Srikanth Perinkulam

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Author: Srikanth Perinkulam (page 1 of 37)

Weeknote 09 – Ashland and Taxtime

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

The last few weeks have been pretty ‘choppy’. Some recent developments on the work front has gotten us back to Boston. Always wonderful being back here. Looks like New-England has had a pretty mild winter and we’re making sure we take Shasta out as much as possible!

Over the next couple weeks we’ll have to make a few interesting decisions. Between grad programs, fellowships and other exciting opportunities; 2020 is already off to a happening start!

It’s tax filing time! I was super pissed with TurboTax last year. This year I helped file taxes for my in-laws using the FreeFillableForms option. Found it to be super easy and straight forward. Will most likely use it for my personal taxes too.

Interesting podcasts this week

Darknet Diaries: Chanced upon this podcast early this week while sifting through AntennaPod and the premise sounded pretty interesting – Hacking and cyber-warfare. My podcast consumption has drastically come down over the last few months. This will hopefully get me back on the podtrack!

Interesting tools this week

MineTime : Think ‘smarter’ calendars.

Digikam : Self hosted photo management with facial recognition! I’d probably pair this with my Nextcloud photo library over the next few days.

Interesting reads this week

Lifesaving rescue on Mount Washington: Yet another terrific read from Ty Gagne! Note to self to get that HikeSafe card.

Talking to youth about privacy, security and digital spaces: Wonderful piece, Ian. Loved the concept of identifying an ‘approach point’. Most of what he mentioned also applies to adults and more so elderly parents who’ve jumped on the digital scene without much awareness on the privacy implications!

The medications that change who we are: Not quite surprising but pretty intriguing read on how dependent we’re on medication these days. Think twice before you pop that pill!

Why Astrology matters: My family (prior generation) was (is?) a strong believer in Astrology. From making birth charts/Horoscopes, wearing different rings on the fingers to influence the ‘stars’, matching horoscopes prior to weddings, and most significantly to pick an auspicious time to travel; The sentiment has definitely changed over the last decade or so, but hey, it’s still there!

Astrology has stood the test of several hundred generations now and there’s got to be an iota of truth somewhere out there. That said, I still have an excruciatingly hard time believing that the stars and planets have anything to do with one’s life developments.

Opinion | We’re Banning Facial Recognition. We’re Missing the Point.: It all boils down to regulation. Or technology that’s able to shroud a person’s exteriors both physically, electrically and magnetically!

State of The Networks – Jan 2020

A quick rundown on the state of the home-servers I run or applications I host on the cloud.

Last week I opened up my Nextcloud instance for external access. Now, since my brother’s RPi4 was already exposed on the same network, I had to setup a reverse proxy on another RPi3 to access both simultaneously behind the router. Here’s the current setup:

Proxy server: An RPi3 running on Raspbian Buster Lite with HAProxy installed to handle the reverse proxy. Here’s the gist of the code that’s handling all the heavy lifting. Since SSL is handled by the other servers themselves, all I needed was a quick pass-through handshake from HAProxy.

Server 01: An RPi3 running on NextcloudPi essentially serving Nextcloud for all my file needs. Data is simultaneously backed up on a couple machines within the network. Decided against a remote backup [S3/Backblaze] for now.

Server 02: An RPi4 running on Diet-Pi and serving Pi-Hole and a Nextcloud instance. I’ve turned off DHCP on the Orbi router and delegated that to the Pi-Hole. Both the Pi-Hole and the router have static IPs assigned to the SBCs and my trusty Dell machine based on their MAC address. I’m debating if I should move the Pi-Hole over to the Proxy Server…

Beyond the home-lab, I have a droplet with DigitalOcean serving this website and a few other portals I manage. ServerPilot runs in the background on that droplet taking care of all the critical needs. I do intend to shift this over to a home-lab once I get hold of my ODroid XU4 which is currently in the Uganda shipment several thousand miles away in Chennai!

Early this year, I also procured a Hetzner cloud instance to test its stability and see if I could move over certain portals to it. Should say I’m pretty impressed! Running on Debian Stretch and powered by Yunohost, I installed PixelFed and Wallabag. Installation has never been any easier! One drawback for sure is that the code-base may be a bit lagged as it gets deployed on Yunohost. Nevertheless, it’s pure magic to see things getting installed with just a few clicks and not much back-end work.

And then, I manage a Moodle Bitnami instance running on an AWS instance. I intend to move it over to the Hetzner cloud over the next month or so.

