KW1402 – Fighting Your Distractions

On this episode of the Knightwise.com podcast we talk about fighting your online distractions.

Besieged by lolcats, social media, popups and the Google quest to find out which starship captain was both in Star Trek and ‘Murder She Wrote’, we look for a way to get fight distractions and things done.

Another storytime episode to kick back and relax to.

Enjoy!

Music: Vangelis, The Tegos Tapes Part 1 [youtube]

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Mounting remote directories over SSH from Windows, Linux and the mac.

I have a Linux server that I like very much. It’s at the hart of my home network and it houses all the data and projects I’m working on. My music collection, the podcasts I’ve downloaded, textfiles and scripts I’m working on and so forth.

The downside is that I don’t always have access to these files. I work on a variety of operating systems (A Windows laptop for work, A Mac for my creative splurges and a Linux workstation to fool around with). There are several solutions to “dail in” to your home network of course but somewhere I’ve found SSH to be one of the simplest ways to access remote machines, tunnel traffic and … access files.

Sometimes you want remote files to behave like local ones.

The problem is that sometimes you want to have your remote files and folders behave just like your local files and folders, without having to worry about vpn’s, netbios or FQDN names of certain files. You just want the data on your remote machine to act like data on your local one. Enter SSHFS.

SSHFS is based on SSH, a simple elegant and secure protocol that not only lets you connect to a remote server to run commands in a terminal environment, it’s also a pretty good poor-mans VPN you can tunnel all your tcraffic through (via SSHuttle). It’s also good to copy over files via secure ftp (with Filezilla for example). But copying files back and forth isn’t handy. You want real-time access to the juice man. Let’s get you fixed up and mount your remote linux folders, natively into your filesystem on Windows, Mac and Linux.

SSHFS on a Linux client.

SSHFS on Linux
On your Linux client you need to install sshfs
sudo apt instal sshfs

sudo apt instal sshfs

Then you create a directory on your local machine where you want to mound the files
Once installed you connect to your remote machine with the command

sshfs username@remotemachine:/directoryonremotemachine /directoryonlocalmachine

SSHFS from a MacOs client.

SSHFS on Mac
MacOs does not have sshfs capabilities by default but these can easily be installed via Brew
When brew is installed you can install sshfs with the brew command.
To mount your remote directory just use the same command as on Linux/

 brew install sshfs 
sshfs username@remotemachine:/directoryonremotemachine /directoryonlocalmachine

SSHFS from a Windows Machine

That also works but it does require a little more work to get it done AND Windows won’t let you mount to a folder nativey but points you to a driveletter instead.

First off install the following two applications:
sshfs-win
WinFsp

Next all you need to do is open a command line window and enter the following command.
net use .<yourdrive>: \sshfs\yourusename@remotehost….\directorystartingfromroot

 net use x: \sshfs\me@thedeathstar.empire....\deathstarplans R3belsRscumm 

In the end.

At the end of the day using SSHFS is a great way to quickly access files on a remote Linux system while having the files and folders integrated into the filestructure of whatever operating system you use. The additional encryption provided by SSH gives you good security. Both on Linux and on the mac you will be asked to authenticate with your password. If you don’t want to do that you setup ssh key exchange (see here) on how that is done. You can enter the commands in a script that you can just run (like a logon script).


Beware then when you are doing this on Windows your logon script might contain your login and your password for the remote system in clear text. So keep that somewhere safe.

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Helium Linux: When your old machine needs some oxygen.

I have this old iMac lying around that I got off of some guy on Craigslist 2 years ago. It was a little bit of a “pet project” to tinker around with and to see how far I could take this computer from 2009. Swapping out the internal spinning-rust drive with an SSD was a very interesting piece of open-mac surgery and afterwards the machine was a tad faster then before.

Operating system no longer supported.

But the iMac would only upgrade its version of MacOs to a version that was no longer supported (El Capitan I think) so I thought let’s run Linux on it. I’ve had experience in running Linux on Macs for a couple of years now, but the installation of Ubuntu 18.04 was a little disappointing. The system was a little slow (I expected that from a 2009 machine) and got put by the wayside because it just wasn’t up to snuff.

I needed a place to focus.

Lately I’ve been having some issues with productivity. While (trying) to get stuff done (mostly when i’m writing), I’m constantly distracted by eMails, Social Media, Chatmessages and what have you. I had been looking for some ways to block them out (going offline, using apps like Focuswriter) but none of them helped. I needed a computer environment that was simple enough to let me get my writing done while being to slow or simple for anything else. The iMac popped back to mind.

Simplicity is the most complex thing to achieve.

But in order to be realy “functional” the machine needed a lighter and more serene operating system. I remembered a distro called “Crunchbang” from my netbook days. A lightweight and very geeky distro with an Openbox UI. But the distro was disconinued.. or was it?

Get me some Helium

It turns out “Crunchbang” is not dead after all. An organisation called Bunsenlabs has picked up the slack and forked “Helium” as a successor. The distribution is based on Debian 10 (not Ubuntu) and comes with a minimal of applications pre-installed. The graphical installer is sweet and simple and afterwards they run you through a text based post-install script that lets you choose what other options to install.

It’s like ‘less’ with ‘more’

The end result is a super minimalistic destkop interface with the classic openbox bar letting you open some classc apps like Firefox, Libreoffice and more. The developement team has gone out of its way to keep the interface clean and simple and to keep the apps as light as possible. In the end you get a slick, slim and FAST OS for an old machine.

A garden of Zen

I have only been using the OS for a couple of days now but I’ve managed to muddle through some pretty hefty copywriting and getting the stuff I needed done .. done. Aside from using Geany as the default Text editor and Firefox to surf around for research, I’ve resulted to mostly command line apps and scripts to get things done. (For example using MPV to play the “Mission Control” music station on Soma Fm). The end result: A fast system with minimal distractions and the very first time I’ve actually started using one of my ‘resurrected zombies’ in a production environment. If you have an old machine lying around or want to have a distraction free interface? Give it a try.

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The Tegos Tapes: lesser known work by Vangelis.

With the death of Rutger Hauer yesterday, I was reminded of the great work this Dutch actor has done over the years. One of the movies that of course springs to mind immediately with me (and all fellow geeks around me) must be “Blade Runner”. A majestic movie from director Ridley Scott that is an absolute must-see if you have one molecule of Geek Dna in your body.

What makes the movie so fantastic aside from the great cinematography is of course the music. The soundtrack written and composed by Vangelis is probably one of the most memorable and awe -inspiring elements of the movie. If you take away all the actors and even the storyline of Blade Runner (Which is based on the underwhelming novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) and you would be left with JUST the music and the shots of the scenery? It would STILL be a good movie.

Vangelis as a composer has done some amazing things: Ranging from the epic soundtrack of BladeRunner to popular tracks like “Chariots of Fire” and writing the soundtrack to not one but two space missions. (Mithodea and Rosetta). Both fantastic albums.

Created as a soundtrack for the instructional tapes for a surgeon

But I like to dig around for the obscure, so in my quest for some “lesser known” material I found “The Tegos Tapes” A great collection of previously unreleased material. Created as a soundtrack for the instructional tapes for a surgeon (Yes, Good old Vangelis did not shy away from the occasional Schnabble) they have not been released as an album but do contain some amazing tracks. I’ll let you in on track number 1 for you to enjoy.

Links.

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