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Month: January 2011

Lazy Stout is Ready!

Here is a glass of Lazy Stout all ready to drink. It’s well-carbonated, with the ~10psi working out well in the ~40F temperature that the keg settled to. There is a slightly odd flavor to the beer that I dislike and I think comes from using all extract, but Danielle likes it and doesn’t notice anything odd. I also think it’s a bit too roasted-tasting for me, so maybe next time I’ll have to try it with both a dark and light extract. Still, overall, it’s good.

Now to finish this off and get the Area 51 into the keg and carbonating. I suspect this will take a while. Anyone want a growler fill?

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Stony Creek’s SNO-MASTER 72 and TRAKORs

This is the grooming equipment that the park system pulls behind a snowmobile to groom the trails. This setup, two TRAKOR groomers set behind a SNO-MASTER 72, is made by Snow Groomers of Harbor Springs, MI.

With around four new inches of snow here and some time this afternoon I decided to go cross country skiing at Stony Creek. This was a really good day for it, as the trails were freshly groomed, with tracks set throughout most of the two track mountain bike trail system, even beyond the signs that read Not A Ski Trail. I was able to ski for an enjoyable 2.5 hours covering most of the mountain bike trail and the loops in the golf course without backtracking.

Skiing down one rather steep hill I screwed up and fell. It could have been bad, but instead I just ended up topping over forward and landing on my knee and shoulder, throwing a spray of snow on my face and head while packing a bit inside of my jacket. I tried to snowplow down a particularly smooth, trackless, steep, but short section of trail and dug one ski in a bit too much, which caused me to flop straight over on to my face. Oops. I really wish someone had seen it, though, because it must have been pretty comical.

Here is another photo taken today of my skis in tracks somewhere in the southeast corner of the mountain bike trail area.

For those of you that know the Stony Creek trail system (map) I was skiing down the Woohoo hill from #23 to #22, and fell on the steepest of the three climbs; the middle one. This section is commonly ridden up on a bike after the Roller Coaster when heading to the right and climbing back up to cut through the middle of the park and head towards the trail head.

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Goose Island Night Stalker

Earlier this week I picked up a bottle of Goose Island’s Night Stalker and tonight I’m drinking it. This 11.7% stout is a bit harsh when cold straight out of the fridge, but as it warms up it gets considerably smoother tasting. It’s just hoppy enough, but roasty and malty enough that it’s very clearly a stout. There’s just a bit of alcohol burn, but nothing unpleasant. Goose Island claims that this beer can be cellared for up to five years, and I can see this turning into something even nicer as it sits.

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CF Card Hole in Netgate alix2d13 Enclosure

This morning when a beta version of pfSense on my PC Engines alix2d13-based firewall crashed I decided to make it easier to swap the CompactFlash card from which the OS runs. While physical access to the card is not normally required to upgrade the OS, there have been a few cases recently where I had to remove the card and image it. After the third time of removing 12 fasteners just to remove the card I decided to follow pfSense developer Jim-P’s example cut a hole in my firewall’s enclosure.

After marking the CF card location in the case and stripping it, only three cuts with a small cut-off wheel were needed to make the long cuts, then the remaining bits of metal were easy to bend out of the way with a flat-blade screwdriver. A bit of quick smoothing and deburring work with small files resulted in a nice, smooth hole through which the CF card easily fits. While the card remains not hot swappable, it’ll be much easier to remove the card should I need to access the card from another machine. Since the card sits a bit inside the face of the enclosure I had to add a tape flag to make it easy to remove. Pushing it back in is a little awkward as well, but as this won’t be done much it shouldn’t be a problem.

Here’s a few photos taken tonight while cutting the hole in the case:

· After marking the enclosure was clamped to some very dense foam for cutting with a cutoff wheel.
· More cuts made with the cutoff wheel. After this point the metal was gently bent away and the hole was filed.
· Looking at the Netgate enclosure from inside showing the nice alignment with the CF card slot.
· Front view of the Netgate enclosure with a CF card hole cut in it.
· The CF card fits very nicely in the hole.
· View from inside showing how well the CF card fits.
· Because the CF card will not hang out of the slot tape was added to facilitate extraction.
· CF card placed in the alix2d13 board via the hole in the Netgate enclosure.

