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Going back to some old Projects – OpenHab2 from SmartThings Jul 29

Been along time since I got to pull out my mad science stuff and whow I have way to my kit and projects

About a year ago I started using Smartthings (thou not available in Oz). Seemed like a great system and I got the hub, sensors and it could use my wemo switch’s and lifx bulbs. so all good.

Well problem was not the actual system, that still seems to work quite well. The issue has been the quality of the sensors. Been thru 5 different smart sensors and they have all died on me.

Got to the point that hardware is totally crap and just does not work.

Switched now to Z-Wave (australian model) so also had to get an Australian Z-Wave stick then put it all together with OpenHab2 and after abit of a learning curve it works way better that Smarthings.

The configureation of OpenHab does need alot of learning about the how do code it. But it does work relaiably.

There is hope that Smarthings from Samsung might work out better, but until they can provide sensors that last longer that 6-8 months and work all the time the platform is defunt.

Z-wave may be more expense but that cost is offset by reliability.

Greenhouse Status Aug 04

Laser Hair Removal for Men Jan 05

Yeah, what hell, why this.  Men have hair!

Well, yeah we have hair, and we love the chest, abs and lower arms.  But what about the BACK.  Well thats something not so good.  

As we get older the hair start showing up in places that not so sexy.

So what to do.  Well. I'll let you know my story.   Had back and shoulder hair growing.  Being a sort semi blond it didn't concern me.  Then it started coming out as big bad  hair that needed shaving.  Did that for a few years, easy as.  Then I started to get more fit and knew I had back hair.  

Waxing definately worked  but it grew back and huge ingrown hairs.  And not very comfortable.  

Then I signed up for Laser hair reduction.  What a change!

Result one.  You will not notice for about 3 weeks.  Then if you check it's smooth back there.  They will say come back in 5-6 weeks and they mean it.  You have to go back.  

The key to laser hair reduction is going back and getting the next treatment when you body is growing the next cycle of hair.  And thats the key to laser hair reduction.

I did the full cycle for my back and shoulder and now into the maintenance cycle to just keep smooth.  

My end result of male treatment of back and shoulders has been excellant.  I still get some growth and all now all blond and thin.  Will I need a follow up every six months.  yep most likely.  Cheaper than an wax, totally.  And does my back look better.  Totallly.


Raspberry Pi and Crash Plan on Java 8 Embedded Mar 19

I've been playing around with my new raspberry pi unit.  Its now freely available to buy and while I will sound very geeky its a cool thing to play with.

For sure its linux based and the default install of raspberry debian is very easy to use with help from the great internet community.  What I am really loving about it is that it can do so much!  

My first interest was to give it a go.  I come use Windows for work, Mac for home (with remote access to work), but a few years back i was so pissed of with Vista i tried Ubuntu and got into Linux.  Been a fun mix.  I'll still use Mac now the bulk of my daily work, but the linux box takes care of three key things for me.

1.  Deluge Torrents

2. Crashplan back for myself and other friends

3. OwnCloud (this is a new item and still experimental).

Having my linux box with all the disks and high end processor, plus the mac running all day is eating into my power bill.  In Australia energy is not cheap so after playing around and researching the PI it looks like it might fit the bill really well.  

Looking at all the great work been done it made sense to divide the functions.  So my first PI will run my torrents and owncloud and the second will be for the crashplan backups.  Each unit will have its own USB 2TB drive.  Should alot less power consumption that my current setup.

I will focus on this blog on the crashplan setup as it has been the most challenging.

The Basics.

Crashplan needs a Java Virtual machine.  Until a few months ago the only way to run Java was on the the PI without using the hardware floating point ability.  The great news is now we have the core OS with hareware FP and Oracle have release a new preveiw version of Java for embedded devices with hardware FP.

The Setup

I played around with various setups and also pulled in lots of info from other people on here.  If you are going to use a PI as a crashplan device it only makes sense that you will have a USB drive attached to it for storage.  Great news is there are so many and cheap to buy.

So after doing the basic setup of the Pi i added the USB drive to the system.  But there are a few steps to make this work really well.

Load up the basic operating system. and boot into it.  You can use a 2GB card if you like.

after boot up and I like to switch on SSH so i can do it all remotely.

So after intial boot, turn on SSH, you can do localisation again if you want.

Boot and login (via SSH – doesn't matter)


sudo apt-get update

so you have the latest updates,


sudo apt-get upgrade

so you now have the latest os.

