The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

The pirate ship is completed!

| September 23, 2015



We added a safety railing and a hatch to cover the ladder down belowdecks…


Because, as you can see, if you’re not paying attention, you’ll fall down pretty badly.


We also added this gate by the rock wall..


Again, because it’s a pretty big drop – and you can’t always count on Diesel dog being there to catch you.


Miles approves of the portholes.


Project update: Pirate ship

| September 14, 2015

We worked on the pirate ship labor day weekend and got the siding two swings up:





This past weekend (the 12th), we got the last swing up and I cut portholes, but it’s been raining ever since so I haven’t gotten pictures of that.

We have about one day of work left, and then we’ll have completed everything we had planned ahead of time, though I suspect we’ll add things periodically as time progresses (a quaterboard and crow’s nest are the two we can think of right now).

Home improvement

| August 3, 2014

So, Liz redecorated the upstairs bathroom, which will be used by the boys as they grow up.

She says that there is a subtle theme… I’m not certain that I see it.

Upstairs bathroom

Upstairs bathroom

Upstairs bathroom

Upstairs bathroom


| September 26, 2013

So, for those who read this blog but I’m not in out of band contact – I have news.

Liz and I are having twin boys, due in January.

As such, we’ve (and by we, I mean, mostly Liz, as I’ve been working with the garden) have been working on the nursery.


  • Names?
    • Miles Adam and Max Armand
  • Do twins run in the family?
    • Yes, but that’s not really relevant, since they’re fraternal.
  • How’s Liz doing?
    • Good. She was a little sick at first, but is now just enjoying quilting, working on the nursery, and being pregnant.
  • Will you be posting ultrasound pics?
    • No. I think the only people who like those are parents and grandparents. Everyone else thinks they’re creepy.

Anyway, nursery pictures:

Peep peep peep!

| June 11, 2013

(You’ll have to make the sounds yourself, because apparently all my technology is old. My point and shoot camera doesn’t do audio with its video, I don’t have a smartphone, and my tablet’s camera sucks. I could steal Liz’s camcorder, but then I’d have to pull the stuff off it via firewire, but new laptop doesn’t have that – only USB 3.0 – for firewire, I’d need to use my desktop (because it has a firewire add on card).

But, anyway.. PEEPS!

Networks, Wifi and VLANs (oh my!)

| June 8, 2013

So, after about a week of fiddling, I believe I’ve gotten it all sorted.

Essentially, project goals were:

  1. Increase reliability
  2. Increase coverage

The extant arrangement of scattered WRT54Gs running OpenWRT was suboptimal, mainly because the core one would keep running out of memory, so various services would crash. So, you could associate with the AP with the big antennas, but then you’d never get an IP because the DHCP server crashed.

The solution was to buy a TP-Link TL-WDR4300 which has 128MB of RAM, and therefore has enough headroom that it doesn’t crash all the time. It also has 3 antennas, which you can orient in 3 different spacial dimensions (one straight back, one 90 degrees pointed up, one 90 degrees sideways) so they’re all at right angles to each other. Since the radio signals go in a “doughnut” shape away from the antenna (and generally don’t spread as much in the axis parallel to said antenna) 3 is loads better than 2, since we don’t live in Flatland.

Anyway, once that was set up, I checked coverage. It was pretty weak in my office (which is as far away from the access point as you can get and still be in the house) and in the garage (which is about 50 yards away from the house).

However, I now had 3 WRT54G and an old Netgear ME101 bridge – so, 3 pretty flexible devices and 1 that can only be a bridge.

With a little fiddling, I ended up with:

  • The ME101 in Liz’s sewing room, allowing a wired computer she has there to be wireless (we haven’t pulled cable there yet).
  • A WRT54G running DD-WRT with big antennas out in the garage. It’s running a “Vintage Stable” DD-WRT in Repeater Bridge mode, a DD-WRT exclusive.
  • A WRT54G running Tomato in my office, acting as an AP because the signal is weak there. Since my office is wired, a normal AP works.
  • A WRT54G running Tomato in the bedroom, acting as a bridge for the “smart” TV and Blu-Ray player in the bedroom (again, we haven’t pulled cable there yet).

So, 3 different types of devices, 3 different types of firmware, but it all seems to be working. We’ll see just how reliable it is.


