2015: Yet another year in review

Sometimes it seems that these ‘year in review’ posts are the only contents in my blog; a once a year tradition to justify the continued existence of my blog, domain name, and hosting. I get the feeling these are more for my benefit than anyone else, so forgive me if they become ever more narcissistic. I usually start writing these posts on the train home after Christmas; a journey that is usually more protracted than the train journey out! The fact is, this is often the only time that I have to catch my breath and think about what I have been up to the past year. I think the fact that I find little to no time to compose … Continue reading

Synology Disk Station failed to update network config with new router

I have a Synology Disk Station DS411slim, which has been working flawlessly for almost two years; that is to say, that it has never crashed, corrupted data, failed to keep up with streaming demands etc. The one issue I had was after I switched internet providers, and thus replaced my router. Everything seemed fine at first, the box used the same static IP address and was visible to my desktop devices. I only noticed something was wrong when I attempted to check for updates in DSM. I logged into the box via SSH and found the issue after a quick poke around the system. The new router used a different IP to the old one ( instead of and … Continue reading

2014: Where did the time go?

¿Qué lenguas hablas? What languages do you speak? Before this year, my answer to that was… “English”. Now, I can say “English and a little Spanish” (in at least two languages). Learning a new language was a big deal for me, I was always appalling at French in school. In a world [London] where almost everyone I know speaks several languages, I was determined to no longer be a mono-lingual Englishman. After a year of Spanish classes, I am hardly ready for translating Don Quixote, though I can manage simple texts and hold a conversation. Many thanks to the excellent teachers at Cactus Learning! Heading south With my new found linguistic skills, I went travelling in the south of Spain, … Continue reading

Automatically remove dead AutoScale nodes from Chef Server

So you’ve created an autoscaling group in Amazon AWS, when it scales up you’re nodes automatically authenticate with Chef, configure and deploy successfully. That’s great! At least until you need to scale down again. Chef nodes are good at telling the server they exist, but not so great at telling it they’ve checked out. This becomes a real problem if you try to use knife to issue commands to all servers of a particular role for example. You’ll end up with ever increasing stale data about nodes that no longer exist. So what can you do to fix this? Luckily, AWS provides most of the tools for you, you just need to stitch them together. What you will need An … Continue reading

2013: Of dreams and nightmares

The year that triskaidekaphobes had been dreading for decades has finally come and gone. No longer will they be reminded of their peril every time they have to write down the current date. The rest of us can draw a line for a new start and reflect on another year past. Not soon enough for some, and tragically too soon for others. An ode to Judith Pote The year didn’t get off to a good start, with the news that my aunt, who had been bravely battling cancer for several years, was finally succumbing to its vice grip. Having lost my own mother to cancer many years ago, I can empathise deeply with my cousins and what they have been through … Continue reading

Getting started with Amazon Python AWS CLI tool

The new Amazon AWS CLI tool coded in Python is far superior to the old Java implementation. The official docs can be found at https://github.com/aws/aws-cli but here’s a quick run down of how I install and configure: Installation

or if you’re not using a virtual environment

You can also use easy_install in the same way if you prefer Configure Environment Variables Add the following to your .bash_profile, .bashrc, or .profile:

The key ID and secret key are required, the default region means you do not need to specify the region for every command, and the default output, changes the output type; it is set to JSON by default, which is fine for scripting, but not the best for reading … Continue reading

iTerm2 Keybindings for OS X

Word Jumping If you use a mac and tried the iTerm2 application, you may have noticed that the keybindings for word jumping and deletion are not set up correctly. Here’s how to fix that: From the iTerm2 menu select Preferences > Profiles and from the right select Keys. Now add the following key bindings by clicking (+) for each: Alt + Left Send Escape Sequence, Esc + b Alt + Right Send Escape Sequence, Esc + f Alt + Backspace Send Hex Code, 0x17 Split Terminals: Creating and Navigating I also like to bind keys to split the terminal vertically and horizontally and move focus between them. From the iTerm2 menu select Preferences > Profiles and from the right select Keys. Now add … Continue reading

A simple cloud-init trick

If you use Amazon Web Services or other cloud providers that make use of cloud-init, you may occasionally have reason to re-trigger the initial cloud-init run; usually because something didn’t work quite right the first time round. Rather than having to kill the cloud instance and booting a fresh one, you can try this simple trick to trigger cloud-init on reboot:


The Cliff

I found myself standing on the edge of a cliff, The turbulent sea crashing at its rocky base, I had been on an adventure through beautiful countryside, The simplest things bring the greatest pleasures. As I travelled I came across a beautiful butterfly, She danced in front of me and settled for a moment, Waving her beautiful wings, which shimmered in the sun, Before she fluttered off again away from me. I followed her as best I could, dancing among the trees, But she fluttered ever onwards towards the cliff, There I could follow her no longer; she was free but I was not, I could only watch as she flew away from the cliff into the distance. I looked … Continue reading

Sleep Paralysis: Of Hags and Horses

Last week I experienced sleep paralysis for the first time; I am not sure what brought this about, but I had been sleeping poorly all week which probably didn’t help. Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon which causes the sufferer, usually when transitioning between sleep and wakefulness, to experience hallucinations and paralysis with a sensation of weight pushing down upon them. Many sufferers report seeing an intruder in the room to whom they cannot react due to paralysis. I had heard of this before, several of my friends had described their experiences to me. I had no idea how real and terrifying it was. This is what happened to me: I had been unable to sleep again that night; I remember looking … Continue reading