Ubuntu Server Tweaks 16.04

Things you might want to tweak on your new Ubuntu 16.04 server – because you need a pretty prompt and a text editor.

I figured this is a good place to put some notes for next time I want to make a new server feel a bit more homely.


apt-get install update-motd landscape-common update-notifier-common
ln -s /var/run/motd.dynamic /etc/motd

Auto Security Updates

apt-get install unattended-upgrades

APT::Periodic::Update-Package-Lists “1”;
APT::Periodic::Unattended-Upgrade “1”;

Unattended-Upgrade::Mail “your@email.address”;


apt-get install zsh

install oh-my-zsh:
sh -c “$(wget https://raw.github.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh/master/tools/install.sh -O -)”

use this .zshrc if you like.

edit your .zshrc
plugins=(autojump brew pip git django python docker screen)


apt-get install emacs aspell

install prelude:
wget –no-check-certificate https://github.com/bbatsov/prelude/raw/master/utils/installer.sh -O – | sh

edit .emacs.d/prelude-modules.el

You may want to run emacs as a daemon for more than one user on your server.

Add (setq server-use-tcp t) to the top of init.el config file – so emacs starts as a tcp server.

alias emacsinit=”emacs -u joe –daemon=joe”
alias e=”emacsclient –server-file=joe -t”

alias emacsinit=”emacs -u root –daemon=root”
alias e=”emacsclient –server-file=root -t”

Quick Update

Prodigal sons and wayward daughters…

Camps Bay
Camps Bay
  • Week of 19 to 25 September.
  • Morning hikes and braais.
  • Monday, brief frantic scramble to find Mia’s school uniform, raw cacao, avo and coconut cream smoothie, school run while talking about how the phone network works, breakfast and notes processing at The Spur (I was tired of the gym), a shower at the gym, drove to Cape Town, house viewing, first day in the new office – it’s a lot bigger and a bit quieter, catch up chat with Dan and Martin, left the office fairly late, catch up chat with Michael, a quick podcast promenade walk, Wouter’s famous temperature probe steak and broccoli and some Chilean red wine.
  • “What’s the secret, Max?” Hmm. Building things and chats with Mia. I don’t seem to ever get tired of those.
  • Tuesday, up early, blogging, walked to the office, sunset podcast promenade walk, watched a video on REST API design, macOS Sierra upgrade.
  • “The number one way to eradicate poverty is to educate girls.” — The Tim Ferriss Show: #123: Rainn Wilson

  • Wednesday, up early, shrek tea, gym, cold showers, office, extended sunset promenade walk with Cath, tweaked my new macOS install a bit – zsh config and karabiner was messed up, phone chat with Mia, phone chat with Anton, played with Oh My Zsh.
  • Octotel now has 100 buildings live.
  • Been listening to a lot of a16z podcasts.
  • Thursday, up early, Lions Head walk with Cath, office, Octotel automation project meeting, hacked my zsh config, Myog, dinner with Jonathan and Ian at Village Idiot – chats about telecoms for poor communities.
  • “Capital is abundant, opportunity is scarce.”

  • “Anomalies wanted.”

  • Friday, up before 6:00, Lions Head walk with Cath, walked to the office, Octotel automation project meeting, lunch with Michael, Paul and Philippa (sorry I missed your birthday lunch), a large Myog, made the first beta of the Octotel API live (some nginx tinkering), Braai Day after work drinks on the roof (braai 1), walked home, braai at Jacques’ house (braai 2) – Jacques brought Mia a new Kindle from London.
  • Saturday, up early, Kasteelpoort hike with Cath, Sarie and Nevo, breakfast next to the lake on top of Table Mountain, epic nap (super epic), aqp water tests – NO2 levels are finally low enough to add fish, braai at Fred’s house in Hout Bay (braai 3) – good chats, time well spent, 11h sleep.
  • “Wisdom is always desiring the same things and always refusing the same things.”

  • Lately I’ve been feeling like I actually want to grow up. Maybe 10 years overdue.
  • Sunday, stayed in bed and tinkered with some sysadmin projects till about 13:00, Paul and Hilah fetched some jumper cables, aqp water tests – I think it’s all working well now – NH3 quickly converts to NO3, tinkered with Hammerspoon, early supper and blogging at Posticino, tiramisu, watched The Secret In Their Eyes.
  • Tune of the week: Magdalena, Brandon Flowers.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Stuck in Citrusdal…

Cable Car Station
Cable Car Station
  • Week of 12 to 18 September.
  • You probably want to read the end of last week’s post before you read this post.
  • Monday, rainy morning, woke up at the Wolfkop campsite and packed up, Gerhard helped try and jump start the car, when we realised the jump starting plan was not going to work I phoned Audi Assist – who suggested I phone Outsurance, who after a while phoned me back and said I get a free roadside assist service – only, on this day they can’t help me and suggested I talk to Audi Assist who took a long time to finally find a tow truck service, waiting and more waiting, when the tow truck service arrived hours later, just before dark, the tow truck broke down… at this point I was already feeling a bit fatigued on all kinds of levels – a bit sunburn, bugs eating me alive, nothing to eat or drink really, ex girlfriend stresses from the previous evening, two long painful useless call centre phone conversations, a phone battery that’s rapidly running out and no way to charge it (although Paul did not seem too bothered by charging his phone on the dead car battery which also stressed me out) and it was getting dark – ok, back to the story – then we realised that there was a small bridge on the way to the car which the truck could maybe cross, but would not be able to cross again with the car loaded, so then the tow truck driver tried to help us jump start the car with a truck battery which we carried to the car, when this failed we phoned the event organisers who then drove out and also tried to help us jump start the car, by this time it’s pretty cold and dark, next they phoned the local mechanic who kindly also drove out to come help us, he discovered that the fuel pump was not working – all of this after a car service less than a week back, at this point we gave up and they gave us a lift to the Citrusdal Country Lodge who kindly took us in at a very late hour and give us a place to sleep.
  • “Whose Indiana Jones ringtone is that?”

