the itjerk

my adventures with technology

roon firewall update

For some reason which I now forget, I signed up for the beta channel for Roon’s Linux server software. It updates maybe once a month, and very recently (with 1.8.x) everything stopped working right. A quick jump to the community boards and I found out that Roon Labs had changed the ports required for the software. Even more astonishingly, it’s undocumented. Here’s what I’m using.

22/tcp                     ALLOW       Anywhere                  
9003/udp                   ALLOW       192.168.0.0/24       # roon
9330:9339/tcp              ALLOW       192.168.0.0/24       # roon
8008:8009/tcp              ALLOW       192.168.0.0/24       # roon
30000:30010/tcp            ALLOW       192.168.0.0/24       # roon
8010                       ALLOW       Anywhere             # chromecast
1194/udp                   ALLOW       192.168.0.0/24       # roon
22/tcp (v6)                ALLOW       Anywhere (v6)        
8010 (v6)                  ALLOW       Anywhere (v6)        # chromecast


new computers

My teenage daughters received new computers this Xmas. The younger one (freshman in high school) got the Surface Laptop Go. It was relatively inexpensive at $540 for a 10th Gen i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB model. I also opted for a Microsoft Complete package that runs $84 for two years. It has a touch screen, touch Windows Hello power button, 12.4″ screen with 1536 x 1024 (148 PPI) resolution. On the disappointing end was that it arrived with Windows 10 2004. After a round of updates, I had to use that Windows 11 Installation Assistant to get to Windows 11. Also disappointing is the 720p camera and lack of lighted keyboard. But for what she’ll be doing, web browsing, watching movies and (hopefully) schoolwork, it was a great solution. I just hope it’s durable.

The older daughter (junior in high school) made the pitch for an Apple MacBook Air, as she didn’t want “some janky-ass Surface computer that I’ll never like”. Fair enough, all of her friends have Apple computers. Ordered on a Tuesday evening, it arrived the next morning at 9:30am in an Apple Store bag, hand delivered to my door (for $9.00 extra). It was a base model, with M1 chip, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, costing $899 (with Education pricing). The Air has a superior Retina screen (though without touch capabilities) and a lighted keyboard (good to see that touch bar gone). I also opted for annual Applecare at $70 per year. Kids, right?

Those Dell Latitude 3190s? Not sure if I’ll scrap or sell them, they got some heavy use during the pandemic and you know, kids put stickers all over their laptops! But I did upgrade them to Windows 11 (one required me to turn on TPM in the BIOS) before doing a Reset this PC that (among other things) cleared the TPM before restoring the OS. That’s comforting.

windows 11

Windows 11 is upon us. A fleet of new Lenovo M70s prompted to upgrade out of the box, while my newish Dell Vostro mading me use the Windows 11 Installation Assistant tool. Given the clean-look of Windows 10, I was initially a little underwhelmed with the new look, but with all new OSes, I’ve grown love the new-found elegance that is Windows 11. I do have one little beef: PLEASE add a TaskBar Corner Overflow setting for SHOW ALL.

new raid1

The linux computer crashed. Upon restart, it wanted a disk check. Fair enough. But then when it rebooted, it went to the recovery console. Uh, oh, something is up. I went to Advanced Options and did a dpkg check, which found a few things to correct before I could reboot back into the GUI. At first I thought the OS drive was bad, but it ends up that the data drive was the one that had the error.

Upon the next reboot, my RAID card gave me a warning, “HDD may be not available. Please contact…” but when I went into the RAID menu, all drives were good. Hmmm. Does the ASMedia really read the disks’ SMART status? Once inside Ubuntu I then checked the SMART status of my drives using smartctl:

sudo smartctl -d sat --all /dev/sdx -H

The OS drive was fine, but the RAID said DISK IS LIKELY TO FAIL SOON, even though the RAID menu reported both disks as fine. While smarctl is very useful, it cannot look inside the ASMedia controller to let me know which disk was failing. Card said fine, OS said not fine. Who do I trust? Ubuntu. Bottom line: SMART is not to be ignored.

First, I immediately did a backup. Success. I then popped down to my local Microcenter and purchased two new (price matched!) 4TB Seagate IronWolf drives and setup a new RAID1. Why? Foremost, all the drives were still working, no data had been lost. So why not start fresh, reset the clock on the drives to Late 2021 and gain an extra TB of space?

It’s just a lot of time to complete a restore, but everything is safe again.

new macbooks – overspec’d is overserved

They’re in the store, those shiny new Apple MacBook Pros with the M1 Pro and M1 MAX chips, 10 Core CPUs, up to 32 Core GPUs, up to 64 GBs RAM and 8TB SSD. Go big, Apple hopes, so your $2500 laptop will end up costing $5000! With the iPhone’s 16-core Neural Engine too for all those pictures you’ll be taking with your laptop!

