Srikanth Perinkulam

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Weeknote 41 – Networks and Carnatic notes

State of the network: With better access to the router and some re-wiring in the house, I got around rejigging my server setup. This will change once I get my Odroid shipped over. For now though, here’s my current setup:

    1. NexcloudPi installed on a Raspberry pi 3B+ board
    2. Diet-Pi installed on another Raspberry pi 3B+ board running the pi-hole

The SBCs and the modem are now connected to the UPS inverter, so hopefully that gets rid of the hard shutdowns. Might consider getting a stabilizer at some point in time. I am also leaning towards a more robust homelab system. Yet to whet the core setup and will probably explore that a year down the lane.

Fitness: Yet another good week spending time outdoors! A 5k barefoot beach run on Tuesday, 5.5k lap runs at the YMCA on Wednesday, 25mins breaststroke swim at MBC and 30min MAS training at YMCA on Thursday, and a 2k barefoot beach run on Friday.

Music: Spent friday evening listening to a Veena instrumental performance at Narada Gana Sabha. A family friend was playing with 107 other artists and I also ran into a college friend with whom I was out of touch for about 10 years now! The performance was a tribute to his grand-father. Small, small world! Below is a shoddy recording of one of the pieces they performed. One of my favorites.

Interesting tools this week:

    • If you need to find what other devices are connected to the wifi network that your device is connected to, and a whole lot of other details, the Fing app is wonderful place to start. The free app is pretty slick! I use it to identify IP addresses (and use that to update my pi-hole hosts file for a more human-friendly ‘client listing’)

Interesting reads this week:

    • Google’s Sycamore quantum computer apparently achieved quantum supremacy. John Preskill had a good article on this on Quanta Magazine. The next few decades is arguably going to be about computing prowess and the results thereof, and quantum supremacy is a huge move in that direction. Exciting times ahead!
    • Just read this brilliant Nat-Geo piece on Netherland’s sustainable farming practices and how that’s setting them to success as the world’s second largest exporters despite being a really small country!
    • An intriguing post on the Palm oil. A cousin who was visiting us last month mentioned how he’d moved away from all packaged foods since they extensively use Palm oil. While I agree with the sentiment of not using packaged food, I wasn’t quite aware of the influence of Palm-oil and how deeply ingrained it was in the asian food manufacturing ecosystem till I read this piece from the Guardian.

Weeknote 40 – Travel and tests

Travel: We were in Hyderabad for a friend’s wedding. Wedding’s are a wonderful opportunity to meet some good old friend’s. This one was no different. Been a busy week otherwise shuttling between meeting friends and family, and finishing up some admin chores. Didn’t get around taking Meena to the ‘touristy’ spots. Will have to plan another trip for that.

Did visit the Infosys campus though. Back here after eight years! While not much seems to have changed, the space does look super green. The plants of the 2000’s are now huge trees almost shrouding the walkways.

Tests and firsts: Meena cleared the FSOT early this week and it’s likely that we might have our OA’s together somtime later this year! Shasta was with her grandmother and S for more than four hours while we were out.

Interesting tools this week:

  • Came across Firefly III– A self-hosted finance manager. Yet to install it. Does look pretty interesting!
  • Mapinseconds is one nifty tool to map out geographic datapoints with ease.
  • Sometime over the next week, I plan to install Paperless. Looks pretty promising for digital document archiving.

Interesting podcasts this week:

Now that I don’t have a commute to work, I had to find ways to incorporate listening to podcasts during the day. Over the last couple weeks, I got back into the groove by tuning into podcasts while cooking. Takes me about an hour to fix meals for the family and it’s quality time I could further enhance listening to some great channels.

Interesting reads this week:

  • The Independent posted an article on how, many large ships were fitted with scrubbers to release gases into the ocean waters to circumvent pollution laws. It is viscerally depressing how corporate firms diligent actions are driving us all down an abyss. Makes me question at times if individual pro-climate action still has any effect…
  • Intrigued by the Memory palace podcast, some deeper reading on the USS Iowa – ‘Don’t shoot! We’re Republicans!’
  • The Climate change crisis migrants: The keys’ are sinking and we still don’t get it. Do we?
  • The UK is getting rid of its ‘get-out after graduation’ approach. Brilliant move by Boris! The world and work dynamics have changed and it’s time countries and companies realize heavy measures need to be put in place to facilitate retaining top talent. It’s a clear win-win!

