Tag Archives: WFH – Work from Home

News from the Blog 2022-02-22

My Open Source projects

zpool watch

zpool watch is a small Python program for Linux workstations with graphical environment and ZFS, that checks every 30 seconds if your OpenZFS pools are Ok.

If a pool is not healthy, it displays a message in a window using tk inter.

Basically allows you to skip checking from the terminal zpool status continuously or to having to customize the ZED service to send an email and having to figure out how to it can spawn a window alert to the graphical system or what to do if the session has not been initiated.

carleslibs

Since last News from the Blog I’ve released carleslibs v.1.06, v.1.0.5 and v.1.0.4.

v.1.0.6 adds a new class OsUtils to deal with mostly-Linux Os tasks, like knowing the userid, the username, if it’s root, the distribution name and kernel version.

It also adds:

DatetimeUtils.sleep(i_seconds)

In v.1.0.5 I’ve included a new method for getting the Datetime in Unix Epoc format as Integer and increased Code Coverage to 95% for ScreenUtils class.

v. 1.0.4 contains a minor update, a method in StringUtils to escape html from a string.

It uses the library html (part of Python core) so it was small work to do for me to create this method, and the Unit Test for it, but I wanted to use carleslibs in more projects and adding it as core functionality, makes the code of these projects I’m working on, much more clear.

I’m working in the future v.1.0.7.

CTOP.py

I released the stable version 0.8.8 and tagged it.

Minor refactors and adding more Code Coverage (Unit Testing), and protection in the code for division per zero when seconds passed as int are 0. (this was not an actual error, but is worth protecting the code just in case for the future)

Working on branch 0.8.9.

Currently in Master there is a stable version of 0.8.9 mainly fixing https://gitlab.com/carles.mateo/ctop/-/issues/51 which was not detecting when CTOP was running inside a Docker Container (reporting Unable to decode DMI).

My Books

Docker Combat Guide

Added 20 new pages with some tricks, like clearing the logs (1.6GB in my workstation), using some cool tools, using bind mounts and using Docker in Windows from command line without activating Docker Desktop or WSL.

https://leanpub.com/docker-combat-guide/

BTW if you work with Windows and you cannot use Docker Desktop due to the new license, in this article I explain how to use docker stand alone in Windows, without using WSL.

ZFS on Ubuntu

One of my SATA 2TB 2.5″ 5,400 rpm drive got damaged and so was generating errors, so that was a fantastic opportunity to show how to detect and deal with the situation to replace it with a new SATA 2TB 3.5″ 7,200 rpm and fix the pool.

So I updated my ZFS on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS book.

Python 3

I’ve updated Python 3 Exercises for Beginners and added a new example of how to parse the <title> tag from an HTML page, using Beautifulsoup package, to the repository of Python 3 Combat Guide book.

I also added three new exercises, and solved them.

My friend Michela is translating the book to Italian. Thanks! :)

If you already purchased any of my books, you can download the updates of them when I upload them to LeanPub.

Free courses

Code Challenges

One of my students sent me this platform, which is kinda hackerrank, but oriented to video games. To solve code challenges by programming video games.

He is having plenty of fun:

https://www.codingame.com/start

More Symfony, APIs

If you enjoyed the Free Videos about Symfony, there is more.

https://symfonycast.com/screencast/api-platform

It talks about a bundle for building APIs.

And this tutorial explains in detail how to work with Webpack Encore:

https://symfonycasts.com/screencast/webpack-encore

100 Days of Code: Python Bootcamp

A friend of mine, and colleague, Michela, is following this bootcamp and recommends it for people learning from ground 0.

https://udemy.com/course/100-days-of-code/

My work at Blizzard

The company sent me the Stein, which is sent to the employees that serve for two years, with a recognition and a celebration called “The Circle of Honor”.

Books purchased

I bought this book as often I discover new ways, better, to explain the things to my students.

Sometimes I buy books for beginners, as I can get explained what I want to do super fast and some times they teach nice tricks that I didn’t know. I have huge Django books, and it took a lot to finish them.

A simpler book may only talk about how to install and work with it under a platform (Windows or Mac, as instance) but it is all that I require as the command to create projects are the same cross platform.

For example, you can get to install and to create a simple project with ORM, connected to the database, very quickly.

Software

So I just discovered that Zoom has an option to draw in the shared screen, like Slack has. It is called Annotate. It is super useful for my classes. :)

Also discovered the icons in the Chat. It seems that not all the video calls accept it.