Look how easy it is to add an extra grand or two to a machine? Apple consumers are sheep! Apple Marketing FTW!

vaccines that changed our lives

Vaccines that changed your life: 1796 smallpox. 1885 rabies. 1890 tetanus. 1896 typhoid fever. 1906 TB. 1923 diphtheria. 1926 whooping cough. 1932 yellow fever. 1937 flu. 1952 polio. 1963 measles. 1967 mumps. 1969 rubella. 1974 chickenpox. 2021 covid-19.

google discovery doesn’t work

One of the most useful features of my Pixel 5 is the “swipe right on the home screen” for my Google Discovery page. I use to find my most favorite pieces of information – box scores and upcoming games on the sports teams I follow. Except it hasn’t lately. The remedy is clunky: Go to Settings>Storage>Other Apps and delete the “clear google search data” for the Google app. Viola, they appear back, but only until the next refresh.

I had this issue a while back, maybe a couple years, and the solution was to remove all the items that I’ve hidden from my Interests. Not this time. In fact, the whole Interests is a little wonky too; sometimes items that I’ve search appear with the option to either follow or block. Only sometimes.

It’s a shame because this really is one of the most useful features of my phone. C’mon Google, listen up!

new dell pc

Recently I searched this website for information about my Windows desktop only to find BYOPC 2016 – is that computer really five years old? Indeed it is, so with little hesitation I set out to find a replacement. Why? Foremost, I believe in a four (4) year replacement cycle for desktop computers. Remember, there’s no badge of honor earned from your janky old computer. Performance, security, safety, peace of mind and your itjerk’s respect all factor in. Second, the computer is not Windows 11 compatible, which as an IT professional will be important for me. Finally, it was an inexpensive build, on the noisy side (cheap case) and low on storage (128GB boot drive). Yet as cheap as it was, it served me well, but now it’s time to move on!

As my primary desktop, it was quite easy for me to arrive at the decision to buy a new computer. Building computers is fun, but good, workable options are just inexpensive. Don’t forget, PC makers spend a lot of time designing well-engineered systems; that’s part of what we pay for. I don’t game, so I have little need for power or anything but a standard configuration, including one that is Windows 11 ready. Now, I haven’t had a Dell computer since the old Dimension C521 in 2007, but my recent experiences with my daughter’s Latitude 3190s (despite initial problems) brought me around again.

A quick trip to Dell.com yielded a Vostro 3681 in a small form-factor case, with 8GB RAM, 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive and an Intel 10th Gen i5-10400 processor(6-Core, 12M Cache, 2.9GHz to 4.3GHz) processor, all for $499 (after a $50 coupon code). The HDMI port fits well with my KVM, and it has an extra bay for a spare hard drive. Pandemic-driven built-in bluetooth and wifi card in most desktops (here via a second M2 slot) is handy as well. Plus it’s kinda cute, with that red front bezel.

It arrived quickly (Sat->Wed), and within no time I had an extra 8GB RAM installed, as well as the 128GB drive from my old computer. I signed in with my Microsoft account, and OneDrive did a pretty good job of getting everything in place. I did have to ensure that my Documents and Pictures folders did not connect to OneDrive, as I don’t want them to sync nor be in the Cloud. The perfunctory Windows (shipped with 20H2) and Microsoft Store updates were next, followed by Dell’s System Update. I had previously made a list of the applications I needed, so it was off to the races to download and install them. One thing I realized is that my old Quicken 2007 software is a real relic; getting that now requires an annual subscription, so I’m glad I still had the CD! Once I copied the data from my old drive over, I took it out and plugged in a 1TB “scratch disk” from the old computer that I have a bunch of misc files on. It’s an old SATA drive, so I may replace it with a SSD to keep the “silence” the Vostro 3681 provides.

Update: That 1TB “scratch disk” was actually a 500GB drive, and I did replace it with a 512GB SSD.

Nota Bene: Before you wipe clean your old computer, be sure to give the new computer a run through of your most important tasks. For instance, opening my book InDesign and printing a PDF copy yielded a couple missing fonts (which I had) and a PDF preset (which luckily I found). In other words, don’t be in a hurry to throw out the old!

All in all, it’s a silent, snappy little computer that more than provides for what I need in a desktop environment. Good on you Dell.

One the web:
Dell Vostro

data saver? unlimited data?

Now that things are getting back to normal in the post-Covid world, I noticed my family’s data usage spiking. I guess I could just switch to one of Google Fi’s unlimited plans, but where’s the fun in that?

Turn on Data Saver for Android by swiping down, go to the second panel and then press and hold Data Saver. There are two apps that request Unlimited Data, but I only allow Carrier Services.

Facebook and Instagram are hogs, but if you go to Facebook’s Settings & Privacy, there’s a Cellular Data Usage item that you can crank down video usage and limit auto playback to Wifi only. Messenger also has a Data Saver under your account. Instagram hides it under Settings>Account, where you’ll find Cellular Data Use. You can turn on Data Saver and limit high resolution to Wifi only. Twitter has its Data Saver under Settings>General. Lots of options.

Reality check: I have two teenage daughters that live on their phones, are addicted to Snapchat and Tik-Tok, so yes, an unlimited plan is in my very near future. Google Fi as some pretty reasonable options, as below.

On the web:
Google Fi

hello windows 11, good-bye surface go?

That cute little Surface Go I purchased a year ago fails the Windows 11 compatibility test. Although it has TPM 2.0, seems the processor is off by ten: I’ve got the Gold 4415Y, but the minimum is Gold 4425Y. The PC Health Check app now says coming soon, so let’s see what’s going on.

WTF, Microsoft, pony up and make your hardware compatible!