Now to wait for the next build to come out and reimage my CF card. This build should contain three ftp helper changes that should resolve the issue I had this morning. Hopefully a problem that I had with disappearing certificate authorities is also fixed.

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Life in a Day

Arriving home from picking up a pizza I noticed that I’d just received a message from Jeff informing me of a live premier stream of Life in a Day (Wikipedia, Google, Google Blog). I’m both extremely thankful that Jeff sent this glad that I began watching it, because it was absolutely captivating.

This film was comprised completely of crowdsourced footage all filmed on July 24th 2010 assembled into a stunning portrait of life across the world. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Godfrey Reggio films such as Koyaanisqatsi and Naqoyqatsi, but for some reason this felt significantly more engaging. Apparently this is going to be released by National Geographic and I must strongly recommend watching this. It is truly wonderful.

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2011 North American International Auto Show

After leaving work today at the RenCen I hopped on the the nation’s stupidest public transport system to visit the North American International Auto Show. I was originally planning on going with some new coworkers during the day, but actual work got in the way of that so I decided to go by myself afterward.

The show was as expected, but worth the $12 admission as I got to wander around and look at interesting things, ride in a Chevy Volt on a small indoor test track in the basement, see a microscope that I would really like to have (a Vision Engineering Lynx Dynascope), and the smart fortwo seen above showing off it’s incredible strength by holding up a (52.2 lb) Magna Excitor 2x Dual Suspension not-for-off-road-use Terrain Bike.

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TED 5000-G Webserver is a Deal-Breaker

Last week I received a TED 5000-G from Energy, Inc., one of their The Energy Detective products. This home power monitoring device sits in one’s electrical panel and logs energy consumption, calculates cost, and displays all this info in near-real time via some web-based software called Footprints. This software runs off of the Gateway piece of the system, and a live demonstration of it can be seen here.

Unfortunately, this software has one fatal flaw in that it in normal use in my network it responds to HTTP requests with HTTP/1.1 414 Request-URI Too Long. After not very much digging I found that this happens every time the HTTP request to the Gateway includes a cookie. When your browser has a cookie for a website any websites that are visited that are on subdomains of where the cookie was set will also be sent the cookie. Therefore, cookies set by my site ( also get set when visiting the Gateway’s internal address on my network ( and thus the device doesn’t work.

Specifically, here’s Firefox on my main machine accessing the Gateway immediately after clearing cookies. Text in red is the request from my browser, and text in blue is the response from the Gateway redirecting my browser to Footprints.html. This is normal, expected behavior:

GET / HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.6; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101203 Firefox/3.6.13
Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8
Accept-Language: en-us,en;q=0.5
Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7
Keep-Alive: 115
Connection: keep-alive

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Connection: close
Content-Type: text/html

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0;url=Footprints.html">

After this I visited where some simple Google Analytics tracking cookies were set and tried to access the gateway again. Note that the only difference is cookies being sent, and the 414 response:

GET / HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.6; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101203 Firefox/3.6.13
Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8
Accept-Language: en-us,en;q=0.5
Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7
Keep-Alive: 115
Connection: keep-alive
Cookie: __utma=23010084.1066362494.1295494794.1295494794.1295494794.1; __utmb=23010084.1.10.1295494794; __utmc=23010084; __utmz=23010084.1295494795.1.1.utmcsr=(direct)|utmccn=(direct)|utmcmd=(none)

HTTP/1.1 414 Request-URI Too Long
Connection: close

414 Request-URI Too Long: Buffer overflow detected

This problem makes the device unusable for me. There are two discussions about this issue in TED’s support forums about this issue (#1, #1 PNG Mirror, #2, #2 PNG Mirror) which indicate that there is only 100 bytes available to service the request and that the developers may be adding another 20 bytes.

