Recent notes

  • Sat 2019-08-24 23:26

    Class B motorhomes are nimble and easy to drive, but one of the challenges with Class B's compared with the larger C and A rigs is the much reduced storage space. In particular, there is generally little to no exterior storage. Our Class B has an exterior box for storing the sewer hose (thank goodness), conveniently located under the driver side running board. But beyond that, there are no exterior storage compartments for things like sewer fittings, hoses, electrical cables, etc. And since the roof is covered with solar panels, there's no room for storage up there (and without a built in ladder it wouldn't be very convenient even if there were). So that means a lot of our interior storage space has been eaten up with things that in our previous rig would have gone in an exterior compartment.

    Enter the Stowaway2 Max, a hitch-mounted cargo box with 16 cubic feet of space. It's got a locking, weather-resistant lid and the hitch mount is a two-piece unit with a swing away platform for the box. That lets me move the cargo box enough not to interfere with opening the rear doors (though sadly, not enough to let me swing the passenger-side rear door fully to the side locking position). We ordered our Stowaway2 Max last Sunday, it shipped the next day (via FedEx at no additional charge) and arrived on Thursday.

    I had a chance this morning to get it installed on the Lula. I was really impressed with the overall construction, and the installation instructions were clear and easy to follow. The whole project took about 90 minutes (in the blazing Las Vegas sun) from unbox to light check. And a lot of that time was spent reading the instructions, and unboxing and unwrapping the carefully packed components. The actual installation took maybe 30 minutes. The only caveats I found would be:

    1. It's a two-person job. The box isn't terribly heavy but it's big and unwieldy. It also requires some careful positioning to line up bolt holes on the box and platform.
    2. Bring your big wrenches. There are some large (1 1/8") hinge bolts to tighten and the little adjustable wrench in the kitchen drawer isn't going to do it. I had to go to the BBT (the Big Boy Toolbox I keep in storage) and get out my large box wrenches and a large Crescent wrench. Everything else was 3/8" or 9/16" and standard sockets did the job.

    The electrical was all pre-wired and the only thing I had to hook up was the lighted license plate holder (that's also the only part of the install that required drilling). The included straight-4 connector required an adapter for my 7-round tow outlet, but I knew that in advance and ordered one with the box. Connections were as simple as plugging in the adapter and zip tying the cable to keep it from dangling free.

    All said and done, I'm pretty darn happy with the cargo box. It was a little pricey, but it's solidly built and I think it's worth the money. I'm definitely loving all the interior space that box has now freed up. I was able to fit our three utility tubs (one each for electrical components, water hoses and connections, and sewer fittings), two bags of Lynx levelers and a chock block, our 25 foot 30A extension cord, and two large camp chairs all inside the cargo box - with room to spare. The free space inside is great, but it will also be a lot easier doing setup and breakdown with everything in one easy-to-access location. I'm stoked thinking about our next weekender when the weather gets a little cooler.

    Stowaway2 Max installed
  • Fri 2019-08-23 23:30


    Microsoft Windows is an absolute ghetto of an operating system. I honestly don't know how people use it as a personal OS. In plainest terms, it just sucks.

    I'm currently working a contract for a large multi-national, and like most large multi-nationals their desktop platform of choice is Windows (Windows 10 in this case). So I'm sort of forced by circumstance to be a Windows user for 40 hours per week.

    Today, whilst endeavoring to get actual work done my Windows 10 laptop informed me (via the SCCM-controlled Software Center) that "important" updates were required to be installed on my system. I tried to defer the updates until "after business hours" (one of the available options), but Software Center informed me that the updates were overdue and could not be deferred.

    Resigned to my situation, I clicked OK and let it begin the updates. I figured it would take a few minutes and I would go get a fresh cup of coffee, maybe an apple. I couldn't do much else, because these updates required practically all useful applications be closed while they were being installed.

    FOUR HOURS LATER the updates finally finished and the system performed a couple of reboots. And at the end of the last one I was presented with this truly heart-warming message:

    Windows failed to start. A recent hardware or software change might be the cause.

    Really... no shit.

    The boot process skipped right over the full disk encryption login so I'm going to guess some OS update nuked the UEFI or boot config. And obviously since the disk doesn't get decrypted, Windows can't boot from it. Which leaves me (a remote contractor hundreds of miles from the closest corporate tech center) SOL.

    But you know what? It's not my machine and I don't even have admin privileges on it, so there's not much I can do about the situation other than wait until Monday morning and call the support desk for assistance. Hopefully they have some trick to restore the UEFI/bootloader without having to re-image the machine. It's taken me weeks of wading through corporate bureaucracy to get it setup with the tools I need to do my job. The last thing I want is to have to start over. Losing half a day of productivity to updates was bad enough.

    Here's the thing. This is Windows 10, the current shipping version of a 33 year old platform commercially produced by a multi-billion dollar corporation. Yet they can't figure out how to update a computer without breaking it so badly it won't boot?

    My personal systems run openSUSE, a Linux distribution largely run by volunteers, comprised of Free Software largely written by volunteers. Not only do my Tumbleweed systems update hundreds (sometimes thousands!) of packages every week in 15-20 minutes -- if something goes wrong with the update it's dead simple to rollback the update to the previous working state.

    I don't know exactly what Microsoft has been doing with their billions but I suspect the money is not being spent engineering better desktop computing environments.


  • Sat 2019-08-10 18:01

    • Posted:
    • Edited:

    Looking over at my #FOSScan this morning, I saw it was almost overflowing. Time to count it up and make some FOSS donations!

    The change collected amounted to US$47.52 (not bad for about 10 weeks worth!). I put two pennies back to seed the can, rounding to a nice US$47.50. Donations made today:

    Do you have a #FOSScan of your own? If not, eat a can of soup (or beans, veggies.. whatever), make your own #FOSScan, and start collecting spare change for Free Software and related projects today! Together, we can make a difference in Free Software funding.

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redball updated README 2019-05-15 14:07
personal-shortener re-enabled silent fetch 2019-05-12 06:16
personal-pastebin re-enabled silent fetch 2019-05-12 06:15
dotfiles OCD is a PITA 2019-05-03 00:36
gopherphlinger Fixed README typo 2019-01-19 05:13

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