  • Tuesday, had an extended breakfast with Paul at the Citrusdal Country Lodge, managed to get a lift back to my car about 20km away which was able to start again after Marius went out to fix it, settled up the bill at the garage, road trip to Stellebosch with a Nick Cave soundtrack – we managed to have a bit of a laugh about the whole ordeal – next level adventure in camping discomfort, dropped Paul off in Stellenbosch, catch up chat with JM at the Akker, drove home and had a 12h sleep.
  • Big thank you to Anja, Marius and Hannchen.
  • Lessons of the week, always ask the locals first, call centres are useless, the Citrusdal hotel is cool – great value. Wolfkop was a very cool party. I’ll go again, I think.
  • Wednesday, walked to the office, iOS 10 upgrade day, eNetworks tour of our office, catch up Myog with Michael, Octotel City Bowl community information evening in Vredehoek, which went well, some notes and photo processing.
  • I listened to the TimF Chris Sacca podcast again.
  • Thursday, walked to the office, did some reading about switches, lunch with Dan, Charlotte and Joseph, sunset promenade walk, dinner with Dan, Charlotte and Michael at Beluga – found some new inspiration for the aquaponics hobby.
  • I think my weekly blog really keeps me sane – and offers some perspective.
  • We’re turning Cape Town into a construction site it seems.
  • In other news, it seems Telkom have gone quiet after their ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) letter regarding Octotel being the largest Open Access FTTH network in Cape Town.
  • Friday, rainy day, office, office move number 5 for Octotel – we are now on the 5th floor, fetched Mia, a late lunch at W Cafe, drove to Cape Town, tried to watch a movie at the Waterfront but the lame NuMetro app UX mislead us into thinking a movie was showing which was not, gelato, we spent a healthy amount of time in Exclusive Books.
  • A very cute girl moved into office space on the 8th floor. Meh, just in time for our move to another floor.
  • Really fun filled weekend, adventures around Cape Town…
  • Saturday, took Mia to robotics class, had a beer at The Woodstock Brewery while watching the SA vs NZ rugby, fetched Mia, Hout Bay Market with Dan and Charlotte, we went to pet some dogs at DARG (animal rescue) in Hout Bay – good fun, but one of the dogs managed to bite me – not ideal, we drove to Cape Point and hiked up to the lighthouse, drove to Kalk Bay and had dinner at Live Bait – very cool how the waves crash right onto the side of the building while you eat, time well spent.
  • Sunday, up early – Mia woke me up to go hiking, Mia packed a snack box, drove to Kirstenbosch, Skeleton Gorge hike with Fred, Caley, Dan, Charlotte and six kids, perfect weather, Mia loved it – I had no idea she was such a keen hiker, we stopped at the beach while the girls caught tadpoles, walked to the cable car station, had the best beer ever after a 5 hour hike, down the cable car – good fun, we managed to fit 9 people in a 7 seater Uber back to Kirstenbosch, sing along to… the Shrek / All Star song and Guardians From The Galaxy soundtrack, William’s (13yo) best songs ever – Don’t Stop Me Now / Queen and Sympathy For The Devil / The Rolling Stones – good choices, Mia and I stopped for a pizza at Posticino, we watched The Count of Monte Cristo with a healthy dose of dark chocolate – Mia liked it, time well spent – thanks Dan, Fred.
  • “My favourite breakfast desert is pancakes.” — Mia

  • Hmm. Need to do more hiking. Maybe find a girlfriend in her twenties and get a seven seater car. I might be a bit over outdoor parties for a while.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Wolfkop Weekender…

  • Week of 5 to 11 September.
  • Fasting week. My 4th 5day fast. Keeping to one every three months.
  • Monday, school run while listening to the Derek Sivers episode / TimF show again while Mia was doing mathletics on a laptop while sipping BCAAs, gym, cold showers, office, sunset promenade walk, caught up on some reading.
  • This is a gem. Derek Sivers. How to code a company. Don’t be afraid to code. Share strong opinions. Life is short. Hell yes, or no.
  • “The standard pace is for chumps.”

