The Starfish, the Spider, and Security

I was recently gifted an interesting book, The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom by a fellow Airman who (I think) hoped to encourage and empower more independent action among others against the grain of an otherwise hierarchical military. It’s a pretty quick read and makes a couple of compelling arguments, though it falls short on its methodology. It focuses exclusively on why an organization would want to be more like the titular Starfish: resilient, decentralized, and highly adaptable, however it fails to address the advantages of the Spider: security, efficiency (though a different kind, to be sure), and accountability.

High Sierra Broke My Octopress

One of the most important things you can do to keep your computer/phone/smart thermostat/etc secure is to keep it patched with the latest software. Most of the time, this means that old security flaws are repaired, new features are added, and – occasionally – new bugs are introduced. In my case, the latest macOS update, High Sierra (macOS 10.13), broke my blogging platform, Octopress 2.0! When I tried to write and test my last post and I received a rather ignominious error:

Building an Arcade Cabinet - Part 1: The Plans

Some of my favorite childhood memories revolved around the arcade. Whether it was playing arcade games (which I rarely had the spare cash to do), watching others playing arcade games, or just hanging out and enjoying the atmosphere. There was always something magical about the gorgeous graphics, the booming sounds, and the colorful cabinets. For much of my life, I’ve wanted to have an arcade cabinet in my own home, but it was always out of reach for some reason. Finally, I took the plunge and just decided to try building my own. The good news is that I’ve got some limited experience with wiring, designing graphics, and arcade emulation software. The bad news is that I have almost no experience with woodworking or applying vinyl.

The Mazda Needs a Radio

So last June I decided that my MINI Cooper S needed another radio, however within the last few months my MINI and I decided to have a breakup. Sad, I know, but the family was starting to outgrow the backseat of our family Volkswagen GTI and I was starting to outgrow the MINI’s repair bills. Additionally, my current commute no longer really appreciated the joys normally associated with a manual transmission, so I moved on to a fantastic 2016 Mazda 6 (because why buy new?) which is still quite fun, super-comfortable, and gets better mileage. That said, the Mazda (like the MINI before it) needs another radio. Enter my de-commissioned MINI’s Yaesu FT8800R and Larsen dual-band antenna.

Wire This Old House - Part 2

One of the fun things about home ownership is popping off random boards and panels only to discover that your house is full of surprises. Sometimes those surprises are unfortunate, like water or termite damage. Other times, those surprises are awesome, like realizing that your house was already full of CAT5E networking cable. During the house inspection, we pulled a wall panel down and found a zero point (where all of the cables converge to interface with networking hardware) in the laundry room and when I went I checked behind some of the blank plates, I found multiple unterminated connections. You know what this means? Time to terminate!

Wire This Old House - Part 1

The family and I just recently converted from being renters to owners… and you know what that means? Time to modify! Of course, our budget isn’t as endless as our imagination, so there’s always a compromise. I wanted to start small since I haven’t done much in-home electrical work. Thankfully, there are plenty of YouTube and blog sites out there to help guide me. The first thing I did was a fairly simple one: add USB plugs to the outlets!

The MINI Needs Another Radio

Why? Because there’s no such thing as too many radios. As I mentioned in my previous posts last May, I installed the CB radio partially to explore just how relatively difficult it would be to install a more-expensive 2m/70cm ham radio. I was pleasantly-surprised at how smoothly the installation went and it gave me a lot of confidence going into this project. Like any project, an ounce of planning saves a gallon of blood, so I started with research.

Home Proxy Servers and Saving Bandwidth

We survived a recent interstate move relatively unscathed though unfortunately, we had to make one really huge change: our ISP (Internet Service Provider). This normally wouldn’t be that traumatic, except that we transitioned from an inexpensively-priced cable-based service to a slightly more expensive and much slower DSL-based service. To add insult to injury, they have data caps! Generous though they may seem, my family will surely put them to the test. The obvious answer: CACHING! Fortunately, the mighty 2007 Dell lives on to save the day once again! First: what is a proxy server and what is caching?

The Dell Lives!


So up until very recently, this site (among other things) lived its humble life on my mighty 2007 Dell XPS M1530. To deal with some issues from my ISP and occasional downtime problems, I happily moved to Digital Ocean for web hosting, but I still was using my Dell for other projects. My timing was perfect because within a month of migrating, the hard drive took a dive.