Category Archives: Uncategorized

Building An Economical Waterproof Shower

The last few years have introduced many shower systems, such as KERDI-BOARD. These solutions are expensive and unnecessary.

Here are the steps to produce a waterproof shower without breaking the bank.

Use mold resistant drywall around your shower area.

Rather than closing up the seams with drywall mud, use a product like LePage 2 in 1 Seal & Bond.

Apply 3 coats of RedGard® Crack Prevention and Waterproofing Membrane.

You now have a waterproof shower, go ahead – take a shower.

That is all that is needed, you are ready for tile.
For tiles that are 8? to 16?, test coverage using a 1/4? x 3/8? U or Square notch.

A couple notes for myself:

3M 61 spray glue

TYTAN Drywall Pro Adhesive / Lepage PL 200

CertainTeed Premixed Texture “Spray-Lite” – Rona

Filling voids & mesh tape = (USG Easy Sand 20/45/90) / CGC Sheetrock 45
Final coat = CGC Classic Finish (must use 150+ sandpaper)

Ceph Cluster – A 2nd Try?

Back in August 2016 I wanted to try and build a Ceph cluster.  A the time one of the only Single Board Computer (SBC) with a SATA port was the Banana PI.

I bought a few 3tb hard drives (2.5 inch), 4 Banana PI machines and some Odroid C2 machines to use as controllers.

My Ceph cluster attempt in 2016.

It was very easy to setup the Ceph cluster, but the performance was terrible.  For Ceph to work you really need a high speed back channel for machines to replicate between.

I deployed the hardware for other purposes and called the experiment a failure.

Today I found this post on reddit.  Turns out Hardkernel has released a machine called Odroid-HC2.  It integrated a SBC with passive cooling and the ability to directly connect a 3.5 inch drive up to 12tb.

The guy on reddit deployed glusterfs on 20 of them, apparently glusterfs does not use so much bandwidth to keep the cluster in sync.  His performance numbers are impressive.

I’m not going to build out a cluster of these at this time, but it certainly looks like a fun project.


Everyone and their dog has used Dropbox in the past.  It is good, but commercial and your data is stored in the cloud.

Another option is Resilio, a nice application but I don’t find it stable enough for production use.

I have found Syncthing, open source and your data is not stored in the cloud.  I’m  testing it out on several Windows machines and a couple Linux machines.

Installing on Linux (Debian) from the Debian package was easy enough, but it does not complete the install. 🙁

On top of that the documentation is currently out of date and/or not correct on how to get the thing running as a service.

I found this page that goes over how to get it running, the instructions even work unlike a number of others I have found.

Another thing that is not clear, is where the configuration file is.  If you start it using systemctrl as per the instructions (assuming username is user1), the system creates a default config file at: 


I assume this is all done so each individual user can  set it up on the machine and have their own configuration…  of course in that way you have multiple people using the same port but guess they can fight over that.

The following commands could be used to enable the service (assuming username is user1)

systemctl enable syncthing@user1.service

With the service enabled it will start automatically on a restart.

If you want to stop/start or get the status while running, use these commands:

systemctl start syncthing@user1.service
systemctl stop syncthing@user1.service
systemctl status syncthing@user1.service

Builing A Deck With No Screws

Well, not exactly no screws but how about no screws that can be seen?  I have viewed a couple YouTube deck builders who were making decks while screwing in from the sides.

Today I found the tool that can do this easily.  It is called the Camo Marksman, from a company called Camo Fasteners.  You place it over your board and it automatically spaces the board and allows you to screw in from the side.

The result is a very clean looking deck, love it.

Testing the SSL Certificate on an Email Server

Have you ever tried to remotely test an SSL/TLS certificate on an email server?

It is no easy task, unless you know the simple command. Most online SSL testing tools that work against an email server will report if the connection is encrypted, if the cert matches the expected server name etc. However one piece of information they fail to check is if the certificate is expired.

I found OpenSSL has an easy command you can use to connect to an SMTP server and pull the details of the certificate in use on that server.

openssl s_client -starttls smtp -crlf -connect 123.456.789.012:25

Multiple Locale Website

This week I am experimenting with multiple languages in PHP based websites. The process is of course not so straight forward, so I am documenting some of what I am doing to get a server setup.

I am using GNU’s GETTEXT and Poedit, in order to get these things running you need to prep the server first. Gettext is well supported in PHP, which is why I am going that route.

On my debian server, I must first install gettext. I just installed the package.

apt-get install gettext

If you want to support a specific language, it must be a supported locale in the host OS as well.

