Houston we have a failure!

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I was working on my trusty and crusty (15 year old!) desktop Pyg which just got a recent Manjaro reinstall, when suddenly the LVM partitions disappeared. The only clue I had is that the 3 directories that I use to access the logical volumes started throwing Input/Output error. I rebooted and it went straight to the recovery console (which is not a good place to be). I tried manually mounting the LVM partitions and it gave this error:

This was a bit of a shock and no reboot or safe mode can restore the directories. I put it off for the night and took it up again today. I was thinking maybe it was a recent Manjaro system in-place upgrade so I tried booting to the latest Ubuntu livecd (using Ventoy, which is very good for creating a multi-system bootable drive) hoping it will show up my lost LVM partitions.

I booted up to the Ubuntu live desktop and I didnt see any LVM mapper entries either. I see the same 800++GB unallocated space at the tail end of the SSD. I launched a filesystem check which didn’t reveal anything and started searching on how to manually input the the LVM sectors in the GPT metadata.

I searched my Google keep for Pyg’s partition layout and then it hit me that all I am seeing is the SSD. There is a WD Blue mechanical drive in this machine before I upgraded to SSD and I used that for storage for files before they are backed up to either DVD or BlueRay. I checked the BIOS of the desktop and it confimred that the HDD is not showing up. Opening up Pyg seems to be my next weekend project.

Curiously enough, I am not feeling as much worry on losing the files as I remember the first time that my WD Green drive malfunctioned. Maybe those files in the LVM partitions (warehouse [files], limbo [multimedia] and arena [game files[) are really not worth that much in the grand scheme of things. If I can still recover them then thats fine but if not then…

3 strike rule in teaching

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I am not stingy when it comes to sharing knowledge. I always say to my team members that I have a 3-strike (or 3 chances) rule when discussing a topic and mentoring at work. Anyone can ask me anything tech-related, soft-skill , or maximizing a loophole three times and I will gladly do it.

  • I will discuss a topic the first time, normally with fervor if its an interesting topic.
  • I will discuss the topic the second time because the concepts may not have been clear or entirely alien to the target audience such that details wasn’t properly absorbed the first time.
  • I will discuss the topic for the third and final time, because I may not be explaining it properly or the “recipient” was not really paying attention.

There is no fourth time. If there is a need for a fourth discussion then it means we have a problem.

Domain transfer

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This blog has once again changed domain, out of necessity borne by procrastination. Instead of the normal ramfree17.net domain it is , at the time of writing, hosted in the rm17.xyz domain. Same old capsule but different domain. 😀

This is my first post in the new domain and its likely to be a bit long. The TL;DR version is never transfer domains between registrars if the domain is within 1 month of expiration. Unless its a domain you plan on ditching. 😛

The problem was that when I was notified that my web hosting and domain is up for renewal in my previous hosting company I realized that in the span of 10 years the annual cost of this personal blog site has increased by almost 100%. This blog is not monetized (too low reader count) and serves more as my personal venue for ranting without any risk of getting rebuke (my house, my rules). The cost of the annual upkeep is more than what I am willing to shell out. 😉

A week before my domain expires, I began searching for a more affordable web hosting and domain registrar. After careful deliberation, about 5 minutes, I decided to go with www.domainracer.com. The cost of renewing the domain is 33% less and the 3-year hosting plan equates to a 2/3 reduction in annual cost versus if I renew it with my existing provider. The domain transfer comes with 1 year domain registration. The reduction in costs means there were some restrictions like I can only host one site but its not a deal-breaker for my needs. Then I procrastinated under the guise of allowing myself time to contradict or appeal my decision to move the domain.

I read somewhere in the DomainRacer site that transferring a domain can take a couple of days to replicate wherein the site can be inaccessible while the DNS propagation is taking place. I dont think that was going to be an issue. Three days before the expiration day I pulled the trigger since I needed to request from my current DNS registrar for an unlock code for the transfer. The following morning the ticket got a support reply that I can do that by myself using the client portal. I generated the transfer code and proceeded to order the webhosting and domain transfer.

The webhosting space was available after a few minutes, but its tied to the current domain which hasn’t been transferred so I can do anything with it. The domain transfer was marked as pending so I decided to leave it as is and check back in a few days. Three days later I got a notification from my previous hosting provider that my site and domain has expired. I logged into the DomainRacer client portal and saw that the transfer is still in pending state. In my mind the capsule blog is taking a break. :/

A week later the domain transfer was still not completed. I logged a support ticket and the DomainRacer support responded back after less than an hour stating that my domain has expired and I need to renew it in the current registrar before it can be transferred. What ensued is a long back and forth discussion since renewing it in my current registrar and transferring is a double whammy for me as it will require me to basically shoulder the cost twice. I even posted links from the ICANN FAQ page that it should be possible to transferred expired domains. All that support links did nothing as the DomainRacer support said they cant do anything about it.

In the end I just asked for a refund on the transfer and bought a “temporary” domain for the webhosting packaged that I availed. Once my previous domain becomes available I will just register it with DomainRacer and then for the remainder of the year have both domains point to the same webhost. The refund took a day to complete so my first choice of temporary domain “r17.xyz” became unavailable. I guess a bot took notice that I checked its availability and renewed it thinking it can be an opportunity for cybersquatting and getting a potential customer to buy it from them. Big fat chance! 😏

I settled the temporary domain by adding another character thus my new domain. With the domain secured, I proceeded to do a WordPress installation. This floated one of the main restrictions in the “cheaper” package I availed: I can only host one website. What that meant is that the webhosting package was locked to the old “dot net” domain. /groan

I logged a new ticket to link the webhost allocation with the new domain I acquired. I was told by the tech support that they need to delete the contents of the web-hosting allocation and create a new one. There is no content yet so I gave the go-ahead. The only problem now is that once the new domain becomes available I will need to re-initialize this site. 😝

That is basically the ordeal. 30 minutes later I had this blog running. I wont be able to install the URL shortener package since its not available in this webhost but I saw an option to “load” python code so that is an avenue to explore later on.