  • We’re at peak complexity. Software needs to be at the core of a business.
  • Tuesday, green tea – fasting day 3 – the buzzy part, swim, MWEB training session, office, a very interesting chat with Ben at La Vie, a sunset promenade walk with Heleen.
  • Wednesday, fasting day 4, office, Dasan GPON training day, lunchtime visit to The Mojo Hotel – they seem keen for an aquaponics system on their roof, sunset promenade walk, hacked together three quick WordPress installs.
  • Thursday, fasting day 5, up early, car service day, swim, cold showers, office, Dasan training day, Django sysadmin, fetched my car, promenade walk, more Django reading and video watching.
  • Friday, shrek tea with ginseng Korean tea, packed, office, Dasan GPON node tour, bank visit – never thought that replacing a debit card could be this painful – app and online banking grinded to a halt – took about 30min to fix, fetched my camping gear from storage, fetched Paul from Stellenbosch, road trip to our first Wolfkop Weekender – stopped in Malmesbury for supplies, set up our camp in the quite camping area, had a nice meal at the Friday evening banquet with Wouter.
  • What industry can software eat next?
  • Foam roller week.
  • Saturday, woke up fairly late, explored the camp site and had a bloody mary, spent most of the afternoon chilling with Paul and Tash (I told them The Super Cool story – how bacteria travel in snowflakes), extended nap – woke up around 0:00 – this seems to be becoming a pattern, caught the last music act and chilled by the fire – around about this point I noticed that my car battery was not happy after its Thursday service.
  • “Different podcast.” — Paul, about tech vs alpha female conversations.

  • Sunday, chilled around the camp site with Paul after most people left, spent some time hanging out with Gerhard and ex-girlfriend – I thought I was going to be cool with seeing her, but I obviously need another year or so.
  • Tune of the week: Come and get your love.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update


Walk to Clifton
Walk to Clifton
  • Week of 29 August to 5 September.
  • Monday, walked to the office, catch up chat with Michael, I managed to figure out how to add Youtube channels to my RSS feeds, after work promenade walk with Paul – we bumped into Bienne, had moules frites while wearing bibs and drinking Belgium beer at Den Anker with Paul – we restored his iPhone backup… his phone was a bit like The Fly – a mix of two iCloud/iTunes accounts.
  • Maybe don’t keep 6k photos on your phone, kids. I keep less than 50 photos on my phone on average.
  • “Smart. Interesting. Not-cooked. – Pick two.”

  • More hikes, swims and yoga.
  • Tuesday, walked to the office, salmon and wasabi cream cheese bagel at Kleinsky’s with Paul, supplements shopping – I’ve become interested in collagen, aqp farm tinkering with Michael – turns out an RPi does not have a hwclock (pretty obvious in hindsight) – which was making it run my cronjobs at the wrong time and waking me up, processed some notes and photos.
  • Because sleep…

    root@aquapi:~# cat /etc/cron.d/pump
    # Run pump in the day, twice an hour
    # min hour day month weekday
    # Mon to Thu
    */30 7-21 * * 1-4 root /farm/pump.sh
    # Friday
    */30 7-20 * * 5 root /farm/pump.sh
    # Saturday
    */30 8-20 * * 6 root /farm/pump.sh
    # Sunday
    */30 9-20 * * 7 root /farm/pump.sh

  • Happy spring. I’ve been single for a year.
  • Smart Lazy People.
  • Wednesday, office, DASAN meeting, set up two Ubuntu servers for the Octotel automation project – had to figure out how to use Winbox (Mikrotik – yeah, people still use that), catch up chat with Joseph, catch up chat with Eugene, sunset promenade walk, some blogging and an early supper at The Duchess of Wisbeach – very cool little place – snacked on some radishes and had the wagyu burger, phone chat with Mia.
  • Note to self: I should really just get this weekly blogging thing out of the way on a Sunday evening.
  • By now you must at least have about 2k FB friends or you are obviously a loser with this social media thing.
  • We received a legal letter from Telkom, they seem to be unhappy about the Octotel website saying: “Cape Town’s largest Open Access Fibre to the Home Network”. We think it’s true. This should be interesting. Might have to have a bit of a debate about this with an ASA process.
  • Thursday, office, MWEB finally confirmed their timelines for joining our network, catch up chat with Jaap, haircut at Yogi’s, lunch at Sababba, left the office after dark – my inbox was getting unhappy, bought a foam roller, ordered an RPi3 to be delivered at Dan’s office in London (a bit cheaper than ZA price).
  • This week was busy. I don’t usually like to say I’m busy. Inbox was all over the place. Last week Octotel received 35 orders, this week 85.
  • Watch: Love And Self-Love.
  • People are interesting. In the same week I have to listen to a guy who is unhappy that 10Mbps is our entry level line speed (he wanted 4Mbps), and a guy who wants 1000Mbps upload speeds from home.
  • Friday, shrek tea with Korean ginseng (all the way from South Korean – GPON vendor meeting), gym, office, brunch with Pieter, added four more ISPs to the Octotel website, fetched Mia, fetched a bank card in Stellenbosch, we watched Star Trek Beyond / IMAX 3D – good fun – really makes for a good suspension of disbelief experience.
  • Seems I will be moving soon. I think a braai or two is in order soon.
  • Saturday, raw cacao and avo smoothies, took Mia to her robotics class, shrek flapjacks and some 3D maths puzzles, Myog with Michael, swapped the aqp farm drain pipe, transplanted some seedlings into the main growbed – ate some of the salad and micro greens, watched some Youtube videos about using a foam roller for back and neck and experimented – works pretty well, sunset walk to Clifton with Mia, cooked a healthy supper, tinkered with the RPi to make it connect to the home wifi – man, the RPi1 is slow! – good thing a have an RPi3 on its way.
  • Robotics is the new HAM radio.
  • How many pencils would you need to make a 1m cube, fully meshed grid, assuming a pencil is 10cm long? …3630
  • “In a world where all the obvious names are taken, finding a good name is a test of imagination. And the name you choose tells whether or not you passed that test.” — Paul Graham, on startup names and domain names.