I then wanted the latest firmware so followed this blog to do that.


this will upgrade the firmware.  I made the mistake of doing this after all my config and has set my SD card to read only, it corrupted it.  Can't confirm if this is a direct result, but my resolution from that mistake was to go back to this step and upgrade the whole system before i moved the rootfs.
We now updated system.
I went down the whole route of building my system before i moved it, but the process works so you don't need to do that.
Attached your USB drive.
Now here the steps might get out sync
I did the following
apt-get install gparted
then started the directly, did a
and then opened a teminal window with
sudo gparted
switched to my sda device and created
sda1 as swap, i used 600 megs, pick you own value.
sda2 as root ext4 with 20 gig
sda3 as data ext4 with the rest of the space
Where it got confusing is that followed the below guide to move the root, but also opened another terminal and made changes to fstab.  and guess what they didn't copy. My bad.  So lets assume you need recheck each of your entries.
There is also another guide you need to follow for moving you swap file.
Go down to the comments from Brad about moving your swap file.  I admit that his instructions did not directly work for me.
What i found was work with gparted and create the swap partition using that.
Then update you fstab file with the swap file info
/dev/sda1 swap swap defaults 0 0
(thats my entry)
Critical point from Brad's article thou is to remove the old swap stuff.
sudo apt-get purge dphys-swapfile
(I am still researching the new values to use in the SWAP file settings.
has some great information I am trying.
Another note here is that I'm not entirely sure about setting the boot partition to read only.  It seemed to work well until i did a firmware upgrade and it blew away my SD care (more on that at the end)
I then followed this guide for moving the rootfs to the USB drive.
Test this out yourself.  but it does work.  One note here is that after you move the root to your USB it will still have the same partition size as before (that fooled me for a while, only reason i new i was working on the new partition was updates I had made to the old one were not there.)
Easy fix i found was the resizefx command
mine was
resizefx /dev/sda2
(as that was my root partition = please check i got this bit right
I now have a fully running operating system off my USB drive and space.
I then followed the install crash plan from these guys.
this is collaborative effort and i hope this adds to the great work form these guys.
There was a slight change I made, via trial and error and also some later logic.  The guide will have you using the SDK of jave and will certainly work, but after it didn't quite work for me a few times I found it easier to use the jre.  I'm also of the thought that using the optimized code will give better performance.
So next are my little steps I did.
I didn't add the java system to my path, but did swtich to su.
then went to the Crashplan-install directory and ran
System then advised that no JRE was detected and would I like to install.  I accepted that.  As I had already modified my fstab to include the new storage space i also updated that parameter.
Let the install run.
I then followed the blog and copied all the new files and update the startup (amazing work there guys in sorting that all out.  Next step for me was goto
/usr/local/crashplan and remove the the jre directory.
cd /usr/local/crashplan
sudo rm -r jre
then goto the place you had placed the java 8.  I had followed the guide so mine was at
cd /opt/java1.8.0
then sudo cp -r rte /usr/local/crashplan
Simple explanation here is that crashplan installed its own version of the JRE into one of its directories. That install was for intel hosts, so I removed that directory and replaced it with the ARM code.
Continue with the startup and if it all worked that Crashplan will start!  and using the commands from the blog it will show the status of still running.
I followed the Crashplan blog for headless connection which worked perfectly. I already have an account and it all came up fine.
I want to now run this configuration on the new disk and settled system for a few days and see how it works.  Performance is fair given the PI processor.
The key principles on this setup are.
1.  You have a USB drive attached. (I would be pointless to use the SD card here).
2.  As we have a USB drive move the swap file to the USB and activate its functionality
3.  Move the rootfs to the USB drive so we get even more space.
4. Opps should be step 0, format your USB drive with swap, root and data space
5. Configure and install crashplan, which includes Java 8
next steps.  want to see if we can get crash plan gui working, but its so easy to configure headless.  then also to open it up to my internet users.
I have not yet seen the deep compact performace, but even if it takes hours to run, who cares,  this is an embedded device.  Who cares if its spends all days sorting stuff out.
To all the guys who did so much work before this thank you so much.  It is actually working.  I hope I can add to the community on how to apply the knowledge you have given along with all the others into a cohesive system.
I have quite done how to connect a USB hard drive, but this link is readlly good
A very rare update to this site Jan 22

Well life has gone odd since the last post.  don't even know what it was.


but its all good here for me now.  I've spent the last year getting fit and healthy and while not always as healthy as I could be the fit bit seems to have taken a hold.


I'lm working on lower that 20% body fat now, so guess where that takes me.  Actually off to another email to a friend.




Next Challenge Jun 23

Going to do the 8 week winter waist challenge at the gym!


Let see how this goes.  tough mudder at the end of it.

Work still in progress – the transformation continues. May 13

While the Price concert was a letdown there was a cool fun part of it.  I got to wear one of my new slim fit L size shirts, and was totally confident with it.  Oddly it was my new Nerd Fitness shirt.  L size, with a slim cut.  Was great to get out and feel comfortable wearing it!