Hardware

As Working From Home I needed an scanner, I looked in Amazon and all of them were costing more than €200.

I changed my strategy and I bought a All-In-One from HP, which costed me €68.

So I’ll have a scanner and a backup printer, which always comes handy.

The nightmare started after I tried to connect it with Ubuntu.

Ubuntu was not recognizing it. Checking the manuals they force to configure the printer from an Android/iPhone app or from their web page, my understanding is for windows only. In any case I would not install the proprietary drivers in my Linux system.

Annoyed, I installed the Android application, and it was requesting to get Location permissions to configure it. No way. There was not possible to configure the printer without giving GPS/Location permissions to the app, so I cancelled the process.

I grabbed a Windows 10 laptop and plugged the All-in-one through the USB. I ran the wizard to search for Scanners and Printers and was not unable to use my scanner, only to configure as a printer, so I was forced to install HP drivers.

Irritated I did, and they were suggesting to configure the printer so I can print from Internet or from the phone. Thanks HP, you’ll be the next SolarWinds big-security-hole. I said no way, and in order to use the Wifi I have to agree to open that security door which is that the printer would be connected to Internet permanently, sending and receiving information. I said no, I’ll use only via USB.

Even selecting that, in order to scan, the Software forces me to create an account.

Disappointing. HP is doing very big stupid mistakes. They used to be a good company.

Since they stopped doing the drivers in Barcelona years ago, their Software and solutions (not the hardware) went to hell.

I checked the reviews in the App Store and so many people gave them 1 star and have problems… what a shame the way they created this solution.

Donations

I made a donation to OpenShot Video Editor.

This is a great Open Source, multi-platform editor, so I wanted to support the creator.

Security

Attacks: looking for exploits

This is just a sample of a set of attacks to the blog in a 3 minutes interval.

Another one this morning:

Now all are blocked in the Firewall.

This is a non stop practice from spammers and pirates that has been going on for years.

It was almost three decades ago, when I was the Linux responsible of an ISP, and I was installing a brand new Linux system connected to a service called “infovia”, at the time when Internet was used with dial-up and modems, and in the interval of time of the installation, it got hacked. I had the Ethernet connected. So then already, this was happening.

The morning I was writing this, I blocked thousands of offending Ip Addresses.

Protection solutions

I recommend you to use CloudFlare, is a CDN/Cache/Accelerator with DoS protection and even in its Free version is really useful.

Fun/Games

So I come with a game kind of Quiz that you can play with your friends, family or work colleagues working from home (WFH).

The idea is that the master shares screen and sound in Zoom, and then the rest connect to jackbox.tv and enter the code displayed on the master’s screen on their own browser, and an interactive game is started.

It is recommended that the master has two monitors so they can also play.

The games are so fun as a phrase appearing and people having to complete with a lie. If your friends vote your phrase, believing is true, you get points. If you vote the true answer, you get points too.

Very funny and recommendable.

Stuff

<humor>Skynet sent another terminator to end me, but I terminated it. Its processor lays exhibited in my home now</humor>

I bought a laminator.

It has also a ruler and a trimmer to cut the paper.

It was only €39 and I’ve to say that I’m very happy with the results.

It takes around 5 minutes to be ready, it takes to get to the hot-enough temperature, and feeds the pages slowly, around 50 secs a DIN-A4, but the results are worth the time.

I’ve protected my medical receipts and other value documents and the work was perfect. No bubbles at all. No big deal if the plastic covers are introduced not 100% straight. Even if you pass again an already plasticized document, all is good.

Fun

Databases

One of my friends sent me this image.

It is old, but still it’s fun. So it assumes the cameras of the parking or speed cameras, will OCR the plate to build a query, and that the code is not well protected. So basically is exploiting a Sql Injection.

Anybody working on the systems side, and with databases, knows how annoying are those potential situations.

Python and coding

One of my colleagues shared this :)

News from the blog 2020-12-16

  • Happy Christmas!

This is the 3D tree that I bought, which is programmable in Python :)

  • If you’re into ZFS I recommend this video:

https://klarasystems.com/learning/webinars/best-practices-for-optimizing-zfs1/

Is a video from klarasystems about best practices for ZFS.

  • Amazing Apache Kafka resources can be found here:

https://developer.confluent.io/

https://developer.confluent.io/learn-kafka/

  • I decided to lower the price of my book to the minimum in LeanPub $5 USD while covid is going on in order to help people with their lives.
    https://leanpub.com/u/carlesmateo

I read with surprise that Comcast is capping the Internet use to 1.2TB per month, and that they will be charging excess.

