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Writing on various topics including travel, finance and technology.

(Rolling Down) Katamari Drive

2 minute read Enclosure Published

Using FFMpeg to combine CC-licensed works.

Inspired by a chiptune topic on ZeroNet I downloaded one of the songs shared using youtube-dl but wasn't satisfied with the quality of the video encoding. The song on the other hand was great. And thankfully the author's website was still up so I could download the original MP3 and creating a new video.

I spent a few hours learning FFMpeg from the comfort of the chair behind my Invisible Arch. The manpages for FFMpeg include tons of diagrams and examples so cobbling something together wasn't as hard as I'd expected. Once I was satisfied with the result I transitioned over to my 2019 Mac to share the video…

Moving GPG Keys Privately

4 minute read Updated

How to privately move your GPG keys from one machine to another.

If you're a software developer working ethically you're almost certainly using GnuPG to sign your work. And if you've been at it for any length of time you've almost certainly been forced to switch machines. Unless your aim is to create a new identity for each machine you use (please don't) you need a simple, repeatable strategy moving GPG keys privately. Let me show you how.

Secure Your Digital Life

8 minute read Updated

Safeguard your privacy online. Arm yourself with knowledge and use these tips, tools and techniques to secure your digital life.

I'm no Steve Wozniak but I carry a healthy distrust of computers. After hearing of the Equifax data breach affecting the privacy of more than 145 million Americans, learning Uber paid and tried to cover up the loss of 57 million driver and passenger records and seeing the lasting impact of the Meltdown attack I'm starting to understand the gravity this quote from Woz:

Awesome React Boilerplates

7 minute read Updated

Awesome React starter kits to kick your app development into high gear.

Not interested in reinventing the wheel? Neither am I. Here's a short list of awesome boilerplates – sometimes called starter kits or seeds – for getting your React applications off the ground in a hurry.

These boilerplates weren't taken from any list, however awesome it might be. Rather, they've gained enough mindshare to find me outside The Stream.

So without further ado…

Putting WordPress into Hyperdrive

2 minute read Updated

Prepare for Ludicrous Speed with a 300% improvement in page load time.

After giving a talk at WordCamp Ubud 2017 – where I showed how to use a $5 Vultr box and Redis with Load Impact to support up to 7000 concurrent WordPress users – I was asked to help turn some of the performance optimization work demoed into a WordPress plug-in.

It’s the first of it’s kind — and like no other performance plugin to precede it. Based on initial tests it speeds up the stock Twenty Seventeen theme about 300% and I suspect time will show even greater gains for other themes. It builds on top of a performance optimization technique called Fetch Injection, enabling external scripts to download asynchronously in parallel while preserving execution order.

Dual-Boot Manjaro Linux & macOS Mojave

12 minute read Updated

How to dual-boot macOS Mojave and Manjaro Linux directly from your Apple SSD.

Are you familiar with the concept of “habit fields”? They're these magical auras we give to everyday objects, assigning them purpose and allowing us to focus our awareness to accomplish tasks faster. But habit fields can work against you as well, if you're not careful:

If you’ve been trying to do everything from one place and one device, then you may need to make a conscious decision to divide different modes of behavior.

Jack Cheng, Habit Fields (2010)

One device you may be trying to do everything from one place is the MacBook Pro. With the beefy specs on the flagship Apple notebook it can be easy to piledrive too many activities all into one place, affecting your Mac's habit field.

But there's a trick you can use to divide different modes of behavior on a Mac. And that's to add a second operating system and dual-boot. Here's how to install and dual-boot Manjaro Linux alongside macOS Mojave on a MacBook Pro.

External Backup Drive Encryption

14 minute read Enclosure Published

How to create secure external backups with LUKS, Borg and BLAKE2.

A friend in Bali handed me a 1 terabyte external SATA drive recently and that's great because the device is an integral part of a 3-2-1 backup strategy I'm adopting after Apple Care suggested I make a full backup of my 15” MacBomb Pro.

The principle is simple:

3 copies, 2 different types of storage (physical and in the cloud for example) and one copy being physically separated from the others

Emanuele M. Monterosso

Of the 3 copies I needed 2 are complete. One copy is stored on MicroSD and kept with me. The other encrypted in the cloud on a Scaleway server in France. The last copy is going on the external SATA drive given to me last week which I will physically separate with and hide somewhere in Bali.

In this post I will show you how to securely store your backup data with two layers of encryption on an external drive or disk. After securing the disk we will start to automate the creation of space-efficient backups. Tools we'll be using include GNU Parted, DMCrypt, a device-mapper crypto target, and Borgmatic to automate our backups in a expressive way.

Encrypted Internet with WireGuard

9 minute read Enclosure Updated

How to install and configure WireGuard on Manjaro Linux, a step-by-step guide.

One of the motivations behind dual-booting Linux on my MacBook Pro was to take back control of my personal data. Not just because Apple uses faux encryption on iCloud. And not because macOS has been shown to leave users open to eavesdropping exploits. But because when I use my Mac with macOS the operating system gratuitously beams out activity records1, sharing information I'd rather keep private with people I don't personally know nor have I ever met. And without the ability to shut it off, I find my privacy – the sentient and autonomous nature of my very being – constantly under attack.

In many instances, privacy is threatened not by singular egregious acts, but by a slow series of relatively minor acts which gradually begin to add up.

I've Got Nothing to Hide and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy

In this short guide I'll show you how to encrypt and route your local Internet traffic through a fast, modern, and secure VPN tunnel called WireGuard using a free and open source operating system called Manjaro Linux. I will explain how to install WireGuard on Manjaro, share a simple means of establishing and testing an encrypted Internet connection, and leave you with next steps and personal experience to help further your understanding and gain confidence getting started.

JAMstack Frameworks, Tips and Tools

14 minute read Updated

Frameworks, tools and tips for brewing up a hot website.

Thinking about brewing up the next Smashing Magazine? Maybe you're looking for tools to delivery value inside your app's continuous delivery pipeline? Whatever your reasons for building you're in the right place. Read on for a hand-picked list of toolkits specifically designed for creating incredible webapps – online or off.

The Bomb I Took on 30 Flights

2 minute read Enclosure Published

I thought I bought an Apple; what I got was a lemon. A flammable one at that.

Years ago I built my own computers from parts sourced by a Chinaman who ran a small warehouse in an industrial park in Westmont, Illinois. No big box retailer could beat him on price and so I eventually became a loyal customer of Han's. My most frequent purchases were 3.5” SATA drives which I used for system backups.

When I moved to Bali I chose not to lug around those large SATA drives. Instead I bit the bullet, dropped a cool three grand on a MacBook Pro and started paying for iCloud – expecting Apple to keep my data safe. Sadly that was a mistake.