  • Get in the habit of writing down, before you go to bed, the top5 things you want to get done the next day.
  • Planned obsolescence.
  • Get a foam roller and a broomstick.
  • Sunday, more RPi1 hacking – managed to get a new wifi driver working – odd bootloader setup, photo and notes processing, Mia finally woke up, raw cacao and coconut cream smoothies, we tinkered with the aqp farm, the longer range wifi works well, Mia watered all the seedlings, we ventured into the city for a burger in a bowl and some ribs at Da Vinci’s, tiramisu, a beach walk from Glen Beach to the end of Camps Bay beach, we watched Guardians of the Galaxy – Mia loved it – cool soundtrack.
  • Fasting week coming up.
  • Tunes of the week: Brandon Flowers, check out the Flamingo Album, listen to Crossfire.
  • Remember, life is a dance.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Disobey fear…

Lions Head
Lions Head
  • Week of 22 to 28 August.
  • I wrote this post at The Duchess of Wisbeach.
  • Monday, made Mia some breakfast and fed her a hand full of vitamins with some grass fed milk, rainy school run, gym – I can bench 90kg again – only took three months for my wrist to heal properly – don’t do stupid things kids, cold showers, office, photo processing and blogging, quick promenade walk, cooked a batch of broccoli, tinkered with my RPi control system while the cat following me around.
  • Sometimes I think it really helps to be able to file all my notes and noise of a week in a blog post and press publish.
  • Remember: Live for the now. Be link music / dancing.
  • Paul is back from his EU holiday. Seems he missed two flights and a train. Lost an iPhone. Sounds about right for an EU adventure. Must suck to not have any photos.
  • Sam is back, he also missed a flight. It’s been a long month of playing pool guy, but I think I did a good job.
  • Etienne is in Cape Town this week. It’s been ages.
  • Tuesday, the cat woke me up – it does not seem to want to leave, oh bother, podcast walk to the office, lunchtime promenade walk, wrote an ISP newsletter, aqp water tests.
  • 2001 explained.
  • So, Joburg and Pretoria and PE also have DA mayors now. Very cool. Episode IV: A New Hope.
  • Linux turned 25yo. Wow. It’s pretty much everywhere.
  • Wednesday, Shrek tea (matcha and turmeric), gym, office, sunset podcast promenade walk, discovered the Longview service from Linode, upgraded some websites to WP4.6, played with PyCharm Edu 3.
  • People seem to lose all sense of personal space when they get a personal trainer. Why do you want to stand around in the middle of where everybody wants to walk? Muppets.
  • I’ve been much more into aquaponics than health hacking recently. It’s time for a health mission soon.
  • Definitely.
  • Thursday, Shrek tea, swim, cold showers, Mweb technical integration meeting, office, watched Mia’s hockey, early supper around Strand beach, a (“Strand small”) softserve ice cream, we chatted about fear – why we have it – then it’s good and when it’s not so useful, dropped Mia off at her mom’s house, podcast drive to Cape Town – phone chat with Etienne.
  • “We Shall Build Good Ships Here; At A Profit If We Can, At A Loss If We Must, But Always Good Ships.” — Collis Potter Huntington.

  • Disobey fear.
  • Kinda feels like I outsource my child to India in week days. Email only. No phone calls. No text messages. Long delays. You kinda suspect that the call centre hates you. Same vibe.
  • Dave: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
    HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
    Dave: What’s the problem?
    HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

  • Friday, podcast walk to the office, lunchtime walk, after work drinks on the roof – chats with Martin about Django dev, a Campari with Etienne at La Vie, drinks at Hilah’s house with Paul and Claus – Paul brought me a Killers tshirt from his travels – rad!, I kinda fell asleep before everybody went out to Van Hunks, oops – I must have been tired.
  • Fibre, food, health seem to be the main themes. Only took me 18 months figure that out.
  • Find something that ads value which you can automate. Then enjoy life. Maybe that is the answer to The Matrix.
  • I’ve used about 500ml coconut oil in my morning teas, in the last year.
  • Saturday, woke up fairly early at Hilah’s house and read some Glamour Magazines, tea with Hilah, chilled at home and tinkered with the aqp farm while reading about React and Django, epic raw cacao smoothie, lunch at Sevruga with Etienne, a drink at Ferrymans, we spent some time looking for Etienne’s rental car in the Waterfront parking lot while he walked around asking people to hug him – fearless random hugs – found a helpful parking support guy who told me about 30 people lose their cars there every day – I think we were a unique case as we did not know the registration number or make or model or colour…. “it was kinda white or silver or grey” – Etienne kinda stole the guy’s bike and later returned it – my first tailgating experience (while listening to Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard – for Wes Anderson movie effect), watched the rugby at Van Hunks (about 75% – not sure who won) – I guess it was kinda inevitable that I would end up there – my first Tipo Tinto rum with Raspberry Sparletta.
  • It’s okay to be a bit odd, I think.
  • Sunday, aqp water tests – NO2 is still too high for adding fish – I showed Etienne my farming toys, fetched Cath, Cape Town mini Maker Faire – pretty cool… less 3D printing this year, burger in a bowl at Da Vinci’s, took a walk around De Waal park with Stefano, climbed to the top of Lions Head with Cath – chats about podcasts, time well spent.
  • If you want to get into podcasts… listen to this and this and this. And this.
  • Tune of the week: The Killers – A Dustland Fairytale.

