Menus, someday menus

Finally taking sometime to go poking around with the system, I’ve finally figured out the process for converting my top bar into a proper set of menus. Which is in large, why my current website design has fewer pages than my old environment did.

But of course this raises the larger question, of just how I want these to be ordered. I suspect that the current two, will become part of a larger “About” and some semblance of order will follow for other things. Since this place serves as my journal, it is mostly blog posts; but there are other pieces of content that I tend to have an interest in maintaining, where it’s undesirable for it to be lost behind the great ‘when the heck did I post that?’ factor :P.

Ah, well, other things to get done.

Dreams and Ironies

One of the staple backdrops that often appear in my dreams, is a derivative of the apartment where I lived from about age eleven or twelve into my early twenties. It’s actually been kind of an oddity, that I never, or almost never dreamt of the apartments that I lived in after that. I’ve wondered whether or not that would remain true for this house.

The other day, I had a dream involving my garage and an issue of garage door that kept trying to open itself, followed by chasing a box that literally ran off, until a cap leapt out of it. Ironically, this morning I was dreaming of discussing both this trend, and how much nightmare fuel the utility room had provided where it’s often been enlarged to like three times the size. And mentioned yesterday’s dream, get this? All while at that old apartment, and right outside of said utility room πŸ˜…

Aside from that old apartment’s style being a bit dated, since it had a fairly distinctive T-junction design, it’s a relatively easy to identify place. Especially when you lived there for like thirteen years of your life, and memorized things well enough to navigate in the dark well enough to find candles and flashlights, lol.

Scaling Done Right

Before I undocked Shion, I had a desktop full of stuff, roughly in the form of three windows across the top of the display, two across the bottom, with a mini-player of music in the corner.

While I was undocked, I was mostly doing other things.

Coming upstairs and re-docking, I’m pleasantly happy that everything is effectively where I left it before transitioning from a 32″/2160p screen to my laptop’s 13.6″/1664p screen.

If anything, this is one of the reasons I’ve come to prefer one big-ass monitor over two proper sized monitors, and have come to appreciate macOS’s scaling methods being sane. That is to say, it’s not like going a dinner platter to a postage stamp, so much as roomy to cozy and back again. A far cry, from for example, eons ago having the problems of shifting a PC between 600p, 768p, and 1200p screens causing tons of ruckus and disorder.

Laptops > Desktops

Working on a screen full of files, listening to music, yada, yada when I remember I should’ve started cooking half an hour previously, I’m reminded of one of the reasons I prefer laptops for things that aren’t rack mount friendly.

The big juicy monitor ™ provides a nice 32″ workspace, the thunderbolt docking station nets me my keyboard/mouse/etc and a gigabit link straight to my file server within two hops. Heck, I even like the speakers πŸ˜€.

Yet just the same, it’s rather convienant to be able to undock, grab my laptop and bring it downstairs. Since the speaker’s and battery life aren’t shit, it’s an easy matter to have my music continue in the background while I’m cooking, and then pick up where I left off for a bit while I’m waiting for the oven to finish it’s share of cooking duty.

Increasingly, I’m inclined to believe that owning a desktop will fade by the wade side. The big honking GPU is the key reason that I still own one, since the need for expansion cards and reconfigurable internal drives have become less necessary as more compact form factors have become more capable and external connectivity have become faster. Plus, despite my early interest in diskless virtualized workstations and remote desktops, nothing really beats a good client machine for doing client machine tasks just like nothing really beats a terminal for doing terminal oriented tasks.

Maybe I’m just getting old πŸ˜›

Apparently, one of the reasons Steam Deck’s underlaying technology owes to Nier Automata if the itnerviewlets at Proton and Tier: Automata – the unique story behind what makes Steam Deck tick, are to be believed. Which really doesn’t surprise me.

Steam Deck’s graphics and battery life in my opinion aren’t as impressive as achieving them in such a small, portable package. You get roughly Xbox One grade graphics from roughly Xbox One grade hardware, and x86 will never offer great battery life under heavy load. But it’s got one thing I love most of all.

