Pete's Log: A silly vacation day

Entry #2042, (Coding, Hacking, & CS stuff, Life in General, Smokepacking)
(posted when I was 43 years old.)

I used a vacation day yesterday (Thursday) since I've accumulated a few. My objective was to do some soldering. HackerBox 0073 arrived a week or so ago and it looked fun. It's titled LAN Lord and the theme is WiFi.

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While getting set up to solder, I discovered my desk lights wouldn’t turn on. In the past this has happened because the potentiometer was turned down, but that wasn’t the case this time. I opened the esphome console and found the esp8266 was reading a 0 from the potentiometer, regardless of position. Determined to move on, I hardcoded the brightness to 100%, pushed the update to the esp8266 and was able to move on to soldering on my now well-lit desk.

Soldering the first of two devices in the box was easy enough, but when I ran the wifi scanning software on it, it would freeze after a few seconds. I was more interested in the second device anyway, so I decided to troubleshoot this one later.

But then I got started on the instructions for the second device and the first thing was to download another SDK and lately it’s been on my mind that I want to start Esgerbeastie from a fresh install and try to isolate these random SDKs and such to VMs or containers. So since it’s my vacation day to use as I please, I decided to do a fresh Debian install on Esgerbeastie.

But before I could move on, though, I wanted to figure out my desk lights. I pulled the monitor stand and checked the voltages on the potentiometer, and sure enough it was reading 0V regardless of position. I played around with it for a while, and I think I found that the ground end of the potentiometer was maybe plugged into the wrong thing. I plugged it into ground and then it started working. I don't understand how it was ever working. But it's working now.

With that done, I was able to wipe esgerbeastie and get Debian Bookworm installed. The only issue I had was I forgot to add the non-free sources, causing my AMD GPU to not be fully configured, causing gdm to fall back to X11, causing Sway not to be an option at login. But once that was addressed, everything else went pretty smoothly and things already look as they did prior to reinstalling, so I'm happy with my new dotfiles project.

By now it was time to pick up JB. When she got home, she wanted to watch Doc McStuffins, but the Apple TV was not cooperating. I'm not sure if the WiFi adapter on it isn't great or if it happens to be in some weird WiFi dead zone, but it never seems to get great bandwidth and sometimes will drop to speeds measured in Kbps instead of Mbps. Even though I can do a speed test on my phone sitting right next to it that gets perfectly adequate results. Puzzling.

There's a hole in our living room floor on the opposite wall from where we have our TV that has a piece of coax cable poking through it. It's one of the random cables running through our crawlspace. Jamie and I decided we could live with an Ethernet cord running along the one wall in our living room, so after dinner, Jamie and JB helped me run cat6 cable from my handy spool from the Apple TV to the hole in the floor, down into the crawlspace, and from there into the laundry room. I crimped RJ45 plugs onto each end and the physical connection came up on the first try. It took a couple tries to remember how to configure the switch port onto the right VLAN, but once that was working, all was well.

A speed test showed 93 Mbps, which seemed slightly disappointing until I realized the Apple TV only comes with a 10/100BASE-T Ethernet adapter. So really, it was as good as it was going to get. And now we're seeing a whole lot less buffering as a result. A nice success.

And one of the reasons I was excited to play with the WiFi tools in HackerBox 0073 was I thought maybe they'd help me figure out why WiFi to the Apple TV was so bad. So indirectly, I got the root problem solved.

I ended the day "playtesting" some board games for Bert's website with Bert, Andrew and Connor. We tried three games. I personally would rate them (in order) as decent, bad, and good. We'll see what Bert has to say about them.