In most linux distributions you can get a list of currently installed languages using:

locale -a

If you try and use gettext with a language that is not supported, it will not work.

On debian to install another supported language, it is fairly easy (I like easy) if you run:

dpkg-reconfigure locales

Then just select the locales you want to support and it takes care of the rest. Doing a locale -a again you should see your newly added languages.

Super Micro IPMI Firmware – X7DWT-INF

supermicro-logoI am managing a rack of Super Micro servers, the motherboard model is X7DWT-INF with built in IPMI using a AOC-SIMSO+ card.

The servers are old – quite old, but still perform their designated tasks just fine.

The rack contains a mix of Windows & Linux servers.

iodriveI wanted to convert one of the Linux servers over to Windows 2008 (the latest Windows OS supported by the board) to test out the performance of a Fusion-IO ioDrive (also old technology).

Despite having installed all the operating systems on this rack of Super Micro boards, getting Windows 2008 installed via IPMI was quite difficult. The system would install until the graphical interface showed up – then I lost all mouse or keyboard control.

Tried everything I could think of, no luck. Maybe there is a newer firmware than is installed on this machine? The AOC-SIMSO+ had firmware 1.60 installed, after hours of searching I found that 1.64 was available but I could not find any release notes anywhere.

Don’t know what the difference in firmware is, but it seemed to have fixed my problem. Just for my own future reference I am leaving a copy of the 1.64 build here… with such old computers Super Micro has sorta pushed the firmware to the back of their site so it is difficult to location.

I’m still looking for the latest firmware for the motherboard itself…

WD RE4 series benchmark.

So I was curious after doing that benchmark test on my SSD’s in RAID 0.

I ran the benchmark on a server that has a 1TB WD RE4 series disk. They claim 128 MB/s sustained from the disk.

My benchmark of the drive confirms their claim.

WD RE4 Benchmark

The drive maxed out at about 127 MB/s write and 138 MB/s on the read. I guess that is a fast drive, but is left in the dust when put up against an SSD and blown away totally against SSD in RAID 0.

Single Drive vs Raid 0

Every computer nerd knows RAID 0 is quick. My most recent computer (now about 1 year old) I put in three SSD drives operating in RAID 0 – I wanted quick.

I had an extra drive come out of another machine so I stuck it in there, but as a stand alone drive where I just put temporary files etc.

I was doing some reading today about different raid levels and performance. If you need redundancy RAID 10 seems to be the fastest option so that is what I will be using in my next batch of servers.

I never bothered to benchmark them before, I just knew that RAID 0 was faster. Is there an actual difference? Lets find out.

Performance of single SSD

The single SSD maxes out with a write speed of 138MB/sec with a read speed of 276MB/sec. That is quite snappy. I’ve seen laptop hard drives that can only do in the 12MB/sec, those laptops are painful to use.

Performance of three SSD in RAID 0

RAID 0 with three SSD disks. A max write speed of 1205MB/sec and a max read speed of 1552MB/sec – incredibly fast!

Interesting how the write speed closes the gap when you have multiple disks. Bottom line, running disks in RAID 0 does make a considerable difference! Even more interesting is how the performance increased by more than three times!

I used the free benchmark software from ATO Tech to do the testing.

Dyn Kills Free Hostname Program

I recently got some email from Dyn, something about their free hostname program being canceled.

I honestly did not think about it and just deleted the message, for a couple of reasons:

1) I’m not using their hostname program
2) I have a grandfathered free Dyn account from WAY back in the day

Then today I got another email, as seen here.


The part that stuck out to me was “If you are receiving this email, you have one or multiple free hostnames with us.”

Hmmm, if they are saying I have a free hostname let me think about this a bit more. Oh yea, I do use their DynDNS service – is that what they are taking about?

Should not impact me, I am on the grandfathered free account. Then I noticed the note in the email that says if you are a paid customer (which I consider myself to be) that this free hostname service would no longer be free. A Google search led me to a blog post by the CEO, which explains a bit more – basically they feel people are abusing it.

Dam! What’s a guy to do???

I run a few servers with Simple DNS Plus, which fortunately supports dynamic DNS updates.

It was very easy to setup, in fact the Dyn Updater software the Dyn distributes is actually developed by KanaSolution and they have the unbranded version of the software the Dyn uses available as DynDNS Updater.

I just removed the Dyn version and went with the unbranded one. So far so good.

I logged into my account and I don’t see any mention if my DynDNS is being canceled or what. At least now I don’t have to worry if Dyn is going to be canceling my free service since I am no longer relying on them for the service (it did work well while it lasted, thanks guys).