Weeknote 39 – Cyclones and Drizzles

Shasta‘s almost standing! Yesterday we heard her say a coherent ‘Hi’ in response to random call from Meena. She’s growing way too fast!

This was one good workout week. With S needing to work on her general fitness, we’ve been regularly hitting the beach for those early morning barefoot runs. The one day we had to turn around and head home because of strong rains, Meena got us to do a good round of Ashtanga. Also got around swimming thrice at the Madras Boat club. My legs ache in a very good way and I am loving it!

Education: Had some interesting discussions with folks at Teach For Bangladesh on setting up a robust Monitoring and Evaluation system. Pretty excited on what I could help setup for them. The next few weeks should lay out the finer details.

On a related note, came across Gibbon – an opensource school platform. I had helped implement Fedena in the school I taught about 10 years back. Gibbons looks way more ‘packaged’ with features I was looking for then! Excited to explore this as an option for a project I am working on.

Water: Looks like we’re almost running out of water and it’s time we either fixed the Borewell pump or call in the private water supplier. The pump gave in a month back most likely due to a dry burn-out (lack of ground water) and we got in a private water tanker to fill the 4,500 liter sump. That lasted us for about 36 days; indicating a per day, per person use of about 37 liters. Way below what is consumed by an individual in the U.S on average – 400 liters. It hit me real hard when I noticed my sisters, who were visiting us in Boston a couple years back, turned the tap down close to a tickle to wash plates. And now having seen the other side, I am way more cognizant of the amount of water I use for various things. Ironically, I just read a reuters article on India’s ground water consumption this week! India direly needs a robustly implemented and well executed water taxation system like in the Switzerland where a person is taxed for the amount of water us(wast)age.

Interesting reads this week:

 

Tit for Tat | Radiolab | WNYC Studios

Another good one from radiolab! Real-life prisoner’s dilemma situation playing out in WW1.

Marina rain run

A wonderful morning run on the Marina today. Barefoot as always!

With a ‘gloomy’ weather and not many visitors this early morning, we had most of the beach all for ourselves! As S and I were just about turning around after reaching Ice House, the slight drizzle very soon turned into a full fledged rain. Pouring rain, early morning waves and an empty beach is something I could take in every single day! Shasta seemed to have a terrific time too.

Meena happened to click this picture of us running from the distance. So glad she got around capturing this moment!

Rightfully so! There are two beaches with the same name on both coasts of the peninsular region.

The one in Trivandrum is way better than the one I biked to on the east coast. Kerala is bestowed with some really good scenic places. I did a long backpacking trip several years ago. Some of my best memories of exploring that state!

Kovalam Bike ride

Good to be back on the saddle after a while! ~50km ride to Kovalam and back on a very relaxed pace with folks from TFI Chennai.

If only chennai had some better weather!

 

Nawab land

Just back from an impromptu trip to Lucknow! Miss V got a few days off school, so we decided to fly north to visit Manni’s parents. Absolutely floored by the  city of the Nawabs and its numerous parks. Oh, but so hot and humid! While the prime intent was to spend time with Mama and Mami, we did get to hop around the city quite a bit and also indulge in the gastronomic pilgrimage!

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For Good, For Now

Meena, Shasta and I moved back to India from the US a few days back with bags and no baggage! With most of my family in the states, this was one tough decision to take and it has been on our minds for the last three to four years. Our 2018 vacation in Uganda solidified our resolve to enter the Foreign Service and work towards a more holistic life that involved sustainable travel. During one of those long car rides, we decided it was time and planned to ‘initiate exit procedures’ right after our vacation. Just as we were finalizing things back in the US, we’d realized that we would be having Shasta that year and decided to push the move to next year. Come 2019, once we had Shasta’s paperwork in place and she was ready to fly, we head back to Uganda to spend a few months there with Meena’s father and finally made our way to India with a short stay in Dubai. Read more

Baseline Road Trail

A beautiful 6 mile hike/walk near Miss Bama’s home. Shasta slept through most of it in the carrier and Dhruv had a ball of a time! So glad we fit this in. Probably one of our longest walks in Florida. The march of dimes event happens here every year.