Video games work on it. There’s a fair bit of video games on Steam that actually have a native Linux version, and unlike the support for macOS, it’s not quite a joke. But the vast majority of games are Direct3D based games for Windows that require DirectX. That’s how video games are written in this world.

Yet, Steam Deck runs them well as the hardware is capable. In ways that I was never able to achieve back in the day, now more than a decade in the past, using purely Wine and derivative solutions. So I find myself very glad now that folks made a video game with 2B and 9S πŸ™‚

Actually, that reminds me: I’ve been debating picking up a copy of the game on Steam one of these sales. Haven’t played it since I was active on console, and I haven’t even bothered to hook up Deathstar One since moving thanks to getting Rimuru operational and Steam Deck largely taking over for both the ol’ Steam Link and Deathstar One.

TLS all the things

Passing thought, if I’m willing to go through the bollocks of setting up a bunch of name servers and probably rolling a DHCP host or two, I should investigate how possible it would be to run an ACME based setup on a private network; Ala auto renew your own self signed certificates.

Yes, yes, I know I’m a pain in the ass 😝

Home network version 7

Recently, I decommissioned my ASUS RT-AC68, A.K.A. the single best piece of networking equipment that I have ever owned (and at this point, the chief contender is a null modem cable). <S> for your decade of service little guy!

Based on the ASUS’s iPhone 4 grade horsepower and almost fast enough speed of Wi-Fi 5 having lasted so long, the key choice in replacing things had two major criteria:

  1. Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) support.
  2. Mesh network.

The first criteria is driven by the fact that if I’m doing it now as Wi-Fi 7 goes gold or within a few years as more equipment becomes available, it makes no sense to select outgoing Wi-Fi 6[E] equipment — when I plan on using this gear until the tires fall off. Literally, my only complaint about the old guy was the Wi-Fi reception between hosts situated on the exact opposite end of the house from where the modem is located. Yup. Shion, Rimuru, Zeta, Deck, etc are in the same room and all have wireless connectivity but since the access point is at the furtherest distance possible that means local communication suxor. I.e., downloading from Steam == awesome because ASUS AC68, mother fucker; but I/O between Zeta and client machines != so great.

Which generated the second criteria. My segregated IPv6 network on the desk works pretty well, not that Zeta was intended to be functioning as a router among its myriad of other tasks. This makes for some things that are just inconvenient like running service VMs attached to Ethernet, and then wanting to access them in other rooms over wireless. Not to mention dealing with the split domain problem.

Enter the successor: Eero Max 7! In addition to having the chutzpah to compete with the decade old ASUS (the Ferrari of wireless networking back then), each node comes with a pair of 2.5G and 10G Ethernet ports (and a credit card billπŸ˜‚), which future proofs it in a world where gigabit is becoming too slow. In theory, the system should last until Wi-Fi 7 is the new 802.11g (Wi-Fi 3), or Eero stops working. ASUS was still delivering firmware updates a decade later, which was crazy but appreciated.

Using one mesh node to function as a gateway and pump out signal at that end of the house, and another node situated in my study: this effectively solves the division of networks. My desk’s separate IPv6 network is now demissioned on the software side (Zeta doesn’t mind, lol) and its physical is now a gigabit switch to the local Eeero node. Zeta has a direct connection. But with most of my devices being Wi-Fi 5 on the 5 capable, that should be less of a concern.

So now wireless is pumping out my modem speeds instead of up to 1/3″ when sitting at this edge of the solar system. The old guy could bring the signal like a champion, but Wi-Fi 5 is only when wireless started to deliver “Fast enough” to compete with wired and we’re literally hitting the edge cases πŸ˜›.