Have a fun week, crazy cats.

Quick Update

Feed me a stray cat…

Lions Head
Lions Head
  • Week of 15 to 21 August.
  • Monday, aqp water tests, office, sunset promenade walk listening to aquaponics podcasts, hacked my Raspberry Pi to rather use cron to run the pump – so it can run less at night time – it was keeping me awake – now I have a cool water feature alarm clock.
  • */30 7-21 * * * root /farm/pump.sh
  • Been listening to every aquaponics related podcast I can find. I’ve discovered the Visionary Aquaponics podcast, pretty cool.
  • I researched chlorine vs chloramine. Seems the best way to get chloramine out of the water is Vitamin C – and not the chlorine neutralising drops you buy at the aquarium place… if you plan to eat the food you are growing.
  • Tuesday, sunny day, podcast walk to the office, installed a speed test server (see fibre pic below), read a whole lot of browser tabs that had been open for too long – like 50, phone chat with Mia.
  • Good weather this week – did not use my car for three days in a row.
  • Pet hate – people who keep talking about something but never do it.
  • Octotel now has around 60 buildings live, 23 cars on the road.
  • I think I need to start getting into software development again. Finally started hacking on a Django project. Keen to learn Docker and Jenkins and some CI stuff soon.
  • Check out PostgresApp.
  • I think it’s important to remain a techie / hacker. Keep coding, kids.
  • I’ve been reading the book: Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. I see it was referenced here. Good read.
  • Wednesday, podcast walk to the office, strategy meeting and visited the office we’re about to move to (see above), automation project meeting, installed a speedtest server, breakfast for lunch at Kleinsky’s, sunset walk home, some photo processing, reading and blogging.
  • Be lazy like a fox.
  • Thursday, registered two domain names – after much head scratching, podcast walk to the office, mostly a sysadmin day, extended sunset promenade walk, did some reading about bio-char.
  • A friend recently commented that my life seems very full. Yeah, I guess. Maybe the trick is for your life to be full, but not busy.
  • What service business, which adds real value, can you build without needing people?
  • Friday, Mweb meeting, managed to get my network speed testing tools to work, went to Mia’s school’s Friday assembly, fetched Mia, we found some LECA, plants, seeds and coconut grow medium and Stodels – I’m becoming one of those people who like to hang out around big gardening shops, phone chat with Meiring, drove to Cape Town, washed the LECA while Mia planted the seeds in the coconut fibre grow medium – mint, red cabbage, dill, catnip, broccoli and brussels sprouts, dinner at Beluga with Mia, Wouter and Pieter – meh, the sushi was good, but bad value in general – what kind of a restaurant serves and adult portion ribs which does not fill up a 10 year old, ribs for ants?
  • Saturday, took Mia to her robotics academy – we chatted about high agency learning on the way – and the connection with the Maker movement and Burning Man, notes processing at Rosetta and Suprette, Granger Bay weekend market – the usual olive buying, found some Vitamin C to get the chloramine out of tap water (which ended up being pointless), put Mia to work on the aqp farm with my other billion little farm workers (bacteria) – we removed some marble chip pebbles (I was a dumbass and it was raising the pH) and filled up the grow bed with 100% LECA/hydroton – planted some red cabbage in the growbed – we replaced about 30% of the water – happy farm hacking day, we finished playing Day of the Tentacle Remastered.
  • The Woodstock Exchange… that hipster place which tech companies like for some strange reason – it has no parking and 60 wifi SSIDs but no free wifi. The Somerset West of the Cape Town tech ecosystems.
  • Sunday, aqp farm water tests – pH 7, NO2 and NO3 are off the chart, rainy day – so I collected some rain water, Mia started and finished DoTT again, the neighbour’s cat managed to kinda get trapped in the house because of the rain, Mia + cat + laser = good fun, fed the cat a can of tuna, some random mobility stretches just for fun, an early supper at Baccini’s – we chatted about building an automated multi-pet feeder and how to love learning, we had the required dose of Dark Toblerone and watched the 2nd half of 2001: A Space Odyssey – Mia said it was “the most boring and confusing movie she has ever watched”, the cat was back at 23:30 to wake me up – seems it just wanted to play – had to put it outside – it showed up again at 6:15 the next day, weird animals.
  • I was listening to Super Cool / Radio Lab this week and there was a moment where I experienced what I can only describe as a dopamine rush from the love of learning, eyes go all watery etc. I tried to explain this to Mia and made her listen to the podcast. I think she gets it. How cool is it that bacteria create snowflakes to travel!?
  • You are listening to podcasts right? Right?
  • Btw. you should not be eating tuna. Really. Mercury.
  • Your life is not a journey. Live for the now. Dance. Be like music.
  • Solving All the Wrong Problems.
  • Turns out Cape Town tap water contains good old vanilla chlorine, not chloramine.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Aquaponics is (also) the new Linux…

