Run, Developer, Run!

OpenWRT vs DD-WRT vs Tomato in 2021

Sadness

Disclaimer: this post is full of sadness, and contains a very subjective opinion

The router is a crucial part of your infrastructure. And there are two things wrong with modern routers. First routers are rarely getting security updates because manufacturers are busier with releasing new products than supporting old ones. So if you have an older router you are at risk of becoming of part of a botnet or your data stolen. Or in other cases, manufacturers themselves can sell your data for their benefit. And I'm speaking about trusted brands, not even about shady ones.

The obvious solution would be installing some open source firmware. The most known ones are Tomato, DD-WRT, and OpenWrt.

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Low Power eInk Weather Gadget

Weather Gadget on LilyGO T5s V2.8 Thumbnail

Weather Gadget on LilyGO T5s V2.8

Weather Gadget on LilyGO T5s V2.8

Taking a glance at the weather when leaving your cozy bunker is a very useful thing. It allows you to prepare for the ever-changing conditions and select protective gear according to the situation. You definitely need one!

To achieve that, of course, you can use your portable computing device (aka smartphone). But trust me, it is much more convenient when a nifty screen describing current and predicted weather condition resides on a shelf near the exit airlock. And it much simple to build one then you might think.

As information is rarely updated, the natural choice for display is e-ink technology. A lot of engineers are using Raspberry Pi to drive it. But even Pi Zero is too much overhead for the simple task of downloading JSON file and presenting it on the screen (and I'm not even speaking about bringing node.js to the equation). It is like using a sixteen wheeler for door-to-door pizza delivery.

Much more suitable for the job is ESP32 system-on-a-chip. Recently I've discovered awesome boards from LilyGO. It has an 2.7" black/white/red e-ink display and wifi/bluetooth. Boards are programmable from Arduino IDE without shady software. Could be powered from literary everything: power bank, battery salvaged from your old mp3 player, LIR2450 coin cell battery... As it refreshes once in an hour you will get months of runtime - so combined with wifi - no wires on your shelf. Also, it has an sd card reader, 4 programmable buttons and pins for the speaker and microphone, in case you want some extra functionality.

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How to homebrew web stats for your blog

WebStats CLI

In the days of the Old Web, getting to know your visitors was simple. You just throw some web counter code on the page, wait and see. After some time you would get some insights if your writings are actually read by anyone, or you should move on next project. These days are long over. Nowadays, there are ad blockers, bots, and other stuff. Any popular analytics tool is very inaccurate. And also there are murky GDPR laws.

For example, on this blog counter shows exactly zero visitors per day, Cloudflare Server Side logs shows hundreds of visitors, but the reality is somewhere in the middle.

Recently Cloudflare released their own Client Side Web Analytics. But they called their script beacon.js. Cmmon, scripts named *beacon* are usually first to be ad-blocked.

If you have your own server, you can get real data using GoAccess.

If you host elsewhere, your only option is to roll your own analytics. Because there is a very small chance of your uniq solution being blacklisted by ad blockers. Just be creative!

Let me share a way how to homebrew super-simple analytics for free.

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About Raspberry Pi Laptop I'm building

Raspberry Pi Laptop and other militarish stuff Thumbnail

Raspberry Pi Laptop and other militarish stuff

Raspberry Pi Laptop and other militarish stuff

Let me tell you about that Raspberry Pi Laptop (or Cyberdeck) project I'm working on for quite some time. Let's call it Militarish Pi. At this stage, build took around 6 months (≈10 hours of prototyping, ≈20 hours of searching for the right parts, ≈4350 hours of waiting for parts to arrive). Now waiting for more parts, so before it takes another 6 months I probably need to write something about it.

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Best games for your Retro Gaming Device

What to play on your WaveShare GameHat after you install RetroPie, Lakka or RecallBox? Usually, people search for shady places on the internet where one can download ROM files. But Nintendo will hate you for that, even if you "legally" owned these games on cartridges.

Did you know that there are games for retro console emulation systems that you can enjoy without violating any laws?

  • Of course, you can buy new games (for example "Tanglewood" and "Xeno Crysis") that are developed for vintage platforms.
  • Some games have copyright expired or lost. Check Abandonware. You will be surprised how much popular old-school titles are now free.
  • Ton of games was created by enthusiasts and released for free. Retrobrews tries to keep track of most of them.

So there is a lot of free games. Let me save you a bit of time and recommend a couple of titles, that are actually good.

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Random

Hey Kids, today I'll teach you something useful. If strangers or shady websites ask for your name or email, never give them the real one! Or they spam or phish you later. So open your textbooks shell rc files and type this 3 functions:

  • Use this to get a random name. How about Helen Lovick? Roger Rice? Betty Warren anybody?
  • When BugMeNot is not available. Use random email for registration on random websites. Generate random email in one of Mailinator subdomains and get a link to so you can check it right away. Get a new identity and email in seconds!
  • And of course don't forget to generate strong random password!

Bonus tip:

  • Don't know how to name file/project/branch/file? Out of ideas? Make the name memorable! Use this to get Docker-like aliases: thirsty_mahavira, boring_heisenberg...

Disclaimer:

  • Please only use this for good purposes! Don't try to fool the good guys. Trick only the bad guys!


Browsing web with keyboard

Before Firefox decided to throw away it's main advantage, there was an awesome plugin that allowed to browse the web without mouse — Vimperator. Now it is impossible with current API but there are several extensions12 that try to bring back some of this functionality.

Some very basic keyboard navigation exists in Firefox by default. If you press ' or /, quick find will allow you to search link by text. Then press Enter to navigate - no mouse needed. But because Firefox does not allow to change hotkeys - this feature is pretty annoying, as / is usually reserved for search on many sites.

There was also my favorite uzbl browser (seems abandoned) and Next browser (looks very promising).

For the experiment, me show how to achieve basic keyboard navigation in almost any browser with 3 simple commands!

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How to create blog in 2020

There are many [blog posts] like it, but this one is mine. ©

Of course, you can take Hugo or Ghost. But why? Using minimal tools without bloat2 feels so refreshing!

  1. You write some markdown posts in multiple or even single file
  2. You take mustache templates and language of your choice to render markdown and generate some semantic HTML files
    • [Optional] Bonus points if you are also generate RSS feed1
    • [Optional] Add some counter
  3. You add Water.css to make pages look nice
  4. You test things locally, using livereload
  5. You deploy (for free) your pages to surge.sh, netlify.com or Github pages
    • [Optional] you set up Cloudflare to get free SSL and speed things up
  6. You buy one of these new silly domains

And we are online!

PS: don't forget that you can deploy your blog to Tilde as well

2FA Device from Scrap

2FA Device from Scrap Thumbnail

2FA Device from Scrap

2FA Device from Scrap

Let me tell you about a gadget that I'm especially proud of. It's not elegant or inventive in any way, but I really like it, because it was built from scrap parts, extremely simple and does its job well.

The requirement was to create 2FA device, so multiple persons could use it. One of the possible solutions could be to use an old smartphone, but you know about security of old smartphones right?

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Brutal Doom Tips

Holidays are the best1 time to play games. If you are playing Brutal Doom this holidays, here are some tips for you! (If you don't know what's Brutal Doom for Doom 2, just skip this post)

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