Additional hindsight: this domain may become” tempermanent” if procrastination rears it ugly head. 😅

Location.Location.Location.

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Looking out of the building glass facade of the 26th floor office I can see two spiders building their webbed home. I was admiring their resilience and courage because they are doing this in restless winds (based from the violent vibrations of the web) and the fact that I get dizzy looking out of the window. If I feel that then what more for a creature that is about a hundred times smaller than me?

Then I realized that these webs are meant to capture prey. Do other insects fly at this height and winds? Aren’t these two spiders doing a futile activity if they cannot catch any food?

Or am I the fool for missing out what might be crystal clear with these two spiders?

Food karma

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Everytime Mommy cant eat I’ll kid her that I’ll buy her a blender/osterizer so she can ingest her food through a straw. She will vigorously shake her head and respond with an adamant no because she has memories of my grandmother’s last days where she can only consume liquefied food.

Now I am eating rice congee using a straw.  I had a molar extracted and I need to avoid getting food particles or have hot food  in it to avoid preventing the wound from clotting. I have the choice of eating through a straw or going hungry. I chose the former.

Karma is a bitch, and it is real.

Cautionary Tale for Online Wallet payments

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Gist: When paying via your online wallets then make sure to take a screenshot before payment.

My internet provider bill (from PLDT) is nearing its due date and I was paying the last few month’s bills via my Maya.ph wallet to take advantage of the crypto coin “cashback” feature. I logged into my Android app and saw that I still have more than 6000 pesos in the wallet which is sufficient to pay for my internet bill. I proceeded with paying for the bill using the saved template and adjusted the amount to Php1900.

Upon submission, the app encountered an error that it didn’t receive a response from the provider and to try again a few minutes later. When I refreshed the app home page my wallet balance dropped to Php4200 but there is no transaction listed for it. I waited for 5 minutes to refresh the Maya app but everything remained the same.

The Maya chatbot is useless and doesn’t want to connect me to a human helpdesk agent so I called up the Maya hotline. The agent who answered it is helpful enough but she does not have any ability to view my prior day balance to confirm the deduction. She can only confirm that there is no new transaction logged to my account since what she saw is the last payment I made a few days back. She suggested to call the PLDT hotline instead and to email support@maya.ph to do a deeper check and to request for an online receipt if needed. It has been 2 days and yet there is still no response on my request except for the automated ticket number.

I dont have any tangible proof other than this claim so it will be very easy for Maya to say it didn’t happen. This is a very costly lesson in proper documentation, and a very negative experience that will prevent or at least minimize my use of the Maya payment system in the future.

Lightning Shock

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AWS Transfer Service comes with a Bill Shock. Life lessons from not reading the fine print. I cant believe it costs that much to run a relatively passive service. ?

[TipJar] Quickly wipe a file in a Linux shell

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No time to read through contexts? Jump to the TL;DR; section.

There are use cases that require the secure wiping or deletion of files. There are already a lot of available utilities available in most modern distributions such as srm, swipe, etc. These however entail installing an additional package which is fine for work machines. The use case I had is to securely delete a transient file after it was generated and used in a Continuous Integration server. Installing the secure-delete package is trivial but a base Linux system already has the tool that can do the job: dd

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Locating happiness

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Happiness is an elusive treasure for most but in reality it is hiding in plain sight.

Happiness is located at the crux of being content with what you have and what you are willing to forego.

Getting more means exerting additional effort and taking on more responsibilities. If those start being a burden then it is a good sign your personal inflection point is already known. The question now becomes “are you ok to maintain this as your status quo, or do you still want to achieve more?”

Two sides of the same coin

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I prefer training my team using the pavlovian conditioning, with a slight bias in negative reinforcement. This has drawn the ire of the Human Resources department in the past.

The reinforcement that I usually employ is done via penalties. The penalties are monetary in nature, and increases in severity if the infraction happens close to each other. An example is a first violation is worth Php50, but any violation in the next 2 weeks will incur a higher penalty of Php100, and so on until a set limit (normally Php500 per infraction). If there is no violation after 2 weeks then the penalty goes back to Php50 as the next violation will be treated as a first offense. The reinforcement is only effective if the team sees that I have my skin in the game too. If the violation is something that applies to me then the same penalties cover my violations. Usually I also sweeten the pot wherein if there is no violation for 2-3 consecutive periods then I automatically contribute the highest penalty amount to the collected funds. I “lose” either way but my goal is not to collect funds but to make the team learn a certain behavior.

The funds collected do not go to my own pocket. The team decides what to do with it. Normally the team spends it on a lunch-out or a series of snacks. I had one team donate the collected funds to charity.

The whole point of negative reinforcement is to make sure that the subjects do not deviate on the prescribed behavior as it will be too inconvenient. Positive reinforcement on the other hand makes it pleasant to meet the prescribed behavior. I just prefer the former because I find it more effective in getting results in a much shorter time.

ciao!

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