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Summertime Begins – And So Does Minecraft With Dad

School’s out for summer, which with my kids means we give them a slightly later bedtime. It allows for more late night activities like bon fires, etc. and helps keep them on a more regular schedule through vacations.

With summer though also comes one of the most rewarding things for me with my children – “Minecraft with Dad”. Last summer, sort of by accident, I asked Link if he wanted to stream with me. At the time, I had been on a kick of streaming Overwatch I think, and he had somehow caught onto it. He said yes, and for an evening, we streamed Minecraft together. People started watching and playing with us, which was fun.

We did that pretty much all summer long… First on a self hosted world, then as we grew, we improved both our setup, as well as moved to a realm. But it was fun to see Link get involved with it. Eloise eventually joined us… and by the end of the summer, we had gone for almost 50 episodes of playing together.

So when this summer rolled around, Link was asking “When are we going to do Minecraft with Dad again?”… and this time, so was his sister. We started up again on Saturday on a new world and within minutes we had all of our old friends back again. If you want to check it out, go follow


The Importance Of Backups

I felt a need to dump this morning out on paper… It’s been quite a morning, one that was made much better by backups that we don’t always think to make.

It started with my phone waking me up by ringing off the hook at 7:15AM. I answered the first call, and it was from a teacher at one of the schools I work for. She was calling me to let me know the internet had gone done at school #1. This happens sometimes. 90% of the time it’s the internet provider(s). 9% of the time it’s a box that needs to be rebooted or something caused by a power outage. At that point, it was looking like just a rather rough start to the morning.

Upon hanging up, my phone rang again, this time from a number I didn’t have saved. I answered it, and it was a parent from another school, letting me know their child was sick today. This isn’t normally a call that gets to me. In fact, it’s only a call that comes my way if their phone system is entirely offline, and the first cell phone call failed (call to the school cell). I quickly jotted down the note, and then darted down stairs to my computer. Two shells fly open and I begin testing connections at both schools. While doing this, my phone continues to ring from teachers (and or parents) that were calling.

School #2 thankfully was easy. They had a brief outage, and thankfully it all came back online and things were back to normal by 7:35 for them. School #1 though was looking like it wasn’t the internet provider and that a box was going to need to be rebooted. I quickly sent a message off to my employees who cover that school before it starts and said it looks like “server a” needs a reboot… They would get to that when they got in, so I went and took a shower and prepared to head up to the school as quickly as time would allow for.

When I got out of the shower, I had a note on my screen that simply said, “It won’t boot”. We were no longer in the 99% of cases, but now the 1%.

This particular server is actually the linchpin if you will for the entire network setup. It acts as the router for 2 networks and handles the primary networks DHCP. When it’s offline, nothing is able to communicate with anything else… so having it offline is bad. Having it not boot is a setup for a really bad day.

My daughter is currently home ill, so my amazing, awesome mother was already scheduled to come to our house this morning. That allowed me to leave 45 minutes earlier than I normally would have. I got up to the school and walked in to see the machine giving the dreaded no system disk error. Why we don’t have raid in this machine, I’m not quite sure… I blame cheap hardware… Regardless…

My guys and I grab an SSD off the parts shelf (we have a bunch), throw it in the machine, and download the latest version of the PFSense (the OS that runs on this particular box.) PFSense on the whole is a very very quick install. In fact, it took longer to download as I had to do some magic to get online than it did to install it. Once installed though, there is quite a bit of configuration that needs to be done for our setup to work right. Static IPs, routing tables, filters, snort, vlans, dhcp, dhcp reservations, dns, etc. all need to be configured. Typically, when I do it by hand, it can be a multi-hour job to get right. This particular school though would probably take closer to a full day due to the complexity.

Luckily – I had a backup of the config (something the OS provides) saved in the server room from just last week. This is something that I try to do pretty much every time I make a change to this device. Occasionally I forget if it’s a small change, but in this particular case, I had made one just last Thursday after making changes to the network config. That backup meant that internet was up and running by the time teachers had to take attendance, as opposed to a full day later.