So… if I contract a Backup with Carbonite or BackBlaze or DropBox or another company and I backup my 10TB files, Comcast will ruin me charging excesses…
Or if I work from home, or the family watches a lot of Netflix…
I can only thinK on their Cast Strategy of CastNumberOfClientsToBankrupcy.

A joke to indicate that I think they will loss clients.

Imagine yesterday I downloaded two images of Ubuntu, being 5 GB, installed Call of Duty in one computer 180 GB, installed few Xbox games 400 GB, listened to Spotify 10 Gb, watched youtube 3 GB, watched Netflix 4 GB, so 602 GB in one day.

Not counting the bandwidth WFH (Working from Home).

Not counting Windows Updates, TV updates, consoles updates, Android Updates, Ubuntu updates…

And this is done in the middle of the covid-19 pandemic, with so many people lock down at home, playing video games, watching movies, and requiring desperately distractions.

<irony>Well done Comcast!</irony>

News from the blog 2020-08-10

  • Atlassian tells employees they can work from home indefinitely. Which is nice and follow the steps of other giants before.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/07/atlassian-tells-employees-they-can-work-from-home-indefinitely.html

This new scenario challenges the old companies and is driving to some internal tensions in the companies that resist to allow employees to freely Remote Work.

  • I published this script to read the combined bandwidth, and peak max, from all drives.

https://blog.carlesmateo.com/2020/08/06/iostat_bandwitdth-sh-utility-to-calculate-the-bandwidth-used-by-all-your-drives/

  • I got new sales of my book in LeanPub and I’ve to say that this really makes me happy

I’ve been working in adding new information and I released a new update this week, the version 0.77. Talking about mutable and immutable objects when passing to a function, and references.

  • Bought new books and resumed my routines to study daily in the Coffee Shop (recently open)
  • I bought some new hardware
    • An Arm to support the laptop and a Vesa Monitor. That’s my Desk, actually

It is exactly this model:

  • I bought also an HDMI switch with 3 inputs and PinP
The most cool feature is the PinP. Is a simple model with reduced but does what I wanted perfectly and cheap. Worth the price.
  • I bought also this Mic/headphone USB dondle with a single jack. Very cool
Does exactly what I wanted, adding a new device. I’m using on a Windows 10 Enterprise box.
  • I’ve bought a static bicycle for the WFH / lockdown covid-19.

News from the Blog 2020-07-19

I start this section to mention things that are worth.

  1. I read this article from Slack outage in May. It is really nice:

https://slack.engineering/a-terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day-at-slack-dfe05b485f82

2. I read this interesting article about Netflix and Hexagonal Architecture:

https://netflixtechblog.com/ready-for-changes-with-hexagonal-architecture-b315ec967749

3. This new from Amazon is interesting for everybody in the sector:

https://www.livemint.com/companies/news/amazon-extends-work-from-home-policy-for-corporate-employees-until-2021-11594874878195.html

4. I updated CTOP.py to v.0.7.6 adding some command line switches to:

  • Limit the number of loops (like just getting the info and exiting, for scripting)
  • Work mode in black and white
  • Sleep time between retraces, to avoid flickering over SSH, and reduce bandwidth

5. I’ve been asked by an editorial to print my books in paper, for all the world. I’m thinking about it.

6. I’ve been asked to talk in a DevOps event.

7. I’ve created a new section in the blog, for adding the score of the videogames I played.

Some advice for WFH (Working From Home, especially under the covid lock down)

Last updated: 2022-04-12 16:00 Irish Time (8:00 Pacific Time)

Those are crazy times in which is difficult to handle working from home, doing the lock down…

But very nice times in which other people help others. Doctors and sanitary personnel fight in first line, truck drivers and supermarket staff are doing extra hours to provide to the society, investigators are working hard to get a vaccine…

Is beautiful that so many people are helping and contributing to the society.

I want to provide my humble experience on working remotely, from many years working remotely, so you avoid going bananas. Is very easy get depressed, anxious… So here is my advice.

