

b) Posting it on social media would get me kicked off almost instantly I imagine.

Preface statement:

Even though I may not act like it sometimes……….I believe in God and Jesus Christ and the Bible as literal truth.  The Bible says to take care not to be deceived.  It says it a lot.

Even though I may not pray as much as I should when I do pray I pray not to be deceived and I ask (beg) for discernment.  I don’t think I’m smarter than anyone else nor possess any special powers or abilities but sometimes things grab my attention and let me know they are Biblical in nature somehow.

This morning I find this article on Luciferase and the Moderna vaccine.  Before I go on let me state I am NOT anti-vax.  If you and your doctor think it is in your best interest then by golly that is the end of the story.  Please take whatever health measures you deem fit.

The story:

This is a journalist who simply wanted a list of ingredients in the vaccine.  Guess what?  Darn near impossible to get it.  While doing a web search the journalist finds a patent ON THE MODERNA WEBSITE that lists one of the ingredients in the mRNA cocktail as “LUCIFERASE”.

Sounds ominous.  What is Luciferase?  It is a bioluminescent marker.  This is somewhat troubling to me as Lucifer is referred to as the Light of This World in the Bible.  And that’s as far as I’ll go with that.

For bringing this up on Twitter the journalist gets banned of course.

Anyway, I thought you might like to know that the ingredients in the vaccine are not disclosed, when a journalist uncovers a particularly ominous sounding one then she gets banned from social media for ummmmmmmm, telling the truth.

Do your own research, and do your own deep dive.  You might be surprised what you find.