Was even more fun taking of the warm top (as we are now in late autumn) and get to show off what is now shaping upto to be a rather good body.  Even more fun was dancing away at our seats knowing it was all muscle showing.

I can actually now fully understand why people with great bodies want to show them off.  My is far from great, but its certainly in a far better place than it was.  T-Shirt hugs fits perfectly over the chest and just falls over what used to be a huge stomach.  Now there is just well basically umm space!!!  Still heaps more work to do, but it felt so good to knowing that I looked good.

A quick (okay, deep review) of others my ages, I'm doing really well!  What is so so so so good is, I'm loving the whole process.  6 month check in has capped the loss at 15kgs, and that will be a solid 15kgs of FAT as the muscle mass has increased alot.

My BMI is of the standard scale and won't take into account the conversion of fat to muscle.  1 kg over next 3 weeks and I'm bang on target.  That's over 2 kgs per month, which is an excellant result.  One of the things I have now learnt from this process is that massive weight loss in just a few weeks is not the way to go.

Losing it slowly (and 2kgs per month is top of recommended range) is the totally best way to do it.  New habits form due to the upgraded diet and excercise program and its become a part of my life now.  We have just started the 8 week fitness challenge and I'm loving it.  So now upto 6 times a week it will be group and I'm still doing one day PT.  We have worked out that my PT session will be more muscle building/weight training.

I've also now decided what body to get out of this.  Sounds like an odd thing to think about,, but there are quite a few choices.

1.  Skinny As – Basically just be really thin

2. Regular – Probably where it will end up, not thin, not fat, but also no real muscle. 

3. Lean Muscular – BMI about right, maybe a little above, but good lean muscle mass without looking like a body builder.

4. Muscular – More of the above, but alot more muscle, but not looking huge

5. Body Builder – self expanatory.

My choice is lean muscular, seems obvious but there are options.  Oh well, lets see if i get there.  I'm doing well, today i felt ribs under my chest instead of just on the side.  For some reason my system is on fire and burning fat.  Bring it all on.


What happened? I got fit (ish) Apr 27

Its now 6 months of working with the team from Activ8 fitness and they have transformed me.

Today I had an ad hoc session where I arrived but Trend was with another client so told me to do some interval cardio while waiting. Didn’t quite work as I had new shoes with no insert for the correction. One set of running on the machine showed that unless fully barefoot on the beach i need the inserts. So we adjusted to rowing.

Did the rowing for a while on a setting I found, then swtched back to high intensity walking and up the stairs at the 200m of walking. Did that 5 times, so five time up the stairs, and now just walking them, sets of 1 up 2 up.

Then we did the boxing session, perfect for me as had bad day and Trent pushed it further into making me do the boxing right.

Loved it all. 90 mins later walked out and just knew all the stress of the day and the cortisol it builds had been burnt off.

I have become additcted to it in a way. I have one of the best personal trainers in the industry. Every day I turn up and I do 3 times a week I have no idea what is going to happen. He keeps it fresh all the time and I am totally addicted to that. my personality does not do routine, i hate it. And Trent keeps it fresh all the time.

We at at the stage where I can almost do all the cardio myself as I’m back running, with that almost done we are now looking at muscle development as my upper body needs lots of work there. Legs done. And if you care to look now, damn well another look! Next is to keep the cardio going and build the upper body.

I have no concerns there either as this team have taken me from being a 5 flight of stairs walk up that to a 2 at a time running it. I am now fit. Not super fit, thats another level, but I am fit. I can run an 11km run with challenges along the way. Finish it and feel fine at the end.

The team at Acti8 got me this far. Can’t wait to see where I go next.

Found a new thing this week Apr 24

My ribs! Go figure that one. Seriously for the last 10 days I’ve now been able to feel my rib cage as bones vs something there covered in a layer of fat that hid them. Now I can fell each and every one of them.

Not sure what is happening at the moment, as diet wish I’ve been fairly good but not the best. No major blowouts, but way badder than i have been before, but I still seem to be losing fat.

Even my excercise has dropped a little in the last 3 weeks as I have been so involved in the house move that my running has dropped off. Been going to the guys at activ8 constantly which is a good thing and they have been really pushing me now!

After the move I got the whole wardrobe back and pulled out a new pair of business pants I hand never been worn and they now don’t just fit but need a whole new belt size! Over the last 6 months for work I have worn the same belt and its been slowly but surely going down in notches. A few months ago I could almost wear it at the final notch. Now I need a new one!!

Obviously we all see ourselves in the mirror and thing, hmm. Well the last few weeks I see myself in the mirror and think, not bad at all. Stomach almost gone. For a guy my age, well gone done! Last few weeks seen the real difference that its actually gone. What is left is something that anyone my age would be happy with. Going further thou. Love this improvement so why not take it all the way.