Weeknote 04 – Puzzled Pixels

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

Finally got around installing PixelFed on a Hetzner server. Absolutely love it! It’s truly an Instagram clone sans the tracking. The lead developer has some interesting updates up his sleeve and I am very keen to see how this project shapes up as it evolves out of beta.

Meena suggested Nik and I work on the 3D puzzle Nik’s had for quite sometime now. Worked on it till about 0200 the next day morning and finished setting up this beautiful musical box puzzle. The engineering could have been a bit more nuanced. However, had a terrific time working on this.

Managed to fit in a short 4.5mile hike along the Thru trail in Patapsco State Park. With dusk setting in and absolutely nobody else on the trail, it did feel a bit spooky being out there. Spotted a few Deers and a fox on the way back. The old Woodstock bar and the huge empty parking lot for the trail right beside the railway line was probably something that added to the eeriness of the evening!

Watched Kon-Tiki and The Lighthouse of the Orcas. Both terrific movies leaving you with the urge to do more meaningful things in life.

Interesting podcasts this week

Quanta recently announced they’re launching a new podcast! Super excited to see how this shapes up.

Interesting tools this week

Roam Research : Note-taking tool for graphed thoughts

Interesting reads this week

Why you should introduce your child to dangerous sports: Free-diving in the Caribbean

America’s search and rescue is in a state of emergency: The curse of supply and demand, and the dearth of funding and volunteers

The secretive company that might end privacy as we know it: As London moves towards introducing Facial recognition in its already present street cameras and more and more companies coming up with technology to give out personal information at the click of a button; With lack of regulation and oversight, the future is going to be one hell of a mess.

Weeknote 02 – Snow mischief

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

Earlier this week I helped Sharath setup a nextcloud instance on the RaspberryPi 4 that we got him for Christmas. Installed the DietPi OS, moved the user data over to a 5TB WD disk and while at it also setup a pi-hole for the network.

Weather wise, this was one odd week. Had a good dusting of snow on Tuesday night and a balmy 60 degrees for most of the weekend. The kids had early school closures and we made sure we hit the trails.

Gone are the crawling days. Shasta has moved on to walking and she’s getting pretty good at it. Also her mischief quotient is raising by the day!

Meena found an interesting course in Tufts and has applied for the 2020 Fall deadline. Fingers crossed that she makes it! Some other exciting developments through this week might take us back to Boston this spring.

Interesting podcasts this week:

The Indicator from Planet Money: The Skyrocketing Cost Of Air Ambulances

Interesting reads this week:

Welcome to New Hollywood: Netflix has absolutely taken over the digital market. Oddly they rely on AWS!

Why parents are addicted to Calpol: So true! It struck me so starkly when we moved to the states several years back. It’s amazing how quickly my family pops in paracetamols without any second thoughts.

The Shadow Commander: Quite an interesting read on recent developments in Iran and it’s past.

Weeknote 01 – Memories, Liberty and freedom

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

Convincing their parents last minute, Divyaa and Raaghuv drove up to Maryland with us. The kids had a ball of a time in the last row of the Sienna. We stopped over at Durham for the night and met Uncle Lou the next day for breakfast. Of course also visited Fuqua school of Business. Rajesh graduated from here and we so wished he was alive to show us around this campus. A gentle reminder to check-in with everyone near and dear every once in a while…

Meena and I took the kids Skiing at Liberty on Thursday night. This has become more of a tradition now at year-end(beginning). A first for Raaghuv and Divyaa though. Just before we left, the boys decided to take on the Lower blue streak, and I joined them. Absolutely reminded me of my first day at skiing! Need to work on that nuanced braking!

Oh and of course, Happy New Year! Last year I chose to be a bit more free, a privilege I am so glad I had and thankful for. Looking forward to what we chart in 2020.

Listening to: Memories

Interesting podcasts this week:

The great American tax haven: why the super-rich love South Dakota
Episode 216: How Four Drinking Buddies Saved Brazil

Interesting tools this week:

OBS Studio: Video recording and live-streaming

Interesting reads this week:

Why more kids are learning — and enjoying — yoga: While yoga has become a fad now in the western world, I’d go further out to expand it to any activity that gets them out of a ‘controlled’ space. My dream classroom would be one out in the open with minimal teacher intervention.

Why the French Don’t Show Excitement: While I like the idea of “on est bien, là”, I’ll probably have a tough time getting that perceived cold shoulder in response.

