Red Echo

June 26, 2013

Vole is a distributed, peer-to-peer social networking system based on Bittorrent Sync. There’s no big data center; participants’ computers relay encrypted data for each other.

June 24, 2013

We had a semi-random potluck dinner in the back yard on Friday. It’s fun to have a place where people can come over and socialize – that was one of my big reasons for wanting to buy a house, after all. We hung out and ate and drank and smoked Shelly’s hookah, and eventually moved out back around the firepit and watched logs burn. I think the last guests left around 2 AM. It was fun, but we were tired and hung over on Saturday… uff.

We’re still spending most of our free time working on the house, but the end is near. I redid the baseboard trim in the bathroom yesterday – there was a gap where the old vanity had been, so I ripped it all out and installed new stuff, then painted it. I recentered the mirror, over the new sink, and finished painting the remaining wall with the darker turquoise paint. The turquoise still needs some touch-up and the trim needs another coat or two, but it’s looking pretty good in there now.

The living room won’t really be usable until we get a couple of couches, but it’s all cleaned up and put away now. I leveled out our array of shelves and bolted them to the wall, and we filled them all with books. Ava did most of that; she alphabetized the fiction by author and sorted the non-fiction by subject. Wow. She did almost all of the painting down there, too: red, gold, and cream. It looks great.

How to make a recurve bow out of a pair of skis

June 17, 2013

Q&A with Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower, via the Guardian. Good stuff; the guy is smart, has a great turn of phrase, and clearly knows exactly what he is doing and what he is risking. I hope his gambit succeeds, because the man is a hero; the feds are most emphatically not the good guys in this story.

June 14, 2013

Onion Pi

Adafruit how-to: make a plug-and-play TOR node using a Raspberry Pi. Once you’re done, you just plug it in to an Ethernet jack, power it up, and it acts a Wifi base station named “Onion Pi”. Simply connect your phone or laptop to this network and your Internet traffic will be anonymized through the TOR network.

June 12, 2013

This guy in Colorado built his own teardrop-style camper trailer. He has a step-by-step walkthrough of the project, in case you want to build one too.

I love backpacking, and I enjoy primitive camping, but sometimes I think a little travel trailer would be nice too. I might go camping more often if it could be a simple drive out, park, sleep, wake up, make breakfast, enjoy the day event, without all the packing, unpacking, repacking, reunpacking, and unreunpacking that comes with tent camping. Now that I have a street-accessible back yard, I actually have someplace I could store a travel trailer… and it makes perfect sense to build one, since I really don’t have enough projects under way. There’s all this time I spend staring at the wall and drooling, and I could really use another project to work on instead.

June 8, 2013

The washing machine arrived before I’d had time to drink my coffee this morning. Ava spent the rest of the morning shopping at Ikea while I went off to Home Depot. Then we worked. For hours. I am sore.

Two more Billy bookshelves will expand our bookshelf space downstairs. We had lined one long wall of our old apartment’s living room with bookshelves, but they were stuffed overfull, and the new living room is bigger so we needed to expand.

There’s a wide closet in the downstairs bedroom which came with hardware at either end for a dowel. Strange thing, though: wood, as a material, is less than perfectly rigid. When you stretch seven-plus feet of it across an unsupported space and then hang a lot of weight in the middle, it bends! Shocking, right? So I bought four angle-bracket things with a semicircle at the end, designed to solve this problem; and since they also solve the problem of supporting an overhead shelf, I decided to install one of those, too. And now the bedroom we are going to use as an office has better storage than either of the bedrooms we’ll use as actual bedrooms.

Speaking of which, we have two big chests of drawers which contained our clothes in adequate fashion but which had a bad habit of looming out into the room. Enter one 5×5 “Expedit”: raised up on little feet and bolted to the wall, it’s basically a not-exactly-built-in “builtin”, and while white melamine is not my favorite material it does brighten the room up.

What else? Oh, yeah, I installed hooks on the back of the bathroom door, and I fixed the bedroom light (two sockets, one of ’em wasn’t wired up properly).

Nine of the upstairs lights are LEDs now; only seven incandescents to go. Downstairs, I’ve only replaced two – there are still fourteen more incandescents wasting power and creating heat down there. Oh, well, I’ll get ’em all eventually.

Funny, it seemed like more work while I was doing it than it does now while I describe it.

June 6, 2013


It’s a beautiful sunny day. An impromptu biker pack formed up on eastbound I-90 this morning, staggered left and right along the HOV lane. I split off and took the ramp north on 405, where I cruised up north with a couple more bikers. In the parking garage, the motorcycle zone – which I had all to myself over winter – was packed full, my bike the last one to squeeze in. Welcome back, everyone.

June 5, 2013

First adventures in home ownership

We drove to Tacoma last weekend to visit the Albert Lee outlet store, where we bought a washer and dryer. I felt very suburban. Or maybe “domestic” is a better word? I don’t know. Not cool, at any rate.

The truck arrived today and delivered the dryer we ordered, along with some other dryer. Two dryers. Where’s our washer? And what are we going to do with this extra dryer? They took it away again and promised to come back on Saturday with a washing machine.

The previous owner was an investor who had the place renovated quickly and not all that carefully. We negotiated a bit and the seller agreed to chip in some money to hire an electrician to fix some problems his workers left behind in their hurry.

We have a working hallway light now. There was a loose coil of romex in the attic which didn’t go anywhere. Now it goes somewhere, by way of a big hole sawed into the freshly painted bathroom wall. Oh well, we will patch it up and paint it again.

We have a working dining room power outlet now. Alas, we also have a finger-sized hole drilled straight through our brand-new hardwood floor, a floor so new we haven’t even managed to put any scratches into it yet. This is disappointing. They promised to fix it. I don’t really want them to fix it; I want to still have a beautiful brand new floor. I want them to take out the ruined board, replace it, and put it all back together the way it was. This is apparently an expensive thing to do.

Yay for owning a home.

June 3, 2013

Spec for a nice little laptop

It’s 2013 and My [Note|Net|Ultra]book is Still Too Big: interesting ramble on a kind of laptop you just can’t buy. Seems totally achievable with current tech. I might even buy one; it seems like basically the same thing as my venerable Eee pc, but sleeker and nicer.