Found out my placing in the Urbanathlon. Bottom 20%, so little sad, but then again I did it and finished it and look forward to my next one. Why, because first off, I finished it. That is a huge result for me. Someone who was laid up with cancer for over 5 years that result it great. I did it, didn’t stop running either, just kept going at my pace.

The only compeditor in that race was me and I finished. Its been a good few days with that. I’m feeling thinner than i have ever done before and I just did something that was really fun!

Mens Health Urbanathlon Sydney 2012 Apr 22

I entered into this as part of the team from my gym, wasn’t sure if I could do it, but what the hell. Nothing ventured nothing gained!

The guys at the gym held weekly training sessions for it, but unfortunately due to holidays and then the house settling I just didn’t have time to get to them, so the nervousness was going up. Got even higher as while i was still getting in three training sessions a week during the house move i had stopped running as just not enough time.

Had to be up by 5:30am to get in there in time to register, pick up my kit and be in the chute. Got really nervous on the train and almost bailed as my confidence dropped, then I started to think that I’ve been faced with some really big and serious challenges in the last 5 years and gotten through them all successfully so “what the feck” was I getting worried about with this. If I come in last, but finish then I’ve still won. That pushed all the doubt out the window.

After that it was just turn up and get processed, bib, timer, drop bag and wait my waves turn. I was in the third batch of my wave and just started at my own pace. Was at the back and fairly much stayed there in that batch, then had the next wave who left a minute behind us start passing. Just pushed on, and after everything warmed up the pace picked up to probably my normal beach pace of about 1Km in 6 mins.

The first obstacle challenge was the stairs. Now after months of doing the stairs outside the gym these were actually a doddle and I was really happy at the top when people were suffering abit already! Next was 10kg sandbag carry for 500 metres around the observatory. Again after doing the training bag which is 15kgs at the gym up the stairs, running around a relatively flat circuit with it was also good. Oh sorry the first challenge was actually the tire run, which was so simple (possible my photo might appear on this one as I was almost walzing it to get into the tyres!). The 4th challenge was tarzan swing and the one I was dreading.

Think most people has issues with this one as the bars were so slippery. They appeared to let you get as far as you could then move on. Jog on. The cargo next climb over a container was probably the only one they didn’t plan well. It was great, but I suspect next year they will have two of them to allow people to move over it quickly without have to stop and wait in batches. A nice thing at this point was that I had about 5 mins wait and recovered completely when it was my time to go up. Used the brain here and went for an edge position so had better tension!!

Jog on up via Darling harbour, then the up and under challenge. This was really interesting as all the guys were doing macho jump swings over (very impressive to watch), i was going for minimizing effort so was doing more of a sit and swing over. The interesting bit was being normal hight but with good flexibility i was able to do the unders in a smooth easy motion while the jump guys couldn’t so a the end of it we all ended up equal!!

Jog on, at it was 7km mark, knew then i could complete this as was feeling good. The crawl under netting was really fun and jog on. More stairs, but was still good. The 100 metre sprint i left to the really fit people, i had my pace going so no drama there.

Next it was all over barriers, again used my sit and swing technique. a guy who had great technique came from behind me, but oddly i passed him latter as he was buggered from it. I then thought that was the last challenge so i was set. The last one stumped me.

It was a like a skateboard curved ram that you had to run up and then grap the top and pull yourself over. I almost baulked as alot of people were having issues. (the guys at the top were helping the girls). but i gave it a go, just hit it high speed then grabbed. What surprised and thrilled me was that all the work the boys have been doing on my upper body strength just swung into action and I was easily able to pull myself up and over. No one really noticed my yelp of surprise that i had done it first time!!!

The steep ramp down was easy, then it was just jog on to the finish line, could possibly have picked up the pace, but just jogged on and crossed the finish line!!!

One very happy chappy for doing it! I not only started it but finished it and the only rest breaks were one stop for traffic and a wait for the rope climb, that personally to me is also a great result. After grabby some gaterade to re-hydrate it was wait for bag pickup. Another little surprise was that my recover was so quick! I had also noticed along the way that there were alot of people passing me, but were gasping for air, while my pace was just keep going. I felt like i could do it again if needed (with dry socks).

It was a awesome feeling to have done it. I’ve run 10km before on the beach, but not in shoes or mixed terrain so this was a great change and result.

I really thank my main personal trainer Trent for all the work he has done in getting me to this shape, (my other trainer is Greg who picks up sessions when Trent is away), both these guys are awesome and have really changed my life and body. They both said I would have no problem doing this challenge. As this is my first they definately had the inside edge on what is required to complete something like this and so glad the faith they had in me to do it has been well placed.

Feel on top of the world at the moment!

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