‘For five years we dreaded every meal’: my infant son’s struggle with food: They’re just so many things that could go wrong…I’m so thankful Meena and Shasta are doing terrific.

Don’t just criticise the police. They’re constrained: As the world’s largest democracy comes to grips with the weight of the existence of more than a billion people, more so now as the youth are engaging and reacting to state and national politics, It’s key that funding and training is adequately increased to maintain law and order. And then there’s corruption to deal with…

Weeknote 52 – Piercings and Runs

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

The drive down to Florida was pretty uneventful. But for some holiday traffic near Virginia, we had a pretty smooth drive, clocking about 15 hours in total.

A random talk with a runner at the Baseline trail coaxed us to run a longer distance the next day. Got the four kids and Sharath onboard too. Well, the kids decided to sleep-in on Sunday, while Sharath and I head out to the trail. Realised I didn’t carry cash, so we decided to run unsupported. Running conditions were just right with a good blend of drizzle and rain. The beauty of winter is that you can cover so many more miles in the dark! Was mostly helping Sharath pace and finish within 3 hours. Wrapped up with 14.5 miles under his belt. Not a bad way to close out the year!

A week packed with hikes almost every day of the week and a lot of downtime with family. The girls convinced their moms to get extra ear piercings and Nikhil rode the wagon and got one for himself too!

Interesting tools this week

Convos: IRC based multi-user chat application

Interesting reads this week

Colleges are turning students’ phones into surveillance machines, tracking the locations of hundreds of thousands: Thank you, but no thank you! ‘Tracking you for your own good’ – Isn’t that where it all starts going downhill?

20,000 ft under the sea: Mining, exploring and ofcourse polluting. We’re doing things with absolutely no concern for and awareness of the impacts on future generations.

Weeknote 51 – Clouds down south

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

Got a RaspberryPi 4 kit for my eldest brother. Can’t wait to set up a homeserver for him. On my nudging, the second eldest, setup a homeserver sometime back and we’re very impressed with the speed and crisp loading of the photos he’s currently hosting on a nextcloud setup. On a similar vein, I’m testing the cloud provider Hertzner. They’re super cheap and seem to be pretty good. Will probably port over my services from Digital Ocean over the next few months if I find them stable.

Was wonderful to see Nik perform in his year-end winter performance. The group sounded way professional! Also, Nancy had her track meet yesterday. She’s improved her pace a lot over the last year and it’s wonderful seeing her truly enjoy running.

We decided to have an early christmas gift exchange with the Baltimore family before we hit the road for Florida. Initial plan was to leave early on Saturday morning and reach Miss Bama’s home by the evening. As luck would have it, we noticed last night that we had to change the catalytic converter in the Sienna. Got that fixed first thing today at Firestone. Will now head down south, contingent on weather and traffic.

Interesting reads this week:

Weeknote 50 – Ayush Homam

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

We performed Shasta’s Ayusha homam last weekend. Both Meena and I were inclined that athimber – a super role model in the family perform it. Athimber and Appa recited the Rudram 11 times prior to the actual homam. Coincidentally, It was also Appa’s 83rd and Adi’s 2nd birthday! Aparna flew in from Florida and the rest of the family drove down from CT and NJ. We’re extremely appreciative that they could all make it!

We also got Shasta’s ears pierced this week. Remarkably, she it doesn’t quite seem to bother her much.

I turned 34 this 12th. Meena made some delicious food and as always, we kept it super low-key. I’ve been eyeing the smaller version of the REI Nalgene bottle for a while now. We stopped by at the REI store in Catonsville and picked one up. Sharath and Manni surprised me with a Garmin Forerunner 235! Probably a silent nudge to get me back to running. The Garmin forerunner 305 that they gifted me 9 years back is still super functional.

Later today we head to NJ for Adi’s ayush homam!

Interesting tools this week:

  • Outline: De-clutter, read and annotate articles
  • Darbee: A fascinating free fitness resource with well depicted illustrations, programs, videos, manuals and individual workouts

Interesting reads this week:


Weeknote 48 – Thanksgiving and Ezekiel drive

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

Between Shreya’s birthday party in CT, the usual thanks-giving meet in NJ and Ankur’s wedding in NY; this week has been pretty busy with lots of domestic travel. We had winter storm Ezekiel right by our tail, as we made our way back from Albany on Sunday!

