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Tech notes

Random IT tests, fixes and and findings that might help others.

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Firewalla Purple thoughts

The Firewalla Purple brings firewall management to the masses: It has a great GUI that makes it easy for less-technical users to see what is happening on your network and to manage devices. Firewall rules are easy to set up and content filtering policies can be toggled on and off by device or group. There are a few minor shortcomings but the feature set is still being extended. The Purple is an excellent device for managing small networks and the online activities of children. However, it is highly overpriced.

Excellent free stock photos -

Trying to find truly free stock photos has always been painful. Usually, the available 'free' resources come with unwieldly terms such as the requirement to publicly attribute the source or acknowledge the author. Now I fully support the Creative Commons licenses for literary works, but you just can't plaster attributions across the artwork for a brochure, website banner or logo. It's not an appropriate model. Recently I stumbled upon, a stock photo site that is actually free, has a remarkably permissive license, and is also excellent.

How to boot a headless Raspberry Pi from USB SSD

Running a Raspberry Pi from an SSD is a lot faster and more reliable than from a flash card. But how to move the OS to the SSD when you don't have access to the desktop utilities or an external M.2 enclosure? TLDR: Boot from a flash card / desktop version of Raspberry Pi OS first, use Raspberry Pi Imager utility to copy your OS of choice onto the SSD, and change the boot order to SSD-priority using raspi-config. You can then get rid of the flash card entirely or keep it as a backup OS.

Mapping demo: Batemans Bay to Canberra GPS track

A demonstration of Tuskfish's mapping capabilities. This track was recorded on my Garmin Forerunner 245 watch, as I drove back from Batemans Bay on the south coast to Canberra. The map is automatically generated from an exported .kml file of the track, which Google Maps can put bounds around. The tracks are downloadable so others can use them on their own devices if they wish. You can also prepare maps in Google Earth or Google Maps itself.

How to setup SSL in an Apache2 Docker container running as a non-root user

TLDR: You can't do it directly in standard Docker, unless you run the container as root, or weaken the file ownership permissions, which you should not do. That's why you're having so much trouble finding a working example with a non-root user. Even the official docs example doesn't set a user...which means the container will default to running as root. But I have a solution!

How to find the path to php.ini

php --ini

You're welcome.

How to ignore local changes to configuration files in git

When developing a project you need to be able to run it in order to test it. But you don't want local changes to the configuration files to be committed. Most 'solutions' to this problem suggest untracking (removing) it from the repository. But if you want to keep the file in your project, then use:

git update-index --skip-worktree filenameOrPath

This keeps the file in the respository, but lets you change your local copy freely without including changes in commits.

Fixing Elgato Facecam exposure problems

The automatic exposure settings on the Elgato Facecam are terrible, but you can fix it.

How to prevent burn-in on your Elgato Stream Deck

Use minimum brightness, a short 'Sleep After' period and a fully black screensaver image to protect your keys (image provided).

OBS: Fixing the GoPro Hero 9 webcam problems

One of the cool new features of the GoPro Hero 9 is that you can use it as a 1080p webcam. Sadly, the out-of-the-box experience is glitchy and way too unreliable to use for a serious project, but you can fix it with the right setup and more $$. TLDR: Get the media mod and use the HDMI port for better output, take the battery out and power directly through USB to prevent unwanted shutdowns, and use OBS studio to resolve audio/video syncronisation issues.