  1. Stick to a routine
    Respect the working times, like if you was going to the office.
    Dress yourself like a normal day in the office. Don’t be all day in pajamas or sport wear. Switch to sports wear when you finish your daily work at 6PM, if you want, but not before.
    If you talk via Slack, myself always keep the video turned on, as is a way to force myself into dressing and taking care of my look.
    I take a shower, dress like an Engineer at work, I have my break for breakfast and for lunch, and when I finish work I study 30 minutes and do exercise 30 minutes or more. Then I take another shower and I consider myself free.
    Note: The only exception I do to the dressing is in the shoes. I don’t wear any shoes, as my feet really enjoy walking freely over the parket.
  2. Take care of yourself
    Shave, cut your nails… be polite. The same way you would if you had to go to the office.
  3. Stick to the working clock
    As said in the stick to a routine advice, work your time, from 9AM to 6PM, and don’t get lost. The week ends are week ends, don’t work to free your mind.
    For the week ends I have my side projects, like writing books.
  4. Walk
    If you can, walk an enjoy nature as much as you can. This clears the mind and keeps your mental health wellness.
  5. Do exercise
    May be walking, but if you have a home bicycle, use it.
    Try to set a goal, like 15 minutes of bicycle daily, and grow from there, of keep it like that. But doing even 15 minutes of cardio every day will be highly beneficial for your mind and body.
    You may find it easy to do if you play videogames while cycling, or watch Netflix.
  6. Stretch
    After doing exercise stretch your muscles.
  7. See the light
    As much as you can, see the sun light. Try to do walks too and see nature.
    Daylight and nature are amazingly good for your mental health and morale.
  8. Study/Learn new things
    I keep this as part of my routine. I study every day in Linux Academy or read a book at least half an hour. I’ve done this for years.
  9. Keep you hydrated
    Drink lots of water.
    I said water, not sugar drinks or carbonated ones, which are very unhealthy.
  10. Do your breaks
    After each 1 hour of work try to walk a bit in the house, to focus your view in distant points to relax your ocular muscles.
  11. Ergonomics and light
    Try to have a correct light in the working are, a comfortable chair, the right height for the keyboard and for the monitor, so your neck doesn’t hurt and your hands neither.
  12. Do like in the office: discipline
    In the office you don’t drink, you don’t smoke at your desk.
    So do the same. If you want to smoke one cigar after 2 hours of work, Ok, but don’t loss yourself in self-indulgence. Set strict rules respect alcohol if you love beer:
    No alcohol during working hours.
    Years ago I was CTO of a company with Team in half the world and I had a Team in Belarus. The Team Lead would be drunk in the sofa at business hours and start talking common words. If you have weak points, you don’t want to lose yourself. Be disciplined.
  13. Set boundaries with your family and pets
    If you want to close the door of the room you work, your cat is not gonna die.
    It is used to be alone when you’re are in the office.
    So if it’s excessively demanding and wants you to pet him, or jumps over your laptop’s keyword while you are typing commands as root, set boundaries. Close the door. He can take it.
    Also for the kids, the wife, the mother.
    Please, do not disturb me while I’m working. We will play after.
  14. During covid-19 lockdown, do videoconference
    Do videoconference with your family and friends.
    You can use Slack, Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger…
    I schedule a daily whatsapp video conf with my family, and a weekly with my cool friend Alex :)
  15. Socialize.
    When the lockdown is over, try as much to socialize, or at least to see friendly faces irl. If you can’t because you’re an expat, go to the coffee and to the commercial center to see faces, for the sake of your mental health. If the law and common sense allow it, try to go to a gym to get back to be fit and healthy.
  16. Despite your beliefs about vaccines, take fruits, and vegetables.
    You are certainly exiting less home, so your intake of sun is also reduced.
    Myself I take vitamin supplements.
  17. Be very patient with your colleagues and Team members
    We are all humans and each one has its own situation.
    Some people may feel depressed, alone, others may have problems with the partners or the parents of her/him living with them.
    Other may have a cat trolling all the time stopping the work.
    Others may have hyperactive children, or just having a poor chair, poor desk, and having only the laptop and no external monitor.
    Others may have the family far, in another country, and suffer for them.
    Be patient and understanding. Be Human.
  18. Have a good Internet connection and use Ethernet cable, not Wifi if possible
    I have 360 Mbit at home with Virgin and I connect the laptops with Ethernet Gigabit cables. That brings me the best and most stable connection.
    In case of emergency I can do tethering with the phone (share the connection using the phone as Wifi Hotspot)
  19. Use cable headsets, not Bluetooth if possible, and use the microphone from the headset not the one from the laptop
    The Bluetooth can be very useful to allow you to move around during audio calls, but some times they provide a poor signal and the sound is lost or may sound metallic or they perform poorly when they have few battery, or they can let you down.
