another year down

Well, it’s now officially 2013 and time again to share my progress.  Last year I posted about my progress from 2011 after changing my diet and lifestyle.  I posted a graph showing my 41 lb weight loss of the course of the year.  This year, I’m continuing the trend and posting my progress yet again.  While not as dramatic, the data is quite interesting and is motivating me to do even more to work on my body fat percentage and muscle mass in general.

Without further delay, here it is:



So there it is.  I’ve managed to shave off another 15 lbs, and maintain that approximate weight for several months.  I’ve also brought my body fat percentage down within a more reasonable range.  While all this is good news, I’d really like to improve my fitness through regular exercise.  I suppose I could be lame and make a New Year’s resolution to start running or something silly like that, but honestly, I don’t think that’s motivational enough for me.  Given that Suzy has slated several backpacking trips for us this summer, I may be motivated by that to start a fitness regime.  Who knows.  Now on with 2013.

announcing’s newest blog

It is my pleasure to announce the arrival of my new tech blog ( which I am unveiling right… now!

For a while now, I’ve been posting a variety of tech related blogs to my own personal pages.  Typically, I write these articles to document how I did certain things so that I can keep a record (for myself) and to help others who are like minded and are having difficulty finding the information elsewhere.   However, I decided that it would be best, to separate my tech stuff from my personal stuff in a more official fashion.

While I’ll still keep the content previously posted to this blog intact here, I have cloned all of my hard-core tech related posts to the new site.  Going forward you’ll be able to find fresh new tech content there.  More ramblings on Ubuntu, setting up and managing a NAS, etc.

To all my tech readers, see you over at!


aahhh! ads!

For those of you who may not have ad-blocking software installed in your browsers, I apologize in advance.  If you do have an ad-blocker, then you probably won’t notice anything at all. (great job, pat yourself on the back)

I’m experimenting with Google adsense, to pull down some revenue for this site.  Now that I’m getting around 100 hits/day to this blog (wow, really?!), I figured I would try to see if I can’t get a bit of cash back.  Hopefully it’s not annoying to the point of disgust for my readers, but I’m hoping for some extra dough to help supplement the cost of running this site (which is really not that much).

Maybe I’ll move my popular posts to an entire new webpage… maybe.

Here goes nothing.

accessing your files from anywhere, revisited

Previously on this blog, I’ve written about how you can access your files from anywhere using freenas and ajaxplorer or ssh.  Given that I’ve switched to Ubuntu server, I wanted to clarify that the ssh method still works great, and in fact can be easily accessed via Android apps as well! (I should have titled this post “Access your files from anywhere with Ubuntu Server”)

Regarding accessing your files from Android, I’m sure this would also work with iOS devices as well, however I’m personally an Android user.  All you really need is a file manager or FTP program that can talk to an SFTP server.  I personally love EStrongs File Explorer and recommend it for general Android file management.  It also supports SFTP, perfect for accessing your SSH FTP server and all of your files.

Simply poke a hole in your router (I would suggest not using port 22) and route to your Ubuntu server SSH port 22.  Easy as pie.

ubuntu server hangs on boot after update

Public service announcement folks.   Recently, after completing updates where the Linux kernel was being updated, my Ubuntu server hung on reboot.  This was rather unpleasant for me since it meant that I needed to climb up on a chair, attach a monitor and keyboard and try to debug the issue of why my system wasn’t booting.

Surprisingly, the system was booting just fine, it was just waiting happily in GRUB (the bootloader) for my input.  This is odd, since GRUB is supposed to auto-boot without any user input.  Somehow, with the update I had recently done, this had changed.

Luckily, I found this blog which told me exactly how to fix this issue.  Unfortunately this has happened twice now and I’ve had to edit the GRUB config each time.   Here’s what you need to do. (many thanks to Knowledge Republic’s blog for documenting this fix)

sudo chmod 644 /boot/grub/grub.cfg

sudo nano /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Find the following line and change from:

set timeout=-1


set timeout=0

Drop me a comment if this helps you out.

freenas 7 lives on

Thanks to a tip from one of my commenters, I’ve discovered that FreeNAS 7 (formally “legacy” FreeNAS) lives on as NAS4Free.  This is pretty exciting news, as I did indeed love FreeNAS and it’s super easy Web GUI.  While I’m happy to see that the project has been carried forward with an updated OS (FreeBSD 9), I’m not going to be doing any switching anytime soon.  I’m pretty committed to Ubuntu Server now, and quite frankly the amount of time required to re-setup all of my software would be too much (not to mention lack of Plex support too!).

I would love to see if someone could port the web admin UI to Ubuntu or Debian for general usage.  Anyone out there that’s handy with porting, please consider this my official request.

Over and out.

the great ubuntu NAS project, even more continued…

To maximize my remote file management capabilities, I wanted to install a file manager giving me the same functionality I had before with my FreeNAS 7 server.  This was easy enough since I had previously setup Ajaxplorer on my FreeNAS server, and the steps to setup on Ubuntu are basically the same.  Ajaxplorer has come a long way since I first started playing around with it and it’s now a pretty darned amazing piece of software.  I personally love this because I can view pictures remotely, extremely easily with any web browser – and it looks great!


The challenges I had were ensuring I had the right security in place.  Since I installed the Apache2 webserver with Ubuntu Server initially, there wasn’t much to do there, except to setup SSL.  Your mileage may vary, but here’s what I did.

