June 11, 2019

A Song of Praise on Manjaro Linux (Gnome Edition)

As I am a friend of free and open source software I actually would love to use a Linux-based OS on my Laptop(s). However, after countless tries I must say that I am not a big friend of Linux on a notebook. I often found the system to be a bit fragile, things that “just work” on other OSes (like a Bluetooth keyboard, tethering or an external screen) can be a fight, if you have a bit of special hardware it can take ages to set it up, power management sometimes does not work properly (so your Laptop gets super hot while the battery is drained in no time)… At least, this is what I have experienced in the last years with Ubuntu or Ubuntu-based distributions running on my old MacBook Air from 2011. Read more

May 23, 2019

Deploying a Website with goHugo.io and Gitlab CI/CD

When I need to build a website, I typically use Hugo to generate the .html from .md. However, one thing is a bit inconvenient: deployment. If not done right, you have to do that manually (edit -> hugo -> rsync). Alternatively, and much better, you can use the Hugo-Gitlab|Hub-Netlify-toolchain I described earlier. These day, I needed a website for a new research project of mine and didn’t want to ship the site with Netlify. Read more

March 26, 2019

Playing with WireGuard VPN

Since a couple of years I use OpenVPN to access my home network from remote and also to protect my traffic when I am traveling and have to use WiFi networks I do not completely trust. Unfortunately, the iOS VPN client does not work for me anymore so I needed an alternative. My Fritz Box (German home WiFi router brand) actually supports an IPSec VPN. However, iOS’s VPN client is horrible. Read more

March 16, 2019

xtables-addons-common on Ubuntu 18.04

Last year in June I set up geofence on my home server to ban all access not coming from DE. In January I noticed that things did not work anymore. A bit of research revealed, that the company that provides the needed GeoIP tables decided to stop shipping them in format A and only offered the tables in format B. So neither the script that downloads the tables (xt_geoip_dl) nor the script that converts the tables (xt_geoip_build) into the binary format that xt_geoip can digest to block connections attempts worked anymore. Read more

March 4, 2019

Block Ads and Trackers with Pihole in a Docker Container

Recently I stumbled upon Pihole, which is a tool that blocks advertisements and web trackers. The nifty idea of Pihole is that it is no web proxy as Privoxy but it acts as a DNS server in your network. So, after installing Pihole, you setup your devices in a way that they use Pihole as a DNS server. Then, the device’s DNS requests for “good” domains are answered and DNS requests for known, blacklisted ad/tracker domains are not answered (= blocked). Read more

November 30, 2018

iPad + GoodNotes + Logi R500 Presenter = The Maybe Best Hardware/Software Combo for Giving Lectures and Talks

Since a couple of weeks I’m giving a lecture in the Master’s course for Informatics at our university. One of the biggest differences of giving a lecture vs. giving a conference talk is that the lecture is more interactive. Or in other words: I ask my students stuff and they ask me stuff. Well, students are students and for this reason they do not use the first $n rows of the lecture hall. Read more

August 10, 2018

Domains and Sub-domains for Home-Hosted Services

I like to host (most of) the web services I use for my daily routine at home. Recently, I started shipping services using Docker containers. To make these services available via a public IP address and to conveniently enable HTTPS, I decided to use nginx as a reverse proxy. So the dockerized service becomes available via something like https://mydomain.dyndnsservice.xy/servicename. At least this was the plan. Unfortunately, I ran into the always same problem when I tried to coax a dockerized service to live happily in a “sub-folder” of my dynamic DNS domain. Read more

July 24, 2018

Hardening a Server with a Geofence

I recently noticed some odd HTTP requests on my web server, which I exclusively use for private purposes like hosting Nextcloud, GOGS, or Wallabag. I did a bit of research where these requests come from – just fire something like for elem in $(awk '{print $1 | "sort | uniq"}' /var/log/nginx/access.log); do curl ipinfo.io/$elem; done – and found out that they all originate from Russia, China or India. That sounds a bit suspicious to me. Read more

July 14, 2018

Deploying a Website with goHugo.io, github.com, netlify.com and forestry.io

Since a good while I use the static website generator Hugo for my Blog (which (by the way) is back online since a few days (minus the photos) after I got rid of my vServer last month). As I do not have this vServer anymore, I neither have a repository that keeps track of my website’s source code, nor a machine that will automatically build the website’s html whenever I change something, nor a public web server to serve the website’s html. Read more

July 11, 2018

Installing MacOS on Older Macs

I happen to have an older MacBook Air from 2011. Recently I installed Ubuntu on the device to test how well or not this works. (It does work well enough!) However, I decided to go back to MacOS. As I wiped the entire hard drive of my Mac I used the network installer to get back a working system. However, I found that this installer installed a version of MacOS from the times when they still named their OS versions after large felines. Read more

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