Moral of the story – Backups are king. Only way today could have gone smoother is if I had a hot spare of this particular server… Sadly, that costs money :-).


The Justin College Football Playoff Model Change

Everyone thinks the CFP playoff is broken again. Part of its brokenness is the inability for the NCAA to come up with a system that removes subjectiveness. Unlike the NFL though, the NCAA has 130 teams to track, across numerous divisions of different size and shape. It’s a bit more complex. That said, there are a lot of people calling for an 8 game playoff instead of the 4 game we have now. I agree, and here is what I believe the system should be:

8 Team Playoff
5 Teams would be power 5 conference champs
3 Spots by record (after removing conference champs)
If there is a tie in record, average the AP and Coaches pole(s).
Seed By Record First, Ranking Second.

Why this would be fair:
1 – The conference champs should represent the best of their branch. They effectively give us a tournament of 13 teams, just 3 teams are getting byes based on record.
2 – In theory, an undefeated team, regardless of schedule, will always get in, unless there are more than 3 undefeated teams (extremely extremely rare, and conference championships would like solve this).
3 – It would reduce subjectiveness to a tie-breaker.

There’s my view… And Congrats UCF and Scott Fross on a perfect season. You deserve a shot at the title… no matter what anyone says.

Oh, and Happy New Year Everyone!


Crypto Test… Because I can

Just curious how this works…



Where I’m At

Lately, I’ve been emailing myself what I’ve accomplished at work. It’s had a surprising impact on me, in that, on those days where I feel like I got nothing done, I actually got quite a bit done. Take for example this list from one of my more recent visits to a charter school:

  1. Fixed a driver issue on teacher’s computer
  2. Ordered Airserver and installed on Gavin’s Computer. Receipt sent to school. Was put on credit card. Installed on Teacher’s computer. Sent instructions to reset of the staff.
  3. Looked into a flash bug on the Chromebooks
  4. Put together an Amazon order for chargers, projectors
  5. Helped transfer ownership of the website to a new manager.
  6. Delivered freshly fixed ipads to teacher.
  7. Setup a temporary cloud print server for the Chromebooks. (Copier). I say temporary because it currently requires the laptop in the backroom to be on. Looked into a solution from Ricoh to remove the computer from the equation.
  8. Repaired 2 laptops. (Laptops 29 + 30)
  9. Reached out to apple for a revised quote for 20 ipads.
  10. Looked into wifi issue in Teacher’s room – no resolution yet. May have been student caused on particular machines
  11. Enabled international calls on phone setup to allow calling a parent. (Alaska is apparently international)
  12. Installed VLC on a laptop for a movie.

That was over the span of about 4 hours… And while I felt like I got “nothing” done, the truth was, I was moving pretty much non stop. That feeling was coming from not getting done what I went there to do, which was a bigger project than I was able to tackle that day (which is why it didn’t make the list).

I’ve realize that this is something my brain does in my home life as well. There are times where I feel like I really got nothing done, when in reality, the time was quite productive. Let’s quickly document the weekend… because on the whole: I got a lot done:

  • Friday – Got the kids. Fed Them. Got them to carver elementary. Volunteered running the cub scouts pinewood derby track with a bunch of other people. Got the kids home and in bed. Got some coding done.
  • Saturday – Went with the Kids, Benson’s and Scouts, for our annual trip to the Apple Farm (6 years running!). Went to church and did sound for a few hours. Went on a date with my wife. Went grocery shopping.
  • Sunday – Went to church and did sound for a few more hours. Cleaned the kitchen and living room while Amber was out at lunch. Worked on repairing a USB Drive. Attended a scout planning meeting. Got some coding done.

All in all, a fairly productive weekend. A lot got done. A lot still got left undone. That’s okay. I might need to do this more. Who knows.