Configure SSL on Apache2

Ok, this is definitely not an quick & easy task so I’m going to redirect you to a couple of resources that I found extremely helpful in getting this all setup.  Everything you need to know for Ubuntu 12.04 SSL certificate generation and apache setup is here:

These other two sites were great also and filled in some of the gaps from the above instructions.

Creating the self-signed certificates:

Setting up Apache2 SSL on Ubuntu:


Install Ajaxplorer

  • Step 1: Go to the Ajaxplorer website and download the latest zip (  I’m personally using Ajaxplorer v4.2.0.  There is almost definitely a newer version out there now.
  • Step 2: Unpack the into a directory off of your webserver root directory.  For example “. \www-ssl\ajaxplorer”.  Confirm that all of the directories and files were created properly and that permissions were set properly (see this page for more details)
  • Step 3: Point your browser to your server IP and new webserver port (i.e. to get started.   A diagnostic tool will be ran once to check that your configuration is ok.  You may get some warnings letting you know if you have any incompatibilities, but Ubuntu has most everything you need already setup.  Despite these warnings you should have a mostly functional web file manager installed.
  • Step 4: Click continue and you should see a warning telling you that the user « admin » has been created with the password « admin » : log in with this id/password, and go the the « Settings » panel to change the admin password.  (Note:  For greater security, it’s best to create a new admin account with a different name, then delete the automatically created ‘admin’ account.  This makes it slightly harder for evil robots to guess the login credentials.)
  • Step 5: Configure your users and repositories. (See this page for more details)


Poke a Hole in your Router

Because everyone has a different type of router at home, I won’t even attempt to begin to tell you how to do this.  However, you’ll want to make sure that you port-forward whatever port you defined in your Apache2 configuration above.  You can use a different outside port if you desire, but I like to keep it simple and use the same port number.

Now you can access your stuff anywhere you have an Internet connection.  If you have a Dynamic DNS service to help you remember your IP, even better!

the great ubuntu NAS project, sickbeard + sabnzbd

Yup, I jumped on the bandwagon recently and setup sickbeard and sabnzbd on my Ubuntu NAS box.  Sickbeard and sabnzbd and it’s direct integration with Plex are really the most awesome thing since Subsonic that could have happened to my server.  Really.  It’s amazing.  Trust me.

The whole thing took me a few hours (all told) to setup partly because it involves spending my hard-earned cash on certain services and partly because I was bouncing around different sites trying to compile the steps I needed to go through to get it setup properly.  I thought it might be helpful to send out a very quick, no-nonsense guide to getting it installed (but not configured – that’s the time consuming bit).

1. Install SabNZBd Plus

As of the writing of this article, it seems that sabnzbdplus is now part of the ubuntu 12.04 repositories.   If you’re on an older version of ubuntu, you may have to go do some research and add a third-party repository.  As for this guide, I’m going the easy route.  Login to your server and type the following on the command lines:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install sabnzbdplus

sudo apt-get install sabnzbdplus-theme-mobile

This is going to install a few packages and get SabNZBd Plus installed.  Easy, right?  Yup.  Now go edit the configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/default/sabnzbdplus

Now you’ll need to edit the following:

  • USER=putyourusernamehere

Don’t use ROOT.  Bad things may happen.  Save and exit.

That’s it.  Now go configure it at:


I recommend following Ainer’s excellent instructions here:


2. Install Sick Beard

Open up a terminal window and execute the following commands.  Make sure you navigate to your user directory of choice (i.e. /home/username) where you’d like to complete the install.  Same user directory as used above in the Sabnzbd instructions.

wget -O sickbeard.tar.gz

tar xf sickbeard.tar.gz

This will grab the latest Sick Beard package from the internets.  Then it will unpack the contents of the package to a directory names something like “midgetspy-Sick-Beard-xxxxxxx”.

Now we need to move that into it’s install directory.

mv midgetspy-Sick-Beard-xxxxxxx .sickbeard

sudo mv .sickbeard/init.ubuntu /etc/init.d/sickbeard

sudo gedit /etc/init.d/sickbeard

From here on out you’ll want to configure Sick Beard to work with sabnzbd, setup TV shows to download, etc.  Once again, head over to Ainer’s site to get started:



Thanks to for their detailed instructions.  Without these I’d never have gotten this going… or it would have taken me twice as much time.   Of course, the developers of both Sickbeard and Sabnzbd – please consider donating to them – they make amazing software.  Plex, which I cannot praise enough, is also amazing.  I hope they keep providing Linux based server software for us folks using Plex + Roku.

Also when setting this up you may be considering which news servers to use and which search services.  I personally picked up an account with newshosting for news servers because it was a relatively cheap monthly cost (there are deals out there if you search).  For the search service, I went with NZB Matrix which is a onetime fee for life.  In retrospect, you probably don’t need to add a search service, but it definitely helps improve your likelihood of finding NZBs.



I’ve posted these instructions here for educational purposes only.  Of course downloading copyrighted content is a no-no in most countries so please don’t break the law.


new host

Quick post this evening.  Caving to peer pressure and the fact that my domain/hosting was expiring soon, I have moved to a new hosting provider.  Thanks to P-Cass for the tip, I am now saving money and enjoying a much faster more responsive server.  Hooray!  One more reason to start blogging more regularly again.