As a workaround it’s proposed that the Gateway instead be accessed by only its hostname (without the domain name, eg: http://ted) or IP address (eg:, which ensures that no cookies are sent because it’s unlikely that any would have ever been set for those addresses. I feel these workarounds are a stopgap at best and seriously fail if one ever wishes to access the TED data from the public internet or on a well-managed, convenient network. After all, we have DNS so that (potentially changing) IPs don’t need to be remembered and/or discovered, and FQDNs because hierarchal naming is good. It would be possible to use a proxy sitting in front of the Gateway to remove cookies and make the requests more acceptable to the firmware, but I’m not particularly interested running another server just to work around this device’s shortcomings.

Since a variety of cookies could end up being sent by a modern browser I don’t think that the developer’s proposed solution of adding 20 bytes to the buffer will not solve the problem. While I’ve got a limited knowledge of embedded development, I’d think that the developers should instead should simply discard the cookie when reading it into the buffer. After all, the cookie is plaintext in the frame, begins with Cookie:, is terminated with a standard \r\n, and just comes across from the Ethernet controller as serial data. I can’t see why it couldn’t be parsed out if it’s too large to stuff into a buffer. Then again, I suppose this issue could also be caused by clients that have a particularly long User-Agent, really long hostnames, or any other number of other things which could expand the size of the request.

(Thinking about this further, I also believe that only the GET / HTTP/1.1 is the URI which is the same length in both cases. Perhaps the Gateway should really be returning a 413 Request Entity Too Large if it feels the length of the request itself is too long?)

Today I called for an RMA for my TED 5000-G, and after receiving it called back to speak with tech support. I mentioned this issue to the person with whom I spoke, and unfortunately I don’t think he quite understood the problem and instead seemed to be offering to try upgrading the firmware to resolve it. He also stated that he doesn’t have access to firmware changelogs so he can’t tell me if the issue is fixed in a future or beta release, or even if it will be fixed. When I send the device back I’ll be including this letter explaining why I’m returning it. Save for this hugely annoying issue the device seemed to work rather well, so if Energy, Inc. can resolve the problem I’d love to keep it. However, something that doesn’t function with modern browsers and network setups isn’t worth $199.95.

(Mirrored forum discussions were captured at 23:09 EST on 19-Jan-2011. Software versions as reported in Footprints are as follows: Gateway Version 1.0.400, Daughterboard Version 1.0.48, Footprints Version 1.0.222, MTU Version 1.0.0. All information above is only representative of these versions.)


Angry Birds Without Ads Coming In 2011

A month ago I posted about my frustrations with video ads in Angry Birds on Android and how there was no pay option. At the same time I emailed Rovio to inform them of my frustration with the video ads and asked when a for-pay version of their software may be available. A couple days ago I received the following response from Rovio informing me that an option to pay and opt out of ads will become available later this year:

Hello Steve,

and thanksd for contacting us.

Sorry hear you decided to uninstall the game.

A payment option to opt out of the ads will be introduced worldwide this year.

Best Regards,

Oona Hilkamo
Angry Birds Community Champ
Rovio Mobile Ltd.

I’m anxiously looking forward to this because I do enjoy playing Angry Birds, but I simply do not want to support the software’s authors by viewing commercials.

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Tasty British Treats

A package that I’d been looking forward to arrived today from Dominic. Inside was some nifty software and a whole assortment of wonderfully British treats, including proper Sellotape (!!!), curry noodles (ramen-like, I believe), a resupply of PG Tips, some silly buttons, a cute WWF card, and some wonderful-looking candy, including a Curly Wurly which Danielle loved when we were in the UK back in 2008. This is wonderful. Not only is there a bunch of stuff to munch on, but I shouldn’t run out of tea for a while and can (hopefully finally?) do some nifty things to a map that I’ve been working on. Yay! This is great!

(Yes, I know that the arrangement of the photo is terrible. Sorry. I was being lazy.)


Stout Blowout!

48 hours after pitching yeast into the Lazy Stout I arrived home to find that the krausen had blown out the airlock. This surprise me, as it’s not a high gravity beer and didn’t seem to be particularly thick. Looks like the yeast is definitely doing its job, though.