    Using the microphone embedded in the laptop sends echo to your partners, many times.
    If you don’t use headphones the sound coming from the speakers can couple with the microphone and make it very uncomfortable to your partners talking in a video conference, as they will hear themselves with echo.
    If you use Bluetooth, I recommend to have cable headsets at least as backup in case the Bluetooth runs out of battery.
  20. Use a camera with cover or add a plastic cover that slides to your webcam.
    It is good to have a physical barrier to prevent your camera turning on and you not knowing, and to get used to block the camera after you used.
  21. Have spare Hardware and cables
    In this time of lockdown, is good to have spare cables and adapters for everything. Just in case they die.
    If you can have a spare monitor, and spare laptops this is great too.
    I have 3 laptops, plus one tower, plus several raspberry pis, plus the tablet, plus my working laptop. If one dies, I can use the others.
    I always have all kind of Hardware and cables as spare (Gigabit switches, power adapters, international adapters, Ethernet cables, USB cables, headphones…). Even if I can buy in Amazon nothing can stop me.
    One day we had an incident with Virgin, which affected all Ireland.
    I was out as the Fiber was not working and the phone was with Virgin too, but I have two additional SIM cards and spare phones, from vodaphone and Tesco mobile.
    So I’m well protected. :)
    As per the comment of Jordi Soler, I update the list of gadgets, mentioning my Hp Laserjet Color Printer, very handy to print document that I have to sign and then scan and sending back by email, and the UPS.
    The UPS is cool, as if electricity goes down I don’t loss Fiber Internet.
    Imagine, a router connected to the UPS can last hours! however is very infrequent that in Ireland we loss electricity. And the issues I experienced in 3 years were quickly resolved (unlike Barcelona where once more than 300,000 people were 3 days without electricity).
  22. Keep doing backups
    If talking about job things, you can upload to Corporate Google Drive or Microsoft One Drive.
  23. Do exercise regularly
    I bought a static bicycle and a pair of weights, nintendo boxing games, so I keep fit.
    Sitting all the day and not doing any exercise in not made for humans and is bad for your health.
  24. Play videogames
    Playing videogames can keep your amused and distracted, with a goal you do to relax.
  25. Have fun.
    Play Quizz style games online, with your friends/university/work mates
    Playing Questions/Answers games with other people can be a great source of fun.
    Recently I played with my friends at work at jackbox.tv , coordinating through Zoom, and it was really fun.
    I also play in the Quizz that was being performed at my local pub every week, and when the lockdown closed the pubs, they moved to Internet. It is great to see some of the people I was seeing at the pub, and revive these moment, even from home, virtually.
  26. Check your health
    Take that blood analysis, the breast yearly revision, or whatever test you should do regularly. Performing a blood analysis is particularly a good idea. Most people got weight with the lockdown, and the lack of activity can have had an adverse effect in your health. I recommend you to take a blood analysis to make sure all is good with your health.
    Deciding to take a proactive blood analysis saved my life.
  27. It is a good moment to go to the university
    Pick your dream’s degree, that you can do remotely, and before you can realize you’ll have your degree and a bunch of nice good friends. :)
    Specially if you are older than 40/45 years, many universities will grant you access with your motivation letter.
    I recommend you evening degrees designed for people that work.
    They will be helpful and understanding, flexible, and provide workloads more reasonable for people with families and work.
    Also some countries subsidize certain degrees, for example in IT, as they want workers to be digital capable.
  28. My friend Nico Cadet de Fontenay provided a super useful tip:
    When in a call say only nice things (if you talk to another person, if you pick the phone…) always assume you’re not muted.
    And that’s super true! How many times we have heard or seen something that the other person regretted sharing. Even if you muted your Zoom call, it could happen that it gets unmuted (like pressing ALT A).
A practical sense of humor

Security risks

One of the problems with the laptops and battery-power devices in general is that if we have them connected to the energy line all the time, never using the battery, the battery just loses effectiveness and dies.

But some batteries can also explode.

As we are working all day at home now, our laptops are connected 100% of the time.

In my case one of the equipment I use is a Dell Laptop and the battery started to swallow and to bring the touchpad up. As the temperature of the laptop internally increased by the battery being hot as it swallows, you may notice the internal fan doing extra hours, running almost all the time, a high temperature on the chassis. High temperatures can lead to laptop malfunction like hang or reboot.

In extreme cases the battery can explode, so you should replace it if it is swallowing.

So I recommend you from time to time to unplug the power cable and run the laptop on battery until it almost completely depletes, or at leas for a couple hours before plugging the power cable again.

In another order of things I recommend you not to do drugs. Drugs affect your brain, and is hard enough to be isolated in lock down, to add chemicals messing with your neurons.