Homelab Pi Rack upgrade, just in time for AnsibleFest 2022

AnsibleFest is fast approaching, and this year it'll finally be back in person, in Chicago. Since that's a short jaunt from St. Louis, I'll be headed up to talk about my Homelab this year!

More specifically, I'll be giving a talk titled Ansible for the Homelab, and I'll walk through how I have at least part of my sprawling homelab environment automated using Ansible.

Raspberry Pi Rack Pro by UCTRONICS

Short is good

I watched TheOdd1sOut's How to Find Inspiration1 and remembered the most important lesson I learned from my high school English teacher:

Short is good. Short is hard.

The teacher2 didn't exactly put it like that. But he harped on something nobody else did: writing concisely.

Every week we would read a work of American literature. And every Friday we'd turn in a one-pager encapsulating our knowledge of the book. I was an odd duck for how much I enjoyed the game: no playing with margins or font sizes. I had to cram an entire book into one page, double-spaced, with 1" margins, a title line, and a byline.

I remember spending Thursday nights honing my text, usually down to around 500 words. We would get a slight bonus for conveying more with fewer words.

That's surprisingly difficult for teenagers conditioned to churn out a specific word count. TheOdd1sOut commiserates:

How to download an MP4 from YouTube, every time

I use yt-dlp to download videos off YouTube quite frequently. I'll use the videos as reference, and I often use it to grab the VOD for one of my livestreams, since there's no simpler way (I'm not going to dig through the bowel's of YouTube's UI to try to download one of my own videos...).

But I also can't handle the default .webm videos in all my video editing tools natively, and transcoding is annoying. So I've settled on the following yt-dlp command to first try to pull a native MP4 version off YouTube, and failing that, transcode to MP4 immediately after downloading:

yt-dlp -S res,ext:mp4:m4a --recode mp4

And if you weren't aware, yt-dlp does an excellent job pulling video files from other sites as well, should the need arise.

Cosplaying as a Sysadmin

An ode to the homelabber:

Gold Cosplaying as a Sysadmin T-Shirt by Jeff Geerling

As a software developer, I never was a true sysadmin. I never pulled a server to replace a failed drive at 3 a.m. I never got to roll my little maintenance cart through a cold aisle, with hearing protection to keep my fragile eardrums from rupturing amidst a sea of 100+ dB screaming server fans...

Microsoft is still far behind: Windows on ARM

In spite of Microsoft's cryptic announcement of Project Volterra, and Qualcomm's continuous lineup of 'flagship' ARM SoCs for Windows, Microsoft is still behind the 8-ball when it comes to ARM.

Apparently, in 2016, Microsoft entered into an exclusivity deal with Qualcomm. That's why all official 'Windows on ARM' devices use Qualcomm SoCs. At the time, Apple hadn't yet pulled off its third major architecture shift for macOS, from Intel X86 to ARM.

Looking back, products like the Surface Pro X and the myriad ARM for Windows laptops, were basically built to a budget and for portability above all else. They were never competitive with Intel/AMD-based computers. Microsoft seemed to think ARM would always remain in a niche, only used for light, mobility-first devices.

Starlink's current problem is capacity

This blog post is a lightly edited transcript from my most recent YouTube video, in which I explain some of Starlink's growing pains: slower speeds due to oversubscription, design challenges with their v2 hardware, and a major bet on much larger v2 sats and a rocket (Starship) that has yet to complete an orbital flight.

The video is embedded below, and the transcript follows:

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }

I got Starlink during the Public beta, a little over a year ago.

I set up Dishy on my roof, I set up some advanced monitoring and tested it as a backup Internet connection, but ultimately passed it along to my cousin, who's using it on her farm.

Building a fast all-SSD NAS (on a budget)

All SSD Edit NAS build - completed

I edit videos non-stop nowadays. In a former life, I had a 2 TB backup volume and that stored my entire digital life—all my photos, family video clips, and every bit of code and text I'd ever written.

Video is a different beast, entirely.

Every minute of 4K ProRes LT footage (which is a very lightweight format, compared to RAW) is 3 GB of space. A typical video I produce has between 30-60 minutes of raw footage (which brings the total project size up to around 100-200 GB).

Answering Questions about the PetaPi

A few weeks ago, I posted a video about the Petabyte Pi Project—an experiment to see if a single Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 could directly address sixty 20TB hard drives, totaling 1.2 Petabytes.

Petabyte of Seagate Exos Hard Drives

And in that video, it did, but with a caveat: RAID was unstable. For some reason, after writing 2 or 3 GB of data at a time, one of the HBAs I was using would flake out and reset itself, due to PCI Express bus errors.