  • Week of 8 to 14 August… week #432.
  • Staycation week, felt like we had three Sundays in a row.
  • Monday, school holiday – so I also took the day off, tinkered with the aquaponics farm and took some water readings – pH went up a bit to 7.5, Mia played some Day of the Tentacle Remastered, device upgrades and backups, I hacked some cargo shorts to fit better, late lunch at Posticino’s in Hout Bay and some tiramisu with Mia, beach walk, Chardonnay and a mocktail at Dunes, beach walk around Beta Beach, catch up with Wouter – watched the sunset from the balcony with some Chardonnay, Mia finished writing a poem, watched 2001: A Space Odyssey with Mia – she complained in the beginning, but kept watching.
  • Tuesday, public holiday, farm check – plants seem happy, more DoTT, buffet lunch at Melissas in Kloof st – Mia played DoTT – I processed notes and photos and updated my blog – lots of tea involved, De Waal park walk, Gardens Centre, Green Point Park walk, promenade walk, Wouter cooked his signature green pasta – peas, basil etc, Mia created a blog for herself.
  • “…such a generous spirit, you’d be embarrassed to behave in a small way around her.”

  • Impressive how little garbage we have now that we recycle and compost. Obviously not being good consumers.
  • Wednesday, I made a fruit salad for Mia while she cycled the aqp farm, school run, gym, office, catch up with Eugene, Mia read a poem she wrote at the Eisteddfod – she was awarded a gold (medal?), aquaponics farm control system hacking with Michael and Luke – a bit of yak shaving – turns out relays like 12V – we managed to get the Pi to switch the relay on and off, some blogging.
  • I think I might be a gifted yak shaver.
  • Thursday, Titea, gym, swim, cold showers – I considered complaining about the cold water in the showers not being cold enough, office, milk and chia, found a 12V PSU at the hardware shop, exported some 2006-2009 iWeek photos – wow, feels so long ago, migrated a few months of photo masters to my external drive, 90GB backup, tinkered with the pump control relay – mega yak shaving.
  • “Success without fulfilment is the ultimate failure.” — Tony Robbins

  • Remember why you started.
  • Friday, Titea, aqp farm water tests – NO3 levels looking very good, office, drove to Stellenbosch with Hilah, Trumpet Tree with Al and Hilah – bumped into Dawid – we’re planning to go to Oppikoppi next year, Balboa until they closed and then we stayed a while longer.
  • Saturday, Wouter fetched me from Al’s house, road trip to Bloutoring Plaas / Touwsrivier for John’s birthday weekend, managed to not shoot away any arrows in the lawn archery game, took a “nap” at about 17:00ish.
  • Sunday, woke up at 2:00, joined the birthday celebrations that were still going on, nap, road trip back to Cape Town – stopped at Die Veldskoen Padstal in De Doorns for breakfast, tinkered with my aqp farm control system – it now automatically floods twice an hour, a beer with Al at Van Hunks to wrap up the weekend, time well spent.
  • Some projects you just have to start with a beginners mind.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Moar Podcasts

Things you must listen to…


I recently ran out of (Tim Ferriss) podcasts to listen to and asked for some suggestions on Geek List.

In no real order, here are a few podcasts to try.

This is pretty much a dump of a mailing list thread for me to go search through when I work through all the aquaponics related podcasts I’ve been able to find.

  • This American Life
  • Serial
  • StartUp
  • ReplyAll
  • Revisionist History
  • MorePerfect
  • No Such thing as a fish
  • The Geek Show
  • Open Source
  • NPR Planet Money
  • Freakonomics
  • 99% invisible
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • Half Hour Happy Hour
  • NPR’s Invisibilia
  • Cracked
  • Radiolab
  • TED Radio Hour
  • Waking up with Sam Harris
  • Dan Carling Hard Core History
  • The Daily Maverick Show
  • The Documentary (BBC show)
  • The Economist: The Week Ahead
  • The Tim Ferriss Show
  • This Week in Tech
  • This Week in Startups
  • HBR Ideacast
  • The Bottom line – BBC business
  • Naked Scientist
  • Scientific American
  • Tara Brach
  • Design Matters
  • The New York Public Library Podcast
  • The One You Feed
  • Smart Drug Smarts
  • a16z
  • Foundation
  • FoundMyFitness
  • Bulletproof Radio
  • Nine Podcasts for a Fuller Life

Go for long walks and listen to podcasts.

Quick Update

Hack good art…

Bantry Bay
Bantry Bay
  • Week of 1 to 7 August.
  • Monday, measured the NO2 levels of the aquaponics farm – nothing yet, office, we looked at some new office space for Octotel (same building), installed Ubuntu server on an Intel NUC (Atom CPU / no moving parts), sunset walk towards Bantry Bay, cycled the aquaponics farm, phone chat with Ernst, veggie supper and a catch-up chat with Wouter, some blogging.
  • I started journalling on paper. Not sure if it’s much better than text files, but I think so.
  • “Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.” — Mae West