There is only one real problem with how Eero is a “Basics only” approach to network configuration. See, I’m a DNS kind of guy. I’m not typing 128-bit fucking addresses, and you can take your 32-bit IPv4 addresses and shove them up a post note. Typing IP addresses does not scale when you have more devices than room on a post it note.

Aside from its awesomeness as a wireless router, there is one superb thing that the ASUS AC68 did that made life great. Like many a router, it let you specify a domain for the gateway and defaulted to its own caching DNS resolver. That’s common enough. But it went a step further. The DHCP and DNS was auto stitched together so that modern DHCP clients led to

That is to say, “zeta.home” would just work by setting my server’s hostname to “zeta” and connecting it to DHCP. No need to give a flying fuck about manually configuring a DHCP reservation or even what the IP assignment was, although I used to do reservations for infrastructure as an ‘insurance’ policy.

Then enter Eero where the dealio is: “We don’t care if you give us money, that’s not our problem!”

Which means in solving my routing troubles, I went from the annoyance of wishing I could maintain separate A / AAAA records to “What the fuck, is this the darkages?” which is not a problem that I appreciate, but it is a problem that I can solve easier than running an Ethernet drop across the attic space.

Phase one of this solution was to create a new virtual machine on Zeta, taking advantage of the fact that part of replacing Cream was wanting a system that could function as a VM or container farm. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy it’s an authoritive DNS server with control over “” and functioning reverse DNS because I’m a pain in the ass who doesnt like to do things by halves. That wasn’t so bad, give or take having to remember the fun that is editing zone files. I’ve used .home for a long time now, but figured that I may as well migrate to the convention that replaced it if I’m doing all this crud.

Phase two of this solution was to create a second instance. See, most clients will just send their queries to the first DNS and use the second as a failback. People often think, “Hey, I’ll just put my zones on this and let the other DNS do the other stuff,” and then wonder why nothing works the moment a client starts sending queries to another resolver. There’s also reasons why DNS always comes in at least pairs! Hell, the Internet was made to take a nukin’ and keep on truckin’ so survivability is a thing.

But obviously it’s a bad idea to configure another VM on the same server, or Zeta itself as the second DNS. Plus from a paranoid perspective, it would be kind of nice to put the “Ahh, I’m working on Zeta” safe guard across the building where the gateway is. Thus phase two takes a Raspberry Pi Zero W that’s been waiting on me to solder an RaSCSI for, and turns the machine into a secondary DNS server for For extra abuse the primary and secondary nameservers run on different operating systems with one being run natively on the Raspberry Pi’s OS and the other being a virtualized Red Hat instance on the central server.

Then enter phase 3! Being able to resolve external DNS (e.g., Google), zone transfers, reconfiguring the Eero for custom DNS, being happy not to have misstyped the IPv6 addresses, security wrangling, and testing fail over scenarios. Not to mention documenting the key details in my notes system being I’m that kind of pain in the ass.

The next sticking point however is where the magic happens. See, it’s not rocket science to have a DHCP and DNS server cooperating for the hostname -> hostname.domainname magic. If you’re using dhcpd and bind, the harder trick is knowing that you can actually do that.

But as far as I can tell, Eero’s software doesn’t support a separate DHCP server without running in bridge mode, and that would bring my AC68 out of retirement, so for right now I have zone files configured for key systems only. Phase 4 will likely be to address that after the system gets more stress testing.

It seems that Eeero uses DHCP for IPv4 and IPv6 clients are left to SLAAC, which is great IMHO. I’m all for that because between Stateless Address Auto Configuration and Neighbor Discovery features, you can pretty much just say fuck it and IPv6 hosts will do the right things unless your network is stupid(tm). Unlike an IT department, most of us don’t need to log every single precipice of our network’s activity and aren’t paranoid enough to want to do that at home.

Possible solutions may be to configurize DHCPv6 and ignore IPv4, or see if the good old respect meh authority trick would get the Eero to delegating DHCP to a dedicated server under my control without having to wrestle with the Eero trying to run its own dhcpd, or getting creative with firewalling.