  • OpenWRT – Tremendously customizeable, down to what packages you install on top of the base system. Very hacker friendly, but complicated.
  • DD-WRT – Not as customizeable as OpenWRT as far as packages, but the default “standard” setup is pretty good. The notes on what versions are most stable are also pretty good (OpenWRT doesn’t give you much guidance here). Supports the Repeater Bridge mode, which is nifty.
  • Tomato – Simple, easy to use – probably the easiest of the three as far as a replacement firmware which allows more functionality yet isn’t too complex for an average user. I ran this firmware for years with very few problems. Of note, however, is that it lacks VLAN support, which is useful when you’re paranoid like me. After all, I have this cell repeater from Verizon on my network, which is a black box, I don’t control, and unlike my Blu-Ray players, it doesn’t need to access the DLNA server to stream media.. so, let’s just have that guy VLAN-ed off so it can only talk to the world, shall we? Like I said – Tomato is really good for normal people.

We got bored this weekend.

| January 28, 2012

The new floor is going to be dark wood cork, heavily sealed against moisture (slobbery dogs, klutzy humans).

Ripped up floor Ripped up floor

We need to get a little bit more tile and then remove the layer of plywood with the glue on it. There’s another layer of plywood under that. Then we need to get a thinner layer of plywood for under the new floor so it’s all the same height, put that in, and the flooring arrives this week, so there is a possibility that it will all be done next weekend.

Productive weekend

| March 27, 2011

Kind of a lazy about the house weekend, but with us, that doesn’t mean nonproductive:

  1. Got the oil changed on my car, the inspection sticker affixed, and some misc detail repair (the 1 to 4 power adapter is remounted, etc.).
  2. While the oil was draining, I tidied up the garage a bit.
  3. Got the seed order squared away
  4. Emptied the compost buckets
  5. Played with dog
  6. Posted the generator instructions
  7. Made bread (maple oatmeal)
  8. Cleaned up and stowed the beer equipment in the basement
  9. Cleaned up the furnace room a bit (still needs more, and I need to add some more light fixtures back there)
  10. Assembled some more minis (Behemoth, Drago, Skarre)
  11. Made chicken and dumplings
  12. Watered the plants

I think that about covers it.

Snow day

| March 7, 2011

There’s half an inch of ice, topped by about four inches of snow, and coming down at a rate of an inch or two an hour. Nothing is moving, and I figured it best to stay home. Hopefully, this will be the last of it. Two days of melt and rain turn into over a foot of snow.

I’m watching Defiance, and painting minis.

This weekend was relaxing. We bottled the last of the beer – a chocolate porter, played with dog, did some electrical work (split some of the basement lights on to another switch, so they don’t all need to be on at once, and then added a couple of pot lights to another area of the basement) which I’ve been wanting to get to for awhile. The lights are now laid out correctly for the new gaming table and beer draught system (not that we have these yet, but they will come). I am also going to add another light in my office, and a couple more in the back room, so as to have more light by which to work (in both places).

Lazy weekend…

| February 20, 2011

Well, my version of lazy anyway.

Slept in both days, and am fighting bad glasses. I’m waiting for the new ones to come in from the lab – according to the optometrist, aside from the LensCrafters crappy knockoff transitions coating delaminating, when I had them make me another set to replace my broken ones, it looks like they flipped the left and right prescriptions. My new optometrist had some interesting noises to make while reviewing my notes as he was checking my eyes – not unlike what I say when looking at other people’s goofy code. As a result, I’m now having bad headaches when I use my far lenses. My computer glasses are fine, and the bifocals are fine, so as long as I do detail work for most of the day, I’m good. So, I can work on the computer, paint minis, etc.

  • We took down the Christmas tree and decorations. This might sound late, but it’s not – we typically wait until after Valentine’s day to de-Christmasify things.
  • Painted some tanks.
  • Bottled the spiced winter ale – it’s a little late, but there’s still a little bit of winter left.
  • Played with Diesel dog.
  • Painted more tanks.
  • Watched some movies
  • Cleaned up a bit
  • Ate up the leftovers in the fridge
  • Read some books

Lizzy has been doing similar things, and is working on her Sewing Cabinet. She and her dad have been working in a corner of her mom’s bonsai workshop, and I think the current plan is to try and finish it in the next couple of weeks so that it can be moved back to our house and he can put in the floor in the workshop.