  • Tuesday, Titea, gym, office, letterhead design session, closed a safety deposit box at the bank – kinda lost the key – it’s been 10+ years – so they wanted me to take it to a locksmith and bring back the box – hmm – not going to happen – after much debate they just gave me this big blue metal box, Octotel automation system design meeting, installed Raspian on a Raspberry Pi v1 (for the aqp farm), sunset walk towards Bantry Bay, cooked a roast chicken and roast veggies dinner, cycled the aquaponics farm.
  • Wednesday, Titea, national voting day / public holiday, took some water readings from the aquaponics farm pH (7.0), NO2 – Nitrite, NO3 – Nitrate (the stuff the plants like) – no bio filter activity yet, phone chat with Dan, breakfast with Wouter at Jarryds – we chatted about having more kids and the top diseases that kill people – coronary heart disease combined with smoking is the clear winner, drove to Camps Bay to go vote – fairly painless – 94.2% DA – listened to a Wim Hof podcast on the Joe Rogan show in the queue, phone chat with Ernst, hacked together some insulation for the aquaponics farm – cut up one of Wouter’s old yoga mats and used a healthy amount of duct tape – rewarding hack – I’m trying to get the water temp to 25+ degC on avg, sunset walk to Clifton.
  • When was the last time you built something? Designed it, built it, tinkered with it until you were happy? Good fun.
  • Nice read about cargo shorts …then your daughter gets a phone – and her phone also ends up in your cargo shorts all the time – just because it’s practical.
  • Thursday, office, finally managed to open a bank account for Mia (thanks Al), DFA meeting, watched Mia’s hockey and catch up chats with a few of the moms, early supper at W Cafe with Mia – we chatted about staying an artist and making good art, dropped Mia off at her gran’s house, podcast drive to Cape Town, processed some hockey photos, managed to get Python 3.5 and gpiozero running on the Pi – minimal yak shaving involved.
  • One of the moms at hockey asked if I’m seeing anybody and wanted to introduce me to one of her friends. Kinda awkward.
  • Hockey snacks have become: water, nuts, biltong and coconut chips. Deal with it.
  • Friday, Titea, gym, phone chat with Ernst, usual 3 lt of milk stop, office, fetched Mia from school, usual biltong stop, we found Mia the new Harry Potter book (no 8 – she finished reading it in one day), a visit to Netram in Century City – I must really like this farming control system thing to be going to Century City – got some temperature sensors, relays, LEDs etc, sunset promenade walk with Mia, Hussar burger with Mia.
  • I stopped my Apple Music service, was not using it.
  • Hmm. I somehow managed to remain FB friends with all my exes. Random thought.
  • Seems I really love podcasts. The selection of podcasts really exploded since 2014. If you are not listening to podcasts you are really missing out.
  • Humans need to be healthy, strong and creative. Wim Hof idea.
  • Listened to an interesting podcast with Tony Robins on the topic of human resourcefulness. Hacking. Walking through walls.
  • Saturday, robotics class, Communica – found more sensors and a digital pH meter, cocktails and mocktails at the Neighbourgoods market in Woodstock and fresh coconut water from a coconut – Mia loves these – chats about feminism and STEM education – Mia was the only girl in the robotics class, aqp tinkering with Michael – we started building the control system, took an Uber to Cath’s birthday party – lots of pizza and red wine.
  • Sunday, bought some lettuce plants and kale seeds to plant, Sheckters matcha flapjacks and a raw cacao jar (yum!), Mia planted the first plants in the aquaponics farm, Waterfront, I watched Suicide Squad – not bad – while Mia watched Ghostbusters – she really liked it (as much as I can chat STEM education for girls I could not see myself sitting through the remake of Ghostbusters, Willoughbys – Mia seems to operate chop sticks very well these days, gelato, I put 1kg of salt in the dishwasher – who knew dishwashers needed salt?
  • “Live in the future and build what seems interesting.” — PG

  • Tune of the week: Forget about what I said, The Killers
  • Make good art.
  • I still have not opened the big blue metal box.

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Real flow, deep play…

Bantry Bay
Bantry Bay
  • Week of 25 to 31 July.
  • This post is two weeks late. I had 182 notes to process.
  • Monday, a crisp 8 degC school run, gym, cold showers, podcast drive to Cape Town, left the office after dark, another Georg birthday dinner at Hussar Grill in Mouille Point – end of a series of July birthdays.
  • Courage is the first virtue.
  • Software is eating the world.
  • Tuesday, TiTea – somewhat strange turmeric and matcha high after hyper ventilating, gym, a few cold showers, Strolla / #TableTopTuesdays with Max, Heleen, Pieter etc, very rainy day, office, phone chat with Mia, left the office after dark, watched a Vice video about Wim Hof – hurt really is a very strong motivator, read a chapter of a book.
  • Seems you really want to avoid sugar and Omega6 to prevent heart disease.
  • Wednesday, 24h fasting day, office, lunchtime swim, sunset walk, read a chapter of a book.
  • Thursday, office, Web Africa meeting, lunch with Dan at Rua, back and neck massage at Wembley Square, Wellness Warehouse – got some Metformin, Boron and Zink, Uva Mira tasting, office, I fed the neighbour’s cat some sardines (keto snack), strawberries and cream and a catch up chat with Wouter.
  • “Well, either boring or crazy, right?” — Nick

  • Managed to get a Metformin prescription, going to try a two week experiment.
  • Smart and interesting.
  • “Write in a trance. Act in a trance. Build in a trance.”

  • “We’re as old as our joints feel.”

