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Wyvern's Haunt, March 31, 2015

Wyvern's Haunt, March 31, 2015

   The other day I decided to connect up the other two computers I currently have sitting in the Wyvern's Haunt: the Black Dragon, and the White Dragon.  These two machines have sat idle for some time.  The Black Dragon resorted the last time a login was made was in 2011, likely when it was still at the Garage.  The White Dragon is so old the CMOS battery is dead and requires setup each time it boots.  This system's motherboard dates to late 1999. 
   Running these systems was mainly done for the photo opportunity.  I have 4 CRT monitors (one of which should be retired) in my setup.  The Red Dragon can drive two of the monitors, but hadn't until today.  The third functional monitor was driven by the Black Dragon for the picture.
   The Black Dragon is running Ubuntu 10.04, and so slowly it isn't too useful.  Still, the system does run.  While at the Garage the Black Dragon served as a community computer.  It also has 5 hard drives, all of which have data.  One of the 100 GB drives had been used to back up my photography.  This would no longer work since my photography directory now exceeds 660 GB.  The other drives held various archives as well.
   The White Dragon is running Debian.  It did not report the last time it had run, but the server at one time did mirror  The copyright date at the bottom of the page said 2007.  The size of now would no longer fit on the White Dragon's 30 GB hard drive as our site is now over 72 GB in size.
   The picture for the day is a panorama of the Wyvern's Haunt made of 9 images. 
Vault Door Rendering

Vault Door Rendering

   I have switched the theme of the website to something I created the other day.  While I had considered waiting until April, I thought I might started switching the themes each change of season.  This theme uses fractals and such designs date back to the very early days of  My fractal artwork site dates back to 2002, although it hasn't changed in at least 10 years.
   Today I looked into what it would take to again report which computers of the network were running. is mostly hosted from the Micro Dragon located at Zen's shop where it has been for the better part of 4 years.  (You rule Zen!)  A couple of services run from various machines here at Elmwood Park.  In particular, Operation Lux which runs on ππ and does the chart analysis using the Blue Dragon.  The future plan is to move web services to the Odroid based server which will be solar powered.  Back in the day, the server array page use to display which computers of the network were running.  Once I moved the server off the network, this was no longer possible and I removed the server array page.  At some point I added the Computer Array page which listed all my computers, and last year I added temperature and load charts for the Blue Dragon. 
   The two networks that make up have been setup with DNS to address this fact for some time.  Telling if a computer is online is fairly simple if you can get information from the network it's on.  I tried a system using AJAX to request the status from each computer.  This worked, but only for computers on the same sub-domain.  Cross-site scripting isn't allowed in Javascript, even to a different sub-domain. So can not request a script from  I thought maybe I could embed data from a remote server in an HTML object.  While this worked, and I could embed XML from a remote site into a HTML page, the Javascript for the page could not access that data because it knew it was from a remote location.
   The only solution was to do this work on the server side.  PHP has no such restrictions.  So I came up with a method by which a PHP script requests the status results from several servers, and returns them all at once.  It's a fairly easy system.  Each server has the same script, and a unique file that lists what servers to check.  It also has a list of all the sub-domains to make requests from.  So with a little Javascript, the computer array page can now display what computers are on despite what network they are located.  This is useful for things like the Member's Area, which needs to know what servers are available to know what data is available.
   For the last several days I have been rending a vault door.  I started this because I wanted to see if I couldn't draw the gear set used to move the locking pistons.  After the gears were drawn, the rest went together pretty quickly and in no time I had a complete vault door.  So I decided to use the rendering for the Member's Area.  This rendering took about 18 hours.  There is a second rendering taking place with the door closed.
   The Member's Area itself is still quite the mess.  I reworked the old scripts enough so that it runs, but a lot of work remains to get it useful.
   Did some work on yesterday's recordings of the Celtic harp recite.