Meena sent in her cheek swab to get added to the Marrow donor registry. Another family member did the same with DKMS. Manni mentioned she might sign-up for that too. Might need a nudge few days later, but I think we’re there!

Fit in a good 5 mile run on Tuesday morning and a short 2.5 mile hike near Rutgers Gardens on Saturday morning. A high on intake and mild on workout kinda week!

Interesting tools this week:

  • LibreSignage : FOSS digital signage solution for multiple displays.

Interesting reads this week:

Weeknote 47 – Shasta’s First

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

Happy Birthday little munchkin! At 00:00 on the 19th, Amma and I celebrated your birthday with just the three of us; with you fast asleep on amma’s shoulder, as we were waiting to board the flight to Hong Kong. This will be your longest [34hrs] birthday so far. We’re supremely thankful to have you with us and we’re beyond surprised how you make parenting feel so easy(mostly). As you grow in this mad, illogical, crazy yet mesmerizing world; we hope we’re able to will expose you to people, countries, realms, religions, experiences, wildlife, nature and above all nudge you towards making this a better place for everyone. As cliche as it sounds, time IS flying!

We’re back in Baltimore just in time for the winter! Shuttled to DC for the IMST OA which fell through by just 0.25 points. Sucks, but I guess that’s part of the deal.

Overall a busy week. Didn’t get around reading/listening as much as I generally do.

Interesting podcasts this week:

  • The Memory Palace: Let it snow. On the flight headed towards Dulles today, I was pondering over the recent shooting in California. Shootings in schools and parties? Where are we really headed? Humanity is passing through some really shitty times and it’s beyond my comprehension why a human would willingly take another individual’s life. The U.S needs to control public access to firearms. Actually, No. It should prohibit individuals from bearing arms altogether! The absolute lack of any tangible action is deplorable.

Interesting tools this week:

  • Grocy: ERP beyond the fridge
  • Forecast Advisor: 5-day weather forecast for a U.S. Zipcode with accuracy calcs for the major weather forecasters.
  • Pixelfed: Ad and algorithm free, federated image sharing platform

Interesting reads this week:

Weeknote 46 – Mouse in the air

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

Last Saturday, Meena and Shasta joined me in Trivandrum, where we spent a few days with my uncle. I would have liked to show Meena around, but with Shasta not keeping too well and a quick fly-by trip to Ernakulam, we didn’t have much time. Mama’s never flown before and he was ecstatic both during and after the flight to Kochi. Supremely glad we could fit that in. Also, while repacking the check-in bag in Kochi, Meena spotted a little mouse scurrying inside! Likely that this one hopped in from Trivandrum and we’re beyond surprised it wasn’t noticed in the scan at the airport!

It’s Shasta’s birthday next week! We’d be flying on the 19th, so we decided to celebrate her birthday with multiple outings through this week. With Sneha visiting India, we had dinner with the family at the Madras Boat Club on Thursday evening. Meena suggested we get a few kids along to spend some time on the beach with Shasta on Saturday. Wonderful idea and she had a ball of a time!

A good 5k run on the beach late evening on Wednesday. Meena and Sneha took to the boats for a short rowing outing. Meena hasn’t rowed for the last 10 years and I’m so glad she finally got around doing it.

Interesting podcasts this week:

  • Planet Money Episode 951: Snakebite: First steps towards making anti-venom obsolete.

Interesting tools this week:

  • Fraidycat: A browser extension to follow people from all sort of medium based on RSS feeds
  • RAWGraphs: The missing link between spreadsheets and data visualisation
  • Corteza: An open-source digital work platform [#CRM]

Interesting videos this week:

Interesting reads this week:

And, that’s a wrap!

Weeknote 45 – Kalari in the Western Ghats

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

All of this week was spent facilitating an educational tour in Kochi and Munnar for a group of 50 kids and 5 teachers. With a robust blend of experiential learning(a day in a tree plantation), adventure activities (Tree Jumaring, High ropes, Kayaking, High ropes, zip-lining, slacklining), team building activities(Raft building, Treasure hunt, Rangoli) and Cultural immersion activities(Kalaripayettu, mock Onam celebrations, Kerala Sadya), the last few days were pretty densely packed.

Highlight of the trip was a stellar performance by the Kalaripayettu team. Having these artists perform at dusk with the western Ghats in the backdrop engulfed by crisp and nippy mountain air and the brilliant charcoal embers, was truly an outstanding experience.

