The Goals of 2022

I started off 2020 on a great note and continued through the year. I used a daily checklist in Notion to make sure I accomplished something every day. Here is the single list of things.

  • Learn something new
  • Read
  • 30 mins on Social Media
  • Do House stuff

A weird list, but here’s the reasoning behind the four.

Learn Something New

This one is pretty simple. Learning anything new that day to increase my knowledge in either my work field (IT) or my personal self-help/growth. This task can be completed using the next item on the list, “Read.”

My company pays for a subscription to ITPro.TV, and online learn at your own pace IT library of classes. My goal was to do one hour daily but sometimes it doesn’t happen. This year I want to put more of a priority on this. Its free to me and can only provide me with more understanding of the IT world I work in.

Read

A journey I started in 2019 was to read more. Before that year, I couldn’t tell you the last time I read a book about anything. So my first dive into self-help books was Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book set the groundwork for this entire journey in learning more and stopping the waste of my time on social media.

After finishing Atomic Habits, the natural progression seemed to move to Cal Newport’s books. So I started with Deep Work. The premise of the book is distractions are bad. Picking a task and just working on that one task without the distractions of email, text messages and phone calls. It also talks about the reality that other people’s emergencies don’t have to be yours.

I continued my Cal Newport journey to Digital Minimalism. Minimalism is a topic and Philosophy that has fascinated me for years now. Something about having what I need to bring peace to my over-filled brain and physical space feels like the piece I wish I had. As I write this post, I hardly have enough room for this computer on the table due to the cereal box, water cup, baby monitor and residual items from Christmas scattered over the dining room table. Always a work in progress.

A World without Email was an exciting read. In my line of work (IT), it’s not practical to only check my email once a day, let alone a few times a month. A lot of this book I couldn’t relate to or couldn’t apply in my daily work-life, and so that concluded my Cal Newport journey.

I was an avid listener of The Tim Ferris Podcast but fell off the bandwagon when he gets in the “compounds” and psychedelics, two topics I have no interest in. However, one episode came up in the feed that interested me, the lost South by Southwest talk he did before the release of his famous book “The 4-hour Work Week”.

I was glued to the 50-minute episode. I as soon as the episode ended, I bought the book. I’m only into it a few chapters, but what a game-changer. I’m trying to apply the teachings from this book to my everyday life, though some are difficult due to my 9 – 5 “career.”

30 Minutes of Social Media

I have removed Facebook from my phone entirely and only check it when sitting at a computer. I also found removing all the news organizations and companies trying to “buy my eyes” has cleaned up my feed. I now only see things friends and family have posted. Sometimes I don’t check Facebook for a few days, which is a massive change from the once-every-hour doom scrolling.

On the flip side, Instagram is still a problem for me. A lot of communication occurs in the Instagram app, so I find myself chatting and scrolling while I wait for responses. My one relief has been tapping on the “Instagram” logo at the top of the app and changing to see people and hashtags I’m “Following.”

The 30-minute limit should reduce the “doom scrolling” until I can make the jump to only a few times a week.

Do House Stuff

This was always an area of improvement. With two kids, the house goes from clean and organized to a disaster in just a matter of 30 seconds. I checked this box off once I had cleaned or run a load of laundry once a day. It’s not glamourous, but it has to be done.

Final Thoughts

I’m going to put the processes I had created with the daily checklist back in place. Unfortunately, stopping didn’t hold me accountable for the tasks on the list, thus causing everything to fall by the wayside. I believe this is also the reason for my decline in mental health.

I want to find an app to help me along with this journey as there are many barriers when using Notion to track the changes. If you have any suggestions, please comment below. Your help would be greatly appreciated! I will report back on how the journey is going. New me starts today!

Social Media Detox

Over the last 3 months I started tracking a list of daily task that I would like to adhere to. One of those tasks is 1 hour of social media per day.

At first this was easy to do. I broke my Samsung S8 phone and had to switch to an old iPhone 7 we had. I decided to only install the apps I deemed essential. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter did not meet that essential criteria.

I found my concentration was up and I was able to complete more projects at work. It’s amazing what a hole day of not scroll through Facebook can do. During this time, COVID was in full swing here in Canada. Facebook felt toxic with all the fears and “crazy talk” from some of my Facebook”friends”. Instagram was filled with pictures of text?! That’s right, pictures of sentences. I thought Instagram was for photos?

Limiting social media to 1 hour a day really changed my perspective. I realized my primary news outlet was Facebook so I decided to login to my Feedly.com account and setup some good old RSS feeds but reduced my selection to my local news paper (not actually a paper anymore) and international news from the CBC. I do have a few personal blogs I follow but posts are few and far between.

Since the beginning of August, I have felt my self slipping. In the evenings, I’m scrolling past the 1 hour limit. I justify this by saying “well the days over so what does it matter”. It matters! As I write this post, my productivity has dropped, concentration has dropped. I still don’t check social media on my phone, but when I get home, there I am, scrolling through Facebook and Instagram on my tablet.

I see my son developing the same bad habits as his parents. He comes home and just wants to sit in front of a laptop and watch endless episodes of Peppa Pig. He doesn’t even like to go outside and play with his toys. I’m almost at the point where I sell everything in our back yard.