My mind has been thinking a lot about communication lately.

There are area’s of my life where I want to communicate more, but don’t. The reasons are boundless:

  • Scared of what others might think
  • Maintaining a controlled perception of myself (related to #1, but not quite the same)
  • Laziness – I’d rather play video games

The funny part is, as I look back at this blog, there was very little I held back from it during the period from highschool to early college. I documented all sorts of stuff about my life… no matter how mundane… And to this day, it sits here, available for anyone to go and see things I’ve done in the past.

I could post to Facebook… But that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m not looking for comments. I’m not looking for short blurbs.

I could make videos – But do I really want to put this face to these words?

Well, for now, I just feel like writing something… So I’m going to… very much the same way I used to in the past.

I’m sitting at Math and Science Academy, in the server room, listening to the whir of the server fans. There’s no major problem at the moment. I don’t *really* need to be here. But my tech helpers are off at the First Robotics tournament in Duluth, so I decided to hang here to “cover the desk”. I’m working on various things at the same time, keeping up on emails, etc. But so far, it’s been a pretty average work day.

I had an idea to setup a VPN connection for the entire school to a remote location to try to solve a problem we have with our modem when to many connections start happening. I haven’t implemented it yet, but I’m dreaming of both how that might work, as well as what could be accomplished with such a setup. The real question though: could it be done with minimal latency such that it doesn’t slow the whole school down in any meaningful way :-). I’ve always wondered what kind of limits there were on all this cloud based stuff :-).

My kids are at school. I’ve been taking them almost every morning, and picking them up every day. It’s been a change in schedule for me as it greatly reduces my work time during the day… But it saves us some money, and helps the kids to not get overtired. It also gives me more time with them, which is a good thing I think.  Amber is picking them up today though… so I’m going to try to use the extra time wisely. Link has developed a love for math lately. Addition is his thing. We’ll see how far we can push that before he starts in public school next year. Ellie is just a constant bundle of love. I have no idea what her real passions are yet, or real talents are… but whatever they will be, I have no doubt she will attack them fiercely.

I have sound rehearsal tonight at Church. I still do that. Lately, it’s been pretty much every week. I enjoy it. It gives me a chance to think about life, to meditate, all while serving and listening to great music. Hearing the same sermon 2 to 3 times a week from different perspectives also has me wanting to “preach” myself. There’s that video idea from earlier in the post popping back into my head.

Overwatch is the game of the year for me lately. I’d love to be more competitive than I am, but for some reason, I just can’t seem to move up on the ladders. It seems like I’m back to Reinhardt this season, although when dealing with solo-queue’s, I’ll probably still push for D’va for the mobility. I greatly enjoy the pace at which the game goes… Anything less than competive these days though I tend to find underwhelming. A new hero was announced today. We’ll see what changes that brings. I still play World of Warcraft as well, just not daily.

Is it sad that Facebook is the primary form of communication for me about news about pretty much everyone in my life, with maybe the exception of Richard. It told me that my wife was on day 45 of 90 (way to go honey!) of her exercise challenge, which I knew she excised nightly lately, but not she was half way. It told me today was Nikki’s birthday, which I knew, but probably would have forgotten if it hadn’t told me (Happy Birthday!). I guess my communication has always been digital… just interesting that I get it all from Facebook now and not directly via the likes of AOL Instant Messenger (BTW: I use Skype now for most chat related things, Google Chat sometimes, I don’t text message very well, I’m never on AIM, and I’m always on Mumble for real-time voice communication (but I won’t tell you the mumble unless you ask me to).)

I doubt this will become a regular thing again, but it feels good to put some of this on paper just for the sake of archiving it. Documenting your life matters, if only for yourself to look back and see how far you’ve come.

Biggest concerns of the moment: Getting work done. Finding more work to do. State testing for all my schools!

This free writing has killed some time for me. Time to change locations I think to get some work done from the home office.