  • Friday, TiTea, gym, bought the usual 3 lt of milk, office, Octotel automation system design meeting, Cool Ideas meeting, rushed home to meet our electrician, Vox meeting, an omelette for lunch with Paul, after work drinks on the roof and chats with Michael, phone chat with Ed, Van Hunks with Georg, phone chat with Ernst, Outrage of Modesty with Georg – some interesting cocktails, Aces.
  • Sharing is caring, but not so much in the fibre industry.
  • I figure I’m on a 10 year mission to keep feeling 30.
  • The best way to learn is to teach.
  • Saturday, played pool guy, bought some LECA / grow medium, visited Pet World and got some water test kits (pH, NO2, NO3), Builders Warehouse visit, phone chat with Mia, a steak at Nelsons Eye with Georg, watched Hearts of Darkness – making of Apocalypse Now… very good.
  • Sunday, some aquaponics farm hacking – washed the LECA and stones, added the filter and heater, added the NH3 (pee, yes – standard human pee), a pizza and tiramisu and white russians next to the fire at Posticino while reading an aquaponics book, phone chat with Mia, watched The Right Stuff.
  • I’m enjoying the farming – found myself around 2pm not knowing what the time was – still in my pajamas, tinkering with the aquaponics farm, real flow…
  • Aqp farm stats: pH was just over 7 – which is good. Next I’ll start measuring NO2 and then NO3 (which is what you want), water temperature was around 18 degC, needs to be higher. With a bit of luck I should have a biofilter (two types of bacteria) within 4 weeks – if we have enough sunny days, and then I can start adding plants and fish.
  • “In rare moments of deep play, we can lay aside our sense of self, shed time’s continuum, ignore pain, and sit quietly in the absolute present, watching the world’s ordinary miracles.” — Diane Ackerman

Have a fun week, crazy kids.

Quick Update

Ketosis is the new Linux…

Sea Point
Sea Point
  • Week of 18-24 July.
  • Health week, 1/3.
  • I’m trying to see if I can do a 10kg transformation (muscle gain + fat loss) in 3 weeks. It’s a bit nuts, but let’s see.
  • Monday, podcast walk to the office, busy day, left the office after dark, phone chat with Mia, keto supper, some reading.
  • I think my t-shirt should say: hacker for good.
  • Tuesday, up early, TiTea, gym, visited the #TableTopTuesday crew at Strolla again – catch up chats with Max, Dave and Heleen, office – two interviews, haircut at Wim Coiffeur – probably the best haircut I’ve ever had – like something out of a Wes Anderson movie, sunset walk to Clifton, cooked a healthy veggie meal for Wouter and Zander, tinkered with a blog post, read a book.
  • At the end of the day you should be excited to be alive.
  • Wednesday, 24h fast day, swim, steam bath and cold showers, Lean Startup Coffee at Truth, catch up chat with Max and Max and Chregan at Origin, office, rainy day run back to my car, did some reading about co-living trends, I updated my Health Hacking posts.
  • Be fearless.
  • What are you hungry for? (not a food question)
  • By recording everything you are missing everything.
  • I’ve been trying a few different podcasts. I like Bulletproof Radio.
  • Thursday, office, interviews, updated the Octotel website and wrote a newsletter for the ISPs, we installed 100Mbps fibre for Pieter vH – he sounded super happy, dinner with the Treeshake Network at Mr Chan in Sea Point – cool group of people – Dave, Heleen, Johann, Tim etc – super geeky, always nice to be around smart people, good fun.
  • Dave had an interesting comment, he thinks it’s actually good to be a bit jaded with your day job.
  • Ketosis is the new Linux – I sat next to a guy who has been on a keto diet for 6 years – obviously a Slackware kinda guy.
  • INBOX ZERO! – it’s been a while.
  • Friday, TiTea with turmeric and matcha, gym, a few cold showers, office, I ran out of podcasts to listen to, fetched Mia, our usual biltong stop, drove to Cape Town, cocktails and mocktails and cheesecake at Strolla with Georg and Mia, Mia and I went to go see My Fair Lady at Artscape – all dressed up, good fun.
  • Saturday, Mia and I attempted to go and open a bank account for her again at Standard Bank – Thibault Sq – rocked up with all the right paperwork, but no – brain dead logic, matcha flapjacks with coconut blossom sugar and a raw organic cacao jar at Sheckters RAW organic – yum, BIA machine visit – Mia is now 156cm 46kg, device upgrades and backups, nap, Mia made a birthday card for Georg, we fetched Anton from Van Hunks, Georg’s 40th birthday party at Ricks with all the usual suspects, lots of fun, thanks Georg – happy birthday, time well spent.
  • Sunday, tea, Day of the Tentacle Remastered – such a cool game, sunny winters day, Mia watched old Hardy Boys episodes while Michael and I did some aquaponics hacking – we ditched the bell siphon idea and finished all the plumbing – works well now, I cooked a super healthy lunch with some keto mousse, nap, cocktails and mocktails and pizza with Georg and Al and George at La Vie, more keto mousse, we watched The Royal Tenenbaums again (and skipped a few scenes), Mia really liked it, kinda forgot to iron Mia’s school clothes – bad dad.
  • Fun weekend with Mia.
  • “I’m not talking about dance lessons. I’m talking about putting a brick through the other guy’s windshield. I’m talking about taking it out and chopping it up.” — Royal Tenenbaum

Have a fun week, crazy kids.