Bringing the cloud home

I finally got my Shoebox server setup working! I now have three Single board Computer [SBC] working in tandem behind my home router to accomplish what I’ve been wanting to do for quite sometime now – Setting up an easy-to-maintain, in-house server for all my data and web hosting needs. Fixing this all together has been a tremendous learning experience. I still need to weed out some pesky issues but I believe I have the bearing right now.

Here’s my current setup:

  1. NexcloudPi installed on a Raspberry pi 3B+ board
  2. Yunohost installed on an Odroid XU4 board
  3. Diet-Pi installed on another Raspberry pi 3B+ board

I’ve been using Nextcloud as my data storage solution for more than a year now. It does what I expect it to do and much more. NextcloudPi handles the intricate details and takes out the hassles that come with hosting data on personal servers.

On the ODroid-XU4, I installed debian stretch as the base OS and then manually installed Yunohost as my web server. I use ServerPilot on my Digital ocean servers and was looking for a close match while self hosting. Love YHs web-ui and they did seem to support quite a few web apps. I also have my eyes on cozy and caprover. Might explore these at a later point in time if decide to switch to a different SBC.

Both NextcloudPi and Yunohost have letsencrypt tools to setup and manage certificates for the domains/sub domains. While super useful, I realised to benefit from that feature, I had to rely on haproxy. With some pointers from the Nextcloud forum, I decided to use another pi to front as the main server. Installed Diet-pi on it since it’s just something I really liked and configured haproxy on it to map to the corresponding server based on the hostname. While at it, I also added in a switch between the router and various servers.

I still need to work on making this more robust. One niggling issue is the speed is heavily compromised. I’m guessing it’s do with my haproxy config and I should be able to fix it pretty soon. Once I have this sorted out, I need to spend some time hardening the security of the server, further configure Yunohost, device my backup strategies and finally moving my websites over from Digital Ocean.

Skiing at Liberty

Sneaked in a day at Liberty at the very end of the skiing season. Was so totally worth it!

Meena didn’t get around taking the slopes since Shasta was pretty much tethered to her. Kids and I had a blast! Last time we were here [Dec 2017] I barely made it down the hill. This time around, I followed Nik’s strategy of letting gravity do it’s job and maneuvering only when I had to. Totally see how this could be addictive!

River ridge trail

Shasta’s first visit to Patapsco state park. Sharath, Meena, Shasta and I planned to head out together initially. Was pretty breezy and cold. Shasta initially was showing signs of queasiness, so Meena suggested Sharath and I head out while she’d stroll closer to the car.

Started out on the downhill and entered the woods around the corner. Meena joined with Shasta as we were heading back covering about three miles. A wonderful, refreshing day out!

We head out to Hot Pot later that evening. Delicious food and some real good time with the whole family!

Serpentine Trail

An impromptu and beautiful 2 mile hike with Sharath near the Soldier’s delight Natural Environment area. Winter storm Gaia wasn’t as severe as they projected it to be (in this area).

This is definitely one of those trails that I would love to get back to on a full moon night!

ODroid XU4 SBC

Meena and my family gifted me an Odroid XU4 SBC earlier last month as a Christmas/B-day gift. One of my projects during the year-end holidays was to setup a robust home server; Essentially getting my webservers home from Digital Ocean, where they are currently hosted. This would be a terrific companion to the nextcloud fileserver that I setup earlier using a raspberry pi.

Earlier this week, I chanced upon DietPi and decided to launch it on the eMMC chip. One of the first things I did was to install Pi-Hole. With uBlock addons’ that should be some good riddance to ads across my home network! Would be interesting to keep track of these network pings to see what devices are needlessly calling ‘home’.

I’ve ported my web applications to the Odroid board and am currently testing out the server internally before I ‘turn on’ the traffic switch. All looks super-promising so far! Over the next few months, I’ll have to tweak the settings and tune this mini-beast a bit for performance. For now though, I’m more than happy with what it’s delivering!