Felt good to be back on the end-to-end planning, logistics and organization front for a large group after a few years.While the trip went really well, I think it did give me multiple pointers on certain aspects of the planning and execution I much rather delegate. Also, teachers, with their inherent urge to ‘control’ students can at times be a hard bunch to manage. The last few days posed some interesting instances when we had to find that medium to balance the program goals with the sometimes orthodox mindsets of the teachers.

Meena and Shasta would be joining me in Trivandrum later today. With the densely packed schedule and almost no network, I had very limited time to connect with them. The family has also taken ill and hoping they get better soon.

Interesting podcasts this week:

  • Edward Snowden Tells NPR: The Executive Branch ‘Sort Of Hacked The Constitution’

Interesting tools this week:

Interesting reads this week:

And, that’s a wrap!

Weeknote 44 – Diwali and all things 50

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

With Diwali celebrations over the last weekend, the family moving over to Hyatt for their temporary stay until the government housing falls in place, Patti’s return from her holy trip to Israel and Mummyjaan’s 50th birthday, the week pretty much swooshed past!

30mins swimming on Monday, Biked 24k on Wednesday, 5K beach run on Saturday and a 4k beach run on Sunday.

Interesting tools this week:

  • Delete Facebook: Deleting your Facebook posts.
  • Walk the distance: Walk the Appalachian trail virtually. Now that sounds like a neat idea instead of just counting steps [Not that I really subscribe to step counting!].
  • Tunemymusic: Transfer playlists between music services!

Music finds of the week:

Notable videos watched this week:

  • The Ocean Cleanup: 1000 rivers are responsible for 80% of plastic entering the oceans. The solar-powered Interceptor sounds like a huge step forward in stopping new plastic from entering the oceans.
  • The very Hungry Caterpillar: Yep, that very same one that you read about!

Interesting reads this week:

Weeknote 43 – Reunions and Winter travels

A glimpse of the past week and the few articles, podcasts, tools, videos and music that captivated my attention:

Most of this week was spent planning the next few months and chalking out various things we had to line-up. We’re super excited that Shasta will soon be able to experience the cold a bit and that we’d be able to take her on some long outdoor hikes in the snow.

She’s turning one soon and we plan to keep her birthday celebration low-key. Probably a good breakfast out somewhere with the family. She’s now becoming super communicative – pointing with the forefinger if she needs something or wants to know what it is. At this point we’re convinced ‘Ka’s her first word. Probably inspired by the crows by the pool, which absolutely fascinate her!

Early next month, I am facilitating a visit of a group of about 50 kids to Kochi and Munnar. The activity line-up looks pretty cool and I am super excited to be back in the thick of it with a different pair of boots!

On Friday, Meena and I met a friend of mine from Infosys. We’d organized a ton of team-building activities together when we were on the same team. She was a fire-craker beaming with positivity when we worked together and one of the reasons I thoroughly enjoyed working in Infosys. Nothing much has changed since then! She was visiting her family in Chennai and I’m so glad we were able to catch-up!

We were pretty much rained in through the week, (and S and I did get a bit lazy) so running did take a hit. Was a great swim weak though! ~30 min. swim sessions each on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and a 20k bike ride on the aerofit recumbent bike on Friday.

Of other notable events this week – A first of a kind: Meena, S and I were interviewed on the same panel; Joined the Columbia Alumni folks here in Chennai for an early evening meet and a family friend who is currently preparing for his GMAT texted saying the resources I had pointed him to were super useful.

Interesting tools this week:

  • Allsides: A portal that intends to produce balanced-view news across the political spectrum.
  • Ramblr: Record, track and share outdoor activities

Interesting podcasts this week:

Notable videos watched this week:

  • Lhotse : Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison’s first ski descent from Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world! Beautiful videography and visualisations!
  • What if we nuke a city: Yet another impressive video from Kurzgesagt advocating why we all need to step down now on the nuclear front!

Interesting reads this week:

Network auto-latch

I realised the raspberry pi that hosts my nextcloud setup wasn’t quite latching back on to the network if the router was turned off or if the internet was sketchy. Was a pain to hard boot the device manually to reset it. Decided to write a short script to reset the network connection when it noticed something was off.

ping -c4 > /dev/null
if [ $? != 0 ] 
  echo "SOS..Restarting eth0 for network latch"
  /sbin/ifdown 'eth0'
  sleep 5
  /sbin/ifup --force 'eth0'

A chron job runs every 10 minutes to take pulse of the network, runs the above code and picks up connectivity without manual intervention!