1. My review of Pop!_OS 22.04 vs. MacOS and Windows

    TL;DR: Pop!_OS > Windows > MacOS

    I've been building and tinkering with computers since I was a small child. Originally I would salvage old computer parts that schools and businesses were throwing away, swapping broken parts for whatever working hardware I could find, in the process converting my parents' family room into a junkyard of resurrected IBM PS/2s and dot matrix printers, all of them beeping and clicking and running my childish attempt at an artificial general intelligence.

    Now that I'm grown up, my life is much the same, although instead of finding old junk, I've blown altogether way too much money buying computers and experimenting with new builds. This means I've never been a "PC guy" or a "Mac guy" or a "Linux nerd" or anything else. I'm intimately familiar with Windows, MacOS and many flavors of Linux and I appreciate all of them for what they are.

    But recently, I sold off my Windows and Mac setups and made 2023 my year of Linux on the desktop. And so far I am loving it, thanks in great part to Pop!_OS 22.04, the only Linux distro I've used that fits me like a glove. So in the following post, I will ramble on about Pop!_OS and why I took the plunge.

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    Posted 2023-08-05 23:11:00 CST by henriquez. 1 comment
  2. Obsessive Facts hidden service now available on TOR

    Lately I've been playing with some alternative web protocols, specifically Project Gemini. But I realized before I create a "Smol Web" site, I've been missing the opportunity to release a "Dark Web" version of this site accessible to people using the TOR Browser. So I put my cores to work brute forcing the perfect vanity address, and a couple days later I'm happy with the result.

    Find us at http://obsessivecto5al3kdoe24cyt77np4w4owew7sm66qb7kwhlpzsgyuyd.onion

    This link only works if you have the TOR Browser, or another browser capable of loading onion addresses (but please don't use Brave for high security use-cases).

    In the spirit of the higher-security nature of TOR, I've disabled all JavaScript on the onion site. I've been bitching about JavaScript device fingerprinting for awhile now, so it was time to do this anyway. JavaScript is a progressive enhancement for most of the functionality on this site, so if you want the fancy animations and media streaming you can use the Clearnet version. And if you care more about security over all else, use the Darknet version. Mostly everything still works either way.

    Posted 2023-07-21 14:21:00 CST by henriquez. 1 comment
  3. How to control your Corsair RGB hardware in Linux

    I've been a Corsair fanboy for awhile now. Back in the day Corsair made a name for themselves by selling premium memory kits with lifetime warranties. Then they started releasing computer cases, mice, keyboards, SSDs and water cooling kits, and all of it was really good. Now they're even selling monitors and fully-built gaming PCs. Wow! Take my money, Corsair!

    Anyway Corsair has become notorious for putting RGB LEDs on pretty much everything they sell. (They even offer RGB RAM kits with no RAM!) All of this stuff can be controlled through Corsair's iCUE Application, which is sadly Windows- and MacOS-only. But what about us Linux users? Are we out of luck? The answer may shock you!

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    Posted 2023-07-17 14:00:00 CST by henriquez. 1 comment
  4. How to Self-Host your own Node.js Website

    Amazon, Microsoft and Google control too much of the Internet. If you're an employed web engineer chances are almost 100% that you're renting web hosting services from one or more of these companies at work. You will own nothing and be happy (at work)! But at home you have choice over where you host your web presence. If you have personal sites or side projects, you may want to consider self-hosting these on your home computer. It's easy, free, and fun. You will learn a lot by being your own sysadmin, and I'll show you how.

    In this guide I'll explain how to deploy your Node.js web app to a web server virtual machine (VM) running on a computer that you control. Our methodology will be configuring the Server VM to a "blank slate" status with network access, and then using Ansible over ssh to completely automate the process of installing and configuring your web project. For this to work you just need the following:

    • An Internet Service Provider that can assign you a Static IP address
    • A router that can do port forwarding
    • A computer that stays awake and connected to the Internet

    If this sounds intriguing, read on and I'll show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

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    Posted 2023-06-07 13:45:44 CST by henriquez. Comments
  5. My disappearing act

    Why the site went dark (and why it's back)

    I remember the feeling of compulsive resolve last summer as I disconnected and pulled my web server out of my closet. Along with my laptop, a monitor, some clothes, and my dog, I hastily packed everything into my Challenger and drove north. Despite having barely three hours of sleep I continued driving for twelve hours, through a tropical storm and into the mountains. When I reached Nashville, Tennessee, I called it a night and booked a room for myself and my dog at a plush hotel that caters to traveling recording artists. All day I had appreciated the opportunity to drive and think, and that night I appreciated the bed as I sank into a restful sleep.

    My marriage of 18 years was over, my life was permanently altered. I was reminded of a semi-lucid dream decades ago when I discovered the ability to move so fast that I could tear myself through the fabric of the universe itself into a new spacetime, a parallel universe. The only downside? You can never go back, no matter how fast you move, how desperately you tear. Nothing would ever be the same.

    Since then, my web server stayed packed away as the rest of my old life began to fall apart; divorce, the commercial failure of my company, mass layoffs of the team I had built, deep depression, the recent loss of my own job being just icing on the cake. A pessimist would say I am ruined, or that I wasted nearly two decades of my life on a failed marriage. But I'm not a pessimist and I think I learned some valuable lessons.

    1. You cannot change who another person is.

    You should try to be a better person, a more loving person, a better communicator, a better lover. You should try to improve all of the things you can control, but some things are impossible to control, and you shouldn't try. Instead, think about what you want and what you need out of a relationship and figure out if the other person is willing or able to meet you there. And note that being willing != being able.

    2. Human beings can take a lot of damage.

    "They say" that moving is one of the most stressful things a person can do. And also divorce. Oh also losing your job. I experienced all of these things in rapid succession and it was very stressful, it completely sucked, but it also wasn't the end of me. After rolling with enough punches one becomes an expert at rolling. In for a penny, in for a pound. That mentality almost made it fun.

    3. A chance to start over is a gift.

    It's easy to fall into ruts, personally, professionally, etc. A runner or weight-lifter would call this "hitting a plateau." In my case it was feeling like a lizard. A sense of extreme inertia can make it hard to self-examine, much less achieve the volition necessary to break away from patterns of mediocrity. Having the rug pulled out from under your life conveniently forces these issues to the forefront; when forced to adapt or perish, there's really only one constructive path forward. A chance to start over is a gift from fate, whether you wanted it or believe in fate.

    In that spirit, I've revived this web site. It's been going in one form or another since 2004 or earlier and I want to keep it going. The old web server is still packed away (RIP); that thing was powerful but sucked down electricity like it was going out of style with its 140 watt TDP. I've put together a much faster server that sips power, and took the opportunity to upgrade the operating system, the Ansible deployment system for this site, and the node version for the code.

    I still have to figure out what's next for me, but I'm feeling optimistic about my future.

    Posted 2023-04-26 04:20:00 EST by henriquez. Comments