Other than an as an alternative to Names I don’t really care about IPv4 locally anymore, since the things I have that require IPv4 are in the same club of things that know what Apple Talk was–that is to say, equipment so old that it passed old enough to buy beer and entered the old enough to have kids in school vintage of computer hardware.

But in any case, the DHCP portion of things shall be a battle for another time.

CMOS Reminder

Best way to remember that Stark’s CMOS battery needs replacing: plugin, let’em charge, boot up, oh hey BitLocker.

On the upside being anal retentive about such things, it was more of a pain in the arse to input my recovery key and decrypt the system drive than to actually find where I had encrypted that 😁

Tomb Raider Remastered

One of the games that I’ve been waiting for has recently released, and largely consumed my Saturday plans. That’s of course, Tomb Raider I-III Remastered.

Whereas Tomb Raider: Anniversary took the settings and general concepts and made a decent to good Tomb Raider game out of modern technology, it quite rapidly bugged me. Almost nothing about the game connected with my childhood. So while I enjoyed that, it was also disappointing. And quite franky, I think that the 2013 – 2018 Survivor trilogy has become the best Tomb Raider games we’ve got since the original PlayStation.

Tomb Raider remastered however is *exactly* my childhood! It’s literally a 1:1, or as much as it can be with the PC’s save anytime you like system instead of the silly save crystals used in the Sony PlayStation release. Which quite honestly, I prefer the PC approach because you can say fuck it and reload a save right before a series of difficult jumps, or a room that’s liable to break your neck or cause drowning.

The original Tomb Raider was one of the games of its era that I enjoyed as a kid. Both playing it myself and watching my brother play through the entire trilogy. I loved that the game spent more emphasis on exploring and circumnavigating the tombs than on running around shooting things, which is more or less why I didn’t care for TR3 at all. The original is kind of unique among Tomb Raider games, and has never quite been replicated — it’s also one of my favorites 😁

One of the remaster’s better features IMHO is the ability to toggle between the remastered graphics and the classic graphics, similar to the remaster of Halo CE. In classic mode, it’s like looking at my childhood, if you had a crystal clear rendering to a 4K screen instead of a PlayStation hooked up to composite video and a tube TV, lol. In remastered graphics, the game remains very faithful and it is superbly respectful of what the original game looked like: while also improving upon it! The only alteration that I find obvious is that in classic mode, med packs use a green cross rather than a red, similar to modern releases of DooM ’93 and Doom II.

Something that’s also refreshing and horrifying is the mechanics. Literally, they are the same. This means you must play their way or you’ll find yourself leaping off a ledge in frustration. Stella’s Tips & Strategies page was actually a better crash course in remembering how the system worked than the tutorial. If you have any problems with the games mechanics, seriously hit up that page and the video of the running jump, and then go back to Lara’s house and practice until all of the jump exercises in the ball room are easily doable. If not, you’ll end up rage quitting before ever leaving Peru 😝. The mechanics aren’t hard, but are no longer natural, and seemingly require tank controls, and TR may be the only ’90s era game where those were actually a good thing compared to modern controls.

In fact, if you ever need a guide on a TR game, I highly recommend Stella’s site. We now live in the world of Google, Game FAQs, IGN, Wikia, and countless other just Google it and you’ll either find a walkthrough or a clue somewhere. But Stella’s guides are probably the best resource you’re ever going to find for the original Trilogy, and good options for any of the later TRs I’m sure.

Back in the day, we spent lots of time trying to figure out the original Tomb Raider. At some point, my brother probably bought the strategy guide because he usually bought those for every game. Heck, I can still remember Saint Francis’ Folly and the various puzzle rooms. Our mother never had an interest in video games or really, games at all. Us having questions about Greek and Egyptian mythology in our search for puzzle-room solutions was probably the closest she ever came to playing a game with us.

If you want to video game like it’s 1996, go play Tomb Raider!