   Found the program OpenShot for doing the video editing.  This is the first time I was able to get any video editing software I've tried to actually work.  I didn't spend a lot of time playing with it, and the program isn't perfect.  The video and sound doesn't synchronize in the software, but I was able to work around this.  When I did the recordings, I had my large diaphragm condenser microphone setup for sound.  The camera was located across the room on a tripod.  It has a microphone and also captures sound.  To synchronize the sound I used an old clapboard technique—clapping my hands together in view of the camera.  This allows a visual marker to be connected to a sound marker.  Since my video software had the sound out of synch with the video, the visual marker wasn't useful.  However, since the camera also had a microphone, I was able to synchronize the audio markers from both recordings.  That worked.  While the playback in the editing software is out of synch, the mixdown is not.  The only problem is that the end of the video is also out of synch.  All my fade-outs don't finish before the video is over because of this.  Nonetheless, I think this isn't bad for my first attempt at video editing.
   This afternoon was a harp recital at Elmwood Park by Matt DeBlass.  Ravin did a great job of decorating and cooked a ton of goodies for everyone to eat.  I used my large diaphragm condenser microphone to record to performance, and used my camera to record a couple songs.  Both the recordings came out nicely, so after some clean up they should be ready to post.
   We are trying to host more events like this at our house, and I hope we continue.
   Along with getting a new washer, we picked up a gas dryer back in November.  Getting the gas pipe run tool longer than expected.  I dislike pluming, but Xiphos was a little hesitant about running pipes for content that can explode.  It had been sitting nearly complete for a couple months before I decided I needed to do something about it.  So the last couple of items were taken care of and we moved the old dryer out of the way, put the new dryer in place and turned on the gas.  After checking for leaks it was time to see what happened.  It took us a bit to figure out there was no pilot light—this dryer has an electric ignition.  So it was just a matter of turning the dryer on and seeing what happened.  Sure enough, the igniter began to glow and soon a flame was heating the intake air.  After all the waiting, messing around with converter pipes, ext. it was sure a nice sight.
   We replaced the electric dryer for a number of reasons.  First, gas is more efficient for heating and we do a lot of wash.  Second, the old dry is very old.  If the floor gets wet, the dryer will trip the 220 volt 30 amp breaker.  This says to me there is a serious short that allows it to make an electrical connection from the dryer to the floor.  To top it off, the dryer is avocado green.  Old dryer had to go.  The third reason is to free up the 30 amp breaker that fed the electric dryer so it can be used for the welder.  The breaker panel is full so we can't add any more feeds.  Now we can reuse it.
   So far we've been pleased with the new dryer.  My only complaint is there is no way to adjust temperature.  This dryer has hot and air dry only.  Not a problem for most of the things we wash, but having a low-heat setting is nice from time to time.  Still, the house hasn't blown up yet, nor has the carbon monoxide or smoke detectors gone off, nor is there the smell of gas.  So we must have done something right.

2 comments have been made.

From Chris Herrick

March 29, 2015 at 12:08 PM

I think the only reason you replaced the old dryer is because you wanted a new toy to play with. The other "reasons" are just excuses.

From Andrew Que (

Middleton, WI

March 29, 2015 at 12:20 PM

I can't refute that.

   We actually picked this washer up back in January.  The one at the house died after the mechanical timer broke.  Not exactly sure what happened, but a load of wash had begun during the night.  In the morning it was still running.  The dial just ran in circles, agitating the wash, pausing and then repeating.  It never quite.  This turned some of the articles in the wash into threads, and draining the machine a pain.  Xiphos tried to take apart the mechanical timer, but there was no fixing it. 
   For a long time we have wanted to replace the washer with a front-loader, but had never got around to it.  We have 7 people doing wash here, and the lower water and detergent usage of a front loader will save on both.  That evening I got onto my favorite website for buying appliances—Craigslist.  I found the perfect washer right away, and it had been listed for all of 2 hours before I called to say we were coming for it.  I paid far less for this washer than it was worth, but the guy had two washers and his wife wanted it gone.  So it has come home with us and has run every day since.
   This is a 2.5d dragon given to me by Mary.  I have a sizable collection of dragons, but this one is quite unique.  I'm not exactly sure of how it was constructed, but it does incorporate pieces of glass and string into the frame.  While a framed like a 2d print this piece also has depth, but isn't a sculpture either—hence 2.5d.  I find it fascinating and really enjoy it.
   Started looking into an old area of—the Members Area.  This area of the site is about as old as the site itself, started at Park Place as a method to share access to files for locations I couldn't use SSH.  The scripts are in bad shape as they are some of the first PHP script I wrote.  Both my understanding of PHP as well as the language itself has changed since then.
   Probably the last snow of the season.  The forecast called from 1-3 inches.  This winter we never received what the forecast called for, but this time we exceeded the expectations.  I'm not sure how long this snowfall will last as the sunlight already had sidewalks clear by the mid day.  But it was a good end of the season snowfall.
   The step-up transformer used in yesterday's experiment.  I've seen videos where people rewind the secondary coil to make a low-voltage, high-amperage transformer.  Makes me wonder if I can't rewind the secondary to create a very high voltage transformer.

1 comment has been made.

From Chris Herrick

March 29, 2015 at 12:12 PM

The transformer used in a Tesla coil is often a series of coils.