The Pitch Wouldn't it be great if there was a simple way to send a notification to your phone(s) with just a curl call? Then you could get notified when a script completes, a server reboots, a user logs in to a system, or a sensor connected to Home Assistant changes state. How great would that be??
ntfy.sh (pronounced notify) provides just that. It's an open-source, easy-to-use, HTTP-based notification service, and it can notify using mobile apps for Android (Play or F-Droid) or iOS (App Store) or a web app.
I've lately been trying to do more with Salt at work, but I'm still very much a novice with that tool. I thought it would be great to have a nice little portable lab environment where I could deploy a few lightweight VMs and practice managing them with Salt - without impacting any systems that are actually being used for anything. Along the way, I figured I'd leverage HashiCorp Vagrant to create and manage the VMs, which would provide a declarative way to define what the VMs should look like.
I've shared in the past about how I use custom search engines in Chrome as quick web shortcuts. And I may have mentioned my love for Tailscale a time or two as well. Well I recently learned of a way to combine these two passions: Tailscale golink. The golink announcement post on the Tailscale blog offers a great overview of the service:
Using golink, you can create and share simple go/name links for commonly accessed websites, so that anyone in your network can access them no matter the device they’re on — without requiring browser extensions or fiddling with DNS settings.
I recently started using Obsidian for keeping notes, tracking projects, and just generally organizing all the information that would otherwise pass into my brain and then fall out the other side. Unlike other similar solutions which operate entirely in The Cloud, Obsidian works with Markdown files stored in a local folder1, which I find to be very attractive. Not only will this allow me to easily transfer my notes between apps if I find something I like better than Obsidian, but it also opens the door to using git to easily back up all this important information.
ESXi-ARM Fling v1.10 Update
On July 20, 2022, VMware released a major update for the ESXi-ARM Fling. Among other fixes and improvements, this version enables in-place ESXi upgrades and adds support for the Quartz64's on-board NIC. To update, I:
Wrote the new ISO installer to another USB drive. Attached the installer drive to the USB hub, next to the existing ESXi drive. Booted the installer and selected to upgrade ESXi on the existing device.
Not all that long ago, I shared about a somewhat-complicated WireGuard VPN setup that I had started using to replace my previous OpenVPN solution. I raved about WireGuard's speed, security, and flexible (if complex) Cryptokey Routing, but adding and managing peers with WireGuard is a fairly manual (and tedious) process. And while I thought I was pretty clever for using a WireGuard peer in GCP to maintain a secure tunnel into my home network without having to punch holes through my firewall, routing all my traffic through The Cloud wasn't really optimal1.
Non-technical users deserve private communications, too.
I shared a few months back about the steps I took to deploy my own Matrix homeserver instance, and I've happily been using the Element client for secure end-to-end encrypted chats with a small group of my technically-inclined friends. Being able to have private conversations without having to trust a single larger provider (unlike like Signal or WhatsApp) is pretty great. Of course, many Matrix users just create accounts directly on the matrix.
For a while now, I've been using an OpenVPN Access Server virtual appliance for remotely accessing my homelab. That's worked fine but it comes with a lot of overhead. It also requires maintaining an SSL certificate and forwarding three ports through my home router, in addition to managing a fairly complex software package and configurations. The free version of the OpenVPN server also only supports a maximum of two simultaneous connections.
Intro I've been using short.io with a custom domain to keep track of and share messy links for a few months now. That approach has worked very well, but it's also seriously overkill for my needs. I don't need (nor want) tracking metrics to know anything about when those links get clicked, and short.io doesn't provide an easy way to turn that off. I was casually looking for a lighter self-hosted alternative today when I stumbled upon a serverless alternative: sheets-url-shortener.
I've heard a lot lately about how generous Oracle Cloud's free tier is, particularly when compared with the free offerings from other public cloud providers. Signing up for an account was fairly straight-forward, though I did have to wait a few hours for an actual human to call me on an actual telephone to verify my account. Once in, I thought it would be fun to try building my own Matrix homeserver to really benefit from the network's decentralized-but-federated model for secure end-to-end encrypted communications.
I was recently introduced to AdGuard Home by way of its very slick Home Assistant Add-On. Compared to the relatively-complicated Pi-hole setup that I had implemented several months back, AdGuard Home was much simpler to deploy (particularly since I basically just had to click the "Install" button from the Home Assistant add-ons manage). It also has a more modern UI with options arranged more logically (to me, at least), and it just feels easier to use overall.
[Update 2021-03-12] This solution recently stopped working for me. While looking for a fix, I found that OpenVPN had published some notes on controlling the official OpenVPN Connect app from Tasker. Jump to the Update below to learn how I adapted my setup with this new knowledge.
I recently shared how I use Tasker and Home Assistant to keep my phone from charging past 80%. Today, I'm going to share the setup I use to automatically connect my phone to a VPN on networks I don't control.
A few months ago, I started using the AccuBattery app to keep a closer eye on how I'd been charging my phones. The app has a handy feature that notifies you once the battery level reaches a certain threshold so you can pull the phone off the charger and extend the lithium battery's service life, and it even offers an estimate for what that impact might be. For instance, right now the app indicates that charging my Pixel 5 from 51% to 100% would cause 0.
I've written in the past about the Linux setup I've been using on my Pixel Slate. My Slate's keyboard stopped working over the weekend, though, and there don't seem to be any replacements (either Google or Brydge) to be found. And then I saw that Walmart had the 64GB Lenovo Chromebook Duet temporarily marked down to a mere $200 - just slightly more than the Slate's keyboard originally cost. So I jumped on that deal, and the little Chromeblet showed up today.
A friend mentioned the BitWarden password manager to me yesterday and I had to confess that I'd never heard of it. I started researching it and was impressed by what I found: it's free, open-source, feature-packed, fully cross-platform (with Windows/Linux/MacOS desktop clients, Android/iOS mobile apps, and browser extensions for Chrome/Firefox/Opera/Safari/Edge/etc), and even offers a self-hosted option.
I wanted to try out the self-hosted setup, and I discovered that the official distribution works beautifully on an n1-standard-1 1-vCPU Google Compute Engine instance - but that would cost me an estimated $25/mo to run after my free Google Cloud Platform trial runs out.