Dahlia in Bloom

Of late, I’ve found myself in that odd spot of reading a series where I think, maybe I should switch series or nah, give it a few weeks and I’ll be caught up πŸ˜„. Last night as I started volume 8 of Dahlia in Bloom, and I’m reminded that it’s going to be a while. Based on Wikipedia, I believe that volume 9 was released in Japan back in December, so it will probably be summer time by the time an English translation lands.

I’ve really enjoyed the series so far, perhaps because in many ways: it’s protagonist and I have similar natures. Dahlia’s antics as a craftswoman and a certain joy in cooking, are things I’m rather able to relate to and the series makes for a good slice of life. The side thoughts of both Dahlia and Volf also remind me of the experience of first love, which sprinkles a nice touch on the romance side-plot that just makes you want to root for the lead characters, and sigh with the supporting cast.

In volume 1, the story begins with Dahlia Rossetti about to move into a new house the day before her wedding. Only, as it turns out her fiancΓ©, Tobias, has suddenly found “True love” with another woman and leaves Dahlia holding the bag as it were. The out pouring of friendship and support from those around Dahlia is wonderful, and quickly snowballs into the craftswoman forming her own trading company to support both herself and the development of new magical tools. It’s a big leap, but she resolves to hold her head up high and follow her dreams as a magical toolmaker even if that means becoming chairwoman of the Rossetti Trading Company.

When she encounters Sir Volfied, crawling out of the forest battered and bloody from being carried off by a wyvern it isn’t long before the chance encounter with Volf and Dahlia’s own nature, brings her into doing business with knights of the Order of Beast Hunters at the castle. At first, Dahlia is merely trying to use her talents to make Volf’s expeditions with the beast hunters easier. But of course between Dahlia’s ingenious crafting and Volf’s unexpected salesmenship, business is soon booming. Dahlia’s desire to bring people happiness through her magical toolmaking, soon finds her products in demand with both the knights at the castle, and with commoners and nobles alike.

Along the way, there are many bits of amusement and slice of life joy. Volf becomes a frequent dinner guest at the tower that Dahlia calls home and workshop, soon coining the name, “Green Tower Diner” and wishing she would open a restaurant — good food and drink abound. Not to mention the experiments in trying to produce a magical sword, which range from the mildly terrifying Sword of the Dark Lord’s Minion and the unnerving “Creeping Sword” all the way to the Galeforce Blades when you combine the insanity of a knight and a magical toolmaker πŸ˜….

The story takes itself mostly seriously, but like any good series: isn’t afraid to take itself humorously either. I especially enjoyed that when Dahlia is called to the castle to advise the knights on stamping out athlete’s foot amongst the order of beast hunters, she finally looses her cool when the senior knights are about ready to chop off their legs and have the temple regrow them and she’s just trying to convince them to properly clean their bath mats. And of course there’s what happens when Volf implies that if her father had the condition and she knows so much about controlling the infection, surely she must have shared the knight’s plight as a young woman. The reaction of the senior knights is awesome, and quite frankly the artist’s rendition of the look on Dahlia’s face is kind of priceless! The issue of course tends to pop up from time to time, with one of the nick names chairwoman Rossetti has received being “The goddess of athletes foot” once youngsters shorten out the part about eliminating it, lolololololol.

For bonus points, each volume ends with an epilogue about Dahlia and her late father, Carlo. Often relating to some magical tool they worked on in her youth and revealing aspects behind the curtain that are flashed back from the old man’s point of view. Ranging from great amusements like Dahlia trying to create a hair dryer as a child and accidentally creating a flamethrower, or having to dismantle a prototype kotatsu because her father was treating it like a turtle carrying its shell around. Likewise, plot points beyond that abound. See, Carlo Rossetti had a plan to support his daughter Dahlia even after he was gone to his early grave. In part of this, we have the running gag of sorts first brought up by the vice-guild master of the merchant’s guild in volume 1, and well, you’ll just have to read the book if you want to know more 😝