The Goal

For me, it’s time to be more present. Stop scrolling and stop wasting my time reading what crazy conspiracy theory aunt Helen is sharing on Facebook. I’m sure if this photo gets 100 likes, God will send me $1000.

What are your theory’s on social media and what its doing to you? Do you find it helpful or is getting in the way of living your life?

Pi Project Update

Over the last few years, I decided to make my “Outdoor automation” a little more permanent and indoors. The Pi lived outside in my garage or screwed to a floor joist in my basement. My goat was to provide the same functionality but in a safer case, and have it permanently installed. The tasks the solution needed to perform were as follows.

  1. Water the lawn during the summer
  2. Control the Christmas lights during the winter
  3. Play music for Halloween on Oct 31.

I controlled the watering with a 4 bank relay. My plan was to have the ability to control 4 watering zones. I still only have the one water valve but I do want the ability to add up to 4.

During the month of December, I wanted to control the Christmas lights. 1 relay for the eve lights and 3 more for the floodlights on the lawn. The floods alternate colour ever 30 seconds.

The Hardware & Software

Pi Model B

I already owned most of the hardware for the Pi. It was the outdoor box to house the outlets and pipe. I also wanted a box inside to mount the relays, transformer and the Pi.

I used an 8 channel relay board. I soldered 4 relays together for the 25V AC side and the other 4 for the 120V AC side. If at any point I need to change the board, I will be replacing this one with 2 x 4 channel boards. This will then separate the high and low voltage.

Relays are wired up.

The Pi was always the best candidate for these tasks. The Christmas lights and Sprinkler projects were built in Python3. You can find the code for these here.

The Halloween project just plays some scary music to a speaker I place just near the door. I ordered a 15′ 3.5mm cable extension to get the audio from the Pi out to the front lawn. This cable I run through the window because it’s used once a year for one day. The code for this is available here.

Photos

Setting up the layout.
High voltage is hooked up.

Installing MyBB 1.8.12 on Ubuntu Server

In the following tutorial I will explain how to install MyBB 1.8.12 on Ubuntu Server. I will be doing this from the command line so no GUI needed.

  1. Download the MyBB package. You will want to get the latest version of MyBB.
  2. wget --content-disposition https://www.mybb.com/download/latest -O mybb.zip
    
  3. By default Ubuntu does not come with unzip. Install that now.
  4. sudo apt install unzip
    
  5. Unzip the MyBB zip file
  6. unzip mybb.zip
    

    2 folders should now be in your present working directory. Unload and Documentation.

  7. Install LAMP (Linux, Apache2, PHP and MySQL) Restart Apache after
  8. sudo apt install apache2 mysql-server php-mysql php libapache2-mod-php php-mcrypt
    sudo systemctl restart apache2
    

    This install will ask to create a root password for the MySQL database.

  9. Move MyBB files to the server folder
  10. cd /var/www/
    sudo mkdir mybb/
    mv ~/Upload/* /var/www/html/mybb/
    

    You should now see all the files in the www/mybb directory.

  11. Rename the inc/config.default.php
  12. sudo mv inc/config.default.php inc/config.php
    
  13. Now change permissions on the following files and directories
  14. sudo chmod 666 inc/config.php inc/settings.php inc/languages/english/*.php inc/languages/english/admin/*.php
    sudo chmod 777 cache/ cache/themes/ uploads/ uploads/avatars/ admin/backups/
    
  15. Login to MySQL and create Database.
  16. mysql -u root -p
    

    Enter the password that was create for MySQL.
    Now create the database and a user to have access to this database only.

    create database MyBB;
    grant all privileges on MyBB.* to 'MyBB'@'localhost' identified by "S0mePassw0rd";
    flush privileges;
    exit;
    
  17. Browse to the install page.
  18. You can now follow the step by step installer. Be sure to specify the database credentials you create above. Do not use the root account.

Go to your main web URL and you should see your new forum ready to go! If you have any questions please leave them below.

Installing VirtualBox Guest Addition Ubuntu Server 14.04.3

Because my office is currently under construction I didn’t have access to my primary desktop machine that runs VMware Workstation. I needed to spin up a Ubuntu Server box to do some testing. It has been a few years since running VirtualBox but I decided to give it a go on my Mac Book Pro.

Installing VirtualBox is straight forward. Follow the on screen steps and you should be up and running. I setup a new VM with the minimum requirements for Ubuntu Server 14.04.3 LTS. All of my Digital Ocean servers run Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS so I figured I would stick with that.

After installing and updating the new machine, I need to install the guest additions.

  1. Install the required build tools and dependancies.
  2. sudo apt install -y dkms build-essential linux-headers-generic linux-headers-$(uname -r)
    
  3. Restart VM.
  4. sudo shutdown -r now
    
  5. Mount the Guest Additions CD from the VirtualBox Menu.
  6. Devices -> Insert Guest Additions CD image

  7. Mount the CD in Ubuntu Server
  8. sudo mount /dev/cdrom /media/cdrom
    
  9. Change directory to CD
  10. cd /media/cdrom
    
  11. Guest Additions can now be installed
  12. sudo ./VBoxLinuxAdditions.run
    

    Ubuntu Server will give you an error about not finding X.org. Don’t worry about it. Guest additions get install anyways.

Restart the VM and that is it! VirtualBox Guest Additions have now been installed.

If you have any questions please let me know below!